31 March 2012

Weekend DIY: Easter Egg Decor

What a better way to celebrate the vibrant colors of spring than incorporating them in our Easter celebration. I am smitten with all creative DIYs on the Internet about dyeing and decorating Easter eggs and not only do I want to share them with you but I am trying to find a way to make them all. I guess I will need a really long Easter for that.

For the first project found at Martha Sewart you will need beautiful small leaves to imprint on the egg shell but this time you don't need a hard-boiled egg. You can use blown-out instead. Watch a video here.

Photo via Marta Stewart

Here is another lovely project found at Poppytalk that would be fun for the children in the house. You can paint blown-out eggs with water colors and add a tiny wish inside.

Photo via Poppytalk

Or you can use tattoo paper to transfer any pattern on either blown-out or hard-boiled eggs the way they show us on Country Living.

Photo via Country Living

What are you crafting today?

30 March 2012

Handmade for Earth Day Auction

For all of us, earth-conscious artists, April is marked by Earth Day. On April 22nd, more than one billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day 2012 under the motto Mobilize the Earth. People will express their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection. Together we can make everything better!

As a member of the most sustainable, creative and eco-friendly team on etsy,  Team Eco Etsy, this year I am going to take a more substantial part in Earth Day, apart from inspiring the people around me to live an ethical green life.

This year a team of 300 eco-minded people will celebrate and raise awareness about Earth Day, by sponsoring Handmade for Earth Day Auction, the proceeds of which will be donated to National Park Foundation to support its on-going restoration and maintenance of national parks in America.

Team Eco Etsy's poster announcing the auction and a photo by me!!

Handmade for Earth Day Auction will feature treasuries filled with eco-goodies by Team Eco Etsy members. The bidders will be able to bid on as many categories as they want.

The auction will begin Monday, April 2, 2012 and will end on Sunday, April 22th, 2012. The winners will be announced on Monday, April 9th, 16th and 23th, 2012.

What better moment than that to use one of my nature photographs for the auction poster? You cannot imagine how proud I am to see my photo used for such a noble cause!

What is more, I donated my Whale Watching photo for the auction, so if you are an admirer of my surreal line of fine art photography, you can bid, win AND help  National Park Foundation!

In other words, every day, until Earth Day, you will be able to do something good! This is what I call pro-action! To learn more about  our Handmade for Earth Day Auction, head to the Eco Etsy blog.

I am looking forward to take action with you in saving nature. Together we are stronger!

29 March 2012

Scandinavian Spring: March in Norway

March has it all! The snow, the spring, the flowers, the sun... It is a rich, vibrant month, carrying new aromas, views and vibrant colors on the wings of the spring wind. Once it was even the first month of the year exactly because of the awakening it brings.

March in Southern Norway has been a good friend this year - warm and gentle. We already forgot the crocuses but still expect the daffodils. And here I am, in between flowers, on the ground (again) with my camera. The buzz of the bees reminds me there is much work to be done and I walk away to the next sunny spot and the next perfect setting for a photo.

Enjoy March in Norway as I have captured it on my walks.

How is March going in your part of the world?

28 March 2012

Simple Living Tip: Make Way for Idle Time

The last days of March have never been warmer in Norway. So warm that we can lay on the beach until sunset. Quite the Mediterranean dream some thousands of miles north of it.

So here I am, on a regular March weekday, lying in my husband's arms on the beach. His slow breathing and the repetitive rising and falling of his chest set me in a trans-like mood that sharpens my sensitivity and makes me forget all about blogging, deadlines, plans and schedules. Even my camera lays forgotten in its bag some feet away.

Photo: Kanelstrand

I close my eyes and let the young sun rays caress my eyelids. Behind them all is dark but comfortable. My place. I listen. I listen with all my being. The waves of the North Sea crash lazily on the wet sand on the left. On the right there is an almost insane but hardly noticeable cracking -- the small birds play in the forest. They peck, dab and nibble on the pine cones; then they hop from branch to branch on the tall Norwegian pines that have been growing right by the beach for the past 100 years. 

A gust of wind that playfully ruffles my hair sounds like a storm up above on the high cliff at the close end of the beach. The pine branches get way more ruffles up there than my hair does, comfortably hidden between the dunes. 

