Valerie Tyler Collection Blog

Easy DIY Holiday Bark Recipe December 20, 2016 14:19

DIY HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE BARK

Yes, sometimes we cook as well as decorate around here!

I wanted to share what is probably one of the simplest homemade, holiday food gifts you can make. If you can use a microwave, you can make this.  It's really that simple!

What you need:

  • Melting chocolate - whatever kind is your favorite.
  • Food Dye or decorating gel
  • Toothpicks
  • Miscellaneous treats top - sprinkles, little candies, crushed nuts, cranberries, etc..
  • A bowl, a spatula, wax paper, baking tray with sides and a microwave
  • About 5 minutes!

 

 

Steps:

Layer wax paper over your tray

Put your chocolate in your bowl and microwave 25-30 seconds at half power. Stir chocolate and repeat until chocolate is melted. (This typically takes 2-4 minutes depending on how much chocolate you used)

Use your spatula to pour the chocolate out onto your tray.  Smooth out on the wax paper.  It doesn't have to be perfect since you are going to break it into bark anyhow!

Now add coloring.  Either mix your food coloring into melted chocolate in separate bowls, or just draw lines with decorating gel (the gel is super easy!)

Run through the coloring lines with a toothpick gently going back and forth.

Use a second or third color if you choose and repeat

Sprinkle on your toppings.

Put in refrigerator to harden and then break apart when it done.  Give as gifts or take to a party and try not to eat it all yourself!


Holiday Open House Tour December 01, 2016 15:19 2 Comments

Living by a national park in a house surrounded by giant spruce trees I take my cues from the outdoors usually when planning out holiday decor.  You'll find plenty of evergreen and natural elements like pinecones or berries.  Our most popular visitors, the deer make an appearance too (both indoors and out).  I continue the warm, cozy theme by including plenty of traditional tartan and buffalo plaids!
Target did it again this year by having plenty of very affordable plaid ornaments.  I pretty much had to pick out at least one of each and barely spent $20!
While it's nice to keep things rustic and refined, with a toddler in the house we've got to have some fun favorites like these musical light up Charlie Brown figurines from Hallmark!
Vintage plaid blankets and metallic accents (from my own Valerie Tyler Collection) are combined with newer goods from Hobby Lobby and Homegoods!
Even the bathroom gets a bit dressed up for the holidays since of course we will have plenty of visitors!
The outdoors gets dressed up as well with greenery, plenty of lights and a vintage sled.
Looking to get the look yourself?  Check out the online shop for items like brass reindeer or vintage plaid blankets! We also carry plenty of brass to add that touch of glam to your holiday decor.

Nautical Decor and Accents August 16, 2016 16:35 1 Comment

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

Growing up even though they lived Ohio, my grandparents had this incredibly cool wood-paneled basement with a nautical style wall complete with fish net, starfish and all.  As a toddler I totally fell for it when an older cousin told me that if I touched the starfish it would die, so I completely kept my hands off of it (Yeah, totally fell for the ploy that it wasn't already dead to keep me from breaking things.  But hey, I was two! )

I still remember my Grandpa sketching and painting a nautical scene as well as assembling a huge ship model.  I think the same older cousin owns that now. Lucky!

I don't know if that is where the fascination began for me with nautical decor, but it certainly was an inspiration. 

Even though when you think of Ohio, many people often think of the Midwest and farmlands or suburban cities,.  However, near where I live we have Lake Erie, the 11th largest lake in the world. I don't get to enjoy the lake views as much as when we used to live a block away, but still love it.

My point here is that you don't have to live on a sunny southern beach or cape cod home to appreciate and incorporate nautical accents into your decor. Though if you do, nothing wrong with that either! I've rounded up a collection of photographs from inspiring Instagram feeds (with permission) to show you just how elegant nautical decor can look.

This first one has such a truly stunning gallery wall.  I found Cassie's collection of artwork to be jaw-dropping gorgeous.  I loved the ruggedness of it all; the darker moodier tones that really made me think of burly sailors out on the seas or dream of swash-buckling pirates.  The pictures just make your imagination run away.

 

Photo Credit: Cassie Bustamante @primitiveandproper

primitiveandproper.com

 

The next photo shows the beauty of taking a natural history approach to nautical decor. The seahorse drawing is completely elegant.  You could potentially add some coral specimens or a few shells to a vignette like this too. It's such a serene and calming look.

