Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IS IT THAT TIME AGAIN ALREADY?


A friend asked me whether or not I make New Years Resolutions. My reply? Um... not exactly. I believe change can come at any time. New Years is just that... a new year. Time and nothing more. I understand some people need a starting point to change but my changing points come throughout my life. I always joke close to New Years that I have to make changes but I seriously never do. I change when the feeling hits me. If it is April at 2 am and I feel like changing something, then I change it.

Last year I did make a list on my blog of New Years Resolutions. I looked over that list to see what I had accomplished.

2009's Resolution List:
1. I promise not to wake up before 11 am. BROKE
2. I promise not to work out more than 1x a week. RELUCTANTLY BREAKING
3. I promise not to avoid chocolate. BROKE
4. I promise not to skip a snickers cooler each day from caribou. BROKE
5. I promise only to walk the dog if she barks uncontrollably and whines a little. KEPT THIS ONE
6. I promise to be extra late dropping my kids at school so I can sleep later. BROKE (The teacher threatened my life, what can I do)
7. I promise to spend extra money on soapmaking supplies and cardmaking supplies. BROKE (I need to spend more)
8. I promise not to give my husband too much alone time. KEPT
9. I promise to eat out and not cook at least 4x's a week. BROKE (the domestic goddess title is calling my name)
10. I promise to give my kids unhealthy food daily. BROKE (Now it is only a few times a week)
11. I promise to do laundry only once a month. BROKE
12. I promise to clean house every six months. BROKE
13. I promise not to read or write too much. KEPT
14. I promise not to help my kids with homework. TRYING TO KEEP THIS ONE BUT THEY WON'T LET ME
15. I promise not to have long talks with my children when they have inquisitive questions about life. TRYING TO KEEP BUT IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT SINCE I'M WORDY BY NATURE.

See what I mean. Who needs New Years Resolutions anyway????

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AND GONE

All that preparation for a moment that comes and goes so quickly. Now it is time to move on to bigger and better things... like... pictures :)

These turned out so yummy I just had to share. The girls and I made two batches of delicious chocolate chip cookies, our first time ever. Yes, I'm guilty. I have always purchased the mix at the store. You know the one... slice, put on cookie sheet, bake. Now that I have my new kitchen aid I have no excuses for not making cookies from scratch.

Before I get started with cookie baking I'll show off my new kitchen aid from the Martha Stewart blue collection. Woohoo!



Ok, enough of that.



Cookie Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The finished product. Yes, they are dark but who cares, they are still edible. I learned that my electric oven bakes cookies faster than a gas oven. Next time I make cookies I won't leave them in 9-11 minutes, it will have to be 7-8 minutes instead.


Now for our Christmas. We do all of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, hence why I am doing a blog post on Christmas day.

Our day consisted of shoveling this 3 different times



and we aren't finished yet. It is one of the reasons I love Minnesota so much. Yes, the darkness in winter is awful and the bitter cold can be draining but the snow really makes it all worth while.

The midwest is getting dumped heavily and it is wonderful. Thankfully, we don't have to go anywhere.

While burried inside yesterday I decided to get one of my card swaps finished. Here is she is in all her glory. My bella!

If you are a stamper you probably know who bella is and I have a bella addiction.



As for our Christmas celebration. Do my kids look happy to have their DSI's? If they don't look happy now they will be VERY happy to have these when we have to take a long flight to visit my in-laws.



Hubby was his usual goofy, cheerful self when putting together one of Aiyana's gifts.



Last but not least is my little angel. She has wanted to be a princess since the first time she saw Cinderella. It was a long wait but the princess has finally arrived.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

THE GIFT BASKETS ARE A HIT!!

This year for my sister and her staff I decided to have a Christmas party. The girls and I have come through so much together in the past 9 months I wanted to do something nice for them. Since I'm always preaching to my staff about the dangers of chemicals in our environment (LOL) I thought it would be fun to make them gift baskets comprised of only handmade goodies. At the same time I wanted to support some of my fellow indie business pals.

I asked the following people to make some goodies for the baskets.

Teresa and her sons from Homestead Notes and Two Tadpoles on Artfire made 8 soap dishes.

Carrie from Under the Willow Gifts, Mud Puddle Girl and Under the Willow Gift Shoppe made 8 bars of soap.

Amber from Ambers Ambry and Ambers Ambry Etsy Shop made 8 containers of bath salts and included with each container was a handmade spoon for scooping.

Joanna from Product Body, The Soap Bar and the Product Body Blog made 8 Creams and 8 Bath Milks.

