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.

The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

 

It’s been a very long time since I’ve purchased a new cookbook. I think this is because there are endless recipes available online now, but every kitchen still needs at least a few trusty and well-loved recipe books. I’ve been lusting after The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison for quite awhile, and I finally bit the bullet and bought it on sale. Madison was the founder of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in the world.

This book is a wealth of lovely recipes. It has a whopping 665 pages, and recipes that cover sandwiches, soups, salads, main dishes, grains, pasta dishes, breakfast, sweets, and lots of other categories. Some of the ones I can’t wait to try are Fattoush; Spicy Carrot Salad with Paprika, Feta, and Olives; Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage; Cardamom Holiday Bread; Sweet and Sour Stir Fry, and the list goes on and on. Many of the recipes are very simple. On one hand, I really like that because they are easy to make and don’t require a lot of time invested. On the other hand, a lot of them are so simple that they aren’t far off from dishes that I would make anyway without even referencing a cookbook. But the recipes in this book are seemingly endless and I get lots of ideas for new and interesting concoctions flipping through it.

Judging a book by its cover is something I do pretty often (you can’t help it if you love design, right?), and this one has a dynamite cover with a rich aubergine hue and gilded herb designs. The pages inside have clean, modern, and beautiful type, which make them a joy to read.

Some of the other cookbooks on my shelf include Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, and anything by Jamie Oliver.

What are your favorite cookbooks?

Day trip to Portsmouth and Kittery

One of my favorite places to take a day trip is Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On my most recent drive there, I stopped in Kittery, Maine, which is right across the bridge from Portsmouth. I was pleasantly surprised by the adorable and friendly downtown area in Kittery, as I previously knew it only as an outlet town crawling with tourists. The sunflowers were blooming downtown, which made me extra happy because they are one the things I love most about the month of August.

Here is my short list of must-visit places from the Portsmouth/Kittery area.

 

1. Folk – I may have a natural bias for this place, since I am Folkloriat after all. A delightful shop with a hint of wild west, bohemian patterns, and folk simplicity. Stationery, leather bags, textiles, and jewelry. Love. I was so tempted to buy everything that I left with nothing because once I start, I’m sure I couldn’t stop.

2. Lil’s Cafe - A friend and I ate gazpacho and salad here. We thought, okay, that was decent, let’s get a treat for the road, unprepared for the deliciousness that was their Almond Croissant. I’m quite certain that it was the. best. croissant. I’ve. ever. tasted. Yep, it was that good. Try one with their cold-brewed iced coffee (they serve Tandem Coffee), and you will be in heaven. You’re welcome.

3. Gus & Ruby – This is the cutest little paper store I ever did see. It is brimming with colorful & fresh paper products, including journals, art prints, funny and unique cards, and other sundries. If you enjoy pretty paper products, you will love this shop, I promise.

Getaway to Millinocket Lake, Maine

Last weekend, Matt and I took a getaway to Millinocket, Maine, where we rented a cute little cabin called the “Fox Den” at the New England Outdoor Center to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  I would highly recommend this place for folks who want to be immersed in nature but don’t want to rough it with the bugs at a campsite. NEOC has cabins ranging from the small one that we rented to much larger ones for a big group. Many of them were built not long ago in 2009, and they have some luxe details. They also come with a kitchen so you can cook a simple meal, but there is also a main lodge with a restaurant. You can swim, use the kayaks and canoes out on the lake, use the fire pits, or drive up to Baxter State Park, about 20 minutes north of NEOC. I particularly enjoyed having breakfast on the deck of the cabin and canoeing on the lake.

Here are some snapshots from our trip.

What’s in my summer makeup travel bag?

Folkloriat's summer makeup bag

Last summer I posted what I was bringing in my makeup bag for a trip, and to this day it’s still one of my most-read posts. I think that’s because we’re all nosy and we like to know what other people have inside their bags. Here’s what I brought with me last weekend when Matt and I rented a cabin on Millinocket Lake. The setting was super casual, but we also went out for dinner for our anniversary so I wanted to look presentable.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation: This is a loose powder foundation with good coverage. I love that this foundation is chemical-free and that the brand carries shades for every skin tone. I have found that the tricks to applying it evenly are to put a base underneath it (I use the Dr. Hauschka translucent makeup listed below) and also to use a dense, synthetic brush such as the one from Alima with the wooden handle pictured here.

Dr. Hauschka Translucent Makeup: This feels like moisturizer when you apply it. It’s very lightweight and it contains natural ingredients like avocado oil and witch hazel. I also really like the subtle herbal scent that it has.

Dr. Hauschka Bronzing Powder: A pressed powder bronzer for fair-skinned people. I am not certain that this is still available in the U.S., and I have hit pan, so I’m on the hunt for a new bronzer to try. Suggestions?

Well People The Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara: This is my latest find, an all-natural mascara. It is less expensive than the Kjaer Weis mascara that everyone loves so much. I think it works quite well, though on a really humid day it can start to transfer under your eyes after about 5 hours.

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Blossoming: I got a sample size of this blush from Spirit Beauty Lounge, and I really like it. It’s a rosy pink and I find it to be really flattering on pale skin. In case you are not familiar with this company, they create nontoxic makeup in eco-friendly, reusable packaging — you just pop out the pan and replace it with a new one.

RMS Beauty Lip Gloss in Bloom: A neutral coral pink that is a “my lips but better” color.

RMS Uncover Up: I apply this below my eyes to help cover dark circles. It has coconut oil in it, which means that it is also moisturizing.

I also brought two brushes and an eyelash curler. The zippered pouch (no longer available) is from More & Co.