Friday, December 17, 2010

CHAINED Virtual Book Tour with Rebeca Mojica

There is a new book out that you must check out! Rebeca Mojica, owner & artist of Blue Buddha Boutique, has spent a couple years of her life working on CHAINED and it is an amazing instructional. Rebeca is an award winning chain maille artist and a contributing editor to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine. She is the pre-eminent chain maille instructor in the Midwest, teaching at Caravan Beads and Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, Briolette Beads in Forest Park, and Ayla's Originals in Evanston, she has taught at the Bead&Button Show and has been a guest instructor for the Fashion Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

CHAINED is one of the most beautiful, informational, and easy to understand chain maille instructional books I've seen to date. Rebeca explains the basics of chain maille (how to open & close jump rings), talks about different metals and how to care for them, gives clear easy to understand instructions for beginners and experts alike, and variations on all of the projects in the book. I love the fact that she shares these variations with her readers because it gives us a sense of freedom to play with the weaves and see what else we can do with them; whether it be playing with color or adapting the weave. Not to mention that the pictures of the pieces are total eye candy. The book and the work in it is simply gorgeous.

When I think of Rebeca, I think of an insane talented artist, a very smart female entrepreneur, and a generous philanthropist. Rebeca kindly let me pick her brain with a few questions...

-One of the things that I find the most fascinating in your maille is not only the grace and fluidity of your pieces, but also that they appear calculated and structured. For example, your Quantum Rose is not only elegant, but scientific. Can you share a little bit about where you find your inspiration?
Since I read A Brief History of Time in high school, I have been a complete and utter science nerd. While other people gush about actors and pop culture entertainers, my list of swoon-worthy humans are folks like Alan Guth, Brian Greene, Michio Kaku and Neil Degrasse Tyson. Most people haven't heard of them, but they are all scientists in the field of astrophysics/cosmology. Like I said, a total nerd. :-)

I am fascinated by number series and even created a piece based on the fibonacci sequence. (This asymmetrical necklace sold years ago, and I don't have a photo. It featured hanging chains in different lengths...with the lengths based on the numbers of the sequence.) The Quantum Rose is based on the number 4 -- if you look at it closely, you'll note that there are two lines of symmetry, a horizontal and a vertical one, which divide the piece into four equal units. I love the number four, so I expect I'll create some pieces in the future that really revolve around the number four.

I would like to tackle several fractal projects next (Armoury note: in case, like me, you needed more information on fractals...). Some small, and some large installations (like a fractal "tree" taking up an entire wall). For me, science and creativity are closely related. The more I look at images of deep space, and the more I contemplate the structure of our uni(multi)verse, the more I am inspired to create. I love the interplay between chaos and order that is inherent in our world.

My closet walls are covered with page after page of sketches and theories about the structure of the quantum world all the way out to the unfathomably large world beyond the visible universe.

A couple of years ago, I found myself awake late at night, staring at the periodic table of the elements, trying to make sense of something that had been nagging at the back of my head for a while. "It just doesn't make sense all laid out in a table," I said to myself, remembering the 3-D renderings of the table we had to cut out and glue together in high school chemistry. After about 30 minutes, the answer came to me. "Of course!" I exclaimed. "It's a fractal! And why wouldn't it be? Everything else around us is." I was sure I wasn't the first person to come up with this, so of course I googled "Periodic Fractal of the Elements" and found some interesting depictions. I would love to make a sculpture or a necklace based on this idea.

My favorite depiction of the Periodic Fractal of the Elements is this one by Melinda Green. I color coded it myself and am dorky enough to have asked her permission (which was granted) to make a T-shirt for myself.

The coolest thing is, because I'm certain the structure of life is a fractal, it means that there is no unified theory of everything. "Everything" goes on and on for eternity, so we will never figure it all out. We can keep uncovering things, but there will always be more to discover. I love the fact that the journey never ends!

-I think there are two very different kinds of maillers out there: there are the mathematical maillers that are all about using weave charts and working with aspect ratios and then there are the more free form maillers that play with some jump rings until they find a pattern that works. You are both very analytical and very artistic, so which way do you lean? Can you tell us a little bit about your process?
Definitely both ways. If I already have a pattern that I like, but I want to make it smaller, or tweak a larger version of it, I will definitely use Aspect Ratio to get me to a good starting point. I find it easiest to "doodle" Japanese patterns, so I'll often sketch those out ahead of time and use math to get me started.

For other pieces, though, I'll sit down with a pile of rings and futz until I come up with something that I like. Thankfully, I'm a fast mailler, so if something isn't working, I can take it apart in a jiffy and start over with little time wasted.

-You've created several of your own chain maille weaves. Did you have an idea for the design and worked it out mathematically/by playing with rings or were they discoveries through happy accidents when you were working on something completely different?
Some were happy accidents, but most were created "on purpose." Most are in the Japanese Family, and thus were ones that I could sketch out beforehand (Hodo, Maru, Japanese Bulls Eye). Others were pieces that I systematically approached, with the idea of tweaking a previously known weave by adding extra rings, or twisting the rings in a different way. (ie, Chaotic Helix and Celtic Spikes)

Because I am an absolute nut about the weave "sitting" just right, I often have to play around with ring sizes once the piece is complete. For example, in the Helm Wave in CHAINED, I could have used just a couple of ring sizes....but the weave would have bunched up. That might be OK for the majority of people, but not for me. So I played around until I found the perfect combination of sizes that allowed the weave to lay flat, yet still be supple. And actually, I should give credit where credit is due - I had my interns play around with ring sizes until the perfect combination was discovered! I am so grateful to the interns, as they save me hundreds of hours per year by doing ring-size testing that I just don't have time to tackle anymore.

Because of my desire to have the rings sit in a very particular manner, many of my weaves use a lot of sizes to get the perfect fit. I like to joke that "It isn't a Rebeca Mojica weave unless it uses an absurd number of ring sizes!"

-As a small business owner, you must wear many hats (web developer, marketer, accountant, manager, photographer, and artist to name just a few). Were you able to bring any previous experience to your role as a small business owner or were you pretty much learning on the job?
My degree is in Journalism, and I spent several years doing PR and nonprofit development work. All of that marketing experience definitely paid off! After I decided I wanted to try to make chainmaille my sole source of income, I put together a teaching portfolio and bravely went around to all the bead stores in the area. I was diplomatic, but the meaning behind my words was pretty much: "Hey, I notice you don't teach any chainmaille classes. You should, because it's going to be the next big thing in jewelry-making, and you should hire me to teach these classes!" I wound up with teaching gigs at nearly every place I applied.

However, just about everything else, was stuff that I learned on the job. I knew a bit of html, but really got knee-deep in it once Blue Buddha's website was created. I had no experience with photographing jewelry or bookkeeping, but I read everything I could get my hands on about starting a business, particularly a crafts business, and went to local small business development centers for advice. For many years, I really felt like I was blindly forging a path, and had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I did know what I was doing and somehow it was working, so I just kept moving forward.

