Spring Organization: Kitchen

One room in your home that you may spend the most time in is your kitchen. Especially if you have a large family to take care of; preparing school lunches, sorting groceries after shopping trips, creating a dinner menu for the month. Keeping your kitchen organized will keep the stress minimal and allow you to actually enjoy spending this essential time in your kitchen instead of having to worry about whether or not everything is in its place.

When you enter your kitchen to prepare a meal, make sure all of your favorite recipes are neatly written and are all kept in the same place. The easier things are to find, the quicker you can get down to business and complete the meal prep and have more time to spend enjoying the meal with your friends or family. The recipe box pictured above comes complete with illustrated letterpress recipe cards for a cute, handmade look. The box that holds the cards is even handcrafted by the artist in her Dad’s woodshop. Find this item along with many other original letterpress designs over at the shop of 1canoe2.

Organize your kitchen utensils with this unique handmade concrete canister. The artist at Culinarium has created a unique concrete mixture that allows his products to have a smooth texture that is physically similar to that of ceramic or aluminum! In this shop you will find other handmade items made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled rubber, concrete, cork, and aluminum for a chic, industrial style design.

If you have been on Etsy lately, then you probably noticed the trend with these adorable magnetic spice racks. SaltCitySpice turns these functional spice racks into works of art for your kitchen. There are many styles in this shop, but my favorite is the one pictured above. A silver serving platter has been altered with a chalkboard paint for a re-writable surface to jot down your shopping list, to label your spices, or to write down meal ingredients. Magnetic tins of your favorite spices are within easy reach and can be arranged on the surface in any configuration your heart desires. Find a large variety of these magnetic spice racks at SaltCitySpice!

Interview with Alexandra Ferguson

[hLeah]

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Alexandra Ferguson lives in New York with her little cat named Jasper, who is covered mostly in downy, soft under-fur and has long handsome legs. She includes her upstairs friend, Catrina, and her 1-year-old daughter, Hannah, as her family and they eat dinner together more than they don’t. Alexandra describes herself as a workaholic who loves to drive with the top down on the west side in the summer, go on dinner dates with her boyfriend, and have a strong cup of coffee in the morning and a good cup of wine in the evening. She no longer sews in her pajamas and has graduated to a nice pair of sweatpants, which she likes to pair with a cashmere sweater so she can feel and look smart. And depending on her mood, she’ll be listening to either cheesy pop or melancholy folk music while she works.

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Do you work at home?

I live in a loft apartment that used to be a department store. It has soaring 16 foot ceilings, which makes such a huge difference. I’ll go to someone else’s apartment that is the same square footage with regular height ceilings and I can’t believe how much smaller it feels. I have the original hard wood floors from the department store days and exposed concrete beam ceilings which gives it a gritty look, but then a modern kitchen and a marble bath which makes it comfortable. It’s a great backdrop inspiration for my work.

My place is a 1/2 mile away from my mom’s where I grew up in lower Westchester. When I was 6, we lived in France for a year, but beyond that I have always lived in NY. I even went to college in the city. Sometimes I wish I could be a bit more nomadic, but if you have spent your life moving within a 30 mile radius, you start to give up on the fantasy of picking up and moving to LA. This is where I belong.

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How long have you been creating pillows? How did you get started?

I started making pillows as a gift for Catrina’s birthday this past November. Since Christmas was around the corner, I kept going and everyone got pillows for the holidays. Then I was done with my annual crafting. For about a week. Then Catrina’s sister, Kim, came round and saw the original pillows I made for her and told me about Etsy. The shop went live in the middle of January. And it has been a whirlwind since.

Do you sew other items?

I am game to sew anything so long as it is for the home. I am looking to expand the line into tote bags and pouches too. My project for just this morning actually is to make wall art, which will be the same thing as making a pillow but then we will staple it around a canvas frame instead of set a zipper. I’m really excited. I will not sew clothes.

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Tell us about your daytime job.

My career has been in the fashion industry as a technical designer and as a studio manager. I worked for Rebecca Taylor and Zac Posen, and now I am freelancing a couple of days a week for a Kohl’s licensee company. It’s great because I have now worked on lines from the Wal-mart level right up to designer couture. A lot of my experiences working for these houses has been really useful as I start my own line. If you can develop and manufacture a dress, you can certainly do it for a pillow. Fashion is a really intense industry. This past February was the first season in a long long time that I wasn’t putting on a runway show. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to walk past the tents and Bryant Park and not be overcome with dread and exhaustion. But now I work 7 days a week until 2 am for my own line, so I am back on runway schedule again. But it doesn’t hurt nearly as much when you are working for yourself.

Where do you get your materials?

I get everything online. It is so much cheaper, and it saves trips around town.

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How much of your materials are recycled? Why do you use them?

