Tips + Tricks: Spring Cleaning with the KonMari Method

The countdown for Spring Cleaning has begun. There is nothing that can make you feel as comfortable and joyful in your home as a little refreshment after a long winter inside. Maybe you have even experienced a warm day to open the windows and let some new air inside.

Speaking of joy, Marie Kondo of KonMarie.comis currently leading the charge in the effort to revitalize the home. If you haven’t heard of her, Marie Kondo is the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

The KonMari Method teaches you to ask a simple question when tidying up your house: Does this item spark joy? If not, get rid of it. 

Here is what we have learned from the KonMari Method:

  1. Visualize Your Idea Life:What does your ideal lifestyle and living environment look like? Imagine how you would be living your life if money, time and resources were not an issue. List the goals that come to mind. Describe in detail how you envision your home to look after the end of your tidying journey.  
  2. Tidy by Category:Rather than going room-by-room, tidy by category – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally, sentimental items. Keep only those items that spark joy.
  3. Say Thank You:It is difficult to get rid of your possessions, but KonMari teaches that these possessions are stripped of their dignity when they go unused in a home. If it doesn’t speak to the heart, Marie Kondo teaches us to thank the item for its service, and then let it go. 

Marie Kondo’s focus on joy has been a novelty and eye-opener to many people. She also has her own hit Netflix show: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. So, if you don’t have the time/energy/concentration for the book, you can check it out there. 

Happy tidying! 

Go-To Tips: Goal Planning When You Just Aren’t Feeling Motivated

It happens: One week we are motivated and killing it at work, at home, and out in the world. The next week, it feels like we’ve been hit by a freight train and we are not motivated to get anything done. It’s a shame too … your to do list is sitting pretty, written in gold pen on top that hilarious Emily McDowell notepad you treated yourself to last year. But what happens when you are just struggling to check any of it off?

1. TAKE A BREAK

If you’re unmotivated because you’re burnt out, take a break before starting up again.  There are many things you can do when finding yourself in a slump that might recharge you: 

Take a little “you” time to regroup, recharge, and get going again. 

2. BE AMBITIOUS (BUT NOT TOO AMBITIOUS)

If you are finding yourself in a pattern of being overwhelmed, revamp your to-do list. Set actionable daily goals and stick to the list. If you get done early in the day, instead of moving on to tomorrow’s list, take the rest of the day off to prep, plan, and envision what you will be doing tomorrow. Be ambitious with your goals, but don’t be overly ambitious in trying to achieve those goals in one day. Make a list and plan on doing at least one thing a day that gets you to your goals. 

3. CELEBRATE SUCCESS

Celebrate the victories, both big and small. If you are moving forward, then you are succeeding. Its cliché, but progress is progress. If you stay positive about the execution of your goals, it’s easier to stay motivated. Sometimes just making this shift to a more positive outlook can make all the difference. 

Want more ideas? Read our article on Go To Tips: 8 Simple Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.

Where to Go? What to Eat? Manhattan, NY

Manhattan is known for many things—theater, shopping, dining, sightseeing, you name it—making it a very popular spot for both visitors and residents. With everything New York City has to offer, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Where should you go? What should you see? Where should you eat?

Sylvia Parker, owner of Magpie and a native New Yorker, has you covered! Sylvia’s shop—located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan—offers unique, beautiful, and practical gifts that are frequently handmade, organic, and locally made and designed. “We’ve been on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for six years,” says Sylvia. “We love our neighborhood for its mix of people, our proximity to two wonderful parks (Central and Riverside), the cultural richness, and old-time architecture.”

river and manhattan skyline

Where to Go?

American Museum of Natural History

Just a few blocks away from Magpie lies the American Museum of Natural History, a city landmark with world-famous exhibits. “I’ve always loved the old-fashioned dioramas and the giant blue whale suspended from the ceiling there,” Sylvia remarks. One of the largest museums in the world, the AMNH offers spectacles and exhibits for children and adults alike.

Central Park Rambles

A wooded area within Central Park, the Rambles are a restored area of the park that have been fitted with nature trails, gardens, and bird feeders. Located between 73rd and 78th streets, the Rambles offer a beautiful outdoor space full of both native and exotic plant species as well as views of a pond where visitors take out rowboats when the weather is nice.

