Oil Vey


I’ve been trying to incorporate more essential oils into my daily life. There are so many amazing, creative ways to make them a part of your routine! I regularly oil-pull with a peppermint essential oil & coconut oil blend, and I use a tea tree & coconut oil blend every night to moisturize and cleanse my face. But I have bunch of bright, spring scents left over from my (ill-fated) idea to make homemade candles for my wedding that I needed to put to good use! Pro-tip: don’t try to make 50 homemade essential oil/ soy candles as wedding favors—planning a wedding is stressful enough! 

After I saw this post last year, I was inspired to make my own linen spray with the lovely scents I had just lying around in my cabinets. But, after an incident involving me lifting this plant mister by the plunger, breaking the mister and spilling oily water all over my bedroom, I briefly set aside my goal of perpetually gorgeous-smelling sheets and pillows.

Well, no more! I was helping a friend shop for an upcoming trip yesterday, and in the travel section of Target I found a cute little pink spray bottle, which reminded me of this awesome DIY! I can’t take any credit for the idea or the basic recipe, but the essential oil blend is something I concocted, based on the amazing cocktail, the Paloma! The Paloma is a tequila-based cocktail with grapefruit and lime—delicious, refreshing, and reminiscent of warm summer nights. I’d found my muse.


“Paloma” Room & Linen Spray

  • water
  • witch hazel
  • grapefruit essential oil
  • eucalyptus essential oil
  • lime essential oil
  • small funnel
  • small spray bottle


Combine 1 part water to one part witch hazel in the small spray bottle of your choosing. My witch hazel has a slight odor, so next time I make this, I’ll use more water than witch hazel. In a 12 oz bottle I used about 30 drops grapefruit, 20 drops eucalyptus, 20 drops lime. How strong you want your scent to be is up to you! Give the bottle a shake and spritz anywhere that needs freshening!* I added a handwritten label with gold Sharpie—paint pens or chalk pens will also do the trick!

*The oil and water will separate, so shake the bottle before each use for best results.

The grapefruit is bright and refreshing, the lime is fruity and mellow, and the eucalyptus adds an almost minty sharpness reminiscent of the fragrance of tequila. All the cocktail love with none of the calories.

Happy spring, happy Passover, and happy Easter! Oh, and blanket apology for the title pun.

—DellaBites

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DIY not? Vinyl Storage

So, guys—I did a DIY and it did NOT turn out horribly!


I recently bought my first record player (yes, at age 24, shut up). I only have 4 LPs so far (because of the Spending Fast), but they have such pretty artwork that I just needed to display them. When I saw this Photo Ledge DIY on A Beautiful Mess, I knew I’d found just the thing.

Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things & Eisley’s Currents
Since we redecorated our living room, there’s been an awkward patch of bare wall underneath our faux-mantlepiece that I’ve been dying to fill up with some art. When I saw the DIY on ABM, I figured I could make the space work double duty as a place to store my tiny record collection.

Jenny Lewis’ Acid Tongue & Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister
Of course, I messed up along the way. My power drill is from Ikea—I lovingly call it my “drill for girls.” Not having the right tools for the job was a major roadblock that turned this into a day-long, rather than an hour-long project. Also, Home Depot is a confounding labyrinth—we spent way too long searching for supplies. But all in all, I’m proud that I made something useful with my own two hands.

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Sanding like a boss.

After I assembled the wood, I primed and painted the ledge gold, because all gold everything, obviously. I asked my father-in-law to come over with his drill to hang the shelf, et voilà—stylish record storage! I’m so inspired to work on more projects because of how successfully this one went.

Can’t wait to share more DIYs!

—DellaBites

Friday I’m in Love…with My Life

Today marks a somewhat historic day for me: I attended all of my classes, submitted a homework assignment on time, and am in really good shape to catch up with this semester’s work! I’m actually excited to write a law paper on Plato’s Apology of Socrates. I might actually. freaking. graduate. It’s getting so real.

So, logically, rather than, y’know, study for Art History, I decided to clean the crap out of my apartment. It is amazing what accumulates in your fridge and freezer when you’re not paying attention…Let’s just say that, despite our super-green recycle-mania, we’ll have a full bag of trash this week.

Some useful stuff, like organizing my office, happened. But some fun stuff happened too.

 

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the rainbow connection ❤

When I moved into Fig’s place, his cabinets were *sorta* decorated with random glassware, and I managed to go almost 3 years without realizing that they are perfectly rainbow-colored! Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess has an incredible rainbow-colored glass collection that has been a total inspiration. It was so nice to be able to start my own with “found objects” (which is what I call all of Fig’s pre-Chelsea possessions, basically).

