Monday, December 16, 2013

Fill Those Stockings with Care


It's hard to believe that there's only a couple weeks left to 2013. Time seems to speed way up when we all have so much going on around the holidays, doesn't it? This is my tree this year. I really love how the soft needles droop and lift, its height and shape perfectly fitting into the corner.

Surprisingly, I planned ahead and have taken care of most of my gift list. Stocking stuffers, however, are treasures I like to find at the last minute – nice smelling soaps and lotions, lots of chocolate, sparkly trinkets and jewelry, warm slippers. If you still have a few stockings to fill or looking for a last minute gift, check out some of my favorite budget-friendly gifts below.

Happy holidays everyone – keep safe, happy and warm!

  1. Thai Woven Textile Pillow $19 on sale
  2. Anything Dot Towel $35 on sale
  3. San Juan Marabella Fold-Over Clutch $49 on sale
  4. Hand-Painted Moroccan Soap Dish $21
  5. Small Cobra Stapler $39
  6. Chilote House Shoes $59
  7. Felt Standing Bird $9/each on sale, available in three colors
  8. Batik Bone Salt Cellar and Spoon $12 on sale

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Featured Artist - Allan Winkler

Allan Winkler, Kansas City Artist, Loaded Trunk
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It is Allan Winkler's planet and the rest of us are just living on it. It's a whacked-out fun place to be and often quite rewarding. Whether you know him as the ubiquitous visual artist or as a percussive musician, if you live in Kansas City you probably know, or at least know of, Allan Winkler. Maybe you've seen his billboards in the Crossroads Arts District or his metal or paper cutouts in several local galleries and restaurants – once you see his iconic style, his signature images will be instantly recognizable.

Winkler, a seasoned graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, has worked in a purposefully simple, “naive” style to evoke, almost in a medieval way, renderings of human and animal character and emotion. These figures are animated and energized by jazzy patterns and energetic lines. Quirky and folksy, Winkler’s cartoon-like appeal can transcend media. He creates furniture, videos, and writes plays. Collages of shapes cut from cereal boxes, quilts, paintings, prints and pottery illustrates his love of material and craft.

The Loaded Trunk is offering his one-of-kind plates and bowls. These unique works of art are also functional serving ware. One series uses earthier tones and another series plays with a blue on white color scheme. Charming grinning faces peer out from the surfaces, characteristic of Winkler’s playful, emblematic  imagery. One unique example embraces a sophisticated abstract motif of patterned blue drops. Click here to see the entire collection.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cooking Side Dishes

Fingerling Potatoes on Hand-Painted Ceramic Platter (similar)
with a Guatemalan Table Runner (similar)
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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, every single food magazine I own has a beautiful, golden turkey on the cover with tempting headlines enticing me with delicious sides and fixings. An interesting theme this year was about breaking tradition when it comes to side dishes. Whether they were trying a new recipe or adding elements from different countries and cuisines, the results were a fresh and welcome outlook for the Thanksgiving Day table. 

Reading about food always inspires me to cook food. I chose the simplest recipes, pulled some things from the shop to serve on and invited friends over to feast! Here's what we made….and ate.

Grilled Strip Steak (no recipe, we just salt and peppered the meat and threw it on the grill)

No matter how simple or humble the meal may be, serving food in beautiful dishes elevates the dining experience. I always set a nice table for company and even when I'm just grabbing a quick bite for myself. It makes the act of eating feel so much more special.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with abundance and in good company!

P.S. Check out this recipe slideshow of Global Thanksgiving side dishes from Food & Wine magazine.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce in Orange Ottoman Hand-Painted Ceramic Bowl
with Mpingo Loop Sugar Spoon
Beet, Feta & Mint Salad on Ceramic Lotus Platter
with a Japanese-Inspired Patchwork Table Runner
Fresh Herbs on Ceramic Lotus Platter
Baked Tofu  in Ottoman Tinned Copper Bowl
Dipping Sauce in Blue Ottoman Hand-Painted Ceramic Bowl
Green Beans & Candied Bacon on Ottoman Tinned Copper Bowl
Basmati Rice and Grilled Steak on Large Red Ottoman Hand-Painted Ceramic Bowl

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Working With Designers

Sanctuary Interior Design Build
I work with numerous designers through the The Loaded Trunk and often get to see the results of their projects. Blankets are re-imagined and re-upholstered into dining chairs. Intricately detailed, vintage skirt bottoms are turned into pillows. Everyday textiles become great pieces of art. Everything is flexible and interchangeable with a designer's vision.

