Cyber Monday sale! Stock up and save!

15% off purchase of $15 or more

Stock your stocking (or Spa Day or Tea Lovers gift basket…) with Emmet Street Creations products and save! Spend $15.00 or more in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store and save 15%. Simply enter the code CYBER2015 at checkout. The code expires tonight at midnight, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

Know someone who loves handcrafted gifts and saving money? (Isn’t that everyone you know?) Why not share this coupon code? It’s easy! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).


Costa Rican getaway: 3 amazing vacation resorts

3 amazing vacation resorts in Costa Rica

Editor’s note: We’re taking some time for rest and relaxation. While we’re away, we’re reposting our Costa Rica getaway series. Enjoy!

I had my first taste of traveling abroad when Matt and I took a trip to Costa Rica recently.

Before we left, I didn’t know what to expect. I know a few people who have visited the country and they were my best sources of information. Matt visited Costa Rica 20 years ago when it was much less developed than it is today. He stayed in youth hostels and came home with a sickness that doctors couldn’t identify. My brother visited four years ago and stayed at the base of the Arenal Volcano which was actively erupting at the time. He described night hikes where all he could see was the light from his flashlight bouncing off the eyeballs of hundreds of spiders and insects in the forest.

These descriptions, paired with my tendency to expect the worst of any new situation, had me imagining lodging in grimy hotels in a country full of spiders the size of my house that would wrap me up in their webs and suck the life out of me… if the exploding volcanos, scorpions and rabid dogs didn’t get me first.

Needless to say, I was not full of the usual excitement most people have before going on vacation.

Now that I’ve returned, I’m happy to report that Costa Rica is not completely covered in spiders, only some of the volcanoes are active and all of the resorts we stayed in were extraordinary.

As we planned our trip, we quickly became overwhelmed by the choices in lodging. Luckily we had the help of a travel agent who provided recommendations in all of the regions we wanted to visit. If you’re planning a first, second–or thirtieth–trip to Costa Rica, I thought I’d share my top three resort recommendations.

Hotel Royal Corin Resort & Loto Spa

Located in La Fortuna de San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica, this hotel sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Luckily the volcano was not actively erupting while we were there.

Arenal Volcano

Hot springs surrounding the volcano are abundant. Many resorts, like Hotel Royal Corin, take advantage of this natural resource. We were treated to three large hot spring pools and four smaller jacuzzis, each a different temperature. And because the main tourist season hadn’t started yet (we were there in November), we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Hot springs at Hotel Royal Corin

The Basalto Bar sits right in the middle of the pools and they served tasty beverages, including my new best friend: the mojito.

The Basalto Bar at the Hotel Royal Corin

The grounds are surrounded by lush gardens that are visited frequently by hummingbirds and butterflies. The rooms are large and each one has a roomy balcony to relax on after a busy day. Breakfasts at the Emperador Restaurant are served buffet style and in three days, I managed to create three completely different breakfasts from all of the choices available. From fresh fruit, to rice and beans, to traditional eggs and potatoes, this is not your typical continental breakfast. For lunch and diner, the restaurant boasts a varied menu to cater to any taste.

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

This small and rustic lodge is located just 15 minutes from the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It has only 24 rooms and a staff so friendly that you feel like you are staying in someone’s home. The rooms are beautiful and you have an option of having a balcony or a bay window. For the amount of time we planned on being in our room, the less expensive ground floor bay window option was perfect. It looked out over the surrounding cloud forest and we had perfect views of hummingbirds during the day, the amazing sunset in the evening and the bats at night.

The hotel is located on several acres and boasts amazing gardens and well maintained walking paths through the forest.

Garden path at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens

Because it’s located in a cloud forest, rainbows are a common sight.

Cloud forest rainbow in Monteverde

There is even an indoor butterfly garden. I was thrilled to have a chance to watch the head gardener help some of the newly emerged butterflies find their way to nectar. I was even able to help one myself!

Butterfly garden at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens

Meals at the restaurant, El Jardin, were always a delight, especially with a staff of friendly waiters that we came to know by name. Drinks at the bar were made extra special by the gregarious bartender, Jeffrey, who talked to us about life and work in Costa Rica, his love of bullfighting (the bulls get to live) and places that he likes to go in his downtime. We felt as if we were talking to an old friend. I hesitate to call this great service because it didn’t feel like we were being served. It felt like we were being welcomed into the home of a friend. My only regret is that we only stayed two nights.