-Was B3 simply a part time job to fuel your maille habit when you founded it or did you have hopes &/or a plan for it to become the successful business that it is with several full- and part-time employees, interns, and guest contributors?
When I founded Blue Buddha in February 2003, I had been mailling for 9 months and teaching for 5 months. I was already hopelessly in love with maille, so I founded my business with the goal of making it my sole source of income within five years. At the time, I had 3 other part-time jobs (piano instructor, tutor/tutor trainer at Kaplan Test Prep, and researcher/archivist for an online educational pictures database). Slowly, over the course of the years, I dropped my jobs one by one. It took me four and a half years before I was working full-time for Blue Buddha.

I knew I wanted to make this my life, but I had no idea I would build the "empire" that Blue Buddha has become. Each year, our growing sales still shock me.

-Do you feel like you've had to face any unique challenges as a female entrepreneur? Or even as a woman in the mailling community?
The mailling community has always been accepting of me. From my very first gathering at Lord Charles' home in 2002, I felt like they were my peeps! I could be myself--nerdy, socially awkward & all-around weird--and I was still accepted.

As a female entrepreneur, I have been part of some interesting encounters. I am extremely business-oriented, and therefore like to "play with the big boys" and go to entrepreneurial conferences, workshops and networking events. There is usually some awkward silence when they find out what I do, because I don't think any of them can imagine the full extent of my business. The first time I went to a small business development center for assistance, I felt as though some of the counselors were very condescending, almost like, "Awww, isn't she cute, trying to have a little business selling jewelry?" Thankfully, I found the Women's Business Development Center and have been so incredibly supported by everyone there.

-Did you have any idea when you made that first maille belt so many years ago that one day you would be considered one of the foremost experts in the field?
No idea. I just knew that I loved doing this, and it almost felt as though it was "meant to be." As soon as I made the belt, I really felt as though I'd come home. I guess it makes sense that I wound up carving a name for myself, though, because I can be obsessive and competitive at times. So once I decided to try to make a go of this for a living, I REALLY made the decision. I was determined to learn and absorb everything I could, and to do my very best.

-I was honored when you agreed to sponsor my fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure by providing 1,000's of pink jump rings so that all of the proceeds from the finished pieces could go towards the fight against breast cancer. This wasn't the first time that you gave to a good cause. Blue Buddha Boutique is committed to making the world a better place. This a rare and noble thing for a small business to do. Can you share a little bit about your passion to contribute and some of the charities that you've supported?
I've always been drawn to help people, and felt very fulfilled working in the nonprofit world. I think I like to help people because I am a very empathetic person. I feel emotions deeply and strongly. I've to not let other people's emotions affect me too much (otherwise I'd be a nutcase) ... but I am grateful that I can put myself in other people's shoes, because I think it makes me a better teacher and boss.

I look around and while it's impressive how far we've come as a species, I think we can still improve the way we take care of ourselves, each other and the world around us. I suppose it's no surprise that my main heroes are Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr and Kathy Kelly. I don't expect to make such an obvious impact on the world, but I hope that my baby steps will encourage folks around me to make baby steps of their own, because all of those little steps put together do make a difference.

The main organizations that I support on a regular basis:
-- Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis foundation - My father passed away from Pulmonary Fibrosis about 6 years ago, and watching him suffer was one of the most intense experiences of my life. He never smoked a day in his life. When he was ill, it was sad that people would give him dirty looks and move away from him on the train when they heard him cough, even though he wasn't contagious. If I thought I was empathetic before, suddenly I was much more empathetic! I vowed to never to be impatient with someone who was walking slowly across the street, because maybe they looked fine from the outside, but inside they were suffering. You just never know. Before my father became sick, I had no idea PF was so widespread. Nearly 40,000 Americans die each year (about 109 people per day) from PF. This is the same number as for breast cancer. Several 9/11 rescue workers afflicted with the "World Trade Center cough" have developed PF. PF is an elusive illness, and I hope that with time, we'll develop a bigger understanding of how to help people with this illness.

-- Albany Park Chamber of Commerce - I love my community! I live and work in Albany Park, one of the most diverse areas of Chicago. Living in a big city, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and lost...and indifferent. People don't say "hi" to their neighbors like they used to. I hope that by being an active member of this community, I can inspire today's youth to follow their passions, and can encourage my fellow business owners and residents to work together to make manifest the community of our dreams.

Other organizations that I support include school and arts organizations, including Chicago Tap Theatre, which Jenna of Blue Buddha is a member of. Whenever my employees are involved with a nonprofit, I like to support those endeavors. I also will continue to support groups that fight for animal rights. Though I have yet to become a full-fledged vegan, I admire those who live such a lifestyle. I think there's a saying that you can tell the true character of a person based on how they treat animals, and frankly, what does that say about our society as a whole? What is done to animals in an industrialized food system makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot ignore it, because I truly believe it is wrong.

-My copy of CHAINED is autographed and cost a little bit more, but it's because $5 will be donated to Friends of Franklin Fine Arts Center. Please tell us a little bit about this non-profit and why it means so much to you.
I attended Franklin Fine Arts Center from kindergarten through 6th grade. It is the only public grammar school with an arts-focused curriculum in the city of Chicago. I truly believe that my life is more culturally rich and I am a happier person because I had so many creative outlets from such a young age. The arts should be a regular part of everyone's education, not something brushed aside when funding gets low. I am donating $5 to Friends of Franklin because I want other people to know about the success of Franklin so that parents, teachers and community leaders everywhere to brainstorm ways to bring the arts to more students. (Armoury note: for more information on Franklin & arts in curriculum, visit Rebeca's Virtual Book Tour Stop at ChiIl Mama.)

And a couple of questions just for fun: Rumor has it that Aerosmith is your all time favorite band (one of mine, too) What's your favorite Aerosmith song? Is it possible to choose one?
Kings and Queens (from Draw the Line, 1977). Other favorites are Hangman Jury and Darkness, both pretty obscure songs. My favorite Aerosmith songs tend to be a lot of the oldies. Their self-titled debut album is my favorite overall album. I absolutely love every single song on there. Toys in the Attic is classic, too. I first got into the band with the album Pump in 1989, so those songs will always hold a special place in my heart. I was so into Aerosmith, I even got albums from the Joe Perry Project and Whitford-St Holmes (bands formed when Aeromsith split in the 80s). Something that few of my customers know, is that I have five tattoos and they are all all Aerosmith related. My next tattoo will be chainmaille, but I'll sneak an Aero symbol in there somewhere. Also, I usually sign my name as Rebec^A^ where the ^A^ stands for, well, yeah, you get it. :-)

In high school and college, my bedroom walls were covered with Aero-paraphernalia. T-shirts, cassettes, records, CDs, I had 'em all. Though I sold off some of my collection early on in my starving artist days, I still have quite a lot left, including a couple of sealed 8-tracks and a drumstick given to me by the drummer.

I imagine that Zed (the Company Mascot) may often find himself up to no good at B3. Have a favorite Zed story to share with us?
Zed is the fuzziest cat in the world. Once I moved the studio out of my home, he never set paw in the new location, but somehow, we still encounter his fur to this day. (And it was three years ago that we moved!)

