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Succulent | Centerpieces

Merl Kinzie

You know what's a cruel twist of fate? Growing up as a literal flower child* but lacking the green thumbs that your parents possess. It's like Mother Nature exacting her revenge for all the times I contemplated stomping down a whole row of sunflowers instead of cutting only the open ones.  In my defense, the mercury was usually hovering around 11369 degrees with the air just swimming around me while I cut stalks twice my head. These days I can usually manage to convince a few big leafy pals to stick around my apartment before they inevitably succumb to their shriveled graves, but the ones I actually have success with are their tiny spiky and fleshy breathren: succulents.

{yes, I seriously grew up on a flower farm, and yes my parents still own and operate it. flower power baby.}

Similar to how all squares are parallelograms but not all parallelograms are squares, nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. But, for the sake of this tutorial and our spinning heads, we're gonna just use the term succulent even though you'll see some little guys with spikes that can be invisible while also causing excruciating pain once they sneak into your skin. While the process of giving a plant a new potted home seems pretty easy [take it out of the plastic, put it in a new pot, fill with dirt: voila! HIGH FIVE MAMA N] there are a myriad of ways to complicate the process, which can have varying levels of success. Today I'm sharing my tried and true method of planting succulents, with an added brassy flair because I'm a sparkly loving magpie and I know many of you are too. No shame guys. I collaborated with Sit Kip Productions on this video and Kate knocked it out of the PARK with the filming and editing. Grab some popcorn and your notepad for the tutorial below!

..and for those who need some non moving bullet points, here's a cheat sheet for ya:


-while many people suggest using containers that have holes for drainage at the bottom, I steer away from those because I don't want those ugly plastic containers under to catch the drainage. Instead, I find some funky vintage vessels that add to the decor factor of these living works of art.


-Alternate bullet point: Drainage. The biggest probability of death for succulents is overwatering & lack of drainage. This is actually a good point to remember for all plants, but especially for these little desert dwellers. Without proper drainage, the roots will end up rotting since the water won't be soaked up into the plant and instead will remain stagnant. In the video, I used 3 different drainage materials because YOU AIN'T THE BOSS OF ME. Also, the brass beads obviously had to make an appearance because Diddy and I have flashy tastes. [It's important to note that unsealed brass bits will tarnish over time with the exposure to water, but just roll with it fussy pants.]

-While you can mix your own soil using a combo of regular dirt + sand/rock mix, but we live in modern times and companies know we love the quickest, easiest method of doing anything, so most garden stores will stock a special succulent/cacti potting mix. In the video, I could've mixed the perlite, rocks, beads with the dirt if I had wanted, but in my opinion that would look too messy in those pretty glassware.

A F T E R   C A R E:


-less is more with succulents. These guys are super low maintenance in the winter, and only really need a drink every few weeks. In the summer, they may need a light bath every week or so, but in both seasons, you really have to play it by ear. It depends so much on the humidity levels in their location and the best practice is just to pay attention. If they are looking soft and droopy, or if you see water pooling on top of the top soil or rock layer, ease off buddy. Alternately, if they are gasping for breath in their dehydrated prisons, give em some sprinkles. Sometimes it helps to have see through containers, because you can see how much water is pooling down into the drainage level and help you gauge how much they need. I've also had better success with using a spray bottle versus a watering can, as it's easier to control the limited amount they need. Last note on agua: room temperature is preferable, distilled if you wanna pamper those plants.


-Much like me, these guys can't handle the full force of the death star, aka the sun. Ideally, they would receive some bright albeit indirect light. In nature, they are usually chilling underneath some taller friends, so they would get filtered light. Obviously cacti are a bit more hardy, but the softer, fuller plants will need a bit of a respite from the harsh rays. This is also another trial and error experiment that requires some regular attention to figure out where they are the happiest.

While succulents are typically sought after by folks with black thumbs, just know that these guys aren't immortal.. and you shouldn't carrying a scythe while wearing a black robe if you wake up to a plant graveyard. Some varieties seem to be tougher than others, so it's all about finding which ones you 'bond' with the best.

{literally everything on the table is thrifted except for the scarf turned table cloth [Scout & Catalogue '2nds' sale, -sold out-, but similar here] & the succulents. Find similar  gold plated flatware + glasses / or these + brass candlesticks. All of these items are very easily found at your local thrift or charity shop as well. **all the succulent planters shown will be available for PURCHASE at our 2nd Friday's Pop Up at our shudio in Pilsen! 1021 W 18th St, Chicago, IL**}

The best part about these little guys is that they make excellent, unusual table centerpieces as well. They have a longer shelf life than flowers obviously, but take more prep work so it's a toss up which version works best for your event. However, I think they add a unique, unexpected flair to a table setting and would also make thoughtful little gifts if you're one of those generous folks who give things away to people who eat all your food and leave you with a sink full of dishes. Just for the record.. I love getting plants at gifts and am very good at cleaning my plate so there's less to wash. WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE.


{filming + editing: Sit Kip Productions | prop styling + art direction: Merl Kinzie | song: Johnny Ripper "Everyday Life"}

winter often sucks, but your coat doesn't have to.

Merl Kinzie

well well well.. hello 2015. Thought I didn't see you sneak in here? Listen lady, with how 2014 acted a majority of the time, you are a sight for sore eyes. I know in reality the only thing changing in between December 31st and January 1st is a 15 instead of a 14 on all the stupid bills and rent checks due, but let's just pretend that we all woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager to tackle this brand new year with all the enthusiasm as a kitten with a fresh catnip toy. I'm all about fresh beginnings [as a general rule, diets should never start before Monday. Or the 1st of the month. whichever is further away.] and one new happening for this online corner of the internet universe this year is the introduction of guest bloggers! This way I might *actually* have regularly updated online content, thanks to my witty and stylish friends. First up is my favorite Dutch Canadian born in South Korea, Ms Jentine. Also known as Yen from The Edit [her expertly curated boutique in Hamilton, ON + online shop that are the perfect mixes of wearable vintage and handmade accessories] and My Edit [her blog through which I first introduced myself many moons ago via a sequin throwdown that forced her to be friends with me]. The lady knows her vintage and makes everything she wears or sells both modern and au courant while stressing the superior craftsmanship that comes with pieces older than those entering a bar for the first time. Without further adieu, I will let her school y'all on why you better be wrapping yourself in a vintage coat for the rest of these freezing months.