A sound on the left -- a raven announces the coming back of a fishing boat, followed by a large flock of shiny white seagulls milling about it lured by the smell of fish.

And then again, the whimsical forest song echoing from hundreds of tiny yellow breasts -- my friends, the Great Tits. Their songs are versatile and joyful. "Birds are happier than men"* but not today. Because today I can relish this incredible spring performance and keep it in my mind.

Only now I notice -- I have stopped breathing. I am so devoted to the moment that I have been keeping my breath forever. Inhale. Deeply. The sea air fills my lungs with salty-sweet freshness.  Exhale. No,  I want to keep it -- inhale again. If I go on living here, between the boreal forest and the sea, I will live forever.

But right now, I want to share with you this breath of fresh air that will keep you young, or at least that's what the experts claim will happen if you take regular walks by the sea or better yet, combined with a pine forest. I hope that you can re-live the tiny stretch of idleness with me and pause, at least for a moment, in your busy day. Please, stop what you are doing and imagine you are here with me, on that same sandy beach between the North Sea and the Pine Forest.

Wherever you live you can find your magic spot - the one that will soothe you and inspire your work or your hobby. For some that place is close to water, for others it is on a mountain top, and yet others enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy town.

Wherever that spot is, go there today. Close your eyes and have an idle moment. You deserve it. Because really, idleness is not idle at all, it is a necessary physical slowing down that will feed your brain and launch you higher than you have dared to dream.

If that place coincides with mine, or if you are curious to see how our beach looked in the early morning of quite a similarly memorable spring day, if you like swans and ravens, see the video that my husband shot especially for you. I think the seagull that appears in 00:40 is very possibly one of the fishing boat's crew. We live in a small place, we know each other.

And don't forget to turn the volume up to hear my feathery friends' songs. 

Where is your magic spot where you can relax and recharge?

*A quote by Icelandic Nobel Prize laureate Halldór Laxness

27 March 2012

Eco Friendly Wedding Dresses

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti. 

One of my BFFs just started planning her wedding (yay!), so naturally I've been eyeballing all sorts of pretty dresses lately. Which just makes me wish I could have my wedding all over again, but since it's silly to have a vow renewal after 2.5 years of marriage, I have to live vicariously through her for now.

But for ladies actually IN the market for a wedding dress (or a vow renewal), I found some fabulous ones from Janay A. Handmade.

This tea length, made-to-order dress features pockets and is available with an optional tie-on underskirt to make it longer. The shorter version we have above is $1,600....

And the longer version is $2,800.

For ladies who want something more nature-inspired, this gown has a gorgeous petal motif on the back:

And again with the pockets, which is just about the smartest thing you can put in a wedding dress. Hello, Kleenex and lip balm. $2,500.

All gowns are made from vintage and organic fabrics, and you can view the entire collection on Etsy or the Janay A. website. Ladies in the Kansas City area can pop into their showroom, too! And if you don't see exactly what you're looking for, custom orders are always welcome.

Did you have an eco friendly wedding dress? Or are you thinking about going that direction?

All photos posted with permission from Janay A. Handmade.

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.

26 March 2012

Simple Living Tip: Walk More

We've all heard it all too often - walk more! It is a kind of a mantra that unsurprisingly hits right on the spot. Life has grown beyond sedentary. Not only do we spend more time sitting but the time that 20 years ago was subconsciously dedicated to physical activity is now devoted to driving.

But life is changing faster than our human minds can grasp, and that is why nowadays we need to pay attention to our bodies and follow a physical routine. I know people who spend almost all their time awake sitting. To be honest, I am sometimes one of them!  And I know how easy it is to fall in that trap. While our brains work actively in front of the computer - day in, day out - our bodies are in standstill which is devastating for all our organs and our nervous system.

According to research we now spend more time sitting than sleeping. But our bodies were not made for that and this massive lifestyle change is taking its toll. Obesity is just one obvious consequence. The problem is that there is much more going on under the surface that might get late to fix when we realize it.

