Friday, February 26, 2016

Support the Spark Makerspace

Down in downtown New London, an amazing initiative is underway.  The Spark Makerspace is currently in the process of fleshing out a community-run workshop and learning center open to the general public.  From their About page: "Members pay monthly dues and get access to a full woodshop, commercial kitchen, 3D printers, a CNC machine and laser cutter, robotics lab, screenprinting equipment, shared office space, retail space, and much more."  Basically, if you are a maker and can't afford some fancy equipment, Spark has it and they are willing to let you use it.

For The Nutmeg Collective, as a group of makers, this is an awesome endeavor for us to see happen and we are totally in support of Spark and we hope you will be too.  This makerspace will allow people to grow on their small businesses or expand a hobby that may have been limited due to lack of equipment,

Spark is currently running a Kickstarter to crowdfund their project and are three days and just over $5000 shy of their goal.  If they do not reach the goal, no money will be donated, so it's super important for us as a community to help!  Every little bit counts, and they have some pretty fantastic rewards for backers.

See their Kickstarter here to watch a video about the space and learn more about the project.  And even if you can't support financially, please consider sharing their Kickstarter page on social media!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Local Love: Breakfast

Instagrams clockwise from top left: @popoversimsbury, @cynthiaa1, @vanillabeancafe, @joelmilleris

Eating breakfast out is quite possibly one of the best treats there is.  There is just something about the way it is prepared that makes it so much better than at home.  We asked our members to share their favorite breakfast and breakfast-all-day spots, and so we present to you just some of the best Connecticut has to offer:

Cromwell Diner in Cromwell

Harvest Cafe in Simsbury

La Cuisine in Branford

Cosmic Omelet in Manchester

The Shack in Niantic

Sandy Hook Diner in Newtown

Popover Bistro in Simsbury

Bella's Cafe in New Haven

Perk on Main in Durham

Ken's Corner in Glastonbury

Sounds like a road trip is in order!  Where is your favorite breakfast place?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nutmeg Collective Instagram: Purring Pottery

We have some great photos in our #nutmegcollective Instagram feed.
On a regular basis, we'll feature some of our favorite photos here!

A photo posted by Purring Pottery (@purringpottery) on

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shop Spotlight: Portraits by ShawnaLee

copyright Portraits by ShawnaLee

ShawnaLee W. Kwashnak is a portrait artist specializing in portraits of pets and children. She works in pencils, charcoals and oils.

Born and raised in Ridgefield Ct, where her artistic roots began, ShawnaLee is now a resident of Middlebury Ct. ShawnaLee is a 96' cum laude graduate of Western CT state university and is board member of the Connecticut Society of Portrait artists. ShawnaLee's love of animals comes through her heartwarming portraits of cats, dogs, horses, and children.

copyright Portraits by ShawnaLee

Many of her current works include Charcoals on toned art paper, rich oil paintings, or a blend of Graphite with an occasional hint of colored pencils. ShawnaLee helps support animal shelters such as the Danbury Animal Welfare Society as a DAWS Partner, Ct Draft Horse Rescue, Hidden Acres therapeutic riding center, New Fairfield/Sherman Animal Welfare Society etc.

ShawnaLee works out of her home studio in Middlebury CT, where she works side by side with her doting cats (actually - they are always trying to climb in her lap whether she is sitting or standing!) As a lifelong artist and animal lover, ShawnaLee's latest chapter of portraiture came from an opportunity to learn more about the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. She painted the Greeting Room Mural and became a DAWS Partner. When "Partner shop" is mentioned for a pet portrait commission, 10% is donated to DAWS in support of the animals.


Find more of ShawnaLee's work on her website 
or connect with her on Facebook


Would you like to be a featured in the Shop Spotlight?
Connecticut businesses fill out this form!

Monday, February 22, 2016

One Thing: Organize Just One Thing

I will admit that I get overwhelmed by clutter and piles and stacks of things. The word Later plays a big role in this and always makes sense at the time, because there is something more pressing to do.

But (you knew that word was coming), taking a bit of time to organize just one thing that really needs to be done, pays off not only for your business, but for your peace of mind.

I challenge you (and me!) to organize just one thing today, or this week, that has been on your mind to do. Convince yourself that it will be worth your time, and when you're done, celebrate. Or post a pretty pic on Instagram and tag the #nutmegcollective.  I'd love to see what you've accomplished!

Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Local Love: The Mason Jar Monroe

Get to know sisters, Lori and Courtney, of The Mason Jar Monroe in Monroe, Connecticut.

