Handmade Collective in Costa Rica

My husband and I just went to Costa Rica on an adventurous eco-tourism honeymoon! Inspired by City by the Sea Ceramics‘ blog entry about her and her husband’s anniversary tradition , I was hoping to find something memorable during our honeymoon trip as well.

During our visit to Monteverde, an area known for its Cloud Forest Reserve, I read that a great place to pick up souvenirs was at CASEM which is filled with products all made by local artisans.  CASEM stands for “Committee of Aristans of Santa Elena and Monteverde.”  It was started in 1982 by a group of 8 local women – and now it has grown to 94 artisans, 3 of which are men.  The goal of CASEM is “to enhance the economic and social well-being of local women artists” and their community.


Monteverde & Santa Elena Reserves are famous as a wildlife reserve with 100s of species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 2,500 species of plants and tens of thousands of insect species!  So you can imagine why so much of their artwork are of various flora and fauna of the region.

During our visit we were so lucky to catch a glimpse of the elusive Resplendent Quitzal! Unfortunately, my photo does not do this gorgeous bird justice!

But because of that rare sighting – we definitely wanted a fun memento of this bird in what we pick out for a souvenir as well!

These magnets are all made out of leather and hand-painted.  Definitely was excited to get the Quetzal one to spice up our new bare refrigerator!

I also love to collect Christmas ornaments – ideally one a year symbolizing a special place or memory from that year.  So you can imagine how excited I was to find this adorable felted Quetzal ornament!  It will be sure to stand out in our tree this year!

handmade bonding

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful time, with lots of decision-making and organizing.  During my own wedding, I try to find things we can do ourselves – not only to cut costs, but it seems more personal when I get to really be a part of the process.  I have found the process to be fun and a bonding time for my fiance and me as well as my family members and good friends that I’ve recruited to help out!

Above is a picture of me printing out all our wedding invitations – we later had to assemble all the pieces and wrap with ribbon.

Here is a picture of my fiance Evan working so diligently on our wedding favors gift tins.

Here are my friends helping to assemble our wedding programs that double as fans! 😉

These butterflies will soon become place cards at the reception – and will rest on the wine glasses!

Hopefully next month, I’ll be able to share some more photos of the final products displayed during the big day! 🙂


Trinkets of Martha’s Vineyard

One weekend in July, I went with some of my friends on a daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard.  It was a fantastic day of sunshine, ocean breezes, sandy beaches, and visiting the familiar sites of Aquinnah lighthouse, the gingerbread cottages, etc.  However, what really caught my eye this time around were all the funky art for sale in various boutiques around the island. I admired the nautical themed pieces, items that hinted at Boston/Massachusetts pride, the fanciful and inspirational handcrafted decor, to the outright funky and silly.

fun seashell mirror and decorations

Haha keeping the rivalry alive!

I just love the colors and design of this table and the little sayings!

Signs with sayings on them were sold in all shapes, sizes, and designs!

Wow, very unique trinket!

Portland’s Saturday Market

I just recently returned from a short trip to Portland, Oregon.  Nestled within a state known for its natural scenery, Portland is a funky city that has been ranked as one of the “greenest” cities in the USA.   Not only does Portland seem to be environmentally conscious, but there seems to be very strong support for local businesses and an expanding and thriving handmade community!

During my visit, I had the opportunity to check out their famous Portland Saturday Market – and it was quite a site to behold!  The sheer number of handmade artisans was already awe-inspiring and to see how well-attended it was, so very exciting to see!


It wouldnt be Portland without some tie-dye!

Some neat signs made out of saws

impressive ideas for lawn ornaments

You can even buy some gourmet catnip here!

I just love how colorful this booth was

very cool wooden sculptures

These were only a small sample of the 250+ vendors that were there!  Definitely worth checking out!


