Madison artist Ben Floeter has enlivened the ordinary key holder with his 1890s-inspired, mustache-shaped version made out of recycled wood. As Floeter notes at his Etsy shop, no two are alike - made of cedar or pine, in natural or stained dark brown or painted matte black or glossy red. Five brass hooks hold your keys or whatnot on the 18" x 4-1/2" mustache. Also available in half-pint size with three hooks: 9-1/2" x 2-1/2". ($35-$55)
Cover-up with a conscience
Local fiber artist Jill Kerttula takes sweaters she finds at charity-based resale shops and upcycles them into eco-friendly throws or bedspreads, with the seam-out, springy look often found in upcycled fashion. The variety of textures, patterns and fabrics makes it like a quilt, but more than a quilt.
A different kind of rental
Á la Crate Vintage Rentals, 4601 Monona Dr., Monona; 608-669-2541. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-6 pm. alacratevintage.com
It's wise to rent rather than buy items you'll use once for a special event, like items for a wedding. If you're going for a look that's neither contemporary nor cookie cutter, turn to Á la Crate Vintage Rentals for little touches for the ceremony or uncommon basics for the reception. Candle holders, trays, linens and embroidery, driftwood, milk glass, mismatched dinner and dessert plates, unique centerpieces, chalkboards, wooden folding chairs - even sofas are available. Á la Crate was started this spring by Sarah and Jeff Mullins. New items are coming in all the time, and custom work is available.
Cupcakes are not dead
The Vanilla Bean, 6805 Odana Rd., Madison; 608-833-3050. Open Mon.-Fri. 9:30 am-6 pm, Sat. 9:30 am-4 pm, Sun. 11 am-4 pm. vanillabeanonline.com
There has been a lot of ink spilled regarding whether the cupcake trend is due to be supplanted by pie, or doughnuts, or cake pops, or bread pudding, or fill-in-the-blank. In the wake of all the speculation, the sale of ever-more-inventive cupcake liners, also known as baking cups, increases - you know, the little patterned papers eaters rip off before devouring the treat.
In addition to what the Vanilla Bean calls its "standard liners" - jazzy polka dots, zebra stripes, leopard spots, colored swirls and gingham - the shop also carries more elaborate designs by Bake Me a Cake with themes like dogs, kittens, calico flowers, fairy wishes, cowboys, and seasonally appropriate wraps and toppers (usually a cutout figure on a toothpick). Mix and match, and if you're on a health kick, remember that buckwheat date muffins can do nothing but benefit from a little artsy frame (and your muffin pans win, too).