Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is the USPS Becoming Obsolete?

The United States Post Office recently announced it's plans to close nearly 4,000 locations, the biggest closure of branches in history.  From the Wall Street Journal:
The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service said Tuesday it would consider closing 3,653 post offices, mostly in rural areas, an announcement certain to trigger a battle with the targeted communities.
Postal officials say the agency, an independent arm of the federal government that is supported mostly by postal fees, has no choice but to downsize as people increasingly click on their computers to communicate and pay bills rather than drop letters in the mailbox.
As the article mentions, nobody sends letters anymore and there are less and less bills being sent through the mail.  Advertisers are less likely to send out print ads in the current recession as well.  I've noticed that the price of sending a package via Parcel Post is sometimes the same as sending it out Priority Mail.  It would seem that the Post Office is trying to do away with this service however in doing so, they are also encouraging people to look to other methods of shipping.  Shipping companies like FedEx and UPS are gaining in popularity as the cost to ship through the Post Office increases.  There has even been talk of doing away with Saturday mail delivery.

It seems like the Canadian Post is also having similar problems as evidenced by their recent strike that lasted 13 days (Canada's Post tried cutting costs by reducing wages).  It sounds like to some, however, that the strike may have worked against the office and it's employees as people started to find alternative ways of shipping.  Some people also realized that the lack of mail delivery didn't effect them that much since their checks were direct deposited and they didn't miss the junk mail.  It had also, of course sent some of the public into an outrage as people were left waiting to receive checks and small businesses (hello, crafters) were forced to ship through private companies which cut into their profits.

It does seem like the Canadian Post has other ways of earning money; like through their Comparison Shopper.  Say, you're shopping for your hobbies, you just go to their search engine and find listings from stores in both Canada and the US to compare price history, user reviews, store policies, etc.  It seems like this might be a way of generating more cash for the Post by generating advertiser dollars.  So far as I know, the USPS doesn't have any additional resources other than just jacking up postal rates.

Truth be told, the Post Office has offered a crucial service since the 18th century.  It may seem like it's becoming obsolete in this era of technology but where will you go if you need to send a letter?  Not everyone sends e-cards.  Even with the increased postal rates, it often still is less expensive to ship through the Post Office than through private couriers, especially for small businesses.

How will this effect your crafty business?  Well, for one, driving to your local Post Office may turn into a much longer drive which will take more time out of your day and increase the amount of gas you use to get there.  

What's your take?  Is the Post Office becoming obsolete?  Do you still use the Post Office?  Will you miss it if no longer existed?

Check this list to see if your local branch might be closed.   

Simple Joy Sunday

Let's see...  The majority of my week was spent trying to play a little bit of catch up here on my blog, working out, and, well, working.  But there were a few shop highlights...

I sold yet another Sleep Pillow, some of my Tangerine Lavender Soap, and Foot Soak from the Apothecary!  I also got a *rave* review about my Sleep Pillow from a customer.  I must get some more muslin bags so I can get these back in the shop.

I concocted some more of my Queen of Hungary's Water.  I love mixing that stuff.  The herbs in it smell amazing.  I'm also considering adding it to the Apothecary.

My Cinnamon Clove Soap (I love this scent!) was included in another gorgeous Mermaiden treasury: Rugged Romance.

Hope you had a great week and found some moments that made you smile!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Shredded?

When I was still at my hellacious job, my exercising was largely yoga for it's calming effect but I also did Pilates, worked out with the Wii, and then there was all of the walking (hello, 3 Day).  But even with all of that, I still gained weight.  I gained weight because I was stuck at a desk for eight hours a day after being active and on my feet for my whole life prior to that.  I gained weight because I ate while stuck at my desk out of boredom.  And I ate comfort food at night after being stressed out all day at that job.  I left that job in January and within a month of leaving it, I lost 5lbs.  It took me a long while after leaving that job to get into a regular routine and even longer to start feeling like myself again.  Exercise, even though I knew it would make me feel better, wound up being something that got pushed to the back burner.  Every once in a while, I'd do yoga or Pilates but there was no regularity to it.  Lately, however, I've started to feel pretty fed up with myself.

