Sunday, February 28, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

I started preparing for the 3 Day this week. A full update on this week's progress is coming on Monday! But in the meantime: my Personal Page at the 3 Day website went live this week! Squeee!

I spent some time working on Lesson Two of my herbalism course which always makes me happy. My hope was to be able to get through a lesson a month, so I'm running a little behind schedule. I still have some reading to do with this lesson in addition to researching the materia medica, making a few herbal projects (have to order the herbs for that), and my homework. I blame it on February being such a short month!

I listed my FAEteam monthly challenge. I'll show it off in a separate post, but suffice to say that I'm thrilled that I've been inspired enough to create something for the challenge two months in a row. That may not sound like much, but after the past year's lack of creativity it's really huge and I'm very pleased.

I made some more lavender honey. I just have to wait three weeks for the herbs to work their magic. I love the stuff!

The bad news of the week: I heard yet another rumor and almost definitively that there will be layoffs next month (as in tomorrow). The good news (if you can call it such given the circumstances): it's upsetting me, but I'm not quite freaking out like I did over the summer. All we can do now is wait.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Journey on The 3 Day: It Begins

As I mentioned in last week's Simple Joy Sunday, I decided to sign up for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure. I'm nervous, excited, and everything in between. I spent some time last night reading my Walker's Handbook and getting my Donation Page set up. I even added the groovey widget you see on my right sidebar that will take you straight to my donation page. I have a bunch of ideas for fund raising, but am trying to simply take it all one step at a time. I must admit that raising $2,300 is more daunting to me than walking 60 miles over three days. With the training schedule that they provide, I am certain that I will be able to prepare myself for the event physically.

On my Donation Page, there is a section to keep a blog about your experiences doing the 3 Day. My plan is to cross post there and here on my blog to share my journey with you. Here's the first installment...

For those of you who don't know this about me: I believe that anything is possible. I believe that we can make a difference. I believe in women and men coming together united to fight a common cause. I believe in the strength of women.

I've always felt strongly about helping women and have always been a proponent of women's rights. The two years that I spent touring the United States and Canada with The Vagina Monologues meant more to me than a paycheck. It was an opportunity to empower women.

I remember hearing about the Avon Breast Cancer Walk while I was still in school and living in NY. Since I've come off the road and have been living in one place, I've heard the ads on the radio for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, I've seen the pamphlets in the mail, and I've also seen the tear inducing and inspiring commercials on TV. This year, I decided: it's time.

It's time to take that stand and let my voice be heard. It's time to contribute. I'm looking forward to the personal challenge that training will bring and knowing that I'm a part of something so much bigger than myself. Will you join me on my journey?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New in Shop: Gemstone Jewelry

I have a small stash of gemstone jewelry that I made quite some time ago and has been patiently waiting for a photo shoot. There's more to come, but here's a little taste of what's already been added to Athena's Armoury Etsy Shop & Artfire Studio.

Valentine Frost Lariat and Earring Set is available on Etsy and Artfire.
Peace, Love, and Joy Stretch Gemstone Bracelet on Etsy and Artfire.
Sweetheart Gemstone and Pearl Bib Necklace on Etsy and Artfire.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

Scott had to work all day on Valentine's Day, so we really weren't able to spend any time together then at all. So, on Monday night when I got home from work we went out for a belated Valentine's Day dinner. Somehow, he always manages to make things special.

So, what did I do on Valentine's Day by myself? Well, I spent the majority of the day researching (ahem, obsessing) the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk. Finally, I had to get out of my head, so I made some herbal candy. It was actually really fun!

Driving home from work this week, I saw an eagle. I've never seen one not in a zoo before. It was a real treat. Talk about a beautiful creature. It was stunning.

As usual, I had a nice time at this month's Herb Society meeting where we talked about herbal dyes.

Every once in a while my faith in human kindness is renewed. I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some fresh fruit and was standing in line to pay. The woman in front of me was taking forever when the guy behind me put his things down and ran away. He came back and handed me one of my reusable produce bags. He said he noticed it on the floor in the produce section and then saw me carrying them in the check out line. I didn't even realize that I had dropped one. Wasn't that sweet of him?

I spent some time searching for glass jars and bottles at thrift stores this week for my herbal concoctions and found some really great stuff for cheap. Perfect!

I got back to nature for a much needed visit this week. It's been pretty damn chilly down here lately, so I haven't spent much time outside and I've really been missing it. I took a few hours (I actually totally lost track of time) and tended to my herbs. The poor little green guys have been looking pretty ragged with all of the cold weather, so they really did need some attention. There was pruning to be done and re-potting. I got a great planting of dill at the Herb Society meeting that needed a home. A couple of plants have seen better days, so I'm trying to salvage them by cutting the good parts and trying to get them to root. I realized that I'm turning into one of those people that talks to their plants.