Photo Credit:  @ourgentlemadness

Melissa Parks is a master of vintage styling.  (Of course, I may be biased as I love the color palette she tends to favor) The teals and turquoise colors here totally recall colors of the seas, and the brass nautical pieces add a lovely touch.

 

Photo credit: @megillicutti

 

This vignette by Ana Graham showcases nautical style in an elegant, traditional manner. Mixing those nautical elements with the blue and white chinoiserie is visually interesting and eye-catching.

Photo Credit: Ana Graham @avana_design

Shifting away from more neutral and traditional nautical themes leads me to the next photo which shows how you can give nautical decor a colorful, more bohemian, surfer vibe.  It's fun, eye-catching and sure to make you feel cheery.  Of course, considering this montage comes from The Beach House, in Hollywood Beach, CA that vibe isn't surprising at all.  I completely long to book a weekend here! 

 

Photo Credit:  @thebeachlodge

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't include a photos of nautical decor that was fresh and beachy like this one by @angelascozyhome

It just goes to show there are so many ways to include nautical decor in your home and you can find pieces that fit your own personal style whether you are more classic and traditional, earthy and natural or into bright bohemian styles. 

Want to get the look.  Here are a few affiliate shopping links (or links from my own shop) to get you started:

Nautical Rope Wall Mirror - Top Rope Mirror
Nautical Rope Table Lamp - Tug O Lamp
 - Sailboats Unframed Wall Art
 

 

 

Vintage Dolphin Statue, Valerie Tyler Collection

 

 

 Vintage Brass Pelican Figurine, Valerie Tyler Collection

 

Whale Bookends, Valerie Tyler Collection

 

 

The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

Farmhouse Style Home Decor July 31, 2016 14:21 1 Comment

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

 

Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper have certainly brought farmhouse style back to the forefront of home design.  The look however now is a million miles away from the kitschy country of the 1980's and instead brighter, lighter and a little more natural. It can blend quite seamlessly with other types of decor when you stick to a neutral palette and natural materials.

If it's chippy, rusty, vintage or earthy it probably can fit into farmhouse decor.  There's no need to actually live on a farm to create a home with the look.  In fact, you don't even need to live in the country.  I've seen plenty of suburban and city abodes that have bits and pieces from this trend that look stunning.  To lend your home this style consider adding rustic wood furniture, galvanized steel, natural greenery, and subtle farm motif decor. I've rounded up a few inspiring pictures from a few of my favorite gals on Instagram to help you envision how lovely this style can look.

Rustic wood, check. Vintage style lighting, check.  Country style cooking utensils, check.  I bet you'd never guess this is a SoCal home! This beautifully fresh kitchen was share by Carol Estes @cestesdesign I feel this one has a little bit of french country style too.

Photo Credit: Carol Estes, Interior Designer

 

It's the combination of natural elements like that boxwood wreath and birch branch from this photograph by Chelsea (@creatingcottersbay) that initially caught my eye.  That cow picture though totally brings the farmhouse style, but the fact that is in black and white keeps it classier.

Photo Credit: Chelsea / @creatingcottersbay

http://www.creatingcottersbay.weebly.com

My dear friend Sherri actually hails from Florida, so more often than not her style tends be beachy and fresh but this vignette she designed shows just how easily you can sneak a little farmhouse into other styles.  The barn house pictures and rustic wood give a subtle nod to country farm style.

Photo Credit: Sherri Ogg @graceindesign

Can you believe that the clock in the next Instagram pic was handmade? Talk about stunning.  While this vignette is more modern in style, I simply had to show you that amazing, rustic piece of art!

Photo Credit: Lisa Marie @homesweetcozyhome

 

This photograph from Sarah (The Freckled Farmhouse) showcases a farmhouse style kitchen that is so beautifully neutral and minimalist. The edison style lighting really gives the space a classic, vintage look.

Photo Credit: Sarah @thefreckledfarmhouse

https://thefreckledfarmhouse.wordpress.com/

 

 

Need some ideas of how to get this look.  Check out a few of my affiliate links for some similar farmhouse style decor items.

