Author Archives: Guest Writer

DIY a Paper Votive For Your Summer Parties

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We’re excited to share this DIY from Sweet Paul, whose new Summer issue just launched next week. This DIY would be great for an outdoor party decoration or a fun centerpiece for a themed get together. This DIY was created by Lova Blåvarg, a 17-year-old Swedish-born artist and crafter who regularly contributes projects to Sweet Paul through her column LOVA’S WORLD. (Make sure to scroll down to see her other great projects for wrapping paper, placecards and notebooks.)


Magically simple home decor!

You will need:

  • Printouts downloaded from this webpage
  • Tissue paper to use for the windows
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Paper glue
  • LED votive – I love these votives from Pottery Barn.

Lova’s World – Castle (3375 KB)

  1. Download and print out the files attached to this post.
  2. Print two copies of the page for each castle you will make.
  3. Use scissors or Xacto knife to cut out four castle sides. Using Xacto, cut out the little windows from the castle sides.
  4. Cut pieces of tissue paper a little bigger than each window and glue the tissue to the back side of each castle wall to create a cute little window.
  5. Glue the four sides of the castle together. 6.Place your new lantern over your LED votive and enjoy!

I love little LED battery power votives. They are readily available and some even flicker like real candles!


For more DIYs from Lova, check out these other projects featured in Sweet Paul


Photography by Susanna Blåvarg

Dream Destination: Franklin Fountain and its Sweet Treats

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We’re excited to present a post from the new issue of Sweet Paul, out today!  You can find this article, “Candy is Dandy,” written by Aimee Swartz and photographed by Alexandra Grablewski on page 40 of the new issue.




Since opening The Franklin Fountain in 2004, brothers Ryan and Eric Berley, each clad in vintage suits, plucky suspenders, and tie-your-own bowties, have established themselves as Philadelphia’s premiere purveyors of all things sweet and the go-to duo for unique treats steeped in history. Their latest venture, Shane Confectionery, located just a few doors down the block, pays homage to the store’s namesake, who had operated the store for generations, and their hometown’s love of candy, in a beautifully and authentically restored shop in Old City.




Seeking a cold-weather counterpart to their ice cream shop, the Berleys bought the store (formerly known as Shane’s Candies) in 2010. The sale included recipes, scribbled on the back of an envelop by the founder himself, for its famed hand-crafted buttercreams, peanut butter cups, caramels and other turn-of-the century candy—each of which has no more than 10 ingredients. With the sale also came the country’s largest collection of intricate Victorian-era molds—from foxes, swan and a menagerie of others to steam locomotives and sailing ships—to make clear toy candies, an old-timey confection brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers and today made by few others. These are just some of more than 600 treats, from the traditional to the whimsical, that are for sale at Shane’s.


For the Berley brothers, it’s not just the candies that are nostalgic–it’s the experience, too.  A look around the pristine storefront shows an antique cash register and pay phone, walls lined with memorabilia and ephemera of eras gone by, and apothecary jars stocked with penny candy (think Abba Zabba and Bit-o-Honey). The duo, along with head confectioner Davina Soondrum, use period tools and equipment like hand-fused copper kettles and bowls heated over a manually-fired gas stove, to keep the production experience as authentic as possible.




While Shane’s undoubtedly delights in yester-year, in recent years it’s come into modern-times with a website that allows to candy lovers everywhere to enjoy its sweet treats.  Visit for more.


What are some core values of your business?  The local sourcing of ingredients, with honesty and transparency, has become an obsession for us. The maintenances of historical traditions and rediscovery of confectionery traditions once lost. We value employment of human hands to make things again in this great country. Integrity in all things.




What are some of the challenges in tweaking your confections for modern palates and other preferences?  Shane’s is famous for their buttercreams, which are very sweet by nature of their ingredients.  The modern palate, for finer chocolate anyway, has actually become less sweet. Contemporary interest in dark chocolate with higher cocoa content and the foodie scene has encouraged us to experiment with savory inclusions like salt, bacon and herbs paired with the sweets. But you still have plenty of folks who like an old-fashioned buttercream!


What were your fears in making the leap into the candy business? The complete renovation of a hundred and forty-eight-year-old building was a larger commitment than anything we’d undertaken before. The building was still functioning with 19th century technology in many ways; for instance, the heating system consisted of firing up the gas candy stoves in the morning to warm the kitchen.  Then, we had to restore all of the antique machinery, learn how to use it and make candy with methods from the early 20th century.