Amy from the Great Cakes Soap Works Blog and Great Cakes Soapworks made 8 packages of bath truffles and also sent along 8 little round balls of soap.

I must apologize for my lack of pictures. I had intended to take pictures of everything that was sent but, as usual, I procrastinated and on Sunday (2 days before the party) me and 3 daughters came down with the stomach flu which left us bed bound until early Tuesday morning. Our staff party was Tuesday evening so I quickly put the baskets together forgetting to take photos of individual gifts :(

Middy reminded me to take a picture of the completed basket.



As usual, I'm a dope when comes to photography and I forgot to switch the camera into the correct mode when I took the following pictures at the staff party. I hope they aren't too awful.

Angie smelling her sexy laundry day cream from Joanna.



My sisters support team gathered around for a holiday photo.



Joy, Daba and Mia giving big smiles to show they love the gift baskets.



Thank you everyone for creating such great prezzies. Everything was loved by everyone. You may even be hearing from a few people :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MY BACK IS KILLING ME!!

Seriously! I want to try and come up with some ingenius title for this blog post but my back hurts so bad that I can't think of anything else.

Why post? Um...because I hate letting so many days go between blog posts so I'm determined to at least share something.

Well, I managed to make a few things. Woohoo! < that is me giving myself a mini cheer. Someones gotta do it... right?!

Anyway... I made some bath bombs and several batches of soap. Being the perfectionist that I tend to be I'm only happy with one of the batches. All my cast-offs get sent away. I've found a couple newbies that are more than willing to take my cast-offs so it is a win-win situation. Ahem... Joy... Ahem... Angie.

Here is the Oatmeal & honey soap. I cannot wait for my beekeeping course. I felt cheated that I had to use someone elses honey. Some day it will be mine and I'll be OH SO PROUD! I love how honey naturally turns soap into a beautiful tan color.



My itty bitty bath bombs AND YES, they are itty bitty. I'm using the MINI BALLER that I purchased from FROM NATURE WITH LOVE and it works really well.



Now for family.

We headed out to Hansons Tree Farm, our annual tradition, and we chopped down our beautiful balsum fir tree. It smells wonderful. Of course hubby always does the cutting and we watch and complain about how dang cold it is. LOL! Then we head back to the fire and have some hot cocoa :)












When we got home the girls had fun decorating the tree.







and now I can't believe that Christmas Eve is just 18 days away. YIKES! Time to get off the computer and get working on wrapping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MY BUSINESS IS GETTING A MAKE OVER

I went from crazy, over the top, ready to sell anything I could make business woman in the early 2000's to no business woman at all. After my mom died in 2007 my life took major turns. Some I was prepared for and some... well... not so prepared for. I tried holding onto the business end of myself but completely lost it. I didn't really want to make anything, just pretended like I did. I thought if I pretended than it really meant I wanted to but... we all know how that can go.

The last 2.5 years have been full of learning experiences. A lot has happened, most of which would bore you all so I won't share it. I've even had people come IN and then OUT of my life recently that strangely impacted my view of myself and my view of the world. I actually can say with 100% certainty that I'm happy and feel energized all over again. With that said, I'm back to business and for starters, I have a new improved permanent logo.

I've gone through a few logo changes and although the others were adorable I learned that the first wasn't copyrighted to me - which is no good, the 2nd was cute but cute isn't going to represent my business well. I ask the designer of my new logo to give me something whimsical but professional. I wanted a fairy but it had to look like a logo and not just a piece of art. She did great. More than great, it is perfect. Here it is:



I also have a new website but haven't quite uploaded anything yet. That will be the next step. Still trying to figure out the "cart" part of the site. Slowly but surely. I'm in school now and trying to get inventory stocked, so it will take a while.

The business card is all finished:




I've received multiple shipments of supplies and it is time to get really busy creating and marketing myself again. The good thing is, those who loved my products before still love them. Those who don't know them definitely will very soon :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UNDER THE WILLOW SENT ONE OF HER GIFTS

So no, I couldn't take a single picture of Carrie's laundry soap that would do it justice. So I'll just have to convey my excitement and the beauty of her product through words.
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Carrie from Under the Willow Gifts sent me some samples of her natural laundry detergent recently and the only reason I dragged my feet on blogging about it is because I can't take good pictures. Seriously! I always manage to buy the wrong camera... either that or I just have absolutely no talent for taking pictures.

I'll be honest, when I received Carrie's natural laundry soap it looked and smelled fantastic but I doubted its ability to maintain that great scent throughout the washing cycle. I've used natural laundry soaps for years and I've never had any luck getting the scent to stick when I put my clothing in the dryer. When my clothes are hung on the line, they smell wonderful but the dryer sucks every little bit of fragrance right out of the clothes before they finish drying.