My favorite Zed story, though, has nothing to do with B3. It happened a few years ago, after I'd taught Zed to sit on command. I happened to be in the kitchen, peeling turnips directly over the trash can. All of a sudden, the turnip slipped out of my hand and into the trash. "$#!T" I exclaimed. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zed obediently putting his butt to the floor, looking at me rather expectantly for a treat. I burst out laughing and of course gave him a treat. :-)

Rebeca, thank you so much for hanging out at the Armoury! Your book is fabulous & I can't wait to play with it (specifically the Japanese Cross Pendant, Ripple Necklace, and all of the Coiled projects)!

If you haven't checked out CHAINED yet... What are you waiting for?

Blue Buddha Boutique is planning a daily giveaway contest for people who leave comments. Details: We will pool all the comments we get from the time the article is posted until noon CST the next day and draw one winner to receive a $10 B3 gift certificate. We will also be conducting a grand prize contest promoted only to our CHAINED mailing list subscribers for people who comment on EVERY blog post in the tour.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CHAINED Virtual Book Tour Stop

I have so much to catch all of you up on!! I want to tell you all about the 3 Day (which was in all honesty, one of the most amazing experiences of my life!), some spiffy new packaging for Athena's Armoury, as well as the additional of herbal goodness to the shop. But all of that will have to wait.

Some of you maillers & jewelry makers may have heard of a new book that has been released. It's called CHAINED and it's by Rebeca Mojica of Blue Buddha Boutique fame. (You may remember that one of my major fundraising campaigns for the 3 Day was my Pink Warrior line of chain maille. Rebeca is the extremely generous woman that donated the 1,000's of pink jump rings so that all proceeds of Pink Warrior sales could go straight to my fundraising.) I received my autographed copy of CHAINED recently and it's gorgeous!! There are projects in there for beginners as well as experienced maillers and Rebeca has got a talent for making it easily accessible to all.

Rebeca will be taking CHAINED on the road, if you're lucky enough to be in one of the areas she's visiting. For the rest of us, she'll be doing a few virtual book tour stops and Athena's Armoury is honored to host one of them! Make a date to join us for Rebeca's virtual book tour right here on Friday, December 17. Rebeca will be talking to us about her success as an entrepreneur and philanthropist and will take a few of your questions as well. If you're interested in asking a question during the Audience Q&A portion of the event, just leave it in the comments below by Tuesday, December 14. I can't guarantee that we'll get to all questions due to time limitations, but we'll do the best we can.

Be sure to follow CHAINED on Facebook & twitter to get all of the latest updates and join the notification list to find out about several contests available to members only.

I'm really looking forward to spending some time chatting with Rebeca and hope you join us!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Magickal Mugwort for 3 Day Walkers

Did you know that Roman soldiers once put the herb Mugwort in their sandals to relieve aching feet on long journeys? Legend claims that the Romans planted Mugwort on roadsides, so that passing soldiers might pick it at will on long marches to soothe their sore feet. Some herbalists still recommend it in footbaths to invigorate tired feet.

Recommended Use for 3 Day Walkers: Place mugwort in your shoes to gain strength and to protect your feet from fatigue during your 60 mile walk. I'm just sayin'. =)

Thank you all for your support! I've officially surpassed my goal of raising $3,000 in my fundraising to fight breast cancer for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure! Next weekend, I'll be walking 60 miles to raise awareness with my fellow Pink Warriors.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fight Breast Cancer & Save the Environment All at Once!

I am so close to reaching my goal of $3,000 for my 3 Day fundraising! With your minimum donation of $10, I'll send you all three of these great totes so that you can help raise awareness whenever you use them. Just go to my personal page at the 3 Day website to make your donation & let me know here so that I can be sure to send these off to you.

Hope you're having a great weekend! I am: I'm walking. =)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Raise Awareness While You Drive

This evening, I'd like to feature the classic Find the Cure Pink Ribbon Car Magnet! With your donation to my fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, I'll send you this car magnet so that you can help raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer every time you drive.

I'm 17 days away from walking 60 miles & less than $400 away from raising $3,000! All funds raised will go toward breast health programs, research grants, and education. Won't you help me make a difference? Just go to my personal donation page and I'll send you this magnet!

Here's mine in action:
Bikers Raising Awareness is the amazing group of women that I've walked countless training miles with and we'll be walking the big 60 miles together, too. The oval magnet says 60 in 3 since we're walking 60 miles in 3 days and was designed by the amazing Julie (aka @knittingbagel on twitter).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Help Me Raise $3,000 to Fight Breast Cancer!

Hello lovely readers! No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth but I feel like I've been walking all over it! Actually, I have been walking a lot which is why I haven't been around here much. When I'm not at work lately, I'm walking. Walking to find a cure, that is. Since I registered for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, I've walked 442 miles, raised awareness at numerous public events, and garnered a whopping $2,588 to go to the fight against breast cancer!!

October is, of course, Breast Cancer Awareness month. The most important thing you can do this month is take care of yourself: eat right, get exercise, schedule a mammogram, remember to do your monthly self exam. The idea here is prevention.

I also only have 19 days left until the 3 Day! Crazy to think that in 19 days I'll be starting my 60 mile journey. There are quite a few personal reasons, but I don't think I'll be able to participate in this amazing walk again next year so I'd like to make my mark this time around. I want to raise $3,000!! There are a few ways you can help me do that:

-Let people know what I'm doing! Spread the word and send them to my donation page.

-Check out my Pink Warrior Collection. Thanks to Blue Buddha Boutique who very generously donated all jump rings, ALL proceeds from the purchase of each item goes straight to my fundraising. Plus, for the rest of the month, you will receive a FREE silicone awareness bracelet with each purchase.

-Every couple of days, I'll be posting a new Pink Ribbon goody. All you have to do is make a minimum donation of $5 and I'll mail you the featured item. Quantities are limited so make sure you grab 'em while you can!

-And, of course, you can make a straight donation. Or you can see if your company will do matching gifts. Or you can make a donation in a few installments. There are so many options!

Today's Pink Warrior goody is this fabulous Find the Cure Pink Lanyard.
If you're a 3 Day walker, it's perfect for carrying your credentials at the event. All you have to do is go to my donation page and make a minimum (yup, I'll take more!) donation of $5 and I'll mail it to you (make a comment here so I know to send it). I only have three left, so don't wait!!

And lastly, the 3 Day folks do something really cool for us walkers. They set up a post office at camp. Yup, not only am I walking 60 miles, but I'm also camping during those 3 days. In a hot pink tent. Anyway, I'd love to hear from you!! Card of encouragement, a letter of motivation... I'm not going to lie to you: walking 60 miles is exhausting and a little bit of support goes a long way! If you'd like to send me some love, it must be postmarked by October 19!! You can write to me here:

3-Day for the Cure
ATTN: Janine Vanderhoff
P.O. Box 41611
St. Petersburg, FL 33743

Thank you all so much for your support!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The 3 Day: Weeks 18-26 Progress Report

So, I pretty much fell off the face of the internet for a while there. I have no excuse except that work again got the better of me for a while. I was also feeling very overwhelmed balancing everything going on in my life with all of the training that I'm doing for the 3 Day. I'm learning that I can't necessarily do everything when I want to do it or necessarily when it should be done and that I really need to pace myself and be patient. Easier said than done sometimes. Anyhoo, I'll try to give you an update for the past few weeks without turning this post into a novel.