Did you know that prolonged sitting leads to an earlier death? Yes, even if you exercise, once you exceed the healthy limit of sitting you are doomed.After the second hour of sitting your insulin effectiveness drops and the risk of diabetes increases. Your good cholesterol drops with 20%. Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute. For more malicious effects of sitting, read here.

Drop by at my etsy shop to see this and many more unique prints!

How to make the situation better? Take every chance to stand up and walk. Use the stairs, instead of the elevator, walk outside, even better - walk in nature. Any time you can walk instead of drive to a certain destination - do it! Walking burns more fat than jogging! Walking on an uneven terrain is even better because it involves more muscles!

To see just how beneficial walking can be for you, take a look at the infographic below. 

I know that all benefits of walking are obvious and probably banal but knowing how devastating sedentary life is, I prefer to remind myself time and again to just get out there, find a goal and reach it. For me, taking photographs is the perfect and simplest excuse for going out for a walk. What is yours?

24 March 2012

Weekend DIY: Dye Easter Eggs Naturally with Onion Skins

This post is written by contributing author Adrienne  Audrey.  

Easter is just a few weeks away and like many of you I like to partake in the  tradition of dyeing eggs for Easter. Dyeing eggs bright candy colors with special kits you buy from the supermarket may be an easy and popular way to decorate eggs but today I am going to show you a more natural approach. 

Sonya shared a blog post from Rad Megan with many wonderful ways to dye eggs using food items from your fridge and pantry. Today I am going to show you how to dye eggs using onions skins.  You can get a really interesting marbled effect on your eggs with this one, simple eco-friendly ingredient. Your kids will love this fresh approach to egg decoration so let's put away the synthetic dyes this year, it's time to play with your food!

natural easter egg dye


  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 dozen yellow onions
  • 1 cheese cloth, muslin or sheer fabric to wrap around the eggs. You will need  8 inch squares.
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • Elastic bands
  • Large pot


Peel your onions and remove the outer layers of the skin. Set the skins aside.  If you want you can prepare ahead of time by saving your onion skins for a few weeks in a container until you have about a dozen onions worth.

Take your eggs and cover them one by one with the onion skins. The skins are slightly curved and fit around the eggs nicely.

Wrap the onion covered eggs in your fabric squares. You want to use a fabric that will allow the dye to soak though to the eggs and will also hold the onion skins in place.

Secure with an elastic band.

Place the eggs in a pot full of water and the vinegar. Add any left over onion skin to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook the eggs for 10 - 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. The longer you let your onions soak the darker they will be dyed. Be careful with the egg water as it may stain. I put my cooled pot in the fridge for about 2 more hours and these are the shades that I got.
When you are happy with your egg color remove the eggs and pat them dry. You can buff them up a little with some olive oil and a soft cloth.

Because the skins are placed on the egg unevenly you get variations in the color and pattern. They almost look tie dyed!

dye easter eggs naturally
This is a project you can get the whole family involved with and you can feel good knowing this method of egg dyeing is safe and sustainable.

Adrienne Audrey lives in Northern Washington on a farm with her husband and a menagerie of lovable animals. When she’s not blogging at Crafty Little Gnome, Adrienne can be found out playing in the garden, experimenting in the kitchen or working on a new craft project. Adrienne also sells handmade jewelry and accessories in her Etsy shop Adrienne Audrey Jewelry. Connect to Adrienne via twitter or facebook.

22 March 2012

How To Make a Difference on World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, celebrated for the 19th time. I wonder how much more we have polluted the world ocean since that first World Water Day in 1993. Ironically, the frequency and vigor with which more and more people around the world work for the environment do not correspond to the increasing pollution. 

As stated on the page of World Water Day, currently there are 7 billion people to feed on the planet. According to the statistics, each of us drinks from 2 to 4 liters of water every day, but most of it is embedded in the food we eat: 

1 kilo of beef consumes 15,000 liters of water.
1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 liters.

We all need water to live, but the usage of water varies greatly from country to country. For example, people in Central Africa each use only 2% of the water used by people in the US.

To mark World Water Day, my husband shot a video of the North Sea this morning, which I am thrilled to show you. You can watch our beach in high definition, see the sun and the islands in the distance, listen to the waves and the singing birds. Think of that video as your 20 minutes of relaxation today and imagine you are there on the beach with us. Maybe, if we all join forces we can make a difference!

