December 3, 2014

Annual Christmas Sale

If you missed the annual Black Friday - Cyber Monday sale, don't feel bad. There are still some great deals to be found in my annual Christmas sale.
Open House Set Up 2014
Set up for the open house Friday.
Yes, the discounts might not be as high on some items, but everything in the store is still anywhere from 10-75% off now through December 12. I always end the sale on that date to ensure everyone who orders receives their packages before the holiday.

November 18, 2014

Fragrance Introduction: Eclectic and Intuitive

I don't normally introduce new fragrances this time of year, but I'm going to make an exception for these two. Once again, I've had the wonderful opportunity of working with an author to create fragrances and soaps inspired by their characters. In this instance, two characters from Ellie Collin's upcoming Empire Valley series.

First up is Intuitive, a light, fresh, and slightly sweet blend of abalone, sea, coffee, coconut, lavender, and chocolate. It was inspired by the main protagonist, Sophia.

Empire Valley by Ellie Collins licensed soaps
Intuitive Glycerin Soaps

November 6, 2014

Fall Show Review

These past couple of weeks have been busy ones. The last two-thirds of our fall show season happened back-to-back, so there wasn't time really to comment on each of them in turn.

First we had Rocket City NerdCon in Huntsville on October 24-25. It was a first year event, so we weren't sure what exactly to expect. However, we thought chances were good it might be a fairly laid back affair, so we decided it would be a good convention to be the girls' first.

The girls were proud of their homemade costumes.

Both girls wanted to cosplay, especially since it was the week before Halloween. I, of course, waited far too long to get started on their costumes. I'd never made a full costume before, let alone two, so I was probably procrastinating out of subconscious fear. Anyway, with two full days of intensive sewing, their Batgirl and Supergirl costumes got done about 9:30 Thursday night.

Friday was eventful and interesting because neither Hubby nor I were able to get the day off work, and the convention started just half an hour after I usually get off work. Thankfully, the Huntsville City Library is just a block or so from the station and basically across the road from where Hubby works. We got set up just in time to catch our breath before attendees started coming in.

Saturday was also a learning experience. As I said before, we'd never carried our girls to a convention before, so we ended up overestimating how engaged they would be by it all. Although they liked seeing the costumes and looking at everything, they got bored fairly quickly. It probably didn't help that between the excitement of spending the night at Granny D's and knowing they were going to get to go somewhere special the next day, neither girl slept much the night before. So, we had two sleepy girls on our hands well before lunch.

Still, we all enjoyed the show overall, and it went well for a first year event.

This past weekend was our third year at Hilltop Arts Festival.

A cold front came through the night before, so it was bitterly cold and windy early Saturday morning when we were setting up. Still, the girls had gotten a good night's sleep, or so I thought, and I'd gotten everyone hats and gloves the night before. So, we thought nothing of taking the girls with us.

We got there and began setting up. The girls ran up and down a small hill behind where we were setting up our tent to keep warm and busy. Hubby and I got the tent up with a lot less fuss than the year before, which considering we only use the thing once a year, is pretty good. We probably should have taken it as a sign to just take it back down when it tried to blow away three times in the process of trying to get it weighted down.

Anyway, we got the tent set up, and I was setting up the tables when the girls really started complaining about being cold. So Hubby took them home to get some blankets while I finished setting up the tables. I was done and had made a partial round to see the other venders when they returned. They got cuddled up under their blankets, and things seemed fine for a bit until the wind started picking up as the air warmed a few degrees. It was strong enough that Hubby and I were still obliged to hold onto the tent, even with center blocks weighting the tent down. This frightened Boo Bear so badly, she began crying in a panic.

Eventually we ended up calling Granny D to come get the girls, and then Hubby and I took the tent down once the wind died down enough for us to attempt it. That made things feel a tad warmer with access to direct sun, and we didn't have to sprint to grab the tent every few minutes.

Like NerdCon the week before, business was slow but steady throughout the day. We heard some great music, ate some good food, and met some very nice people.

I'm not entirely sure if we will be vending at Hilltop again next year, but I'm sure we'll go. It has nothing to do with the show itself. It's a wonderful event. But, the weather seems to be getting colder earlier each year these past three or four years, and other festivals in the area make moving the event date impractical.

I discovered Saturday night and in through Sunday evening, that I can't handle being in the cold for that long. A soak in hot water and some "Ow, My Aching Everything," relieved much of the aches and pains from the day, but the bones themselves in my hips, legs, and feet ached throughout the night. And those are areas I usually don't feel RA related pain!

Of course, this may change with continued treatment. It's possible my rheumatoid disease isn't as in remission as I thought, and it's just going to take longer adhering to the anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and judicious use of medicines when needed to heal. I don't want to make any firm decisions until I know more.

