Friday, December 25, 2009

Closed for the Holidays... (sorta)

After a busy, busy season for us, we will be taking a much-needed break here at the BEST blog. While many BEST members work from home, and often in pajamas, they are some of the smartest and hardest working people I have ever met. (Of course, there are lots of members who also have day jobs, kids, etc, and who knows how they get everything done?) I think most of us (and I'm sure many of you) feel just like that little one in the image above. Tired.
Of course there's you to thank, our readers, our friends, the people who allow us to do what we love. We love seeing you at shows, hearing your comments on the blog, we thank you for taking to the time to peek into our thoughts every day. (We know some days are better than others!). Thanks so much for your support.

On behalf of BEST, we'd like to wish you all the happiest of holidays & a warm, wonderful new year. See you in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Greenstarstudio spotted on Cool Mom Picks!

(colored by the littlest bean herself! image courtesy of mama to the bean, jenmenkhaus)

Say Thanks the handmade way! greenstarstudio's blank winter themed Knitimal greeting cards were spotted on CoolMomPicks! These super sweet cards are a great way to reflect on the bounty of the holidays & get kids involved in the act of saying "THANKS!".

Getting ready for 2010!

Holy smokes it's almost 2010!
Having a party and need some festive decor?
Get this fun banner from Funkyshique

Now, in order to get ready for my favorite holiday of the year.... I did a little bit of party dress and accessory hunting on Etsy!
I didn't have to look far to find the perfect little party dress, luckily the Garbologist's Wife
has great options and a variety of sizes available...

Next, I spotted these great pumps from Attic goods

Adding these gorgeous earrings from Jill Popowich finishes off the look.

*Extra* as a gift to the hostess who is throwing the party of the year... why not gift here these elegant vases from Papaververt

Now, all that's left to do is figure out what your new year's resolutions are!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pinkkiss Pottery Spotted in DIY Magazine

Head to your local bookstore and check out the winter edition of DIY magazine by Better Homes and Gardens. You just might see the work of a Baltimore’s own, Pinkkiss Pottery, on page 35.

Written by Sugar Paperie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow day games...

Back in the day, I'd be busting out the board and video games. Now, thanks to Etsy, I can have fun accessorizing with some of those cherished old school game pieces and images!
Love this ring by LuckyDuct

And one of my faves..... the Trivial Pursuit Necklace by Minimum Mouse

Gift Certificates for Last Minute Shoppers!

Having trouble deciding what to get for that "hard to buy for friend" on your Christmas list!  It just so happens that several of our BEST artists are offering gift certificates for just this occasion!

For the jewelry lovers...

For the pet lovers...
Fuzzy Mug   
For the elixir and tea lovers...
Lana Bella

And check out these Etsy shops for more great gift certificate options...
For the guy who tries to never buy "off the rack"...
And for the girl who never has too many purses...
Gift certificates comes in many different amounts, can be emailed or sent via snail mail!
Be sure to read all details at the shop you purchase from regarding shipping and redeeming of gift certificates and contact the shops with any questions you may have!

Monday, December 21, 2009

One Week Left to Buy Handmade AND Support the MD Food Bank!

If you're still looking for a few last minute gifts AND would like to make purchases that can help change lives,
take some time to visit these Etsy shops, support handmade and know that all purchases through December 31st will be helping to provide food and services to someone in need this holiday season. These BEST members will be donating a portion of their sales:

blockpartypress- 10% of Etsy sales
jenmenkhaus- 10% of all Etsy sales
yummyandcompany- 10% of all Etsy sales
lanabella - 10% of all Etsy sales
thebrokenplate - 10% of all Etsy sales
greenstarstudio - 10% of all Etsy sales

The Maryland Food Bank provides nearly 14 million pounds of food annually to 1,000 Network Partners - including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, low-income day care centers, after-school programs, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, and other feeding programs. They supply food for over 50,000 Marylanders each week who otherwise would go hungry or not eat enough, including families with children, the elderly, the homeless, the homebound, low-income workers, the recently unemployed, and people with AIDS and other health problems. For every $1 contributed to the Maryland Food Bank, they are able to provide 3 meals to Maryland’s needy families and individuals.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it Snow!