My feet have gotten so much better!! I graduated from physical therapy (celebrated with ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery with Scott) but continue to do all of my foot stretching and strengthening exercises (especially before & after training walks!). They do get sore & stiff from time to time, but I suspect that's perfectly normal for the mileages I've been doing.

I finally found a pair of shoes that seem to fit comfortably. Thing is, after I finally felt like they were broken in is around the same time that I was up to walking around 10 miles. I was told that at around the 9-12 mile mark is when you'll start to notice your problem spots. Well, I started getting bad blisters around my heels. I didn't know if it was the shoes or the mileage for a while; ultimately, I think the problem may be the shoes. I'm going shoe shopping again this week in the hopes that I can find something. As you all know though, I'm terribly wary about getting fit for shoes since that's how I got hurt to begin with but I don't think I have a choice. I also don't have much time left to figure this out: 10 weeks will probably be just enough time to find another pair of shoes & then get two pairs broken in in time for the event.

I did fall in love with my toe socks, though! I was having problems with my toes rubbing and these socks by injinji have individual little toes, so they solved that problem!

I am truly not a morning person, but it's looking like I'm going to have to get over that. The longer weekend back to back walks are kind of lonely and boring to do all alone & since I graduated physical therapy, I started going out walking with a couple of different groups. They all start between 6-7am which has me waking up as early as 4:30am!! The one good thing about it is that we will finish up around noon time when the sun is getting extreme instead of having to walk through that. The bad thing is that I've been pretty much useless for the rest of the day. I'll get home, stretch & ice my feet, have some lunch, take a shower, then pass out for a couple of hours before waking up to have some dinner and then go back to bed. It's nuts.

That said, I met a really great group of women with BRA Patrol (aka: Bikers Raising Awareness) and joined the team at the Preview Expo! More about those fabulous ladies and the Preview Expo in a separate post....

There have been a few morning walks where the humidity has been insane and I've had a really hard time breathing. I don't think there's really anything I can do about it, except be aware of it. The first time it happened, though, I did freak out a little: really shallow breathing and chills despite sweating like crazy. I stopped in the shade for a little while & drank my Gatorade while I just concentrated on breathing. I managed to get through my last mile taking little breaks like that. Luckily, it hasn't been that bad again.

I got myself a waist pack! I really like the Mountainsmith packs that I've seen online, but couldn't find anyone locally that carries them so I could try one on. Plus, they were a little more than I wanted to spend so I wound up picking one up from Target. It's not perfect, but it seems to be working out just fine for me. It only a little 4L pack, but from what I understand, the 3 Day really is like a 60 mile buffet between all of the grab & go's, pit stops, and people on the side of the route so it doesn't sound like I need to burden myself with something too big. So far, so good.

I've seen a ton of wildlife on my training walks: armadillos, snakes, bunny rabbits, cats, turtles, some baby ducks, and countless dogs. =)

There was a time just a few months ago when I came home from walking only 1/2 a mile and crying because my feet hurt so much. Yesterday, I walked for four miles and considered it simply a fun walk. Those few months ago, I never thought I'd get this far. It simply felt impossible. I've gone as far as 16 miles already at a time. I don't think of this often because I feel like my feet are still giving me challenges (albeit new ones with blisters) but I am proud of how far I've come.

I've made a few new Pink Warrior pieces over the last few weeks (some inspired by the 3 Day's bubble logo design) and actually had the time to take some pictures of them; just haven't had the time to get them listed yet. I still have lots of supplies (so generously donated by Blue Buddha Boutique) so there will be more coming!

I did one more big fundraising event with the Safety Harbor 3rd Friday Music Series. It's a street fair where I set up my tent and put my Pink Ribbon goods and Pink Warrior chain maille out for donations. I also made Pink Ribbon sugar cookies. Lots of them: 77 bags, 3 cookies in a bag, plus about a dozen for me & Scott to munch on... around 240 some odd cookies made! And I could barely give them away! It was crazy. Nobody wanted cookies! What was really amazing to me that night, though, were the little girls that donated. They didn't want to buy anything, just to donate. They were the absolute best. So heartwarming to see them give so freely to the cause. Those donations really meant something to me. In the end, I raised $181 that night!

All I had left to raise after the street fair was $35 to meet my minimum goal of $2,300. I figured, I'd bring some of the Pink Ribbon sugar cookies I made to work for donations. I met my minimum that day by $.35!

I received a motivational donation of $25 bringing me up to $2,326!!

Mileage to date on training walks: 254
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,326 or over 100%
Remaining: $0
Countdown: 68 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Hey Pink Warriors! Come get some armor (really chain maille jewelry).
All proceeds to benefit my fundraising for The 3 Day!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

Being reamed out for stupid shit by the evil boss lady this week motivated me to look into my union's work program again. I also had a dream where a friend of mine asked me "What about the soap opera?" What that translated to in my conscious mind was "You've always worked in theatre, how about trying tv?" It's something to look into...

A work friend brought me a jalapeno plant that he grew for me. All he did was stick a pepper in soil. The plant's beautiful!

Scott & I decided that since there is absolutely nothing going on at work for the next couple of weeks, that we'd take some of our vacation time. It was pretty much a last minute decision so I lost out on the looking forward to taking the time off bit, but it's such a relief knowing that I don't have to go to work next week. I don't know if we're going to be able to run away at all, but we are planning on getting some stuff done around the house and maybe even some relaxing.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras. What were some of your joys this week?

Hey Pink Warriors! Come get some armor (really chain maille jewelry).
All proceeds to benefit my fundraising for The 3 Day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The 3 Day: Weeks Sixteen & Seventeen Progress Report

A couple of fun things...
~The other night at work, the guy that's in charge of our retail department walked into my office and said "There's only one left and it needs to go to a good home" and proceeded to hand me a Pink Ribbon Sisterhood luggage tag. It's so cute and so sweet of him to think of giving it to me. It will undoubtedly be on my duffel bag for the event.

~The 3 Day is offering a gift card giveaway for both me and you when you register for the walk. We'll each receive a $35 gift card to use on 3 Day gear at™. So, if you've been thinking about signing up, here's how to take advantage of the special offer:
1. Register online at, over the phone at 800-996-3DAY, or at a Get Started Meeting.
2. Enter the discount code BRINGAFRIEND in the online registration form.
3. When the registration form asks for the ID# of the friend who referred you, enter this Participant ID: 4897011

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a five mile training walk in the middle of the day in Florida summer heat. It wasn't the best plan, but I got through it. I saw a snake on that walk and I stood in someone's sprinkler for a minute. =)

I did another five mile walk, but did it in the evening this time. That made a world of difference! I was feeling pretty tired when I started out, but my energy seemed to pick up as I continued on.