Shop the look:

 

White Dipped Baskets
Cotswold Console
Evelyn Wall Clock
The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

A Visit to the Avon Lake Summer Market July 30, 2016 00:00

 

For the past 11 years, a burgeoning market held once a year in July has takes place right next to Lake Erie.  The Avon Lake Summer Market was started as fundraiser and has grown to be able to give back even more. The event showcases plenty of art, food, and vintage with the highlight for me being some pretty gorgeous furniture and decor! It seems to get bigger and better every year. I've never applied to sell at it as July is always such a hectic month for us, but we almost always make a point to stop by and shop. 

The first booth that really caught my eye was Small Town Junk (from Hillsboro, Ohio) Seriously, check out this display! Lots of vintage, rustic style in this booth.

I believe this booth was by Bella Vintage Home  They had such a stunning collection of found items, plants, and botanical themed items so of course I was in love. I was particularly obsessed with all the plants in their booth. Of course, I just couldn't decide which plants I wouldn't end up killing or which ones would be safe for the kitties. I'll have to do more research and then find their booth sometime again to shop like crazy.
I think this was "The Vintage Songbird" They had these darling faux succulents in wood blocks. Super cute!They took cottage and shabby style and lended it a bit of a more, upscale victorian look.
I purchased a t-shirt from my friend Kevin, of Studio KMR Photography.  Recognize that Terminal Tower Photograph?  If you follow my instagram you might have seen a larger version we custom ordered from him above our mantle.
If I have mis-identified any of the booths please let me know so I can properly credit the owners.

The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard Review July 10, 2016 17:58

We recently celebrated a big anniversary and knew we wanted to do something special.  However, we've done so much travel this year that we wanted to stick a little closer to home.  After much research we settled on spending an overnight at the Villas at Gervasi Vineyard.  One night sans kiddo (as much as we love her) having a rustic retreat and a few glasses of wine sounded just about perfect for an anniversary celebration.

 

I know some people balk at the idea of paying the going rate for a what they think is a mere hotel room in Canton, but the villas are beautiful and the suites are positively luxurious. Each villa consists of four suites with a common area.  The common area had a cute sitting area, a fireplace and a small fridge stocked with yogurt, coffee, tea and other drinks.  (I definitely drank my fair share of Pellegrino) There was also an outdoor patio off of the common area that overlooked the lake.  Now there is a bit of a luck of the draw what the other guests staying in the villa might be like, but our neighbors were pleasant and no one took over the building.  In fact the morning before we left we had a nice chat with a couple slightly older than us who were celebrating an anniversary as well a birthday.

Our jaws dropped when we entered our Suite.  While they're described as Tuscan they have a bit of a Renaissance castle feel to them too with high arched ceilings, tudor style beams and plenty of wrought iron. The furnishings were very comfortable and being able to turn on the gas fireplace in the evening lent such lovely ambience.  The bathroom included a second flat screen television, a coffee maker, delicious smelling soap and shampoo and wonderful heated towel bars!

 

We planned to spend most of the weekend enjoying the grounds and sampling the food and drink Gervasi Vineyard has to offer. We got to the villas a little before check-in so we grabbed an appetizer and a drink at the Crush House.  The mozzarella cheese sticks were quite different from usual bar food with a wonton style wrapping.  Post check in we walked around the grounds a bit before dinner taking pictures of all the lovely gardens.  I have to admit, they were lovelier than I expected.  Granted, going at the height of Summer things were in full bloom, but I imagine the grounds look beautiful during other seasons as well.  Their plants were lush, and I mean LUSH.  I was quite envious of the the size of the Hostas (something deer always much around here!).  Russian sage, hydrangea and of course vineyards were just a few lovely bits of nature to be found.

We had reservations at the Bistro, and aside from being seated in a corner which we thought was a little strange for an anniversary celebration versus in front of the windows looking over the grounds it was a delightful meal.  Our waitress was very pleasant, the food was good, and of course the wine was superb.  Outside in view of the water, families played cornhole or bocce ball, a live musician played at the outside bar, and couples lounged in big adirondack chairs at the edge of the pond.

If you are looking for a trip to actually sit back and relax, to unplug, delight your tastebuds and actually talk to your travel companion(s) this is a place for you. I came away refreshed and energized.  As an owner of a home decor business I also came away inspired as well by the gorgeous architecture, decor and grounds.