When Carrie's package arrived I was eager to use it right away. Sadly, all I had to wash were towels and I always dry towels in the dryer since I haven't found the cure for line drying towels and having them NOT dry crunchy and scratchy (any tips???)

I felt like I was wasting this great product on my towels cause I really wanted the scent to linger after I washed but... I REALLY WANTED to try the laundry soap.

Ah well, life is about sacrifices right?!?

I chose the cambridge rum scent. They all smelled beautiful but cambridge rum is my favorite. My 9 year old was equally as excited as I was, she loves when packages arrive, so she took the first picture of the laundry soap in hand.

Shock #1, when I pulled the towels from the washer they had a beautiful light scent of cambridge rum. I held on to one of the towels for a minute or two because I knew once I tossed them into the dryer that the scent would be gone :( I even hemmed and hawed about possibly just putting them on the line so they'd still smell pretty when they dried but I couldn't stand the idea of drying myself with a hard towel later.

Shock #2, I'd gone out back for something and I could smell the light fragrance of cambridge rum coming from the dryer vent. Wow! I was impressed. It was about 20 minutes into drying time and I could still smell it.

Shock #3, after 40 minutes of drying on low heat I pulled my towels from the dryer. To my surprise they smelled beautiful. The cambridge rum scent hung in there for the long haul. I love that the scent isn't perfumy or overbearing, it was just perfect. I think I talked about it all day long to whomever would listen about how great this natural laundry soap is.

Shock #4, The ultimate shock was how soft the towels felt. Now, I said that my towels are softer when dried in the dryer as oppose to the line but they aren't VERY soft. I don't use fabric softeners so I don't get that fluffy soft that one would get with something like downy. I've tried natural fabric softeners but they don't seem to do much except add a fragrance. My towels felt soft, much softer than they ever were before, which makes for a very happy household because we all love soft things over here.

Of course, I used up all 3 packages of laundry soap samples that day. I decided I needed to wash bed sheets and a few other things. Never have I been so eager to wash. Now at least I know where to buy a laundry soap I can be happy with.

Thank you Carrie for sending me the samples and the beautiful wash cloth. I have the bar of soap sitting on my kitchen sink, we all love washing our hands with it. It has a wonderful fragrance and feels really nice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BEFORE YOU REACH FOR THE HAND SANITIZIER…


Or antibacterial soap, think twice. As I mentioned in a previous post, antibacterial soaps contain an ingredient called Triclosan. Did you know that Triclosan is a pesticide? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Triclosan is known to weaken the immune system, not something you want to do during flu season. Your goal should be to strengthen your immune system since it is that very system which will keep the flu at bay or make you strong enough to make it through if you do manage to catch the virus.

Triclosan can cause birth defects and uncontrolled cell growth. Not only will you find this in your soaps and sanitizers but it is also in some brands of toothepaste, cosmetics, deoderants, etc… ALWAYS CHECK THE LABEL!

But what if Tricolan isn’t the active ingredient, such as in hand sanitizing gel? Most hand sanitizers contain 60-90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. If they don’t contain the high percentage they aren’t affective at killing bacteria. The main danger associated with hand sanitizers is ingestion by children. Not just a small child drinking it but an older child using the gel before lunch, touching their food and than ingesting it. It has also been reported that children who have licked their hands after using a hand sanitizer have become gravely ill.

READ SANJE GUPTA OF CNN's OPINION ON THIS

Alcohol also dries the skin. I don’t know about the rest of you but the last thing I want to do is have my kids use a product that dries their hands out when we already live in a climate that is very drying in the winter months.

READ THE INFO AT OSHA ON THE DANGERS OF ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL

What alternative do you have when it comes to protecting your kids from the flu? There are three great ways of staying healthy through the flu season (in no particular order):

#1 - Frequent hand washing. This is the best way to avoid viruses. Wash your hands often using soap and water.

#2 - Strengthen your immune system: Reduce your sugar intake. Get good rest. Avoid stress. Exercise. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially garlic and onions. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin C than take a supplement.

#2 - Create your own antibacterial hand sanitizer. Anne Marie from Brambleberry has some antibacterial recipes on her blog using antimicrobials like cinnamon or antivirals like tea tree. NOTE: Cinnamon bark oil is an irritant and sensitizer, if used topically it must be used at no more than than 0.1% CLICK HERE FOR RECIPES

Other antivirals include: lavender, melissa, lime, lemon
Other antimicrobials: lemon, rosemary, myrrh
Other antibacterial: neroli, melissa, lime, lemon

My own children use a mixture of EO’s in a spray bottle and use it on their hands and face throughout the day at school. A colorful bottle with a great blend of EO’s makes for a child eager to use whatever is created.