Arenas del Mar

This was by far the biggest splurge of the trip. Arenas del Mar is a secluded, 5 star eco-resort located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean near Manual Antonio. Because the resort and its amenities are spread out over 11 hilly acres, the best way to get around is via the complimentary golf carts driven by the staff.

The resort has two secluded beaches and a restaurant and bar serving lunch is located on the smallest beach. Our first order of business after arriving was to hop in a golf cart and get some lunch. We sat down at a table under a tree. And not just any tree. A tree that had a resting two-toed sloth nestled in the top branches! I couldn’t tell you what I ate for lunch, but it was the best lunch ever.

Lunch on the beach at Arenas del Mar

Despite it’s size, Arenas del Mar has only 36 rooms, each with a covered patio or balcony. Our room was on the first floor and overlooked the ocean. The patio had  a wet bar and a mini refrigerator stocked with complimentary snacks and drinks. Leaf cutter ants worked on a trail just outside the patio wall and geckos hung out on the roof. We were surrounded by nature. We also had a great video of people doing something that I’ve added to my bucket list, parasailing!

Parasailing on the Pacific Ocean

I’ve never seen an ocean and this was the best first experience I could have hoped for. The private beach was beautiful, the water was warm, and because of the timing of our trip, we didn’t have to share it with many people. Is there anything more relaxing than lounging on a beach, sipping a fruity adult beverage and listening to the sound of the waves moving in and out?

Private beach at Arenas Del Mar

Arenas del Mar is located in one of the most biodiverse regions in the country. On our last day in Costa Rica, we woke to the sounds of a troupe of howler monkeys in the trees right outside our door. We decided to make the most of the morning so we took a walk around the property and in less than an hour, we saw howler monkeys, white-faced Capuchins, a three-toed sloth, an agouti, a Jesus Christ lizard and several species of birds. There were an amazing number of animals crammed into this small area. And for me, that made Arenas del Mar worth every penny.

As we were escorted down the hill to meet the driver who would take us to the airport, we were surprised to see a troupe of about 30 squirrel monkeys hanging out and having breakfast in the palm trees. They were the first and only squirrel monkeys we saw in Costa Rica and their antics made leaving very, very difficult.

Squirrel monkey

Know someone who is planning a Costa Rican getaway? Why not share these recommendations with them? It’s easy to let them know, simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

Costa Rican getaway: 3 fun ways to see wildlife

3 ways to see wildlife in Costa Rica

Editor’s note: We’re taking some time for rest and relaxation. While we’re away, we’re reposting our Costa Rica getaway series. Enjoy!

One of the best things about a vacation in Costa Rica is the chance to see wildlife that you normally only see on television. From insects and lizards to birds and mammals, Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity. The best way to maximize your chances of seeing amazing wildlife is to hire a professional guide to take you through one of Costa Rica’s many parks.

Professional guides in Costa Rica go through a degree program to learn about the flora, fauna and history of their country. They are bilingual and speak excellent English and they are incredibly adept at finding creatures large and small. And, thanks to technology, they are in touch with nearby guides via cell phone so they can share exciting finds.

During my recent trip to Costa Rica, I went on several guided tours and saw a great variety of creatures. I’d like to tell you about my three favorite

Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re staying in the Arenal region, don’t miss this six- to seven-hour excursion. You are typically picked up at your hotel and driven to Los Chiles, close to the Nicaraguan border. On the way, you’ll stop at the very popular Restaurante Las Iguanas.


Restaurante Las Iguanas

If you love iguanas, this is the place for you. The trees around this restaurant are covered in dozens of iguanas of all sizes. Our guide explained that years ago, the restaurant owner fed the iguanas in order to serve them on the menu. This is no longer a legal practice, but the iguanas have stuck around in the hopes of getting a yummy meal of left over vegetables.

Iguana in a tree

After a brief stop, the journey continues to the Rio Frio where you will board a covered pontoon boat for a leisurely float down the river. Within the first few minutes of our tour, we saw several species of birds, including jacanas, anhingas and a crested caracara. We also saw three types of egrets (great, snowy and cattle) which are beautiful, white shore birds.

An egret chilling on the Rio Frio


Cattle egret and horse

As we progressed down the river, we found troupes of howler monkeys and white-faced Capuchins. Where there are Capuchins, there are basilisk lizards, also known as Jesus Christ lizards. We saw a nice demonstration of how these lizards got their nickname. Capuchins regularly hunt and eat the lizards. We were able to watch one of the small green lizards make a fast getaway by jumping from a tree branch into the water, then running on its hind legs to the safety of a plant on the shore. The little Capuchin was not happy.