[Outfit details: Grey plaid coat? Vintage from The Edit // Toque? Stepcat // Necklace? Clyde’s Rebirth // Shoes? Converse]

[Photos by Claire Dam Photography]

Oh winter. Sometimes you are kinda cute with your pretty snow layer and sparkly lights. But mostly there's salt and scraping windows and kinda just giving up because, ewww, cold.  We loudly protest that leggings are not pants in the autumn but when we get dressed in the dark on a cold winter day, we sneak on our leggings and call them jeggings to make ourselves feel better.

Winter coats are generally a bummer too. I spent years wearing one version or another of the basic black puffer coat. Nothing wrong with a nice black classic coat but it's pretty boring. And boring is only good when you are crossing the border or when you have an upset stomach. I remember a few years ago I found a big vintage wool parka with a fur trimmed hood and I loved it but I did not wear it for a long time because I was worried about standing out... Clearly this was years ago, the fear of standing out has dissipated somewhat…;) Years later I finally got cold enough and bored enough of my black coat to bust it out and lo and behold, I have never been so complimented or warm. Not that compliments are everything but they are about 63% of everything…

[Dalmation coat? Vintage (my own) // Faux fur muffler? The Edit {coming soon!} // Boots? Holt Renfrew // Denim shirt? Vanilia]

That coat was loved and well used for many years, I've never had a warmer coat and since then, I don't think I ever bought a brand new coat again. And now I have too many coats because it's kind of my job as a vintage seller and I get to rationalize every coat that makes it's way into my closet as 'so practical'. And I don't always dress practical, so to have these warm and fashionable and most of all, practical items in my closet feels like I am winning at life.

Vintage coats are just the thing to make the winter a little more bearable... Part of it is that there are so many great designs from different decades that are so much more interesting and fabulous than a black puffer coat. Another part is that you just can not beat the quality. And when I talk about quality I know I sound like a broken record but it's a song worth repeating... In pattern making and construction class in University we had to learn how to make a good winter coat and I remember learning all these extra steps, like putting a chamois into the back lining to protect against the wind, and I was like 'who even makes coats like this?'. I mean, anything that got me doing more sewing and drafting and cutting was a step I was going to NOT do. So myself and many fast fashion factories have that in common. We like cutting corners. It wasn't until I looked inside vintage coats that I saw the chamois and all the nice finishing techniques.

These days you are also not getting a pure wool or high wool blend coat at any mall stores for anything under a few hundred either. I repeat this often as well but regular mall brands even in the early 90's were making clothes at a higher quality level than clothes made today. For example, Liz Claiborne nowadays is mostly made in China and made at pretty much the same standard as most fast fashion labels (sorry Liz Claiborne, I'm just using you as an example, not picking on you) but vintage Liz Clairborne was often made in the States and the quality difference is noticeable. Better fabrics, cleaner finishes, nicer trims, just a better looking and more durable garment...

So before you buy this year's version of the black puffer coat, take a look at your local vintage haunts, thrift stores or online at Etsy... Winter often sucks, your coat does not have to.

***Click over to Yen's post for more adorable photos by Claire and more swoon worthy vintage goodness!***

[The first coat can be found along with lots of other stylin goods on The Edit's online shop, or at her storefront in Hamilton, ON. Be sure to also visit her various instagram's for cats + selfies, perfectly arranged and captured shop mercandise and insta sales with items that go quicker than black friday TV's. The one woman powerhouse also has a blog where you can get more of her wit and enviable outfit ensembles.]

{ECO GIFT GUIDE} For the Minimalist Gal

Merl Kinzie

On the rare mornings that my guy and I are getting ready at the same time [he's got a job in the loop that requires his presence early.. and I growl at anything before 9 am] there's been a handful of times when he remarks on my mostly black wardrobe.. usually with a comment like "Oh, black today huh?" In my defense, filling my closet with dark hued items means everything matches, my jewelry POPS and I can always show off the fine smattering of cat hair that follows me everywhere. Win, win, win. I know I'm not the only one who stuffs their wardrobes with quality neutrals so I decided to come up with another Eco Gift Guide for the Stylish Minimalist in your life.. or the person you see in the mirror. In this post, you'll see 6 different outfits to fit a variety of aesthetics that can also be mixed and matched with everything else on the list. Basically I found you a brand new wardrobe full of eco conscious items that I will be over to pilfer through immediately. On that note, I'm a 7.5 shoe and 28" waist.. hint, not so subtle hint.

{1:Handmade Oversized Square Cotton Tunic Top from Etsy// 2: Rosalyn CR Necklace // 3: Eco Dyed B&W Chevron Alpaca Wrap from Need Supply // 4: Vintage Pony Hair + Tan Leather Purse from Etsy // 5: Sleek Black Leather Bootie from Need Supply}

You guys may need to act fast, and I mean faster than a kid who's just inhaled 8 pixie sticks and wants the last one fast, because I'm about to snatch up that vintage pony hair purse. I already own the top and can attest to it's super magical comfy while still looking classy properties. Add some thick leggings to battle the winter cold, and you're good to go!

{1:Black Cotton Crop Sweater + 2: Business Pajamas, I mean Black Cotton Harem Pants From American Apparel // 3: Digitally Printed from a Hand Dyed Sample Oversized Scarf + 4: Black Leather Handmade Clutch with Copper and Tan leather Wristlet from Scout & Catalogue // 5: Sexy but Classic Black Pumps from Emerson Made}

May I present the best real life version of a jumpsuit [aka the one you can use a restroom in under 20 min while wearing]: The cropped sweater and high rise 'jumpers'... oh give it up people, call em what they are.. DROP CROTCH PANTS. My guy has another term for this, but since we aren't 5 years old, I'm gonna keep that version to myself. These pants are insanely comfortable and absolutely deserve to be in my 'Business Pajama' category and while they can definitely look shlumpy with the wrong accessories, adding some timeless, sexy black heels, sleek black leather clutch and an oversized scarf, you'll stay firmly in the 'chic and shit' realm.