Shakespeare Garden

Also in Central Park is the Shakespeare Garden, located near the Delacorte Theatre, the site of the annual “Shakespeare in the Park” series held in the summer. A less-frequented part of the park, this serene and picturesque part of the park is perfect for a relaxing stroll on its winding paths. Full of seasonal flowers, the garden is particularly lush in the spring and is a popular spot for outdoor weddings.

Museum Mile

A fifteen-minute walk across the park takes you to Museum Mile, which features one block after another of incredible museums including the Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt, Frick, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “which I consider one of the best (if not the best) museums in the world,” Sylvia adds.

Riverside Park

With four miles of park, from 72nd to 158th street along the Hudson River, Riverside Park is frequently considered one of the best waterfront parks in Manhattan. With sunset views, a bike path, outdoor cafes in the summer, a skate park, and other sports courts and fields; this park is a must-see when visiting the city.

food and drinks

What to Eat?

Zabars and Fairway Market

Two longtime favorites, Zabar’s and Fairway Market are both famed for their selections of cheese, coffee, and foodstuffs from around the world.

Orwashers, Maison Kayser, and By the Way

“Orwashers and Maison Kayser have particularly delicious bread and pastries,” notes Sylvia. “I also like a bakery called By the Way that sells homey gluten-free and dairy-free cakes and cookies.”

Murray’s Sturgeon

Murray’s Sturgeon, a gourmet deli, sells everything from dried fruit to smoked fish and has “the sweetest counter service ever.”

Amelie Wine Bar

A French bistro that was recently cited by Michelin, Amelie has phenomenal brunch and dinner menus as well as a wine list that is updated daily.

Mermaid Inn and Pizzeria Sirenetta

Mermaid Inn and Pizzeria Sirenetta are sister restaurants that both have terrific happy hour food. Pizzeria Sirenetta serves Neapolitan pizzas and rustic Italian fare while the Mermaid Inn is known for their seafood.

Jin Ramen

Another good spot for happy hour food, Jin Ramen offers delicious Japanese food and—of course—multiple kinds of ramen to choose from.

Shake Shack

The second Shake Shack to have ever opened its doors, this Upper West Side staple is popular among tourists, residents, and folks who work in the neighborhood. “There is always a long line outside for the burgers at Shake Shack.”

Amorino and Van Leeuwen

It’s also a good neighborhood for ice cream lovers,” Sylvia notes. “Amorino sells Italian-based gelato, while Van Leeuwen is local and features vegan ice cream in its shop.”

Go-To Tips: Surviving the Holidays

The winter holidays are a fun and festive time of the year, but they can come with their fair share of stress and headaches too. Instead of letting yourself get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, these tips can help you relax, be present, and enjoy the time with friends and family.

holiday self care with tea

Tips to Help You Stay Merry and Bright

  1. You may have plenty on your to-do list this holiday season, but you better make sleep a priority too! Without adequate sleep, your stress levels are likely to go up and you may wind up not getting to fully enjoy the holidays. Sleep deprivation can cause or contribute to fatigue, overeating, forgetfulness, and other ailments you probably don’t want coming with you to your holiday party.
  2. If the idea of being around certain coworkers at your office holiday party makes you want to tear your hair out, or you’d rather be alone than be around a certain few family members, gently remind yourself that it’s only for a short amount of time if these get togethers are unavoidable. It’s not ideal to spend your free time during the holidays around people who cause you stress, but you are in control of how you react to the situations around you. Take a deep breath, enjoy the parts of the festivities that you can, and remind yourself that it’s just one time a year.
  3. If you’re dreading going to a holiday function alone, bring a friend or significant other! Having company that you can turn to for stress relief, comic relief, or just to roll your eyes at when your uncle says that dumb joke for the 30th time can mean the difference between getting to relax and staying wound up all throughout dinner. If you can’t bring anyone, bring some entertainment (a book, for instance) so you can enjoy some quiet solo time.
  4. Don’t forget to make time for self care! While the holidays are a time to think of others and spend time with them, it’s important to remember to consider your own needs as well. Even if that means taking a break from holiday shopping to enjoy a hot cup of tea in a relaxing bath, watching an episode of your favorite TV show in your softest and fuzziest slippers, or making a batch of decadent cookies just for you; make time for yourself this season so you can be your best self when it comes time to celebrate with other

