Sunday, January 1, 2017

Another Year Over, And a New One Just Begun

Word for 2017: Enchanted...


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two Faced

Here we are in December, and if your winter is anything like mine it's been cold, and dry (dryer than usual for these parts, at least) so, I thought I'd share two of my favorite face recipes that help keep my skin from freaking out this time of year, or looking dull and grubby.  Ok, first up is...

Baby, I'm a Star Anise Scrub

Might not know it now, Baby, but I are!
Here's what you need:

Here's what you do:
 In an 8 oz glass jar combine softened coconut oil, and aluminum free baking soda in a 1:1 ratio (if using diatomaceous earth you'll want to use less due to the finer grit of the substance, so try for a 2:1 ratio).  Next, add 60 drops of anise seed essential oil, and 10 drops of frankincense essential oil, and with a small whisk attachment for your hand mixer, blend until the consistency reaches a smooth creamy texture.

Use:  I reach for this scrub about twice a week (don't use it too often, the goal is to still have skin), and use it pre bath or shower, do a casual rinse, and then hop into the tub since I'm not someone whose skin needs a ton of moisturizing.  Post bathing, my face is clean, and left with just the right amount of coconut oil to feel moisturized but not greasy.  I love using coconut oil in my beauty products, and routine, but you have to write yourself a different set of rules than the ones you're probably used to following with store bought products.  Nevertheless, this has become an absolute staple in my cabinet, it's also awesome on hands, feet, or if you find your elbows are getting a little neglected and rough.  A word of caution (or excitement, depending on your stance) anise seed essential oil is well-known as a possible "skin irritant" which, technically, could mean any number of things, but what I have found is that it will diminish the size or completely remove spots and moles from your face and body.  My mother discovered this quite by accident after mixing up her second batch of face and hand cream (her own creation), when the only change she made to the recipe was the addition of anise seed oil, and much to her surprise her sun-damage spots and other moles were vanishing from her face, hands, and arms.  I've since begun to use this essential oil neat as a spot treatment for pesky moles that look a little questionable, or in an inconvenient place, and it has worked in removing them.  For me, they just sort of dry up, and flake off.  I'm not sure if they will come back once I've stopped using the spot treatments, but if anyone has any experience with this, I'd love to hear from you, hit up my email on the sidebar!  Next up...

Get ready to make everyone green with envy!
Masque Envieux

Here's what you need:

Here's what you do:
In a small dish combine
1 Tablespoon of French Green Clay, and 1 1/2 Tablespoons (or a little more if it's too dry) of water and mix with a non-metal utensil.  As the mixture forms a smooth paste, add a drop of lavender essential oil, and fold into the paste.

First of all, it is wise to do a patch test on the upper inside of your forearm to see how your skin will react to the clay.  Once you know everything's cool, slather your face with your little green creation and let dry for NO longer than 15 minutes.  Remember, while these are pure ingredients and safe for most people to use, they are not cut with other useless ingredients that water down their effects like many store bought items we're accustomed to.  So really, if this is your first time using your home made clay mask, this is not the time to experiment with leaving it on an extra 5 minutes unless, of course, you're into that whole inflamed-face-look.

What's with French Green Clay, anyway?  Why do people use it?  This clay has been used to treat problematic skin, and inconvenient digestive issues since ancient times from Egypt to Rome, it's mineral rich, and aids in cell regeneration ... What's not to love?  A quick Google search of "French Green Clay history" will give you more information than you ever wanted about it.  Basically, it's the annoying overachiever of the clay world, but totally deserving of all its accolades.

So, now you know my winter beauty secrets aside from eating well, and drinking a ton of water, this is really all there is to it!

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Vintage cornucopia found: here
Stand up and take chard of your holiday appetizer tray with this recipe for Boatyard Chard.  Move over Spinach Dip, there's a new spread in the slip!  The warm flavors of ginger root, and garlic bring a cozy heat to this otherwise mellow starter.