Jillian Michaels - 30 Day ShredLaura over at I Am A Refined Young Lady, mentioned the 30 Day Shred and I was intrigued.  The Shred is actually Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.  When I had been really into doing Wii work outs, I heard of a Jillian Michaels Wii program, but never tried it.  Laura highly recommended this work out, though.  3" off the waist recommendation.  And then I saw before and after pictures of some women that have done the 30 Day Shred.  Needless to say, it immediately got put on the Netflix queue.

I read that each of the three work outs (Levels 1-3) included on the DVD were only 20 minutes and I (mistakenly) thought "how hard can it be?"  Boy was I wrong.  Day 1 of Level 1 seriously kicked my ass.  So did days two and three.  And then I started feeling stronger.  There's one really amazing thing that happened in those first few days of doing the 30 Day Shred: I remembered that I am strong.  By the end of Level 1 (10 days), I noticed that my endurance was much improved and that I could do all of the cardio and abs full out.  I was getting deeper into my squats but I still needed some upper body work: I couldn't do all of the push ups or shoulder presses.

Today was Day 11 and the start of the next level so I weighed in and measured.  Here's the weirdness: my weight didn't change and I think I lost 1" off my waist.  I guess the weight thing makes sense because muscle weighs more than fat (I am totally assuming here that all of the strength training is starting to pay off and I'm gaining muscle).  I'm a little confused about only the waist measurement changing which is why I'm wondering if I just measured wrong.  It actually does feel like my abs are a little more taught, however I haven't really noticed my clothes fitting any differently.

I also moved onto Level 2 today.  Needless to say, Day 1 of Level 2 also kicked my ass; even doing the beginner moves.  Here's to hoping that this works the same as Level 1 and I start to ease into it after a few days.  

I have to tell you, I was really hard on myself today.  I keep expecting such drastic changes from this program even though I know that isn't realistic after only a week and a half of working out.  I know I've come a long way since I started and I'm doing the best I can.  I hope that by the time I reach the end of the 30 days, I can see and feel the results.

Have you tried the 30 Day Shred?  What were your experiences?  Doing something else?  What's your work out routine?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Shop Your House

Hi! I’m Paige from Final Clothes-Out, and a big thanks to Janine for inviting me to post here today. My blog is all about being smart when you shop, and part of that is knowing when not to spend.

We all like change every now and then, but sometimes it’s not in the budget. So what’s a gal to do? Shop at home! And I don’t mean, “Go watch QVC!” I mean literally Shop Your House.

Chances are that you already have plenty of fabulous things, so you just need to rearrange them into something new.

Take this shelf, for example:

It lives in a room that plays double-duty (the office/guest room) so occasionally it will need to be something other than storage:

Tip #1: Think practical. If you want to change up a look, consider all the functions of the room, and decide if one of them should be highlighted. In this case, putting out towels and a candle for an imaginary guest was an easy fix.

But what about a look for everyday?

Tip #2: Just try it. I almost didn’t put this yellow print against the tan wall because I was SURE it would look stupid. But I really like it now, so clearly I was wrong.

Tip #3: Look everywhere. Do more than rearrange items from the same room. Here, the piggy bank was on my dresser, the retro clock was in the living room, and the print wasn’t even framed. If you expand and shop your entire house, you’ll have more to choose from and a better chance of loving the end result.

Great advice, Paige!  I know a lot of us aren't spending like we used to and making some small simple changes like you suggested is a great way of getting a new look without spending a dime.  Gotta love that!  Be sure to check out Paige's delicate, feminine pretties in her shop Little White Chapel.  Also, head on over to her blog Final Clothes-Out where you will see the journey that little shelf has gone through.  =) 

Make sure you come back for next week's very special guest.  Next week's featured guest blogger, John, is none other than one of the 60 Mile Men.  You can find him on twitter @60miles or on his blog 60 Miles: 316,800 Feet Closer to a Cure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blue Sky Scrubs

Back in April I did a post with a brief little history about hospital scrubs.  Curious, I know, but I actually thought that it was quite interesting!  What I didn't know at the time, however, was that the woman that founded the company that I highlighted (Blue Sky Scrubs)  is essentially a crafting entrepreneur.  There's a new look to the website and while I was browsing around, I discovered that little tidbit.

Shelby Marquardt was an anesthesiology resident at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas when she created the Pony Scrub Hat in her living room out of necessity.  She spent much of her time in the operating room and she found that the traditional scrub hats were unattractive and ill-fitting, especially for her long hair. 