Here in Baltimore, we seem to get a "big snow" every 3-4 years... this year is no exception. And, if you're like the rest of us, you're hunkered down at home with some hot cocoa, a few good videos & plenty of time to surf etsy and shop local for last minute gifts. There's still lots of great stuff available in our shops; many sellers offering sales & free shipping (and you don't have to drive anywhere!). So, grab a mug of cocoa & your shopping list, and hit up the internet for some deals.

photo by crabsandbeer; click here for more info.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate Crackle-Tops

I was given a cookie cookbook one year as a Christmas present from a good friend who loved baking. I have used this book over and over to make the best cookies ever, hands down. The recipe in this book for roll out/cut out sugar cookies is better than my mom's. The lemon shortbread recipe is to die for. I have tired fancy cookies that looked too hard for me to even attempt, and those came out beautifully! So when I saw this recipe, it was one I had to try.

These chocolate cookies are one of my favorites for the holidays. They are pretty, fun to make with my daughter, and delish to boot. The better quality chocolate you use, the better the taste. The trick to this recipe is to keep the cooking temperature low at 325 as to not melt the powdered sugar coating.

7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
scant 1/2 unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar for coating

1. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate and butter together until smooth, stirring constantly.
2. Remove from heat, Stir in the sugar, continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in vanilla.
3. In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir into the chocolate mixture in batches, just until blended.
4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour, until the dough is cold enough to hold it's shape.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, Grease baking sheets. Place confectioners sugar in a small deep bowl. Using a round teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop the cold dough and roll in to balls between the palms of your hands. Roll 1 1/2" balls.
6. Drop each ball into confectioners sugar and roll until heavily coated and place on baking sheets.
7. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, until the tops feel slightly firm when touched. When slightly cooled, move the cookies to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

4th Annual Holiday Booty Market

There's more than one reason to head to DC Saturday, for sure. I can think of, like, twenty. And they'll all be under one roof at the Holiday Booty Market inside the Design Within Reach showroom in Adams Morgan. This is quite possibly the last chance to get awesome handmade gifts form your favorite local artists including BEST's own Jen Menkhaus (the littlest bean), Sweet Pepita, The Garbologist's Wife, Jaime Zollars and Charm City Craft Mafia's Red Prairie Press.

Moonlight Bindery


this chickadee

Tina Seamonster

Saturday, December 19, 2009 -- 10am-5pm
Design Within Reach - Adams Morgan
1838 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The BEST Holiday Giveaway 2009

It's that time again! To thank you for your readership over the past year, we are giving away a box of goodies from some of the talented members of BEST. All you need to do is be a subscriber to our newletter (you can find the signup on the right column of our blog), and leave a comment telling us about your favorite item from any BEST member's shop. A winner will be chosen December 18th. Good Luck!

Thanks to donating members!

Indie-Pendent Business- Walk The Dog

It is well known that us crafters and artists put in long hours in our studios toiling away for our beloved craft. With set up and break down for shows, we are often away from home for 10+ hours. And then there are the 2 day shows, the out of town shows, the weekend conferences, and the workshops. With all this time dedicated to the making, selling and educating about craft, who's taking care of Fido??? To help out, why not hire a dog walker or pet sitter to care for your furry friends while you are away? Baltimore's Best, Walk The Dog is your answer! Owned and operated since 2002 by Kelly Zimmerman, Walk The Dog is ready to take care of all your pets needs. Does Fido need a mid day walk while you are working on that giant wholesale order? While you are away at that out of town holiday show let Walk The Dog feed your cat, give it's medication, water your plants and bring in the mail! Bonded and insured, Walk The dog is staffed by pet care professionals and highly recommended by area veterinarians.

Does Kelly look familiar to you? You may have seen her walking several happy canines at once in your neighborhood, or supervising a doggy play date in the park. More likely you have seen her at your booth at any one of the local shows- Kelly is huge "patron" of craft and even dabbles in silk screening fanciful t-shirts with hubby T.J.

Need a little extra income in between shows or in the "slow season" for craft? Dog walking is the perfect job for crafters, artists, grad students, musicians, virtually anyone who needs a flexible schedule. I've been known to grab a few leashes and tennis balls in order to supplement my craft income. Just ask artist Annie from Imogene what she is doing when not in the studio! Want to know what a typical dog walking day is like? Listen to this podcast on NPR with employee Matt Fisher. So support a local independent business AND the local craft scene the next time your dog needs a walk!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's Go Out-To see the Rockettes!

When I was a kid living in North Jersey, we took an annual outing to the city to see the Macy's window display, the tree at Rockefeller Center and of course, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Last year was the first year ever they left their home for a christmas time tour and are coming again this year. I have my tickets, here's what I'm thinking of wearing for a night out with Mom (who turned down a chance to be a Rockette!)

