To Gnome is to Love ‘Em: The Rustic Garden Ornament & Decor List

Maybe because the sun has finally beaten back the rainclouds here in Austin, or maybe it’s because I live in an apartment and I want what I can’t have, but I’ve had gardens on the brain recently. (see the last entry The House of the Wild Bee). So I’ve pulled together this list inspired by my green dreams. Full disclaimer, despite the pun in the title, this list contains gno garden  gnomes. (I gnow, I gnow, I’m sorry)

Garden decor is a crucial element of making your garden feel like home. The shabby chic /rustic look is a popular theme–gardening is a simple pleasure, and it makes sense that gardeners want their design to resemble a simpler time. It’s also an easy design to maintain, as any wear from exposure to the elements only adds to the authenticity. Some of our other past entries have ventured into the realm of outdoor design, like our entries about mason jar design , rustic weddings, and summer backyard DIY projects.

French Country Birdhouse by Bacon Square Farm


Bacon Square Farms is a former cattle and hog farm-turned-workshop in Mankato, Minnesota. Owners Pete and Tanya converted their cattle barn into a metalworks shop and their pig feeding station into a woodshop.

Their garden decor–like the above birdhouse–combines the pastoral color scheme of French countryside design with the weathered and rusted materials of shabby chic. The result is a storefront of creations that seem fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Take a stroll through their garden decor by clicking here.  Bacon Square Farms also runs a blog about their process and their life on the farm. Check it out here.

Slate Garden Markers by Slateplate 

garden tagsTwo things make these garden markers–designed by Raleigh’s Slateplate–stand out: Firstly, the markers are made from black slate stone, which gives their unique chalkboard appearance. Secondly, they’re pretty tall. The markers stand about a foot high, making them a more prominent feature of your garden design than smaller, paper markers. Your order also comes with a white grease pen that won’t wash off in the rain.

The good folks of Slateplate specialize in products handmade from natural black slate. You can check out their storefront here.

Reclaimed Wooden Heart by Alma Boheme 

wooden heart

Savannah, Georgia’s Alma Boheme is a shop that works wonders with wood and wool. Their wooden indoor/outdoor design is often made with reclaimed materials–like this rustic, heart-shape wooden wall hanging. Buyers also can have the heart painted with a custom color or personalized message. Check out their shop here.

Reclaimed Wooden Planters from CountryByTheBumpkins


CountryByTheBumpkins makes decor from home, gardens, and special events–especially rustic-themed weddings. Their products are often made from reclaimed materials, making your garden even more ecologically friendly.  These planters made from reclaimed fence wood, thus retaining a character no big box corporation will ever imitate successfully. Check out their charming storefront here.

Mason Jar Planter by Wayne Works


This planter from Wayne Works of Dallas, TX can be used inside or outside to grow smaller plants like herbs. It’s a beautiful union of older materials and modern sensibility. The metal bands holding the mason jars are made of hammered copper, which over time will begin to weather and oxidize, giving the planter even more of a rustic aura. There’s plenty of awesome wall ornaments, lamps, and furniture to check out at Wayne Work’s store. Click here to have a look.


Unique Gifts for Guitarists

One of the interesting aspects of guitar culture is brand loyalty. Rock guitarists, despite association with counter-culture and DIY ideology, rarely shop outside the long established brands of instrument equipment (i.e.Fender or Gibson electric guitars, Marshall, Fender, or Peavey amps, D’Addario, Ernie Ball, Elixer strings, etc.)

This is often out of necessity–if you’re relying on the same amp and guitar and pedals and cables every night in a different city, you’ll want a brand that has been tested by countless guitarists for the past 50 years of rock history. More than likely, your favorite guitarist  probably played a Gibson SG or Les Paul, a Fender Stratocaster, Jaguar, or Telecaster. There are obviously exceptions, but not many. And most of these instruments and equipment are renowned for versatility–Fender guitars, for example, have appeared in every genre from smooth jazz to punk rock.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got mostly big name guitars in my collection, and I love them all. There’s downsides to the established brands, though. First, it’s difficult for any independent instrument makers, regardless of the quality of their product, to break into the market. And that means that the buyer is missing out on a piece of equipment they potentially would love a whole lot more than their big box stuff.