{1:B&W Silk Sleeveless Dress from Amour Vert // 2: Dixie Handmade Collar Necklace from CR Jewelry // 3: Handmade Wendy Bracelets from CR Jewelry // 4: Modern Black Leather Loafer from Everlane // 5: Vintage Southwestern Print Button Up Cardigan from Etsy // 6: Grey & Black Tunic Top from Amour Vert}

I will forever stand by the advice that people should own at least 2 dresses that are a high quality, breathable material [the above are silk], a classic look that will never go out of style, and that have the perfect split personality to be classy one day, casual the next. These two from Amour Vert fit all the requirements and could be worn year round. The sleeveless sheila on the left is obviously perfect for every damn outing all summer long from weddings to drinks on a patio at your neighborhood bar, but also works perfectly under warm layers in the winter. I'm basically in major lust with the quirky tunic [or dress if you're a mini] on the right which is definitely on my wish list. It's got such a unique, almost dress-overalls type look, without looking too cutesy or awkward. Merl waaaaaaant.

{1:Eco Dyed B&W Chevron Alpaca Wrap from Need Supply // 2: Loose Fit Linen Cut Out Sweater from Shopbop // 3: US Made High Rise Indigo Denim Jeans + 4: 100 % Cotton Rigid Jeans from Imogene & Willie // 5: Cecil Long Pendant Necklace from CR Jewelry // 6: Black Cotton Long Sleeved Shirt with Open Back Twisted Detail from Shopbop}

That's right, this scarf that has gotten be softer than a baby kitten is so great it made my list twice. It's a bold graphic print, but it would literally go everything in your closet, scouts honor. For this grouping, I wanted to give two almost identical, yet wildly different versions to fit the two main types of jean wearers. On the left, we have the bombshell, high rise fit that is paired with a loose, drapey fit lightweight sweater that can be left untucked for a more casual, modern look, but also tucked in for that Betty Paige, 'dangerous curves ahead' appearance. On the right, the proportions are flipped with the straight leg, hip and waist, rigid cotton jeans paired with a nipped in, elegant, cut out back blouse that helps define your shape while allowing the jeans to be a looser fit. However, for both looks, I think it would look killer and quite unique to have the necklace reversed, with the pendant hanging down your back and peeking out from the keyhole backs of the shirts.

{1:B&W Dainty Polka Dotted Trousers from Amour Vert // 2+3: Snap Front, Mixed Knit Back Sweater from Craft & Culture // 4: Handmade Olympia Ring + 5: Delilah Necklace by CR Jewelry // 6: Hand Dyed Canvas Tote from Scout & Catalogue // 7: Handmade Caramel Brown Leather Boots from Etsy}

I feel like I should apologize.. this outfit would've been PERFECT for keeping it classy yet allowing for multiple food babies throughout the day on Thanksgiving, and I'm sorry I didn't show it to you in time! Good thing it also works for any and all casual holiday parties where you want to look pulled together, but don't want to limit your pie consumption. The entirely hand fabricated jewelry [by yours truly] pops off that unique, snap front [at the shoulders] sweater with the unique varied knit detail on the back, and that hand dyed tote is big enough to pack your hostess gift of wine and more wine. Don't even get me started on those funky handmade leather boots that can help you walk off the 3rds from the buffet table, and will wear oh so perfectly over time.

{1: Hand fabricated Sterling Silver & Gold Fill stacking rings [coming soon!] + 2: Olympia Ring + 3: Lucille earrings from CR Jewelry //  4: Silk Peplum Waist Blouse from Amour Vert // 5: Distressed J Brand Jeans from Shopbop // 6: Convertible Cream Cowl Sweater from Shopbop // 7: Vintage Dove Grey Suede and Leather Boots from Etsy}

Last but not least, I pulled together an outfit that lives firmly on the lighter side of the neutral world. You could switch in some light hued pants if you're dead set on that winter white look.. but I'm not that brave or clean. I wanted to juxtapose the distressed nature of the jeans with a very delicate, elegant vanilla silk blouse and convertible cowl sweater combo.  The slim fit, duo textured, stiletto heeled boots and streamlined jewelry balances this ensemble perfectly. Seriously, someone buy those boots NOW, I can't justify another pair right now.. Just kidding, I totally can.

You also may notice that many of these items are on the higher price end of things.. and while I don't expect anyone to toss a CC number at this entire list [if you can though.. see my sizes at the beginning of this post], investing in any one of these pieces will save you time and money in the long run because these kittens will live in your closet for years on end thanks to their high quality and timeless yet unique styles.

check back tomorrow for another Eco Conscious Gift Guide!


{ECO GIFT GUIDE} for the Jewelry Hoarder

Merl Kinzie

I think Mother Nature knew how hard I was taking the winter season already, because while it's December 1st, she's been giving us Chicagoans some pretty balmy 45-50 degree weather the past few days [update: it's back to midwest frigid business today with a steamy 21 degrees outside]. It's been enough to fool me into thinking the holidays are NOT RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. As a jewelry designer + eco stylist, my plate is fuller than Thanksgiving seconds around this time of year. I just finished my new jewelry line [!!]and am gearing up to start cranking out orders this afternoon, plus we have the December Pop Up Shop at the shudio in just two short weeks with a very special Canadian guest bringing loads of amazing vintage [IT'S JENTINA!! ..I can't keep secrets. more on that collab next week!] PLUS delicious and unique essential oil fragrances with magical aromatherapy benefits from The Collective P L U S my full jewelry collections + some extra sparkly OOAK creations sure to make even the ugliest Xmas sweater preen! December is gearing up to be a busy one folks.

