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  • Writer's pictureMary

At hand

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Continuing my meet-the-maker series, I thought I'd share the some of the things I carry with me in my bag or keep close at hand in the apartment. These are some of my no brainer basics and well loved essentials for life in the big city. (Note: I've linked where I could to make tracking these babies down easier, but this is not a sponsored post.)

First and foremost, my Muji notebook and pen. I like to carry only one pen on me at a time so that I can use it up and get rid of it. Clutter can have a huge impact on my ability to relax, and things like pens just pile up for no reason. Why?

I love Muji notebooks for their simplicity and their unruled pages. I use various sizes at work and keep this little one in my bag for pottery ideas, grocery lists, and other notes. I'm better when I'm able to write out ideas so having a light weight notebook handy is a huge help.

For my 45+ min commutes to and from work, I always have the latest issue of The New Yorker in my bag. I've been a subscriber for 7+ years and love love love the writing in this magazine. I learn so much. It's astounding to me how their long form articles draw me in in mere minutes - even on topics I have zero initial interest in. This is a brain building, world expanding publication and I am a fan.

At home, I like to have a book to read when I have some downtime. We have a public library within walking distance and I've rediscovered my love for these neighborhood institutions recently after dusting off my decades-old library card.

Below, the rest of my at-hand items:

Sun Bum sunblock. I'm a year-round sunscreen type of girl and typically get my SPF from my daily face lotion. For the occasions the rest of me might get some rays, I love Sun Bum sunblock. It smells like coconuts! That was my primary draw until a family member pointed out that it's also cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, and oil-free. Even better!

Oil absorbing sheets. I found these on Amazon for my wedding day makeup bag. It's a bamboo tissue paper infused with charcoal. This pack is a good value at 100 sheets and there were so many good reviews so I decided to give it a shot. I ended up really liking them and would purchase again. They don't leave my skin feeling dry or powdery, and were a help during this past sweltering summer.

Pencils. I prefer these for sketching out my pottery designs and keep a few at my workstation at home as well as that lilac colored pencil in my bag. No particular reason for the lilac; I'd just found it laying around at home.

Hand lotion. A MUST for after pottery sessions. Pottery can be really drying on the skin. You'd think the opposite because, well, clay facial masks, right? But hours in the studio can leave my skin, throat, and eyes dried out due to all of the dust flying around. I like this classic one from L'Occitane, the tubes from & Other Stories, as well as this olive oil infused one.

Earbuds for my podcasts. Podcasts get me through the work day. My subscriptions list ranges from news and politics focused ones to Game of Thrones and Bachelor/ette coverage. A few of my favorites right now are:

- The Daily - 20 minutes a day every weekday of quick hit news from the New York Times. This is always at the top of my queue.

- Worldly - Vox media's deep dive on international affairs. Smart people getting granular is really my jam.

- The Weeds - Vox media's domestic counterpart to Wordly.

- Pod Save America - Similar to The Weeds and hosted by two former Obama speech writers.

- Dear Sugars - "Radical empathy" from two advice columnists from the New York Times responding to readers' questions on all areas of life and relationships.

DIY pottery stamp. I carved this double ended pottery stamp out of stoneware. One end is a tiny saguaro cactus and the other is a capital M. I use the M to stamp the bottoms of my pieces to help my studio identify what to put on my shelf when unloading the kiln. The cactus end is used for design, and sometimes I use it on the bottoms of my cactus ring trees just to be meta. I keep it in my bag because I finish pieces both at home and in the studio.

Lip balm. The one I'm currently using is a DIY formula with shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. It's easy and cheap and doubles as a paw balm for my dogs (one batch made several little jars so we don't share, don't worry). I've used and loved Smith's Rosebud Salve for over a decade and recently finished one of their everlasting tins so thought I'd give DIY a go as part of my growing interest in natural and DIY beauty products.

2-3 additional lip products. Unnecessary, I know. I carry them because I want to use them and then I forget to.

BIC click-y permanent markers. We bought a pack of these for our wedding photo booth, where we asked our guests to leave us a message and a picture in lieu of signing a guest book. They are fantastic! I don't know why but I often seem to be in need of a permanent marker and as a result, these are scattered in drawers and pen cups all over the apartment.

Candlefish candle tins. My husband and I found this candle company on our first visit to Charleston, S.C. and luckily, Anthropologie has recently started to carry them. If you're ever in town, make sure to stop by their store. The space is adorable and the candles smell amazing.

Travel wedding band. I use this ring when we travel, hike, or if I'm heading to the studio. It's a whisper thin gold band (at .5mm) that I ordered from Etsy at a price point where I wouldn't be too upset if it got lost or stolen.

J.Crew hairclip. I've bought a handful of these hairclips over the years. Never because one has broken, only because I've misplaced it. They are durable and have a strong grip for my long, thick hair. I always have it clipped to a strap on my bag when it isn't taming my lion locks.

There you have it!

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