A cute black Mandy Dress by myblackdress

Leather Poppy Wristlet by tmStudioDesigns (Hint, hint, if my husband is reading, I want one of these so bad)

Of course I need a hair clip from BEST's own Designbynight (to match my fabulous new bag)

An incredible statement making cocktail ring by novaofsweden in my favorite color ever (chartreuse)

Monday, December 14, 2009

My three Things

Anyone who lived in the D.C. area during the '80s and '90s remembers the great old radio station WHFS and Weasel the DJ. Weasel had a daily feature called "My Three Songs"; in this game, he would present three songs that had a common thread, theme, or leitmotif, and the object was for the listeners to guess what it was.

Here are three items by Etsy artists. What do they have in common? Give your answer in the comments below!

Vintage Vodka Tonic Cocktail Necklace by dustDesignCo

Sugar Plum Fairy Art Tags by mulberymuse

Recycled Mink Ring by Artjewelryonline

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Trim That Tree!

Every year I seek out a new ornament for the tree, something unique, fun and hand made of course! Here a few of my favorite etsy finds this year.

Gingerbread zombie man by Living Thread!

I know I need this copper Boxer dog ornament by White Dog Art. They have many different breeds if you are not a Boxer lover like me!

Beautiful hand blown glass ornament by In The Light Glass Work for my traditional side.

BEST'S own Jenny Jen's felt Owl Ornament- he maybe hanging around all year.

Powder coated steel ornaments by Megan Auman, for the metal smith in me.

Friday, December 11, 2009's getting cold!

Winter is coming and someone has to split those logs for the fireplace... and for a reward, why not splurge on the manly fella in your life?!
Here are a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction!
Every rugged man needs a plaid shirt... here's one from Captain Cat.

When he's finished. celebrate with a beer, wrapped in these fun cosies by Touch the Dutch

Show your appreciation with this great card from Dude and Chick

And for when you're ready for him to shave all that ruggedness off... Shaving Soap Hazelnut Cocoa - with Clay, Honey and Goats Milk From Spa Therapy

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finish Up Your Holiday Shopping at School 33

Plush You 2009: OoAKies, originally uploaded by greenstarstudio.
Get your last minute gifts without the "maul" madness. Stop by the Last Minute Maul on Sunday December 13 where over 25 vendors will be on hand displaying all kinds of handmade goodnesss, including jewelry, art, ceramics, and home decor.

BEST artists Danamarie Hosler of GreenStarStudio, Monica of Sugar Paperie and Jennifer Wilfong of Yummy & Company and Elisa Shere Designs will be in attendance with their wares!

Don't miss this last opportunity to shop handmade this holiday season!!!

School 33 Art Center

1427 Light Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Holiday refreshments will be provided!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baltimore Life: Duckpin Bowling

I drive past this little bowling center every time I head into downtown. This sign with pins and a bowling ball stares back at me on Eastern Ave. every time I drive past it. Well, I recently killed an afternoon there with some friends and was pleasantly surprised to find another living vintage gem on this side of the city!

They say today Patterson Bowling Center is the oldest operating duckpin bowling alley in the nation. And it is right here for all to enjoy in Baltimore!

This game is played a bit differently than traditional tenpin bowling. Duckpins are smaller than regular tenpin bowling pins. Their tiny size goes just perfectly with their corresponding 2-3 lb bowling balls. They are not very heavy, there are no holes in these balls, but are small enough for even young children to handle. The automatic scoring system makes it extra easy for the novice to keep up. And when it's your turn, instead of 2 tries, you get 3. You need 3, because this game is more of a challenge than you think!

Check this place out during their open play hours of some inexpensive entertainment this winter season. It's BYOB and you can have food delivered. Definitely makes for a memorable event full of old school Baltimore charm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Go Green with your Baby!

Babies produce a lot of ummmm, waste! 1 baby in disposable diapers contributes 1 ton of waste to landfills, and 27.4 BILLION disposable diapers are used in the U.S. every year. What's even crazier is that it takes 250-500 years for those disposable diapers to decompose! Why not be earth and wallet friendly and try cloth diapering? Here are few of my favorite cloth diapering supplies from etsy:

Organic bamboo velour fitted diaper by Lil Adi. This is one of my favorite diapers for The Sprout. So soft and luxurious.

You are going to need a water proof diaper cover for that fitted diaper, I like this skulls and crossbones cover by ReThink Crafts.

Save even more money and be even greener by using cloth wipes! Organic Soap Bits you can make into your own solution by Sweet Sydney Bean.

Flannel and bamboo cloth wipes by Monkey Snuggles Diaper. Bamboo is more absorbent the cotton, a sustainable fiber, and naturally antibacterial.

And to put all those diapers in before washing, Snuggles of Love wet bag.