On the topic of shopping for this holiday season, I'm compiling a series of Eco Concious Gift Guides for those special kittens in your life. I'll have one for the Minimalist Ladies, the Bold Babes, the Hostess with the Mostest and those Folks who be Nesting [aka staying inside out of the freezing cold as much as possible. I also call them smart kids.] First up though, we have a round up of some of my favorite Chicago jewelry designers! I've been here for 4 years now, and I have to say that so far, the jewelry community has been one of the most welcoming. Every lady I meet is not only stylish as shit, but insanely hard working and gracious to boot. We all love what we do, and the long hours, perpetually chipped nails and dry, sore hands are worth it when our customers love our products. I also wanted to start off the gift guides with them, because many pieces can take a few days to a week of production which means GET YOUR ORDERS IN NOW IF YOU WANT TO SEE THEM IN TIME. Just a friendly warning from me to you :)

To begin, we have Shades of Grey + Mineralogy Jewelry, by Attalie Dexter and Theresa Cowan respectively. My descriptions of each brand are going to get real repetitive real quick because there's only so many words that mean 'an alarming amount of adoration and love' to describe everyone's designs, but I'll try my best. Attalie uses unique, vintage components in her designs like those sassy black sequins, but her designs also remain chic and minimal, perfect for wearing every damn day. The gorgeous minerals and stones Theresa employs in her jewelry are the perfect organically shaped counterparts to her semi precious + precious metals. She handcrafts creative, statement pieces like that fabulous necklace, but also high quality delicate pieces that will become a part of your daily wardrobe in no time.

{Shades of Grey necklace + earrings // Mineralogy earrings + necklace}

I'm always a happy kitten when either Meghan or Lindsay are in the metalsmith studio not only because they are pretty rad and unfairly beautiful babes, but because I love seeing their pieces literally come to life under their skilled hands. The former, Ms Lorenz utilizes vintage and new brass as well as poppy accents like ruby red and midnight black onyx and mangesite beads in her art deco meets sharp geometric meets 100% modern designs. Lindsay also crafts with the metal closest to my heart [brass] juxtaposed with lots of natural beauties like those raw quarts spires and perfectly matched turquoise cabochons pictured. I especially love the how she pushes her jewelry into the 3D realm with her angular cone necklaces complete with mystic crystals nested inside.

{Cities in Dust necklace + cuff // Lindsay Lewis necklace + earrings}

Two hardworking, metal manipulating ladies who are also present + former members of the illustrious metalsmith club at Benches: Sarah Shikama + Nicole Jo Melton. Shikama's elegant and minimal designs somehow evoke both a strong warrior woman aesthetic while seeming right at home on the classiest, most refined woman you've met. Not to imply those women couldn't be the same person.. but really, I could picture She-ra rocking the same necklace from the battlefield to a ball for superheroes that night. I don't remember a cartoon episode of the latter, but it could happen. Nicole's jewelry has a definite antique emphasis while being designed for the thoroughly 21st century woman. I have the utmost respect for the strict standards for the origins of the materials she crafts with. Not only is every intricate piece meticulously made entirely by hand, but it has an additional story thanks to the detailed history Melton has garnered about every stone she sets. I equate her designs to wearing actual vintage, and the life the garments have already lived.. and will continue to tell in their new life with you.

{SSHIKAMA earrings + necklace // Knot & Splice unisex ring + turquoise ring}

Rounding out the list, we have the darling Michelle Starbuck and some clyde's // REBIRTH brand.. Don't know how that last one snuck on this illustrious list! Heh. I actually own a few pieces from Miss Starbuck, as she also sources those magical vintage brass components for her designs that we all know and froth at the mouth over. I love seeing both her wholesale hauls from the magical deadstock warehouses, but more so I love seeing how her creative mind comes up with the quirky yet so wearable you don't know why they aren't already around your neck/wrist/ears already designs. I'm pretty sure that moon lariat number should be mine immediately. Lastly, you know I had to add my new collection to the list. Shameless, but necessary because my cats have a wet food addiction. Or prescription in Clyde's sake. There's still the vintage deadstock pieces you've come to expect and appreciate, but I've also branched out into crafting with recycled, sourced in the US o A metals like brass [duh], sterling silver and gold fill. Quick note for the kittens unfamiliar with gold fill.. unlike gold plated, which will eventually rub off into the mystery of the atmosphere, the gold is actually bonded to the metal and thus will never tarnish nor dull. Magic right? While I go gaga over vintage components from the late 60's to early 80's, there's something to be said for being able to create my own shapes and lines. I know I say this about all my babies, but this line is really a piece of my heart and I hope you kittens love them as much as I do!

{Michelle Starbuck hexagon necklace + moon lariat + moon chandelier necklace // CR wave bangles + transforming rings}

And there we have it for the first Eco Concious Gift Guide! I could wax poetic about these gals and their designs for many more paragraphs, but let's keep it reasonable, eh? While the crap at F21 may be significantly cheaper, do yourself, your pocketbook and these women a favor and support quality handmade goods from hardworking folks for all your holiday gifting. Not only will the pieces last decades longer than the other ish in your wardrobes, but the impact you make on their lives by supporting their work is incalculable. Unless you're talking about jaw breaking smiles, because those will rank somewhere in the 1029470912864 range.

Be back tomorrow with the Minimalist Guide!


Wear // Where [beach to the bar edition]

Merl Kinzie

[image sources: left // right]

I think it's safe to assume that Mama N is feeling a wee bit fickle this summer. Here in Chicago, we have sweltering days where the humidity and heat index are fighting for top dog status, and the next I'm pulling my sweaters from the back of the closet. This is merely an observation though, never let it be said that I'm complaining about a break from sweating every last drop of my makeup off! 

But seeing as how it is indeed officially summer, I thought what better to kick off this edition of wear // where than by taking a breezy shift dress from Snoozer Loser from the beach/pool/lake/puddle to the bar/dinner/concert/date night. Since I missed Monday's beauty post, I've tossed in some all natural + cruelty free products that should definitely accompany you to protect, and then highlight that purdy sunkissed skin.