Secondly, every handmade instrument and piece of equipment has it’s own “personality”, imbibed by the materials used and the hand of the maker. So, as with the odd instruments in this previous entry, who knows what strange and wonderful sounds you’re missing out on?

Bazooka Bubble Gum Amp from BadgleyCBGS


This 2.5 Watt portable amp is a custom creation from the mind of Robert Badgley. Robert runs a shop called Badgley CBGS (short for cigar box guitars). His store isn’t limited to cigar box instruments, though. The storefront has amps, slides, and picks handmade from repurposed goods. This is a great and eye-catching amp for practicing or playing street music. It’s portable and powered by a 9 volt battery, so you can take it anywhere that might benefit from sweet riffs and hot licks.

Bloodwood Capo from Wooden Capo


Wooden Capos is a New Jersey retailer with a forthright name. The shop features several capo designs handcrafted from leather and wood. The shopkeep, Lee, writes that his work is centered around the belief that “functionality and beauty should be at a balance”. The bloodwood capo comes finished with olive oil and beeswax, and it comes in lefty and righty versions. The customer can also get personal graphics or words burned onto the capo.

(For non-guitarists, a capo is a device that is used for quick and easy chord changes on a guitar neck. It’s popular among those who sing and play, as it allows them to adjust songs to fit within their range.)

Turquoise Guitar Strap from NowhereBearStraps


The vintage-styled guitar straps of Ohio’s  Nowhere Bear are exquisite multicolored affairs, like something you’d see slung over Jimi Hendrix’s shoulder (or wrapped around his head). The intricate thread designs are backed by strong seat belt or hemp webbing. The shop is full of wonderful patterns all colors of the rainbow–definitely worth a peek.

Hand Carved Wooden Guitar Picks from LuluandIra


Each lovely hand carved wooden pick from this set will produce a slight different sound. Wooden picks produce a warmer, mellower tone compared to the traditional plastic. The 3 pick set comes courtesy of Utah shop Lulu and Ira. Their shop is home to many captivating carved products, from baby toys to kitchen accessories.

Pick Holder Keychain from Couch Guitar Straps


True style, as any fashionable rocker knows, winds all the way down to the smallest details. These vinyl guitar pick holders from Long Beach-based Couch Guitar Straps are crafted from vintage car upholstery. As they say in the product description: “…as thoughtful and unique a gift you can give to your guitar playing friends for around 12 bucks.” Couch Guitar is stuffed full of lots of great stuff made from recycled material, like guitar straps (obvs), camera straps, and wallets.

Cigar Box Guitar Kit from SoundBoxGuitars 


There are few greater feelings than the sensation of playing an instrument you’ve put together yourself. If you’re looking to give someone that feeling, you should definitely check out the California shop Sound Box Guitars. Their Cigar Box Kit is a comprehensive DIY kit for building an acoustic 3-string cigar box guitar–without needing a huge collection of tools. The kit comes with all the complex drilling, sawing, carving, and sanding pre-done. Learn more about this awesome gift here.

Knit Picks: Your Beanie Collection for the Long Winter

Punxsutawny Phil has spoken, and the verdict isn’t good–the whistle-pig predicts six more weeks of cold. But who needs a cowardly burrowing rodent to tell you it’s been, and probably will continue to be, a very cold winter?

That doesn’t mean your head needs to feel the cold, though. The halls of Etsy are littered with knit and crocheted goods, just waiting for the right head to come along and purchase them. Here’s 3 of our favorite shops that specialize in handmade beanies.  Continue reading

The Bromantic Gesture: Valentine’s Gifts for Guys

Valentine’s day, despite being a holiday men and women celebrate together, has always had a distinctly feminine bent. The iconography of the holiday–the heart-shaped box of chocolate, the pink and red color scheme, the roses– are all things American culture calls girly stuff.