"After cutting, sewing and altering the hat numerous times, she finally perfected the pattern—a sleek, slim-fitting cap with a ribbon-tied pouch that neatly ties back a short or a long ponytail. Once she started wearing the hat to work, her co-workers clamored for their own Pony scrub hats, and she began spending her weekends sewing."

She even went so far as to create the Pixie Scrub Hat for women with shorter hair, a scrub hat for men, and even improved upon the traditional scrub top & bottom design.

It gets even better.  Not only is this a great story of a crafty entrepreneur, but she has also made a commitment to give back.  With every purchase, Project Blue Sky will send a free hat to a cancer patient.  Their mission is to provide a small ray of light to those striving to beat this disease.  

I've never worn medical scrubs before but if I were going to, I think I would try Blue Sky Scrubs in order to support what started as a handmade business and to support their charitable mission.

Brought to you by your friends at

Monday, July 25, 2011

Simple Joy Sunday on Monday

It has been a really busy couple of weeks and, sadly, that meant that I've been neglecting my blog.  On a good note, however, it meant that I got a little bit of much needed theater work.  Let's see if we can't at least get caught up with a few little bits of happiness from the past couple of weeks.

The air conditioner in my truck has been broken for probably around three months at this point.  In the summer.  In Florida.  Not fun.  In fact, it's been pretty miserable.  But, the up side is that I've been swimming a little more often when I get home to cool down.  I love to swim.

I really appreciate my online friends for sharing links, clicking, and giving a thumbs up for Crowdtap.  Thanks to your help, I've earned $11.50 plus donations for Susan G. Komen for the fight against breast cancer.  That may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps and I really do appreciate it.

I tried a couple new recipes that I really liked.  Laura over at I Am a Refined Young Lady shared a crock pot recipe from that I just had to try: Chicken Taco Chili.  I love my slow cooker, but hardly ever use it so this was a good excuse to pull it out.  I also made skirt steak with chimichurri using fresh parsley from the garden.  Yummmmm...

At my framing job, I got to work with a customer on designing a mat and frame for this original artwork that her husband got her for their anniversary.  I think I found a new favorite artist.  The piece is really beautiful and was a highlight to a rather crummy day.

I finished reading the second Richard Castle (from the TV show Castle) book, Naked Heat, and enjoyed it just as much as the first one.  A really fun, tongue-in-cheek read, very much like the TV show.  I've moved onto the first book of the Dresden Files: Storm Front.  The show was really enjoyable and the books come highly recommended by Scott, too, so I suspect I will like them.  I'm very much enjoying just brain candy right now.

So far as the shop goes...  I had seven sales in July.  That may not sound like a lot to some, but it kind of is for my shop.  I put out a call for help to raise some funds so I can buy more soap making supplies and a few friends were able to step up to the plate for me.  Not only that, but they also helped me reach the 100 sales milestone in my Etsy shop.  To help celebrate, I made some loyalty coupons that will be included in all future orders and I sent out a bunch of free samples with those 7 sales.  One of those free samples turned into another order for four of my new herbal sleep pillows.  My Wolf Hunter Chain Maille Necklace was included in a beautiful treasury by Mermaiden Creations (her treasuries are always gorgeous, actually).  And, on top of all of that, I got more rave reviews about my Warrior Salve from another happy customer: "Got the Warrior Salve last night & put it on this morning: it helps so much!! I love it!!"

Overall, a busy, exhausting couple of weeks with a  bunch of good stuff to highlight them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In My Secret Garden

By Laura Walker

Members of my family have owned what is now the oldest florist and greenhouses in Lexington, Kentucky since the early 1900’s. As a child I would sit in the potting shed at the back of the greenhouses and plant flowers with my grandfather, who would tell me what each flower was as he taught me to gently plant them in terra cotta pots. So I guess it is only natural, that wherever I have lived as an adult, I have had some type of garden. Sometimes the space has been quite large, while at other times there may have been only room enough for a few potted flowers on a porch or balcony. Every winter I sit and dream about my summer garden and plan what I am going to plant when spring arrives.

I am currently in a townhouse with a bit of space in the back. A patio leads down to a dense area that was virtually unusable. So we decided to hack away the small trees and foliage and create a small haven that I like to call my secret garden. Stepping stones lead down to a small seating area that is a perfect spot to sip a glass of wine or lemonade, read a book, or just to enjoy some peace and quiet. 

