Local Love: Made in Connecticut Gift Guide

CT Gift Guide Square 1

When I saw Bethany’s Connecticut Wish List inspired me to put together a Made in CT gift guide! So if you’ve got Connecticut pride (or know someone who does), here are a few favorites from the Nutmeg State’s makers:

Connecticut Heart by B.Meyer Studio.

Holiday Candle Collection by Northeast Nutmeg.

“Shhh… There’s Wine In Here” Mug by Glitter & Bold.

Holiday Spice Scented Confetti by The Confetti Bar.

Lapis Blue Graduated Spike Necklace by Kate Stephen Jewelry.

Soap + Lip Balm Gift Set by Treefort Naturals.

Northern Forests womens hoodie by @cinderandsalt

Northern Forests Lightweight Hoodie by Cinder + Salt.

Small State, Great Cheer Letterpress Greeting Card Set by Hartford Prints!

Vanilla Chai Soy Candle by Rayne Home Decor.

Assorted Hand Lettered Gift Tags by Karri Lee Designs.

Chocolate Face Mask top 2

Chocolate Face Mask by Poor & Pretty Apothecary — that’s me!

Don’t forget to place your orders by this Thursday, December 17 to ensure delivery by Christmas. I will be closing up the shop afterwards to make way for a brand-new experience, launching early 2016. Stay tuned. ;)

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Shop Small this Holiday at these Upcoming Events!

Shop Small Bus Crawl 550

It’s been quiet on the blog lately because I’m gearing up for the holiday season! Here’s where you’ll find me in the next few weeks:

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Shop Small Bus Crawl at Cinder & Salt

Saturday, November 28 | 10am – 8pm | 520 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457

Celebrate Small Business Saturday with the best of Connecticut’s makers! Yelp Hartford is sponsoring this amazing unique shopping experience: the Shop Small Bus Crawl! Hop on a bus at Hartford Prints!, then stop in at Cinder & Salt‘s soft opening on Main Street in Middletown (that’s where I’ll be!), and finish the day at Vintanthromodern, New Haven’s coolest vintage clothing spot. The bus has already sold out, but you can still swing by any of the above businesses. They’re all hosting pop-up shops with local artisans + complimentary cupcakes from NoRA Cupcake Co. + boozy drinks.

Holiday Makers Market NBMAA 2015 sq

Holiday Maker’s Market at New Britain Museum of American Art

Friday, December 4 | 5:30pm – 8pm | 56 Lexington St, New Britain, CT 06052

Stop in for art, live music, local shopping, great food & drinks! It’s NBMAA’s annual Holiday Maker’s Market! I’ll be in good company with Cinder & Salt, Hartford Prints! Kate Stephen Jewelry, Riverdog Prints, Treefort Naturals, and so many other talented Connecticut makers.

Holiday Haven sq

Holiday HVN hosted by Happiness Lab at The Grove

Saturday, December 5 | 2pm – 9pm | 756 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

More details to come, but right now the local vendor lineup for Holiday HVN is pretty spectacular! I’ll be in good company with B. Meyer Studio, CityLove, Grand Vin, A Happy Life, Hot Blood, Kate Stephen Jewelry, Lunch Box 23, Peterson Sweater Co., Rayne Home Decor, Stonehill Design, Strange Ways, and Vintanthromodern.

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Local Love: Becca & Betsy of Whisk + Brush {and their Kickstarter Campaign!}

Local Love Whisk and Brush feature

Local Love Whisk and Brush

The first thing I ate devoured from Whisk + Brush was a pumpkin cinnamon roll at a B:Hive Holiday Pop-Up Shop last year, and it was the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had. And I’m not a big pumpkin fan either. I went back for a second only minutes later and they were sold out. They were that good. Major props to baker babes Becca & Betsy. I’m excited to have them on the blog today not only because they make amazing food and share recipes on their blog, but also because they’ve got a Kickstarter underway for a doughnut truck. And tomorrow’s your last day to back it!

whisk and brush throwing doughnuts

Sami: Tell us all about the Doughnut Food Trailer!
Becca & Betsy: We’re renovating a 1975 camper into the Whisk + Brush food trailer so we can bring a delicious menu to the streets of Bridgeport, CT and beyond! Enter Dixie, our Doughnut Diva. She’s strong, cute, and totally thrilled to soon be pumping out an extensive slew of doughnuts, both sweet and savory. Our goal is to hit $12,000. If you’d like to help, pledge here!


