Hand Painted Watercolor Postcards

hand painted watercolor postcardsIn an effort to be more social on the web, a little over a month ago I signed up for a postcard swap with 20 Something Bloggers. I greedily signed up for the max of four swaps, because why not and also because I really like getting regular mail (doesn’t everyone?). After debating for a few weeks over the perfect postcard to send each person, I finally just did a bunch of cards up in watercolor, along with a few extras to send to family. Usually when I paint it tends to be lots of portraits and still-life, so it was fun to change it up a little.

Scroll down to see the rest, and also for links to the bloggers I swapped with.

hand painted watercolor postcards
hand painted watercolor postcards
hand painted watercolor postcards
fruit postcard stamps
I thought these fruit postcard stamps were too perfect, but I’m also a sucker for stamps in general.

My Postcard Exchange Partners:

Alyson Shane
Going With The Flo
Stethescopes and Armbars
Adventures of a Mistfit Librarian

Warby Parker Two Year Update

warby parker womens webb amber glasses Riley Moore
I’m coming up on two years with my Warby Parkers, and I realized I never shared which style I chose. Since I get a lot of visits to my at home try on posts (here and here), I thought I should share. I ordered the Webb in Amber, and I’m very, very happy with them. I don’t believe they will ever go out of style – something about tortoiseshell is timeless!

Throwback Thursday: New Year’s Eve Trip to Montreal

riley moore in front of icicle wallThis was on the drive up to Montreal, I remember it was amazingly cold but I very fashionably opted for a light-weight cougar sweatshirt. I have no explanation for why I’m making a face like I had a fat lip.

winter new england town with old victorian overlooking
How amazing is this old victorian home overlooking the town? It feels like a movie set and I love that there is an American flag on the pole out front.

The 10 Most Amazing Luxury Italian Villas for Sale

Have you ever dreamed of living abroad? I have and do on a regular basis, although they’re not dreams of a small apartment in a destination city. My dreams involve countryside living in obscenely large estates. Today’s are all in Italy and my are they grand.
luxury italian villa

1. Il Castello sul lago

Dating back to the year 802 (well before the discovery of the Americas), this compound includes a church, main living quarters and a guest house. It was at one point a military fortress!
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

2. Villa delle Anfore

This home is on the Tuscan coast with private access to the sea. There are stone steps leading down to the water and the home is gorgeous, but my favorite part is this perfect vined terrace for dining outdoors.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

3. Villa Strozzi

This insanely regal property sits amongst it’s own park of woods, wine vineyards and olive groves. It also includes a chapel, farmhouse, swimming pool and tennis court.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

4. Relais la Grande Quercia

Currently in use as a hotel, this property is a modern meets rustic paradise. It sits between the Sibillini Mountain National Park and the Adriatic Coast, overlooking the countryside.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

5. Po Sante Hamlet

If you’ve ever wanted to own an entire village, or maybe need a place for your family compound, this hamlet located in ancient Umbria would fit the bill perfectly. The walled village has 19 individual dwellings, a central square, shared park, and pool.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

6. Villa with Garden

While this home is more modern and located in the center of Milan, it still has an air of country to it. The bright veranda has amazing windows which allow an amazing openness with nature.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

7. Villa Rinascimentale a Roma

This property is relatively new at only 92 years old (by Europe standards!), and located in the heart of Rome, only 5 minutes away from Vatican City. It is meant to be a hotel or tourism office, but I can’t see why one couldn’t make it a home.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

8. Villa delle Baccanti

This villa, located between Pisa and Florence, is a beautiful stately home with gardens of century old cypress’ and frescoes from noted 18th century artist, Ademollo. The 360 views from the rooftop loggia are stunning.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

9. Intero Borgo Medievale

To own Borgo del Ghirlandaio would feel like being a king, I imagine. The ancient mediaeval castle is home to 59 independent apartments, a church, a restaurant and a series of small shops. It reminds me of the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings.
(more info and photos here)

luxury italian villa

10. Villa dei Satiri

This last villa is considered one of the best examples of historic Tuscan architecture. It’s insanely huge, with Italian style gardens and many buildings on premises, including a glass butterfly house and The Bagnetti, a bath house with upper podiums for musicians to play for the guests.
(more info and photos here)

What do you think? Would you live in one of these estates?

