Monday, December 28, 2009

Scientists Sing

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

So, a friend on my Facebook list, Jen Walker Owen, said she had made this recipe and couldn't stop eating it. Well, I was inspired to make it as part of Christmas Eve dinner and, omigod, we couldn't stop eating it! The recipe was submitted by someone called Janae55 on the "SparkRecipes" website. I added cumin because I saw a variation somewhere else and thought it sounded really good. But that's the only change I made.

Cowboy Caviar

2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed
1 (17 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

Directions
                      
1.  Combine all ingredients in bowl.
2.  Cover and chill.
3. Garnish with avocado slices or cilantro sprigs.
4. Serve with tortilla chips

Number of Servings: 24

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Story Behind Our Most Popular Pendant (So Far)


Stuck way out in the desert sometimes we used to lack for artistic inspiration. Nothing but Juniper trees, dried out desert grass, and only the occasional tiny cactus or Yucca. I started taking macro photographs (extreme close-ups) of these things. Why not? What else was I going to do? I talk about this in several previous blogs (see below) and came up with some pretty interesting stuff.

But then I started improvising with that: putting the images into Photoshop, tweaking with the color balance, adding filters, transferring that image in Corel Painter to add realistic brush strokes, that kind of thing. I came up with several Yucca "paintings" I liked very much. Really cool abstracts in pretty pastels. Then Paul said "Let me show you how to adjust something or another (I forgot what) on that" and reached over and hit the wrong key on my computer by mistake. The colors inverted and we both went "WOW!" That was our favorite one and now it and close-up details of that design are our most popular designs.

If they are not currently sold out you might be able to find them in our brand new Etsy shop. You can find Macro Grass (see links below) pendants as well.




The Importance of a Change in Perspective
Macro Grass
More Macro Grass
Abstract Yucca

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Spiritual Purpose of Hair

I found this interesting. I stopped doing anything to cover the grey in my hair out in the desert -- gone "native" if you knew what people look like here. But it's disturbing to me to see myself in the mirror. We're so conditioned to fit in, to match the prevailing cultural point of view. Outer oriented instead of inward as the Sikh teacher in this video says so well.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gregory the Black Cat -- Original Art Glass Tile Pendant



Our old housemate Gregory is now immortalized in glass! Pendant sales are going pretty well again in these last online shopping days til Christmas. I just put several more up. You can find them all in our new Etsy shop.


Round Fine Art Glass Tile Pendants








We tried our hand at round pendants this time. I like how these photos by my partner Paul came out especially. You can see the whole collection at our brand new Etsy shop.

New Art Pendants Selling Now!



We have new pendants up in our Etsy shop. And there's still time to get one for Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to Make a Fine Art Glass Tile Pendant -- The Hard Way


First, you and your art-making partner must be extreme perfectionists. This makes it really fun. Then you decide that your fine art glass pendants will be really high quality... because you're perfectionists, how else would you want them to be?

So... first off you decide that printing on Ultra Premium Matte Paper is not good enough. Your prints will be on Professional Glossy Photo Paper. Oh yeah. Unfortunately, the supplies recommended for making these Art Glass Tiles do not work well with glossy photo stock. Your glass tiles slide off the page over and over until you ruin several sheets of paper and give up.

The next time you try this process you remember this issue but decide that YOU must be the problem, not the process. You try again, deciding to work REALLY slowly and carefully this time. And you will only take the chance of ruining one. Lo and behold you appear to succeed! Hoorah! You walk away and let that one dry just to make sure it works okay. When you come back you perfectionistically attempt to sand the edges smooth and the back of the paper lifts away from the glass, leaving the image behind. What? You have inadvertently discovered the fine art of making Fine Art Glass transfers... which are kind of cool and may actually have great artistic possibilities because of their transparency... but it won't work with the other supplies you have so this discovery will have to be explored more thoroughly another day.

You go back to using Ultra Premium Matte Paper which really does look good. What were we thinking?

Then you look through the new glass tiles that just arrived and discover that every one has a scratched edge all around the top. The scratches come from the manufacturing process. Other people probably live with this imperfection but this is unacceptable to you. So the two of you go to the hardware store to find the perfect sandpaper to use to sand glass. This decision takes a lot longer than one might think. The decision is made to come back with 600 and 1500 grit paper -- ultra fine and super ultra fine -- and, as it appears at first, absolutely useless for the task at hand. Working really really hard using heavier duty sandpaper, however, ruins a couple of tiles by frosting it so you get frustrated. You've been working really hard not to ruin the nice clear top surface of the glass but in your attempt to polish out the frosting using ultra fine 600 grit paper you get mad, say it's ruined anyway, and go to town on it...which leads you to discover that that's all you had to do in the first place. All the scratches are, in fact, easy to smooth out as long as you stop trying to be so careful and just let yourself go up and over the top of the glass as needed.