In the Kitchen: Hot Toddy Recipes

Nothing says “warm” and “cosy” like a hot toddy on a cold day. These cocktails—typically enjoyed when the weather begins to get colder and wetter—are even rumored to help cure the common cold! A simple blend of liquor, hot water, honey, and occasionally herbs and spices; this classic drink is not only a winter staple but can be dressed up to impress even the pickiest of cocktail connoisseurs.

classic hot toddyPhoto by Meg Baggott, Styling by Dylan Garret

The Classic Hot Toddy Recipe: Use this recipe to make a perfectly simple and classic hot toddy, or use it as a base to work with to add your favorite tea, spices, or other ingredients.

Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy: Inspired by the taste of delicious apple pie, this drink will have you feeling like you just drank a spiked version of your favorite winter dessert (just without the crust)!

Hot Toddy Caramel Popcorn: Looking for that hot toddy flavor, but not in the mood for a drink? This popcorn recipe combines classic caramel popcorn with hot toddy flavors for a creative take on both!

Holiday Shipping Deadline!

Don’t forget! If you want your Etta + Billie products to make it in time for the holidays, the deadline to place your orders is December 18th by 2pm PST.

etta + billie products

Or, if you want to shop in person, you can catch us at one of the events or craft fairs we will be at this November and December. [link to blog]

etta + billie shopping

Happy shopping!

Etta + Billie Gift Guide: Foodies & Cocktail Lovers (For Him)

Not sure what to get your friends and family this holiday season? Everyone loves a good meal or cocktail! This list is a great place to start for an assortment of gifts for any food and drink lover in your life.

gift guide for foodies and cocktail lovers for him

For Him:

  1. Harrison Bar Tool Set | Pottery Barn | $69.00
  2. SOMA x Ritual Brew Bottle | Ritual Coffee Roasters | $45.00
  3. Braising Sauce Gift Set | William Sonoma | $39.95
  4. Tasty Ultimate: How to Cook Basically Anything | IndieBound | $29.99
  5. Citrus Gift Set | Etta + Billie | $52.00

Etta + Billie Gift Guide: Foodies & Cocktail Lovers (For Her)

Not sure what to get your friends and family this holiday season? Everyone loves a good meal or cocktail! This list is a great place to start for an assortment of gifts for any food and drink lover in your life.

gift guide for foodies and cocktail lovers for her

For Her:

  1. Marble and Brass Single Bottle Wine Cooler | Goop | $68.00
  2. Evergreen Tangerine Soap | Etta + Billie | $14.00
  3. Red Wine Pairing Collection | Recchiuti | $28.00
  4. Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream Book | Chronicle Books | $19.95
  5. Cocktail Club | Shaker & Spoon | $50.00/month

Go-To Tips: Fall Activities and Treats

October is a great month for getting ready for watching the leaves change, wearing your coziest and softest flannels, and snacking on many delicious treats. October is also a particularly good time to getting your home and body prepared for the upcoming winter. Here are some of our favorite seasonal activities and treats (snackable and otherwise) to enjoy and share with others.

Fall Pumpkin

Apple Picking: It wouldn’t be fall without apple picking! Whether you enjoy eating apples raw or using them to bake apple pies or make caramel apples, apple picking is a great activity for the whole family. Some apple orchards even offer tasty treats on-site to keep you fueled, like apple cider and pastries. So grab your friends, Google your nearest apple orchard, and spend some time outdoors in the crisp autumn air.

Chai Tea Room + Body Spray: Chai is one of those scents that elicits the warm, spicy, and subtly sweet smells of autumn. This chai tea spray is a perfectly complementary combination of smells to not only help your home smell like a comforting and seasonal space, but can also help freshen YOU up! Safe for linens, the body, your car, and more; feel free to be generous with this Etta + Billie product to make your home fall ready.

Cheese and Pretzel Broomsticks: These fun little snacks are great for kids and adults at parties. No cooking required; just get some thin pretzel sticks, string cheese, a knife, and some chives (optional) for garnish. Just be sure to snap a photo of your creative snack plate before they’re all gobbled up!