first up, the roundup for the aforementioned sunny and hopefully wet locale: a comfy yet chic pair of strappy flat sandals [although that garish tag on that back is annoying, I know it's standard for TOMS but still.. I'm personally considering these, and I think I would sharpie that out into a triangle or something. SACRILEGIOUS I know. Just keeping it real guys.] moving on to that sassy aqua blue 50's maillot by Dethrose Vintage. I love it's classy shape with the rouching around the center panel and the detachable strap around the neck means it won't show under the floaty dress with the delicate neckline PLUS no weird stripey tan lines. Notice, I said tan and not burn.. [warning: Merl PSA coming] WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN PEOPLE. As a day walking ginger, I've finally -at age 30- come to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to accrue enough freckles to be tan, and the skin in between them will never be darker than a ruddy white. Don't get me wrong, I love my little frecks, but the burgeoning wrinkles I can do without. PSA over. SUNSCREEN. Just kidding, now it is. Next up is the fabulous floaty dress that's hand printed & sewn in New York by Snoozer Loser. Simple and sassy with the ability to go casual like above, or sleek like below. To carry your sunscreen, lip balm, water bottle, towel and some magazines [I favor Scientific American over fashion rags, especially while at the beach. I don't need to see airbrushed bodies while sunning myself] you need a carry all... and why not make that carry all a funky one? The hand painted giraffe on this large sisel bucket bag from Trustfund takes the tote from sufficient to LOOK AT MY UNIQUE BAG status. Finishing this round up, don't forget a floppy hat on your noggin. This one is handmade in LA, using old school millinery techniques -complete with vintage hat block- and is a sleek style that's just oversized enough to shade your face and chest. The skin on your pretty mug and decolletage is a lot thinner than other areas, and needs a respite from that sizzling orb in the sky from time to time. Plus, I'll take a paler face over raccoon eyes any day.

You've frolicked in the sand, splashed in the water, napped in the warm shade and hopefully got just enough sun to feel loaded with Vitamin D without winching every time the breeze hits you weird. Maybe you have time for a quick rinse to refresh, and maybe you just have time for some refreshing after sun lotion before you dust on some bronzer and highlighter, maybe even some contour if you're feeling extra vampy, then plump up those lips with some rich red lippy, and some sea salt spray in those tousled locks. Slipping that uniquely printed number on again, follow it with some elegantly simplistic gold jewelry like that upper arm cuff [the minimal nature keeps you from looking like a Cleopatra extra] and a personalized initial necklace. Continuing the 90's aesthetic, slip your hooves into some strappy cream heels to elongate that lower leg area. Finishing off the ensemble with a kick, toss your lipstick, wallet and 5th appendage aka your phone into this fair trade envelope clutch from Unikati. Though it packs a sartorial punch with the mint and rorange contrasting embroidery -done by hand- it's surprisingly versatile when it comes to mixing into outfits. Plus it has a chain strap so when you get sick of carrying it under your arm, slip that bad boy over your shoulders and leave those hands free for clapping while you dance. C'mon, I can't be the only one who goes nuts over a jingle with some hand percussion?? I didn't think so.

Wherever this weekend takes you kittens [seriously, I throw zero shade at splashing in puddles], make it a sassy one.



*While this is not technically a sponsored post, it does feature items from my sponsors, the folks stocking the Sustainable Style pages. My main goal with this site is supporting and showcasing eco friendly and ethically made items, but I have an extra special place in my heart for other small businesses. Show them some love and help enable all of us continue to fight the green fight. [insert fist bump + green plant emoji here].

Cat Ladies Unite!

Merl Kinzie

You know when you're really focused on the future, making endless, excitedly scribbled lists and grandiose plans, dreaming bigger than your head thought possible.. and suddenly you realize that the week is half over and oh yeah, you have to pay attention to the current moment you're living as well. I get it stomach, you haven't been fed today and ALRIGHT already brain, I'll drown you in some caffeine.

So yeah, no beauty or home design posts created by yours truly this week. I'll have a Friday fashion feature, but today I'm cheating on myself with a fellow crazy cat lady, Miss Emily Henderson. I fell in love with her on the 'Design Star' an HGTV show she won [side note: that channel is pure crack. I don't have cable anymore, so if I find myself at The Guy's on a Monday or Tuesday, you will find me camped out on his couch, zeroed in for HOURS] and have stalked her blog ever since. She's an amazing designer and speaks to the thrifty magpie inside me with her bright white spaces and vintage knickknacks adding character. So imagine my squeals of delight when I saw her most recent transformation: A Cat Rescue Makeover!

She's also witty and writes in a way that feels like she's having a conversation with a good pal.. basically I have a massive lady crush on her, and you need to visit her blog immediately to drool over the makeover and you know, the rest of her impressive portfolio of work.

Here's to being half over the hump!


Wear // Where [brunch edition]

Merl Kinzie

['Blythe' necklace  +  kitten wedges comfy double draped dress  +  woven ombre clutch  + brass bomb bangles  +  rings are sold, mix in beauty instead]

Now that summer has finally arrived to the Midwest, all I want to do is sit on patios with a warm breeze ruffling my hair and a waiter bringing an endless supply of drinkings involving mint while I bask in the sun. This is something I could accomplish on a Monday or a Tuesday, but seeing as how I work Saturday & Sunday [At Market Supply] and I'm usually too concerned with sleeping in before that, the decadent weekend brunch filled with bottomless mimosas and laughter in the sunshine remains elusive. But if I COULD... I'd class that shit up with some elegant gold jewelry, some comfy yet chic kitten wedges [new term, roll with it] and a dress that drapes right over that food baby. You still feel pulled together and polished even if you're like me and end up spilling at least 2 food groups on your clothes. And people wonder why I wear black all the time..

have a splendiferous weekend kittens!


Make Me Some Macrame, Missy

Merl Kinzie

Listen guys, this week got away from me so I'm just admitting this right out the gate that this post is not what it could've been. I had big plans for showing the world my obsession with weird fiber art, but it's 3:34 in the morning, I have to catch a cab at 7 am to the airport and the apt could use a once, make that twice over before I leave. I'm headed to heatstroke central, aka LA for 6 days to fry my skin, see some friends and finally relax with The Guy without work distracting us. So I ask for some leniency.. After all, I DID still find you 6 awesome -and affordable!- pieces of macrame art. See ya poolside suckas!

[left  //  right]

[left  //  right]


[left  //  right]

I'll be back on Friday for a new fashion feature on the blog, but until then, this brain is getting turned OFF.


Everyday Makeup Tutorial

Merl Kinzie

Behold, the first makeup tutorial for the site! Huge thank you to Sit Kip Productions for shooting and editing this video [plus the introductory one.. be sure to check that one out if only for the bloopers at the end ;) ] It is weird as all get out to talk into a camera with no one behind it, which is why we ended up shooting it with a voice over as I tend to ramble on and on and ....on. You can watch it here in the blog post or click the link and watch it on YouTube to see all the products listed [in the description box below the video].