Alright! That problem is solved so now we go on to the hardest part of all: how to adhere the photos to the glass without having a lot of bubbles and voids. Now a few bubbles and imperfections are part of the process but you decide you must get it bubble free. You work really hard at this and the harder you try the more bubbles and voids you create. So your boyfriend decides to try his hand at it. You've been trying hard not to make a mess and not to waste supplies. He goops it on, makes a big mess and then-- instead of very carefully and slowly placing the tile on the art-- simply drops the art into place from above. It goes gloop! And almost all the bubbles just magically disappear as the lacquer slops out the sides. He discovers that pressing the glass down too firmly messes this up, better just to lightly press and walk away then burnish it down more thoroughly after the paper has soaked up the medium a bit and the glass has started to stick. There are still tiny bubbles and imperfections but it is way better than the time-consuming slowly done ones you did without a lot of mess.

You vow never to do this messy process again but then your boyfriend asks if you got into trouble for getting dirty as a kid. The answer is yes. He didn't have that problem so placing tiles on the art is now his job. He does it well. You wind up with the project of cleaning up excess mess left on the top of the tiles and on the desk. No problem. An acceptable division of labor has now been achieved.

The next steps are to trim the excess paper from around the tiles so they fit more perfectly. Your boyfriend assumes a scissors would be right for this but, no, you were a graphic designer in the days before Macintosh computers. You "know" that an exacto knife is the way to go and after very slowly and carefully going ahead with this method you only have a few tiles done and your hands are starting to complain. You try the scissors and the job takes half the time. You get tired and get "sloppy" with your cutting and discover that your accuracy actually improves! It's becoming quite clear that perfectionism just gets in the way of achieving great results. You vow to loosen up.

People online then recommend sanding the edges. This is a mistake unless you go fast and just sand a little. The more perfectly you try to do the job the worse the edges start to look so you have to work twice as hard to sand the messed up parts out. You do half the tiles you have anyway before giving up. The unsanded tiles look best of all.

Then you turn the tiles over and lacquer the back. The war on perfectionism continues but you finally get it done and go to bed. Tomorrow the metal bails used to string the tiles onto a chain will be glued on. Your partner has agreed to do this because that can be a messy job, too. But the basic work is now done. When everything is dry the photographer can go to work photographing the pendants so they can be displayed on the internet. He will likely spend too much time Photoshopping them to look just right but that's another story. We won't inflict you with that one.

More pendants are coming. We rejected half the ones we made last time and turned them into refrigerator magnets. We only have four rejects this time around and the process actually went a lot faster! :-) We'll let you know when they're up and ready for sale.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Flower Essences for the Christmas Season — Holly

The Holly addresses the age-old dilemma of how to harness the useful thrust for survival and fighting for justice we depend upon and still have a kind and loving heart. Kindness tends to vanish in the wake of war and yet there are times that try the soul, especially when the limits of tolerance and fair play are breached by others putting their personal single-minded desires ahead of what works best for all concerned.

“I’m taking that for myself. I don’t care what happens to anyone else” is the rallying cry of the sickness that takes hold when Holly is most appropriate. When a person’s dignity has been imposed upon too many times the lust for revenge can overtake the personality. But when hate turns the natural impulse for creative action into violence and rage the Bach Flower repertoire offers a solution: turn to a force larger than yourself and return a feeling of wholeness into the world.

The Holly plant comes into the celebration of Christmas mostly from the pagan European tradition of using a wreath of Holly to crown the nature King who dies with the waning light from Summer Solstice until December. Then, with the culmination of the Winter Solstice (now usurped by the celebration of Christmas), the pattern is reversed. A new king is born. Light comes back into the world at the Savior (Sun/Son King)’s birth and hearts are then filled with gladness, love and celebration.

The Holly is the Crown of Thorns. Its leaves are stiff and come to a series of sharp thorn-like points. The Holly plant is thick with these leaves and is like an impenetrable fortress. It is a fierce survivor and can live even in the harshest conditions. In Druid iconography a glyph of the plant is used to say “I am a battle-waging spear” but in Flower Essence Therapy the battle it is most used to help with is the one that rages within the human heart. Can you develop the inner Divinity to understand the vexations of human existence to the extent that you can remain forgiving under the harshest conditions?

The Holly plant is not just about pain. The thorn-like projections of the leaves are not defense. They also serve to tighten and reshape the growth pattern of the leaves so they twist and refract the light from the sun into the dark almost walled off hedge-like structure of the plant itself. Light from the outside world is thus reflected inward so the plant can thrive even in the darkest recesses of the deepest forest.

The person who needs Holly most is the one who no longer loves themselves. They feel unloved, lost and alone in a world that doesn’t “respect” or “care” for them.They’re angry, envious, jealous, and vengeful and attempt to correct this grief they carry in the most murderous of ways—by attempting to project it out in order to hurt or “correct” others instead. The Bach Flower Remedy Holly is used to heal the heart, to allow it to access the deep peace that comes from feeling safe and loved despite what one faces in the world around. It enables the person to regain compassion for themselves and the desire to give and receive this compassion and grace with others.