The felt that I use is 100% recycled from post-consumer water bottles. There is a neat show about it from the history channel. You can watch the process here.

It is such a great material to work with. The quality of the felt is really good and surprisingly soft. It is a great added bonus that it happens to be totally eco-friendly to boot.

I am doing research now to find an eco-friendly pillow insert too. For now I want to make my work accessible and affordable to most people so I use a polyfill insert, but I would like to offer the option of an eco insert too.

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Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere! I have to keep long lists because I can’t sew fast enough. I have some beautiful photography books of flowers that I like to reference sometimes, and always keep an ear out for song lyrics that might be funny on a pillow. Friends help out too. Its a good lunch time game with your colleagues–what would you put on a pillow?

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Do you do other kinds of crafts? How long have you been making jewelry?

I made jewelry a couple of years ago and if Etsy had been around then who knows what path my life would have taken! I had no selling outlet at the time, so I made as much as I could until I was broke and then I got a job. I feel like the jewelry market right now is pretty saturated though, so once I sell through my current inventory I think I will call it a day.

One hobby that I have had since I was a tot was painting. Right now I am into acrylics. I have been working on a 15 foot mural in my kitchen for about 2 years. It’s a rolling kaleidescope landscape populated with little fantasy creatures. It’s great because it will never be done, I can always move someone else in. I have also done portraits of Jasper and my fish George, and my mom’s dog Hugo. I’m really into Egrets as well, there are a couple of those around the house. I am running out of wall space. Good thing I took a break to make pillows. But now that I am going to hang the pillow designs on the wall? Back to square one.

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What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Running my company! Maybe when the company grows and I can afford employees, I can work less than 90 hours a week. But I am starting to doubt that I will be able to stop.

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Welcome to today's obsession

As you will see, I have a bit of a problem when it comes to the subject of fingerless gloves, wrist warmers, mittenettes, handwarmers or gauntlets. Whatever you call them, my Etsy favorites list is full to the brim with them. Allow me to show you the best I’ve found in the hope that it will keep me from buying up each and every pair myself!


$32 by Chez Plum.


$34 by Coquelicot Salon.


$32 by Jeannie Knits. These need to come live in my coat pockets.


$35 by While They Play.


$65 (mmm, cashmere!) by Adventures of Jessica Rose. (I have room in my pockets for these too!)

I love them all. Which pair(s) spoke to your taste?

Simple Fun For Kids.

The idea of recycling isn’t just about separating your household waste into piles of glass, paper and organic waste. Like the above photo from Skip To My Lou, recycling is a cute way of having fun – as well as keeping little people busy and entertained with these juice carton boats.

I love the idea of simple, easy to make crafts and home made treats – especially when minimal mess is acquired making said crafts and home made treats!

Much like these yummy looking Ritz cracker snacks, made by my sister-in-law, Amy.

These are a straight forward make and you will need:

Ritz crackers/a cheaper alternative.
Peanut butter.
Chocolate (Amy has used white chocolate, but you can probably use just about any variety.)
Sprinkles.

Melt the chocolate: you can try the bowl in the pan method or the microwave method. Sandwich together 2 plain crackers, spread a little peanut butter in the middle (to hold the crackers together) then dip into the melted chocolate and add sprinkles to them – the last two steps my 4 year old nephew helped out with meanwhile my 2 year old nephew sat that part out and was on hand to taste-test.

I was so impressed with these cute little treats and it further affirms to me that from simple things come great things – and you don’t need to break the banks doing it, or expend a lot of energy making things.

Much like these sweet (literally) building block marshmallow straws from Makes and Takes, a crafting blog jam-packed full of crafty ideas for kids, family time, recipes, home projects and so on.

For instructions to make these marshmallow/straw building blocks.

More uses from the stuff you’d normally throw into the recycling – egg carton caterpillars from Skip To My Lou. A good one for The Very Hungry Caterpillar fans, especially!

So when keeping it simple on the craft and making front with kids, make it accessible and inclusive to kids of all ages. Devise tasks for all age groups according to their ability levels, encourage (but don’t over bear) their creative and crafty sides – and remember to get them to help with the cleaning up process, too!

VIP Handmade Valentines

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I know it’s still January, but have you put any thought into the Valentines your child will be exchanging at school this year? While it’s fun to get all glittery and gooey, it’s not technically necessary to get your hands dirty anymore. You can go the VIP route and order up some of these super cool valentines, from Peas and Thank Yous customized for your child, in time for Valentines day. Just be sure to get your order in soon!

I like that there are both boy and girl versions of these Rocker/Princess Ticket style valentines and that the design is so funky and fresh. It’s easy to go kitsch with Valentines and these are a graphic and surprising twist (but still sweet!).

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Check out all the awesome paper goodness in Peas and Thank You’s Etsy Shop.