Bohemian Home Decor Inspiration June 27, 2016 13:51

Bohemian style homes can run the gamut from bold and exotic, to neutral and earthy. They tend to have the look of someone well-traveled, with a collection of items from far away, exotic places as well as plenty of earthy elements that show their owners are rather in tune with nature. Whether you are a laid back soul, or just want a space to inspire you to relax styling your home with bohemian elements is a perfect idea for home owners with eclectic tastes and a love of pattern, texture and unique items. Think comfort when aiming for a bohemian look. Poufs, rugs, blankets all add a soft touch and give places to relax and lounge. Don't be afraid to mix textures and patterns. Have a color palette in mind and mix and match items within that range of colors. Those who like things more neutral may mix beige, white, black and green. If you are more daring your palette may be something more like bright red mixed with indigo and orange. If you are looking for shopping ideas affiliate links are included to inspire you:

from: One Kings Lane

Gray Karla Pouf, Kilim

from: One Kings Lane
 
 
 
 
from: One Kings Lane
 
Look to nature for inspiration. Bohemian homes tend to have as many plants as they do pieces of furniture! Don't be afraid to think outside the norm either.  Hang planters on the wall, or let terrariums dangle from hooks on the ceilings.  Collect planters and plant stands big and small to put greenery at various levels.  Indoor plants aren't only lovely, they're beneficial for your health as well.  Of course if you have little indoor sun or cats don't be afraid to consider some realistic looking faux plants to round out your look.

Iron Planter on Stand

from: One Kings Lane
 

 

One of the most fun parts about bohemian decor is that it is often a collected look from travels, vintage and flea finds and handmade treasures.  It's an opportunity to showcase beautiful Moroccan Art, other African art, Native American handiwork, and Mexican folk art.  Enjoy the thrill of the hunt finding pieces with history and meaning.  Collect handmade macrame wall art or plant hangers, handmade rugs, hand-dyed textiles and let your possessions tell a story and have meaning. 

Brass Tray, Valerie Tyler Collection


Medium Sarah Lantern, Black

from: One Kings Lane
 

 

 

 Vintage Brass Steer, Valerie Tyler Collection

Small Mesa Wall Hanging

 

 

 

Tri-Moon Wall Hanging
from: Moorea Seal

A Tropical Oasis Inspired Retreat for an Office June 16, 2016 13:32

 

Since I spend a lot of time on Instagram , particularly both sharing and perusing home decor feeds I kept coming across photos of succulents, and bohemian or tropical themed rooms, feeds full of greenery and I was smitten.  It was just what I needed to inspire me to do an office decor overhaul.  My office has always been a sore spot with me.  I found the office was always tending to get messy as it was a space I simply just didn't enjoy.  I had a great desk from Arhaus, and an amazing view of the forest right out a patio sliding door but I needed some sort of theme to pull together the room and make it a comfortable place.  Taking an earthy cue was just the key I needed.  I stocked up on plants, both real and fake (I may have a big window, but sunshine is pretty indirect) and aimed for turning my loft office into more of a tropical oasis.  If I had to spend hours somewhere working I might as well make the environment soothing, relaxing and uplifting. 

 

This desk is a treasure.  It actually folds up when not in use keeping the room look clean and organized.  There is plenty of storage and inside as well as shelving for sorting files. 

 

Plants were really the key to the decor.  A large Croton provides a bit of color in the leaves.  The Dieffenbachia also has large, lovely foliage and the Ponytail Palm is really visually interesting.  I then added to the rest of the room with vintage decor and reasonably priced items from a few major retailers.   I actually found that Magnolia print for $2 at a rummage sale! The brass crane is one of my own vintage pieces, similar to other brass decor items that I sell in the Valerie Tyler Collection. The cute little faux succulents came from Marshalls and were totally inexpensive.  The desk as mentioned was from Arhaus, and I already had the office accessories in coordinating wood from Homegoods.

 

The space is actually quite tinier than it looks as it's actually just a small loft that overlooks our family room but the views out the windows keep it from feeling constrictive.  Now that it is full of plants and nature inspired items it actually feels like an extension of the outside. A phone charging station and file folder boxes blend in pretty seamlessly too so there was no need to sacrifice organization for style.  We can have both!

Of course it's always in a bit of transition as I tend to add plants and move them around  according to what needs more light or less.