Yesterday, I did my first six mile walk and miracle of miracles, had very little foot pain or discomfort while I was out!!! The bunions that I never knew I had (found out about them for the first time when I went to the podiatrist) were hurting but I'm not sure there's anything I can do about that. I'm also concerned if I'm making them worse. After 4 miles, I stopped by the house to have a little snack (ice cold oranges are amazing!! and some chips for the salt), refill my liquids, to use the bathroom, and of course stretch. The only other issue I had was at about mile 5 when I started to feel hot spots on my little toes and on the bottom of the balls. I stopped back by the house to change my socks, put on bandages, and reapply Body Glide. I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and try shoe shopping again so I can start wearing my moisture wicking socks (they don't fit in my current shoes with the orthotics). Shoe shopping has been such a horrible experience that I have been trying to avoid it. 6 miles!!! Woohoo!!! Oh! And I did it in a hour and thirty five minutes!

The past couple of weeks, my cross training consisted of a few five mile bike rides around my neighborhood. Tonight, I can't wait to go home to do some yoga; after yesterday's six mile walk (and cleaning two bathrooms!!) I need it.

Oh, and more good news: insurance approved four more physical therapy sessions. Seems like an arbitrary number since they aren't paying for any of it (I have to reach an insane deductible before they chip in anything) but it's better than nothing. I was actually so tired and so relaxed at PT this past week, that I actually started to fall asleep on the table. All of this PT actually is a lot of work and it's costing money, but I'm getting better (six miles!) and I really do enjoy going there.

Something that just occurred to me recently: come October, I'll be walking the equivalent of 2 1/2 marathons when I do this event!! I hadn't thought about it like that before. Saying it that way, it does sound kind of crazy. lol.

Things have been fairly quiet on the fundraising front lately. I have one donation that I'm hoping to see in the next week, so that's good. After this insane week at work, I should get more Pink Warrior stuff made. I'll be sending out a newsletter to my Athena's Armoury subscribers about the new line, so if you want to be included leave a comment below with your e-mail addy. I'm also planning on sending out an e-mail to friends, family, & co-workers that may not be following my blog just letting them know how things are going so far.

Mileage to date on training walks: 72
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,054 or 89%
Remaining: $246
Countdown: 131 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Hey Pink Warriors! Come get some armor (really chain maille jewelry).
All proceeds to benefit my fundraising for The 3 Day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Obviously I'm still trying to get into the swing of things with my blogging. Between house guests and work getting extremely stressful (yes, threats of layoffs. again.), it's pretty much fallen by the wayside. I'm trying to fix that....

Finding the simple joys each week...

Driving home from work late one night, I got to watch an amazing light show compliments of Mother Nature. The lightening was gorgeous and so bright that it was blinding.

Scott & I went to check out the new A-Team movie this week. It was so much fun. You kind of have to turn off your brain at the door, but if you're an old school fan like I am, you'll have a blast.

In the middle of mowing the lawn the other day, Scott called me outside. There was an adorable tortoise wandering through the yard! Of course I wanted to play with it, but I refrained. I kind of just hung out watching it for a bit. He stuck out his head and checked me out. I tried to run inside for my camera, but by the time I got back he was gone. So cute!

I spent some time tending to my herbs. They were in much need of attention, but I also really enjoy it. I'm moving my mint and lemon balm (member of the mint family) to the side of the house where they will get more shade. I'm hoping that will help because the poor mint plant in particular is not doing well. Actually, I thought of planting an entire mint garden on that side of the house. The soil there stays pretty moist and it doesn't get much sun because of my neighbor's tree, so it might be the perfect mint environment. We'll see.

I also decided to do a little herbal experiment. My lemongrass is growing like crazy so I wanted to do something with it. I took some of it and some rosemary and put it into a pint jar with some white vinegar. In theory, in a few weeks I should have some herbal deodorant. Finger crossed!! I would love for it to work.

In playing with my herbs I discovered a frog living in my yarrow. Actually, he may be a toad (he was rather warty). I think it's adorable that I have this little guy living in my herb garden!! Plus, he'll help take care of some bugs. The next day, I went out to water my herbs and didn't see him. The yarrow was looking a little dry, so I watered it fairly liberally. Then, out of nowhere, the dirt exploded and the toad popped out and was hanging by the edge of the pot. I felt so bad! I wasn't trying to drown the poor little guy!! I had no idea that he was completely buried in the soil. lol. Later that night, he was burrowed in the lemongrass.

Thanks to my boss being a dipshit and the possibility of layoffs, I've felt stressed out beyond belief this week. Actually, I'm feeling like I'm on the verge of panic attacks like last summer when they laid off 20 people. Not good. I thought this would be a good time for me to start taking my herbal nerve tonic infusion again. I'm so happy that I have something that I can turn to that will help me feel better. I have to start doing more yoga, too. That's also an amazing solace for me.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras. What were some of your joys this week?

Hey Pink Warriors! Come get some armor (really chain maille jewelry).
All proceeds to benefit my fundraising for The 3 Day!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The 3 Day: Weeks Fourteen & Fifteen Progress Report

I've been a little MIA from the blog and most of the internet for that matter for the past couple of weeks. Not too terribly much has happened, though, so there won't be too much to catch you up on. Let's see what we've got....

I'm continuing to go to physical therapy once a week, do my stretching & strengthening exercises daily, as well as icing daily. Tara, my physical therapist told me to go for two miles and if it felt okay to continue on a bit longer for three. And I did!! There was some discomfort, but no pain. The next walk that she wanted me to do, she said to do three miles and again if it felt good to go for four. I was a little wary to try four: that's further than I had gone before I was injured. Around the second mile of that walk, I wasn't sure I was going to make it: I felt a bit stiff and a little sore. But I pushed through it. I did a full four miles!! I'm just thrilled that I made it! I made good time, too: four miles in one hour and five minutes. As soon as I got home I stretched and my honey made me an ice water foot bath. That felt amazing!! I was worried about stiffness later on, so I then did a hot foot bath, too. I took a couple of anti-inflammatories when I got home and used some Biofreeze when I went to bed. The next day: the tootsies weren't perfect, but they were feeling okay. Big smiles.

Aside from these walks, my usual walking at work, and maybe a quick run into a grocery store I really have not been on my feet at all (walking or standing) for the past 2-3 months. I went on two marathon shopping trips with my mom in these past couple of weeks and was miserable. I was on my feet for way too long and was hurting pretty bad the next day. I'm clearly not ready to be doing anything like that yet.

Also, I went to the podiatrist for a follow up. Talk about a waste of time and money. He basically said "keep doing what you're doing." Thanks. I'm so glad I spent an hour of my life and $100 on that.

I'm so glad that I got the bulk of my fundraising done early!! Somehow I knew that once it came time to training that I was going to need to focus all of my energy on that. I had that feeling even before I got injured. I'm still hoping to do another market or craft fair or something. I have some Pink Ribbon accessories that I'd love to be able to sell, plans for Pink Ribbon sugar cookies, and of course I want to continue to raise awareness.

I've had a few sales from my Pink Warrior Collection on Etsy but no bites from Artfire yet. I'm hoping to get some new pieces made next week when we get my mom moved out of my house. I'm really excited about making a few dream catchers for the collection! I'm also thinking about a charm bracelet and maybe a candle holder.

