HandHeld & Co.: Beautiful Art, Beautiful Heart

I moved to Dayton, Ohio eight years to be closer to my then-boyfriend/now-husband, and ended up falling in love with everything about the city. It was the city where I got married, where I became a mom to my step-son Alex, where we bought our first house, where my two babies August and Ana were born.

However, my family and I recently moved from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. Even though Columbus is only about an hour and a half from Dayton, moving was H-A-R-D. Leaving all of those sweet memories behind, packing up our belongings, and saying goodbye to friends was, honestly, heartbreaking. As we pulled away from the house for the last time, I vowed I wouldn’t cry…but found myself blinking back tears anyway.

The first weekend we were in Columbus, I was lonely but determined to stay busy and not allow myself be miserable or sad. I saw on Instagram that an account I followed – HandHeld & Co. – was going to be part of a local street bazaar. I was thrilled that I might be able to make a connection in my new town, and messaged the owner that I would be stopping by.

The day of the bazaar, though in early September, was cold and rainy. All of my warm clothes were still packed away in boxes, as I thought I wouldn’t need them for a long time. However, I bundled up the best I could, threw on some rain boots, and headed to the bazaar.

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FREEZING, but thrilled to meet Isabella at the street bazaar!

It was there that I had my first interaction with Isabella Cartolano, owner and artist of HandHeld & Co. Not only did she have an awesome booth at the bazaar – which was evident in spite of the rain – but it was also immediately clear that this girl has a sweet spirit.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Isabella and learn more about her journey with HandHeld.

Isabella has been making cards since she was twelve; at that time, she made scrapbooking-style cards, which were carried at several local stores in Columbus.  “And I’ve been painting since…forever,” Isabella says with a smile during our time together.

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

However, “life” happened, and making each card individually became too cumbersome. After taking a break from card-making for several years and attending an 30-week class focused on entrepreneurial skills, the idea was sparked for Isabella to start her own business. As a result HandHeld & Co. was born at the beginning of 2017.

Isabella says she gains much of the inspiration for her cards from one of the local nurseries, where she works fulltime. “I love working there,” Isabella tells me. (And I have to admit…the nursery where she works is my absolute favorite in the area!)

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Each card design is hand-painted by Isabella using a combination of watercolors and gouache (which is basically an opaque watercolor), then is reproduced and beautifully packaged before being sold. She also sells place cards, gift tags, clothing patches, and pins.

But Isabella isn’t just a talented artist; she also has an amazing heart. As she was kicking off HandHeld & Co, she decided that she wanted to donate a portion of each of her sales to a cause. Through some friends, she learned of an organization in Columbus called She Has a Name, which combats human trafficking right here in Columbus.

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Image via She Has a Name

According to their mission statement, She Has a Name is “committed to engaging the community, strengthening partner organizations, and equipping survivors through workforce development.” They do this in three ways: by educating communities about human trafficking, by serving as a resource and support for survivors, and by collaborating with practitioners in order to provide the best possible care to survivors. They strongly believe that “survivors of human trafficking have a name, a nobility, and a narrative.”

Ten percent of Isabella’s profits go to the organization to further the efforts of She Has a Name in our very own community!

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Succulents and cacti are Isabella’s “thing,” which is evident when looking at her work. Many of her cards feature beautiful succulent and cacti subjects.  When asked what her favorite houseplant was, Isabella responds, “Probably silver Philodendron and most types of Euphorbia.”

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

You can find HandHeld & Co. products on their website and at various festivals, bazaars, and pop-ups. (Check out the HandHeld Instagram account for updated information on events!) You can also find her products in some boutiques and stores in both Columbus and Dayton.

As a seasonal side note, I also want to add that right now HandHeld & Co. is offering some gorgeous Christmas-themed cards, shown below. If you haven’t bought your seasonal cards yet, be sure to check out the website!

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Not only is Isabella of HandHeld an amazing artist, but she also is a kind and wonderful person.  It is a pleasure to not only live in the same community as her, but to share her amazing work here on my blog!

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Check out HandHeld & Co. here:
Website: https://www.handheldandco.com
Instagram: @handheldandco

– the {house}plant momma

A Touch of Magic: All About Propagation

I have to confess something: I am a huge Harry Potter fan. When my husband and I first started dating, I noticed that he had the entire series of books in his closet. Now, not to say anything bad about my sweet hubby but…he’s not really a reader. He’d rather sit down and play his guitar for hours on end or play a video game.

