Category Archives: Interviews

{Covetable Good} & GIVEAWAY!: Gubsi Bags

It’s HAP’s first giveaway week and with that, I would like to present to you: Gubsi Bags by talented Haute Homemaker, Amy Neumann!

I have known Amy for years and her customizable tote bag creations have become a widespread craze throughout my hometown. Amy hand sews these adorable totes, not only putting her own personal touch on her products, but her customer’s touch as well.

She offers a variety of options and a variety of fabrics to pick and choose from, or you can purchase a pre-made bag. A teacher by trade, her creations inspire us all to do what we love and share it with the world!

I’ve asked Amy a few questions about her line of Gubsi Bags:

What products do you sell? I sell tote bag style purses, toiletry bags, make-up bags, diaper bag sets and children’s school bags and purses.

How did you begin making and selling Gubsi Bags? I purchased a similar bag at a craft show and kept buying bags for gifts for my family. I decided that I could make the same bag and make it better. I found a pattern online and voile!

Where does the name Gubsi Bags come from? Gubsi evolved from an accidental nickname 15+ years ago. Nooms – Nubs – Gubs – Gubsi.

Where do you sell your products? How can I order one? I sell my bags through Etsy. The address will bring you right to my home page.

What type of customer do you typically attract? I have sold bags to girls, boys and women of all ages. Teenagers have been attracted to striped prints, college girls add extra height on the bag to carry their laptop computers and we all know that women love ‘one of a kind’ products.

Where does your inspiration come from? My sister and I loved sewing and would produce small quilts from time to time. She and I were drawn to quilt shops and could shop for hours; working to find fabrics that coordinated with each other. I am always drawn to a particular fabric and love the challenge of matching it with something else. You’ll notice that many of my fabrics are florals. I love floral prints! Carrying a Gubsi Bag with a floral fabric adds a bit of ‘pop’ to any outfit.

So HAP readers, what is your Gubsi Bag style? I have a tote and make-up bag of my own, personalized with seer sucker and toile. 

Looking for a creative gift? My sister picked out fabrics and had totes made for each of her bridesmaids. It was a great personal touch to her bridal gifts and provided a fab photo op! 

And…because it’s GIVEAWAY WEEK, Amy has graciously offered a custom-made Gubsi Bag to one lucky winner. All you have to do is go to and check out her line of products. Come back to us at and leave a comment under this post, telling us about your favorite bag, what you like about the products, or what your Gubsi style is! The winner of this giveaway will be announced on Thursday, February 11

We look forward to hearing from you and thank Amy for sharing her creativity with us!


THIS JUST IN: We’d like to congratulate HAP reader Cindy as the winner of the Haute Apple Pie Christine Tavares pottery giveaway! Usually we pick a winner at random but we were smitten with her clever idea for using Christine’s  jar as a “Love Cup,” especially right before Valentine’s Day! Congratulations Cindy!



Filed under Covetable Goods, Giveaway, Interviews

Giveaway!: Christine Tavares Pottery

It’s Giveaway Week!!!  We have two fun giveaways this week, starting with this hand-crafted utensil jar from Christine Tavares Pottery!  We fell for Christine’s “organic chic” (and totally affordable!) pieces when we featured this jar as an idea for a winter bulb planter.

Christine Tavares handmade pottery giveaway

Enter to win by just leaving a comment on this post!  Tell us what you think, how you’d use it, whatever you want. We’ll pick a winner from the comments later this week and notify the winner by email.

Read on for our interview with Christine and her tips on how to add affordable, original art to your home:

Hi Christine! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into pottery.
I’ve been married to the funniest man in the world for 15 years and we live outside of St.Louis. I get to thank him for my premature smile lines! We have three beautiful children and three dogs. I’m a “working artist” and I also teach part-time. I love reading, wine, music and entertaining.

Since I can remember, I have always been creating something…drawings, paintings, sculptures, edible treats, etc. I found clay mistakenly in high school when I thought “ceramics” was a class where we would paint little statues and dishes. Imagine my surprise on the first day when the teacher brought out lumps of brown mud! I was disappointed for about 30 seconds. Clay and I have had a nonstop love affair ever since.

I create functional vessels for every day use like mugs, serving platters, pouring vessels, bowls, etc. It is important to me for things to be useful and beautiful. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be at a gathering with friends or family and to see food beautifully displayed on handmade pottery. I currently selling my work on Etsy, on consignment and in local art fairs.

What are 3 items that you couldn’t live without in your home?
My Dyson backpack vacuum cleaner (again – 3 dogs), my treadle wheel (it allows me to feel more connected to my work) and laughter.

