Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Seven Essentials

Be sure to check out The Dainty Dish, a lovely new blog who asked me to do this guest post as part of their "Essentials" series.
xo, m

Essentials:  Smart. Sustainable. Style.'s Melissa Baswell

When Dainty Dish goddess Sutton approached me about doing a guest post on the topic of essentials, I was thrilled. I’m quite fond of making lists, and when I find something that I really like, I tend to become slightly obsessed. (Marginally off topic, but as I write this, I can’t get “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music out of my head. I had to sing it for a musical theatre class in college, and, well, let’s just say there’s good reason as to why I’m not a professional singer).

Admittedly, I’m quick to change my mind about which things fascinate me on a given day, but there is undeniably a distinct group of (at least semi-permanent) essentials that I just can’t see to live without. And  here they are…

1. Tea Tree Oil: When I traveled to Australia with my boyfriend’s band last spring, we discovered a lake surrounded by Melaleuca trees. The tannins from the trees leach into the water, literally creating a natural tea tree lake, and everyone was astounded at how incredible their skin felt after a dip. Tea tree oil is naturally antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal and has endless uses. I use it on cuts and scrapes, add a few drops to the bath, and mix it with my moisturizer. You can find tea tree oil at almost any drug store or natural food shop.
2. Blackberry 9700: I hesitated about putting this on my list, because who wants to admit they’re unhealthily attached to their smart phone? Like it or not, my BlackBerry is never more than two feet away from my fingers (better known as texting machines). I’m not a fan of the monthly bill, but life becomes much easier when you can check email, create documents, quickly search the internet, listen to music, and waste time on Facebook anytime, anywhere. Oh yeah, and you can make phone calls with it too, which comes in handy when your boyfriend lives on a traveling tour bus half the year. My favorite part of the 9700 is that the enormously annoying trackball of my past BlackBerries is gone, and a nice (non-sticking) little track pad exists in its place. Get your very own electronic leash at your nearest wireless store.
3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque: This simple, affordable mask is truly the best skin product I’ve ever tried. I use it as a full mask a few times a month to unclogs pore, and regularly as a spot treatment if I have a zit. A tube of it costs around $4 and lasts for months. You can find it at most drug stores and beauty supply shops.
4. Coconut Water: I could easily create an entire blog devoted to this delicious nectar from the heavens. Made from the pure water found inside young green coconuts, it’s packed full of electrolytes, potassium, and other goodness, and with no added sugar, is a million times healthier than sports drinks. O.N.E. and Vita brands both use eco-friendly packaging and are really, really yummy. Many grocery stores have yet to catch on to the blissful amazing-ness of coconut water, so it can be tricky to find, but Whole Foods carries it, as do most larger supermarkets.
5. Earthshoe Boots: I bought these gems about 6 years ago at a tiny shoe store in Indianapolis, and wear them at least twice a week from September to April. My pair is a bit haggard from being worn so often, but they still look very chic paired with a dress or skinny jeans. In addition to the fact that they’re physically lovely, they’re designed with a slight incline that positions the toes higher than the heels (picture your bare feet stepping into warm sand on a sunny beach), making them exceedingly comfortable. You can find a list of Earthshoe retailers here.
6. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: My new favorite band as of last winter, Edward Sharpe plays incessantly in my studio, car, and at home. Their music is upbeat, ethereal, and refreshing. Get it on itunes or at your favorite local music store.
7. Mountains of the Moon Audrey Dress: My friends tend to make fun of the fact that I rarely wear clothing I’ve designed. My response is always something along the lines of “Look, if I didn’t love the clothing I make, I wouldn’t make it, but sometimes when you work on something for 40-60 hours every week, you just want a break from it during your free time, thank you very much.” The Audrey Dress, however, is a major exception for me, and is probably my #1 wardrobe staple year-round. Made from a soft hemp/organic cotton knit, it has a pull-over mock wrap style (versus a traditional full wrap dress) that is flattering and comfortable. It’s more casual than the other dresses in my collections, but can be easily dressed up. I have it both cream (in photo) and black, but the cream is my go-to piece. Get your very own at
8. Comfortflex Dog Harness: Any owner of an old dog can attest to the fact that it can be difficult to find the right products for an aging fur baby. Considering that I use this pretty red harness 7 to 8 times per day, I’d classify it as one of my most essential essentials. My nearly 15 year-old Lab/Chow mix Leary had surgery for Laryngeal Paralysis a little over a year ago and isn’t able to wear a regular collar, but I found that traditional dog harnesses are not only a major pain to get on your pet, they also look to be terribly uncomfortable. The ComfortFlex Harness has a lightly padded nylon design that protects sensitive areas like the neck and underarms, and a simple Velcro strap and safety snap make it quite easy to get on. They offer a wide variety of colors (Leary looks simply dashing in the red), are available in 7 different sizes, and cost around $25. You can find them at most local pet supply stores or online here.

Be sure to check out all of Melissa’s creative projects. She is *so* talented:
Eco-Friendly Clothing and more:
Etsy Store:

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