When I asked him about the books, he enthusiastically told me that I absolutely had to read them because they were amazing. I had read the first book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – in college and liked it well enough, but not enough to pursue reading the other books. However, upon his high praise and recommendation, I dove into the series.

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Image via Warner Brothers

He was right. The books were fantastic. I fell in love with each of the characters in their own right, absolutely dying inside when one of them was killed, cheering on Dumbledore’s army, swooning over the love story interwoven into the action. After reading the second book, I couldn’t stop…until I read the entire series. I was devastated when I finished the last book because there was no more. And so, I decided to start back at the very beginning again.

Further proof of my obsession: I almost named my daughter “Luna” because I love Luna Lovegood so much…

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Seriously my favorite… (Image via Warner Brothers)
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Can we say #freespirit? (Image via Warner Brothers)

In my opinion, one of the most enticing parts of Harry Potter is the idea of magic. We see the concept all around us – from Disney movies to video games, fantasy computer games to books like the Harry Potter series. How many times I have wished I could say, “Accio water!” from bed, and a glass of water would magically float into my room, or “Silencio!” when my three-year-old has asked me “why” 30000000 times in one hour.

Unfortunately, in the world outside of J.K. Rowling’s imagination is far less magical. If I want a glass of water, I have to march down to the kitchen to get it myself…and I have to answer “why” 30000001 times.

But there is one area of life that I consider to be simply magical, and that is propagation. It is simply amazing to me that one day, I put a seemingly nondescript plant cutting into water and when I check on it later – even sometimes as few as several days later – there are roots emerging from the stem.

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I know it’s not magic, but to me the experience is magical.

My dining room gets awesome afternoon sun, and is where I have my little propagation station set up right now. I use a variety of jars and bottles for propagation, pretty much anything that will hold water and properly support the cuttings (i.e. I don’t use a tiny jar for a big cutting).

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My favorite plant by far to propagate is Tradescantia, sometimes known as spiderwort. I have propagated various varitities of this plant, including Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ (Wandering Jew Zebrina), Tradescantia ‘green and white’ (a green and white variegated Wandering Jew), and Bolivian Wandering Jew (Callisia Repens). I have had great luck with getting all three varieties to root in water. Many times, I have taken cuttings off my Wandering Jew Zebrina, have water propagated the cuttings, and have given friends these cuttings once they’ve rooted.

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Once, I tried propagating Tradescantia cuttings in soil only. They did not do well like this, and the stems ended up rotting out.

Another easy plant to propagate is Pothos. I have experimented with propagating several different varieties of Pothos, including Golden Pothos and Marble Pothos. These have done very well for me when I place them in water. In a matter of days, I notice little roots pushing out of the nodes on their stem and in what seems like no time at all, they are ready to place in soil.

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Other plants that I have successfully rooted in water include Ficus benjamina, Syngonium, and Philodendron (although I should say that I have tried multiple varieties and only my Philodendron ‘brasil’ has rooted).

I have also tried propagating my Snake Plant. I have tried using both water propagation and putting cuttings in soil, but neither of these produced any results. The cuttings I put in water just turned to mush, and the cuttings I put into soil ended up drying out. I was very disappointed about these unsuccessful propagations, as Snake Plants are one of my absolute favorite plants!

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I tried propagating some English Ivy and some Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ once in some beautiful hanging wall vases I had. While the Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted, the English Ivy did not and eventually died. Knowing what I know now, I believe it was because that wall didn’t get enough sun. (The Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted much more slowly there than they have rooted when I put them in a more sunny location.)

I have read up on succulent propagation, but have only just recently had a bit of luck with it. I threw some succulent leaves into soil and have been trying to leave them alone (i.e. not water them, poke at them – ha!). I have been lucky enough to see some tiny roots emerge from the leaves, so I am hopeful that they will grow into viable plants eventually.

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I should add that I have never worked with rooting hormones. I know that many of the fellow plant growers/collectors I follow on Instagram use that for more successful propagation. I myself have not experimented with it…yet. I’m sure in the future I’ll want to try something new and will give it a go!

Propagation is such an amazing, magical thing to be a part of. It allows me to expand my plant collection for free, but it also allows me to share my plants with friends – which really is one of my favorite parts the whole plant experience!

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Have you ever experienced the magic of propagation? If so, please tell me about your experiences. Also, if you have tips for me as I move forward with propagating, please feel free to share! I’m always eager to learn more!

– the {house}plant momma