 

Want to shop the look?   Visit our own shop for vintage decor items or visit some of the affiliate links below for coordinating items  from some of our other favorite shops:

 

 


Trio Air Plant Hanger

 


 

Mini Macrame Plant Hanger


Wide Mouth Frog Terrarium


Palm Triangle Notepad


Geometric Mugavu Planter


Crane Scissors


Spring Decor Inspiration May 23, 2016 16:48


Natural Inspiration in Interior Design - A Photo Shoot Gone Well May 16, 2016 14:00

I was so in love with my latest photo shoot that I wanted to share how beautifully they all coordinate with each other. This also gives you a sneak peek of some of the products coming soon.  My blooming dogwood (one day after it snowed here!) was the inspiration for the color scheme and I borrowed a few plants from the yard for accents.

One of my interior design recommendations is to try to combine a natural elements together for a cohesive, complete and refreshing look.  It only makes sense then to use brass to complement your plants, and greenery to complement your metal decor.


How to Clean Brass May 11, 2016 15:24

This post does include affiliate links. This blog receives income when purchases are made through these links.

 

One of the reasons I love vintage brass so much is that it often looks lovely with the patina and wear of time, but if there are particularly nasty blemishes you can also clean it up and make it look almost good as new.  The vintage decor items I carry in the Valerie Tyler Collection are a combination of pieces that I have left the original patina on,  as well as others I felt would look nice with a little shine.  Sometimes I even find pieces in which the owners kept the items shiny and polished for years!

Typically when I want to polish up a piece I use a product called Twinkle

It's an easy to use polish.  I just run my item under rather hot water, spread the paste on with a provided sponge and within seconds it starts to get lighter and shinier.  I have found it doesn't work on really tough spots, so at times I will use a toothbrush or even extremely fine sandpaper to clean off particularly troublesome areas. 
A little trick I learned from being a jewelry designer is that you can buy abrasive paper in extremely fine grit.  Use it carefully on brass items and it can really add a shine. (3M WET/DRY polishing paper )
If you want to avoid commercial brass cleaners, a few alternatives that sometimes work include ketchup (leave on for 10-15 minutes then rinse) and yogurt (allow it to dry then wash off)
A note of caution, an item that may appear brass may actually be merely plated and something altogether different under the plating.  You can determine if it's plated a few ways.  If a magnet sticks to the item there is most likely steel or iron beneath the plating.  You can also use a nail or small sharp object to put a small scratch in the item in a hidden spot. Anything other than a bright gold color and you probably have something that is not solid brass. 
***The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

Library Decor Spotlight May 10, 2016 14:07

We converted what should have been the dining room in our house into a library and I absolutely couldn't be more pleased.  While we have an overwhelming amount of books I wanted the library to serve as a bit of an eclectic art gallery too, so there are very few design "rules" we followed other than to simply include things we liked.  Objects include Asian vases, African teak sculptures, Greek Bronze, Natural items.  Knick Knacks can get lost of look cluttered, but when combined and placed along the bookshelves they're much more interesting. 

Spotlight on Personalized Jewelry February 15, 2016 16:50

Here is a sampling of personalized jewelry options from the Valerie Tyler Collection.

Glam Holiday DIY and Display Ideas November 24, 2015 15:55

This post does include affiliate links. This blog receives income when purchases are made through these links.
First off, let's start with another one of my ridiculously easy DIY's  that end up looking really lovely. I literally took a handful of rocks my kid had collected from around the yard, gave them a good washing in the utility tub, and then let them dry.  I spread them out on a plastic table cloth and then simply spray painted them gold with something like Krylon 1000 Premium Metallic Spray Paint, Gold
Regular rocks are always lovely for adding a natural touch to a display, but by painting them gold I know had something to give a little extra holiday glam.  I filled a vase with the gold rocks then topped it off with a few natural treasures from the yard, and volia! 
One other way to add some holiday glam very inexpensively is to hunt down vintage brass.  I collect it, I hoard it, and occasionally sell it.  There are all sorts of lovely pieces to be found from peacocks to pineapples, but I think brass deer or a rocking horse are perfect for the holidays. Display your brass with evergreen branches, piniecones, or even glass bulb ornaments to add to the festive look. 
Find the rocking horse for sale in the Valerie Tyler Collection Decor section:

 

 

***The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.


DIY Holiday Display November 24, 2015 15:39

 

 

For the holidays I re-purposed steel bird cages to make a a simple, yet striking centerpiece for my dining room table.  This was SUPER re-purposed too because I used the same bird cages for a Halloween display elsewhere in my house earlier, and just switched out the decorations inside the cages.  Definitely a good way to stretch your decor budget!  