{ recipe: alleluia jalapeño pretzel }

Sami: How did Whisk + Brush come about?
Becca: It was fate. We started out as coworkers in the financial industry. One day, I had an idea for a food blog and shared it with Betsy. Within 2 months it was up and running and I was offered a catering gig (I never planned on venturing into catering). I kept bringing Betsy on to help with events. We had this effortless, fun flow of working together. Without much talk regarding roles and duties, we both naturally settled into our positions and from there it hasn’t stopped. And since undergoing the newest venture of a Doughnut Food Trailer, our working bond has become even stronger and more fantastic.


{ recipe: mango caprese salad }

Sami: How did you acquire your culinary skills?

B&B: We both learned from our mothers. Although our backgrounds and childhoods differ in so many ways, our mothers are very similar. Strong, independent woman who know how love with fierce, yet gentle love. We both grew up helping in the kitchen and eating dinners as a family.

Sami: When you’re not whipping up your own amazing food, where do you eat?
B&B: We love supporting the locals. Our faves are Harborview Market, Walrus + Carpenter, Source Coffeehouse, Au Vucchella, Leisha’s Bakeria, Timothy’s Ice Cream… the list goes on. 


{ recipe: buttermilk cinnamon rolls }

Sami: What’s your catch phrase?
B&B: “Whose idea was this?!” We tend to shout this at each other in the midst of catering, frying up doughnuts, rushing around the kitchen. It usually gets said when we’re both hustling, under a time crunch, and trying to multi-task like crazy. It always makes us laugh because we know the only persons to blame for our craziness is US!


{ recipe: pea + plum falafels }

Sami: What feeds (pun intended) your creative energy?
Becca: For me, I’m most creative when my plate is full (no pun intended). I try to stay busy with focused, challenging work because it keeps me firing on all cylinders. The key is finding a way to stay organized with the creativity. There have been so many times that Betsy and I have been in the thick of a catering job or working at the farmers market, and I have a million ideas come to me, but we forget to write them down. 


{ recipe: chicken tortilla soup }

Sami: How do you combat creative block?
Becca: My creative blocks occur when I’m in a slump. Whether that’s due to exhaustion or maybe a lighter schedule or those oh-so awful funks when you question your choices, I hit walls when I’m flirting with laziness. I find that putting time aside to cook something for myself without any kind of agenda, project, or documentation in mind ends up rejuvenating my soul.


{ recipe: it’s a new day smoothie }

What do you love most about being entrepreneurs?
B&B: Doing it together. Betsy always says, “Being an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down.” If we didn’t have each other, we’d be flat on our faces, but together… we’re starting to see the plane (or the doughnut truck) take shape. And that’s really exciting.


{ recipe: spicy chicken + doughnut }

If you could give your fellow entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
B&B: Say yes to EVERYTHING. We headed into this venture thinking about what our ideal situation/work/clients would look like… and things were slow. We were being picky and weren’t taking chances and challenging ourselves, thus our growth was minimal. While taking a course through Women’s Business Development Center, Becca was told “Say yes to everything. And keep saying yes for longer than you think you have to.” The reality is, when you’re starting off, no one knows who you are or what you’re capable of. And while you may know what your time and talent is worth, others don’t yet. So, say yes to everything. We have taken on some really awesome work and we’ve also had many crap jobs that paid us pennies and left us questioning our decision, but so many rippling effects and opportunities have come from taking those risks. We’re wiser, better, and more confident because of those experiences. And while we still say yes to most of what comes our way, we are better equipped for handling every facet of the job. 