Dr. Bach considered Holly to be one of the most important remedies in his collection, universally applicable to a wide variety of situations. Everyone feels unloved from time to time, lost, abandoned, angry and shut off from others. There is also a need to be truthful when it comes to meeting out justice—truthful about the motivations coming from oneself and seeking the truth about what comes from outside. This is not the same as “blind justice”. The truth the Holly plant speaks comes from nurturing the depths of the soul and commanding the justice that comes from compassion. Inner peace, essentially, automatically translates into goodwill. That’s the message of the Holly—peace on earth, goodwill towards men—and that’s the meaning of the season of Christmas as well.

I use Holly in my only Christmas-inspired flower essence aromatherapy formula. It’s called “Peace and Goodwill” and it’s designed to heal the heart so one can feel loving, at peace, and compassionate with oneself and others once again.

I also use it in my "Open-Hearted Loving" formula which I highly recommend for anyone wanting to soothe the grief covered by rage that occurs, say, in a nation divided by politically-fueled ideology, in family relationships and love affairs, in the workplace, or anyplace where love is not what the message has been . . . but needed to be. Heal from that and heal the world. That's what Holly, the spirit of Christmas, is all about.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Flower Essence Aromatherapy Gifts for the Creative Soul


I've been spending some time replenishing my best selling flower essence aromatherapy perfumes and it occurred to me that the ones I did today would be perfect for artists, writers and other people wanting to do more, perhaps make a living, with their creative work.

The first was one that I used to call "Creative Focus". It's called "Focused Attention" now. I made it when I got stuck on a section of a book I was writing and found it hard to concentrate. It's designed to stimulate the senses, focus your attention, synthesize new ideas and put them into action. And, with Cinnamon and Vanilla in it, it smells really good, like a cup of chai. Appropriate for men as well as women, the key ingredients are Rosemary, Cinnamon, Vanilla and Vetiver essential oils and the flower essences Madia, Peppermint, Shasta Daisy and Blackberry.

The next I think any creative person would appreciate is "Manifesting Life Purpose". Another unisex scent, it combines Clary Sage, Jasmine, Bergamot, Vetiver and Neroli for expanded awareness, clarity and upliftment, to stimulate the imagination and vitalize the spirit, for determination to hold to one's ideals, and confidence in taking initiative. I added Wild Oat, Blackberry, Madia, Lady's Slipper and Sunflower flower essences as well. They help one recognize and hold to their life purpose, take the initiative to act on their ideas, have more disciplined focus, and be more confident in expressing their true hearts in order to integrate spiritual purpose with daily work.

The third I'd include in this set is "Doing New Things with Confidence." Rosewood and Lavender help with emotional balance and the flower essences of Corn, Chaste Tree, Larkspur, Red Clover and Zinnia help a person feel more grounded and calm, more at ease when handling changes, enthusiastically prepared to tackle new challenges, and more inclined towards having an attitude of fun and adventure.

That last one is probably more applicable to women than men but if there's a man on your list you're thinking of these for you might want to consider "Abundant Prosperity" as well. That's a citrusy unisex scent that features the essential oils of Lemon and Vetiver and flower essences of Zinnia, California Peony, Iris and Madia. It is designed to help move stuck energy and cultivate feelings of well-being, light-heartedness, creative inspiration, and the courage and disciplined focus to follow one's heart.

Choose any three of these to create your own three-perfume gift set and save some money. Buy all four and save a little more. Buy them now on my website or on Etsy. com.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Flower Essences of the Christmas Season -- Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem brings solace and relief to the person so defeated by the experiences they have been through that they retreat from life, sleep all day or refuse to participate by numbing themselves through drugs, inappropriate occult activities, or other escapist behaviors. The flower is also known as “Sleeping Dick” or “Nap at Noon” which gives great indication of the distress it is best known for curing. It was one of the key remedies in Dr. Edward Bach’s “Rescue Remedy” and is highly recommended for all cases of shock or trauma.

The signature of the plant is significant in Bach’s repertoire. It is the only flower he used with six petals, a structure ancients associated with the six-pointed star or Star of David. This sacred symbol was both an emblem of the Jews but an even older pagan symbol representing the harmonious coming together of heaven and earth. There are two intersecting triangles that make up this star. The point of one triangle points to the heavens, the other points to the earth.

When a person is out of balance in the sense of neither feeling God’s guidance and/or protection (the root cause of the dis-ease we are addressing here) they also tend to lose faith in life itself. The trauma that causes this can be anything from a serious accident, some deep-seated abuse from childhood, or the death of someone they hold most dear. It is symbolically as if the light has gone out their life and the Star of Bethlehem reflects this orientation by only opening on the brightest sunniest of days.