Nothing wrong, of course, with a guy who’s into pink hearts and roses. But maybe you’ve got a man who might not appreciate the quiet beauty of a blushing flower in bloom, or animatronic teddy bear holding a heart that says “I Wuv You”.  For you, here’s a list of romantic gifts with all the manliness of a group of mustaches drinking scotch at their weekly poker game.

Wooden Wallet by SlimTimber


Thin, simple, and handsome, this rosewood wallet from Idaho’s Slim Timber is perfect for holding business cards or plastic. Each wallet is individual, as the grain of each piece of wood is unique. The wallet is bound with elastic straps and carved thumb grooves for easy removal. SlimTimber also carries watches and wallets of varying thickness and material, as well as wooden bowties(!).

Bat Tie Clip by KevinCossDesigns

imbatmaneditThis super and heroic design comes from the mind of Californian Kevin Coss. Kevin has a shop full of quirky yet sophisticated tie clips (also known as tie bars)–notably a lightning bolt, guitar neck, and a katana. If you’re looking for more traditional designs, he’s got that too. The tie clips are made of hand-finished aluminum and come in a velvet drawstring pouch. Check out the rest of his store here.

Whiskey Sugar Shaving Cream by QueenBeeTradingCo


Don’t let Queen Bee Trading Co.‘s name fool you–the shop has over 80 different listings for men’s shaving products. The North Carolina store describes this “sweet and sexy” scented shaving cream as “smooth southern whiskey blended with vanilla, raw sugar, and a very light musk.” The cream is also full of skin-soothing and moisturizing goodness, like aloe vera and lactylates.

Custom Steel Money Clips by BlockandHammer

moneyclipIf money clips are more your guy’s style, check out Atlanta retailer Block and Hammer. The clips come personalized with intials of your choice. The metal is a sturdy 18″ gauge solid aluminum. The lettering is stamped and finished by hands, making every clip unique. The shop also carries a variety of other useful customized menswear, including collar stays and cuff links.

“The Arbor” Rosewood Watch from TmbrWood

rosewoodwatchElegant and simple, the Arbor watch from  is where the rustic meets modern. The Arbor is handmade from high-quality rosewood, with triangle brushed steel markings in place of numbers. The strap is brown calfskin leather. The SLC company TmbrWood makes other wooden watches if maple or sandalwood suits you better. Their lumber pile also includes cell phone cases and sunglasses–check it out here.

Iron Horse Soap from BluBayouSoapCo


What sold me on this soap was Blu Bayou’s Soap Company‘s description of the scent: “like a deep and musky black suede leather jacket”. Can’t get much manlier than a black leather jacket. The Florida-based Blu Bayou makes vegan soaps from all natural and organic oils that lather easily into luxurious, thick bubbles and cream. Yum.

Inspirational Prints for “Resolution Doom Week”

Data gathered from Facebook shows people give up their resolutions right about…now. Here’s what information from the site shows: there’s an initial 50% increase in gym memberships, every December and January. According to the social network, though, come February about 10% of Facebook check-ins to places with “gym” or “fitness” in the name decrease.

Facebook reports that the drop starts right around the 3rd week of January. By the time the drunken promises of January fade into the grinding hangover of February, most folks have gone back to their old bad habits.  Armed with the knowledge that your resolutions are in mortal peril right now, however, you can steel yourself against the late winter slump. As always, we’re here to help with a collection. This time it’s motivational posters to get you out of bed, and to make your rooms look like the office of the hippest high-school counselor of time.

This Is My Year by ColourMoon


An obvious choice for any New Years resolution. Colour Moon is a European print shop that sells many lovely typographical posters, from the sentimental to motivational. Their posters are all printed on matte paper using high quality inks. Check them out here.

Buy the Ticket… from EscapeModulePrints


This has always been one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, the late great grandaddy of gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson. For anyone who needs a remind to live more deliberately, this print can be found in the shopfront of Escape Module Studio Prints.