NOTE: Make sure the EO's you use and the dilution rate is safe if your creation is for children, elderly, pregnant women, or those with particular health issues.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

THE ART OF BLENDING


I think anyone that works with essential oils knows that over half the fun is blending to create ones own scent. In my aromatherapy certification course we were challenged into creating a blend that not only smelled the way we wanted it to but would accomplish what we needed it to as well.

I've played with blends since the day I learned that essential oils existed but never did I create a blend for anything other than scent (except maybe bug repellent). Talk about difficult. My entire class spent 2 hours (first) deciding on what we needed a blend for, (second) what essential oils would accomplish what we needed and then (third) having that mix of EO's have a pleasing smell. The blend could be based on a physical (like for flu, arthritis, cramps, etc...), psychological or emotional need. I chose emotional & psychological. I needed to create a blend that would help me focus while I meditated. To help me feel calm and relaxed, reduce my anxieties, and bring about creative thoughts. To accomplish this I chose 4 EO's: Rosemary, Bergamot, Vetiver, and Chamomile. Sadly, I don't like the smell of chamomile and rosemary is overpowering. I was also being a little OCD making sure I had at least one EO from the top note, middle note and base note. Plus, I wanted a blend that didn't leave one EO as the dominant scent. Yes... it took forever! But, out of 25 people only 1 person ended up not loving their blend and thankfully it wasn't me. I ended up with something so beautiful I plan on using it in my soap.

For those interested in blending their EO's but not sure where to begin.

Top notes: usually evaporate within 1-2 hours
Middle notes: usually evaporate within 2-4 hours
Base notes: Take the longest time to evaporate and are considered the stabilizers of the blend.

When creating a blend for the first time it is recommended starting small, no more than 3 different EO's.

My instructor suggests the following ratio for beginners when creating a scent blend: 30% top notes, 50% middles notes and 20% base notes.

According to Salvatore Battaglia, author of The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy:

Floral notes blend best with woody, fruity, sweet and musty notes.
Green notes blend with any essential oil but are best used in small amounts.
Herbaceous notes blend best with camphoraceous and wood notes.
Spicy notes blend with any note but should be used in small amounts.
Woody notes blend well with any notes.
Earthy notes can blend with any notes but should be used in small amounts.


Caution using EO's with the elderly, children, pregnant woman, and those with certain health issues (i.e, epileptics, those on blood thinners, etc...)

Learn all you can about essential oils before you use them. They can create beautiful fragrances but they are also powerful medicines.

and... HAVE FUN! It is very rewarding to create something you love and that other people find pleasing as well :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SOAP: LIQUID vs. BAR

Yuck, who would want to use bar soap? They are full of germs. It isn't as clean as using liquid soap! I'm not risking my health, sorry."


A friend actually said this to me once when I tried to give her a bar of soap. She asked "what would I do with it, I can't use it to clean my hands or my body."

After that experience and of course realizing that so many people prefer liquid over bar, I started thinking about why most people turned away from bar soap and instead reach for the commercial liquid soap. Is it the convenience of the pump bottle? Is it seriously because more germs hang around on a bar of soap as oppose to the bottle of liquid soap? Numerous questions abound. But... what are the facts?

Here are the top reasons I've found that make people choose liquid soap over bar soap:

Myth: There isn't any lather in a bar of soap.
Fact: Detergent bars (those bars masquerading as soap) - you know them... ahem - DOVE, cough cough - OIL OF OLAY), can have a limited amount of suds. But they aren't real soap. That is why they don't have the word "SOAP" printed on their packaging. Real soap, those made from handmade soapmakers can have anywhere from very little suds to a massive amount of suds. I create a bar for my kids that I wrap in a muslin bag, hang below the faucet while running a bath, and it fills the entire tub with suds for a great bubble bath.

Myth: You feel cleaner after using liquid soap. Bar soap leaves a residue behind.
Fact: I've never heard anyone complain about feeling dirty after using handmade soap. One of the greatest benefits of using natural handmade soap is having healthy oils like olive, coconut, almond, avocado, etc... on your skin. Sometimes with the added benefit of herbs and essential oils. It is true that detergent bars leave an uncomfortable residue but that is because of the chemical ingredients they use to make the bar hard, to preserve and bind it. A healthy natural bar of soap won't leave a sticky residue on your skin. It will feed your skin.

