At our house, December 2009 was a blur of working, crafting and traveling. Somehow, in all of the excitement and frenzy of the holidays, the 31 days of 2009’s final month felt more like 13 days. There just never seemed enough time! That must be why, almost a full week into the new year, we are just now getting around to replacing all of the calendars in the house. In past years, I have always grabbed a big, glossy shrink-wrapped calendar from the big-box bookstore, but this year I am looking for something different. Because we are going to have to live with it for the next 12 months, I want something unique, clever and, of course, eco-friendly.
When I was a kid, we got in the car and drove my dad out to a nearby town to take a hot air balloon ride. I remember watching the balloons gliding through the sky. These earrings remind me of that day.
Elle got started in handmade when she was struggling with depression and loneliness. Jewelry-making was her way to be totally immersed in something that was not only positive, but kept her mind off of what she was going through. She fell in love with jewelry making and never looked back. Her style incorporates vintage pieces with modern beads.
Encouraged by friends and family she jumped into selling through her shop Elle’s Beads. After taking a blind leap, she learned as she went setting up up a business strategy, goals, and a budget.
I’ve met such great artisans, both in real life and through venues like Etsy, and I feel like I have a sense of community and belonging now.
Elle’s grandmother is a huge influence. She uses her antique sewing machine and vintage buttons to make a lot of her creations. She’s also inspired by items that people cast away as trash. She has a way of viewing things not as what they are, but what they could become with a little bit of fabric, paint, or beads. She’s also started sewing now due to her grandmother’s influence (she was a seamstress) and makes a point to only use eco-friendly materials in the accessories she makes.
My favorite item is my Vintage Sapphire and Silver Glass Pearl Necklace. It’s the first eco-friendly piece I ever made and it’s from an old vintage earring I repurposed as a brooch. I’m really passionate now about reusing old materials and making them into something beautiful and new. This necklace is a constant reminder to me of the beginning of that journey.
Elle supports the views that many of us handmade artisans have, even though handmade goods can cost more than mass-produced goods, especially those imported from overseas, they’re so much more valuable! When you buy something handmade, you’re supporting an artisan – a small business and an entrepreneur. You’re supporting a craft and a subculture that values the importance of keeping craftsmanship alive. Each handmade item is a little bit different and Elle, like all handmade artists puts her love and a part of herself in every piece.
These adorable vintage birdies are my personal favorite!
Elle is a full-time paralegal working for a non-profit in North Carolina. When not working at her day job or on her business, you can find her relaxing in front of the television, catching up on the latest book club book, or talking on the phone with her family. Online you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.
eliza B green: I’m a green designer, working with eco fabrics and existing clothes, repurposing to create something new. All my items are original, one-of-a-kind or limited edition, built from scratch.
We all know about the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse & recycle. When it comes to plastic bags, though, the last option is generally not a viable one. First of all, there is virtually no market for recycled plastic bags. Glass, paper and metal are all commonly recycled, while plastic bags are literally left to blow in the wind. We all need to take personal responsibility and place our focus on reducing and reusing to combat the bag issue.
Reducing is easy; we can all minimize our personal consumption simply by making reusable cloth bags part of our regular shopping habit. Reusing, on the other hand, sometimes takes an artistic eye and some innovative thinking to come up with a solution. It’s a good thing that there are some clever, crafty people out there willing to take on that challenge on our behalf.
When you think of Valentines Day, what comes to mind? Giant heart-shaped boxes of candy filled with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial-colours and synthetic flavours? Surely there is a better way to say “I love you” without sacrificing our commitment to better eating! Thankfully, living the life organic doesn’t have to mean giving up sweet treats.
Meeting the demands of consumers looking for high-quality, scrumptious and “better for you” confectionery products, Beth and Vincent of Have it Sweet offer an incredible range of mouth-watering products made by hand with natural, organic ingredients. “We use local farm fresh cream and organic butter, all natural, non-GMO corn syrup, organic cane sugar, organic fair trade vanilla, Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, perfectly toasted organic nuts, organic spices and extracts and unrefined salt. We are completely and utterly preservative free and 90% of our products are gluten free.”
Vincent, the brilliant pastry chef and confectioner behind Have it Sweet’s original recipes, has worked tirelessly to create a veritable rainbow of flavours that will tempt your eyes and your taste buds, such as his unique Cinnamon Almond Nougat (above). Described by Beth as “a confection created by angels”, this soft, pink-tinted nougat is made in the French style and is filled with crunchy roasted cinnamon-sugar coated almonds. Made with all-natural ingredients (including the food colouring used to give it its rosy hue), this nougat will make your sweetheart say “Ooh la la!”
What would Valentine’s Day be without a little chocolate? The adorably-named “Love is in the Airamels” (pictured above) are blushing-pink Tahitian vanilla caramels layered with Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate. Made with Have it Sweet’s secret recipe and the finest ingredients, these are caramels like no other. Plus, they’re good for you! Loaded with anti-oxidant flavonoids, dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood-pressure and increase anti-depressant serotonin levels in the brain.
As light as air and swirled with natural pink peppermint, Have it Sweet’s Pink Peppermint Marshmallows are as pretty to look at as they are fun to eat. Free of dairy, gluten, soy and nuts, these all-natural fluffy delights are perfect for snacking, floating in a mug of cocoa, or as the star of the show in a chocolate-peppermint s’more. You can also indulge your darling’s sweet tooth all year round with a gift of the “Marshmallow of the Month” club. Every month for an entire year, your Valentine will receive an eco-friendly package containing the marshmallow flavour-of-the-month. February’s flavour is, of course, Pink Peppermint. Please see Have it Sweet’s shop for more details.
Not only are all of these confections a delight to behold, they will all arrive at your door in 100% environmentally-friendly packaging. From the parchment that wraps the treats, to the tape that seals the boxes, all of the packaging materials used by Have it Sweet are recycled/recyclable and eco-friendly. As Beth sweetly puts it, “Our packaging, ingredients and core values are a symbol of who we are a company and how we feel about the earth.”