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What do sandals mean to you? If for you, they mean “every day footwear,” oh boy. Do I ever envy you!
For me, sandals scream sum-sum-summertime! Wave your arms and twirl around in the sunshine! Tans! Sand! Eating ice cream cones OUTDOORS!
See, I live near Chicago and for about seven months of the year, there are no sandals to be seen. I will push and stretch sandal season into the odd day in November when the weather is unusually warm. And sometimes you’ll see me wiggling my toes in sandals in February, feeling free of the tyranny of work pumps and their rigid structure that keeps you office appropriate, squished pinky toe and blisters be damned. Kind of a metaphor for life, huh.
So, the best summer vacation sandals are those with free bohemian style. Express yourself. Flowy fringe. Floppy tassels. Strips of strappy straps. How about jangly metal coins? Rhinestones. Studs. Like, straight outta the souks of Marrakech!
If you can’t get to Marrakech any time soon, you can get the look by simply going to Etsy. I tripped across an Etsy store (while barefoot!) that sells hand-crafted embellished Greek leather sandals from Athens — Dimitras Workshop.
They popped up in my Pinterest feed. And I held my breath while clicking on the picture, because Etsy products are ALWAYS sold out by the time you see them on Pinterest. Or the shop is long closed. But not this time! Dimitras Workshop is there and alive and well, and selling these sandals and all kinds of fun summery vacation sandals.
How about these “Yasmine” sandals. Wear them with everything from classic denim cut-off shorts to tie-dye indigo caftans:
I’ve bought plenty a sandal on sale at DSW. But what I like about these is the idea of supporting handmade products, and appreciating the vision and flair of an artisan.
Hmmmm. You may see these in the future on my feet as I make a run to a toilet warehouse in Chennai, India. (Yeah, I have to do things like that sometimes to keep our bathrooms in good working order … ) Or better yet, you may see me on a beach in Sri Lanka soon! Happy vacationing!
Sometimes a photo on Instagram stops me in my scrolling tracks. Does that happen to you too? What stopped me? These smiles! And these baskets!
This is the joy! The joy of making things and sharing them with the world. I love the happy colors of their baskets. Here are details of the baskets, all photos from the Baba Tree Baskets Instagram (follow, follow now!):
You can find the basket that sings to your own heart, and buy it at their shop online. (go, go now!)
They’re made in Ghana from dyed grasses and reeds. I really like that you can see the artisan who made your basket with such pride, and know his or her name.
So far, I’ve shown you really colorful baskets. They also make beautiful neutral color baskets:
I ordered a few orange and green baskets for our living room. Here’s one of them:
True to my global style, this Baba Tree Basket from Ghana usually holds an alpaca Peruvian blanket we use on the sofa. The basket is in front of a rice god from northern Thailand, which is draped with a huge clay Mexican rosary I found in Old Town San Diego many years ago. My husband said, why did you put a cross on a rice god? (Which I think is either/both Buddhist or Hindu, I’m not sure.) I said that especially in today’s times, we need to mix with people from everywhere, with all backgrounds and all beliefs, all over the world.
The baskets are very lightweight. I’m considering getting a big zig zag basket for our apartment in India. Something like this huge Jemima 10 Cows basket:
The baskets are “smoosh-able” so I could fit it in a suitcase. Baba Tree sends instructions to you to put water on the basket and reshape it after shipping, so it retains its original shape.
See, this is how a Baba Tree zig zag basket would fit with all the patterns in our Chennai apartment — yes I have all these pillows and they’re going to India in a suitcase on the next trip!
Baba Tree artisans make baskets of all sizes, from small ones that fit in the palms of your hands, to baskets large enough to hold loads of laundry. Some are for storage, some are for display. They make baskets of all colors. Their handcrafted bicycle baskets and baby baskets are so cute. Their small baskets would be great gifts with things tucked in them like creative foods or small clothing accessories.
Some people are natural born gift-givers. They seem to read deep into minds and hearts. They know what you love when you don’t even know it yourself. And they make this seem so effortless.
I envy those people. I’m not one of those people. But I do know a great gift idea when it’s shown to me. So it’s around this time of year that I start desperately visiting websites to get inspiration for gifts. That’s why when UncommonGoods contacted me, it’s like they read my mind and heart, as the good gift purveyors that they are. I turn to them to solve my holiday gift-giving problems, and maybe they can solve yours too.
Giving gifts doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. Here are four simple ways to find a great gift. Look for a gift that captures one or more of the following elements. I share a few examples for each gift-giving concept.
⇒ Uncommon and Unique
Seek an idea that’s not available at stores a mile away from home. Instead of a commodity everyone has seen before, choose the surprising twist.
Why not a little desktop bowling alley, for when the mind needs a break? The surprising twist here is, it’s a common thing made very small and put in an unusual place.