Green Jesus Christ lizard

After the tour, we were treated to a traditional lunch of chicken, rice and beans, and fresh pineapple. If you go on this tour,  be sure to bring an insect repellant, sunscreen and a camera. Some birds and animals, like the sloth, stay high up in the trees and are hard to see without binoculars so if you have them, bring them.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

If you plan to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest region, be sure to dress for the weather. You will be high on a mountain that is covered in clouds much of the time. This means cooler and wetter weather than any other region in Costa Rica. Bring quick drying clothes and a raincoat but expect to feel damp most of the time.

That said, the area is at the top of my list of places I want to return to. It’s stunningly beautiful and the greenest place I’ve ever been. A guided tour through the reserve is the best way to maximize the number of creatures you will see. The guides who work this park are there day after day and have an intimate knowledge of the area.

Our guide quickly pointed out a tiny abandoned hummingbird nest that was covered in moss and lichen.

Hummingbird nest in Monteverde

Walking the paths of the reserve is a practice in meditation. While we were there it was incredibly quiet and peaceful.

Trail in Monteverde

Our guide pointed out tiny objects, like a dead ant that had been taken over by a zombie fungus which was growing out of the carcass. He also found a caterpillar with amazing floral appendages hanging out under a leaf.

Caterpillar under a leaf

The prize of our entire trip came near the end of our hike. Our guide received a text on his cell phone and very excitedly rush us down the trail to a spot where several other people were looking up into the canopy. Sitting there, in all its wondrous glory, was a male Resplendent Quetzal, a bird of such magnificent beauty that it was considered sacred to the Aztec and Mayan people. Our guide let us snap a picture through his spotting scope and, unfortunately, we didn’t get a shot of its two foot long tail.

The Resplendent Quetzal

Before you leave, be sure to stop at the hummingbird gallery located right outside the park and get an up close and personal view of hundreds of hummingbirds and bananaquits visiting the feeders. Check out some amazing photographs (not taken by me) here.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park is located just south of Quepos on the Pacific coast. It’s surrounded by huge palm oil plantations and is a safe haven for 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Although it’s tiny, it’s considered one of the most biodiverse parks in the world.

It’s important to note that the park puts strict limitations on the number of visitors allowed. Only 600 visitors are allowed on weekdays and 800 on weekends and holidays. Most tours start early in the morning. You can walk through the park on your own, but I don’t recommend it. You will surely miss out on some extraordinary wildlife without the trained eye and spotting scope of a guide.

Our guide allowed us to take pictures with our cell phones through his high-powered spotting scope and we got the best pictures of our trip here.

Bright green lizard

Normally, I immediately kill any spiders that are unfortunate enough to cross my path. But, in Costa Rica, even the spiders are beautiful and interesting to watch.

Spider on a web

Most of the frogs are nocturnal and we were lucky to catch a glimpse of one hanging out on a leaf.

Disapproving frog

The spotting scope can zoom in so closely that we only caught one crab in our picture. The ground around the trail was actually covered in crabs .

Red land crab

My favorite animal, and the whole reason I agreed to Costa Rica in the first place, is the sloth. I love all varieties of sloths. We saw seven sloths total, and six of them where in the Manuel Antonio region. Not one of them would turn and look at the camera.

Sloth eating in a tree

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, decide what type of wildlife you want to see and then research which places offer the best chance of seeing that wildlife. For our first trip, we focused on birds and, of course, sloths. We were happy to come home with a list of 81 species of birds along with three of the four types of monkeys (we missed seeing spider monkeys) and both types of sloth.

Know someone who is planning a Costa Rican getaway? Why not share these recommendations with them? It’s easy to let them know, simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun


Princess Ledges Natural Area

We’ve had amazing weather in Ohio this fall so when we get the chance, we are outside enjoying it. Last week, we found a “new to us park” near Brunswick called Princess Ledges Nature Preserve. It’s a small park but it’s packed with character. The beautiful rock ledges were worth the trip!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

  • DNA helix swirl – Part of the fun of making soap is figuring out what the top of the bar will look like. This DNA helix soap from Jelena at Soap Techniques is beautiful! It almost looks like a Monet painting.
  • Mexican lace – Clara of Auntie Clara’s is a master at making elegant soap with unique tops like this amazing Mexican lace soap.
  • Stack of soap – I love the subtly different textures in this stack of soap from Tiggy of Future Primitive Soap Company. (I have a weakness for stacks of soap.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • How to avoid the 3 p.m. slump – Does your work productivity come to a screeching halt around 3 p.m.? Try some of these tips to get back on track.
  • New music from Missy – I don’t normally dance but Missy Elliott’s music always gets me moving. (In the privacy of my own home. Alone. With no one watching. Ever.)
  • Pecan Pie – Want.

