Category: simple pleasures


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Since the induction ceremony was held at the Barclays Center, I seized the opportunity to investigate one of Brooklyn’s most sought after neighborhoods, Park Slope. Fifth Avenue is filled with great restaurants, bars, and shops, while the side streets are lined with gorgeous restored brownstones. Some of my favorites are:

Elpollito Mexicano

Delicious guacamole made fresh right at your table, scrumptious carnitas, and very spirited margaritas!

Cog and Pearl

Exquisite boutique featuring locally handmade items.

Enz’s

Fun and flirty retro-style dresses.

McMahon’s Public House

New Irish bar located strategically for a Barclays Center after party!

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The following day, I had some time to explore the East Village before I had to head back to South Jersey. The first pic is of a mural of the late Joe Strummer from the punk rock band, the Clash. It was recently redone and is displayed at the corner of Avenue A and 7th Street at the Niagara Bar. The second pic is one the street lights along the Mosaic Trail on St Mark’s Place. Some of my top picks in the East Village are:

Physical GraffiTea

Quaint little tea shop on St Mark’s Place with thirst-quenching iced hibiscus tea.

La Sirena

Charming Mexican folk art shop on 3rd Street at 2nd Avenue.

Dallas BBQ

Yummy BBQ right on the corner of St Mark’s Place and 2nd Avenue with great outdoor seating!

Please feel free to share any places you like to visit while in Park Slope or the East Village in the comments section. Always remember to savor every experience and make every day an adventure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Birthday Chase!

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My little buddy Chase turned 1 today! Please join me in wishing him a Happy Birthday!

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FROM THE BRIDGE TO THE BEACH

I am just wrapping up a crazy busy weekend that began with a very fun work event at Campbell’s Field where I watched the Camden Riversharks, a local minor leaguer baseball team. One of my favorite things about the ballpark is its stunning views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline. Very early the next morning, I had to head east about 60 miles for a beach craft show in my former hometown of Ventnor.

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JUST A LAID BACK BEACH TOWN

Ventnor is simply a laid back little town that lies between Atlantic City and Margate on Absecon Island. It has a boardwalk, which, unlike its northern neighbor, has no casinos or other businesses, making it ideal for walking, running, or cycling. All of the pizza places deliver right to the beach. And, unlike the resort towns of Ocean City and Wildwood, there are no weekly renters. Just the beach and the community…very quiet and so lovely! For close to eight years, I called Ventnor home, and I miss it quite terribly in the summertime. I was very pleased when the opportunity arose to participate as a vendor in the towns’s annual Ocean Breeze Arts and Craft Show.

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BOHO ECO CHIC

This show was my second official craft show. (I participated in one last month that was a great learning experience, but rather slow with the foot traffic.) It was also the second opportunity I had to work with my friend, Alison, who owns Back Alley Chic, and creates amazing tote bags, aprons, and pillows from recycled coffee sacks. My rustic leather and recycled glass jewelry is a perfect complement to her earthy and eco friendly bags. While I am by no means an expert on craft shows, one piece of advice I feel confident in giving is to find a buddy and rent a double space like we did. We had a large area to create an inviting space where customers could feel comfortable browsing. By co-mingling our items, we also kept our displays very interesting.

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WORKING OUT THE DETAILS

For my displays, I chose natural wood finishes to complement, rather than complete with my jewelry. Since I use glass beads that have a matte seaglass quality, I was afraid stark black or white displays would not have as positive an effect as it does on more traditionally styled jewelry. I used my extensive seashell collection to accent the display. I also decided to display prints that tell the story of both types of recycled glass beads I use. I got many questions and comments on the recycled glass from Indonesia and Africa, enough that it was a definite selling point. Many customers also took photos of the prints or asked if I had copies for them so they could share the stories of the glass bracelets they purchased. Something to consider for the next show…

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INDONESIAN RECYCLED GLASS BEADS

Recycled glass beads from Bali, Indonesia are made from molten fritters of colored glass, creating a soft beach glass effect. I source my beads from a small Indonesian-owned company that believes in sustaining green principles and supports the ecosystem by using discarded items such as bottles, jars, and windows as crude materials. Each bead is individually handmade using centuries old techniques passed down generation by generation. This crude process does not use chemicals —a green process of bead production. It also helps to keep the beaches of one of my favorite places in the world clean!