We love your pieces. Do you have a favorite that you’ve created over the years?
Early in my career, my pieces were very tight and controlled and not very interesting. I was having a creative block and Paul Dresang (my college instructor) put me through an exercise in letting go. He said, “Take a piece of clay out of your bag, throw it down on the wheel. Just make something”. I was furious! But I realized what a thrill it was to just let go.

My favorite piece is something that I didn’t have the strength, creativity or courage to do on my own. By letting go, I was able to break away from manufactured-looking, cold pieces of pottery and find my style which is organic, rustic and sophisticated all at once. Here is a picture of that wonderful, graceful and fluid little bowl.

Organic chic pottery

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?
Much of my work is inspired by nature. I really like the femininity of flowing lines, rounded shapes and waves. I also am inspired by elements of a comfortable home so I try to make items that add to a home’s surroundings. Some of my favorite ceramic artists are Bede Clark, Charity Davis-Woodard, and Clary Illian.

A lot of people see original art and bespoke pieces as expensive and unattainable. Do you have any tips on how the average person could incorporate more art in their home?
Functional pottery is the perfect way to incorporate art into your home! Everyday pieces that you use often typically aren’t too expensive and they are actually little pieces of art! Visit local art fairs, and events at local universities. College art departments occasionally have sales on many types of art from students as well as from the faculty. You can find some wonderful art at bargain prices.


Filed under Decorate, Fab Finds, Interviews

9 Ways to Eat Healthier in 2010

A new year means a new start – especially with food! To kick things off for 2010 we brought in our friend and nutrition expert, Ann Pierce, from Pierce Whole Nutrition. Ann switched careers to pursue her passion and a Masters in Nutrition Therapy. Her fabulous blog has tons of great nutrition tips and recipes.

A New Perspective on Eating Healthy and the Easiest Diet Ever
I read something on recently stating that over 50% of New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight. This may or may not be on your list for 2010, but even if it’s not, chances are you’ve tried at least one or two “fad” diets in the past few years: Atkins, South Beach, cabbage soup, etc. These diets may help with short-term weight loss, but they’re rarely sustainable. You’ll find yourself losing energy and muscle tone, your skin can become dry or blemished and you may even experience headaches, irritability or anxiety.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Maybe that’s why I still bite my nails, still don’t have my family finances in an organized spreadsheet and still eat a touch too much sugar. But I’m committed to a diet that increases my quality of life. It’s made me more innovative in the kitchen, my husband and I have avoided any type of flu or cold so far this winter and I have more energy.

It’s surprisingly simple: Eat whole foods.

What are whole foods?
Whole foods are high-quality (organic and local whenever possible) poultry, lean meats and seafood; nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, eggs and dairy, spices and herbs, and natural sweeteners (like honey, blackstrap molasses and real maple syrup). What is NOT whole foods is anything processed, such as fast food, most prepackaged baked goods; many salad dressings; white bread; prepackaged puddings, chips or candy.

Whole foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health. Those who eat a whole foods diet at least 90% of the time are more likely to have clear skin, shiny hair, smooth nails, brighter eyes, more mental alertness, lower body fat and more lean muscle. Their bodies are less likely to be acidic, which means things like cancer and other diseases are less likely to thrive. Immunity is increased so they get sick less frequently. They are happy and full of energy. Doesn’t this sound like a great way to start out the new year?!

9 Ways to Switch to a Whole Foods Diet:
1. Start with a kitchen cleanse: remove processed foods from your cabinets and go grocery shopping to stock up on whole foods.
2. Use honey as a sweetener in your coffee or tea.
3. When baking, try to replace sugar with maple syrup, honey or blackstrap molasses; replace white four with whole wheat flour.
4. Instead of buying white bread, buy fresh whole grain bread from your local bakery. Slice it yourself at home to make the loaf last longer.
5. Eat hard-boiled eggs for snacks in place of pretzels, chips or granola bars (and don’t skip the yoke – it’s where all the nutrition is!).
6. Instead of buying low-fat sugary yogurts, buy a tub of plain, all-natural yogurt. Add fresh, dried or frozen fruit; honey; nuts and seeds; or cinnamon to enhance the taste AND the nutrients (plus it saves you money!).
7. Make your own salad dressings by whisking together ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic or red wine vinegar, ginger or garlic.
8. Commit to making your baby and toddler food at home. Prepare in bulk and freeze individual servings in ice cube trays. This will save you money and protect your child from the hidden “natural flavors” (this can mean MSG) found in jarred baby foods.
9. Prepare brown rice or quinoa in large quantities and freeze according to appropriate serving size (small bags if you’re an individual or cooking for two; larger bags if you have kids to feed).

