Keep it Simple in 2013!

From product design to Zen gardens, simplicity is a time honored tradition.  As a designer at Pig and Fish, I can appreciate the drive toward simplicity, but also the challenges.  "Simple" is not the same as "rudimentary" or "easy" as it takes a trained eye and disciplined creativity to pair down a design to the most basic elements.  It takes patience to continue to work on a design until it embodies the clean lines you're looking for while still holding the balance of function.  For Christmas this year, I received four thoughtful gifts from my friend Amber of Red Tile Studio, one of which was a vase from Pigeon Toe Ceramics located in Portland, Oregon.  I have long admired Lisa's business not only for her beautiful ceramic products which embrace the very design aesthetics mentioned above, but also for the marketing of her handmade business.  Lisa elevates handmade to an artform, a heirloom to be cherished and passed down.  Her copy is not heavy with descriptive wording, but is in fact straight to the heart of what her business is about - she keeps it simple.  To own one of her pieces is a true joy and an important reminder for me as I head into 2013.  It's easy to make life complicated and oh-not-so-simple, to get stressed over the extra wording of life and then the true meaning of the moment gets obscured.  In these last few months of 2012, I've discovered that life too can be simple - but it's an active choice.  A choice that is sometimes difficult to make, but a choice nonetheless.  I can run away on a big adventure of labeling and describing all my experiences or I can relax my body and mind for short moments when I naturally remember and step aside to let the true simplicity of life shine through.  As we prepare to roll back the last calendar page of 2012 and jump into 2013, my most important resolution for the new year is this - "keep it simple".  

Happy New Year everyone and tell me what your plans are for keeping it simple in 2013!

New Year's Resolution: Cook More!

1. Vegetable Garden Reversible Apron by oktak
2. Porcelain Serving Bowl in Chartreuse by L & M Studio
3. Set of 3 Dipped Wooden Spoons by Wind and Willow Home
4. Garden to Table Screen Printed Tea Towel by Homesteading Roasters

After an amazing 36 hr run of feasting, I'm stuffed!  Our festivities began on Christmas Eve with dinner at my mom's.  My mom loves to cook and even though there were just 3 of us, we had enough food for 6!  She made a delicious meal of pan sauteed haddock with a creamy mustard sauce, salad, roasted potatoes and squash, and roasted asparagus with almonds. Not to mention dessert - which I'm still snacking on - gluten & dairy free brownies with walnuts!  Christmas Day involved more eating as we started the day with homemade gluten & dairy free pumpkin spiced almond muffins - hubba, hubba!  They were amazing.  All this cooking, baking and eating has ignited a somewhat shoved aside passion of mine - spending time in the kitchen and making delicious food!  I love to cook, but often times get stuck in a rut and make the same thing over and over.  So cooking never gets shoved aside, but the passion part does.  So - for one of my New Year's Resolutions - I'm putting down "Cook More"!

Every cook needs the proper utensils and accessories to get ready and inspired - what's not to love about the adorable reversible apron by Aki of oktak, I think I'd wear it around even if I weren't cooking because it's so cute!   I love the simple beauty of Wind and Willow Home's hand dipped wooden spoons as I feel that surrounding yourself with beautiful items helps to feel inspired.   I have a great collection of serving bowls - big, small, vintage, handmade, pink, green, lots of colors - each one with a different mood and feel.  I have yet to add a porcelain item to my bowl collection, so I'm turning to Meg and Lucie's shop l&m studio for this gorgeous chartreuse footed serving bowl.  Something about porcelain just makes me happy - add the green inner glaze and I'm like a happy cow at in the pasture.  Finally, one of the most essential tools in the kitchen?  A tea towel!  I've chosen this lightweight 100% cotton tea towel with a botanical print by Mandy of Homesteading Roasters - I like to make a mess when I cook, but I also like to clean up with a sparkle.

I've put together a collection of kitchen goodies all from Etsy right here.  I'm ready to make more time to cook with passion in 2013 - what about you?