Speaking of my Pink Warrior stuff... check out this very sweet video of fellow 3 Day walker Kristen (follow her on twitter @kscincotta or her blog). Can you see the little bit of pink dangling from her ears?? Those are the Pink Warrior Earrings that she bought from me! Thanks to the generosity of Rebeca of Blue Buddha Boutique, ALL proceeds from the purchase of those earrings and every single piece of Pink Warrior Chain Maille goes directly to my fundraising. I've never seen such an amazing customer appreciation video. Thank you so much, Kristen!

Mileage to date on training walks: 56
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,054 or 89%
Remaining: $246
Countdown: 144 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The 3 Day: Week Thirteen Progress Report

I've seen this on a few different blogs and thought I'd share it with all of you:

"If you still aren’t sure about making a donation, please remember that all walkers and crew members will be sleeping in 6x6 two person tents, taking showers in a semi-trailer, brushing our teeth at a sink outside the semi and there will be no electrical outlets for hair dryers and flat irons (Janine's edit: or in my case, my smart phone charger). We all have invested our own money purchasing the proper shoes (Janine's edit: that would be two pairs for training and another two pairs for the event), socks and other training gear necessary for the event and the training time alone takes away from our family time. This is a huge commitment for us and we take it seriously. Your financial support is greatly appreciated."

You can support my efforts and breast cancer research either by purchasing a piece from the Pink Warrior Chain Maille Collection (ALL Proceeds go to The 3 Day) on Etsy or Artfire or you can contribute directly to my fundraising on my Personal Page at The 3 Day website.

I spent a lot of time this week dedicated to doing the stretching and strengthening exercises that my physical therapist gave me. It actually does feel like my arches are getting stronger. I had my first session with the PT this week since my evaluation: I warmed up my feet on the stationary bike, did some stretching exercises, and then I was on the table & she worked on me. I hate to say that she massaged my feet because that sounds so luxurious, but even though she really was rearranging things in there it really did feel nice. My next homework assignment: continue doing my exercises and go for a one mile walk. One mile may not sound like much, but after what happened the last time I walked... She seemed to think that I would be pleasantly surprised at how it would go. She was right. I did my exercises and stretched for maybe about twenty minutes before heading out. I did experience some discomfort, but I wasn't crippled and crying when I got home!! As soon as I got home, I stretched again and iced my feet: I wasn't going to mess around. I spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool and swimming: that night, my feet felt fine. Since that walk went so well, I decided to go for another one over the weekend. Again, there was some discomfort but it was even less than before. Apparently, all of the work that I've done and that the physical therapist has done has started to make a difference!!! I'm just thrilled . I have another therapy session on Wednesday: I can't wait to tell her how it went!

It was a very, very quiet week on the fundraising front. Admittedly, I've been focusing the majority of my energy on healing my feet and my work schedule was pretty screwy this week. I was hoping to get some more Pink Warrior Chain Maille made, but sadly never got to it. I did, however, get all of my raffle goodies organized for shipment and made some cute little thank you cards. I'm hoping to finish packaging everything up this week and getting it all shipped out. It took a little longer to get organized that I had estimated.

Mileage to date on training walks: 44
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,049 or 89%
Remaining: $251
Countdown: 159 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

Athena's Armoury was included in a fantastic medieval Etsy Treasury.

This week's Herb Society meeting was bittersweet: it was a great meeting where we talked about tea making, but it's the last time we meet until the fall. I'll tell you more about the meeting in a separate post later this week.

Playing poolside. Enjoying the sun.

I spent a really great few hours yesterday among friends at a soap making workshop. I think figured out what I did wrong when I tried a few months ago, so I really want to try doing it again. I hung out with a few friends from the Herb Society and met a new one, too. The woman running the workshop even gave us a jar of mulberry jam that she made fresh from the fruit on her tree. When I left the meeting, I saw a produce stand by the side of the road so of course I had to stop. I picked up some amazingly fresh nectarines, lemons, strawberries, and watermelon.

In other news, there are so many expensive things that I want/need to do! I am in serious need of upgrading my coil cutting system, I would absolutely love to apprentice with Rosemary Gladstar (it's her herbal correspondence course that I'm taking), and I kind of need to get a new cell phone. Just curious: where does the $ come from? =(

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras. What were some of your joys this week?

Hey Pink Warriors! Come get some armor. All proceeds to benefit my fundraising for The 3 Day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Finds - Herbalism Tools

I must admit, my brain has been on a bit of a hiatus lately in regard to my herbalism studies. But this past week, Scott came down with a case of laryngitis and then a cough with chest congestion so he had me busily preparing throat soothing teas, an herbal throat coat spray, and a cough syrup with an expectorant for the congestion. Here are some tools that you might find in an herbal apothecary...

Monday, May 17, 2010

The 3 Day: Week Twelve Progress Report

On Tuesday, I went to a Super Clinic. We heard from one woman who is a five year survivor: this year she's doing her 7th & 8th 3 Day walks. She partially credits her survival to Susan G. Komen: one of the treatments that she received was actually discovered thanks to grants from Komen. We also heard from another woman about some fundraising ideas. And last, the owner of the store gave us some insights to proper shoes & socks for the event. There's a lot I didn't know about shoes and I found it fascinating considering what I'm going through with my feet. If you're doing the walk and there's a clinic going on near you, I highly encourage you to check it out! You will gain so much insight from it, get properly fit for shoes, and be able to ask experienced walkers and professional shoe people questions.

I knew my official training start date was coming up, but I thought it was actually another couple of weeks away. Needless to say, imagine my shock when I realized that my training actually starts the week of the 17th... this current week. I had a bit of a freak out, to say the least.

At my last doctor appointment, he said that since I'm wearing the orthotic I don't need to get a $200 pair of shoes but that I also couldn't go super cheap either. I had tried on some fairly inexpensive Saucony's recently and liked them, but that store didn't have my size. For some bizarre reason, the pair that I ordered online didn't feel anything like the ones in the store. I was stumped. So, I figured it would probably be a good idea to try to get fit by professionals. Again. I did get fit at the clinic, but I was really hesitant to buy them simply because of everything I had been through with shoes and my feet to date. The girl told me to take them home and try them for a week and if they didn't work to just bring them back. Okay, so I tried them the next day and was in pain. I tried to bring them back and the store wouldn't let me return them. They only offer exchanges or store credit. The girl knew exactly what was going on with my feet and told me that I could return them and now I'm stuck with store credit that I can't use. Needless to say, I'm pissed. That's American Running Company in Dunedin, FL.

Getting back to that painful walk... I spent probably a good 15-20 minutes stretching before I even left and then when I did, I took it really slow. I was in pain somewhere around half a mile. I came home and cried. I was so upset and frustrated. Kristen over at Kristen Walks wrote a great blog post about the real goals of the 3 Day: to raise as much money as possible and to raise awareness. That helped put things into perspective for me: I am nearly at my fundraising minimum goal (and am hoping to surpass it!) and I have been out in the public and raising awareness every chance I get. Yeah, I'm frustrated that I got injured and I'm really disappointed that I may not be able to do the walk, but I have made a difference and I need to remember that.