Also, cleaning out your fridge and cabinets can be really inspiring…for cooking, that is. I invented a sauce that I kind of want to call “béchamelized”, but I don’t know that anyone would get it. Caramelized onions and cauliflower, white wine, butter, and parmesan cheese instead of flour. 2 legit 2 quit.

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I served it over pierogies and wilted spinach because LIFE IS AMAZING.

When you have 3 full-time jobs (retail worker, 15-credit college student, & homemaker/housekeeper/adult-I-guess?), there’s very little pure “me-time”, so getting to do some redecorating and creative cooking was so refreshing.

What fills your “me-time”?

–DellaBites

P.S. I’m calling 3.18.16 the day I finally committed to Snapchat. I’m @highwaytochel over there. Story is fiiiiire right now.

P.P.S. Just in case the title reference isn’t clear…

Phases-I’m in Love with My Life

Also, here’s the Amazon link to buy the damn album. It’s kind of embarrassing that you don’t have it already. Phases for life!

Weekly Wares

2016 has seemed like a total “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers” scenario thus far. Get this: I’ve cut my caffeine consumption by 50-80% per day AND I’ve been practicing aromatherapy. I woke up on time for my 8 a.m. math class. 2015 me thinks that 2016 me is a hippie nerd.

Winter didn’t really come to New England this year. Sure, we’ve had snow and frigid days, but the usual onslaught of dampness and misery graciously spared is this year (unless we get another Easter blizzard). 65 degree February days are the only remotely acceptable part of climate change. This unseasonable weather, combined with my job in retail (where it’s been spring since Christmas!) have brought an unprecedented amount of bright, happy colors into my life during a month known for Groundhogs and below-zero temps.

All of this juuuuust so happened to coincide with the launch of the app A Color Story, so even our Instagrams have been brighter in 2016! I’ve been editing photos with A Color Story exclusively for the past week or so, and I’m really thrilled about the results. For a Photoshop pro, I’m sure it’s child’s play, but for the iPhoneographers among us, it’s an easy way to make your pics stand out.

So, other than ACS, here are a few of my other February faves!

 

purity by jonathan franzen, abm academic agenda, monq vibrant diffuser

 

 

Purity by Jonathan Franzen. So, technically, I’m a few pages from finishing this tome (I can’t accept that it’s almost over!) but I’m preemptively naming it my favorite book of the year. My Toasties/feminists hate Franzen, and there’s ample evidence to support such a view. However, a good story is a good story, and a writer who can make 500+ pages fly by pleasurably is okay in my book.

 

jacket-michael michael kors, scarf-magaschoni cashmere

Monq. Monq is a brand of aromatherapy “vaporizer” (I’m hesitant to use that term because of the connotation with e-cigs). They use unique blends of herbs and essential oils to create mood-boosting aromas and promote focused breathing. I splurged for the 7-pack (which contains Zen, Happy, Sleepy, Vibrant, Skinny, Sexy, and Healthy). My favorite is Vibrant (shown above).

 

Cigarette smoking is a vile habit that I never personally got into, but I am weirdly down with “vaping”. No nicotine, no tobacco–just aromatic healing!

What’s new for you in 2016?

–DellaBites

Brand Crush—Minnetonka Moccasin

My Sheepskin Hardsole Slippers. If they look “lived in” it’s because I rarely take them off in the winter.

For the last year and a half, I have been pretty deeply obsessed with Minnetonka Moccasins. My first pair were Leopard Kiltys, which I bought on clearance at my work, and I’ve been a fiend ever since.

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My first ever pair of Minnetonkas, purchased Summer 2014: the Leopard Kilty Moccasin

I first heard about the brand through Sherri Dupree-Bemis’ Instagram. She is a huge fan—in fact, she has even been featured on their blog! When I discovered that my work carried them, I knew I had to try them out. I love moccasins, but the pairs I had owned in the past were poor quality and didn’t hold up. Quality is a hallmark of Minnetonka—these things have been a hit for 70 years for a reason.

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Sadly, these ABM collab Thunderbirds have recently sold out. Thanks to the amazing customer service team at Minnetonka, I actually ended up with the last turquoise pair in my size! 

In addition to their Eisley feature, Minnetonka is becoming know for its kickass collaborations. Last year, they teamed up with Elsie & Emma of A Beautiful Mess to create two whimsical styles of their signature beaded Thunderbirds. They also currently have a line with high-end retailer Opening Ceremony featuring blinged-out slippers and moccasins, as well as Minnetonka for Hello Kitty (not exactly my jam, but cute nonetheless).