Myth: The price of liquid soap is much better than that of a bar soap.
Fact: It depends on how one would measure "price." If price is solely determined by your pocket book, than yes, I'm sure it costs less to buy a bottle of liquid soap. Most liquid soaps cost anywhere from $2.50 - $5.00 depending on their size and manufacturer. A bar of soap generally costs between $3 and $7 a bar (depending on weight and the soapmaker). I don't measure price by cost, I measure price by health and environment. Our environment pays a hefty price for all the plastic liquid soap bottles we toss into the landfills. Sure you can buy a giant refill bottle but you will eventually toss that and toss the broken down pump bottle, but a bar of soap will get used and leave nothing behind. Liquid commercial soaps also have quite a bit of chemicals in them that can be absorbed through the skin and potentially harm your health.

Myth: Bar soaps are loaded with germs. You couldn't use the same soap for all family members like you can liquid soaps.
Fact: According to a 1988 study, prewashed and softened commercial soap bars were inoculated with E. coli and P. aeruginosa bacteria at 70 times as high as those reported on used soap bars, 16 people washed their hands with the inoculated bars.

“After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands,” the researchers wrote. “These findings, along with other published reports, show that little hazard exists in routine handwashing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for handwashing.”


To my friend I say this. Don't be fooled by marketing gimicks. The main reasons liquid soaps became so popular, beginning in the 70's, was because of their appearance. They didn't dissolve the way bar soaps do, but instead came in pretty appealing bottles. Those pretty liquid handsoap bottles soon became liquid body soap bottles. In later years the selling point was "antibacterial" and it worked. Triclosan is the most widely used anti bacterial ingredient in liquid hand soaps, which by the way has a hazard score of 7 on the cosmetic safety database site, with 10 being the worst. We've now heard that the over use of antibacterial products kills healthy germs with bad germs. In short, we've become victims of mass marketing.

Sure, we all need to market what we are selling, but shouldn't our marketing be honest? I believe a bar of soap can sell itself if people take the time to really learn how wonderful it is. Don't be afraid to ask what ingredients are in the handmade soap you'd like to buy, you will be able to read and understand what is on the label, unlike with commercial products. A bar of soap is a luxury for the skin and great for the environment... can a commercial liquid soap honestly state that?

One last thought: if you just can't seem to part with your liquid soap at least go natural. There are great all natural liquid soaps available.

Interesting reading:

ARTICLE 1
ARTICLE 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK


Although I'm sure this post will cause some controversy I still feel I must share it. Besides, I'm not one to shy away from controversy. LOL!

In 2000 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the cancer for a year, a lump in her breast, but didn't mention it to anyone. Literally a year from the date she first found the lump the cancer errupted through the breast and came out of the body. It was then that I learned of her cancer and begged her to seek treatment. She sought treatment and after 8 months of battling, she won. She didn't die until 2007.

Shortly after my mothers successful battle with breast cancer she showed me an article she had, not sure where it came from, about how the brochure the hospital staff at the breast center had given her showing all the wonderful things she could buy to help deal with the effects of chemotherapy actually contained items that caused cancer. Not only that, many of the companies contributing to cancer research were actually profiting off those who had cancer. I remember not being too surprised since much of the article had targeted chemicals in cosmetics and how the American Cancer Association would push specific products through advertisement on cancer patients, all in the name of making the patient feel better. Somehow I managed to shut this all out of my mind and move on.

Recently it has come to my attention again since a dear friend is taking care of her aunt who is battling cancer. She called and asked if I had heard about the controversy related to cancer research, something she had just learned. Since I hung up the phone with her I decided to share what I know about this with the blogging world since I'd want to be told if I wasn't aware.

The gist of it all:
"The Cancer Industry consists of corporations, organizations and agencies that diminish or mask the extent of the cancer problem, fail to protect our health, or divert attention away from the importance of finding the causes of breast cancer and working to prevent the disease. This includes drug companies that, in addition to profiting off cancer treatment drugs, sometimes also produce toxic chemicals that may be contributing to the high rates of cancer in this country and increasing rates throughout the world. It also includes the polluting industries that continue to release substances we know or suspect are dangerous to our health, and the public relations firms and public agencies who protect these polluters. The Cancer Industry includes organizations like the American Cancer Society, that downplay the risk of cancer from pesticides and other environmental factors, and who historically have refused to take a stand on environmental regulation."
READ MORE FACTS HERE

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK which is part of THE BREAST CANCER ACTION GROUP is trying to shed light on this issue.

It reminds me of when I learned that my products were actually tested on animals and the awful things the lab tech's would do to those innocent creatures. You feel like it is too horrific to be true but deep down you know there is no denying it.