Boozy Apple Cider: A signature cocktail is a must at any gathering. This drink is a great option since it can be used for all autumn-themed parties and can even be made without alcohol for kids. Served in seasonally appropriate carved-out apples, sweetened with a hint of caramel, and spiked with cinnamon-flavored Fireball Whiskey; this cocktail will wow all your party guests.

Corn Maze and Pumpkin Picking: Getting lost in a corn maze can be a fun activities for kids of all ages, however, some places offer Halloween or horror-themed mazes for adults too. A perfect excuse to run around in the outdoors and burn off some energy, corn mazes can keep kids entertained for hours. Many farms also offer pumpkin picking, so you can head home ready to carve pumpkins, make pumpkin pie, or roast pumpkin seeds.

Ginger Orange Lip Balm + Salve: Nothing is worse than having dry, itchy skin once the weather starts getting colder. Help keep your skin moisturized with this revitalizing ginger orange lip balm and salve instead! The ginger is both calming and refreshing, the orange lends hints of uplifting citrus, and the nourishing oils and cocoa butter keep your skin conditioned and soothed all year round.

Etta + Billie Ginger Orange Lip Balm + Salve

Where to Go? What to Eat? Newport, RI

Newport, a gorgeous coastal city located in New England’s Rhode Island, is famous for its vast harbors filled with sailboats and yachts as well as its historic mansions, several of which have been converted into museums. The city has one of the highest concentrations of colonial homes in the nation in its downtown Historic District as well as its Gilded Age mansions, which were summer “cottages” built by mid-19th century wealthy southern planters looking to escape the heat of the south. But Newport has so much more to offer than sailing, mansions, and museums!

Kristen Coates, owner of a an arts and home goods store in Newport, grew up in Newport, RI and—after having lived in Los Angeles and New York for more than 15 years—currently resides in the beautiful city. Kristen shared some of her favorite activities, places to visit, and things to eat with us so your next trip to Newport can be filled with great sights, delicious food, and fun!

Newport RI
Photo by: Christian Harder for The Wall Street Journal Off Duty

Music Festivals
During July and August Newport hosts both the Folk Festival and the Jazz Festival along with the Live Local Music Festival, a grassroots indie arts and music festival started by a local photographer.

Cliff Walk
Cliff Walk is a world famous 3.5-mile walking trail that winds along the coast behind the mansions and gives an outstanding view of the water. This public access trail is unique in that it combines ocean views, stunning architecture, and rugged shorelines.

Newport Art Museum
The Newport Art Museum is a museum and art school located in downtown Newport that features changing exhibitions and art classes year-round. The museum’s exhibitions and collections reflect Rhode Island’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene by featuring artists with ties to RI.

Redwood Library and Athenaeum
The Redwood Library is the oldest lending library that still occupies its original building in the United States. Designated a national historic landmark in 1962, the building also houses antique sculptures, paintings, furniture, and rare books.

Third & Elm Press
The oldest operating printing press in the country, Third & Elm Press, is also located in Newport. Visitors can view and purchase woodblock prints, limited edition books, and note cards and even watch the process of them being made by artist Ilse Buchert Nesbitt.

What to Eat?

White Horse Tavern
“The White Horse Tavern is a personal favorite come fall with the crackling fireplaces and the stories of haunted dining rooms and the bar!” One of the oldest taverns in the country, established in 1673, this place offers delicious food and drinks in a cosy historic setting.

Thames Street Kitchen
TSK is a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on fresh seasonal and local ingredients. “The family that owns this place also owns the epic burger restaurant, Mission, and Winner Winner where they serve—you guessed it—chicken.”

Other Locally Owned Restaurants
Newport has dozens of locally owned restaurants including the Clarke Cooke House as well as Diego’s and Perro Salado (both excellent for Mexican food and margaritas). Stoneacre Brasserie has the best brunch, Pasta Beach for authentic Italian, and newly opened Bar and Board has cheese and charcuterie boards perfect for sharing over delicious wine

Additional Tips

Kristen notes her favorite Newport sights are along the coast and at the beaches. There are coves filled with soft-to-the-touch powdery white sand and waves perfect for surfing. Other beaches have great walking areas full of various flora and fauna. One of the best parts about Newport is being on the water and sailing around the island. There is a reason Newport is famous for it!

“The quality of life and the beauty surrounding the island,” Kristen remarks, “there is no other place like it in the world.”