And what are its biggest rewards?   Knowing that confectionery will continue to be made onsite, using human hands and local ingredients fulfills our most basic mission. Having older customers come into the confectionery and reminisce about their parents and grandparents bring home Shane candies for the holidays is also very rewarding. And when folks thank us for saving a piece of Philadelphia history, my eyes get watery.




What do you like most about your work?  My favorite part of the job is the working with period confectionery tools, antique candy molds, glass display jars, and ice cream ephemera for redesigning our menus. I really enjoying handling and talking about these objects, teaching and telling stories through them.  Antiques allow me to channel our confectionery predecessors from decades gone past.




What kind of experience do you want visitors to Shane to have?  We would like visitors at Shane Confectionery, both in-store and online, to experience a world long gone. To feel the cold, polished marble and press one’s nose to the curved glass window.  To smell the chocolate being tempered upstairs and dream of its deliciousness. To delight at the colorful clear toys and candy canes in the mirrored display. For children young and old, a place where all sweet dreams can come true; this last bit is sappy, I know, but we do tend to sugarcoat everything.

Thanks to Sweet Paul for sharing this story! Make sure to read the entire  new issue of Sweet Paul, out today!

All photos courtesy Alexandra Grablewski

A Relaxing Garden Oasis Perfect For Summer Entertaining

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Today, we’re featuring a post by PopSugar Home editor Angela Elias as part of our outdoor decorating series, inspiring readers with tips on how to decorate outdoors for summer. Angela decorated her garden with the Net Ceramic Stool and Hermosa Stripe Outdoor Canvas Pillows.




I envisioned having an outdoor space where I could catch up with friends over cocktails while enjoying the yard, but a lack of patio furniture and lighting was causing a road block. A dining set seemed like a big commitment and lounge chairs proved to be better suited for sunbathing than conversation. Electric bistro lights have also played a part in my backyard fantasy (and Pinterest boards!), but having smaller, spread out trees canceled this out as well. The solution, I finally figured out, was a more flexible formula.




  • Instead of a dining set, I decided to test out a pair of Net Ceramic Stools. While they could serve as extra seating in a pinch, I love that they’re the perfect size for holding drinks (or a plant!). Since they are intended for indoor or outdoor use, I know I can easily transplant them indoors too! Much more versatile for renters or those with smaller yards.
  • While I love my Mexican patio chairs, the leather is pretty worn. To hide the cracks in the leather, introduce some style, and a bit more comfort, I gave these Hermosa Stripe Outdoor pillows a try.
  • Since the bistro lights weren’t happening, I hung some mirrored candle sconces on our fence, scattered ceramic hurricane lanterns around the seating area and in the garden, and also hung Moroccan lanterns from tree branches. For the sconces, I like to use plain white prayer candles because they have a long burning time and won’t blow out as easily with a breeze. The mirrored mosaic surfaces on the sconces also helped to reflect extra light. I used battery operated candles for my hurricanes and Moroccan lanterns, which allowed me to keep them close to the greenery without worrying about burning anything down.




For a chance to win a Net Ceramic Stool, just fill out the form below (read the official rules here). Make sure to also check out Angela’s post on PopSugar Home for more tips on styling a backyard space like this one.

Thank you for reading, this contest is now closed.


A Chic Fire Escape Retreat From Refinery29

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As part of this week’s outdoor decorating series, we’re presenting posts from some of our favorite bloggers. Today, Manhattan-based Refinery29 senior editor Diana Nguyen tells us about how she turned a tiny fire escape into a breezy outdoor space. 

rooftop retreat2

Living in a typical Manhattan-sized apartment, I have very, very limited space. But when I need to feel a bout of vitamin D or just decompress, there’s always the fire escape. I’m not going to lie — it’s pretty drab out there, what with my dead fern and the rusted metal. But with a few portable adjustments, solitary confinement can become a sanctuary — tiny space be damned. I only needed a few elements I could easily bring in and out of my home (don’t want to break any New York fire codes, after all): dim lighting, a place to put my coffee, and some very resilient plants. Using my Pottery Barn items, I was able to create something equal parts industrial, romantic, and functional.


A small side table may be useful indoors, but it’ll also totally elevate your outdoor space. Although you can’t leave it on the fire escape, it’s small enough to transport and great for adding height and dimension to an area, not to mention you won’t have to put your books, drinks, or whatever on the dirty floor.

rooftop retreat1

A rusty, industrial-like space like this calls for elements that complement and contrast, and these Pottery Barn lanterns blend seamlessly on to the fire escape. For contrast, I added yellow florals inside to bring a touch of color and whimsy. I also coiled metal clothes hangers inside the lantern glass to keep the flowers in place and to maintain the industrial theme. I love the juxtaposition.

