Art et Manufacture and the perfect shade of blue

Artetmanufacture

Edith Bourgault is the maker behind Art et Manufacture, a stoneware and porcelain pottery studio located in Quebec. Her work is so recognizable, partially because of the vivid blue hue she uses in each of her creations. This color harkens back to days of old– it’s a distinctive China blue, the kind of blue you find on antique plates at the flea market– yet with fresh and modern designs and patterns. Bourgault writes in her Etsy bio that she was inspired by objects that her Quebecois ancestors would have used.

It is always a joy to use beautiful objects in the kitchen. Surrounding yourself with pretty things and integrating them into your daily routine help with savoring simple moments. I think these espresso cups are particularly fetching. The bowl pictured above was given to Matt and me by two dear friends as a wedding gift last year. I keep it in the center of my dining table and fill it with a bounty of produce from the farmers’ market each Sunday. This week it has delicata squash, onions, and apples.

September sunflowers and ceramics by RossLab

Ross-Lab

RossLab is one of my favorite ceramic studios, owned & operated by Rossella Manzini in San Jose, California. I’ve been admiring her work for a few years, and I like to keep up with her new creations. Pottery is such an earnest practice– lovely objects that can be a part of your day in useful ways. Ross phrases this nicely when she says, “This is the beauty of being a potter: I make things that are beautiful to look at, yet functional and made to be lived with.” I like that so many of her pieces are painted with swooping birds and charming little hearts– cheerful things to brighten your day. This vase puts me in a good mood, especially when I fill it with flowers from the market.

 

Small-batch candles from Sydney Hale Co.

Today’s post is special because it marks a beginning. Here on the blog, you’re going to see more posts about artisans/designers/makers and the goods that they create. While this is something that you’ve always seen here, it’s now going to be a larger portion of the content. Over the past few years, my passion for handmade goods has grown, and I’ve especially come to love objects that are beautiful and inspired by the natural word. This post is also special because I had the opportunity to use a top-notch camera that I’ve been lusting after (Canon 60D for my fellow camera nerds). Unfortunately, I was just borrowing it from a pal, but I plan to invest in one in the coming months. It sure does take a crisp photograph.

But on to the good stuff…

Sydney-Hale-Candle Sydney-Hale-Woodsmoke

 

Sydney Hale Co. is a small-batch candle company in Purcellville, Virginia, run by Meghan and Chris Cook, who love dogs. They are so fond of their fluffy friends that they donate 10% of profits to dog rescue charities. Here is an adorable gallery of dogs who have benefited from the company’s donations. The concoctions they create include magical blends like Bergamot + Black Tea, Fig + Vanilla, and the one I have, Woodsmoke + Amber. Each candle, made with hand-poured soy wax, is packaged in a simple glass jar with modern, fresh design. You can purchase Sydney Hale products on the website linked above or here in their Etsy shop.

Woodsmoke + Amber smells like fall. It smells like the outdoors in the autumn when you have a fireplace burning. A combination of woodsmoke and crisp leaves. When I burn this, I feel like I live on a homestead farm in the midst of the Vermont mountains, rather than a townhouse in the suburbs of a city. I could also see it being perfect for a gentleman’s abode, since it’s an earthy, woodsy scent–a classy guy who wears cardigans and collects old books. But it works just as well for those of us who want a whiff of autumn.

Signature Scent: Bluebird from Olivine Atelier

Olivine-Bluebird

My appreciation for Olivine started when I first laid my eyes on the packaging. The simple bottle, the old-fashioned atomizer, the feather on the packaging (y’all know how I feel about birds). I tried a sample pack of More than the Stars, Oxley, and Bluebird. The first one wasn’t for me, the second one would be fab for a date night, and the third one was just right for everyday. Olivine describes Bluebird as “Sheer, ethereal, and even a little magical, it transports you back to a moment in time, to a childhood memory of safety and sunshine.” The fragrance contains orange blossom, neroli, vanilla, lily, and floral musk.

Bluebird eau de parfum by Olivine is feminine, recognizable, and sophisticated yet down-to-earth. It smells cheerful and happy, and maybe just a little bit earthy. I love seeing it on my dresser and, like my cup of Irish Breakfast tea in the morning, it makes me eager to get my day started. Unlike other scents that have made me feel like I was trying to be someone I’m not, this one suits me quite well. I think a lot of women would agree that it is hard to find a perfume that you like so much that you feel like yourself when wearing it. Unfortunately, Bluebird is limited edition!

Olivine is a small company located in Washington state. Julie Merriman Wray, a creative entrepreneur with a passion for perfume, donates  5% of her sales to women’s health charity, Every Mother Counts. When you order a bottle of Olivine, it comes in a beautiful box containing a couple of nice messages and a gold-dipped feather in a glassine bag sealed with washi tape. Julie really knows how to delight her customers!

It has been a long hunt for a scent worthy of “signature” status. My previous favorite was Tsi-La Kesu, which I still love but I was craving something a little more feminine. Isn’t it funny how a scent can really take you back to a specific moment in your life? Patchouli reminds me of my teenage Birkenstock-wearing years, Dolce & Gabbana’s The One reminds me of the spring I spent in Italy in 2009. What scents take you back to a certain time and place? 

Last gasp of summer

august afternoon

Late August is a time of change. The light becomes golden, the air gets crisp, farmers harvest their bounty, and families prepare to send their children back to school. Where I live, this time of year means that the country fairs like Common Ground (my fave), Windsor Fair, and Fryeburg Fair are all just around the corner. Although I never want to see blueberry season end, this means it’s almost apple picking time.