"During the month of October, pink ribbons everywhere remind us to race, drive, cook and shop for the cure. But where did the pink ribbon come from?

In the early 1990s, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley began making peach ribbons by hand in her home. Her daughter, sister and grandmother all had breast cancer. She distributed thousands of ribbons at supermarkets with cards that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

As the word spread, executives from Estée Lauder and Self magazine asked Haley for permission to use her ribbon. Haley refused, and Self magazine was startled by Haley's answer. “She wanted nothing to do with us. Said we were too commercial.” But they really wanted to have her ribbon. They consulted their lawyers and were advised to come up with another color. They chose pink, a color that focus groups say is ‘soothing, comforting and healing’—everything breast cancer is not. Soon Charlotte Haley’s grassroots peach ribbon was history, and the pink ribbon became the worldwide symbol for breast cancer.

Breast cancer has become the darling of corporate America. Companies use the pink ribbon to sell their products and boost their image with consumers as they boost their bottom line. Meanwhile, breast cancer rates continue to rise every year. Ending the breast cancer epidemic will take more than just pink ribbons and awareness. Learn more about pink ribbon marketing and what you can do to help create real change to end the breast cancer epidemic."


I urge you to read on, take from it what you will. I'm grateful that this information is becoming more widely spread and those with cancer and their loved ones are being informed.

I'll end with this case in point:
(during breast cancer awareness month 2009) In the Pink for a Cure Collection, 15% of your purchase of authentic designer perfumes by Ralph Lauren, Kathy Hilton and others goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Save on your order with FragranceNet coupons.

When you crave the alluring scents of Burberry, Lacoste or Valentino, shop at Perfume.com and feel good about it as you're supporting a great cause

Fabulous Savings

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CHRISTMAS IN OCTOBER

It feels like Christmas anyway. I bought my first soap stamp and with the snow outside recently, it almost feels like Christmas. Especially since I felt like a kid on Christmas morning opening up my goody box with my soap stamp inside. I purchased my stamp from Soap Impressions and I think they did a really great job. The stamp is excellent quality, the base being solid wood and the impression made of metal. I'm pleased. What do you think? Diane from Soap Impressions provided excellent, fast customer service. I'd definitely do business with them again.

Here it is:



The other half of Christmas in October would be my holiday cards. If I don't make Christmas cards in October they never get made. Anyone else face that issue? Below are the cards my friend Angie and I made at a Christmas Stamp-A-Stack class this week. It was lots of fun. The Stampin Up demo hosting the class is very creative, I love the cards we made. Here are the 5 designs she came up with:






Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ALL YOU HALLOWEENIES, I NEED YOUR IDEAS


Autumn is my favorite time of year and Halloween/Samhain is my favorite holiday (if it can be called a holiday). We are looking for some fun ways to celebrate Samhain this year and I'm hoping my bloggy friends can help.

Of course our family always carves pumpkins. The kids usually go to a couple events before Halloween night. I'd like to make the holiday stretch as far as possible this year, maybe do something each day leading up to it. So if anyone has any fun, cool ideas that they would like to share, maybe something your family does each year, I'd sure appreciate it if you shared it with me. Please, please, please post any and all projects, crafts, traditions, etc... in the comment section :) If you post something, I promise to do it, take pictures, and share it with you shortly after Halloween!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HERBS OR SLEEPING PILLS, YOU BE THE JUDGE


Although I could talk about every single tincture I make, I don't want to over saturate your mind with this herbal hoopla. Once you learn about tinctures you pretty much know what you need to know, but I must share a little about lemon balm for those of you who suffer from insomnia.

One confession, I'm not a good sleeper. Never have been, never will be. Sure, I can get a good night sleep now and then but more often than not I don't sleep through the night (not sure if any mothers actually do). If I want to get a good nights rest I usually need some type of sleep aid. I was once medicated, years ago, to sleep through the night, but have chosen to avoid those types of treatments. Instead of being medicated I chose to not sleep. By a total fluke I drank a tea that helped me get a restful nights sleep and initially I didn't realize it was the tea but once I noticed the correlation between drinking the tea and sleeping I started to investigate a little further.

The tea was lemon balm. Depending on the literature you are reading, lemon balm may or may not be affective at promoting sleep. I can attest that it does act as a sedative, as some literature suggests. I learned the affects of lemon balm before I ever read about it.

Lemon balm is wonderful for many things, including: promoting conception, for painful menstruation, hot flashes in menopause, burns, blisters, anxiety, nausea and vomiting and panic attacks (plus much more).