While I do try to double check references to make sure the products I'm using are cruelty free/all natural, sometimes things slip past me. If you have a trusted source online that refutes a brand's claims to be cruelty free, by all means let me know by leaving a comment or shooting me an email. Likewise, if you have an awesome cosmetics brand you think I should check out -makeup, skincare, anything- lemme know! I'm always on the hunt for new products.

Oh, and being on camera without makeup? I might as well have been walking down the street in my birthday suit. Be kind :)


***Don't forget to click the little wheel on the lower right corner and switch to HD to see all my pores and stuff.

white on white..on white

Merl Kinzie

TA-DAAAAAA! the very first Eco Styled lookbook for the new site! I am so dang thrilled with how this came out. So thrilled in fact that I had the hardest time narrowing down the images to share.. which is why there are 25 pages. I blame Carolina for being an amazing photog and Kate for a beautiful model.

[vintage 90's cotton blouse from Dethrose Vintage {similar} // vintage 80's earrings turned shirt clips from Kokorokoko {similar} // stylist's own vintage 90's Levi's cut offs {similar: here, here, here} & thrifted bangle]

When I was starting to brainstorm in mid April, I knew two things: I wanted to feature the white on white [on white] trend and I wanted Miss Carolina to shoot it. She is not only a rad lady to hang out with, but she's got major skills behind the lens and I knew I could trust her to create beautiful images. I'm a bit of a control freak, and while I've styled and photographed shoots before, I wanted to really focus on solely styling since my photographer eyes can take over and focus more on the composition and catching the light rather than if a shirt isn't tucked correctly. Luckily, the overcast day provided PHENOMENAL soft light and once the Lensbaby entered the picture [har har] the magic began.

[vintage 50's eyelet dress from Dethrose Vintage {similar: here, here, here} // OOAK clyde's rebirth necklace {coming soon!} // stylist's own vintage belt]

Another decision I made while planning the shoot was to feature non models shmizing for the camera. While those ladies are professional pouters for a reason [hello 5ft legs and cheekbones you could cut glass with] I wanted to showcase bad ass ladies working hard in other fields. I want to prove that you can be any size or shape, and still look and feel beautiful. It's all about finding cuts and styles that flatter your unique frame and buying the highest quality, eco friendly version you can afford. And who better to start things off than my gorgeous sister Kate who also happens to be an incredibly talented film maker. She shot the 'behind the jewelry' videos to help launch the new customizable line of my handcrafted jewelry and also created a time lapse video of this exact shoot! [Note to self: try to look less like a shlubby hobo the next time I style a shoot.. at least I'm keeping it 'authentic' right?]

[vintage 80's ivory sleeveless shell {similar} + 80's beaded necklace {similar: here, here} from Kokorokoko Vintage // OOAK clyde's rebirth handmade necklace {coming soon!} // stylist's own second hand trousers {similar} ]

I also wanted to primarily use vintage pieces in the ensembles to show how you can still look very modern while using items from decades past. As further incentive, rocking vintage means you'll rarely if ever come across someone else clothed in the same duds as you. No awkward 'who wore it best?!' contest for you kittens!

[Estelle necklace by clyde's rebirth // American Apparel crop top {similar: here, here} // vintage 60's circle skirt +  vintage T-straps Mary Janes from Dethrose Vintage]

My other goal for this shoot was to show a range of styles from casual cut offs to an elegant, yet sexy 50's silhouette to a slouchy glam get up and a few in between. With every trend, there's always a myriad of ways you can interpret it depending on the style you're most comfortable in. The MOST important thing is to have fun and feel good. It doesn't matter if the dress is banging on the hanger, if you feel pinched or oddly loose, leave it in the store.

[vintage 50's wiggle dress from Dethrose Vintage {similar: here <-could remove the collar if it's too much for you, here} // stylist's own thrifted bangles and wedges]

If there's any other photographers out there.. you will understand the happy dances and strange guttural squeals that were emanating out of our mouths. I was honestly jealous that Carolina got to shoot in this beautiful light with Kate looking all glam and twirling just so for the lens. I had to be content with fixing Kate's hair every two seconds and holding the reflector ha.

I'm overjoyed with how this shoot came together and am already planning the next month's edition. On that note, if you're in the greater Chicagoland area, I'm always looking for new eco friendly brands to feature! Feel free to shoot me an email with your webshop or website. Let's make some green magic.



Merl Kinzie

Hi kittens, it's me Merl again. I know... another new website. 'What's so different about this one, huh?!" you may be asking yourself. The answer is, A LOT. Not only is this a place for my blog-which I already have TWO POSTS up on, but this site also houses not only my handcrafted jewelry line, but also pages and pages of Sustainable Style. That's right, I'm partnering with other dedicated, eco friendly brands [and some affiliate links] to bring you all your closet could need and want when it comes to apparel, accessories and eventually adding home decor & beauty to the roster. My mission, which you're damn sure I've already accepted, is to make this a one stop shop for 'green' goods and information, all with that hefty dose of ginger sass.

For those of you new to the clyde's // rebirth family, I've got some handy links to catch you up to speed. Check out the About page to learn my real name, the CR jewelry page to see the goods, and then click over to the Eco Diet which is essentially my icebreaker into the world of eco friendly goods for the newbies. Then, once you're well versed in the cat lady turned friendly eco warrior word, support the brands [and yes affiliate links] that are gonna help make this whole website endeavor worth it on the Sustainable Style pages. FINALLY, you can check back here for new blog posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday covering topics from eco fashion to au naturel/cruelty free beauty products to sustainable home design.

I KNOW. It's like I finally have my shit together. Thanks for sticking with me kittens. Let's make some eco magic.


Refined Hippie

Merl Kinzie

So there I was, scrolling aimlessly through Pinterest, when the above image [via Domaine] seized my eyeballs in a death grip and demanded I revamp my entire home to exactly match the decor featured. I would love to say I actually now live in a replica of the Citizens of Humanity showroom, but in all honesty, all that amounted from that intense encounter was a myriad of sketches mimicking how I could make those sexy sleek built in shelves work above my fireplace. I AM on the hunt for more b&w art as well as some new throw pillows.. it's true, the time has finally come to retire the crappy UO ones I've had since 2007. Insert shocked, eyes wide open emoji here. I know kittens, I know.