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AFRICAN RECYCLED GLASS BEADS

These amazing beads are made by the Krobo People of Ghana, Africa. They are made by pressing glass into a fine powder and heating it until the particles fuse together. The glass is then poured in clay molds and the stem of a cassava leaf is used to make the bead hole. The beads are then baked in an oven, causing the glass to melt together and the stem to burn. This technique has been used in Africa for centuries. These beads are also Fair Trade Certified. The end result is an amazing piece of eco-chic jewelry!

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All in all the show was a successful outing. The day was perfect: not too hot with a glorious breeze coming off the ocean! The crowd was great, I far exceeded my sales expectations and I handed out many, many business cards. It is definitely a show I plan to line up for next summer. It also gave me a chance to meet up with two of my dearest friends, Sue and Ingrid, who were so gracious and modeled some of Alison’s amazing creations.

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Ingrid shopping for some unique burlap throw pillows.

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Sue modeling the adorable burlap bag she purchased for her daughter.

Please check out Alison’s Etsy shop for more of her fabulous one-of-kind items:

Back Alley Chic

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time…peace, love and flip flops!
~Erin

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This weekend literally started out with a roar…I attended a killer Soundgarden show at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City on Friday night. I started the evening off at the Irish Pub on St. James Place for dinner and a few beers. Then I spent the next two hours fondly listening to musical memories of my misspent youth. The band’s sound was tight for this reunion tour and Chris Cornell’s voice is still completely amazing. (And he is still completely hot!) They played perennial favorites such as Outshined, Rusty Cage, and Room a Thousand Years Wide from Badmotorfinger and Spoonman, Fell on Black Days, and Black Hole Sun from Superunknown. They also rocked on songs from their new album, King Animal, including By Crooked Steps, Taree, and Been Away Too Long. All in all, a solid set by a longtime favorite band!

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The remainder if my weekend was pretty low key. I put together a wholesale order for a wonderful eco-friendly boutique in Larchmont, NY, REcologie. I crafted a collection of Betty Bracelets and Beach Bum Necklaces in soft summery shades: distressed honey leather and seafoam green, aqua blue, and petal pink recycled glass beads.

I also got in some amazing new buttons to use as toggles for my bracelets. I got some anchor buttons for a summery nautical look…some adorable cherry buttons for children’s bracelets I am making for a summer craft show…and a few Jimi Hendrix buttons that I will be debuting next week! Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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I visited New Orleans for the first time for JazzFest in 2010 and it was an amazing experience! The festival itself is an awesome onslaught of the senses. Thousands of spectators, over a hundred food vendors, and a dozen music stages – blues, gospel, zydeco, rock, and, of course, jazz! It is definitely an experience any music aficionado should partake in at least once.

Beyond the festival, the city was pulsating with its famous incredible energy. Jazz bands on Royal Street, street artists in Jackson Square, steamboat and horse & carriage rides…with every step, a new level of vibrancy. As much as I enjoyed the crowds and the energy of one of the busiest times to be in New Orleans, I also wanted to return to the city at a quieter time to experience it at a slower pace.

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I am pleased to announce that I will be returning to New Orleans in five weeks to do just that. (I was able to book a deal on Expedia that was too good to resist!) On my last visit, I made sure I took in all of the quintessential experiences: munching on beignets at Cafe du Monde…visiting Marie Louveau’s resting place at St Louis Cemetery No. 1…riding the streetcar out to the Garden District to view the stately mansions. This trip, I have a much less ambitious itinerary. I plan to eat plenty of Cajun and Creole cuisine. I plan to listen to some fantastic music on Frenchmen Street. And I plan to purchase some great local tunes from Louisiana Music Factory. Beyond that, I am going to leave the rest of my visit to the Big Easy up to serendipity…

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous, is “To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts…” And this quote pretty much sums up how I have felt for the past 22 years about my favorite band, Pearl Jam. There was quite a bit of buzz over the Internet this past weekend about PJ. First, Mike Einziger, lead guitarist of Incubus, tweeted to his followers a picture of him accompanying Eddie Vedder and Einziger’s girlfriend in a recording studio with the caption,”In the studio with my girl and Eddie Vedder, recording strings for Pearl Jam’s new album.” This tweet was first picked up by famed LA radio station, KROQ. The accompanying story was that Eddie and Mike were recording strings for Pearl Jam’s new album. This story was then picked up by several other rock music sites all over the Internet. The next day, the music magazine, SPIN, posted a clarification from Pearl Jam’s representative that Mike’s girlfriend, Ann Marie Simpson, an accomplished violinist, was actually the one who was contributing to the new album. Mike Einziger also tweeted the same clarification. Boy, am I glad we cleared that up, but I think we need to focus on the important fact at the center of this whole misunderstanding:

PEARL JAM IS FINALLY BACK IN THE STUDIO WORKING ON THEIR LATEST ALBUM!