Be Brave by SweetPeonyPress


A gentle reminder of something we all need a reminder of sometimes, spelled out in gold letters. Sweet Peony Press is based out of Canada, and their shop features both typographical and illustrated print. “Be Brave” also has companion prints available–“Be You”, “Be Kind”, and “Be True”

The Mountains are Calling…


“The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go” reads this print from North Carolina store The Art of Type. This print is available for immediate download, so you can print it out and hang it on your wall in the time it takes to read this post. A perfect reminder for anyone who’s resolved to spend more time outside.

Live Fierce by UrbanCurioes

be fierce

If you New Year’s resolution is to be more like a bear, this is the print for you. If it’s not, you should consider setting that goal. Bears are ferocious, sleep for a good chunk of the year, and they get what they want (berries and honey).

This fierce piece of decor comes from another North Carolina print shop, Urban Curioes. If the spirit of the bear is not your style, there’s many other animals to pick from–snakes, wolves, and gators can also remind you to “Live Fierce”.  There’s a kangaroo reminding you to “Live Fun”, a gazelle reminding you to “Live Free“, and a menagerie of other creatures with life lessons to give. 

Be So Good…from TheMotivatedType


Fuel for greatness comes via Steve Martin and London shop The Motivated Type. This print can be ordered from the store for delivery, printed on high quality matte paper with archival inks. It’s also available for download and printing at home.

You could do worse than following advice from Steve Martin, one of the most successful comedians and actors of all time. If you require proof beyond his illustrious career, here’s a video of Steve Martin holding his own alongside late great banjo legend Earl Scruggs.

Gift Pack for Travel Bugs

The millennial generation travels more than any previous generation, going farther and staying longer than their parents ever did. All around the world, young people are wandering to find work, learn new languages, and enrich their cultural experience.

There’s large force of these young nomads. Chances are you know someone who can’t seem to stay in one place (or one continent) for too long. Maybe you are that person, and you are reading this from a cafe in Japan or a sheep farm in New Zealand. Or maybe you’re just here on the internet to make big plans and work up the courage to put them into action. Maybe your New Year’s resolution this year was to get out of your hometown and see the world.

If you fall into any of the above groups, this gift list is for you. Some of the items are practical tools for the road, some are romantic mementos of past excursions. Hopefully, all of them will awaken the wandering spirit in you.

Happy trails!

Mixed Paper Journal

The UK store Bad Books carries fine paper goods, from cards and prints to paper flowers. My favorite from their stock is the travel journals. The above book is a portable-sized travel journal, handmade from recycled assorted paper material. The cover reads, “Time Flies, Memories Remain” –a good reminder to any wandering spirit. The book is bound in soft black faux leather and purple threads.

Peshtemal Towel


“A towel… is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” This is advice from Douglas Adam’s beloved sci-fi series Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy. It’s applicable to the earth-bound traveler as well.

Right now, the Turkish Peshtemal is in vouge among the fashionable jet-set. The exotic towels are soft, thin, and absorbent as regular towels–perfect for packing and travelling in comfort. JustPeshtemal, as you might guess from the store name, is a shop that sells these towels in all shapes and sizes. Click here to check out their selection.

Scratch-Off World Map


Adding a fun new spin to the “pins in the map”, this scratch-off map featured a map of the world covered in scratchable gold foil. As you explore new places, your map becomes more colorful–alongside your memories. The store, Lago, also sells these maps for specific locations like Europe or China.

Passport Cover

passportThis elegant passport cover from MimicDesign is a great gift for any traveler. It comes in soft brown or blue sheepskin leather and can be personalized with gold or silver initials. The exterior leather comes in 9 different colors. Check it out here.

Travel Posters

TheWorldTravelers hails from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their colorful high quality prints depict beloved destinations from around the world. The vintage style prints come in different sizes and are printed with high quality archival inks on heavy cardstock paper. See if you can find your favorite destination here.