Luckily for anyone also hit with the GIMME GIMME GIMME's after laying your eyes on the masterfully designed space above, I've created not only some helpful collages, but links upon mother trucking links of quality, eco friendly goods to help you achieve your own version of this dreamy, bright space. First up: Textiles.

[one  //  two  //  three  //  four  //  five.. five 1/2]

As you can see, there's a lotta prints countered with a lotta white happening in the space. The key to making this work in your own abode, is to not only strike a balance between complicated and simple, but also stick to a loose color palette. Above, I chose to stick with my rust tones with bright citrus accents, and then play up the textures in the neutrals. Plus a little punch of graphic b&w prints will echo the lines in your fruit punch pieces while actually acting more like a neutral with the lack of color. Also.. if you're anything like me, aka the grubby little street urchin, white couches spell disaster. That's why I recommend snagging some oversized white throws or blankets to lay over a solid colored couch to imitate the same look, but with the possibility to clean easily. Also, as a bonus, that striped blanket apparently ships from a volcano.

[seven  //  eight  //  nine  //  ten  //  eleven  //  twelve]

Oh you funky little mix of b&w art, how I love the crap out of thee. The best part about restricting yourself to only buying colorless pieces, is that you can go NUTS with subject matter and medium. Vintage posters, magazine tears, prints from a favorite painter, heck even string art will look chic as hell when it's a: framed professionally and b: grouped on a gallery wall. It will look like a cohesive set, even when you're mixing Cher with Tarzan.


[thirteen  //  fourteen  //  fifteen  //  sixteen  //  seventeen  //  eighteen //  nineteen  //  twenty  //  twenty one  //  twenty two  //  twenty three ..aka 16 again //  twenty four]


That sudden loud banging noise you hear is my heart doing the pitter patter dance. Give me all the funky vintage objects and give them to me A large part of me cannot even believe I'm sharing all these goodies with you, with their direct links no less! Actually, by the time you read this I may have already pulled the trigger on one or two because the thought of someone else possessing their quirky, one of a kind charm is honestly painful. But someone's gotta afford Clyde's wet food prescription.. [as a side note, I would recommend taking a mosey down the nearest beach to you to scoop up some driftwood before purchasing any online.. however, if you are as landlocked as can be, here's a few more funky ones to choose from.]

You may notice I haven't included any furniture in the roundup above. That's because buying furniture online, especially bigger pieces is a serious gamble that I do not endorse. Some sellers are incredibly knowledgeable and describe their wares accurately. Others, HA. Before you resort to shelling out a hefty penny for not only the object, but shipping, take your ass to the local thrifts, consignment and vintage stores. Not only will you get to examine and test out the furniture in person, but you will be supporting a local small business or charity with your commerce. That said.... these stools are flipping amazing, and I happen to know that Kylie is a master at her trade of refurbishing forgotten gems. The only stipulation, is if you buy them, you have to invite me over for cocktails so I can admire them in person. I take my Jameson on the rocks with a lemon, thanks sugar.

I'll leave you with my new desktop background and mantra to live by [below].


[OCM] Oil Cleansing Method

Merl Kinzie

[Editor's note: this was originally published on my previous sad little blog, and while the photos are old, I still use the method now and stand behind its benefits. from here on out, I promise all new content! scout's honor. I almost made it to Junior Mint, so that's a serious promise.]

it’s here! my personalized oil cleansing process! I share the ingredients! step by step instructions! hilarious self deprecating photos! that’s right, no skimping for you kittens, no way no sir. I know you guys want to get right to the pictorial evidence [two words: before & after] but first I should probably share the compulsion for the switch to OCM, which is of course due to my history of soul sucking, emotionally debilitating acne. settle in, refresh your drink and corporeal cuddle that furball next to you.

now, I don’t have any photos handy of those ‘glory’ days when my face first started erupting [what a visual eh?] but just imagine an awkward ginger lass with too many freckles to count on top of skin that blinds passerby, teeth that more resembled dracula than a typical human, a wicked cowlick that only helped for the 2 years that ridiculous ‘wave’ bang was popular AND a real life connect the dot game spread across my cheeks, chin and forehead. “HEY SEXY LADY! YEAH YOU! Wait.. no, I meant the chick behind you.” I remember how relieved I felt with a thick layer of foundation on, like it was my battle armor.  It may have covered the current breakout, but did nothing to help heal it or the mountains growing beneath them. I still have a scar on my right cheek from a behemoth that taunted me daily to pick and dig at it. We are all young and uninformed dumb once though, right? Embarrassingly enough, this process continued honestly up until meeting my hetero life partner Karyn almost 2 years ago. She was the first to convince me to ease up on the level of coverage, not only to let my skin BREATH, but also because it turns out my skin.. wasn’t the leprosy I built it up to be in my head. I was hiding my freckles that I actually love, and that thick layer of spackle wasn’t sitting too smoothly in my wrinkles,  pores or scars. I can’t remember how I first heard about OCM [<-that lady? hilarious. you're welcome.], or if it was my pal Morgan who shared it with me.. but let’s just focus on the god damn game changer that it was.. uh, is.

Let’s start with the ingredients. No matter what combination of ‘carrier’ oils [don't worry baby birds, I'll feed you] you will *almost* always incorporate some amount of castor oil into your mixture. While the idea may sound like a load of balooey, just remember “like dissolves like.” The oil you’re introducing slides in next to the sebum chilling in your pores, being all cloggy n stuff, get’s it sufficiently lubricated [stay with me] and then brings it along to the party on your washcloth. …..Yeah. The pictures will help, I promise.