Finally, if you’re out more than in, low-maintenance greens and plants are your friends. Succulents and cacti don’t need much care and can bring that welcoming detail (especially if has a pop of color) to an intimate setting, if ever you decide to share it with others (one at the most…let’s not push it).

For a chance to win a $400 gift card from Pottery Barn, head over to Refinery 29 to read more about Diana’s fire escape retreat!

Photos courtesy Raven Ishak


See How the Olivia Star Pendant Lights Up This Garden

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, Inspiration and tagged | | | 8 Replies

Today, we’re featuring a post by Gardenista editor Michelle Slatella as part of our outdoor decorating series. Michelle decorated her garden with the Olivia Star Pendant.

elka pottery barn pendant 8

We are very DIY oriented at Gardenista; I hung the pendant in a tree at the edge of my bluestone patio and turned it into a votive holder using battery operated votives. (I wrapped the electrical socket securely in waterproof plastic to protect it for future use.) In the autumn, the pendant can come indoors or to a covered porch and be hardwired for electricity.

I live in Northern California, so we pretty much live in the garden year round — day and night, we’re out there. I wanted to have a warm light in the tree, both for when I have friends over and we are sitting on the patio at dusk or later drinking wine, and for when I look out the window into the garden at night. As you can see from the windows in the background of the photo with the pendant, our kitchen and family room look out into the garden and it’s lovely to see the pendant glowing there, like a low distant star, at night.

Keep reading to check out more photos from Michelle’s garden. You can also enter to win a pendant by filling out the form located just below the photos (read the official rules here). For a second chance to win, enter on Gardenista, too!

[portfolio_slideshow size=medium click=openurl exclude=”2777″]

Thank you for reading, this contest is now closed.

A Visit to Leyden Glen Sheep Farm

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We’re happy to present this article, written and photographed by Rikki Snyder, which is running in the current issue of Folk Magazine. You can subscribe to Folk Magazine here.




Tucked away in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts is a place so unique and beautiful that it seems like it was pulled straight from a fairytale. I remember the very first time I drove down the windy and desolate dirt roads leading up to the Leyden Glen Sheep Farm. Spring was in full bloom and my good friend Sarah was behind the wheel. I kept thinking to myself, where is she taking me? Talk about the middle of nowhere!


When we finally pulled up to the farmhouse we were greeted by eager sheep dogs, so full of energy and ready to play. Sarah had told me how beautiful this place was and as soon as I got out of the car I fell in love with everything. The wooden swing tied to a tree in the front yard, tufts of wool covering the ground in certain spots, grass greener than any I’d seen before and sheep by the hundreds feeding on it with enormous, tree covered hills as their backdrop.

Kristin Nicholas came out from her charming farmhouse to greet us and I was first introduced to the incredible woman who calls this place home. Kristin is a true and talented artist best known for her knitting and stitching patterns. But it doesn’t stop there, her tremendous talents include knitting, crochet, embroidery, dyeing, painting, decorative and interior painting and pottery. She lives in this picturesque 1751 Antique Cape Cod farmhouse with her husband Mark and their darling daughter, Julia. Together they run their Leyden Glen Sheep Farm which now consists of over 300 sheep, 20 chickens, 10 cats, 3 border collies who work the sheep, 1 Great Pyrenees Guard Dog, a Guard Donkey and a Guard Llama. Kristin explains how when you live on a real working farm, the farm becomes your life. The animals are in need of constant attention, food, water and are always being moved around from field to field. “I talk to animals more than I talk to people!” she says.

The reality of Kristin and Mark’s unique lifestyle as sheep farmers is this: long days and intense labor. The lambing begins in January and lasts through March. During this time lamb upon lamb is born and in need of constant care. March is the mud season which Kristin describes as pretty awful! “No one is happy- humans or lambs.” The grass starts to grow in April and weaning lambs starts when the pastures are dry and ready. When May rolls around different flocks of sheep are moved to different pastures and are continually moved throughout the grazing season. Sometimes the sheep are moved by truck but sometimes Kristin and Mark move them many miles by foot depending on the location and traffic on the roads. Harvesting hay soon begins in June and lasts until October when the grass stops growing. Mark cuts and bales all of the hay that their sheep eat during the winter. In November, after the harvest, the sheep are ready to be moved back to their winter quarters where they are kept in a couple barns for cover. And then…it starts all over again.