Star of Bethlehem is a plant that is both edible when cooked and a potent homeopathic, used for very serious conditions of the digestive tract, especially for cancer. It has beautiful white flowers that are said to sparkle like stars in the sun, quite attractive and fragrant. And yet it is a very poisonous plant and has been known to harm livestock and young children who find it and eat it raw in the wild. I have found this to be true of several other plants in the flower essence repertoire that are specific for the deepest trauma or hurt. The pattern of dis-ease these plants address are actually poisonous to the human system -- trauma and pain the psyche can’t or won’t digest and let go. That is why these feelings are so toxic. They permeate the person’s being and become the most overriding element in their world view. It’s as if the pain they have experienced is all there is and there is nothing more to look forward to. But that isn’t true. It never is. It’s just that the usual pattern of life has been disrupted and the person has to wake up to try to find what’s useful in life in some other way than what once was the case. When heated through boiling and used in the minute portions used in Flower Essence Therapy the poisonous aspects of the Star of Bethlehem are transformed as well. It then acts like a spiritual vaccine that brings the most potent of healing forces to the fore.

A person with a Christian orientation would say that the star that shown over the manger at Jesus's birth foretold of a similar healing solace for the world at large. The Biblical Star of Bethlehem was given as the name for this flower for good reason. The relief this flower bestows is so powerful it can serve as a person's physical salvation. Edward Bach used it in emergency situations and, as part of his Rescue Remedy formula as a whole, even had documented success in using it to bring a person out of a coma.

I was guided to include it in the first flower essence aromatherapy formula I ever made--Mama Love for Troubled Times.

Flower Essences of the Christmas Season - Pine

I've written extensively about the pine tree in a book called The Solstice Evergreen: The History, Origin and Folklore of the Christmas Tree. The pine tree was of great spiritual significance to pagan societies around the world as a symbol of life and fertility even in the depths of winter. In the harshest of climates, in the darkest time of the year, the pine trees provided shelter while pointing to the heavens, assuring one and all that the life force that permeated the known universe was strong, benevolent and yet highly spiritual in origin. Many other vestiges of paganism disappeared with the advent of the one God religions of Judaism and Christianity but celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice and the evergreen tree persisted and were finally deemed so important that they were deliberately incorporated into the celebration of Christmas.

Why? Perhaps it was because a more loving, supportive and forgiving interpretation of God, as promoted by Jesus, was the perfect antidote needed to the harsh authoritarian view of God promoted by Judaism and the early Church. The pine tree, already seen as a tree of everlasting life, offered solace in the harshest time of year, and the Church intended to establish itself as the source of solace during an unusually harsh time in human development, the Dark and Middle Ages. Forgiveness for one’s sins through Jesus became the central theme of  Christianity, and the pine tree was recast as the wood used for the cross, the "Tree of Life" Jesus died on to save the souls of the truly faithful. There are church paintings that show him crucified in the boughs of an evergreen tree and, as time went on, that deliberate melding of the old religion with the new became an integral part of the celebration of Christmas as we know it today.

Eternal life truly is the phrase most associated with the pine tree. Besides being an evergreen, it is also a long-lived species and it is long-lived in evolutionary terms. The pine tree is a member of the Gymnosperm family that predates all other flowering plants on the planet. This deep connection to a past that persists in the present must be considered as a significant part of the tree’s signature. It is also a tree that is decidedly formidable in appearance. Its lofty appearance, sharp needles and rough bark do not give the impression of a plant that is benevolent and forgiving. Yet it is its ability to stay intact and green and, therefore, provide loving protection and shelter all year, that most people associate with its nature. Eternal life, loving protection and shelter -- in other words, salvation -- is what this tree is all about.

In Flower Essence Therapy homeopathic infusions of flowers are used for emotional healing. The Pine's flowers are red and yellow which might suggest that this essence works with issues of the 1st and 3rd chakras: survival in one’s family unit and self-esteem. It is primarily for people who are wracked with undue guilt, self-blame or extreme perfectionism and self-criticism. “I am bad, bad, bad and I don’t deserve to have a good life” is the message these people are constantly telling themselves. This highly damaged sense of self always stems from early childhood experiences, perhaps a harsh unforgiving family environment, a belief established early on that one was unwanted or a feeling that one’s presence was a burden in some way. A child who was castigated for even tiny infractions is a good example. Such a young one often feels forsaken, cut off from their family’s love and left out in the cold. To protect himself from further abuse the child might learn to forsake himself. The harsh family legacy of excessive discipline is internalized as harsh self-discipline. After all, children who punish themselves appear much less deserving of abuse than one who appears to “need” correction (at least in the eyes of this family dynamic). On the other hand, a child born into poverty or born to a mother whose health suffered while the child was in the womb might grow up believing that their very existence threatened the health of those they loved and depended upon. That child might try to relieve their parents’ burden by being super-good or by apologizing for their behavior even when there was nothing of great significance to apologize for. Pine Flower Essence helps people who are stuck in these patterns to learn self-acceptance and forgiveness. They learn to release the past along with inappropriate guilt and self-blame.