In order to be proactive about my feet, I went to my physical therapy evaluation this week. Turns out that the therapist that I saw has done the walk three times already and said that she doesn't see any reason why I won't be able to do it. I nearly cried, I was so happy. She even invited me to join her team. She sent me home with some homework: stretching & strengthening exercises. When I go back this week, she said that she's going to work me and have me walking by the weekend. I have no doubt that this journey to recovery will be a challenge but I think that may be part of what the 3 Day experience is for me. This is a chance for me to step up and show my mettle.

On Friday, I announced the prize winners for my 3 Day handmade raffle. I just want to say again how grateful I am to all of my sponsors who contributed their time and talent (and promotion!) as well as to all of the donors who gave so generously to such a good cause!

I sold a scale maille piece from my Pink Warrior Chain Maille Collection (available on Etsy or Artfire; ALL proceeds to benefit Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure) before it was even listed online! I sold it to a co-worker. Another $25 to fight breast cancer! Woohoo!

I think I forgot to mention this last week, but I broke the $2,000 milestone in my fundraising!! I had hoped to be at 75% of my goal by the time training started so that I could focus on that, but I surpassed my hopes! I'm currently at 89% of my goal with only $251 left to raise!

Mileage to date on training walks: 42
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,049 or 89%
Remaining: $251
Countdown: 166 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

Despite being slightly perturbed that my truck didn't start this week, it turned into a simple joy when I saw the technician that AAA sent: it was a woman! Being the woman warrior that I am, I am always thrilled to see women working in fields that are dominated by men. She inspired this Woman Warrior blog post.

Scott and I have this thing: we love to go to the movies, but we hate dealing with the insane crowds on the weekends. We've started going on the Monday night after opening weekend instead. It's perfect: there's usually hardly anyone there! So, on Monday night after work we went out. I *found* a gift card on the street a few months back to Maggiano's (an Italian restaurant), so we went there for dinner: for free! Then, we hit the Imax theater in St. Pete to see Iron Man. I highly recommend it, it was a lot of fun (definitely check out the first one, too). It was so gorgeous out after the movie, that we stopped as the local beer garden for a drink. They had some great blues music playing, there was a warm, gentle breeze, the beer was cold, and the greenery in the garden was beautiful. It was such a nice evening!!

I had yet another thoroughly enjoyable evening last night! Scott went off to play games with his friends leaving me to my own devices at home with the cat. I made some green iced tea with lemongrass and mint from my herb garden -- it so refreshing and tasty. I sat outside on the lanai reading my book and eating seaweed salad and sushi. Then Jack the cat and I came back inside to crash on the couch and get caught up on The Tudors. It was such a nice way to spend the night.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras. What were some of your joys this week?

Friday, May 14, 2010

The 3 Day Handmade Raffle Drawing

This week's regularly scheduled Friday Finds blog post will resume next week. This week, I'm so excited to announce the drawing for The 3 Day Handmade Raffle winners!

I was originally going to use a random number generator when this was strictly an online raffle, but that plan changed a bit since I was actually able to get out in public with it. We've got a nice little glass jar of actual raffle tickets instead. As I got donations in from each of you, I added the appropriate number of tickets to the jar.

So, without further ado... The winners are...

Sassy Pink Armband by 88 Links
FaerieKat (ticket #685690)

Watercolor Portrait by Amber Moran
whskr (ticket #685713)

Flower Necklace by Anika's Art
aquariann (ticket #685769)

Aware. breast cancer awareness fairy art print by aquariann
cascreates (ticket #685785)

Beaded Bliss Earrings by Armored Hearts
FaerieKat (ticket #685707)

Japanese 12-in-2 Chainmail Bracelet by Baron Byron
cascreates (ticket #685778)

Bright Gold Peyote stitch & Red Tear Drop Glass Set by cascreates
FaerieKat (ticket #685697)

Sweet Sweet Honey - 2 sets of cards: Plain Pink and White Fur and Classy Lady Earrings by Crazy4Cards
Savannah, Tampa Downtown Market (ticket #685766)

Ostara, German Goddess of Easter by Daydreamer Art
Lady Steel (ticket #685708)

Pink and Silver Stepping Stones Bracelet by Coldfire Customs
cascreates (ticket #685784)

Canterbury Bells Earrings by FaerieKat
Joyce N. (ticket #685798)

Lavender Babies Set - Hearts by Fairies Nest
Char Anderson (ticket #685802)

Three Flower Buds, One with Breast Cancer Ribbon Choker by Fairy Queen Crochet
FaerieKat (ticket #685703)

Wire Wrapped Heart Pendant Necklace by Gypsy Moon Art Studio
FaerieKat (ticket #685706)

Bead Crochet Bracelet by Inner Muse Jewelry
Monica R., Tampa Downtown Market (ticket #685736)

Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Chainmaille Scales Bracelet by Kali Butterfly
FaerieKat (ticket #685702)

Cartilage Chain Earring by merigreenleaf
Joyce N. (ticket #685796)

Cop A Feel by mermaiden
Eirewolf Creations (ticket #685772)

Stainless steel Half Persian 4-in-1 bracelet by Nicole Hill
cascreates (ticket #685790)

FAIRY CAT STATUE - Fantasy Fairie Concrete Art by Phenome Gnome
whskr (ticket #685712)

Wings of Hope Owlet by Plushroom Soup
Lady Steel (ticket #685710)

Heart Strings Wallhanging by Threads of Magique
Elle Belle (ticket #685711)

April Spring Blue Pin by whskr
cascreates (ticket #685787)

Congratulations to all of the prize winners!! I'm so excited for all of you, there were some really amazing prizes! I will contact each of you directly to confirm your mailing address. I have all of the prizes and will be busy putting packages of them together over the next few days to ship out to all of you. I'm hoping to have everything shipped by the end of next week and will notify you when your package goes into the mail.

A Very Special Thanks:
~It started with the amount of people that were willing to help me and help the cause. I had no idea that I would have so many amazing artists and crafters offer to donate their work. I get warm fuzzies when I think of all of the support I received from these amazing people. Not only did they donate products, but also helped promote the fundraiser.
~Tiffany at the Tampa Downtown Market rocked my world when she let me set up my fundraising tent for free. Thanks to Tiffany, I was able to bring all of the amazing raffle prizes out for showing off, raise money to find a cure, and help raise awareness.
~Tara at Scoutie Girl and Mallory at Miss Malaprop were insanely cool and helped promote the raffle to their readership. Thanks so much for the support, ladies!
~My main line of support, my rock: Scott. Thank you so much for helping me get my signs made, being my wing man at the market (including making sure I ate something!), listening to me talk about the raffle incessantly for the month of planning and then the month it was running, and so much more. What would I do without you?
~And finally, to all of my donors: those of you who were able to follow my rather wordy instructions to donate online and the others that I met at the market that oooohed and aaaahed over all of the prizes. Every dollar that you donated will go straight to Susan G. Komen to fund breast cancer research, education, and breast health programs. With all of my heart, I thank you.