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

The holidays will be here before you know it. Are you ready for all the gift giving? No? Don’t fret, we’ve got some easy ideas for gift baskets that will satisfy even the most fussy person on your list.

Want to pamper the host or hostess of your next holiday party? We show you how to create an amazing spa day basket for them. After all that cooking, they’ll appreciate it!

Treat the tea lover in your life to a basket filled with their favorite tea, a cute mug and aromatic bath tea.

Need a gift for your child’s teacher? Give them the gift of health. We show you how with our teachers gift basket idea.

Forming a new habit to drink more water

cucumber lime and mint infused water

I was recently told by a medical professional that I should try to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. My first thought was,”That seems like a lot of water.” And, you know what? It is a lot of water. It’s a half a gallon, in fact. Logically, I know that water is one of the keys to a healthy life. (My co-blogger, Kelly, even posted about this very issue.) And I know that I don’t drink enough of it. I’ll go an entire day without drinking anything, then wonder why I’m sluggish and have a headache by the evening. I don’t to this on purpose. I just haven’t formed good water drinking habits.

So, beginning now, I’m resolving to not just drink more water but to get the full 64 ounces down the hatch every single day. To do that, I need to make some changes to my daily routine. I thought I’d share the three things I’m going to try.

  • Form a daily habit: As soon as I wake up in the morning and right before I go to bed, I’m going to chug 8 ounces of water. That immediately takes care of 16 ounces!
  • Make it fun: Since water itself is pretty boring, I bought a fruit infusing water bottle to help jazz it up. The bottle holds around 20 ounces of water so I only need to fill it twice to get 40 more ounces! It’s perfect for making cucumber water infused with lime and mintSince I tend to hoard bags of frozen fruit, I’ve got a lot of other combinations I can try as well, like strawberry lemon, blueberry lime or watermelon mint. The possibilities are limited only by my imagination.
  • Branch out: Tap water isn’t the only liquid on the planet. But most other beverages come with extra calories that I don’t want to add to my diet. Club soda and sparkling water are fizzy and have a little more zing than plain water. And they can also be flavored with fruit infusions! In the evening, when I would normally have a glass of wine or another adult beverage, I’ll have a glass of sparkling water instead. 

How do you get more water into your day? Do you have a favorite infused water recipe? Help me reach my goal by sharing your ideas in the comments or on Facebook.  




Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Peppermint soap from Emmet Street CreationsPeppermint handmade soap

I’ve taken a bit of a break from my soap lab the last few weeks but on Friday, I jumped back in. Here’s a sneak preview of two new soaps I made. They’ll be ready in about 6 weeks! The red and white swirled soap is a remake of my peppermint soap. I went with a new look this time but it’s the same invigorating peppermint scent that leaves your skin feeling alive and moisturized.

Blue agave soap from Emmet Street Creations

Blue agave handmade soap

The aqua blue soap is a remake of a soap I made earlier this year using indigo powder as one of the colors in a striped pattern. In the earlier soap, the colors bled a bit as the soap cured so this time I went with a single color. Despite the fact that I didn’t like the last design, it sold out in record time thanks to the scent, called Blue Agave.

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • FOMO – If you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), check out these pictures for a realistic view of what really happens in those perfect social media pictures.
  • Walking tacos – I think I might feel like one of The Walking Dead after eating something like this.
  • Lightsaber kittens – You may ask, “Does everything have to be turned into a Star Wars meme?” If it’s a video of cute kittens, the answer is yes.

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? November crept up on me this year, thanks to the warmer fall weather we’ve been having. If you are as unprepared for the holiday as I am, check out our guide for making Thanksgiving a festive affair (without hours of work.)   Looking for some dinner inspiration? Look no further than our Roasted Brussels sprouts recipe. It’s sure to be a hit (and it’s super easy to make)!  Not sure what to do with all of that left over turkey? We’ve got some ideas that will ensure your holiday bird doesn’t go to waste.

Thanks, Hudson!

Thank You, Hudson Flea


Thanks to everyone who braved the cool temperatures and cloudy skies to shop the Hudson Flea on Saturday! We had a great time meeting everyone and seeing all the little ghouls and goblins dressed up for Halloween.

If you’re checking out the blog for the first time because you saw us at the flea, welcome! We have all our customer favorites from the flea for sale in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy shop. Be sure to check it out!