To finish off my day with Gaia (Mother Earth) I went for a walk on the beach. It's been a long time since I've been down there (at least since before the holidays) and with all of the thinking about walking this week, it seemed appropriate. As always, I just love being there. I even walked a couple of miles.

I continued to obsess over doing the 3 Day Walk all week and RSVP-ed to a Getting Started Meeting. I primarily wanted to go and get some questions answered and maybe meet some people so that I could join a team. Believe it or not, walking 60 miles over the course of 3 days isn't the intimidating part to me. Raising the $2300 is what prevented me from signing up as soon as I started obsessing. My hope is that joining a team would give me the support I need to raise the money. Needless to say, as I was getting ready to go to the meeting I pretty much knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to do it. =) More news to come this week as I get my donation page set up!!

After the Getting Started Meeting, I was so nervous and excited that I had to sit down and relax for a bit, so I found a little dive of a restaurant by the water and treated myself to lunch. This was my view. Not bad, huh? That is, until a crow landed on the back of my chair. But, honestly, even that wasn't bad, just funny.

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

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Finds - Breast Cancer Awareness

No, it's not October yet (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) but breast cancer awareness shouldn't just be a once a year thought.

I've also spent a lot of time this week thinking about breast cancer awareness because I'm thinking about registering to do the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For the Cure. In fact, today I'm attending a Getting Started Meeting in the hopes of answering some questions and possibly finding a team to join.

There are a lot of groovy breast cancer awareness inspired items on Etsy, including tons of amazing heirloom jewelry and fun, casual Scrabble tile pendants. Here is a small selection of some of the other great finds listed.

They have a bunch of other really awesome sayings like "Hope for Hooters." =)

I've used the Think Pink catch phrase for a long time. Love the hand painted wine glass!

Another amazing piece by my fellow FAE aquariann. I love the fairy's little pink ribbon earrings!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Herb Society Meeting: Herbal Dyes

I was so excited for last night's Herb Society meeting because the workshop was supposed to focus on soap making. I tried making soap. Twice. It didn't go so well, so I really was really hoping to get it straight last night. Sadly, though, there was a bit of confusion and the two ladies that were running the thing both thought that the other was in charge of soap making. They both focused on herbal dyes instead. Oh, well. At least it was still something interesting.

Some interesting things about herbal dyes:
-You can use the leaves, petals, stems, bark, or even roots to make dye.

-The color of the various plant parts used for dye, isn't necessarily the color the dye will be. For example, St. John's Wort has yellow flowers but the plant will actually create a beautiful, brilliant red dye.

-Textiles in order from easiest to hardest to dye:
1. wool
2. cotton
3. linen
4. silk

-Dye color can change according to when you harvest the plants. Season to season, it will vary.

-Herbal dye is made entirely with herbal extractions and without using any sort of chemicals. The process, therefore, does not pollute the environment through contamination of water resources. Or any other way, for that matter.

Off the topic of herbal dyes...
One of the women I was talking to last night said that she only uses baking soda and rain water to wash her hair and apple cider vinegar and rain water to rinse. I already use an infused vinegar rinse, so of course I'm now intrigued to try the baking soda to wash! I've read that the baking soda amounts people use vary from using a thick paste to diluting it in a spray bottle, so I guess I'm going to have to experiment with what will work for me. I've also read that the baking soda solution should focus on the scalp, whereas the vinegar rinse should focus on the length of your hair. Apparently, people who have success with this method do not need to wash their hair every day. That is my main concern. I work out regularly and, therefore, sweat. Will I really be able to get away with not washing my hair daily? I'm still researching this, so if anyone has any experience please share in the comments! Thanks!

EDIT: I found Babyslime's blog post to have a lot of good information about going "no 'poo."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Herbal Concoction: Herbal Candy

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and my human Valentine (Scott) was at work all day while my furry Valentine (Jack) slept much of the day. I spent the majority of the day doing research (aka: obsessing) about doing the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk. I finally decided to get out of my head for a little bit and make some herbal candy. I had seen a recipe for it a couple of weeks ago and then my friend Cat over at The Green Cat blog sent me an e-mail with a link to a recipe on Instructables. It was the second time I saw that particular recipe that week. I figured that the universe was trying to tell me something so I had to try it.

Here is the recipe I used:

Cough Drops - More DIY How To Projects

I picked up some really delicious Ginger Lemon tea by Yogi Tea earlier in the week and thought that it would taste really yummy as candy so I used that instead of selecting my own herbs for this first try.