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This ribbon style isn’t available on their site anymore. It came in this tan color and navy blue, and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get the navy as well!

Beyond quality, another hallmark of Minnetonka is their pricing. My jaw was on the floor when I saw how inexpensive these things are. An average pair of moccasins will run you from $38.95-$49.95, and that’s for genuine suede! They also have an array of other leathers that they use to craft their shoes. AND they have free shipping on all purchases over $65 (and free shipping promotions throughout the holidays!)

Minnetonkas are an awesome way to incorporate fashion-forward footwear into your life without breaking the bank or destroying your feet. The mocc motto is “comfort over everything”.

DSW & Modcloth, among other stores, sell Minnetonkas, but now I almost always go straight to the source to buy mine. Not only are the prices unbeatable, but the customer service is speedy and incredible.

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Classic Fringe Hardsole Boots—people freak out over how cute these things are!

**As a (basically lifelong) vegetarian/flexitarian, I struggled for a long time with the decision to include animal products (leather, suede, etc) in my wardrobe. It just didn’t seem right. I could just be whistling Dixie, but to me, buying one pair of leather moccasins that will last years as opposed to a cheap pair of textile moccs that I’ll replace annually seems to have a smaller environmental and financial impact. The jury is still out on the impact of man-made materials (pleather, PVC), and since I avoid meat primarily out of concern for the environment (with a helping of concern for animal welfare, of course) I take a more traditional route when building my wardrobe.

Easiest At-Home Pumpkin Spice Latte Ever!

Fall is taking its sweet time arriving this year. Here we are, nearly mid-way through September, experiencing a veritable heat wave. Some schools actually let out the other day because without A.C., this humid heat can actually be dangerous. We don’t have A.C. I’m a survivor!

Actual screenshot from Tuesday. I was in a tank-top and shorts and still nearly died of heat stroke.
Actual screenshot from Tuesday. I was in a tank-top and shorts and still nearly died of heat stroke.

Since it is projected to cool down today, I wanted to celebrate with a pumpkin spice latte (also known as the siren song of all basic white girls). Pejoratives be damned, I love a pumpkin spice latte and will never be ashamed of it!

Here’s the thing about PSLs, though:

  1. They don’t typically contain pumpkin. This is fine: they are pumpkin spiced, which simply means that they are flavored with spices typically used to prepare pumpkin pies.
  2. Takeout PSLs are loaded with sugar, and certain syrups contain artificial ingredients and food dyes. Gross.
  3. PS syrups can also contain sweetened condensed milk or powdered dairy, which makes them far from vegan-friendly.

So, PSLs, while being delicious, aren’t perfect. The great thing about our online Pinterest-y, DIY  culture is that we can take our beloved (pricey) takeout and mimic it at home for a fraction of the cost and calories! Win!

There are so many amazing PSL recipes online. Some involve homemade simple syrups, others actually provide directions to making homemade pumpkin spice almond milk! I was looking to create a drink that could be whipped up with no prep in those last three minutes before you have to leave the house for work. Plus, my at-home PSL can be made entirely without dairy or sweeteners! However, I’m no hero, so the recipe will have 2 suggestions for the sweet-toothed among us.

Gear:

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  • 2 shots of espresso (my favorite system is the Aeropress)
  • almond milk (or your preferred alternative)
  • ice (or a milk heater/frother if you prefer hot)
  • Spice Islands Pumpkin Pie Spice (available for cheap at most grocery stores)
  • brown sugar to taste (or all-natural maple syrup)
  • a kettle (this one is on my Amazon wishlist)
  • filtered water
  • reusable cup and straws (optional, but encouraged)

Heat your kettle until boiling, and then set aside.

The first step is personal: how sweet do you like your coffee? Some days I want to be kicked in the face with potency, other days I want something “wimpy” with the sweetness of melted ice cream.

Place your desired amount of brown sugar or all-natural maple syrup into the bottom of your cup. Add two or three shakes of pumpkin pie spice (the flavor is surprisingly strong, so the amount you add is your personal preference). Next, add a tiny dab of hot water (more if using solid sugar, less for maple syrup) from the kettle, and stir until the consistency of your sweetener is syrupy.

The pumpkin pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace, and cloves. So if you love flavored coffee but hate added sugar, you can just blend this with the hot espresso!

Next, it’s espresso time. As I mentioned, my favorite espresso-brewing method is currently the Aeropress system. It’s cheap, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean, and produces consistently great espresso. My favorite tutorial is below, from the ABM site:

Finally, milk! I actually add filtered water to my espresso, which technically qualifies this drink as an Americano, rather than a latte. I find lattes to be too milky and thick, and prefer a thinner, smoother beverage. For a hot latte, add your warm, frothy milk to the espresso and fill to the top. For an iced latte, fill your cup 1/2 to 2/3 of the way with milk, and finish with ice.