Here is a list of actions I suggested on Green Living Ideas last week, that I believe you can take too:
  1. A thing we have been doing in my household for years is to designate a glass for drinking water for each of us every day, or refill a water bottle. This action drastically cuts down the number of glasses to wash.
  2. Instead of thawing food under running water We defrost it in the fridge which not only conserves water but also ensures healthier food. This, of course, means that you have to plan your meals the day before, to allow the food to defrost fully in the fridge.
  3. Always run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full. By doing this you can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  4. It has long become a habit of mine to wash dark clothes in cold water. This action saves water and energy while and is beneficial for your clothes because they keep the color longer.
  5. If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  6. Instead of running the tap to get cold drinking water, keep a glass bottle of water in the fridge.
  7. To minimize evaporation, water your lawn and garden when the temperatures are cooler, i.e. early in the morning or in the evening, after sunset.
  8. Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons a month.
  9. Collect the water after rinsing fruits and vegetables to then reuse it to water house or garden plants.
  10. Use the nutrient-rich water from cleaning your fish tank to water to your plants.
  11. Collect rain water from your roof to water your garden.
  12. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  13. Reduce the amount of flush water by inserting a displacement device (f.ex. a plastic bottle filled with water) in the tank of your toilet.

Let's make a difference this year and let this World Water Day mark the beginning of a more deliberate relationship with water! All changes are up to us, after all!

What are your ways of conserving water?

21 March 2012

Snappy Rockfish Soap Giveaway

Right in the beginning of March I introduced you to Brittany of Pro-Soap Propaganda. She is now Brittany of Snappy Rockfish Soap and although she has changed the name of her brand she still has that awesome Corvidae Charcoal and Green Tea Facial Bar

Brittany uses organic ingredients for her soap, because she wants to nourish your skin without harming the earth. Her soaps are mostly vegan and she doesn't use artificial pigments for coloring. Instead, she uses herbs and spices for color!
As you might remember, a percentage of Brittany's soap sales goes to funding her extreme Antarctica trip in 2013 but in the meantime she decided to sponsor a whimsical giveaway here on Kanelstrand!

Starting today, you have a chance to win a set of 4 soaps worth $28!

You can choose any 4 soaps listed in the Snappy Rockfish Soap shop.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that Brittany is offering 10% off your order with coupon code KANEL10! (Is she ever going to get all the money necessary for that Antarctica trip??)

The giveaway is open worldwide until March 28th. To participate in the giveaway, just follow the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck and happy bathing :)

20 March 2012

Why You Should Have A Blog

This post is written by contributing author Genevieve Brazelton.

For many the thought of writing a blog seems daunting. It takes time to write pieces worth reading. You have to think of something interesting to say on a regular basis. What if no one reads it, are you wasting your time?

I completely agree with the first two sentiments, but it doesn’t have to be as much effort as you think and it is an investment in your business. However my reaction to the last question is a resounding No! Sharing your story is never a waste of time. 

Photo courtesy of Portraits to The People

It’s All About Story
For any small business, especially those based on art and craft sharing who you are, what makes you different and what benefit you offer to the customer is one of the best marketing strategies available to you.

We almost never buy from a place of pure need; we buy from a place of want. We are looking for an experience, feeling or connection. A blog is a way for you to create a voice, share your personality and connect quickly and more personally. A blog is a way for you to stand out in the crowd by sharing the details and story that makes you unique. You are starting a conversation that both your peers and customers can join in on. All this allows you to build trust and become their friend. Wouldn’t you rather buy from or recommend a friend?

Yes, You Do Have Something To Say
You may be saying that’s all great, but I still don’t know what I would have to say that would keep people interested. This is a tough question, but there is an answer it just requires a little thought and research.

Think of your target market, your ideal customer, the person who will immediately buy everything you make. What do they really want from buying what you sell? Do they value craftsmanship? Share details about how you make your product and what inspires you. Do they want to feel like they’re supporting a cause? Give them a peek into running a small handmade business, your own and others. Are they striving to lead a sustainable life? Tell them about your efforts to lead a similar lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Portraits to The People

If you can nail down a “want” of your target market and address it with content, your own or others, they will turn to you again and again. The content doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be all yours, it just needs to be compelling and/or engaging.