The Ultimate Guide to Curing Your Dust Mite Allergy

I realize this is a little off the beaten path of what I usually write about, but I’ve been working on treating my dust allergies for the past few years, and I’ve built up a pretty extensive list of must-have solutions that I’d like to share with anyone else who may be suffering. Let me first say that my allergies have not gone away. I still have them, though I hope to lessen my reaction to them over time. What follows below are home remedies and different products that almost allow me to live an allergy-free life. I’m not into invasive solutions – visits to the doctors office for allergy shots, and surgery on my septum are not for me (though both were presented as options, and they may be best for you. Talk to your doctor!) So, here’s what I use:

STEP 1: Stop Allergens at the Source by Cleaning Your Environment

dust mite allergy environmental changes

Roomba

I had always wanted a Roomba, but never justified the price until my allergies were getting out of control. With two cats and two people, it’s necessary to vacuum on a daily basis, and I just don’t always have the time. Once I got the Roomba, I immediately noticed a difference in my sneezing. It runs every morning, Monday through Friday, and amazingly when I go to empty the canister every afternoon there is ALWAYS plenty of dirt and cat hair (which is a dust trap!). The model I have is specifically for pets and allergies, and I will not live without it.
BUY IT: iRobot Roomba 770

Vacuum

Even with the Roomba, it’s still necessary to run a regular vacuum about once a week to get corners and behind doors. I have the Eureka AirSpeed which claims to work better than a Dyson for less than half the cost. I can’t really speak to those claims because I don’t use it like a regular vacuum (or as frequently), but it does work great for what I need. Just taking those 10 minutes a week really helps get any last bits of cat fur/dust balls that are floating around.
BUY IT: Eureka AirSpeed Gold Bagless Upright Vacuum

Air Purifier

I bought an air purifier at the same time as the Roomba, and using the two of them together totally changed my life. Many of the other solutions listed here are good for dealing with the reaction to allergies, but an air purifier and vacuum help get rid of the allergens before they can reach your nasal passage. I have one purifier in my bedroom running 24/7, and another near my desk at work. Since those are the two places I spend most of my time, it’s pretty necessary to keep the air clean. This one has a permanent filter, so I just vacuum it out about once a month, which I prefer.
BUY IT: Honeywell HHT-090 Permanent Hepa Filter Tower

Mattress and Pillow Cover

Something that my doctor stressed were mattress and pillow covers. He told me that most of the exposure to dust mites can happen while you’re sleeping, so it’s important to use specially made covers to reduce contact. I also find that washing my sheets and changing pillow covers (the regular covers that go over the allergy covers) often makes an impact.
BUY IT: Allersoft Dust Mite & Allergy Control Deep Mattress Protector
&: Allersoft Dust Mite & Allergy Control Pillow Encasement

Himalayan Salt Lamp

I can’t say the salt lamp has had a huge impact on my symptoms, but every little something that helps clean the air I breathe is worth trying. Himalayan salt lamps work by emitting negative ions, which purifies the air. I have this one on my bedside table, and it looks absolutely gorgeous when lit up at night. It’s surprisingly bright and has a really peaceful glow to it which is perfect for transitioning to the night hours.
BUY IT: Himalayan Natural Crystal Salt Lamp with Bulb and Cord

STEP 2: Lessen Symptoms by Taking These Remedies Internally

dust mite allergy orally administered solutions

Antihistamine

A more traditional route to reducing symptoms, and one used by those with seasonal allergies (the lucky ones! mine are year-round) is taking an antihistamine. The brand isn’t important, just look for one with 10mg antihistamine. I don’t use these regularly, but they are good to have around in case of a particularly bad reactions
BUY IT: Zyrtec Allergy Relief