Start Slow, It’s Ok!
Keep in mind: all of this takes time. Maybe you only make one or two changes this year and next year add a couple more. That’s great! Better to approach it slowly and stay committed than to attempt a lifestyle overhaul that is bound to fail. By sticking to this diet 90% of the time, you’ll see a difference in more things than just your weight: your looks, your mood, your energy, your happiness, your overall health will improve. Plus you can enjoy the occasional slice of pizza or cookie knowing that the majority of the time, you’re eating things that promote health and happiness.

Some other great sources of information are Body + Soul and Eating Well magazines and

Thanks to Anne, Katie and Stef for inviting me over to HAP today. I have been a fan since Day 1 and am honored to be guest blogging! I only wish I lived closer so that I could hire them as my party planners and interior decorators!


Filed under Cook, Family, Interviews

Wine vs. Beer: Holiday Pairings

Want to instantly improve your holiday meal? Pair it with the right drink! I am SO excited to have two of my favorite beverage makers sharing their tasting and pairing tips with us today.

Brian Brown, winemaker at Napa Valley’s Round Pond Estate and owner of Emerson Brown winery, and Bill Kregel, homebrewer and “haute” husband, will offer up their favorite holiday drink selections. So before you head out to stock your bar this week, check out their tips:

Microbrew beersred and white wine

Give us your one-minute bio
I knew when I was 17 that I wanted to be a winemaker. My parents’ appreciation of the dining table and all the aspects that go along with it – good food, family, and friends – rubbed off on me and I became interested in wine. I have a degree from UC Davis in Viticulture and Enology and have worked in Sonoma, Australia and Napa.

Bill: I’ve been an avid homebrewer for the past two years. I brew “all-grain”, meaning I don’t use kits or extracts, and I grow a lot of my own hops. I’ve sought out great microbrews for a long time and am constantly encouraging family and friends to expand their beer horizons.

What do you recommend to someone looking to develop their wine/beer palette?
Brian: Get some friends together and open up 3-4 bottles of the same variety of wine. Taste the wines side by side and see how they differ. Don’t worry about what words to use… everyone tends to get caught up on the vocabulary. Just notice how the wines differ and the descriptors will come with experience.

Bill: If you’re used to light lagers like Miller or Bud, start by trying an American or English pale ale, an American brown ale or a citrusy wheat beer. These are easy drinkers with lots of flavor. Also, get adventurous with the brands you buy – there are so many great breweries out there!

What’s the best way to taste wine/beer and what flavors are you looking for?
Brian: Focus on the best way to ENJOY wine as opposed to trying taste it. Wine should be about enjoyment not work. I think the best way to enjoy wine is with food so I look for flavors that compliment whatever I am eating at the time.

Bill: Serve beer cool but not “ice” cold so that it doesn’t kill the flavors. Flavors come from the malt (sweetness), hops (bitterness) and sometimes yeast (in Belgian beers mostly). They can be expressed in countless ways so read the label on the bottle to see what you should look for in each beer and try to pick it out.

What wines/beers pair well with typical holiday foods like turkey, potatoes or pumpkin pie?
Brian: I always try to start the night out with bubbles, especially for the holidays!!! A good rule of thumb for rich, buttery foods is to balance them with a wine with plenty of acid – oaky, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t work. Riesling pairs fairly nicely with turkey and Pinot is a good choice for red. With pie? Pumpkin, I would do a Tokay and pecan, a Tawny Port.

Bill: I’d go with a robust Porter or American brown, like Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, to stand up to the turkey and all the fixings. For champagne lovers, I’d go with Dogfish Head’s Red and White or Black and Blue.  Both are spritzy Belgians and the Red and White is actually aged in wine barrels!

Emerson Brown Sauvignon Blanc wine

Brian’s Top 5 Wine Steals
1. Argentina makes some really good value wines, like Malbec or Torrontes.
2. Kendall Jackson does a great job with a value Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast
3. Just about any Gruner Veltliner… its cheap and delicious…
4. Paso Robles has some good deals – hearty red blends for less than Napa or Sonoma
5. There’s always Two Buck Chuck!

Brian’s Top 5 Wine Splurges
1. Anything from the top producers out of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
2. Traditional Spanish Rioja and the newer Spanish wines from Toro
3. A highly rated South Australian Shiraz
4. Pinot from Martinborough, New Zealand
5. Any good sparkling Rose… Billecarte-Salmon is a good go to.