Merry Christmas!

top "Joyeux Noel" Paris Graffiti Photograph by The Paris Print Shop
bottom left Let it Snow Paper Cut Greeting Card by Mimimi Cards
bottom center Reindeer Egg Cozy by sabahnur
bottom right Red and Green Bow Pillow by Jillian Rene Decor

Aside from all the hustle and bustle associated with this one holiday, Christmas is a time for gathering and sharing.  Every family has their own traditions that take place on this day.  Growing up, homemade breakfast crepes were something to really look forward to - I loved filling mine with strawberry jam and my brother would load his up with cream cheese!  Sure, my mom could have made crepes throughout the year as a special treat, but the fact that she did not made that one morning on Christmas really, really special.   Being from Texas, I'm sure Amber of Red Tile Studio has her own Texas specific Christmas traditions - something that involves barbecuing, for sure!  

Both Amber & I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that you enjoy taking the day off to be with your loved ones!

Merry Christmas!


New Year's Eve Party Outfit - boots or flats?

1. Vintage 1950s Party Dress by Thrush
2. Avanturine Rutile 24kt Gold Necklace by Omiya
3. Black Winter Coat by Assaf Pelleg
4. 14kt Gold Pave' Diamond Earrings by Tula Jewelry
5. Leather Riding Boots by Bali Elf
6. Petal Fairy Tale Shoes by Fairysteps

Do you have big plans for New Year's Eve?  A romantic dinner for two, a lively party with friends, a night out on the town?  I do!  At least in my head.  It's pretty much the same story each year, "This year, I really want to go down to Boston for First Night and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the city!"  (Remember, I live on an island off the coast of Maine with 500 residents, so the thought of being around a crowd of people can be pretty exciting...)  But then, each year as the 31st starts to approach my determination starts to wane, "Oooh, looks like it's going to be cold and who will watch the dogs and what about the traffic on New Year's Eve, and, and, and??"  I create too many obstacles to take action and end up staying home.  I know - Bo, Bo, Bor-ring.  I'm happy to report that this year I'll probably hang out with some friends to remove at least part of the "bo, bo" from "boring".  I probably won't get dressed up, but I love to think I will because bed head girls like to look fancy too, you know! So check out the adorable vintage party dress from Thrush that I'm going to highlight with the gorgeous necklace with 24kt gold by Omiya.  A cute black corduroy jacket from Assaf Pelleg with the oh so precious diamond and gold earrings by Tula Jewelry for just the right amount of bling, but now the shoes!  Here's where I need your help.  Do you think the boots from Bali Elf OR the sweetest fairy inspired flats from Fairysteps?

Which one would you choose to finish off this outfit?

Get Organized by REorganizing in 2013 - Etsy Style!

1. Oak and Steel Desk by hedge house
2. 2013 Letterpress Calendar by one canoe two letterpress
3. Oatmeal // Wood Colorblock Container Cube - Leonamiana by sea and asters
4. Grass Mail Holder and Key Rack by Red Tile Studio
5. Stay Awesome Notepad by Toodles Noodles
6. Vintage Brown Gooseneck Desk Table Lamp by Anna Lou Vintage
7. Minimalist Solid Oak Wall Clock by Design Atelier Article

We opened our Etsy shop Pig and Fish in February of 2011 and thus began our adventure in the world of becoming an online retailer.  Our new home had the perfect layout for our studio and office - a wood shop in a separate building, a spacious finishing studio where pieces are assembled, and a beautiful office space with 9 foot ceilings.  So, here we are about to hit our 2 year anniversary and it's a perfect time to not only celebrate, but to also reflect upon what's been working and what needs to be upgraded.  I'm putting our office on the list.  Here's why.  Even though the space is awesome with a funky old metal filing cabinet, a handmade desk, printer, pens, paper, paper clips - something's still missing & I think I've figured it out.  I haven't 'owned' the space - meaning it's strictly a work space where I get the work done and not a personalized work space where I enjoy getting the work done.  See the difference?  For 2013, I want to work on making the space really cozy and welcoming - a space that encourages productivity, but also enjoyment.  I've created a virtual office with my selections, all of which can be viewed here.  

So, I'd love to hear about your office - is it functional, practical, inspiring??  Let's hear it!  

Etsy has Your Tools for Self-Care!