I use it solely to help anxiety and to promote sleep.

Depending on where you get the tea, it may or may not work. My herbal studies have taught me that not all these medicinal plants are created equal, all depends on where they are grown, what species of plant they are, condition of soil, etc... To make sure I have the best lemon balm I grow my own. I know the soil, how well I've cared for the herb, whether or not it is stressed or healthy. I have two beautiful bushes that are thriving well in my backyard.

I thought that the herbal tea was the best thing that ever happened to me but I recently learned that the tincture will do me much better than the tea. Dried herbs tend to lose much of their potency so I've been advised to make a lemon balm tincture, giving myself 5 drops (under the tongue) when I'm anxious or before sleep. I've decided I will do the same before meditation.

So many people have trouble relaxing or sleeping, especially women, so for anyone looking for a natural sedative, lemon balm is great! As with all herbs or medicinal plants, please read up on the dangers associated with the plant and whether or not you have any medical conditions that make the plant inadvisable for you. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm.

Tincture:
Gather enough lemon balm leaves to fill your jar.
Pack the jar well, leaving a 1/2 inch space form the top of jar.
Fill the jar with 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
It will probably bubble a bit as it settles in the jar so you'll need to add more.
Make sure you cover all the leaves with vodka, leaving none sticking out.
Fill to the top of jar and cover with tight fitting lid.
Label with date & herb name.

Susan Weed suggests 6 weeks for all tinctures. I tend to think she's the gospel on herbal meds so I trust her judgement.

MATTHEW WOOD one of Minnesota's wonderful herbalists, has some good information about lemon balm on his site. Click on his name to read more.

Here is a great video from learningherbs.com/mountain rose herbs on making a tincture. They are using another great sedative plant called valerian.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WORRIED ABOUT THE FLU? TRY ELDERBERRY

I'm not a proponent of vaccines so you won't see me and my family lining up for the H1N1 shot. I do however believe in herbal medicine. When your family has used herbal cures for centuries and passes along the positive benefits, you tend to listen. My great grandfather was blind until a native woman healed his site with crushed herbs. Now that is something I can't ignore.

I always incorporate herbs and essential oils into my body products, been self taught on EO's for years but recently I decided to take my education on their usage a little more seriously. I enrolled in herbal and aromatherapy studies beginning next week. I've also just begun taking classes with Lise Wolff, a local registered herbalist.

My goal is twofold. I want to be able to treat my family holistically, whenever possible, and I want to further my understanding of the things I use in my products.

My class with Lise this weekend was about learning to make an elderberry tincture and identifying medicinal plants in the wild. THE VERDICT: I learned much more than I had anticipated.

I knew how to make a tincture but didn't really understand the science behind it all but Lise was great at explaining everything. The reason I chose the use of elderberry as my first class is because of that "looming" threat of the H1N1 flu. My first reaction was to ignore all the reports about H1N1 because I think it is overhyped but then worry set in. I figure, I must at least protect my children.

Elderberry has been scientifically proven by Israeli researcher Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D, of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center to help prevent the flu and also lessen the duration.

Here are a few articles if you are interested in the studies on elderberry:
WebMD

Israeli Research

Ice News

Blackberry.com

To make an elderberry tincture you must first gather the berries



2nd, you would carefully pull the berries off the bush and place into a bowl or directly into a jar (whatever you wish). I say carefully because although the berries are little they are full of dark purple staining juices. My fingers were purple the entire day.





3rd, if you didn't put them directly into a jar you should pour them into one. (Use glass not plastic)

4th, pour vodka into the jar until it covers the tops of your berries. You don't want much air between the top of your berries and the lid of the jar. Use 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (for preservation). I used vodka.



5th, Cover with a tight fitting lid, label it (name of plant/berry used and date you made it) and let your tincture sit on a shelf for 6 weeks (no need to shake it in between). In 6 weeks you strain it into a bottle and then fill your dropper bottle with the amount you will need. I purchased a 4 oz dropper bottle for my family (and will refill when it runs out).

Our family will be using drops of this tincture under the tongue. Hubby and I plan on using 3-5 drops 2x's a day for ourselves and 2 drops 2x's a day for the kids.

Next... lemon balm tincture :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I FEEL PRODUCTIVE

I rarely feel like I get anything done. I keep doing and doing and doing but have nothing to show for it. No, this isn't a whine fest, just seriously feel like I get nothing done. LOL!

Well, we harvested our veggies the other day and I must ask my domestic blogging friends a little question. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY HARVEST???

My onions were suppose to get big but they didn't. The largest was probably golf ball size and my celery is huge (length wise) but the stalks are super skinny.