A little bit of a synopsis:
The final week started with $125 raised for the raffle. There was $600 worth of amazing goods donated and what I thought would be a realistic goal for the fundraiser would be $200-300. The final amount raised was: $210

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Woman Warrior: Alice Ramsey

Today, was like any other day: my alarm went off, I got ready for work, I got in my truck... and then nothing. My truck didn't start. The same thing happened the other day, but I was kind of just hoping that the battery just got run down. I took out the battery charger (again), but this time it didn't hold a charge. Despite the fact that I was just sitting in my driveway, I called AAA. The technician was there in less than an hour and... get this... it was a woman!! You know that I was thrilled to see a woman working in a field that is dominated by men.

That got me to thinking about my woman warrior series and women who have made strides in the automobile industry. A little bit of looking around led me to Alice Ramsey. In a time when women still didn't have the right to vote and were far from independent, Alice Ramsey was the first woman to drive across the United States. It was 1909 and she was 22 years old. She drove a dark-green, four-cylinder, 30-horsepower 1909 Maxwell DA, a touring car with two bench seats and a removable pantasote roof. The highest speed it reached: 42 miles per hour. At this time, it was typical to see women travel short distances, but a cross-country trip had been tried only a handful of times and never accomplished. Only six years had passed since Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson’s 1903 drive marked the first male cross-country success.

We take some things for granted with our cars today: at that time, the sheer physical triumph of survival of a cross country trip was impressive. Though the Maxwell-Briscoe Company published an ad stating that the group (Ramsey traveled with her two sisters-in law and a friend) traveled “without a particle of car trouble,” this was far from the truth. Ramsey had fixed at least one tire blowout and had called for a mechanic to repair a coil in Syracuse, waiting near their car as someone in the crowd cried “Get a horse!” as Ramsey would recall. In the Midwest, the car ran out of gas. The women had forgotten to check the tank, a process that required the driver and her seatmate to leave the car, remove the front seat cushion, and stick a ruler into the Maxwell’s specially fitted 20-gallon fuel tank. The next day, moving through mud in low gear overworked the car, and the transmission needed water. There was no extra on board, so her two sisters-in-law proved their mettle by using their toothbrush and toiletries holders—made of cut-glass and sterling silver—to transport water ounce by ounce from road-side ditches to the radiator. Some potholed, muddy roads proved practically impassable for the tread-less tires. It was slow-moving and, in one case, no-moving: the women slept beside an overflowed creek until the water receded enough that they could ford it.

Because the automobile industry was yet in its infancy, America’s roads were not yet designed for long-distance driving. For navigation, Ramsey relied on the Blue Book series of automotive guides, which gave directions using landmarks. But sometimes the route changed faster than the books. The women struggled to find a “yellow house and barn” at which they were supposed to turn left; a horse-loyal farmer had deliberately foiled drivers by repainting in green. Worse, there were no books for regions west of the Mississippi River. The Maxwell took worn routes, at crossroads following the telegraph poles “with the greatest number of wires,” according to Ramsey. On certain days, the Maxwell-Briscoe Company hired pilot cars familiar with the area to lead them. Even so, the party sometimes hit a dead end at a mine or sandpit and had to backtrack for miles.

Finally, on August 7, 1909, and they had made it. In total, the trip had taken 59 days and covered 3,800 miles from New York to California.

After her brief bout with fame, Ramsey returned to New Jersey by train, where she resumed a relatively low-key profile raising two children. She continued her cross-country drives, losing count after her thirtieth. In 1960, the Automobile Manufacturers Association named her their “First Lady of Automotive Travel” for her trek across a “trackless land.” The next year Ramsey published Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron, a chronicle of the 1909 trip. She later drove five of the six passes of the Swiss Alps, giving up the last under doctor’s orders regarding her pacemaker. Ramsey died in 1983.

It's crazy for me to think that even today, in our forward thinking society, there are some women that don't even know how to fill up their gas tank, that simply look at their engine and get intimidated. And then you look back at a brave, pioneer like Alice Ramsey... I don't know about you, but it makes me want to get greasy and learn about the inside of my truck.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The 3 Day: Week Eleven Progress Report

A little bit of fun...
I came home from Lowe's with a whole bunch of plants this week and... a 3 Day garden flag!

Another bit of random goodness...
I received a very sweet, very supportive e-mail through my blog from an absolute stranger. She's actually a fellow walker and Training Walk Leader in Denver and even though I know walkers from around the country through blogs & twitter, I had never "met" her before. She shared with me her experiences buying shoes for the event and tips for getting started training. She was incredibly kind and supportive of me and my efforts so far and basically told me not to give up on myself (the whole frustration with my feet thing). It was awesome e-mail and I really appreciate that she took the time to reach out to an absolute stranger for a virtual hug like that. Warm fuzzies...

I nearly had a heart attack this week when I saw how much it's costing me to go to the foot doctor. They even charged for taping up my feet at that first visit! It's nuts, but I don't have a choice: I have to get my feet healthy.

That said... I went back to the doctor again this week for yet another follow up. If you follow my blog, you would have seen my announcement earlier in the week (I was too excited to wait for this blog post): at my follow up, the doctor cleared me to start walking again!!! I'm not 100% yet and he wants me to do some physical therapy, but he said that since there's been improvement I can go ahead and start back. He seemed to think that the semi-custom orthotics are working just fine for me for now, too. Obviously, I'm going to take it slow and be smart about it; it certainly wouldn't make sense for me to hurt myself at this point. I'm not going to go out with any goal. I'm just going to go for a walk for as long as it feels comfortable. He stressed that I shouldn't walk every day (obviously) and to include cross training (I would have done that anyway).

I can't tell you how happy and relieved I was when I left the office that day. I literally had perma-grin for the rest of the day. I was so happy, that I actually started to cry at one point. I know that it isn't going to be easy and that I'm going to have to take it slow, but at least now I know that I can do it. I feel strong again. I AM a Pink Warrior.

Four pieces from the Pink Warrior Chain Maille Collection sold on Etsy this week!! I thought it was cool that two of the bracelets that sold will be Mother's Day gifts and the other two pieces are for a fellow 3 Day walker. Thank you so much Blue Buddha Boutique for donating all of the jump rings that made this possible!!!

I contacted some of the very popular handmade blogs this week to see if they might be interested in sharing info about my handmade raffle to their readership. The amazing Tara of Scoutie Girl announced the raffle on her Facebook page. I haven't seen any donations as a result of it but there were a few comments, so I at least know that people did check it out.

Mallory over at Miss Malaprop also promoted the raffle in a post about a fundraiser that she's doing. It sounds like a really amazing cause, so if you're in her neck of the woods please be sure to check it out!

In order to try and drum up some more interest for this last week of the handmade raffle, I'm offering a gift to everyone that participates regardless if they win a prize or not. Hopefully, it will draw a few more donations! We're at $175 raised through the raffle so far, I'd love to get it up to a nice, even $200.

Mileage to date on training walks: 41
Goal: $2,300
Achieved: $2,014 or 88%
Remaining: $286
Countdown: 173 days until the event!

If you're enjoying keeping track of my progress, please consider supporting me in my effort to eradicate breast cancer. No amount is too little or too much. Thank you!!

Don't forget to check out my raffle benefiting the 3 Day!
This is the last week to make a donation in order to enter to win a prize: the drawing is on Friday, May 14, 2010.
Everyone that participates this week receives a gift regardless if you win a prize or not. Details here.