Probiotics

While not directly related to allergies, I decided to start taking probiotics to help with overall health. Probiotics help to keep your digestive system in balance (particularly after a round of antibiotics), and my rational is that the healthier my body is as a whole, the more it can heal itself where I need it (overreacting sinuses!).
BUY IT: Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls

Wheatgrass Juice

Wheatgrass juice goes along with improving my entire wellbeing. It takes some effort growing and juicing the grass, but every time I drink it I feel SO ALIVE. I recommend it for anyone, not only allergy sufferers.
BUY IT: Certified Organic Hard Red Wheat

Beech Bach Flower

Bach flower remedies are a variety of tinctures using a flower/plant material, water, and brandy. The most common is probably the Rescue Remedy, which many people use when they are stressed to help calm down. The Beech Bach Remedy is described to be used for tolerance (towards people, situations – or allergies!). I add 6-8 drops to a glass of water, and drink several of these glasses a day. Anything to help build my tolerance, particularly anything that’s natural!
BUY IT: Beech Bach Flower Essence

STEP 3: Experience Immediate Relief with Other Remedies

dust mite allergy various solutions for relief

Oil Pulling

Another alternative remedy I tried was oil pulling, which is an ayervedic folk remedy which involves swishing oil (coconut, oil, sesame, etc) around your mouth for 20 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. It’s supposed to draw toxins out through the tongue, which is connected to all systems in the body. Oil pulling is used for a variety of ailments, and while it sounds like another strange fad, I had a good experience with it. My allergies are always at their worse in the morning, and have cleared by mid-afternoon, but something about the oil pulling seems to expedite the process. On the mornings when I can find an extra 20 minutes, I do this using coconut oil, and by the end it seems pull everything to the front of my sinuses.
BUY IT: Nature’s Way Extra-Vigin Coconut Oil

Neti Pot

Like the oil pulling, using a neti pot first thing in the morning can provide immediate relief by clearing out the irritants before they get a chance to attack. I don’t do this everyday, but definitely have a neti pot and the salt solution on hand for the really bad days.
BUY IT: Himalayan Institute Neti Pot Complete Sinus Cleansing System

Nasal Spray/Salt Spray

A nasal spray isn’t something I would rely on to cure your allergies, but it’s great to have on hand for attacks throughout the day. I have one in my bathroom, handbag, and desk drawer. Alternatively a salt spray will also help to clear your nasal passages.
BUY IT: Nasalcrom Nasal Allergy Symptom Controller Spray

Cough Drops

Another thing I always have on hand are cough drops with menthol and eucalyptus, which work to cool and relieve your nasal passages. I find a cough drop with those properties will clear a stuffy nose faster than anything else. And for me a clear nose means less sneezing and nose blowing.
BUY IT: Halls Mentho-Lyptus Sugar Free Drops

Eucalyptus Oil

Just like the eucalyptus in cough drops, pure oil can also helps clean your sinuses immediately. Use however you like to use aromatherapy oils – in a bath, diffuser, or just take a sniff of the bottle for immediate relief.
BUY IT: NOW Foods Eucalyptus Oil

Cooling Tissues

Finally, for the days when you haven’t been able to lesson the symptoms and your nose has taken a beating from all the tissues, I like to use cooling tissues. They have aloe and moisturizers which create an immediate cooling sensation on contact and feel amazing on sore noses. The moisturizers also help prevent a dry nose which is often the result of many nose blows.
BUY IT: Kleenex Cool Touch Facial Tissue

Share Your Results!

So that’s all I’ve got! I won’t make any guarantees, but I’m pretty optimistic that if you try any combination of these solutions you will be able to get your dust mite allergy under control. It worked for me! If I missed anything, please share in the comments below so we can all benefit. 🙂