I actually found all three of my bird cages on various trips to a local thrift store.  They're not too uncommon and you can check garage sales, consignment sales, and if you're really in a pinch even a pet store or small decor shop (though they might not be as artistic looking). 

While these were previously painted black for Halloween I gave them a light dusting of an  dark green spray paint but sporadically applied on top of the black it so they had a vintage look. I then scavenged my yard for evergreen branches, pine cones and twigs to lend some natural style.  I did purchase dried moss and fake berry branches from a local craft store. 

It was simple, not too expensive and best of all took very little time to put together.  Plus I enjoyed getting outside and using some natural elements from my own back yard. 


Getting in a Festive Mood with the Badgley Mischka Exclusive Holiday Collection at Rent the Runway November 11, 2015 14:00 1 Comment

This is an affiliate post, so when you click the links and make a purchase I receive compensation.

 

I'm currently in the middle of prepping for the MOCA Artscape holiday show this weekend and what should appear in my inbox but a notice about the Badgley Mischka Exclusive Holiday Capsule Collection  Hello...swoon!  This collection was inspired by magical New York holiday traditions (think seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall or shopping on 5th avenue) and it's available exclusively through Rent The Runway.  I was just trying to figure out what to wear to the art event and this was just the inspiration I needed!  Metallic and sparkle totally always get me in the holiday mood and the following are just a few of my favorites from the collection: 

I love how the pieces really have a sophisticated glamour with things like sequins, satin and lace lending a definite festive edge. These pieces also should be incredible figure flattering for a variety of shapes and figures.  I have to admit that blue sparkle and flared hem has me totally loving the Natasha dress the best though!  It's probably not surprising since my  holiday jewelry capsule collection I just completed for the holidays includes plenty of oxidized sterling with a gunmetal look, as well as sparkly labradorite and other luscious looking gems. (pictured below)

 If you are as in love with the collection as I am be sure to reserve your dress now before someone else snatches up your favorite and get 20% off your first order at Rent the Runway


Books for Woman Business Owners - a.k.a a Girl Boss Reading List November 03, 2015 17:00 1 Comment

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

 

Are you a woman entrepreneur, self-employed or the boss in charge?  If so, I'd love to share my current reading list with you.   I've compiled a collection of resources perfect for a girl boss, a work at home mom, or a woman who wants to take charge of her life and work.

A little background: Shortly before I had my daughter my business was going full steam ahead. I had recently quit my full time teaching job to run my design business exclusively. My work had been featured in US Weekly as well as several blogs and other media mentions, I'd won a jurors award at an art show, sales were incredible, and profits were following right along.  I felt like I had everything under control and growth and business were good. Of course, I wasn't willing to admit at the time my work-life balance definitely needed some help. I was putting in an awful lot of hours to achieve my results.  I realized I really needed to embrace the ideal "Work smarter, not harder."  In the last two years I've embarked on a process of learning how to grow and thrive as an entrepreneur as well as a mom, and for that matter also as a wife, friend, creative type, artist, traveler,  and everything else I've aspired to be. 

The following books are ones I have either read or plan to in order to learn more about how to be an effective business owner and as inspiration. I'm looking for ways to work smarter, ways to be stronger, ideas to balance everything, and ways to be more effective. If you care to join me on this journey of growth check out a few of these titles too and let me know what you think of them. If you have other suggestions please do share them in the comments so I may add to my reading list.