I'm no master gardner but I do believe I did everything right. We have clay soil so to make it worthy of a veggie garden we built ourselves, with untreated cedar wood, a little garden bed. We put in organic soil, fertilizer and some other thing to make the soil breath (sorry, the name escapes me). Our tomatoes and strawberries came out fine, our cucumbers ripened very fast and were big enough for the jolly green giant to eat, but something went wrong with the onions and celery.




I do have a proud moment to share. My youngest child Aiyana is very much into fairies right now. I decided to make her a little fairy bag with fairy goodies inside (buttons, thimble, miniature trinkets, etc...) Not a unique idea in the least but one I knew would make her happy.

Um, since I no martha stewart or whatever I knew I'd have to find a tutorial for the bag. Can I sew? Sure, I know the basics. I know how to thread a bobbin, thread a sewing machine, push the pedal and do a basic stitch. Do I know sewing terminology? Not at all. Can I follow visual instructions? Absolutely.

I was fortunate enough to find this lined bag tutorial by HAPPY THINGS on the internet. I knew how to do a basic bag but had no clue how to line it so this tutorial was perfect. I hit a snag along the way but emailed the author of HAPPY THINGS begging for help, she responded right away, and I was able to finish my bag.

Here it is:





Don't worry, you can be honest. What do you think? It is my very first lined drawstring bag. I had a little issue on the casting, thread bunched up and all that baloney, but I blame the sewing machine and not myself. LOL! I'm just happy that baby Yana is happy. That makes it all perfect!

Friday, August 28, 2009

SHOUT OUT TO A DOMESTIC GODDESS

Yup, this is me :)


Not too long ago Amber over at AMBERS AMBRY blogged about an apron she made, stamping it with rhubarb and strawberries. Well, of course I had to have it.

View that blog post HERE

I wanted this apron because I have fond memories of rhubarb and strawberries. Seems silly but it is true. My great aunt, who has passed, use to make many things out of the strawberries and rhubard she grew in her garden. The recipe that was my favorite was rhubarb/strawberry crisp. Then later when I was married with children I moved next door to a woman that would make us rhubarb and strawberry crisp for Christmas. Tasted just like aunties.

BTW/if anyone has a rhubarb/strawberry crisp recipe they are willing to share with me, I'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'M THANKFUL 3 MONTHS EARLY.

Who said we have to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful. Actually, our family boycotts Thanksgiving. I would explain it but it's a long story. So, while I haven't been blogging quite as often as I should be, I've accumulated several things I'd like to say "I'm thankful" for.

#1 My blog followers. Today I peaked at my blog and found yet another follower. It is a great feeling when I discover someone new is following my blog. It wouldn't be any fun to post if no one was reading. I love to talk and write so it is certainly a wonderful feeling knowing I'm not sitting here babbling away to myself.

#2 Pow Wows. Every year my family and I try to attend at least one pow wow. Why? It is an educational opportunity for our children, it reminds me that the native community is still among us and should not be forgotten, they have a beautiful culture, and there are many issues they still face today that need to be recognized. Through the pow wows we not only see beautiful dancing and costumes but a beautiful people full of pain and yet full of promise and I'm grateful that they share a piece of themselves with those of us who might not otherwise understand them.



#3 Food. I'm forever thankful for food. Of course, without food none of us would be here. Recently I joined a group of "domestic goddesses" on facebook. This groups members inspire me to be as domestic as I can possibly be (or as domestic as I wanna be). When I think of being domestic I think of food and food + domestic = cooking. So for my domestic pals I share a recipe:





My MIL's Chicken Soup

48 oz. chicken broth
48 oz. water
6 chicken legs
7 sliced carrots
2 bundles of scallions (sliced)
1 bundle of cilantro (chopped)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 cup rice
2 limes (large slices)

bring chicken, water, broth, carrots and rice to boil. Cover then let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until chicken can peel off bone easily).

Remove from heat and scoop soup into bowl.

Add fresh chopped tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Squeeze a slice of lime into soup.

This recipe feeds 5.

Ok, that was my first recipe posting. Not sure it was clear, I hope it was. I'm a domestic goddess in progress so please be patient :)

#4 Soap. If it weren't for soap, I wouldn't have blogged. If it weren't for my blog, I wouldn't have met such wonderful cyber friends and so on and so forth :) BTW/I do make soap in case you were beginning to wonder. LOL! I often wonder if I make soap too when I read my blog. So, I guess in conclusion of all my thankfulness a promise to post more soap shall be made. Here is one of my soaps in all her glory.