Kristin and Mark sell their lamb meat all year long at local Famers Markets as well as the vegetables from Kristin’s garden in the summertime. The sheep’s wool also proves to be invaluable as Kristin uses it to make yarn. She learned how to hand spin wool at a night class during her time in college at the Oregon State University where her and Mark first met. They both grew up on the east coast, Kristin being from the suburbs of New Jersey and Mark, ironically enough, grew up on a dairy farm only 5 miles from where they now live. They bought their first 4 Romney sheep in 1980 before they were married. As Kristin’s mom said, “Some people get engaged; Mark and Kristin bought sheep!”.

Just before their daughter Julia was born, they found their current farmhouse. It was love at first sight; they gave a full price offer and it was accepted in a matter of 5 hours! Kristin started telecommuting instead of going into her job at the time, as the Creative Director of Classic Elite Yarns. “It was a chance for us to build our farm and our family,” she says. In 1998, their daughter Julia was born with a life threatening condition, hydrocephalus. Kristin became the primary caretaker and in her words she, “..decided to ditch the full time gig and go freelance.” She started writing knitting books, then stitching books and was even asked to illustrate a couple of knitting books. She used gouache, a technique of painting with opaque watercolors and soon realized that she could draw or paint anything.


Since then, Kristin has taken her art to a new level. Her home is a blank canvas that she has transformed into a work of art with her numerous free-form wall murals that she hand paints. The mural in the dining room is dressed with chickens, birds, flowers, leaves, guinea hens and peacocks. A second one can be found in their TV room that Kristin created by cutting shapes out of FedEx boxes, layering these shapes on top of each other and hand painting each one. Her beautiful oil paintings can be found hung throughout the house as well as other handmade items such as her colorful pillows that are displayed on the window bed between the kitchen and living room.

“I think every art or craft I learn adds to the others I know,” Kristin says, “They all ‘inform’ each other. The common thread of my work has always been color. I love color! Working with color, mixing color together when I paint or dye, and then combining colors in a canvas or on a piece of fabric or in a knit wear design is such fun and joyful.” Kristin has also taken inspiration from her grandmother who was from Germany. She was always making something with her hands which fascinated Kristin and when she was 9, her grandmother taught her how to crochet. After that, she never looked back. Ten books later, Kristin is still going strong with her artwork and is constantly creating. She also writes a blog called “Getting Stitched on the Farm”, which is a way for her to communicate and connect with the outside world. It allows her readers to enter into her crazy yet captivating lifestyle that is always satisfying and never boring and shows a little slice of what it’s like living on a working sheep farm.


It’s been two years since that first day I stumbled upon the Leyden Glen Sheep Farm and after many visits back, through each season, I have fallen in love with this place even more. The beauty of it all continues to amaze me as does Kristin’s artwork. Never have I found such inspiration with color and pattern as I do when I’m in Kristin’s home. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with her for lunch on those colorful chairs with her paper lanterns swaying above our heads and the view of the pastures outside the windows where subtle baas can be heard from the grazing sheep. They’ve become some of my most memorable days and I always look forward to my next trip back where I travel off the map and step into their unique world once more.

To read more stories of this, check out the current issue of Folk Magazine. You can subscribe to Folk Magazine here.


Add Fresh Color to Your Home With These Quick Tips For a Spring Refresh

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We’re excited to present a guest post from Dawn Reeves from Inspired Living. Keep reading for her tips for infusing your home with spring color and freshness!

This past winter, I welcomed in the cold and crisp weather by using winter greenery and branches inside my home. In my entryway, I built a neutral backdrop of whites and creams to showcase the beauty of nature indoors.



This spring, I continue to showcase nature inside my home; however, this time around, I wanted a more vivid and colorful display that echoes the vibrant and colorful spring blossoms that would soon appear outside.



Here are a few of my tips for styling your entryway with splashes of color for spring:
Create your foundation by choosing two to three elements for your entry. Here, I used graphic black and white elements, with touches of gold, as a strong contrast to the bold colors.

Add something living. The easiest and most obvious way to add color is through beautiful blooms – any clippings will do. I chose potted orchids for my entryway because they are low maintenance, long lasting, and have a sculptural, colorful beauty. I brought these orchids home mid-February, and 6 weeks later my blooms are still going strong.


Front Entry Spring

Use colorful pillows and throws. Add a chair to your entryway and throw a colorful pillow on top. In this display, I used a pillowcase inside my black and white frame. Also, consider your entry from all views. Here, I added a soft blue throw on my couch to compliment the blues of the ocean painting I placed on the sideboard.



Layer your colors and add a touch of surprise. While I used reds and purples as the colorful element on the majority of my entry display, I added the blue ocean scene as an unexpected touch of color.




Thanks for the tips, Dawn! Make sure to check out Inspired Living for more of Dawn’s decorating adventures.