I’ll assume that since you read this blog you read others. What makes you come back to them? You get something every time right? Maybe it’s a piece of knowledge, a break from your busy day, or a laugh that you can share. It might also be a voice that you can relate to or that feels friendly and familiar. Think of your blog as an added benefit for the customer, kind of like free shipping.

Now to take it one step further, besides the familiarity and trust that a blog provides it also gives you a presence on the web and puts you into the conversation. There’s a lot of strategy behind maximizing this potential, but basically if you’re a part of the conversation your target market will more readily flock to you than your competitors. The more visibility you have the easier it is for them to find you.

Get Started Now
If it has ever occurred to you to start a blog I highly recommend you do so. If you’re at loss for where to begin, start looking toward the blogs you already love as models. What do you connect with, the voice, the photos, the useful information? How can you put your own spin on one of those approaches?

What are some of your favorite blogs? What keeps you coming back to them?

Genevieve Brazelton endlessly researches the newest ideas in creative and social media marketing so you don’t have to. Genevieve’s strength is her keen outside perspective and sometimes infuriating logic that puts structure to dreams and lays out paths to goals. She is also the business side of Lightbox SF. Read more about her here.
Connect to Genevieve via twitter or facebook.

19 March 2012

Presenting The Studio Magazine

When I told you, back in December 2011, that dreams do come true, did you trust me?

Do you remember I wrote about the power of believing in your dreams and how important it is in making them come true? Yes, they have no other choice but to follow what you believe.

I ended 2011 wishing you to dream big and bold.  And, in a way, that was a wish for me too. Even motivators need motivation, right? Looking back at the past 3 months I see that I dreamed out loud - we experienced the extremely powerful Simple Living Challenge, and although I almost ruined my eyes working on it, I cannot be more satisfied with how uplifting and educational it was.

So, I am deep in the creative mood as you can already feel, and I will no longer keep you waiting. I proudly present to you, dear readers, the first issue of The Studio - a magazine about all things handmade and eco-friendly.

What is it about?
The Studio will be published monthly and will present the best of environmentally-conscious artists who, of course are also my sponsors. I am so proud to be able to show off the talent of these extraordinary crafters, each unique and precious in their own way.

Who is behind The Studio?
Well, me, of course! Now that the team of gifted contributing writers has started enhancing the Kanelstrand blog with wisdom from all spheres of simple life, I can spare a few hours off my insane weekly schedule and work on a different format of promoting handmade.

What can you expect from The Studio?
Take a look at the first issue. This is just the beginning. In the next months you will see the magazine grow and get better and better. Oh, The Studio will become your favorite online magazine for handmade living!

Do you want to be featured? 
If you create environmentally responsible art or are a skilled eco-friendly crafter and want to get new fans through The Studio, contact me for rates and details. I would love to have you!

Dream big. Dream ridiculously positive and don't be judgmental.See your dream coming true!

In other words, go get your issue of The Studio magazine! It is free and you can download it to your computer or even print it out. You can subscribe, to make sure you don't miss a single issue. Please, share it with all your friends!

Now, tell me what you think!

18 March 2012

Weekend DIY: Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Last Easter, a month into blogging I talked about some natural ingredients which can be used to dye Easter eggs. Dyeing eggs is a tradition I have been enjoying ever since I can remember myself but apart from pressing herb leaves to the shells I haven't really included nature much in the process. 

I knew about using onion skins for yellow (pssst, Adrienne is doing a DIY on that, so you will have your hands on t pretty soon, but don't tell), but I haven't even tried them. That is why, when I stumbled upon the next DIY I knew I was going to share it with you.

Megan of Radmegan has gone into so much effort to experiment and actually dye a bunch of eggs way before Easter to show us the amazing results nature can provide. I was stunned by the deep colors she achieved with the help of cabbage, red and white wine, dill seeds, or even instant coffee!

You have to try them all, really! Just bear in mind that you will need a few more hours than usual to get the colors deep enough. Anywhere between 10 and 20 in fact, but I bet it is worth it! Click here for the recipes for all colors.