Millar Key West took a bunch of our frazadas and covered dining room chairs for one of their clients. Each chair was slightly different and together, they created a stunning and colorful visual. You can see the chairs in the dining room above. 

Mud cloth is another textile that I often see covering furniture. Geometrics are still trending hot in all areas of design from interiors to fashion to textiles. Mud cloth, especially, is so versatile. While its pattern is detailed and exciting, the neutral, black and cream coloring make it an easy addition to home decor. Below are examples that I've found on Pinterest and various designer blogs. Read about the history of bòlòganfini here and see our entire collection here.
Large Bòlòganfini from The Loaded Trunk
via Design Sponge via Pinterest

While I was traveling in Morocco, I had these vintage patchwork kilim rugs made especially for The Loaded Trunk. In its third (and possibly later) iteration, these scraps of patchwork turned this fairly traditional arm chair on its head. Isn't it amazing what a bit of reupholstery can do for furnishings? You can see the entire collection of patchwork kilim rugs here.
Patchwork Kilim Rug by The Loaded Trunk
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In addition to all the great designer work I come across, many of my customers send pictures of how you've styled or re-interpreted items from The Loaded Trunk into your homes. I love to see your creativity in styling global home decor in your living spaces. It's anything you can imagine it to be!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bag It Up

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Several of The Loaded Trunk textiles go through transformations before they arrive in the shop. Blankets and wall hangings turn into pillows. Throws become table runners. The fabrics are just so beautiful I hate to see them only live one life. A side result from these projects is tons of fabric scrap. With the holidays just around the corner, I decided to dust off my sewing machine and turn those scraps into drawstring bags. They're perfect for just about anything and the bag is almost a gift in itself.

Even though it's been months, maybe years, since I last touched my machine (I actually had to clean an embarrassing amount of dust off it), it did kind of feel like riding a bicycle. Frustrating until your brain starts clicking and things fall into place again. I used this tutorial as a refresher and this one is good too.

Although I know this isn't the right way to do it, I didn't really measure. Depending on the fabric scrap, I just made sure to give myself enough room for the drawstring at the top of the bag. The little one on the end I modified to create a flap since the pattern begged for it and added a snap enclosure.

The blue bag was large enough to hold two bottles (perfect for wines, vinegars, etc). It measures 9-inches wide by 16-inches high. The medium-sized bag holds one bottle and measures 5.5-inches wide by 12.5-inches high. These are both final sizes. Just add about a half inch to these measurements for the inseam. I just strung simple twine through top, but you can jazz it up with ribbon if you have it.

My favorite of the three bags is this little tiny one. It's the perfect size for a wine key and stopper or a bar of deliciously scented soap.

Stay tuned for more projects featuring these scrap fabrics!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Style to Spare

The Loaded Trunk / photography by Sharon Gottula
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With the kids definitely off for college by now, that may mean a spare room in the house....for a little while at least. It's so easy to let that extra space become a cluttered storage area, isn't it? Instead of shutting the door to the madness and ignoring it, this could be the chance to turn that room into a colorful retreat! Here are some of my favorite things to do when I am rearranging the (rare) empty spaces in my own home:

via Bold, Bright & Beautiful
1. Fill a wall with books. The best and easiest way to escape is through the pages of book. No matter how many pretty pictures you can see on the internet, nothing transports you into other worlds, cultures, stories and lives like books can. Mix it up with travel magazines and photo albums too. Guests will love peeking through all of these.

The Loaded Trunk / photography by Sharon Gottula
2. Pile on the color, pattern and texture. If the rest of your home is a different style, who cares? Make this room fun to be in. Hang a beautiful rug on the wall. Layer them under foot. Surround yourself with an avalanche of pillows. Make sure there are plenty of warm throws to snuggle under. No matter what you pick, it will be perfect and cosy.