{ recipe: whiskey face punch }

Sami: What do you do to relax? 
Becca: Wine. Sweat pants. Couch.
Betsy: See above. This is why we’re good friends.

Sami: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
Becca: Thailand. The culture and country have always fascinated me and I have such little know-how when it come to the cuisine… although, I definitely know how to eat it.
Betsy: Australia. Only because I’m obsessed with kangaroos.


{ recipe: chunky monkey quesadilla }

Sami: If you could invite 3 people (alive or dead) over for a picnic, who would you invite?
Becca: My Grandma, Kris Delmhorst (my favorite musician) and John Steinbeck (my favorite author). I figure, my grandma can help me cook while Kris serenades us and Steinbeck provides conversation.
Betsy: My Grandma, Joe Vilane (the dance choreographer), Celia Cruz (my favorite salsa performer).

Betsy — please put me on your picnic invite list so I can finally learn how to dance. ;) Check out Becca & Betsy’s delicious recipes on the Whisk + Brush blog, and support their Kickstarter campaign to help them bring their Doughnut Food Trailer dream to life! Tomorrow’s the last day to pledge.

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Local Love: Jessica Serra Huizenga of The Confetti Bar

Local Love The Confetti Bar feat via @poorandpretty

It’s time for another edition of Local Love, my interview series with Connecticut entrepreneurs! Today, I’m chatting with Jessica Serra Huizenga, the Confetti Queen / Expert Confetti Mixologist behind The Confetti Bar. This might be the most colorful post yet. Ready to party?

Local Love The Confetti Bar tall via @poorandpretty

I first picked up a bag of Jessica’s confetti at Hartford Prints and did a double-take. We have a confetti company in Connecticut?! I was amazed. Then I found out The Confetti Bar was just one person. And she’s made custom confetti mixes for kate spade new york, KEDS, the Girl Scouts, and Twitter. And she was one town away from me. I had to meet her! So of course I Instagram stalked her for a while, then finally emailed her, and had her over for my holiday crafternoon, and hung out with her at Monarch Workshop, and used her studio for hundreds of outfit photos, and brought her homegrown kale, so I’m pretty sure that means we’re friends now. :) AND we have a really awesome event planned for November. Details at the bottom of this post! ;)

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{ photo from A Day in the Life of a Confetti Girl series by Victoria Gloria Photography }

Sami: What got you started in confetti-making?
Jessica: I literally woke up one day and told my husband I wanted to start a confetti shop. I used to collect and sort metallic confetti/sequins from the craft store, but when it came to actually using confetti, I found there was a real shortage of really cool, colorful, unique mixes. SO I started making my own, and voila! The Confetti Bar was born :)

Continue reading…

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Local Love: Randi & Jolie of Rayne Home Decor

Local Love Rayne Home Decor feature via @poorandpretty

Local Love Rayne Home Decor interview with @poorandpretty

We’re continuing my Local Love entrepreneur interview series with Jolie Vazquez and Randi Bayne, the candlemakers and abstract artists behind Rayne Home Decor. I first met Jolie and Randi at a Hartford Prints! Mother’s Day event this year, and instantly fell in love with their minimalist packaging, zen display, and of course the smells! I was surprised at how much I loved their blends of fragrances I’d never think to put together — but hey, that’s why they’re the candlemakers, and not me. ;) Let’s get to know them!

Rayne Home Decor About photos (1)

Sami: What scents are you burning right now?
Jolie & Randi: We’re burning our new Ruby Rose candle (grapefruit & rosemary), which we named through a social media contest, as well some Sensual Hut (caribbean teakwood) tealights.

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Sami: That sounds heavenly. So what got you started in candle making?
Jolie & Randi: Lighting candles has become an important daily ritual for us for years now. We started looking into how many waxes, additives, etc… that could possibly be in candles and we weren’t very pleased. So we we decided to start making soy wax candles so that we could know what we’re burning and so that we can offer quality made candles for others at affordable prices.

Continue reading…

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