I have started collecting onion skins already, now I need to start keeping the carrot tops and not plant the dill. Easter, here I come!

How are you preparing for Easter?

[All photos are courtesy of Radmegan]

16 March 2012

Easter Gift Swap

Earlier this year I took part in the Team Eco Etsy Annual Gift Swap for the very first time and - you guessed it - I got inspired! Sending a gift to someone whom you either don't know or you have briefly "met" on the Internet but with whom you are connected through the invisible thread of love to eco-friendly and handmade is so exciting! Receiving a gift from another person of the same tribe is equally as thrilling.

So I thought, why don't we recreate this awesomeness for Easter again? 

Image: The Treacys

Here is how it goes:
You send a handmade gift total stranger and you receive a gift from a total stranger!

What to expect
  • Make a handmade gift. It could be anything your imagination tells you but the most important is the gift to have been handmade by you. In this way you will ensure sending some love too! 
  • Fill out the form with your name and address. You have up to Midnight EST on March 23rd to take part.  
  • Look out for an email from me. I will play some mix and match and on March 25th I will send you an email with the address of the recipient of your gift. 
  • Send your gift. You have to send your gift no later than March 28th. The Kanelstrand readers are scattered around the world so we have to make sure the gifts arrive if not exactly on Easter, at least around that time!

The details
  • Since we are doing the gift swap on Easter, your gift topic could be Easter but that is not obligatory. It can be about spring or just anything, let your imagination run wild!
  • Including a handwritten letter is very much encouraged.
  • You can add information about your business, blog, etc. if you want to. I am sure everyone will be thrilled to get to know more about their surprise gift sender.
  • You are not expected to buy anything to make the gift, neither are you expected to be a master crafter. This gift swap is about showing love, attention and appreciation.
  • I promise I will never ever disclose your name and address to anyone except the person who is about to send you a gift.

Are you excited already? I know I am! Let's do this together! Send me your address no later than March 23rd and let's surprise each other!

15 March 2012

Conscious Living: Introductions

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry. 

I am so excited that Sonya asked me to have a regular monthly post here at Kanelstrand. This blog has become a daily inspiration for me and I am so happy to officially become part of it.

Meeting Sonya (even if only virtually) couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been reflecting a lot on what it means to live a life with direction and meaning, how to ask for what you want and how to fight the urge to fix everything. How do you balance the way you envision your life and the daily stresses of work? How can you help your personal and professional life complement each other and reflect the “real” you?

Photo by Abbey Hendrickson
What I do
A little about me and my work: I am a co-owner of Lightbox SF, a San Francisco based company that teaches creative people how to better manage their business and how to live and work more consciously. My business partner Genevieve is an expert on marketing and branding, teaching creative people how to find their story and motivating them to share it with the world. 

I work with our clients through a program I developed called Creating Space. The goal of Creating Space is to help artists work more efficiently through self awareness and breaking bad habits, setting up better organization systems and conquering time management. What I hope for is that you will learn to live more freely, simply by recognizing what you really want and need. 

We start with a studio visit and do a whole lot of talking about dreams and obtainable goals and set up a plan. The rest of the time is spent on the phone on weekly a check in and homework assignments. Occasionally I physically step in and help with full studio overhauls. The end result of Creating Space is to clear both your physical and mental states of clutter, getting rid of what is not working and opening up room for new inspirations. 
Photo by jenni waterloo

What to expect 
My monthly post here at Kanelstrand will be combining both my passion for living efficiently and consciously with Sonya’s goal to lead people on the quest to live more simply. I find that the two go hand and hand. I wish to guide people who have similar desires for self awareness and willingness to change. What bad habits are stopping you from living the life you want to live? What is stopping you from being a more productive and successful artist. Let’s help you reclaim your goals and find that self-confidence. You deserve to have both a happy professional and personal life.

So the next few months we will be discussing how to make your life, both professionally and personally easier and more meaningful by setting up better organizational systems and better business practices. We will help you find ways of recognizing what makes you happy and how to fit those things into your everyday life. And we will explore unique and exciting opportunities of opening ourselves up to new inspirations and motivations.