"We opened our doors on October 20, 2015. We were inspired by the fact that there's nothing like our shop in Monroe. Both of us have both always wanted to own a boutique, and thought that our hometown was the perfect place.

We carry women's clothing, accessories and home goods. All of our accessories and home goods are Made in the USA, a lot from CT. Products that are trending right now are accessories and clothing, especially BBA Bracelets, Northeast Nutmeg candles, The 203 clothing and Cinder + Salt clothing. We handpick every item, most through Etsy and some from local vendors recommending others.

Some challenges have been knowing how much to order of each product and how often to order.

Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

We love all of the stories we've heard from customers, and the positive feedback we get from them. I'm sure we'll have some interesting stories once we've been opened longer.

On February 11, 2016, we hosted a Galentines event. Local vendor BBA Bracelets was there doing a popup shop and a giveaway. We also did a shop giveaway, as well as a giveaway from The 203. We served Mason jar cookies and mini cupcakes from Wildflour Confections."

266B Main St.
Monroe, CT

Tuesday - Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm

Connect with them on Facebook or Instagram!


We love local businesses! 

Are you an independently-run Connecticut brick and mortar?
Get a feature by clicking here.

Know a shop that deserves a feature? Contact us at

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Winter Fun: Sledding, Skiing, Skating, Snowmobiling, Tubing in Connecticut

Art: ©RiverDog Prints

We asked our members where they go for winter activities and here are some of their recommendations.

Tubing at Powder Ridge

Pond Skating, Sledding and XC Skiing at Winding Trails

Hopewell Elementary School in Glastonbury:  "...huge sledding hill and a little bunny size one too....a playground/playscape right there and great parking, so families tailgate on weekends. You can even sit in your car and have a great view of your kids, if you're not up for breaking your own butt. All ages go there. It's our go to place..and it's free!"

Simsbury Farms: Ice Skating; Sledding/Tubing on the hill behind the Simsbury Farms main building and golf club building. Cross country skiing on the Simsbury Farms golf course. One stop shop!

Ice skating in Bushnell Park

Snowmobiling and other winter activities at Sun Valley Campground

Do you have any special winter places you like to go?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Connecticut Magazine's 40 Under 40


Connecticut Magazine revealed the state's "up-and-comers" for 2016 and The Nutmeg Collective was well represented! 

The class of 2016 includes:
Kristen Skelton, commander in chief of The Nutmeg Collective, as well as Milo and Molly.
Emily Woodward, baker extraordinaire at Get Baked in Windsor.
Rory, Callie, and Addy Gale, creators and owners, Hartford Prints!
Alonda Baird-Juhasz, Artist and entrepreneur, creator and owner, Designer Dwellings.

Read more about them and the other 36 here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vegan Cranberry-Cashew Chocolate Bark

Just in time for Valentines's Day, this homemade chocolate recipe can be whipped up quickly, and ingredients can be changed to suit your taste: just add your favorite ingredients in place of the cranberries and cashews.  This chocolate can also be made without any fruit or nuts if you prefer a simple chocolate bar!  Vegan and gluten-free, this recipe is sure to be a hit with everyone!

You will need:

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup raw cashews
Pinch of salt

Line an 8 inch pie plate or cake pan with wax or parchment paper.  Sprinkle cashews and cranberries over the paper.  In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil is completely melted, add the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder and continue stirring until melted and no lumps appear.  Remove the saucepan from heat and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Remove from the refrigerator and add in the maple syrup.  Stir thoroughly to ensure the ingredients are combined.  If the chocolate seizes, place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the mixture re-melts.  Pour the mixture over the cashews and cranberries, and put it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  Once solid, remove the chocolate from the parchment paper and break into chunks.

Note: Because coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, it is recommended that the chocolate remain stored in the refrigerator.

With a love of creating and decades of ultra-sensitive skin, Jennifer Knapp became curious how soap was made after receiving a handmade bar. Several classes and months of research later, Jennifer launched Nutmeg Naturals LLC, with a line of soaps catering to all skin types. Jennifer’s products include cold-process handmade soaps, laundry soaps and wool dryer balls. In 2014, Jennifer launched The Felt Haus, a place for her other felted projects. She is a native Nutmegger and lives in Haddam with her husband and daughter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Shop Spotlight: ArtSmith Studio

Meet Ruthie Sutter of ArtSmith Studio in Somers.

"I feel particularly blessed to have found my passion at a very young age and now have the great fortune to make art out of my home studio with my kids often getting in on the action. Having a busy family life means I fit work in whenever possible whether it means early mornings, naptimes, or late nights. It isn't always easy, but I feel like I'm living the dream!