3. Add a comfy chair or couch. Because you can't be laying around in bed all day. Well, you can, but a couch gives you an alternative lounging option. :)

Elle Decor
4. Show off your collections. Sometimes all the pieces you've been picking up need a dedicated space. Grouping them makes a bold and interesting statement.

5. Try a low bed. In a lot of cultures, sleeping on or low to the ground is the norm. Give it a go, it might give you a whole new perspective to relaxing.

Have fun redecorating your spare room and good luck on keeping it all to yourself!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Get That Art Up

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One of the drawbacks to getting affordable, unframed prints is figuring out to display them. Professional framing can cost an arm and a leg, especially if you have a large piece. That's when you see beautiful pieces collecting dust and often times, stored away and then forgotten. But don't let a little framing challenge stop you. If you think creatively, there are lots of way to display art. This week I'm sharing just how to do that featuring some high-quality reproductions from The Loaded Trunk that are collectible, unique and best of all, affordable.

/1/ Wood Pant Hanger 
Wood pant hangers hold the top edges of the print flat without damaging it. Either hang directly onto a simple nail or tie a ribbon or some fishing line to the hanger and secure to the molding on your ceiling. They can easily be found on-line or in your local antique store.

Etsy is a good place to find vintage hangers on-line, but don't forget to check your local antique store as well. » Set of 9 Vintage Pant Hangers, Etsy

/2/ Simple Black Frames
Most of these prints employ black as a major color element, either dominating the piece or defining certain parts of the design. Black frames pull the color out and when grouped, create a cohesive collection. » Set of 4 Gallery Style Frames, West Elm

/3/ Vintage (or New) Wood Clothes Pins
Tie invisible fishing line to wood clothes pins. Clip them on to your print, add a couple of nails and voila, your print is up on the wall. Vintage ones are especially nice because they have such a great patina. » Set of 10 Vintage Clothes Pins, Etsy

/4/ Rustic Wood Frames
Even though these posters have a very modern, graphic quality, rustic wood frames add an element of warmth to the pieces. Don't be afraid to trim the posters slightly.
» Rustic Barnwood Frame, Etsy // » Shutter Frame, World Market

The role of the poster has been historically connected with nationalistic struggle and plays an important role in provoking political action. Our collection of Vietnam War era propaganda posters continue their role as provocative conversation pieces in addition to be graphically stunning. The Loaded Trunk's Vietnamese Propaganda Prints are printed on rice paper and measure approximately 12" x 15" unframed. $39 each. Click here to see entire collection.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Giveaway Winners!

First, I'd like to sincerely apologize for being so late with this post. I really thought I could travel for a month and jump right back into things. A little delusional perhaps, but I'm finally getting caught up and am excited to announce the winners of our Four Year Anniversary Giveaway!

Giveaway #1 » Thai Ceramic Vessel
E-mail List Winner » Lorraine Meere

Lorraine, I will send you an email. You just have to pick your favorite piece!

Giveaway #2 » Silk Ikat Scarf
Facebook Winner » Samantha Parrington

Samantha, I have your address and scarf ready. Will ship to you soon!

Giveaway #3 » Kids' Blanket and Pillow Kantha Set
Pinterest Winner » Laura Lucero

Laura, thank you for following me all over the internet. Please message me at with your mailing address at your earliest convenience so I can ship you this beauty!

Giveaway #4 » Cobra Stapler
Twitter Winner » @katrinann

Thank you Katrin for the follow and great #traveltip. Wearing shoes that you can slip on and off easily is a must for the modern traveler and security lines.

Thank you all again for following along. I hope you all enjoy your gifts!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Closer Look at Bògòlanfini (Mud Cloth)

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Bògòlanfini, popularly known as mud cloth, is made by the Bamana people of southwestern Mali. The Bamana are a village based society mainly consisting of farmers, though textile artists are one of many “craft castes” that one is born into. Cotton cloth woven into strips by men is decorated in symbolic geometric patterns by women by a several-stage discharge method using mud, bark and vegetable dyes. 

Bògòlanfini created international interest when it was introduced into the fashion design world in the early 1980s by young Malian designer Chris Seydou. Artists continue to update the tradition today, introducing more colors and larger, bolder designs for the local and international market.

I've kept some of the mud cloth as pure textiles, but have turned some into feather-filled pillows. See the entire bògòlanfini collection here.