So you got your castor oil, which you can find hanging out next to the other laxatives in the grocery, bottom shelf style, and now you need some soothing and moisturizing carrier oils to help combat your skin troubles without leaving it dry and cracked. When I first gave this seemingly crazy method a go, I looked up which oils work best on acne prone, combination skin. I have a Mr T sized zone down the middle of my face, but my outer cheeks and eye area can be a bit dry so I need to take both into account. Jojoba & grapeseed were my first, and really only choices as they work well with oily acne-prone skin….. and Whole Foods didn’t have sunflower seed nor Tamanu. I use roughly 2 parts [changes depending on the weather, the time of the month {oh hello old friend Mr Tampax Stallion}, and the frequency of use] castor oil to one part each of jojoba and grapeseed. Since this isn’t baking [thank god], the amounts don’t need to be exact, but you don’t want to get too far off especially if you’re making a larger batch. Actually, when you’re testing it out for the first night, just mix the necessary amount in your palm to play with the ration until you find your sweet spot of combinations. Also, and this is very very important, only buy COLD PRESSED +ORGANIC oils. There’s no sense in going the natural route if you’re smearing crap with additives, preservatives and who knows what else all over. Now, you can stick with the main foundations of this cleansing method, or get fancy up in here, and toss in some extras.

Personally, I add in a few drops each of tea tree & lavender [both have excellent healing properties, help fight infection and smell amazing] as well as a glob of vitamin e. Yes, glob is a technical term. There’s a stick attached to the lid that allows for relatively mess free dispensing, though let’s be honest, I still manage to make a disaster with it. Now that you’ve got all your ingredients, it’s time for the tools. WATCH OUT FUSSY SKIN, WE’RE [almost] COMING FOR YA!

I was going to snag a new, shiny [read: not stained with the many layers of mascara I coat my eyelashes in daily] but I am nothing else if not AUTHENTIC, so you get my dingy grey one as an example. That loud sound you just heard was Yen groaning at me. You will also need some sort of container [that one pictured above is from Whole Foods, is BPA free, 2 fluid oz and has a wide cap that makes pouring sticky liquids as easy as it can be for me.... and I forgot the brand name.] though the size doesn’t matter [that's not what she said]. It also doesn’t need to be a squeeze bottle, since this viscous stuff slides out quicker than you sometimes need. [but what'd she say?...OK OK I'm done.] Alright, you’ve got your goop*, goop* container, and goop* party vehicle.. let’s move on before this get’s even weirder. {*Don't sue me Gwenny, I mean no copyright issues.}

{THE BEFORE}. Hold on, before we continue, I just want to set a few things straight off the bat: no photoshop fixes were used on these photos. As much as I would like to have totally flawless skin, even with OCM that isn’t gonna happen. I have deep smile lines, crows feet, bags under my eyes and the rogue spot or two. Secondly, it’s real awkward to stare into a mirror with a camera on a tripod sitting behind your head. Moving on.

{DURING} What Mama [cat] Merl promises, she delivers. Did I mention this method is amazing at removing eye makeup? Just be gentle when you’re smearing the oil on your peepers.. not only can it irritate your eyes, but the skin there is insanely delicate and needs to be treated with kid gloves.. covered in goop. It should also be noted that these oils are also great hair conditioners and castor oil is even claimed to help hair growth.. so far I haven’t woken up with beautiful full brows or spiderly long lashes, but here’s hoping.

{CLEAN UP} Up until now, you were hopefully firmly on board this crazy train, seat belt locked and luggage stowed. Imagine the soothing and relaxing experience of slowly massaging delicious scented oils into your skin, rubbing away all the stress and headaches of the day in your quiet, serene bathroom. After a leisurely period of this, you lower your hands and realize.. what the fuck do I do now? Water doesn’t remove oil! I’M TRAPPED WITH THIS GOOP FACE FOREVER! Whoa there Oscar nominee. Remember the dingy, well used washcloth? Soak that bad boy in as hot of water as you can handle [since my faucets take awhile to heat up and, being Mama N's right hand woman, I detest wasting water, I wet my rag and pop it in the microwave for 1 min] then gently drape it across your face. Let the heat coax your pores open even more with whispered murmurers of encouragement, then gently press the cloth against your skin moving in tiny circles on your problem areas. Give it until the washcloth starts to cool slightly, then wipe all the dirt, grime, makeup and no good oil right off your face. Give it a few passes to make sure you’re getting in all the nooks and crannies, and don’t forget your hairline! You can rinse your washcloth off and give it another go if you feel like there’s some residue left, but one thorough swipe should do the trick.


{AFTER} Now look in the mirror you beautiful natural creature you. Yeah, YOU. Your skin should feel refreshed but not greasy. Clean but not dry. Go ahead, check out those pores. Do they look a bit empty to you? You betcha sweet ass they do. What’s that? Your skin DOES feel slightly greasy/dry/irritated? I SEE YOU REACHING FOR THAT HARSH ALCOHOL LADEN CLEANSER!! Step away from the medicine cabinet dammit. This can still work for you! If your skin isn’t glowing like the sunrise, that just means you have to tweak your recipe a bit. Too dry? Ease up on that castor oil. Too greasy? Bring some more to the party. Irritated? Perhaps you have a nut allergy. Try removing that specific oil or substituting it to determine the culprit. I also want to stress that while your skin may feel amazing that first time.. but Rome wasn’t built in a day [I've got to be towards the end of my limit for referencing that..]. I went through a purge period about 1 1/2 weeks after using my concoction and almost turned my back on the whole idea. Luckily, I was not alone and on the advice of countless others online, stuck by my oily cleanser and came out the other side with clearer skin, more $$ in my pocket in the long run and a happiness that results from using safe, natural ingredients on my delicate skin.

There you have it! My oil cleansing method in a surprisingly large, somewhat oblong nutshell. I hope this helps any of you kittens looking for a natural, yet effective cleanser. Especially you folks who have tried every other harsh, irritating over the counter medicine.. give this a try before resorting to pills or scary lasers. I’m not guaranteeing anything, but it’s worth a go. Like I mentioned on the instagram, I still have the rogue zit or two, especially when I’m nearing the red zone, or if I’ve been lazy and slipped off the OCM wagon. Keeping a steady intake of water, leafy greens and oodles of fruits and veggies obviously will help even things out as well. Oh and sleeping, but I am the very last one to give advice on that. In fact, anyone got any soft rubber mallets that don’t cause traumatic brain injuries to recommend? Or I could always try putting down the iphone…. mallet it is!

Any questions, comments or concerns, leave em below or contact me privately if you prefer. thanks for letting me share this guys.. feels good to admit my struggle and let the emotional wounds heal along side the physical ones.



*****Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not guaranteed to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make informed decisions based on their unique bodily requirements.