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Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Thanksgiving In Berlin

Tomorrow we're off to Berlin and I can't wait – thanks for all of your tips, guys.

I'm looking forward to exploring the city over this Thanksgiving weekend, despite the fact that temperatures are hovering around freezing the whole time. I was originally planning on perfecting my clog game, but instead it looks like the puffy coat is going to be the focus of my Berlin wardrobe. 

In other news, I'm forcing myself to stay away from the holiday music until post-Thanksgiving. Instead, I'm listening to a mix of this, this, and – of course – this

I have some fun things coming up with both June Letters and Angloyankophile that I'll tell you more about soon. In the meantime, be sure to enter the Monica Squitieri giveaway and follow along on our Berlin trip on Instagram

If you're in the States or celebrating this weekend, I hope you have a wonderful, restful holiday filled with overeating, warmth, and family.

See you next week!


Behind The Scenes With Monica Squitieri (Plus Giveaway!)

Last week, I announced the launch of Behind The Scenes – a new series that takes a look at the processes and inspirations behind the collections of some of my favorite emerging designers. 

I'm so pleased to present my second Behind The Scenes with California-based (and California-vibed) jewelry designer Monica Squitieri. Monica and I met through the world of Instagram, and I'm glad to now know her in addition to fawn over her work – she's a gem of a gal. 

With that in mind, today Monica is taking us behind the scenes into her California studio where she hand casts her line of rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. 

Read on to  learn more about Monica's process (and scroll down to enter our GIVEAWAY): 

Monica's handmade jewelry line is inspired by her home of California. She's what I'll call a modern West Coast hippie who loves nature and Neil Young.

Gal after my own heart. 

Desert Rose Necklace by Monica Squitieri California Jewelry

"Being a designer means that I am open to my surroundings. It also means that I choose what sticks and filter the rest out. My favorite thing about being a designer is the freedom I have to make what I love based on the environment, my experiences, and our California culture."

Monica started her line by making one-of-a-kind pieces, but struggled when it came to production. As any designer knows, the issue with one-of-a-kind is that there's...just...one. This makes it difficult to sell in large volumes. Monica revamped her business, and now creates a line of jewelry that allows for her pieces to be unique and handmade yet still marketable to retailers (like Suite Hazen in the UK) as well as customers. 

"With this line, it was really important to me for the casted jewelry to have a truly unique design. I feel that they do – and they all have stories behind them as well."

On the biggest misconception about jewelry designers: 

"Making jewelry is not elegant or glamorous – my hands are always blackened from working. Before I meet a buyer or do a show, I take a day ahead of time to suspend myself from working so that I can get my nails done. It's not so appealing to have callused hands in front of a potential buyer or customer."

All of her pieces are made in the U.S. from recycled materials – sustainability is something she's passionate about. Monica talks about her design process:

"Typically something will inspire me during a road trip, or a walk – whatever it may be. From there, I take photos or sketch ideas, then start carving wax. This process can take me as little as a day (if i'm lucky) or as long as a couple weeks.

"I use the lost-wax process and have an amazing team of artisans helping me in LA. Once the piece is casted, we finish it (cut off the sprues, file the seams, tumble and hand polish). Many pieces take even more work post-casting, such as the Mojave Earrings and Desert Rose collection. I then solder any pieces that need additional components and do all of the stone setting myself, in the studio."

"Once the process is finished, I store them in sealed bags. Oxidation is a natural process for base metals. Keeping them sealed slows that process down."

Agave Studs by Monica Squitieri California Jewelry

And just for fun:

What’s one book everyone should read? One movie everyone should see?

 "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and – can I pick TV instead? – "Breaking Bad."

 

If you weren’t living in California, where would you be?

Wherever I live, it must always be near the ocean. It's hard to think outside of my Cali state of mind, but my husband was born in Sicily, so perhaps somewhere along the Mediterranean Coast.

 

Favorite social media feed?

Pinterest is straight up eye candy. I find myself sitting down just to check the feed quickly and an hour later saying to myself "Oh my god. I just wasted an hour of my day staring at Pinterest." I'm certainly not addicted, but it feels like that sometimes.

 

GIVEAWAY:

-Follow both @monicajewelryca and @robinreetz on Instagram, and you could win your own Anemone Ring. -For a bonus entry, either repost the photo or tag us in your OWN photo using #MonicaXsff and tell us why you want to win

 Just in time for the holidays, y'all.

 

Giveaway ends at 11:59PM PT on Sunday, Dec 7. Winner will be notified on Monday, Dec 8. Sorry, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. readers. 


Good Reads: 21 November 2014

Hi guys! What are you up to this weekend?

My husband is off to a movie tonight, so like a modern-day Cathy cartoon I'm looking forward to catching up on some blogs, watching a documentary, listening to Serial, painting my nails. Cliche liberal girl stuff.

In other news, the Berlin countdown starts now – we leave on Thanksgiving! Thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions. I can't wait to eat, shop, browse, buy magazines, and of course enjoy the city.

Have a great Friday!

killer weekend tune, courtesy of my dad. 

the cut's "women in the morning" series. (bless you, tavi, for being honest and wise.)

non-career advice. ("be completely awake.")

dog teaching baby to jump

haruki murakami in the new yorker. 

holiday diy i might actually do. 

miley x Serial

photographer/mother.

this makes me want to go back to camp

megan ambram's lady-friendly science. (finally!)

please watch "transparent" if you aren't already. can we all agree that gaby hoffman is a hero?