October 21, 2014

Holiday Traditions May Vary

I've seen posts today about how movements to improve health and diets are killing our holidays, the "big three" in particular. While I can see where the writers are coming from and agree with some of their points, I'd like to point out, holiday traditions may vary.

toddler girl with pumpkin
Sneak excited by the pumpkins and fallen leaves her second fall season.

Not everyone has the same idea about how holidays should be celebrated, and that's okay.

October 8, 2014

Product Introduction: Ow, My Aching Everything!

A couple weeks ago, I talked about the process of formulating this newest item. The formula was finalized Monday evening, and I'm currently working on getting the first dozen or so jars listed in the store or delivered to U. G. White Mercantile in Athens.

Anti-inflammatory ointment made with essential oils
Ow, My Aching Everything Therapeutic Ointment

I have to list all the ingredients by their scientific names on the back label, so I thought I would break them down by their more recognizable names here. The active ingredients include castor oil, rose hip seed oil, lemongrass oil, cinnamon leaf oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, wintergreen oil, and rosemary oil. Coconut oil is used as a carrier and adds a moisturizing element to the ointment.

September 24, 2014

Upcoming Products: Formulating a Therapeutic Ointment

Back in late August and early September I had yet another flair up of carpal tunnel and what I now know to be the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis. I tried the usual over-the-counter creams and found them lacking. They helped, sure, but they burned, produced an exceedingly weird "cold burn" sensation, and left the skin feeling dried out and sticky.

Virtually all of them used menthol or capsasin as their active ingredients. Menthol is an anti-inflammatory agent found in members of the mint family such as wintergreen, spearmint, eucalyptus, and peppermint just to name a few. Capsasin is found in peppers and more of less just overrides the pain by producing a burning sensation. Knowing this, I decided to try and make a better anti-inflammatory cream.

Therapeutic ointment
Hubby demonstrating the texture of our lotion formula once we'd perfected it.
I studied up on different essential oils. I found several which are known to be powerful anti-inflammatories and then began experimenting with them. The first attempt worked, but the smell was like someone doused you in lemon Pledge. Plus the ointment left a greasy film behind, which I wasn't happy with either. Still, after three days of applying the ointment three times a day, my hands were back to their normal size and functionality. Since then, that first batch proved effective at relieving strained muscles, inflamed tendons, tension headaches, migraine, and dampening sinus pain long enough for decongestants to kick in.

September 23, 2014

Fall Season Kickoff: The Geek Gathering

Our fall event season got started this past weekend with The Geek Gathering in Sheffield, Alabama.

All in all, it was a good convention. Turnout was high, and the costumes were amazing. They had some good guests, especially considering they are a young convention. Oh, and Hubby finally got his picture taken with the TARDIS. There were so many other photos we wanted to take, but idiot me forgot to pack the camera.

TARDIS and Adipose Plushie
Hubby posed with the TARDIS and baby Adipose.

August 28, 2014

Your Words Matter: The Long Term Impact of a Teacher's Word Choice on Elementary Children

Here in the U.S. there seems to be a mindset amongst officials, parents, and even some teachers that the early years of a child's school career only matter as a starting point. Pre-K through third grade mostly focus on teaching a child to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time, to read and write and count and tie their shoes, and how to follow rules. Beyond this, little counts. Marks given in these grades don't count toward graduation or college acceptance beyond the child having passed through them to get to the next level, so what does it matter?

First Grade/Pre-K field trip to Cook's Natural History Museum.
Yet, it's in these early grades where we develop deep rooted ideas of self. Ask a child to describe themselves at the end of each year, and you'll see almost every one will have the same answer from third grade through the rest of their lives. Where do they get this self-image? Where did you get yours?

July 21, 2014

Upcoming Interview - The Will Anderson Show

I will be joining local talk show host, Will Anderson on air during his show on Wednesday, July 23. The show airs on WTKI and WEKI weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. central standard time.

We will be discussing my debut novel, Right of Succession.

July 9, 2014

Working Behind the Scenes

I know it looks like nothing has been going on since Con Kasterborous the last weekend in June, but there has been a lot happening "behind the scenes" so to speak.

Hubby and I both came down with con crud, and both girls had a bad case of hay fever that weekend. So the whole first week of July, we were all miserable. I'm thankful Hubby and the girls are back to feeling at 100%. I've had a cough and sinus issues that refuse to go away, and I woke up on July 4th almost completely deaf in one ear. Because of this, I have avoided any and all crafting, but that doesn't mean I've been idle.

Soap and Perfume Booth at Craft Fair
My booth at last year's Homespun.