The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

Take Time to Contemplate October 19, 2015 14:23

I find as a business owner and designer it is so easy to get all caught up in the hustle and bustle, to always be working on a "to do" list and forget to just pause every now and then. So, today I'm pausing to share a little photo inspiration with you.
Image copyright: Valerie Tyler

DIY Pine Cone Natural Display October 15, 2015 16:09 1 Comment

If you live on a property with evergreen trees or have access to a location where you can collect pine cones you have a lovely resource to create beautiful natural displays. I happen to have a Hemlock tree in my front yard that has the most adorable little miniature pine cones.  My toddler simply loves to collect them so I thought I'd put all her hoarding skills to good use and do something with them all. Today I'm going to share an absolutely simple DIY you can do to turn pine cones such as these into a lovely, stylish natural filler for candle displays and other decor ideas (they also work to fill bowls, charger trays, vases and more)

What you need:

  • Pine cones (any size really)
  • Clear Lacquer
  • Silver or gold glitter
  • Silver or Gold spray paint

 

Lay out all your pine cones in a flat tray.  (I found a big empty pizza box worked best) Sprinkle the pine cones with the glitter.  Then lightly spray with your silver or gold paint but only cover lightly with a mist so as to not completely cover the pine cones.  Gently toss the pine cones around in the box or tray to distribute the glitter and paint on all sides.  Allow to dry slightly then coat the pine cones with the clear lacquer to seal. You may wish to repeat this process a few times to get the desired consistency of "sparkle" you want. 

Once dry the pine cones can be used surrounding a candle on a charger plate (shown) or use them to fill a vase or bowl.  If putting around a candle, I'd recommend making sure the candle is in a glass jar and not alone so as to not allow dripping wax to fall on the pine cones. 

 

It makes a lovely and VERY inexpensive natural display. 


A Trip to Xcaret: The Experience of a Lifetime October 13, 2015 14:16

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

Xcaret Park

As an artist, travel can be truly inspiring and help artistic growth.  Awhile back I was lucky and actually won a trip to Mexico and have been meaning to share some pictures from the trip ever since.  I had run a 5k race for Cinco De Mayo and didn't even realize that automatically entered me to win, so I was rather surprised when friends came running to find me to say my name was called and dragged me up on stage to claim my prize. While on that weekend trip my husband I decided to make an excursion to Xcaret which is an eco park with a sample of Mexico's culture, nature, food, music and beauty.

We thought it truly was an incredibly beautiful place and can't wait to go back again and take our daughter.  Rather than an amusement park filled with mechanical thrill rides and man-made attractions, this park is full of all the thrills the beauty of nature has to provide. There are archaeological sites to explore such as Mayan ruins, and rich cultural attractions such as the Mexican Folk Art Museum, a traditional Hacienda Henequenera and the Chapel of Guadalupe. Nature lovers will love the underground rivers to swim in, gorgeous hiking paths and stunning flora and fauna at places like the Butterfly Pavilion, Jaguar Island or the Coral Reef Aquarium

 

The park also provides access to the beach, bays and natural pools so you can dip your feet in a tidepool or grab a spot in a hammock and just soak in all the beauty if relaxing is your thing. 

There is plenty of entertainment too such as an equestrian show and a truly amazing show at the end of the night. We really enjoyed the lively musical journey through Mexico's history in Tlachco theater in Xcaret. Over 300 artists on stage, costumes and traditional dances. Honestly, we thought the show was almost worth the price of admission alone.

We booked our trip on which for us was Halloween weekend, and totally didn't even make the connection that we would get to celebrate Día de muertos at Xcaret

The celebration was simply amazing and there were so many striking things to see such as Ofrendas.

 

 

It is rare in today's day an age to find a place so dedicated to nature and found that this was a truly unforgettable and special experience.If you want to visit Xcaret and experience Mexico's culture, nature, food, music and beauty. Buy on-line now and get up to 15% off.


Must Have Jewelry and Metalworking Tools October 05, 2015 16:34

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

 

As a metalsmith and jewelry designer I'm frequently asked by both customers and aspiring artists what tools I use to create my work so I thought I'd compile a handy resource list of some of the tools I have found most useful. 

A good set of pliers and cutters is essential. You'll use these for anything from forming and cutting wire, to creating jump rings and making attachments. There are tons of different pliers you can use but to start achain nose, flat Nose, and round nose pliers, as well as a pair of snips meets most needs.

Beadsmith Color Jewelry Tool Pliers Kit - 4 Piece Set w/ Case

You can almost never have too many hammers. They provide a variety of functions, including stamping, texturing, riveting and chasing.  Having a variety of hammers will allow you to form metal in various ways more easily. 

Just a few examples to consider:

A basic brass ball peen hammer is great for stamping. It has enough weight to do the job while being a little easier on your joints.