Natural Mini Deodorant

Abroad, travelers often don’t have the luxury of choosing healthy or conscious hygiene products. Made with all natural, aluminum-free ingredients, these mini-deodorant sticks keep you safe and smelling fresh. The shop, LiveBeautifullyBody, sells all natural beauty products handmade in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

CL-Map-Paris-1_1024x1024Got a special corner of the map that holds a place in your heart? Check out the Map Cufflinks in our store. 

For more traveler gifts, check out The Rusted Key’s American Roadtrip Reading List

Gift Guide for Space Cadets and Stargazers

For some reason, many of us lose our childhood obsessions with things like space and dinosaurs. Maybe it’s because we eventually learn it’s really, really hard to become an astronaut and even harder to become a dinosaur. Personally, I try to remind myself how insane space is on a daily basis.

Sometimes I’ll just be going about my business, doing mundane Earthling activities like washing laundry and getting coffee, and I’ll suddenly remember space exists beyond the sky. I remember that, up there, violent explosions bigger than the planet are happening. Above my head are black holes, and comets, and galaxies, and red giants.

Suddenly it seems strange, that here I am, a hairless ape-descendant on the most fertile rock for light-years, getting mad about the hairless ape in front of me for taking too long to pick his drink. Space teaches wonder to children and humility to adults.

On that note, on to the list.

Crochet Solar System Mobile from YarnBallStories


YarnBallStories is a great store, full of lots of unorthodox crocheted works of art, including avocados, bumblebees, and teapots. They are also home to a myriad of knit mobiles. Their solar system is  safe enough for a baby’s room but also a great educational toy for little kids. The planets retain their order from the sun, and the coloring from telescope and satellite photos.

Galaxy Space Bracelet from jerseymaids


The Baltimore store jerseymaid contains a  wealth of space-themed products, celebrating celestial bodies from all corners of the universe. You can order a single bangle, or (as pictured above) a stacked set of six. The bracelets come in two different metallic tones, antique gold or silver. You can also choose the picture on the bracelet from a wide selection of planets and nebulae.

Also very cool–10% of your purchase will go to the Planetary Fund for space exploration and research.

Rainbow Full Moon Pillow by i3Labv


This beautiful pillow makes a great gift that says, “I would give you the moon if I could.” According to the product description, the pillow is 50 cm in diameter and uses  “a real image of the moon, which includes 65 individual frames of the lunar mosaic images taken from Nantes in West France by astrophotographer Norbert.” The creators, South Korean i3Lab, sell multiple versions of this design, including huge lunar picnic mats and glow in-the-dark wall pieces. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

Orion Lacy Ring from DittyDrops


Is anyone else thinking of the first Men in Black movie?

This cocktail ring from London’s DittyDrops features the Orion nebula at the center on a filigree band of adjustable antique bronzed brass. If  you live in the US and you’re planning to buy these or one of their other celestial goodies as a Christmas present, you better hurry–the deadline for holiday orders is Decemeber 9th.

Galaxy Bedset from TBedding


Make sure your kids look cool–even when they’re asleep– with these awesome bedspreads from Tbedding. Even you will be jealous when you see them sleeping among the stars. The bedspreads available in the shop are a veritable who’s-who of galaxies and nebulae. They come in all sizes, too, so feel free to grab a set for yourself.

Plant Earth Felt Soap from KatnipStarship


A perfect gift for any Earthling or homesick astronaut, this felt soap from KatnipStarship models the planet we’ve come to know and love throughout humanity. Instead of molten iron and nickel, the core of this earth is made of soap gently scented with eucalyptus, sandal wood, and patchouli. Check it out here.

Full Moon Earrings from Analiese


Like the Earth’s moon, these earrings are sure to make waves.

Unlike the moon, there’s two of them and they make great stocking stuffers. Connecticut shop Analiese sells these lovely pieces, made from high quality prints of the lunar surface in silver bezels. There’s even a matching pendant for sale in her store!  Check it out here.