Landing on Plymouth Rock

The other weekend I was in Plymouth, MA doing some errands, and just had to wander over to find the historic site of Plymouth rock!  Although I didnt have anytime to experience Plimouth Plantation , I did take a stroll to find a replica of the Mayflower and some other statues and memorials for the Pilgrim settlers and Wampanoag Native Americans.

If you look carefully you can see 2 little bears on his pipe!

Of course it wouldnt be a trip to a coastal New England town without a visit to one of the ubiquitous antique shops!

Brainstorming DIY Wedding Ideas

Title: “Brainstorming DIY Wedding Ideas”

By: Jennifer Tang of MaJenta Designs

As I go through my wedding checklists, I find myself most excited in daydreaming of all the fun things I can personally make to give our wedding some personal touches. I have been googling images of wedding reception decorations, gift favors, and more – to get inspiration of ideas of things I could make for my own wedding!

For example, since our wedding will be an outdoors, summertime wedding – I thought it’d be great to make something similar to these programs that double as fans to help cool down our guests during the ceremony!

If only I had the time – I think making some place cards similar to these would really make our reception stand out!

These funny strawberries were actually from a social gathering I went to, and think it’d be such a  fun idea to serve such unique tasty treats at the wedding.

There are so many fun things to think and daydream about!  Now if only I had the time to handmake it all!

And of course since MaJenta Designs, my handcrafted business, is such a large part of who I am now, I definitely want to incorporate those designs into our wedding somehow too!  I’m thinking of making some sort of gift favors using these useful mint tins! 🙂

Art in the City

Walking around Boston’s Downtown Crossing I stumbled upon this closed off lot.  What really struck me though is the elaborate artwork decorated along the brick walls.  Turns out it was for this cute bookstore nearby, “Brattle Book Shop“, which is apparently one of the oldest bookstores in America!   It was very neat to stumble upon, I just love finding artwork on the old brick buildings around Boston.  Definitely  next time I’m in the area, I will need to check out this bookstore too!

DIY Wedding

“DIY Wedding”

by Jennifer T. of MaJenta Designs

Over the winter holidays I went up to Maine for a wedding.   With a limited budget and creative ingenuity they put together a very DIY wedding!

It being the winter time and thus making fresh flowers hard to come by or expensive, they played up the winter theme by using Christmas lights and pine leaves garlands for decorations.

They also took apart pieces of Christmas decorations and made their own boutonnieres!

Table centerpieces were made using rustic preserves jars, a votive candle, and again a simple strand of golden decorations and ribbon they bought from after Christmas sales.

Shop Local!

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, shopping malls are packed with massive crow, dsand for those who support handmade and local artists, there are also plenty of exciting holiday craft shows and markets coming up and Boston Handmade’s Downtown Crossing Gallery too!   However, for those who want to avoid the crowds and still want to support handmade by shopping from the comforts of their own home – there is still yet another option!   Etsy’s “Shop local” function!

Its very easy to do, just go to Etsy’s homepage, then click on the tab on the left hand side called “shop local” and then you can just enter your town or state and it will find some of the Etsy shops closest to you!  This way you can feel good about supporting local artists and buying unique handmade gifts, and rest at ease that you can get your items sooner in the mail too!

Boston Handmade Downtown Gallery!

Boston Handmade - Downtown Gallery - Poster

Come shop handmade and support local artists by doing your holiday shopping at Boston Handmade‘s own gallery store in Boston’s Downtown Crossing district!  Here are the details:

~ NOVEMBER 27 – DECEMBER 24, 2009 ~
“Boston Handmade Downtown Gallery”
Wednesdays – Sundays
11am – 7pm
505 Washington St.
Boston, MA
Downtown Crossing

Boston Handmade - Downtown Gallery - store

Come find something for everybody!  Photography, notecards, pottery, baby clothing, children’s toys, fine jewelry, and more!

BH Gallery closeup

MaJenta Designs will also be selling her glass pendants, keychain bottle openers, pocket mirrors, magnets, and portable purse hooks, and more!

purse hooks - variety mix

BH outside