1. Organic All-Purpose Skin Salve by Growing Up Herbal
2. Unbind Me: Aromatherapy Massage Oil by Terra Dei Farm
3. Rest & Restore Gift Set by Little Flower Soap Co
4. Natural Skincare Facial Peel & Mask by Winsome & Green
5. Gypsy Woods Soy Candle by Blushie

Today, I wanted to explore the topic of self-care and find out where you'd rate yourself when it comes to how well you treat yourself.  I know from my own experience that I've mastered taking care of other people - to the T!  Need help moving furniture?  I'm there with my truck.  Need me to let your doggies out to do their business?  I'm there to let them out and take them for a walk.  You get the picture.  When it comes to self-care, I'll be the first to admit that I fear I fail miserably.  On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 would mean you're a rock star self-care guru, I'm probably a minus 1.  Sometimes it's just plain ol' silly determination and stubbornness which prevent me from even taking care of my basic needs - like eating breakfast.  "Oh, it's 2pm - guess I should eat breakfast now!"  The good news - I recognize that this isn't healthy.  So in 2013, I'm devoting more energy to self-care!  

I've chosen 5 handmade beauty products all available on Etsy for an indulging evening of self-pampering goodness!  I love taking baths, but unfortunately I don't take them that often - so it's a perfect place for me to begin my 2013 self-care regime.  Each of the items play a key role.  First, we've got to draw the bath - not too hot, not too cold - and add a handful of Holly's Lavender Detox Bath Salts to the running water.  Can you smell the deliciousness already?   Now, I'm going to light one of Megan's Gypsy Woods Soy Candle to invite in the woodsy essence of nature - loving it!  Holly's Rest & Restore Gift Set also comes with 1 bar of lemon lavender soap - unwrapping that too!  While taking my restorative bath, I'm going to use Christa's all natural face mask & peel which comes in a powder so I can mix it with water in my hand and apply in the tub.  Relaxing further...  Hopefully I don't fall asleep and wake up in freezing cold water because once out of the tub, I'm treating myself to Alexandra's essential oil aromatherapy massage oil Unbind Me with frankincense, juniper berry and thyme.  And finally, I'm going to love any little scrapes or dry spots with Megan's All-Purpose Skin Salve with super healing herbs like comfrey, calendula, and plantain.  Wow - I'm a new woman just thinking about it!  


Ok, your turn.  Where do you fall on the self-care scale?  


Gifts for ALL: Etsy Edition

Less than two weeks left before it's time to open those presents and I know some of you are still shopping. Here is my gift guide for everyone on your list, from family to friends and everyone inbetween. The good news is you can find all these goodies in one place, Etsy!

My picks for:
Newlyweds- keyholder by Pig&Fish
Sister- ring by Peiffer Studios

Winter in White - I think!

1. Handmade White Lampshade by Filigree Creations
2. White Lace Necklace by branchbound
3. White Wool Felted Scarf by Baymut
4. White Little Bubbles Ring in Sterling Silver by La Chica des los Anillos
5. White and Silver Paper Mache Vessel by etco

It's December 13th and the ground is covered with lots of brown leaves with naked trees staring down at the landscape below, but where's all the white stuff?  You know...  snow!  There's no snow here in Maine and I feel that I'd like at least a little snow to help put me in the holiday spirit.  One doesn't associate winter with white for no reason after all, right?  So - to cure my no-snow winter blues, I put together some beautiful white items from Etsy.  My whole collection can be viewed here.  Maybe you don't live in an area that typically gets snow in the winter, but for those that do - are you staring at a brown carpet of leaves out there or do you have some white, fluffy pretty flakes of snow?  Granted, once it does start snowing I'll be ready for spring - but for now... dare I say, "I want snow!"  

Exploring Neck Wear for Everyday Wear!

1. 22kt gold and silver necklace by Mary Anne Karren
2. sterling silver bib statement necklace by lolide
3. Wearable Fiber Art Jewelry by Elena Rosenberg
4. chunky ceramic necklace by karo Art

After living in Maine for almost 20 years now, my style has evolved to meet the rhythms of life here.  Although I'm pretty sure 'bed head' will never become a trending style, nor should it, my everyday look is one that is relaxed and casual, but with some sort of funky twist.  And no, I don't count 'bed head' as being part of that funky style - don't worry!  Instead, I like to use necklaces as a fun and easy way to give a plain t-shirt a little creative kick in the pants.  I love the geometric shapes found in each of the necklaces I've selected here - from Karo of Karo Art's bold ceramic piece to the simple, yet striking gold sphere of Mary Anne's necklace.   The wispy effect of Lori's oxidized necklace with jade stone has a delicate feel coupled with a dynamic look - see how beautiful it looks on a white t-shirt?  Elena's silk crocheted necklace creates shapes in both the positive and negative space for a really fantastic piece of neck wear art.  What's your style - will you go for the relaxed funky look in 2013?  Good news - bed head is not required!