Sites to check: Vinfolio, Wine Spectator

Microbrew beer taps

Bill’s Top Beer Picks
1. Boulder Beer Company Hazed and Infused
2. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
3. New Glarus Cracked Wheat & Unplugged Series
4. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner
5. Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
6. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
7. Stone Brewing Ruination IPA
8. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Sites to check: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

What’s your favorite holiday drink?  Share with us!

Happy Thanksgiving!  And don’t forget to designate a driver when you’re trying all these tasty drinks!


Filed under Drinks, Holidays, Interviews

Elemental Home Decor with Catherine Sheppard

Welcome to Elemental Home Decor Week at HAP!  We’re so excited to have Fashion Feng Shui expert, Catherine Sheppard, from The Life Styled! guest blogging with us!

This week Catherine will take a look at each of our homes and help us find ways to determine and bring out our Fashion Feng Shui elemental essence in our home decor styling. Read more about Catherine (and her home!):

Hi Catherine! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
thrineI grew up in Northfield, MN (with Katie), and moved to New York for college at NYU, where I majored in communications. I’m a small town Minnesota girl at heart though. I worked in entertainment marketing and events for awhile, but then I moved to Los Angeles with my husband Ian right when the economy tanked a year ago. The lack of job opportunities led me to reevaluate my life and start a career in something I’m passionate about. Here I am a year later, thisclose to launching my fashion styling business!

So a lot of people have heard of Feng Shui, but what is Fashion Feng Shui and how did you get started doing it?
Fashion Feng Shui® takes some of the principles of Feng Shui; the elemental energies, and applies them to our clothing. Through the five elements – water, wood, earth, fire, and metal, we can dress to honor our authentic selves (our essence) and what we want to bring into our lives (our intentions). It’s a way to weed through all the trends that are wrong for you and those clothes in your closet that you never wear to figure out exactly what works for you.

Ooh, tell us more about these elements.
Each element has an archetype – Water is the Philosopher, Wood is the Pioneer, Earth is the Peacemaker, Fire is the Pleasure Seeker, and Metal is the Perfectionist. Each one of us has an essence that can be represented by one of these. That’s the lens through which you view the world around you and the core of Fashion Feng Shui. You can dress your essence by always having the clothes associated with that element present in your wardrobe.  However, we often bring in the other elements as well to honor our appearance (what flatters us), intentions (our goals) and our lifestyle (daily activities/environment).

thrinemakeupCan you be more than one element? What element(s) are you?
Kind of, but not really. Some people debate between a few before they settle on their one essential element, but in most cases, there is one left standing that really drives you. However, most of us have an underlying essence that supports our primary essence. I am a close call between Fire and Metal, but Fire is what really must be there in order for me to feel comfortable. So, Metal is my underlying – by a hair. Some people are a lot more clear cut though – my mom is the poster child for Earths.

So what’s an easy way for someone to figure out their own elemental essence and intention?
It takes a little self exploration. You have to think realistically about yourself and not just who you think you should be or what your life demanded you become. It’s about what drives you at the core. There is a brief quiz you can take and you can also read more about it on my blog,

You work mostly with fashion styling but how could someone apply these same ideas to styling their home?
Your home should always reflect the elements of your personality, but you also want to have balance. Certain rooms need different energies. For example, the kitchen should have Earth energy since that’s where we eat home cooked food and do our best nurturing and any room that you have parties in should have a little Fire.


Any favorite home styling tricks you’re willing to divulge to us?
The best way to bring great style into your home is in the small decorative, seemingly frivolous things. They really make all the difference. A ruffly lamp shade, an interesting piece of artwork in the hallway, a Bristish flag pillow… All those things are small, but they are the key pieces your home is remembered by. I recently bought a big spool of pink vintage yarn. I thought, “What am I going to do with this?” but now it’s the heart of my office. Also, I learned from my mom that bringing a plant or some flowers into a room really brings it to life – literally.

What are three items you couldn’t live without in your home?
The giant French memo board my mom and I made for over my desk, Russell and Hazel office accessories and the iron/mosaic orange bistro table that Ian and I snagged from the dumpster of a nearby café.




Find YOUR essence:
Curious about your essence?  These helpful posts on Catherine’s blog put the elements into everyday terms and make for a really fun distraction!

Your Essence: Celebrity Comparisons
Elements of Fashion Styling
Look Book: Polyvore Element Styling
A Little of This, A Little of That? Two Element Combos


Filed under Decorate, Interviews