Here's what you need:
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1-2 Inch Piece of Ginger Root (grated) 
  • 1 Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • 1-2 Bunches Swiss Chard (sliced into 1/4 - 1/2" pieces be sure to use some stems too!)
  • 2 Cups Ricotta Cheese

Here's what you do:
Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.  Add garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 4-6 minutes (just long enough to get fragrant, don't burn it!).  Add chard, and water, cover and cook until wilted and tender - another 4-8 minutes.  Season with salt.

*HINT* If you're going salt free, however, use more diced chard stems in your recipe, they give a great salty flavoring to your dish.  The stems also contain glutamine (amino acid) that aids in tissue recovery in the body, so they're great to have around after injury or surgery!

Once your greens are nice and wilted, combine them with two cups of ricotta cheese in a baking dish, and pop into your pre-heated oven you set to 425° and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Serve with crostini or crackers of your choice, it's perfect straight out of the oven, or chilled overnight!

I stumbled upon this flavorful, yet gentle recipe when I altered, and combined one of my favorites (coconut chard) with the directions for a dip recipe that involved ricotta cheese, at a time when I had to engage in a brutally restrictive diet.  My body wasn't playing nicely with all of the other foods on the playground, or maybe it was the other way around, but this was one recipe that was a bit of a peace-maker, especially through the holiday season.  So, I thought I would share it this year for anyone dealing with food allergies, or mega-restrictions, or even weight loss, and diets that are leaving you with rather less-than-palatable options these days, because nobody wants to be unable to eat, and enjoy family gatherings, forever banished to loser-table ... it's a lot like the kids' table, but with no crayons.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Rise & Shine!

The Leonie Dawson Shining Year Biz & Life workbooks are finally here for the masses (no memberships or pre-orders to fuss with and forget required).  For all of you swept up in the latest agenda craze, these workbooks, are weekly planners on steroids!  Mine are still in the mail, and this will be my very first year trying out Leonie's system for keeping all of my goals and deadlines on track.  I'm admittedly a little nervous (is that event the right word?) about diving into this packet, I am a complete and total minimalist when it comes to this kind of thing - like, 19¢ one subject notebook and black ink pen - minimalist aside from my old zip up calendar / address book with (ugly as hell) refillable pages from college. Almost nothing about the image above speaks to me on a personal or intuitive level, if I'm being perfectly honest.  No joke, it was like pulling teeth for my art instructors to get me to even entertain the idea of a sketchbook, and I kept maybe one and a half diaries during my entire childhood so, I am definitely not the constantly journaling / doodling / vision board-ing girl. I have, however, discovered this year that I work more efficiently when I have worksheets to check back with, and I already know that I closely follow the calendar to help keep me on task, but what drew me to this was the notion that I was missing a step in my planning that could push my productivity, and execution to the next level.  So, here I am giving it a whirl!  I'm curious to see how this all works out exactly.  If you are too, pounce on the images (hey, hey! They're links!) and snag a set that fits your life, or business goals, and see what all the hype is about!  I also recommend shaking a leg, these tend to sell out quickly, and thanks to successful pre-orders some stock is already running a bit low.

Seriously, people are bananas for this chick's products, and swear up and down that she has completely changed their lives and business, it's still too early for me to tell, but she just may be turning me into a believer.

And as always, you can check out some of Leonie's free goodies over here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ready for a Little World Building?

Alright gang, my annual Worldbuilders winter fundraiser post is coming out a little earlier than usual this year.  In years past I've posted about Patrick Rothfuss' end of the year charity extravaganza where geeks from all walks of life come together to change people's lives through Heifer International to kick off the holiday season around here on December 1st, and also help spread the word of a final two week push to the donation finish line.  This year things are a little different, Worldbuilders has announced that they have the ability to match donations made in 2016 up to a million dollars, meaning if anything near last year's total is achieved, TWO MILLION USD will be given to Heifer International to completely transform the lives of people in our own country and around the world who have been affected by the most devastating poverty imaginable.

