Be-Your-Own Valentine

Got the Valentine's Day blues? Don't worry if you don't have a romantic date. This is 2010. Get something nice for your friends, your family, or even better, yourself! My top ideas are: Go shopping at the new Better than Jam Co-op in Bushwick, a day at Spa Castle in College Point, curl up with a good book from Bluestockings, or take a yoga class near you.

Here are some handmade gifts with a little love from The {NewNew}:

designer: mshoelace

designer: KimmChi

designer: pulpsushi

by Andria newyorkclocks

If I Had A Bell...

Remember this old song? It was a staple during my summer sleep-away-camp days:

"If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the morning, I'd ring it in the evening, All over this land..."

It reminds me of all the creative ways we handcraft-folk strive to let the world at large know what we're doing. Of course, we try to ring bells with our Etsy shops and our blogs, with the hope that the attention will lead to sales. But I think it's also fair to say that it's difficult to create in a vacuum.

Judging by a recent blog roundup from my fellow {NewNew} artisans, talking about how we do what we do, as well as what and who inspires us to keep creating is an important part of the process. The ongoing inspiration and the sense of satisfaction we get from knowing someone likes something we made -- uses it, wears it, cherishes it -- is, well, kinda awesome.

prismPOP @ My Coney clearly has a soft spot for Coney Island USA, but also blogs about her experience at the recent Renegade Craft Fair with her fellow {NewNew}ers and (ouch!) sunburnt knees.

pandawithcookie @ offers an inside look at preparations for her first craft show, Seventh Heaven, in Brooklyn.

fubabee @ Pretty Stationery for Beautiful Souls talks about what inspires her beautiful stationery, but also tackles the whole "wedding industrial complex" as part of an ongoing meditation on the value of handmade.

pulpsushi @ writes with verve (and lots of exclamation points!) about what inspires her in work and life.

dirtylovesclean @ invites readers to follow her soap-making adventures, which include the pros and cons of craft fairs, veggie "meat", and the creation of a boxed wine soap.

jantar @ Jantar Handcrafted Jewlery uses her blog like an inspiration board, full of pictures and stories behind the creation of her lovely jewelry, as well as detailed, easy-to-follow how-to's.

You'll find all of these blogs, and more, through the {NewNew} member shop links and banners on the left. Take a moment to follow the links and learn a little bit about what inspires some of your favorite artisans. Perhaps you'll be inspired too.


Croton Aqueduct Trail

Ok! It is now time to take a break from the snipping, clipping, stirring, and stitching. It's time to stretch out a little because Spring is here! You don't want to miss out soaking in a gorgeous day and spending it with nature do you? Let me introduce you to one of New York's best kept secrets: The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. When I first moved to Tarrytown, NY after living in the city all my life, I suddenly became fascinated with learning about Old New York and its history. Then I kept hearing about this "Aqueduct" that folks would take either to work or to the train and how nice it is--what is this you speak of? Come to find out there is a good chance many of us have walked along it without even knowing.

The Aqueduct in Irvington, NYThe Old Croton Aqueduct tunnel was New York City's major source of clean drinking water from 1842 until 1955. The Aqueduct was built in response to the fires and epidemics that repeatedly devastated New York City in the late 1700s and early 1800s, owing in part to its inadequate water supply and contaminated wells. Water was delivered from the Croton Damn in Westchester's Croton-On-Hudson all the way down to 42nd Street in Manhattan, 41 miles total.

Today, the trail that follows the tunnels is enjoyed by joggers, hikers, cyclists, skiers, and nature lovers alike. You can start to enjoy this trail at the very north of the Bronx in Van Cortlandt Park or hop on Metro North's Hudson Line and get off at any of the river towns between Yonkers and Ossining. The trail will lead you through woods, parks, small river towns, grounds to historic mansions like the Lyndhurst Estate, and backyards (the residents are used to it). So visit the Croton Aqueduct, a budget-friendly one day trip outside the five boroughs.

Marilyn ~