 

Favorite finds this week: 

Proud Mary

A Boy Named Sue

Line Line Co.  (North Carolina!)


Life As An Expat: The Move

This is the part. The part where things take shape and become real events with times and dates instead of anxieties on repeat.

The part where you make plans with friends. Bye-for-now drinks and dinner dates.

The part where you write lists, open boxes, cram suitcases.

Blow dust off books, uncover old papers, question what you own.

Make appointments, close accounts.

Plan weekends, number days, count sleeps.

The part where you begin to think of the "when I'm there" things, and new lists begin to take shape. You set reminders, throw out your old yoga mat.

Donate, give away, bag on the curb, repeat.

Get nervous, get excited, plan outfits, read books on change.

Goodbye to all that, hello to something else.

This is the part you hate, love, will look back on. Maybe with sympathy, maybe not.

It starts.


Behind The Scenes With TANTUVI SS15

Look – not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have really talented friends.

Yes, I know everyone says that. And yes, mine really are.

Case in point: Arati Rao of TANTUVI, who I was introduced to by my pattern designer and eco-beauty-line owner friends last year. (See? Cool.)

After the introduction, I interviewed Arati for a freelance piece and then found myself returning again and again to her work. There's something about her patterns, color choices, and simple styling that I just love.

Because there are so many incredibly inspiring emerging designers and collections out there, I'm going to start posting more in-depth pieces on some of my favorite lines in a new column called Behind The Scenes. These posts will look at the inspirations and processes behind the work and businesses of some of the best top notch, cool-kid creatives. I'll be sharing along on Instagram, using the ever-important hashtag (have to have a hashtag, right?) of #sffscenes

Let's start with TANTUVI:

TANTUVI began in 2010 after founder and designer Arati Rao had spent much of the year traveling. On her travels, Arati discovered and formed an attachment to the hand-loom textile traditions she found in South India.

From there, TANTUVI – which means 'weaver' in Sanskrit – was formed. 

For the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Arati was inspired by travel yet again – but this time, her inspiration came from a trip to Turkey.

She shares the role Turkey played in designing her SS15 collection: 

"There was something about Turkey that really spoke to me. The palette I was originally thinking of didn't seem right, so I created a whole new color scheme, which was heavily influenced by my visits to Pamukkale and Cappadocia."

"Pamukkale has these amazing natural formations of sulphur water, and a pool known for its healing properties that was once visited by Cleopatra."

Editor's Note: Woah

"Cappadocia was incredible. Twice, we were up before sunrise and the sky was unreal. We also went on a hot air balloon – that was unbelievable."

I love how clearly you can connect the color choices and inspirations in the SS15 collection to Arati's time in Turkey. From the colors to the patterns, and maybe even the shapes, you can see exactly where she was inspired.

All TANTUVI pieces are hand-dyed and hand-woven in South India before being assembled in Brooklyn, and Arati aims to provide income and a stable livelihood to both the women presently involved in the TANTUVI production process as well as the future generations behind them.

See? Told you my friends were cool.

Shop TANTUVI here

Learn more about TANTUVI's process here

Follow TANTUVI here


Saturdays At The Tate Britain

When it comes to London museums, the Tate Modern seems to be the go-to place for tourists.

And that makes sense. After all, it is conveniently located along the Thames, between Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge, across the river from St. Paul's. It's also flashy, housed in a giant old power station that demands your attention, and it contains the larger exhibits (Damien Hirst, anyone?).

Personally, I'm a Tate Britain gal. I visited for the first time last year and could not believe I hadn't been on my many previous trips to London. 

The Tate Britain doesn't host as many big shows, it's not as centrally located, not as popular or modern. But really, that's just the way I like it.

We made a trip to the Tate Britain for my birthday a couple of weekends ago, and it was perfect. The crowds were few, leaving us room to stroll amongst the galleries as we please, and of course we finished our trip with a stop by Brunswick House afterwards.

Here are a few quick snaps from our trip, and you can see a few more over on Steller (though I'm still not confident on Steller, so don't judge).

What'd you get up to this weekend?

Henry Moore

Rose Finn-Kelcey

David Hockney


Good Reads: 14 November 2014

Hey you guys!

As you read this, I'm likely on a bus touring outer London – Stonehenge, Bath, you know. Why? I've got family in town this weekend, so we're making the most of the few days we have together by touring it up and eating lots of good food. Loose pants required.

Aside from that, I've gotten so into Transparent this week. It's an incredible series, and Gaby Hoffman just kills it. Are you guys watching?

Whatever you're doing, I hope you have as great of a weekend as I am.

This, obviously. Not gonna lie – I watched it every day this week.

Also, Taylor Swift kind of schools Audie Cornish – sorry, this is from a few weeks back.

Stow this in your minimalist files: Genius ways to declutter a kitchen

Love lemlem's new collection. 

A guide to small talk.

A beautiful Modern Love, from the archives.

Painting with thread

A different look at "The Giving Tree".

Laughed out loud.

Women having a terrible time at parties in western art history (via Cup of Jo).

Glitter earrings

Confirmed: no one knows what they're doing

With my move out of the big city coming up, I'm thinking about ways to embrace a slower way of life and am looking to simplify. So, here's to saying no to more things.