I use Pine in my Peace and Goodwill flower essence aromatherapy spray, a very special formula especially for the Christmas season but appropriate to use any time of year.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Surfing Service Dog

Pink Glove Dance for Breast Cancer Awareness

Support for a Broken Heart, Healing for a Troubled Soul


Do you know someone going through a hard time this holiday season? It's not unusual for there to be a recent death or a serious illness marring the holiday spirit. Perhaps the memory of the death of close loved one lingers on. The season of peace and love and joy and thanksgiving can be particularly brutal on someone going through something like this.

I just made a new batch of my Mama Love for Troubled Times formula and have recently replenished my supplies of Releasing Worry and Fear and Restful Sleep formulas. They're available individually both on Etsy and on my own website. You can also save money by buying them prepackaged as a three-perfume set in a nice see-through top gift box on Etsy or on my own website as well.

Healing Support 3-Perfume Gift Set on Etsy

Find this one and a number of other gift set choices on Etsy by clicking here or by visiting my Mama Love Products site here.

I have a little Renewed Faith and Optimism to offer as well!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mama Love Is Featured in a Blog


Svet is an Etsy shopkeeper who does tarot readings and makes really cute knitted tarot deck bags. I loved her code of ethics which you can read on her Etsy profile. Paul and I don't do tarot readings but in our work as spiritual counselors similar issues come up. I think a code of ethics like Svet includes is a really important thing. It shows that she takes her work seriously and wants to be in integrity as much as possible.

Svet recently looked me up and asked to do a profile about me and Mama Love on her blog. I thought that was a sweet thing. You can read her interview with me by clicking here. The photo on this blog is of one of her knitted tarot bags. I like the Diamond shaped design on the front. You can find it for sale by clicking here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Unbelievable!


We just opened up a brand new Etsy shop and used these art glass tile pendants we made from our art and photography as a place to start. Paul posted every item we made on Facebook at the same time I was posting them to our shop. And suddenly things went wild!

We figured we'd sell a couple, maybe more to our Facebook community. No such luck. Way better! We couldn't keep up. They were buying them faster than I could post them on Etsy so I just gave up and sold a bunch of them direct. We sold 8 of the 21 we made in one night and 5 others are currently reserved for someone who intends to pay for them today!

We only have 8 left in our Etsy shop. Better get 'em while they're hot!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Busy Life


I've been neglecting my blog and I don't see much end in sight. Way too much to occupy my time. First I've been writing to literary agents and a couple of publishers. Not much to report on that front. I'm collecting rejection notices. A couple were NOT form letters and said really encouraging things about my work. The consensus so far is that it "certainly is an interesting read but..." Then they usually say something about it being "hard to sell memoirs" or they "don't know about the blogging angle" even though memoirs are hot right now and books made from blogs are definitely starting to capture the public's attention. But most have been encouraging about trying other agents who might have more of an in with publishers doing that kind of stuff. Not every agent is a great fit for every genre. I haven't given up but it takes a lot of time to research every agent, find out what they do right now (or what they said they wanted the last time they updated their websites which may or may not be true now), and to customize my stock query letter/book proposal to sound "personal" and fit their requirements.

I've also decided to add writing directly to like-minded authors as well. It seems that the practice of getting author endorsements for the back and front cover (the publishing industry calls them "blurbs") is now best done while you're still looking for a publisher. In fact, a good word from a popular celebrity can make the difference between a book being sold to the publishing industry or not even looked at at all. Sigh. Just what I love to do-- knock on the doors of very busy people I don't even know and ask them to write something about my book. I've followed through and sent letters to a half a dozen or so. I have a couple more to write to now.

Then there's Mama Love and the art and photography businesses. There was a nice uptick in sales a couple of weeks ago as most of my retail stores got their displays fully stocked in time for Christmas shopping season. Then Paul and I put a fair bit of research into what people sell their art prints and related products for on Etsy. We've been putting some time into getting that shop ready but there have been a lot of false starts. I could write an entire blog about "Art Glass Tile Pendants" alone. Probably will. Paul spent several hours today photographing and then Photoshopping the 21 pendants we made this week. Jewelry made from our photography. They're gorgeous really.... but don't ask about how much time they take. There's something missing in a lot of the work we seem to get enthralled with. The ability to charge enough for these items to make it worthwhile! But we invested the time and materials. Now we have them so it would be crazy to not put them out for sale. That will happen this week. The photo on this blog is a sneak preview.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight Moon


Paul  called me over to his computer all excited last night. "I've had a breakthrough!" he said. Paul is a great photographer who does hyper-realistic landscapes and other stuff. Last night he started to explore less realistic painterly effects in Photoshop and came up with the image at the left. He excitedly put it up on Imagekind and in our shop at Zazzle right away.

Today we got the following email communication from Zazzle along with the announcement that they had removed this image from their site:

"Design contains an image or text that infringes on Summit Entertainment's intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by Summit Entertainment with regards to your design, and at their request your product has been removed from Zazzle's Marketplace. For any further questions please feel free to email us below or contact Summit Entertainment at: www.summit-ent.com."

What?!!!