As you can see from the pictures, I am usually not alone for long. We have a small colony of feral cats that we feed, who are becoming domesticated, a family of raccoons, who like to share the cats’ food, some naughty squirrels, and a lot of birds. Keeping everyone living in harmony while maintaining a pretty space is an ongoing work in progress.

I have learned while living in various places around the country that there is always some trial and error involved in choosing plants for a garden.  What may work beautifully in one area of the country may turn into a disaster in another. Don’t try to fight Mother Nature. If your area is primarily shady, as mine is now, don’t try to grow sun loving plants. It just doesn’t work.

I like the area around my patio to be lush with plants. I mix annuals with perennials so that there will be a constant display of color with lots of green foliage. Tucking some potted plants into the beds gives some variance in height and creates visual interest. Just like in the interior of my home, I love the coolness of white and so plant a lot of white impatiens in my beds. The pinks in the pots add a pop of color.

The best advice I can give to anyone who is starting a garden is to plant what is appealing to you and have fun with it.  Summer will be over before you know it, so get outside and enjoy your garden.

What great advice, Laura!  Thank you!!  It must have been such a wonderful experience to be able to sit & learn with your grandfather like that.  I just got the test results back from my soil sample & am dying to figure out what it means so I can start planting, too.  You can find some really wonderful vintage treasures in Laura's shop I'm So Vintage and be sure to check out her blog, too!

Next week's featured Guest Blogger is Paige from Little White Chapel on Etsy and her blog Final Clothes-Out.  She'll share a crafty tutorial with us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bird Watching Can Be Exhausting

Must lie down to do it....

Bird Watching Can Be Exhausting

Make sure you come visit tomorrow when Laura from I'm So Vintage on Etsy and her blog of the same name will be blogging about her secret garden & sharing some tips with us.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ReCreational Art Makes Upcycled Art

Hi! My name is Rose and I am a re-useaholic.

After graduating high school I went abroad for over a decade and then came back home to marry the boy next door. After working in the corperate surroundings and getting burnt out I then took a job working in a coffee shop as a barrista. I absolutely loved it! The aroma of the exotic blends that I served, the fabulous people that I served, came to know and am still friends with, the unique opportunity that I was given to step outside of the box and learn new things is a memory that I hold dear and near.  Working in the cafe was fun and at the end of the day when I would sweep the floor there would be a small mound of coffee beans and although I knew we couldn't serve them again, I just felt it a waste to toss them in the trash. So I rinsed them off, dried them out and saved them. They looked like natural organic beads to me, so I bought a Dremel and drilled little holes in them and made coffee bean jewelry that, luckily, the owner allowed me to sell in the shop.

Also we had a plethora of Burlap bags that the coffee beans came in and although the owner donated them to several elementary schools (that used them for the kids to do races in) and a local church (that used them to decorate a playroom) there were many bags to go around. So I started taking them home and that's how my Burlap Covered Boxes came along, which I also sold in the Coffee shop. I have made other goodies from 'throw-aways' at the coffee shop: some purses crafted from plastic caps, and how about a lamp shade made from used tea bags!

I quickly learned about from some of my customers at the coffee shop. They suggested that I think big, they thought that I should get out there and sell my creations to a larger audience, they encouraged me to take step outside of my comfort zone and after a while I decided to take the plunge and put my work out there!

I have always been a fan of creating as little waste as possible, teaching my Boy Scouts how to be thrifty.  Challenging them to see how much waste could be minimized with a little effort opened my eyes even more! We would come up with crazy ways to save and reuse items like straws and cupcake liners. We would learn that not taking utensils on a camp out not only forced us to think outside of the box and use a Ziploc bag as a storage container, then a  bowl and then a place to store trash to take home to throw away - but we even saved the water and soap that would have been used for clean up! I stretched that idea much more in my personal life so, for example, when I rinsed those coffee beans I would save the water and use it to rinse the rags with and then mop the floors with. Sometimes I could get pretty extreme with my thriftiness! lol. Even now I get a chuckle when I see my scouts eating an orange on a camp out and then using the halved rind as a bowl for his Raman noodles! My son, at 19, will still do upcyclable things like cut open the empty cereal box and use it as a sketch pad or painters palette or cut it half way down and use it as drawer dividers!