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For decadent presentation, especially with a hot latte, sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on top and enjoy! Tastes best with a doughnut, of course.

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This morning I’ll be enjoying my PSL with Edith Wharton.

If you’re a pro at your espresso-brewing method, this whole process takes about 2 minutes, including grinding your beans. I usually put on my mascara while I heat my kettle—multitasking ftw!

What’s your favorite fall drink?

—DellaBites

Stylin’ On ‘Em

Good evening, all! Lately, I’ve been in complete get-shit-done mode. We’re streamlining our department at work in preparation for the busy fall season, my home is starting to come together inch by inch, and my financial aid picture for returning to college is looking considerably less grim. And, as a person who is about to graduate and get married (ew, so traditional), I’ve been thinking a lot about the personal style I want to carry with me into this new frontier of adulthood.

I consigned clothing both Monday and Friday. The first place I went to paid me $19 up front for 6 items of my clothes, which is insane, because I brought two baskets of well-maintained garments. We all know how much of a brand ho I can be, so I was discouraged that they accepted a sundress from Target, but not myriad garments from places like J.Crew and Urban Outfitters. The second consignment store follows a different buying model, and I’ve had a lot of success over the years selling to them. They donate unaccepted garments to charity, so either way, I win.

There are two reasons for the wardrobe pare-down. One is that my 24th birthday is fast-approaching, and the urge to cultivate a more professional and adult wardrobe is real. With each day that I age, neutrals become more appealing. Neutrals are everything—essential to creating an all-seasons wardrobe. I feel like my personal aesthetic has been completely schizophrenic over the years. From October to April I live in Banana Republic sweaters, skinny jeans, and boots (i.e. Webster’s definition of “basic”). The rest of the year, I exist in this space between bohemian, retro, and preppy that lacks cohesion. I still don’t feel like I fully know who I am as a dresser—just part of the process of growing up.

The second reason is minimalism in my home, which has been admittedly less than successful. You see, the only way to declutter is to NOT immediately replace clothes that you just got rid of with new, higher-end clothes. I was actually able to reduce the number of drawers I was using for clothing. They are now anal-retentively reorganized by category, and I’m making tiny signs to hang on the drawer pulls because my life is a sad parody of a Pinterest board.

Styling/redecorating my house has been such a challenge, but it seems like Michael is finally coming around about it. He is very open to any and all changes I make to communal areas, but his office and studio are sanctuaries that I barely feel allowed to enter, much less rework entirely. In the past week, I feel we’ve made a lot of progress.

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This is the “after” picture of our entryway (or at least the :to be continued”). On the left is the door to our bedroom, on the right is the hallway to the front door. I don’t have a “before” picture, and be grateful—it was truly horrible. There was a tall cabinet whose top was not only broken off and balanced on top, but was covered in random clutter (including, but not limited to, 5 year old Christmas cards and coffee cup sleeves). There was also an (ugly) table lamp up there, which has been moved to the bedroom and awaits a new shade. The 4 ft or so of wall above was bare with an old nail sticking out. I replaced the cabinet with a small vintage bureau that my dad thrifted for me, a standing lamp with an updated shade, a wall calendar of vintage advertisements, and record covers as hanging art. The records I found used 2 for $1 at Newbury Comics, and I couldn’t be more excited to represent Linda Ronstadt and Elton John in my living room. I painted the clothespins turquoise as a fun pop of color against the hideous wall, which has to remain this tortured beige for the time being. Boo.

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Chelsea, Michael, and Della, for those wondering about the letters.

The entry-way joins this cozy reading corner, which I created earlier in the summer…

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top: Whitney Houston’s debut album, center: naughty vintage “pulp fiction” literary postcards right: a painting we received as a gift from New Orleans

…this budding gallery wall, hung this week…

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..and this area, which I “finished” last week by finally hanging my Sherri’s Ink art print, my Man Ray photo (cut from a calendar!) and our “engagement photo”, which will be replaced once we have a real one taken.

My living room is about 70% finished (and by finished, I mean in a state that I can live with until I afford to do a proper overhaul) and it’s super encouraging. I’ve been spending a lot of  time in this room because it feels so much more put-together than the rest of the house that it’s became a calming oasis.

As always, thank you for letting me share my progress. It’s no Happy Handmade Home yet, but it’s getting there.

-DellaBites