So, how can you join in all of the merry-making, you ask?  Go HERE and check out Pat's charity launch post for an in-depth description of how this all works.  The basic idea is that there are three ways to help out: Auctions, Lottery, and Donate, but as the fundraiser goes on madness ensues with new stretch goals added, and new lottery and auction items thrown into the mix, so it's great to check back in with his blog between now and the end of the fundraiser **DEADLINE EXTENDED!!!** DECEMBER 19, 2016 11:59 UTC-11 to see what other shenanigans have cropped up that you might feel you need to be involved with.  If you're feeling generous this holiday season, or looking to deviate from the usual gift giving of this time of year give it a peek and maybe drop a few dollars to help someone out!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Six Word Story: Going too Far

She demanded his soul.  He complied.

-Stormy Peterson

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rebecca Steele

Hanged as a witch in January 1663, she was reportedly lewd, foul-mouthed (I like her already), emotional, and possibly mentally ill, or just really fed up with her thieving husband's (and everyone else's) sh nonsense ... But a real witch? Probably not.  She was, however, the last person in Connecticut to be executed as one.

Three decades before Salem, Massachusetts put witch trials on the colonial map, Hartford, Connecticut found itself ground zero of a witchcraft frenzy all its own between 1647 and 1663 beginning with the sentencing, and execution of Alse Young, a woman whose trial we know next to nothing about.  In the next seven years, four more executions would follow: Mary Johnson, John & Joan Carrington, and Lydia Gilbert.  A fourth, and final wave of hysteria swept Hartford in early 1662, according to court documents, the fuss originally centered around a little girl in the throes of illness crying out accusations of witchcraft in her demented state.  The child subsequently died, and all hell broke loose. By the time 1662 had rolled around, my 7th Great-Grandmother, Rebecca Steele originally from Devonshire, England, and the widow of two (by all accounts I have found) upstanding men (Abraham Elsen & my 7th Great-Grandfather Jarvis Mudge) who had the misfortune of tying up for the third time with a certain Mr. Greensmith, a man that according to probate records seemed to have a difficult time with drunkenness, battery, truthfulness, and keeping his paws off other people's property, had been fully, and thoroughly dragged into the witch hunt.  The couple kept the company of a colorful motley crew comprising of blasphemers, thieves, liars, adulterers -- your basic rabble of undesirables from a Puritanical point of view.  It appears that this, and their late-night merrymaking under a tree on the green near the Greensmith's house which included drinking and dancing (gasp!) was a great jumping off point for neighborhood suspicions.  So basically they were those neighbors ... Every 'hood has that one house where they install a portable hot tub on their front lawn, get absolutely trashed, and then proceed to fight and yell loud enough so they can hear each other's insults over the constant thrum of jacuzzi jets ... Wait, what?  I can't possibly be the only person so richly blessed!  To be perfectly honest, if witchcraft accusations held the same weight as they used to, and I could get away with it, and depending on how much sleep I'd lost due to the "merrymaking" I dare say, I'd be tempted.  I mean, I get it ... And so it turns out that my grandmother, Mr. Greensmith, James Walkley, and Goodwives Ayers and Seager were those people, and the other villagers were sick of it and wanted them gone, granted, they went about it in a pretty savage way.

December 30th, 1662 in a Hartford courtroom, a formal witchcraft charge was brought against the Greensmiths (thanks to their next door neighbor, Ann Cole and daughter of John Cole).  Both were indicted.  Once in custody, Rebecca spilled her guts, offered a full confession, and went a step further according to A Case Of Witchcraft in Hartford by, Charles J. Hoadly:

I speak all of this out of love to my husband's soul, and it is much against my will that I am now necessitate to speak against my husband.  I desire that the Lord would open his heart to own and speak the truth.

She ratted out her ol' man!  Either she had sincere concern for her husband's life / soul, and believed some sort of leniency would be granted upon her testimony, whether here or the afterlife, or this is a classic, "if I go down, I'm taking you with me" moment!  Was this her opportunity to get even with an abusive husband?  Something tells me by this advanced age, and time in her life the "love to her husband's soul" might have been wearing a bit thin. Or did his actions of defending his wife's "honor" when accusations first began to fly, and which ultimately led to his own witchcraft charge, soften her heart for the old coot?  It is unlikely that we'll ever know the actual truth behind her decision, but we do know she didn't stop there...