So today’s life lesson for me is to focus on what is truly important and let everything else take care of itself. In my last post, I proudly shared the newest edition of my family, Chase the Weimaraner puppy. Having a puppy is a huge adjustment and I am making sure I spend the appropriate amount of time with him to get him acclimated to his new home. As a result, I have had to readjust the schedule for my business, Serendipity Blu. I originally planned to have at least 75 items in my shop for the summer season and to schedule at least two craft shows for the summer. I committed to two shows in Cape May, NJ in July and August, but I have no additional inventory other than what is listed in my Etsy shop. I had to decide what is more important: making new inventory for my shop or start to prepare for the shows. Since my shop is hovering around 50 well assorted items, I decided to focus on creating my craft show inventory, and I am proud to say, this week I crafted 10 new Betty Bracelets! I am also proud to say that Chase has yet to chew up the leather cord.

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I should probably also post on the importance of not spreading any unsubstantiated rumors, since that is how my story began. But I must be honest…I love the Philadelphia Phillies almost as much as I love Pearl Jam. So when people assume that Chase is named after Chase Utley, even though he is not, I usually do not correct them. (Yes, Chase is posing with a Phillie Phanatic toy!)

Thanks for stopping by!
Erin

my new favorite diversion

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Sometimes life gets in the way of your goals. I find it is always best to let life just happen and go from there, especially when life means a new puppy!

I would like to introduce all of my readers to Chase. He is a six month old Weimaraner my family adopted last week. He has only one eye (due to an infection when he was only a few days old) and some health issues, but he is still quite spirited and doesn’t let it keep him down. I think we can all learn something from that. He is also such a sweet little guy!

I must admit that I have been slacking on my business planning and goals this past week because I have been spending time bonding with Chase and getting him used to his new surroundings. But look at that face…can you blame me? And, by the way, he also finds leather to be very delicious – so I need to find a puppy-proof spot to weave my Betty Bracelets and Beach Bum Chokers!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more posts on both the business and the creative sides of crafting. Thanks for stopping by!

Peace, love, and puppies!
Erin

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I cannot believe it is almost 2013! A new year is a just cause for a celebration…it is a time of fond remembrances and new beginnings. 2012 was a good year for me. In addition to avoiding the Mayan apocalypse, I made some new friends & reconnected with some old ones, had a successful year as an artisan, visited three new cities (Savannah, Atlanta & Key West), and experienced some great shows – Roger Waters, Pearl Jam (both home & on the road), Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, and, ending my year, G Love & Special Sauce.

Quite often, G Love plays a show at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City on 12/30. It is a sort of homecoming for him, since his roots are in both Philadelphia (born & raised as Garret Dutton) and Avalon, NJ (spending summers at the shore.)

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G Love’s music style is both eclectic and unique. If I had to describe it in a word it would be GROOVE. He fuses blues with old school hip hop, and still manages to keep it all very mellow, evident with his many collaborations with Jack Johnson. He maintains an indie following, and is known for his stage shows. He is backed by Special Sauce: Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens on drums and Timo Shanko on bass. I have seen him several times, and this recent show was one of his best. He seemed to play fewer songs, but jammed out more. He also had a great mix of old and new tunes.

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Long time fans of G Love will be stoked to hear that he played the two perennial favorites from his self-titled first offering released in 1994: Baby’s Got Sauce and Cold Beverages. He jammed out both songs and the entire audience was on their feet grooving with him.

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His set list included several tunes from my favorite disc, Lemonade Hot Cookin’, Rainbow and Can’t Go Back to Jersey. He also played Peace, Love and Happiness from Superhero Brother and a fun acoustic version of Booty Call from The Hustle.

