Local Purchases

While we were at the Chestertown Farmers’ Market, we picked up a couple of items made by local artists and crafters.  The first is a lovely vanilla soap from Shore Natural Gifts.  We wound up buying a few of these because they smelled so good… like actual vanilla, which is because the women at Shore Natural make their vanilla soap by hand-grating vanilla beans.  It looks like they sell their soap at markets and fairs in Maryland and DC, so local folks might want to keep an eye out for them.

I also picked up this handmade book, created by talented artist Stephanie Somers, who in addition to blank books, makes beautiful woodcut prints, photographs, etc.  I especially liked her “Loon with a View” woodcuts.

And while I’m talking about local purchases, I also had to mention this amazing crème brûlée candle from Rockville-based Chesapeake Bay Candle Company, which now makes candles from a facility right in Anne Arundel County.

I’m pretty selective when it comes to scented candles (a lot of them give me a headache), but this one has such a warm, inviting smell.  And unlike some scented candles which smell great when you stick your nose in them, but don’t have any impact when you light them, the crème brûlée smell really permeates our house.  It’s our current favorite.

{Note: I don’t have any affiliation with these companies or artists.  All opinions are my own.}

Summer Wrap-Up

This weekend, my friend S. and I made wrap bracelets.

We’ve both had stressful summers, and a rainy afternoon of bracelet making was just about perfect.  Over the years, S. and I have occasionally gotten together to make things — cards, necklaces, cookies.  This was one of my favorite projects we’ve done to date.  We followed the tutorial here, and once we got the hang of it, the process was pretty simple.  If anyone is looking for an afternoon of zen-like bracelet-making, here’s a helpful hint: pick up the brass ball chain and hex nuts at Home Depot.  Easy and inexpensive — love it!

Mosaic Pumps

After I swam my laps last week, I found a shady lounge chair near the pool and a back issue of Harper’s Bazaar.  Which is where I spotted these shoes from Stuart Weitzman’s new line, SW1.

When I was in Italy during college, I took an inordinate number of pictures of the marble mosaic floors of various churches.  (For marble, my favorite was Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.)  And these heels bring me right back to Santa Maria Maggiore.

I find the pumps arresting: bold and original in their own right, and yet also engaged in conversation — across time and genre — with Italian Renaissance craft.  Two forms (church floors and shoes) that transcend their functions, becoming not only useful objects but also art.

Judging from the Harper’s Bazaar‘s article on SW1 (check it out here) creative director Alvaro Gonzalez’s vision for the line involves many such cross-disciplinary conversations.

Mostly Martha

A few years ago I had a friend who ran a small foreign film club.  Her club was getting ready to watch “Mostly Martha,” and she recommended it to me.  I’ve watched the movie a few times since and really enjoyed it — it has compelling characters and a well-crafted story.  And there’s something I really appreciate about Martha’s low-key minimalist style.  The outfit above — one of my favorites from the film — is simple and understated.  But I admire the bold color pairing, and the way the style so exactly suits Martha’s character.

Hair Unhappy

Like many curly-haired women, I’ve always had a somewhat complex relationship with my hair.  Most of the time I like my hair and am happy it’s curly.  But this summer it started bringing me down.  Which sounds like a strange thing to say.  But more than any other aspect of my appearance, my hair affects my mood.  If I’m having a great hair day, I can wear old clothes and no makeup and feel pretty good.  If my hair is frizzy or uncontrollable or otherwise awful, I don’t feel like myself all day.

For several weeks, my hair wasn’t looking its best, and I wasn’t feeling my best either.  Finally, I decided to make a change.  My friend Jenny recommended a flat iron and some hair products, and I decided to give it a whirl.  I’m so happy I did.

I’ve been wearing my hair straight for a couple of weeks now, and I feel a lot better about my appearance.  I also find it interesting to see myself a little differently.  Straight, my hair looks lighter than it does curly.  And it’s significantly longer.  But it isn’t just my hair that looks different.  It changes the shape of my face.  And certain facial features seem to have more or less emphasis.

I think it can be good sometimes to push myself into unfamiliar territory, to look at myself in a different light.  And though usually that means challenging myself professionally or taking a risk in my personal life, in this case, the shifting perspective is physical.

I’m sure eventually I’ll go back to wearing my hair curly.  But I’m enjoying this little sojourn — this little curly-hair vacation.

Low-key Polish

This Bamboo Bruna Clutch from Calypso St. Barth is so pretty, and perfect for a relaxed but polished summer look.  I’ve been admiring it for a couple months now, but, alas, it’s out of my price range for a seasonal clutch.  (And I think it might be sold out now anyway.)

I sometimes find clutches challenging.  My camera doesn’t fit in most of them, and I don’t like to leave it behind.  So half the time I wind up leaving my clutches at home and bringing a larger but less glamorous handbag.  I suppose this could be one argument in favor of an iPhone, but I’m not ready to take that plunge.

Meanwhile, I can continue to drool over this gorgeous bamboo bag.  Wouldn’t it look great with just about anything?  I can see it lending a relaxed, artistic flair to a more formal navy or coral dress, or creating a sense of polish and sophistication paired with a gauzy white sundress, or casual linen shorts.