Etsy Gift Guides for Mom!

With the first full week of December almost behind us, we're focusing on gift guides to help people find a handmade or vintage gift that will be cherished and not re-gifted!  The clock is a tickin' away here folks and so we wanted to know what people needed help with the most, because let's face it - there's always at least one person on your list that is a head scratcher!  Here's what we did.  We posted this on our Facebook page:

Can you relate to this question?  Sometimes you know exactly what to get someone and you sing praises to them when you come across those on your list that bring a slight pout to your lips.  Well, Sarah stepped forward with this comment, 
"My Mom - because even though she loves giving gifts, she always tells me she 'only wants something I'll use a lot.'  Otherwise she offers my gifts back to me!"  

Oh dear!  We didn't want a repeat of this situation for Sarah on the 25th, so we jumped in to help out!  We contacted some of our best gift guide curators and asked them to put together one collection each with 16 thoughtfully selected Etsy items that would be a match for Sarah's mom.   Amber & I jumped in and put together a total of 8 curated gift guides!  Each one has a theme and all are presented with style - we feel confident Sarah will find the perfect gift that her mom this year!


Now remember, we're all shop owners on Etsy and this puts us in a unique position to navigate within Etsy to find the best items for you.  Nic of KnitFrekkles put together this lovely gift guide for Sarah's mom and included a note: 
Mum's love to cook and the usually love to entertain, so I have chosen hostess gifts that are practical also.  Staying organized with your key holder, Bruce's spice rack, the herb drying rack and Vildans tote bag. Staying clean with Helen's apron...and of course gifts that have not practical use but are great to share, marshmallows and shortbread. 

'Mom is Always the Perfect Hostess' by KnitFrekkles

Herb Drying Rack Wooden Kitc...

Set of two soup mugs handmad...

Cottage Key Holder l TWEET ...

Honey Lavender Shortbread Co...

vintage 1920s cookbook with ...

Rustic Colander or Berry Bow...

potholders - modern lines pa...

Minimalist Nesting Bowls, th...

Test Tube Spice Rack w/ cork...

Butterscotch Marshmallows, E...

Simply Tote Bag in Khaki - u...

brown stoneware bottle potte...

Casual, Simple Tote Bag, Buc...

Bistro Half Apron - Bold Plu...

Nine Garden Markers With Wax...

Art for the kitchen, holiday...

Another shop owner that we invited to participate in this spontaneous gift giving mission was Nichole of Etsy shop TheParisPrintShop.  Nichole is also a copywriter and I smiled when I saw her note for Sarah where she lists out some "fun justification for why it's useful for Sarah to use with her mom".  Her inner creative writer couldn't resist telling a story about each one of her selections for Sarah's mom - how cool is that?   Read below and follow along using the image below, you'll soon be smiling too:

A Cowl to stay warm. 
A pillow to rest on. 
An apron to stay clean. 
A board for cutting. 
A forest to get lost in. 
A necklace to clutch (breathless optional) 
A bouquet to brighten. 
A balm to heal.
A planter to grow things. 
A holder to hang. 
An earring set to adorn. 
A painting to inspire. 
A caramel (or three!) to satisfy. 
A cuff to stay cozy. 
A chart to help out. 

A throw to sink into.  

'Sarah's Mom ' by littlebrownpen

Cabled Cowl Infinity Loop Ci...

White and Yellow Flower PILL...

Kitchen Apron - Oatmeal

Rustic Walnut Serving Tray F...

Porcelain Little Pine Forest...

Personalized Initial Necklac...

craspedia cluster in white- ...

Lip Balm, Organic Eco Lip Ba...

Succulent Rock Trio Planters

Modern Candle Holder l Yello...

Faceted Cube Gold and Silver...

Catherine Listens To The Omi...

Fleur de Sel Caramel Club - ...

Crochet Boot Cuffs in Dark S...

Kitchen Conversions Art Prin...

Luxurious PLUSH Texture Hone...

If you're looking for the perfect gift for your mom this holiday season, don't miss out on all 8 of our gift giving guides!  Each one is special and oh so unique - just like your mom!  And remember, if you have anyone on your list that you'd really love some help shopping for, drop in a comment here and we'll be there to help you be a gift giving super star this year!

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