Ball Peen Hammer, Plastic Brass, Black Yellow, 6-1/4 Inches 1-inch Flat Head 1-inch Ball Head. Sold Individually

Brass Ball Peen Hammer

 
 
Chasing Hammer, Steel Wood, 28mm Flat Head 13mm Ball Head, 10 Inches. Sold Individually
Ball Peen Hammer, Steel Wood, 16mm Flat Head / 16mm Ball Head, 10-1/2 Inches Long, 4 Ounces. Sold Individually
Texture Hammer, EUROTOOL®, Wood Steel, 9-1/2 Inches (9) 17mm Interchangeable Faces. Sold Per 10-piece Set

 

A few tools that help you form metal without marring it and set stones without damaging them (when used correctly)  include rawhide mallets, bezel pushers and burnishers 

 

Mallet, Rawhide Wood, Brown Red-brown, 11-1/2 Inches 30-35mm Head. Sold Individually rawhide mallet

 

 Bezel Pusher, 4-inches Long 4x4mm Flat Square Tip. Sold Individually

Burnisher, Straight Wood Handle, 6-1/2 Inches Long. Sold Individually Burnisher

One of the tools that really opened up my creativity was a dapping block and punches (also often known as a doming block)  As far as all the different types of forming tools go, this is something I'd recommend even beginners try to use. 

Eurotool Metalwork Deluxe Dapping Set Block With 24 Punches

 

Use mandrels to help you form and size things like rings and bracelets.

 

 

Those who want to do stamping, personalization or just add their own initials or makers mark to pieces might consider a steel stamp set.

Stamp, Tempered Chrome Vanadium Steel, 3-4mm Modern Font Uppercase Alphabet Letters A-Z

 

If you have any plans to do soldering, fusing, or even annealing metal, a torch is an essential tool.  For many smaller tasks a small handheld butane torch can suffice. 

 

Torch, Max Flame, Steel / Plastic / Aluminum, Black, 6x5 Inches. Sold Individually

Torch, Max Flame

Of course, for those with a little more experience the Torch Set, Little Torch™ Acetylene/Oxygen System. is considered one of the best and is great for larger projects. 

Torch Set, Little Torch™ Acetylene/Oxygen System.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't include things you would need for safety like masks, goggles and so on. There is also literally hundreds of other tools depending on the types, styles and quantity of jewelry you have in mind to make.  Then depending on the pieces you are making you might need things like flux, pickle, metal protectants to coat your work and chemicals to add patinas. However, even these few basic items in this list can help you create hours of work! 

Happy jewelry making! 

Please do share your favorite tools or supply links in the comments below.  I'm always on the lookout to add to the workbench. 

 

The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

 

 


Jewelry Review and Giveaway October 05, 2015 07:48

Right now there is a review and giveaway of my personalized initial ring and chevron solstice ring on Jessoshii. The blog author, Jessica, shares her thoughts on each ring and you have a chance to win your choice of either (with several ways to enter) Go ahead and check it out! 

 


Personalized Jewelry Gift Guide October 03, 2015 20:58

 

Personalized jewelry makes the best meaningful gifts.  The Valerie Tyler Collection has several jewelry options that can be customized especially for your gift recipient.  These are some of the top sellers in the collection that have received rave reviews from thousands of happy customers.  

 

One of the most popular gift ideas, which was even featured in US Weekly, is the personalized two heart ring.  This solid brass ring can be adjusted to fit the wearer so you don't have to worry about picking the correct size.  It can be hand-stamped with any two initials you like, be it a significant other, children or your own personal initials. 

 

 

If you're looking for an adjustable ring with a more minimalist design, the minimalist initial ring can be hand-stamped with either two initials or two numbers (perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or special dates!)

 

 

 

Chevron is super trendy right now so if you'd like something that's current and fashionable you might consider the chevron initial ring. This is a single initial ring and again adjustable to fit the wearer. 

 

If you prefer a necklace a tiny charm necklace is simple, modern and perfect for everyday wear.  The Valerie Tyler Collection includes rustic brass, antiqued silver, and number options

 

Finally for those who like something to adorn their wrists there is the custom, personalized initial cuff bracelet.  This bracelet can be stamped with any two initials (These are also made with various mantras as well so they're even collectable and stackable!)


Building Bridges October 03, 2015 17:36

A little inspirational quote from the day:

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