I also had to pick up a candy thermometer since my regular cooking thermometer doesn't reach the temperatures you need for candy. The instructable recipe made a point of saying to check your thermometer's temperature. I'm grateful I did, because it was off by about 20 degrees! I'm glad I knew to adjust it because it took a really long time to get it to the correct temperature.

One of the reasons why I decided to use this recipe for my first try making herbal candy is because it uses less than half the amount of sugar normally called for in a basic hard candy recipe. Apparently, you can play with what sweeteners you use but I stuck with the original recipe for this first try. I think next time, I'd like to try a combination of white sugar and agave, but I have a feeling that it might make for a chewy candy instead of the hard candy you get with straight sugar.

I didn't have any candy molds but I did have powdered sugar, so I used her recommendation to make molds using that. It was so cool watching the tea/sugar mixture flow into the molds. Seriously.

I stuck it in the fridge and let it set for about half an hour before I sifted the candy out.

I love that they are coated in the powdered sugar (tasty plus it helps keep them from sticking together) and if I do ever get candy molds still plan on using a light sprinkling. They turned out really tasty, but really sweet (but I guess that's simply in the nature of hard candy). I'm really glad that I used this recipe with less sugar!! They're very hard, definitely a sucking candy. It was a lot of fun making them and I'm really looking forward to playing with different herbs. Maybe next time I'll try elderberry & mint...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

Made myself a little herbal concoction this week: a little dream/sleep pouch. I guess most people actually make these as pillows, but I don't really sew and I thought it would be more practical to use a pouch that can be reopened to add a few drops of essential oil or refresh the herbs at a later date. Anyway, it smells amazing!

On Friday night, I sent Scott off to work and had a covert cookie making operation going on. I made some sugar cookies with frosting for Valentine's Day, but wanted to surprise him so I had to mask the smell of baking. I masked the smell of cookies with the smell of apple cake. He loves apples, so I thought it would be the perfect cover up. Turns out, I didn't need to worry about it... he came home so stuffed up that he couldn't breathe. Oh well, there was yummy apple cake anyway.

In all honesty, this week was a little brutal with work, Scott having the sniffles, and just not a lot of fun stuff going on. Hopefully there will be more joys next week, but I'm grateful for the few I had this week!

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

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday Finds - Fantasy Valentine

My schedule this week has been pretty screwed up, so I apologize for Friday Finds coming on Saturday! In honor of Valentine's Day, here are some finds from the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team.

And in honor of anti-Valentine's Day....

Don't forget: Free Shipping in both Athena's Armoury Etsy & Artfire shops until midnight on Valentine's Day. Just place your order and make payment and the cost of shipping will be refunded to you via Paypal.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day at Athena's Armoury

Is it really almost Valentine's Day?! Athena's Armoury will be celebrating Valentine's Day with free shipping from now until midnight on Sunday, February 14, 2010. Simply place your order and make payment. I will refund the cost of shipping to you via Paypal.

Here are a few of my favorite Valentine's Day items from the Armoury.

Chain Maille Heart Keepsake
Available Etsy and Artfire

Candlelight and Diamonds - A Love Rune Candle Holder
Available Etsy and Artfire

Valentine Frost Lariat and Earrings Set
Available Etsy and Artfire

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Simple Joy Sunday

Finding the simple joys each week...

I made a pot of Lemongrass (fresh from my herb garden) Soup with Chicken this week. It is so freaking yummy!!!

I treated myself to a Soda Stream soda maker. Well, I'm really using it to make sparkling water. I'll share more about it in a different post, but suffice to say: I love it!

I listed three new items this week in both my Artfire Studio & Etsy Shop! Again, I want to share them with you in separate posts, but I was thrilled to make such progress with the shop. Picture taking & editing has never been my favorite part of selling online but put on some good music, drink a yummy beverage (the aforementioned sparkling water, wine, or tea work well), and you get something brand new to list! I even got eight new hearts for my Etsy shop this week. Now, only to get some sales...

I took a trip to the outlet mall on Saturday and scored some really great deals at The Gap. They almost never have my size in jeans at the outlet, but not only did they have my size but it was in my favorite style. Score.

My echinacea was done extracting this week, so I now have a nice stock of echinacea tincture for when we feel a cold coming on. Winter isn't over yet!

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

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Finds - Getting Cozy on a Rainy Day

Scott & I spent the afternoon getting the oil changed in each of our trucks, grocery shopping, and doing various other not too terribly exciting errands. It's a rainy, crappy day here. After all of that running around, I can't wait to settle in with a cozy blanky...

A nice, hot cup of tea...

And read a good book...

Right now I'm reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon. What are you reading?