I also testify that I being in ye wood at a meeting there was wth me Goody Seager Goodwife Sanford & Goodwife Ayeres; and at another time there was a meeting under a tree in ye green by or house & there was there James Walkely, Peter Grants wife Goodwife Aires & Henry Palmers wife of Wethersfield, & Goody Seager & there we danced, & had a bottle of sack: it was in ye night & something like a catt cald me out to ye meeting & I was in Mr. Varlets orchard wth Mrs. Judeth Varlett & shee tould me that shee was much troubled wth ye Marshall Jonath: Gilbert & cried, & she sayd if it lay in her power she would doe hin a mischief, or what hurt shee could.

Was she truly overwhelmed with concern for all of their souls, or was she just a spiteful old hag settling a few scores with her dirt-bag friends, or did she just think by throwing more names into the mix she'd take some heat off herself?  I'd love to be able to ask her, having been falsely accused of one or two things myself I can't help but feel for her, even though she'd probably cuss me out for bringing it up, then we'd get drunk, exchange vulgar stories, dance around a bonfire, and cackle like a couple of, uhm ... well, witches.

In an awkward twist, like Linda Stuhler of the blog Inmates of Willard, it appears I'm a descendant from both the accused, Rebecca (Steele) Greensmith, and Edward Griswold, my 10th Great-Grandfather, originally from Warickshire, England, and a tribunal member partly responsible for her conviction, and murder, but from completely different offshoots than Stuhler's.  Following the execution of the Greensmiths, 139 years later to be exact, Nancy Ward (my 4th Great-Grandmother, and Mr. Griswold's descendant) married Reverend Jesse David Braman (my 4th Great-Grandfather, and Rebecca Steele's descendant) in an 1802 ceremony in Coeymans, New York.  In fact, Edward Griswold shows up three separate times in my family tree, one of his grand-daughters even married into my dad's colonial family.  Perhaps this would be unsurprising to most, after all the villages were small, and the dating pool, I imagine, was quite shallow, but for me it was a shock to even find any lines of my family linking me to Colonial America at all, I thought we were just recent (4th or 5th generation) transplants before this little tree project came about.

  • Line from Rebecca Steele (married Jarvis Mudge) > Micah Mudge (married Mary Alexander) > Martha Mudge (married Jesse J. Braman) > Jesse D. Braman (married Nancy Ward) > Jonathan W. Braman.

  • Line from Edward Griswold (married Margaret Diamond) > Deborah Griswold (married Samuel Buell) > John Buell (married Mary Loomis) > Lois Buell (married Supply Strong) > Rachel Strong (married Samuel Beach) > Nancy Beach (married Jonathan Ward) > Nancy Ward (married Jesse D. Braman) > Jonathan W. Braman.

Soooo ... Half witch, and half self-righteous moral authority?
(No comments from the peanut gallery)

In recent years many 8th and 9th generation descendants of the accused, and quite frankly, unjustly murdered "witches" of Hartford have been eager to see the names of their ancestors cleared once and for all, like those of Salem.  Even attempting at one time to get pardons for the eleven persons wrongly executed for crimes they never committed, the efforts, however, seem to have been in vain since Connecticut does not issue posthumous pardons.  Perhaps for the other families involved, this is of some importance, but every time I dive into Rebecca's story, I can't help but think this broad wouldn't care what a single living person today thought of her, or remembered her as.  And that makes me smile.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Starting October Off Right

A little Versailles double episode premiere on the tube for "ambiance" a pack of Crayola Super Tips, a fuzzy fleece blankie, and my fresh Edgar Allan Poe coloring book... What more could a girl want? 

Ok, so I wouldn't mind a new vial of my favorite fall scent, but the store went out of business, so there's not much I can do about that except make my own, which I very much intend to do.  Stay tuned. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Six Word Story: Getting Lost in the Woods

The fresh canopy is my rotunda.