We asked for clarification and got the following response:

"As noted in the previous email, we were contacted directly by Summit Entertainment with regards to your design infringing on their intellectual property rights.  Perhaps your product contained search tags or descriptions that references elements from The Twilight Saga, for example titles, character names, etc. If this is the case, please feel free to re-submit your design to the Zazzle Marketplace and ensure that your product does not reference any elements from The Twilight Saga including the design itself, title, descriptions and search tags."

Well, as it turns out the latest installment in the Twilight Series is called "New Moon". Paul's photo depicts the moon. (He called it "Lavender Moon".) And guess what? It was shot at twilight so he used the term commonly used to describe the time of day between daytime and the full darkness of night to describe it!

We consider this activity by Summit Entertainment as both 1) a violation of our First Amendment rights and 2) a deliberate act of harassment which interferes with the conduction of our business.

I've swung this morning from righteous indignation -- this isn't the first time I've had to fend off an attack like this! -- to full-on pity party (we've had the worst year financially I've ever experienced in my life and now I have to deal with this?) -- to amusement. At least I have something to write a blog about now.

Want to help us out? Tell people. Write to Summit Entertainment (if you can find any contact info -- we haven't been able to yet) and register a protest. Tell people about the infringement of people's rights by a large corporate interest -- can anyone say "VAMPIRE"?!  And help us come up with a way to stop them and Mara Fox and anyone else who thinks they have the right to engage in this kind of behavior forever more. (Of course, we could just call this all a mistake on their part and call it done... but... we KNOW this kind of thing happens in the name of protecting trademarks a little too often. Twice to us alone! Saying nothing just isn't good enough.)

Paul put a second "Twilight Moon" image online this morning. He calls it "Invert Moon". You can see that image by clicking the previous link. You can see his entire Imagekind gallery by clicking here. You can visit mine if you're interested as well.  And maybe...someday...we'll post a photo of a completely empty blue-black page and call it "New Moon at Twilight"... just to piss Summit Entertainment off.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helping a Fellow Artist


Nicole, the person who introduced me to Etsy, is extremely ill, fighting for her life, and needs the community's help. That's her picture to the left. She has a neuro-immune disorder called XAND that is caused by a retro-virus that makes her so overly sensitive to items in her environment that she had to be hospitalized this past summer.

Luckily, brand new research is offering hope for medical treatment but the very long rough road she and her partner Jason have been on has worn him out and decimated their financial stability.

They have no real community connections in Vermont where they moved to be near the most useful treatment facility they knew about at the time. So they're hoping their online community, fellow artists, and others moved by their plight can pitch in.

Please visit their website at http://secreteye.org/nicole/fundraise.html where you'll learn more about this disease and the very affordable ways a large enough community of friends, friends of friends, and concerned others could help them out. They're not asking for much! If a large enough group of people could give even a tiny amount it would make a world of difference.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Has the Public's Focus Been Shifting?


I've been thinking quite frequently this year that sales of my flower essence aromatherapy perfume appear to be following the public's changing mood. Each of my perfumes are named for a particular healing quality or purpose. So earlier this year, during the very height of hysteria over the crashed economy, my best-selling perfumes were "Releasing Worry and Fear", "Mama Love for Troubled Times", "Abundant Prosperity" and "Trusting Inner Guidance." "I want help and I need it now!" -- that's the message I seemed to receive.

Then things went dead for awhile but now that Christmas shopping season has arrived my wholesale accounts (retail stores) all have come back to life. What do they want now? "Manifesting Life Purpose."

I find this interesting because traditionally this is not the time of year that perfume sells the most. January -- New Year's Resolution time -- is when that one usually flies off the shelves. But this year, all my stores have been selling out and want more now.

It makes me think that people are starting to think more clearly. What do they really want and what does it take to get it?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Woodcut Greeting Cards

Rejoice! card
Rejoice! by paulnsheryl
Shop for a different greeting card on zazzle


Behold! card
Behold! by paulnsheryl
Create notecards onine with zazzle

Straight on the Outside, Hippie Underneath

Woodcut Flower Design in my Zazzle Shop


Woodcut Flowers apron
Woodcut Flowers by paulnsheryl
Many more kitchen aprons online at zazzle

Woodcut Flowers bag
Woodcut Flowers by paulnsheryl
Create your own bags at Zazzle

Celebrating Today!

What a great 24 hours. Three wholesale purchases-- one brand new to Olympia, Washington (see previous post), one repeat to a person who is reselling Mama Love in Japan, and one back to Santa Cruz. Then we had a session with a brand new client we liked very much. And Paul has TWO people who want to buy large framed prints of his for spec houses! Then I saw this video and it was just so sweet and fun I just have to put it up.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flower Essence Aromatherapy in Olympia, Washington


Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy perfume is currently winging its way to Olympia, Washington to Radiance Herbs and Massage. They were extremely conscientious in their questions to me before deciding to make an order with me. I was impressed by the level of their knowledge and expertise. In fact, I don't think I've ever had another retail store who knew and wanted to know so much! If you're in the Olympia, Washington area check them out and click the link above to see their beautiful website. I checked out their latest newsletter and was amazed by the number and variety of classes they offer. I'm really pleased that Mama Love will soon be on their shelves.