I promise through a little self exploration and follow through your days will be brighter. You will find that you get more of what you want and less of the clutter that interrupts our lives. You will have more time with family and friends and will begin to see that you are surrounded by positive and supportive people. Work will seem more meaningful and you will begin to recognize the true spirit of success.
Photo by davidd
Are you ready?
I hope that you join me in this journey. I would love for your first homework assignment to be to pick up that journal. At Lightbox SF our favorite exercise is to write, draw, explore in any way you like, your perfect day. Write about an ideal day whether it be one spent on vacation, a day at work, a weekend day with the family. Whatever it is, write about it in detail and don’t stop until you see fit. It can be as dreamy as you like. It is yours to own. For the next month, think about that perfect day often. What is it about that particular one that really speaks to you? Are there little things that you can add to your “real” days that would reflect a little flavor of the perfect one? What would you need to do to make some part of that ideal day a reality?

Shelly Kerry is co-owner of Lightbox SF. She is an artist, designer, and motivator. Since 2006 she has been working to build her own jewelry design business, em’s studio, and she wants to share all she’s learned. Shelly knows that building your own art or craft business can often feel lonely and overwhelming. She also understands how much of a struggle it is to balance a “day job” with a budding creative business. Read more about her here. Connect to Shelly via twitter or facebook.

14 March 2012

Barnwood4u Giveaway

Don't you just love the smell of an old barn? It brings so many memories to mind, of happy times spent playing or helping around. Jim and Brenda of Barnwood4u, whom you got to know back in December 2011,  have taken this romantic love to the next level and  they repurpose barn wood giving it new life and taking it into our homes as quality rustic furniture, bookcases, picture frames and shelves. Each piece of reclaimed wood they use has unique knots, nail holes and wear and carries the spirit of a warm home.

Today Jim and Brenda are offering one lucky Kanelstrand reader the chance to win a set of 3 wood wall shelves and a stunning wooden picture frame that are also environmentally friendly!

The 3 wood shelves are finished with a hand rubbed wax that gives the wood a rich color. They are 3 1/2" deep, 12" tall and 5 3/4" wide overall, the 3 compartment shelf is 17" tall.  Just think of all the different ways you can arrange them on your wall!

The reclaimed wood used for the picture frame has aged to a gorgeous light brown patina. It has a 5 x 7 opening with mat for ACEO, 2.5" x 3.5". The frame is complete with glass, backing, matte and hardware. The winner can choose the mat color of their choice.

To take part in this giveaway follow the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open to US residents until March 21st, 2012.

Good luck!

13 March 2012

Fashion: Affordable and Upcycled

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti.

One of my favorite fashion shops on Etsy is Famhouse Vogue, a lovely collection of upcycled clothing. The shop is at the top of my This Is Awesome list because even though the items are made entirely from vintage fabrics, they have been re-worked so well that you would never know they weren't made this year. Plus, and this is another huge bonus, most items are under $35.

Everything is just so darn pretty, and it makes me wish I could go twirl around in a meadow. This yellow dress, for example, would be great for that. And it's only $32:
Upcycled women's dress

This tangerine blouse is another sunny option, and is a very affordable $21:
Upcycled babydoll top

And I'm loving the new peplum trend for this summer. This skirt is made with a vintage apron (smart!), and will also run you $21:
Peplum skirt

So if you're in the market for a pretty spring outfit, definitely consider Farmhouse Vogue. They have recently started carrying a few vintage items as part of their collection, too, so all your bases are covered.

Are you a fan of upcycled/repurposed clothing? Have you ever made any yourself?

All photos posted with permission from Farmhouse Vogue

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.

12 March 2012

A Portrait of the Artist: Sannah Kvist

It is hard to tell why,  but the age we are living in provokes an increasing number of people over the world to concentrate on living with less and to de-clutter.  Be it financial crises or way of thinking, it has become obvious that over-consuming will only lead us to wreckage.

That is why when I stumbled upon Sannah Kvists project All I Own, I invited her to participate in our A Portrait of the Artists series. Sannah is a young Swedish photographer who is on a quest to find and expose the reasons and effects of a replaceable culture and life on mortgage that lead to the present day state of mind of the 80's generation. For her project, Sannah has produced a number of photographs showing University students in Sweden with all their belongings.