I have always known that I wanted to work as an artist, but for many years I wasn't sure how to go about actually making it a career. After college I spent time teaching art at a private school and working at a gallery part time. I really enjoyed those jobs, but I felt the itch to create more on my own. I thought it was time to try to start selling my work. I consider my expertise to be in drawing and painting, but fell in love with making pottery during college.

I had heard about Etsy in 2010 and thought, "what can I lose?" and so I created a shop. I had my first sale in less than 24 hours and I was hooked. I've learned a lot about running a business since then and how important it is to value your own time and talent. If you don't, no one else will. My most popular items have been custom recipe platters and wedding gifts. I have more product ideas than I have time and that makes me excited for the future."

Find more of Ruthie's work in her Etsy shop
or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram


Would you like to be a featured in the Shop Spotlight?
Connecticut businesses fill out this form!

Monday, February 8, 2016

How-to: Create Photo Mosaics for Instagram

At a recent Nutmeg Collective Social Media Meet Up, a few members mentioned they’d like to make the mini mosaics that several of our members have been making for a while and sharing on Instagram, like the one above. It looks like there are a lot of steps, but I promise I’m just being uber-specific. Once you get the hang of it, making mini mosaics doesn’t take much time at all.

1. Choose four items you’d like to use.   If you don’t have specific users or items in mind, this is a trick I use so I don’t re-create the wheel: Look at etsy treasuries. Someone took time to sort through and find a theme, chose coordinating items, and all the information you’ll need is 80% right there. In the search box on the treasury page, search NUTMEGCOLLECTIVE.  Evelyn Pelati, DiGiJewels, and Designer Dwellings have current treasuries that have some Nutmeg Collective items in them that I have used. Note: They’re not ALL member items in team treasuries, so you do need to select who is a member to use this method.

2. Once you’ve picked your items, save the picture to your computer or device. Since I usually do this task while my family is relaxing at night, I mostly make these mini mosaics on my laptop, but I can do this from my phone just as quickly. Make note of the people who made the items and what they have named them, this will help when you add a caption. On my laptop, I just leave allllll the tabs open, or put their name as the file.

3. Using the design app of your choice, arrange photos in a square mosaic format. I use Pixlr. When our group was polled, others use Picstitch (for phone), fotor (for computer), Aviary, PicCollage, and PictureCollageMakerLite. What it comes down to is that there are plenty out there, you can pick the one you like the most.

4. Once you have the layout you like, save the photo mosaic. If I’ve done these steps on my computer, I now email the mosaic to myself so Iyou can access it from my phone. If you use a cloud or link your devices, move to the one where you can upload to Instagram.

5. Upload to Instagram. List the items shown with the maker’s Instagram username. If they’re not on Instagram, I use their Etsy shop or web address. Note: I started making these mosaics to share Instagram user’s items, and people are more likely to click and follow your team members on Instagram if the links work. I try not to use too many items that are for people NOT using Instagram.

6. Tag the users on the photo as well as in the description.

7. Hashtag #nutmegcollective so team leaders and your teammates can see it!

8. I also hashtag #madeinct #ctmade #connecticut and maybe one or two other relevant tags.

That’s about all there is to it! Some nights I’ll make three or four and space out posting them to prolong the fun.   Please ask if something isn’t clear here, I do love to chat!

Photos and items in this sample mosaic are by:

Vanessa Felie, aka "Queenvanna" juggles a husband and two blond pixies while running her burgeoning paper arts and crafts business, QueenvannaCreations. Her job and family inspire her to create crafty projects for holidays, vacations, as well as times when there's just not much going on. Perpetual calendars and other home items, scrapbooking album kits and personalized gifts of all kinds - She looks to add a little flair to everything she makes, to put some extra fun in to daily life, as well as special occassions.
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |

Friday, February 5, 2016

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Valentine's Day is coming and love is in the air!  Whether you are gifting something to your one and only, or simply celebrating with friends, family, kids, neighbors, teachers - you name it!- The Nutmeg Collective always has the best handmade goods to share with someone special.
Soap gift set by Treefort Naturals, $11
Valentine's Pennant Tags by MSD Design, $5
Girl & Rex Magnet Set by our secret treehouse, $8
Wood-burned and etched glass goods by The BURNT Shop, starting at $10
Solid perfume from The Little Bee of CT, $10
Baby boy Onesie by Brimmer Baby, $30
Sammy the Cat on a Heart Pillow card by fallenpeach, $4.50

Click through each photo to be taken to the maker's website for ordering and contact information.  We hope you will continue to shop local with us and share the CT love!