40 Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Our November Newsletter is Online

Our latest Healing Communication / Mama Love newsletter is now available online

Experimentation with the Graphics Tablet



We have a new graphics tablet that we finally have gotten brave enough to try and a new painting program, Corel Painter Essentials, to try it out with. Very challenging to learn new things but it became very fun once I sat through all the video tutorials on Corel Painter tonight and gave it a go.

I started with a photo I took of a Yucca plant, barely manipulated at all -- just a little more color saturation. I always liked how the strange looking silky filaments in the center of the plant contrasted with the rigid straight leaves.

Then I brought it into Photoshop and added several filters. It wasn't good enough so that's when I loaded the Corel Painter program and tried it's oil painting effects. I really loved how that turned out but then I brought it back into Photoshop to do a few finishing touches. Paul reached over to show me how to do something I didn't know and hit the wrong key by mistake. Suddenly the colors inverted and then we both knew we had something unique and, I think, pretty wonderful.

The last image I'm sharing here is a small detail of the last image showing the very realistic brush strokes the Corel Painter program is capable of doing.  I put both of the paintings in one of my Image kind galleries tonight if you're interested in seeing what they look like matted and framed.
  


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mama Love News


I've been really busy lately trying to get ready for Christmas sales. I bought a bunch of shipping boxes wholesale and just changed my pricing structure so I can offer FREE SHIPPING to the U.S. and Canada on everything in both my Etsy and Mama Love shops.

My latest listing on Etsy is this: 3 of my organic and Reiki-infused flower essence aromatherapy body, bath or massage oils for $45. That's $6 off my 2 oz. economy sized formulas. Choose any of my Mama Love formulas you want. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33521500

You can also, of course, find this offer in my Mama Love shop along with a number of other quantity discounts and wholesale pricing for those of you who can buy in wholesale quantities. (Christmas shopping anyone?)

A Healthy Hopping Rodent Friend


Have you ever seen anything more adorable? I got this photo from Wikipedia. It's a Kangaroo Rat and we have one right now living in the house. It's fairly large and is actually even cuter than this one. A better photo is here at the Desert Museum. And the weird thing is that it does not run like other mice. It hops on its hind legs like a kangaroo.

It's very happy, especially at night, and spends most of its time going from the office where Paul is right now to the bedroom where I am. It will hop right up to us. It hops right up to Chloe, our cat. Sometimes it even bows slightly in our direction before going on its way. But it seems pretty much impossible to catch. Too fast, must be why it's not afraid of us.

We would like to trap it in a live trap and encourage it to live outside again because it's freaking Paul's mom out and gets really noisy rummaging around in Paul's stuff in the bedroom at night. Fortunately for the creature it snowed last night! 3-4 inches and it got really cold so it didn't melt. That means I, for one, can't quite bring myself to force it to live outside right now. I may be outnumbered when it comes to that decision but for now Kanga (yes, we named it) is living the good life inside and has even been given a nice bowl of seeds to eat by Paul's mom who thought that might be a good way to catch it. Uhh... probably not when there are bowls of catfood easily accessible as well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mama Love is in a New Gallery in Lakeside, AZ


Deb Moseman does wonderful whimsical flowers and other things out of metal that she cuts and welds by hand. Really fun stuff and now she has a gallery featuring her work and the work of 29 other artists. It's called Galleria Eclectica and it's at 1034 Woodland Lake Road in Lakeside, AZ. Paul and I found it by accident when we went up to Woodland Lake for my birthday. We never actually made it to the lake because we found Deb's gallery instead. The gallery itself is really fun and now there's also a small cafe (Cafe Grotto) and a great cozy outdoors sitting area with a fire pit for community gatherings and celebrations. Deb invited both Paul and I to join the gallery and we plan to take advantage. Mama Love is there now and some of Paul's photography and some prints of my own are planned to follow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Revolution IS Being Televised -- (Click here)

I just watched a speech Barack Obama gave to organizers for healthcare reform in NY. It wasn't just about healthcare. It was about everything his administration has accomplished in 9 months. It's only been 9 months! This speech should be on network TV but apparently the revolution might be televised... but only on the internet. http://www.barackobama.com/

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Happy Ending Cannot Come in the Middle of the Story

I was just doing some energy healing work on myself and felt like a significant turning point had come. I asked myself "why haven't I been able to get myself in alignment about this before?" and felt myself drawn to look at a quote Paul's mother has thumbtacked to the wall. We've lived here since December and I have never been curious enough to read it.