One day I remembered about a 5 gallon pail that my dad, avid yard saler and treasure collector, had picked up at an estate sale for a couple of dollars. I dug it out and began playing. I would take apart the broken necklaces and create new pieces of jewelry. 

Sometimes I would need to make a trip to a local craft store to pick up items needed for finishing touches like clasps and what-nots, but all in all it felt really good to recreate new pieces from what someone considered 'junk'. My ReCreationalArt shop on Etsy is a place for me to post these fun pieces that have been given a new life for other ladies to enjoy! Like the Bracelets and Necklaces made from computer transistors!
Soon after I decided that men should have a place to shop, too, seeing as I had come across several accessories for men (mainly with the donation of my mother-in-laws old jewelry box full of her husbands old tie bars and cuff links). So I opened a new shop: GentlemansEmporium on Etsy and have had so much fun researching the history and ever changing fashion of men's accessories and have a place to post these beautiful heirlooms that I had acquired and that my Dad still finds for me through estate sales and flea markets!
My new endeavor is my PennyBoperoo shop that I am working on. This is a place for me to be more whimsical. I love playing with felt and this is where I post my felty creations. I still try my best to minimize waste and am able to create pieces with scrap cuttings and much with felt that my Dad (and now I!) find at yard sales. I also use old stained T-shirts that have cute designs to use as focal points in many of those creations.

Thank you Rose so much for sharing with us your upcycled treasures!  I am a firm believer in recycling and upcycling everything you possibly can and your art is such a wonderful example of putting that into practice.  I personally love your Geek Chic Collection, your Burlap covered boxes, and your Coffee Bean work!!  You can also find more on Rose's blog.

Next week's featured Guest Blogger is Paige from Little White Chapel on Etsy and her blog Final Clothes-Out.  She'll share a crafty tutorial with us.

Edit:  Oops.  I hadn't had my coffee yet.  Paige from Little White Chapel will be guest blogging her crafty tutorial in two weeks.  Next week, Laura from I'm So Vintage on Etsy and her blog of the same name will be blogging about her secret garden & sharing some tips with us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Makings of Dinner

A salad with herbs straight from the garden.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

The chili will be served over rice with some shredded cheese and sour cream on top; tortilla chips on the side.

Make sure you come visit tomorrow for a new guest blogger: Rose from ReCreational Art will talk about upcycling & recycling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You Can Help Me Make More Soap!

Wow.  The first time I tried to make soap was back in September of 2009!  I can't believe it's been that long!  My first couple of attempts at soap making were, shall we say, not quite that successful.  But they certainly were learning experiences!!

I started with a recipe from my copy of Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond.  By the way, this book rocks!  My first forays into green cleaning, among other things, came from the recipes in this book.  I highly recommend it.  Anyway, the soap.  I didn't really know much about what I was doing, but I figured if I could just follow the instructions I'd be all right.  Right?  Wrong.  There were little things (and some not so little things) that I missed that made a HUGE difference.  I didn't realize that I should be stirring the lye water to dissolve the lye crystals.  I didn't realize that I should be weighing my oils/ingredients instead of measuring them.  And let me tell you the difference a stick blender makes over trying to mix it by hand!  It's a good recipe.  I've since used it to much success.  In fact, it's one of my favorite recipes for conditioning and lather.  My inexperience was really the only problem.

After those first couple of unsuccessful tries, I was still determined to figure out how to do this right and started wondering if there was a class in my area.  Call it coincidence, call it synchronicity, call it divine intervention, call it what you will but at my next Herb Society meeting, I found out that a friend was teaching soap making classes.  I signed up!  All those little/huge things I mentioned getting wrong... I found out about during Rebecca's class.  I gained the knowledge and confidence to give it another try.  This time I used the recipe that she demonstrated and I got it!  I was so excited!  I made soap!!

Needless to say, I didn't stop there.  I made her recipe numerous times with different scents, I made the original recipe that I played with (successfully, this time), I started experimenting with different additives (like ground oatmeal and apricot seeds)...  All of the soap that I make is all natural.  I will NOT ever use any chemical fragrances or dyes and all oils are sustainable.  I handed out samples to EVERYONE and was absolutely thrilled with all of the positive responses that I received.  It got to the point where people were asking me daily when I was going to get it listed in the shop.