What inspired you for the project All I Own? Is it a reaction to over-consumerism?
I had lived for 23 years when I took the photo of me and everything I owned and thought it was a sad collection of junk I've managed to buy. But this was also the center of my sell-everything-period when I did not own much. It's always this multi-layered and I oscillate between two opinions. Most of the other people I have photographed had a different feeling though. They were more surprised at how much shit they actually owned. But I guess so. You can tell when you move how much there really is. I think most people actually got an eye-opener when they built the piles.

The project started as a documentation of what I owned at that time. I had just moved for the third time in six months and was so damn tired of moving everything so I had started to give away much of what I owned. At the moment I owned not much at all. When I wanted to continue the project with other participants, I noticed how quickly they began to "compose" their stacks. Much time was devoted to fine-tune them, put some stuff in front, hiding others. They were proud of some things, less than others. It became clear that it was important to express the models' own personality in the pictures, probably much because all were portrayed next to the stack.

So far it has gone fairly smoothly because all the models are used to moving around and therefore do not live in big houses with giant furniture. But I want to try to broaden the participants something. It has been quite convenient to choose people in your direct or indirect presence.

The trend for de-cluttering is taking over the world. What do you think is the reason behind that?
It seems to be something I always will come back to, to get rid of what I have. I get some kind of idea that I would be a more harmonious and free person without all junk, so I sell what I have and give away the rest. Then I sit in my apartment with a bed, a desk, a computer and some clothes. I realize that I am neither a more harmonious and free, and feel the white walls tip over on me, and start buying little porcelain figures again.

But I struggle every day with consumption. I know that I have a desire for things I did not know I needed. Someone else just decided that I wanted this. But it is hard to resist even if you do know this. I feel I am shallow and being cheated when I consume, but also it's hard to argue against it since it actually makes people happy. And who am I to say to me that this happiness is more false and wrong than... for example, love?

Can you take us through the creative process? How much time did staging each of the photos take?
The procedure is as follows: I set up the camera in the participants' living rooms or bedrooms (most live in one room apartments) and the model must collect all the furniture and all the loose stuff to build a pile, a sculpture, in front of the camera. They get all the freedom to design the stack and choose what should be a priority spot from the camera's perspective. Everything should be in, however, but one can hide some stuff in the back. I photograph the person and the pile together. 

Depending on how ambitiously they are involved with their styling, each image took from 2 to 5 hours, with coffee break included of course.

Why did you want your objects to be born in the same year?
All participants are born in the 80s, just like myself. It is an important part of the project that it is limited in this way. It has other limitations too, but this is the most important.

Why? Because '80s Generation is the first generation, at least in Sweden, who had to grow up with worse social conditions than their parents, while the way we consume has changed radically.

'80s Generation has also grown up with a new approach to individualism and has been described as extremely selfish and materialistic of previous generations. I have nothing to say about this, but I think the criticism has been fierce.

We buy more and more and much of what we buy is based on confirmation of our own person. I want to explore how this generation, my own, has been affected by this change in approach to consumption.

Do you think people nowadays identify themselves with their possessions rather than with their knowledge?
Just when I had started working with this project I became aware that none of the participants had a fixed mortgage or a first contract, but shorter sublet. They were already very familiar to moving around town with their boxes full of lifestyle products. While previous generations easily were able to find safe housing, having to move every 6 months became normalized for younger generations.

I remember myself when I lived in Stockholm, how I before moving to a new flat  minimized my stuff more and more. I came to Stockholm to a truck and went away with an IKEA-bag. What was left was what I thought was most important. It defines me most as a person.

Now when I live in Gothenburg, where it's easier to find a sublet where you can stay longer, I have increased the household goods again. Most with trinkets, I think… I just recently bought a life size skeleton made of PVC. I have no further comments… :-)

So while the property itself becomes non-static and reduced to some sort of showroom for the stuff we own, the identification value has increased.

Here is how to get in touch with Sannah: website | facebook | flickr | tumblr

All photographs published with permission from Sannah Kvist.