As another twist, the ampersand added to the common wood cheeseboard is creative. Use it for wine & cheese, cheese & crackers. The ampersand makes sense because who fills a whole board with just one thing? It’s always something & something else. This also has practical applications. See how the crackers are propped up nicely in the grooves. The design helps make an easy, attractive display.
⇒ Things That Make You Laugh
Life can get heavy and serious enough. So every home and office should have light things that make you laugh, right? Here are examples of fun decor gift ideas:
Do you know anyone who has given up trying to be on time? This clock is for them. Or, the rebellious (and maybe smart?) people who think the super-busy world around us is crazy.
If you know anyone who likes music and has a cat, this gift hits the jackpot. It gives a new name to scratching some beats. As a decor blogger with nice furniture and two cats, I can tell you, my cats are not declawed and there’s no need to do that. They have cute scratching pads around the house, and they were trained to scratch on those, not furniture. We all live happily together with furniture intact. So this is a gift for people and their pets.
⇒ Sentimental Memories
At any age, people have memories of the past. Just, some of us have more past than others.
Anyone who grew up in the 80’s knows what a “mixtape” is. Even Millennials are appreciating the nostalgia of these playlists on actual physical tape. Yes, us old folks, the Boomers and Gen X’ers, we invented the original playlists. And the hand-written mixtape label can be personalized; choose what you want it to say. It’s sold as a mixtape doormat, but it could be cool wall art too.
Another great idea is gifts like the Mother & Daughter Letter Book Set that help build written memories and stories among family – a memento that’s more beautiful, substantive and enduring than text messages.
⇒ Favorite Food
When all other ideas fail you, go for food. Find something related to your intended’s favorite food. Mix in an uncommon, unique or funny element about food. You can’t go wrong.
This cutting board with the “Cliff’s Notes for Knives” is interesting. We have a knife block with a bunch of knives, but I never give much thought that each knife is designed to do a specific job. This cheat sheet on a cutting board will help keep things straight.
UncommonGoods has many DIY food kits, but this caught my eye because with hot sauce, doesn’t it seem like the sauce is either too mild, too hot, rarely just right? Well, make the sauce just the way you like it!
Doing Good with Gifts
Now that we’ve learned how to find great gifts, I’ll raise the bar a little higher. It’s a big bonus when the gift also does good for people or the planet – when the purchase helps support a worthy cause.
To be honest, it’s not lost on me that I blog here about decorating homes, when so many on this planet can only hope to have a home again. Conflicts and severe weather around the world have left millions of people seeking new homes, and even seeking the most basic dignity and safety as they live in transition not knowing their next steps. I’m also an animal lover and I follow the organizations that save orangutans affected by deforestation in Indonesia. The fuzzy orphaned babies, they’re so cute in little diapers, but really they shouldn’t be wearing diapers and they shouldn’t have to be on Facebook. They should be clinging on their moms, learning how to live in the trees. But the safe forest isn’t there. So when I can support organizations working to do good through the gifts I choose to buy, I will make that choice every time.
UncommonGoods has a program that does this. For every purchase, they donate to a partner in their Better to Give program. Through UncommonGoods purchases, you can support a variety of causes: help for refugees, programs for sexual violence survivors, restoring forests on our planet, and literacy and education for children.
Here’s how it works: when you shop, pick a non-profit, and a $1 donation will be made with every purchase. As part of sharing the Better to Give program with you here today, UncommonGoods has donated $50 on my behalf to the International Rescue Committee. The news about refugees and humanitarian crises in the U.S. and abroad has been on my mind a lot this year.
Beyond the social cause donations, as an avid DIY’er myself, I also appreciate how UncommonGoods sells products made by individual makers, artisans, cooperatives in the U.S. and other countries. They support the pride and talents of individual people who make products with their hands.
So, when you’re perusing websites or wandering aisles, searching for the perfect gifts, choose what fits one or more of these:
This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods. I own a wall shelf purchased from their catalog many years ago, and yes it’s an uncommon and unique wall shelf, and people always noticed and commented about it. So the company lives up to its name!
Doesn’t every city have its must-see decor and furniture stores? (If you are into that sort of thing, that is!) The design pilgrimage stores. Like ABC Carpet & Home in New York. In Chicago, I’d put Jayson Home as one of those stores and can you believe I’ve lived here 11 years and have never stopped by. They are upscale, but they have their annual warehouse sale this weekend with deals. They also have occasional flea markets. I’d highly recommend you visit Chicago, but if you can’t, you can shop Jayson Home on their website.
If you like this antique mirror look, you could easily create this look. With a picture frame with glass. Use milk paint or chalk paints on the frame, and Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Paint on the reverse side of the glass, then distress the Krylon paint.