inspiration: modern crafters

by darraugh collins in

I love Instagram for many reasons, particularly for introducing me to the wave of what I call, modern crafters - those who are bringing excitement back to the granny crafts like embroidery, macrame, and quilting. Here are three whose work I'm truly inspired by:

Sarah K. Benning

Sarah is a 2013 graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who currently lives in Menorca, Spain. What started as a hobby while working as a full-time nanny has quickly turned into her primary job. I love Sarah's fresh and vibrant designs that reflect her respect for nature. Aren't they fantastic?! Visit Sarah's website to see more.

Emily Katz

Emily is a multi-talented creative with a passion for macrame, especially teaching it to others. Visit her site, Modern Macrame, to learn how you can take one of her workshops or online courses. I'm signing myself up, as I'm crazy for macrame! What's happening to me?!

Kristin - Swell and Cloth

There was a time when I decided to teach myself to quilt and I was crazy into it; however, I suffered from needing a bit more instruction. Seeing Kristin's work inspires me to learn more and pick it up again. She does fun and truly modern quilts that are perfect for babies and children. Check her out on Etsy, here.

Inspired by other modern crafters? Share them here.

find: quin candy

by darraugh collins in

I love sugar as much as the next person. This coming from someone trained as a pastry chef. However, these days I'm a bit choosier with what I consume. I also try to limit my intake of sugar. But when it comes time to splurge, I like it to be on something worthy...where transparency is the name of the game. I want to know there's no funny business going on. Give it to me straight, because I read the label on everything. That's why I love hearing about businesses like Quin. They take pride in not only their products, but also their ingredients. This Portland, Oregon based company has two retail locations and an online store. I saw their products recently while in Durham, North Carolina, as well as being mentioned in Better Homes and Gardens magazine (Feb. 2016).

*images via Quin Candy

inspiration: shiplap

by darraugh collins in

I had three magazines with me on a recent flight, and each of them featured shiplap. Within the past several months I've been seeing more shiplap interiors on blogs and shows like HGTV's Fixer Upper. Previously, I was not familiar with what started out in the 19th century as an inexpensive siding for barns and sheds. These days, it's popping up everywhere as a rustic chic interior material. Kitchens, baths, mudrooms - you name it, shiplap is making its presence known. Personally, I adore the look of it. If you're still not sure what it is, basically, it's thin boards that have "rabbet" joints to allow the pieces to lock together in the back. Traditionally, the pieces are hung horizontally, though I have seen some recently that were vertical. Take a look...

What do you think of shiplap? Have you used it? Please share...


* images via Country Living February and March 2016, Better Homes and Gardens February 2016, and Pinterest*

find: elizabeth w

by darraugh collins in ,

I was in Durham, North Carolina again over the weekend to help my friend finish up her nursery. We stopped to eat and shop at one of my favorite places, Parker and Otis. While at the counter paying, I noticed a rosemary lip balm by elizabeth W that I couldn't pass up. Clean and simple packaging, and it wasn't filled with bad ingredients. The rosemary scent isn't overwhelming - and I love rosemary! Later, I checked out the website of this San Francisco based company and there are other scents of lip balm along with body care and relaxation items that look really good.

read: dear sugar by cheryl strayed

by darraugh collins in

I became a fan of Cheryl Strayed after her 2012 memoir, Wild, but it's the book Tiny Beautiful Things that let's you truly see how her life shaped her talent not only for writing, but also for providing compelling advice to anyone struggling with...well, life. And when I say life, I mean everything - love, marriage, family, children, vices, addictions,'s all part of life.

Cheryl was asked by Steve Almond, former editor of online site The Rumpus, to take over as the anonymous advice columnist, Dear Sugar. This story could've turned out completely differently if she'd said "no". She was already a writer of considerable merit with a busy life, and this gig wasn't going to pay the bills. But as luck would have it, she said "yes". The book, Tiny Beautiful Things, came from that "yes", because it is a collection of the letters she received along with her responses (and of course, it is now known that she IS Dear Sugar). Not only is the writing so good, but Cheryl uses stories from her own life to explain the advice she's giving - and it's so heartfelt and meaningful. You really understand how this woman took a life filled with many hard experiences, and used it to bring clarity to moments when others were seeing darkness. If you enjoy this book, as I did, you can now find Cheryl and Steve doing Dear Sugar Radio on NPR station WBUR, which is a continuation of Dear Sugar.

find: hazel village

by darraugh collins in ,

While helping a friend put together the nursery for her baby, I stumbled upon this adorable brand of stuffed animals called Hazel Village. This brainchild of Jane Van Cleef began in 2010 and has been wildly popular with the animals being sold at places including Barney's, J. Crew, and ABC Home (one of my favorite stores!). The animals are designed in Brooklyn (where some are also made) and most are made at an organic-certified, fair labor factory in India. These are toys meant to grow with your child and encourage their imagination through play. There are other outfits available for the animals that are ridiculously cute, as well. You can find some outfits in child sizes, so your kids can match their favorite animal. You can also get an adorable monogram sewn on inside a heart. Each animal comes with a personal story and has a reusable cotton bag with a lavender and mint sachet. What I love most is that they're not made of plastic, don't include batteries, and they're made of organic materials that are safe for children.

*images via Hazel Village


try this: infrared sauna therapy

by darraugh collins in ,

Last night, we tried a new infrared sauna therapy place here in St. Louis called Sol Sweat. As an avid follower of Dr. Mercola, I'd been hearing about how much he recommends the benefits of a far infrared sauna. This type of sauna differs from the others in that it heats you from the inside out, versus the outside in. The benefits can be many, including detoxification, skin purification, weight loss, pain relief, wound healing, lower blood pressure, and of course the benefits of pure relaxation while doing it. I've also read about the benefits to those with chronic conditions such as Lyme disease and autism, and also to athletes trying to improve performance and post-muscle workout recovery. At Sol Sweat each session is 40 minutes maximum, but you can work up to that amount of time if you have high levels of toxicity, or other health conditions that recommend it. I encourage you to search your area to see if this type of experience is available to you. The health benefits are certainly worth it. If you're here in St. Louis, be sure to check out the introductory deals being offered at Sol Sweat.

*photos via Sunlighten

healthy living: hail merry

by darraugh collins in ,

We're big fans of Hail Merry products since they're gluten-free and filled with high quality fat and no yucky ingredients. This female-led business was born of the desire to share the power of healthy foods. Their product line consists of tarts, macaroons, "grawnola", and nuts & seeds - and we love them all. I even urged Bob to start carrying the line in the market at his hotel since it's impossible to find healthy snacks while traveling - and so many people are eating gluten-free. I've found them locally at our Whole Foods, but perhaps they're carried by another retailer near you.

on my radar: hotel providence in paris

by darraugh collins in ,

I'm a huge fan of hotel design, and couldn't resist sharing this newly opened Parisian boutique hotel that I spied on The wallpaper (and matching lamp shades) along with the rich tones and dramatic wall colors create a purely romantic atmosphere you'd expect to find in the City of Light.