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G Love also played some songs from his latest offering, Fixin’ to Die. This album has a much more bluesy feel to it and I absolutely love it! Highlights from last night’s show include an acoustic Milk and Sugar and an awesome cover of Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

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The show ended, as it always does in our area, with I-76, from his 1997 release Yeah, It’s That Easy. He was joined on lead vocal by Katman, who originally collaborated with G Love on the tune. While I-76 is one of my least favorite roads, it is one of my favorite G Love songs.

All in all, a great way to end the year. Since I had a late night last night, I decided to make this evening a mellow event with family. I look forward to all of the wonderful new experiences 2013 is sure to bring!

I wish everyone a safe and exuberant evening and a New Year filled with peace, love and joy!

Shanti,
~Erin

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I can’t believe it is already Christmas Eve! My shopping is done, presents are wrapped, and now it is time for the festivities! While most of my posts are about my jewelry line, this time of year, I find myself sharing recipes. To me, cooking is a way of loving. How many of us have wonderful memories at the family dinner table, whether for a holiday celebration or a weeknight meal. And giving homemade baked goods as gifts is truly a labor of love. In that spirit, I am sharing a few more of my favorite holiday recipes.

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These little gems are another one of my Pinterest success stories! They are tiny pecan pies made with phyllo shells…super easy and super yummy! The prep time is about 10 minutes and the bake time is about the same. I used the recipe from Athens website and they came out great! The only change I made was substituting packed brown sugar for the white sugar. The full recipe is available here:

http://www.athensfoods.com/recipes/recipeconsumer.aspx?recipe_id=1384

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Christmas Eve for me is a wonderful time of celebration and gathering. My family is of Italian descent, so our menu is based on seafood in honor of the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I decided to try a new recipe to bring with me this year. These crab rangoons are baked (not fried) in phyllo shells (I am really becoming a fan of these!). This great recipe is from the Big Red Kitchen:

http://www.bigredkitchen.com/2010/12/advent-day-19-crab-rangoon/

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What is Christmas without a little holiday spirit? This vivid red cocktail, the Poinsettia, is made with cranberry juice and champagne. I plan on using cranberry-raspberry juice and garnishing with fresh lime slices.

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My Christmas is not complete without watching A Christmas Story in its entirety. It was a funny little tradition I had with my Dad before he passed away, which I continue to keep alive in his memory. Sentimental reasons aside, I triple dog dare you to find a more awesome holiday movie!

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One of my favorite holiday music collections is This Warm December on Brushfire Records. It is a great mellow assortment featuring artists such as Jack Johnson and G. Love.

Thanks for indulging in my little collection of holiday traditions. This is a wonderful time to share…so I would love to hear about any of your holiday festivities. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I hope for everyone’s holiday wishes to come true during this magical time of year!

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Peace, Love & Joy to You & Yours,
~Erin

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It just does not feel like Christmas without the scent of baked goods in the air. I truly enjoy baking, and I often give handmade treats as gifts. I have a few recipes that I have made consistently through the years, but I am also always on the lookout for something new and fun.

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I have been making my Caramel Crunch Mix for almost fifteen years! It is one of my most highly requested (and fortunately easy) recipes!

9 cups Crispix Cereal
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I always use Karo)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dry roasted and salted almonds

1. Place cereal in large microwave safe bowl.

2. Place brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in 2 cup glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after each minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved. Pour caramel over cereal and stir until evenly coated.

3. Microwave uncovered on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl every minute, just until cereal begins to brown. Stir in almonds. Pour onto wax-paper lined cookie sheet to cool. Once cool, break apart and store in airtight container.

Adapted from Caramel Crispy Chex Mix Recipe

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I am proud to say that I have actually made a recipe that I pinned on Pinterest! These Chubby Hubby Truffles are as full of chocolate, peanut butter, and pretzel deliciousness as their Ben & Jerry’s ice cream namesake. I found this particular recipe from Brown Eyed Baker to be simple, as well as yummy:

http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2011/11/30/peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles/

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Didn’t I also mention sugar plums in the beginning of this post? A nice complement to these decadent treats is a sweet fruit wine. I love this NJ Sugar Plum Wine from Heritage Vineyards. They are located in Southern New Jersey, in Gloucester County, near Mullica Hill. If you are unable to visit their winery, you can also pick up a bottle at your local Canal’s Liquor Mart.

Eat, drink, and be merry this holiday season!

Shanti,
~Erin

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