The quote said: "the true secret of being a hero lies in knowing the order of things... Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophesies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story." from The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

Everyone, Every Creature, Has Value Just Breathing

An old counselor friend of mine from India, who I lost touch with years ago when she moved back, had an enormous impact on the people she worked with when she lived in the United States. Her insight into the U.S. national psyche is that most people she met didn't feel good about themselves. Even worse, this was amplified if they were sick, disabled, unemployed or struggling. She took to asking her clients to lie down while she sat beside them and held their hands. She would tell them to just breathe and when they would protest that they weren't getting "enough work done" in their session with her she'd tell them to think of themselves as a young infant -- a newborn, unable to move or talk, or even lift their own head. And she would say

"Did your mama love you any less for that? No! She was so excited to have you, to welcome you into her life, to just hold you and look at you and smell you! She saw you as a perfect miracle when you were just born and unable to do anything but lie there, breathing. And she was thankful for that."

"Just breathe. You are of value to the world just being here. You are a miracle. You are loveable. You are welcome on this planet. You belong."

"Think of yourself as that little newborn. You are still that same child. And nothing changes that except what you have been taught to believe."

In this video is a graphic example of how valuable a being can be just lying there breathing. It's a tribute to Baxter, a dog who brought joy and comfort to people at the end of their lives even though he couldn't do anything anymore himself but lie in their beds, be held by them and lick their faces.

He died on Friday, October 16, on my birthday. I didn't know him personally but I know he is deeply missed.

The President's Message for Diwali


This past weekend marked the celebration of Diwali, an important festival in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and an official holiday in India and Nepal. It's known as the "Festival of Lights" and celebrates the triumph of good over evil and in particular the awareness of one's inner light. Here is the president's Diwali message. Why did Obama deserve to win recognition from the granters of the Nobel Peace Prize? Choosing to do a respectful and educational address that shifts the discussion from conservative one-religion dominated rhetoric to a message of reaching past presumed differences to create pathways of understanding and commonality across the globe is a big piece of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dare Change

I hope this link works. It's a really great and inspirational video! Not on Youtube so I couldn't figure out how to embed it here but it is REALLY worth clicking on the link to check it out!

Beware of this Request for Free Samples Scam

Requests for free samples are pretty common with legitimate companies wanting to buy things at wholesale - especially for something like perfume which they might want a chance to smell first. But here's something to watch out for. My dad was a manufacturer's representative so when I saw this email I knew something was wrong.

The email said

"Hi:

I represent 12 health/nutrition centers, as well as 6 grocers, and am currently looking for healthy foods, snack items, and beverages for these concerns. Your business was recommended to us by another distributor, who had good things to say about your product lines.

I have written to inquire about what I need to do to acquire product samples for my clients to evaluate. It is much easier to get a firm decision from my clients, when they have something in front of them.

Please, get back to us, soon."

He included the name of a business (Creative Foods) which I could not find on the internet, an address which turned out to be a 200 sq foot structure (a garage?) in Seattle, and a Seattle phone number connected with several scammy businesses. One was supposedly a business selling "close-outs" to China and other places.

Close-outs, for those who don't know, are usually items bought at a steep discount from companies going out of business, seconds, or discontinued items. They can also be FREE SAMPLES that are then resold. Selling off legitimately gotten free samples which weren't able to be sold is acceptable. Soliciting free samples to sell yourself is fraud!

How did I know this was a scam?

Representatives don't represent stores! They represent you. Reps sell to stores. Store managers and buyers don't need reps. So many people are trying to sell things to retail stores there's no reason to hire outside help (at what would be a ridiculous expense) to do what a store owner might typically ENJOY doing themselves.

Also, get this! After a couple of email exchanges back and forth I finally suggested that if this person was really a distributor that he send me a list of who else he represents and what stores, what his terms are, etc. (all the things a real distributor would provide). Then I said that if he was pulling a scam that he'd better get better at it before proceeding any further!

He sent an email back saying he was not actually a distributor and to disregard the previous email! This is in print with an email address, a street address and a phone number!

I sent it all to the Seattle Police Department. I hope they have enough information to follow through.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aquarius

People in this part of the country never got over this period in our nation's history. I always just took it for granted that it was a necessary step. Even joyous.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Cows are Gone


We saw cowboys on horseback rounding up the cows that run wild out here. We didn't see it but we understand that they load them onto cattle cars and they all cry. Glad we didn't see or hear that. Now there are no cows to see on our walks and... we miss them. We did, however, get to see a herd of antelope today and a large healthy looking coyote with a big bushy tail. We also get to see lots of horses grazing.





Sunday, October 11, 2009

Aspen Impressions Digital Mixed Media Painting


I just uploaded this piece to my Imagekind Gallery. It's a digitally done painting using one of my original photographs as a base. Some people think of this kind of work as "photo manipulation." But I've added so much hand work that I think of it as a hybrid thing that uses Photoshop like a type of paint box rather than as the sole technique.

Friday, October 09, 2009

My Customers Must Be Psychic!


Here's a weird thing. I'm in the middle of lowering my prices for quantity discounts. I sell my individual flower essence aromatherapy perfumes for $12.99. I now sell 5 of those for $50 (a savings of $14.95 - more than 1 perfume for free!) ...Well, I wasn't finished doing that and someone already bought one! I still don't have my Mama Love website updated yet but you can see what the deal is on Etsy by clicking here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009