-Stormy Peterson

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Wind is Back...

That seems to be the only discernible difference between August, and September here -- the wind.  Before you feel that first bite of fall air, before the sun's heat doesn't seem to match up with its bright brilliance anymore, before the darkened mornings' fog horns begin their end of year song (... and the rain), there's the wind, and you know that fall is sure to follow.  The funny thing is, I forget about it every year.  Hard to imagine since it blows from September through June, but I forget about it.  I love it, but I forget. 

And suddenly it comes back to me, bringing me back to life like a fresh promise after surviving the unforgiving summer heat. 

It's so strange to me, once upon a time an original Sun Goddess living for high elevations, dry air, and hot, hot, hot weather -- 120°F in the desert?  Who cares, let's do this!  I now find a wildness in subtleties more alluring, and intense in a slightly playful way that tickles the imagination in the same way my hair kisses the back of my neck as the wind moves through it.  Or maybe I'm just another (overly) Romantic in a long list of many who were better with words than I'll ever be that feels the need at least once per year to create another ode of sorts to a passing season.  What I do know for sure is when September comes around, the little slice of Earth I live on breathes a sigh of relief, and me along with it.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Motherly Advice...

Me: 15
He: 16
Mother: You're too young to go with boys who drive.

Me: 19
He: 21
Mother: And just what exactly are you gonna be doin' while he's out at the bar or club with his buddies?! No daughter of mine waits by the phone for some knucklehead to call!

Me: 25
He: 37
Mother: Are you sure? Men that age are usually ready for more, and want something different out of life...

Me: 35
Mother: You need someone around 50, these men your age today act like overgrown children, they'll never be enough "man" for you.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Image: courtesy of AdamJK
ZARA, the world's largest apparel retailer, and notorious 'fast-fashion' copycat brand, is at it again this summer ripping off popular independent artists around the globe and selling their poorly-fabricated, illegal / unauthorized reproductions across their main, and subsidiary companies.  When confronted they clapped back at one LA-based, indie artist, Tuesday Bassen, with a very neaner-neaner we're more popular than you, so we can steal your work kind of response.  Which, I'm sure she was thrilled to receive after dropping 2k on a professionally drafted Cease & Desist letter to the company informing them of their misstep.

If Zara thinks acting like a stuck-up prom queen after being called out on their theft is winning them any popularity contests, they are mistaken.  It's very disappointing when the largest apparel, and accessories retail chain founded by Amancio Ortega (the second richest man in the world, and richest in Europe) has to steal from independent artists and sell ripped-off designs when there are much smaller businesses out there contracting with these same artists following all appropriate legal channels to bring lesser known or underground trends to larger audiences.  If these businesses can accomplish this task, I'm sure Ortega and his ilk can figure it out as well ... if they want to.

Original artists listed left to right:
Tuesday Bassen
Juliette Mallete
Adam J. Kurtz
Georgia Perry
Maria Inges Gul
Big Bud Press
Ivonna Buenrostro
Strawberry Moth
Gabriella Sanchez
Explorer's Press
Mokuyobi Threads
Anna Santaguida

The list just seems to keep growing ... At last count it appears ZARA has lifted 42 separate works from other artists and reproduced them.  For a frequently updated running list please visit, and support the original artists.

For your reading pleasure:
Shop ZARA's Art Theft Collection
(Adam J. Kurtz)
An Independent Artist Has Accused Zara Of Stealing Her Designs
Artist Claims Zara Doesn’t Care About Stealing Her Designs Because She Isn’t Popular Enough
Zara Makes a New Enemy, Steals Tuesday Bassen’s Designs
(College Candy)
Zara copied an indie artist's designs but said it’s NBD ‘cause she’s not famous
Indie designer accuses Zara of stealing work, Zara says artist's work isn't 'distinctive'
(The Daily Dot)
(Daily Mail)
12 Artists Are Accusing Zara of Stealing Their Designs
(The Guardian)
(The Huffington Post)