Back in May, I finally announced the addition of the Apothecary to the shop as I started listing some soap.  At the moment, I have four scents listed: Lavender Oatmeal, Creamy Castile, Tangerine Lavender, and Cinnamon Clove Spice.  These are scents and recipes that I've been testing out for about a year.  I love all of them, but my favorites are probably the Cinnamon Clove Spice & Creamy Castile.  They may seem to be slightly odd sizes at the moment but that will change.  I hadn't been making full size bars for my testers and I stuck with what I had been doing for starting them off in the shop.  Once I get through this batch, you will start to see a more standard 4-6oz size uniform throughout the shop.

I have so many ideas of different scents and additives that I want to play with, there are different recipes that I want to try, I have plans for gift combos, there are ways of making plant dyes to color bars that I can't wait to try...  But there's a catch and this is where you come in.

Supplies for soap making can be very expensive.  Since I left my full time job back in January, money has been tight and I've run out of the luscious oils I use to make soap.  If you thought about trying out my soap, if you've never tried handmade soap before (there is a HUGE difference, but I'll save that for another post), if you're a friend and want to help support me and my shop, if you need a gift, or maybe you just need a shower...  check out the Apothecary section of my shop and make a soap purchase.  All proceeds of Apothecary items will go towards the purchase of soap supplies so I can offer you a wider array of goods.

What's in it for you?  All Apothecary purchases will come with a sample of my new Foot Soak, you'll smell pretty, and you'll feel good knowing that you helped support a handmade business.

You can visit the Apothecary in my Artfire Studio or Etsy Shop.

Happy Shopping!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Simple Joy Sunday

This week's simple joys started with the 4th of July: Scott and I spent the day just hanging poolside before heading down to the beach to watch the fireworks.  I love watching the fireworks at the beach!  We saw a few really unique "fireworks" put out by people, too.  They were basically wee little hot air balloons.  I tried to get a picture, but it just looked like a bright splotch so you'll have to take my word for it.  Very cool.

I made a few sales in the shop this week of my Warrior Salve and soap!  I'm so happy to have products that actually help people (plus, I really need the sales).  I also had fun concocting a new foot soak.

My guest blogging series started this week and is already so much fun!  I loved Erthe Fae's post and enjoyed the reader feedback, too.

My soil sample was finally dry enough to package up and send off to be tested.  Hopefully when I get the results, I'll know what kind of soil amendments to make for the raised garden bed.  Can't wait to get that going!!

I'm a little late to the party with this one, but FishHawk featured my mixed metal bracelet in his  Thinking of Christmas Gifts in July post.

This isn't a joy, but it really made me laugh.  Overheard at work: an associate helping someone figuring out how to hang a shelf say "what kind of walls are they?" The answer? "White."

And, lastly, I had a cupcake.  =)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

FAEteam Exhibition: Return to Renaissance

Unfortunately, the renaissance faire season is already over down here in Florida but it's just picking up in the rest of the country.  If you're still looking for the perfect garb or accessory for the faire, I highly suggest checking out the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team's current exhibition: Return to Renaissance.  Psst: my Chain Maille Coif is included!

Favorite Science Fiction TV Show

Thanks to Jonathon Woods

Television is an amazing thing. It let's us browse thousands of channels each with different and unique content. There are soap operas for drama queens. There are reality shows for those who like a dash of life in their TV. There are criminal shows for those who like the legal system. Basically if you enjoy something in real life you're going to enjoy watching television. My personal favorite shows have a touch of reality in them about science. In other words, I really like science fiction TV shows. My personal favorite is most definitely Mythbusters.

At Mythbusters they test common everyday myths to see if they're true or not. On my I can choose from numerous episodes every day. For example, have you ever heard the myth that the only living animal left on earth would be the cockroach if there was Nuclear warfare? They literally put 3 bugs through a bunch of radiation tests to see which ones lived. All in all the cockroaches were pretty resistant to the radiation, but other bugs faired much better. So the myth was busted. There are hundreds of episodes of this show and all of them are entertaining. Plus, they're family friendly. They're a great way to get your kids involved in the world of science. Jamie and Adam, the hosts, are quite the pair!

This post brought to you by your friends at Direct Star TV.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ErtheFae's Faerie Lore: Beware the Nuckelavee!

Thanks to the Victorians, most of us have this image of faeries as being tiny winged folk. We might also include elves, gnomes, and leprechauns under the heading of faerie. Perhaps we think only of Tinkerbell and Fairy Godmothers, and maybe the Evil Fairy who gets offended and curses the newborn princess.