In the spirit of change, I decided to mix up the design on Folkloriat. I wanted a layout that’s a little more clean, simple, and fresh. The color palette is inspired by the plumage of the most beautiful and special bird, the cedar waxwing. In my family, birds were always a source of inspiration. My dad started his career as an ornithologist, and I spent hours in his office as a little girl reading field guides and sketching owls and songbirds. We even named our pets after birds (read: Sparrow the cat) and frequently went birdwatching. I still tote around binoculars in the trunk of my car. Feathered friends are close to my heart.

For the past six months I’ve been working on an exhilarating project, which came out of my “Me Year” and organically evolved into something much bigger. I’m not ready to spill the details, but I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Also coming up soon I will be posting about making your own soy wax candles with essential oils, field trips to some of the Maine country fairs, and new perfume that I’ve been loving.

What are you changing this time of year?

Happy campers in the White Mountains

August is such a bittersweet month in Maine. Bitter because it means that the days are already getting shorter and the colder months are on their way. Sweet because the sunlight is warm, the air is a bit crisp, and the sunflowers and goldenrod are blooming rich hues of burgundy and yellow. Earlier this month, I went on a camping trip with my inlaws to celebrate Matt’s birthday. We ventured to the Basin Campground, right on the New Hampshire/Maine border in White Mountain National Forest. Highlights of the trip included the overgrown meadows with wildflowers, gathering round the campfire with the dinner we made on the grill and the refreshing Rising Tide Maine Island Trail beer, and watching the supermoon rise above the trees. There is something a little magical about forest floors covered with moss, morning mist and sun filtering through the trees, and the crackle of a campfire after dark. Far away from city streets, glossy magazines, and a cell phone signal, it’s comforting to know that there are still experiences like this left to be had out there in the wild blue yonder. Give me a field guide a backpack and I’m good to go.

Harbor Herbalist Tea

harbor-herbalist

Herbs are fascinating– their scent, their healing properties, and the distinctive, interesting taste that each one has. This Digest Loose Leaf Tea, made by Harbor Herbalist in Gig Harbor, Washington is perfect for after dinner. It contains fennel, dandelion root, spearmint, ginger, and peppermint, which all aid in digestion. I am always in favor of trying natural remedies to small ailments, and herbs can work wonders. Although tea bags are handy, loose leaf teas provide more flavor and result in less waste. Harbor Herbalist’s teas also come in compostable paper bags with whimsical folk designs.

Simplifying

People frequently tell me that I live a simple life. I don’t know if they intend this to be a compliment, but I take it as one. By simple, I mean slow-paced enough to enjoy the things that matter, soak in life’s small pleasures, and lead an un-cluttered lifestyle. Here are small ways I try to keep my life simple. I’d love to hear your own tips too– please leave them in the comments!

1. Only buy the things you really, really like. Things that you see and instantly think, “oh yes, that’s coming home with me.” If you’re on the fence, don’t buy it. If you might not use it, don’t buy it. If it doesn’t fit quite right, don’t buy it. You will end up with fewer belongings and the ones you have, you will enjoy very much.

2. Use multi-purpose cleaning products. This cuts down on the amount of bottles under your kitchen sink. I like this one from Mrs. Meyer*s.

3. Sweep through your home and remove anything that you don’t like or don’t find useful. Put it in a box and hide it in your closet for a month. When the month is over, if you didn’t miss the items, bring them to Goodwill. I like to do this several times a year.

4. Say no to things you don’t want to do. We have limited time on this earth, so let’s spend as much time as we can doing things that make our heart happy.

5. Gift experiences. Everyone loves a nice scarf or a bottle of perfume, and there’s definitely room for those kinds of gifts in our lives from time to time. But don’t buy a gift just because it’s someone’s birthday and you have to. If they already have everything they need, get them something else that they will remember for a long time to come. Like a hot air balloon ride, an apple-picking excursion, a song written just for them, or a trip to Glacier National Park.

6. Make food from scratch. Buy local and seasonal ingredients. Is it just me, or do you tend to eat healthier and waste less of the food you buy if you know it is from the farm down the road?

7. Get rid of your TV. I haven’t owned a TV since college, and I’m happy with that choice. I can watch any program I want online if the mood strikes.

8. Keep digital records and back them up. Shred and recycle your paper records as much as you can.

9. Four times a year, take all your clothes and accessories out of your closet. Donate or sell the things you haven’t worn lately. Only put things back on the hanger that fit and that you feel suit your personality. Obviously this is an ideal scenario and you have to be practical, too. I have quite a few clothes that I loathe but only keep because they are necessary for the office.

10. Spend more time with positive people. People who are consistently negative or high-strung will make your life feel complicated and stressful. Shit happens to everyone every now and then, but there are people who always seem to be complaining about something. Avoid them when you can.

What are your favorite simplifying tips?

“Aromatherapeutic” household cleaner from Mrs. Meyer*s

Mrs.-Meyers-Sunflower

My husband is a neat freak and I like things tidy too, so we are constantly cleaning our house. There is nothing more unappealing, though, than the smell of toxic chemical cleaning solution. Most cleaners have a warning on them saying that they shouldn’t come in contact with your skin– that has got to be a bad sign, so I try to choose more natural options. For years, I’ve used Mrs. Meyer*s cleaning products. The entire line, including scents such as Sunflower (pictured above), Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Geranium, Bluebell, and others all have a similar, distinctive scent that the brand calls “aromatherapeutic,” which I would say is an accurate description. The Sunflower scent contains essential oils of orange, clove, bergamont, lemon, and sunflower I usually purchase Method cleaning products, as they are a bit cheaper than Mrs. Meyer*s, but we always have the All-Purpose Cleaner on hand. We use a splash of it mixed with water in a spray bottle to make dusting spray, and mix it with hot water to create a mopping solution. One bottle lasts a few months and a little goes a long way.