But the truth is, the faerie lore of the British Isles is rich, bizarre, and full of creatures that are nothing like the flitting, sparkling spirits we imagine frolicking through the flowers. Today I'd like to tell you about one of my favorite faeries, which I consider to be the most gruesome example of how strange faerie lore can be. That's right, we're going to talk about the Nuckelavee.

Forget your mental image of faeries as small and beautiful. The Nuckelavee is huge and horrific. Similar to a centaur, as imagined by HP Lovecraft or Todd McFarlane, the beast looks like a giant horse, with a man's torso and head rising out of its back. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it appears to be flayed? Yes, just imagine that rising out of the sea, its skinless head lolling on its shoulders, its single red eye staring right at you.

In her “An Encyclopedia of Fairies”, Katherine Kerr describes the Nuckelavee as “One of the most repulsive creatures which the Scottish imagination has conceived; and the Scots are expert in horrors.”  When Froud and Lee included the Nuckelavee in their book “Faeries” (where I first learned of it), they clearly considered it too horrible to draw in full – the illustration instead shows only its arm, reaching towards a tiny, terrified pixie.

Thankfully, the Nuckelavee is a creature of the sea and cannot abide the touch of fresh water. If  you happen to be wandering the Scottish coastline at night and the fearsome Nuckelavee rises from the depths and pursues you across the countryside, you can rescue yourself by splashing into a loch or crossing a stream. Just watch out for waterhorses while you're there!

AJ Reardon has been fascinated by faerie lore ever since she received a copy of “Faeries” by Brian Froud and Alan Lee when she was 16. She doesn't actually believe in faeries, but maybe that's because she lives in Tucson, AZ which is not known for its abundance of The Good Neighbors. AJ uses her knowledge of fae and myths to inspire the jewelry that she makes and sells in her on-line shop, Erthe Fae Designs.

Thanks so much to AJ for starting off the guest blogger series with some really awesome faerie lore!  It's so obvious how much her love of fantasy informs her jewelry.  I love the tribal styles and particularly her intricate seed bead work!!  I'm really looking forward to hearing more faerie lore from AJ in future guest posts!  AJ & I are both part of the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team

Next week's featured guest blogger is Rose from Recreational Art on Etsy and her blog of the same name.  She'll be talking about recycling, upcycling, and repurposing.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: After a Day Cleaning... the Pool

Wordless Wednesday

Make sure you come visit tomorrow when I have my very first guest blogger joining us!  AJ from Erthe Fae's Meandering Thoughts will talk about the dark side of faerie.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Simple Joy Sunday

It was a pretty quiet week around here, nothing too terribly exciting going on...

I did a couple more days of the 30 Days of Creativity project...  Bummed that I wasn't able to do the full month but am really glad that I did what I could.  The project has encouraged me to be creative on a daily basis even if it's not on a whole project.  I also think that I'll keep blogging about my creative/crafty projects as much as possible, too.  It's been fun sharing them.

I joined a new website called Crowdtap that will help me earn some money, influence brands, and (most importantly!!) raise donations for a charity I believe in: Susan G. Komen (committed to breast cancer research and awareness).  In order to help me raise funds for Komen, would you mind heading over to FilmFan & giving them a thumbs up?

I listed a couple new things in the shop this week: a beautiful new bridal piece and more herbal goodness.  I'll blog about the herbal goodness (my Warrior Salve, finally listed!!!) separately, but the bridal piece is something new for me since I haven't really focused on wedding jewelry.  I'm excited about it's addition.  It's a six strand pearl necklace with a vintage clasp and is very much a statement piece.

I'm very excited about the new weekly guest blogger series that I have lined up.  Some topics lined up already includefaerie lore, gardening, feminism, craft tutorials, jewelry, and upcycling.  Slots are scheduled through mid-August right now, so if you're interested in participating, there's still time to figure out what you'd like to do.

I experimented with making some solid perfume this week.  It was a really fun little project!  I'm going to try to get a couple scents listed in the apothecary this week.

For those of you in the States, have a very happy and safe 4th of July tomorrow!!

Hey, so I added this cool linky widget here to this post if you want to participate in sharing your simple joys.  Leave a comment & leave your linky.  I'd love to have you!