Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You Luna....and a Happy Solstice

Happy Lunar Eclipse Solstice 2010!
My Solstice fire, 5:00 a.m.

The shortest and darkest day of the year, it only gets brighter from here!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dodged a Bullet

I have been really grumpy lately. Not myself. Crying nearly every day...don't even let me get into how I got when I would look at my kids.


Because I had all of these doctors giving nothing but bad signals, signs, news or what have you that I was looking down the barrel of a 12 gauge breast cancer shot gun and I was not (as if you ever are) ready for that.

No fair! I just returned from New Zealand! I was feeling fantastic! I was getting ready to pull a Madonna and reinvent myself (again.) Us Moms - especially those of us who have been single ones in the past before know what I mean - have had to do that on more than one occasion. So I had been living curled up in a ball just waiting and waiting and waiting for some bloody news to finally come my way and let me know what the next year of my life was going to be like. It wasn't like I didn't have enough to tend with as it was. Cancer? Sure, why not...toss it onto the pile of shit! I'm a good sport and all...but this was pushing even what I was willing to endure all at one time.

Fortunately my appointment was yesterday morning early, so I didn't have to wait long, but wow that was a shocking wake up call. "Oh man, I have to go now...I know I want this over, but I also don't want to go!" As of last week, surgery was a given, no matter what the biopsy results were going to be. Did I mention it was raining and dreary and cold out on the way? This cannot be a good sign.

I get in there and am quickly called back. Palms sweaty, lump in my throat, keeping my shades on to hide tears, as they ask me to wear "The robe please." OMG OMG OMG, if it's negative, why do I have to get undressed, again? So I sit for a few seconds and a chirpy doctor Michelle comes to the door. She sits, she asks one or two questions, sees the pain on my face and says "It's benign."

Excuse me? Did she say benign? That means no cancer right? None? Nada? Zilch? And then after last week them telling me no matter what the results I would need surgery she then says... "And you don't need surgery." OK, now I know they are punking me. They put me through three weeks of hell for NOTHING? A small mini-stroke...I know I had several brain cells just pop, I felt them, they are GONE. And I am pretty sure a nervous break down.


So off to breakfast and I at the first real meal I had in weeks. Since eating was off the menu for some time and I think what was causing me to have flu like symptoms for over the past week, fever and all. I ate like I had never had meal in my life! Anyway, I started to feel better really fast.

The next day I got up and decided I had energy. I call my friend Matt and what do two super-stars such as ourselves do when I need to go celebrate? Find a park to play in, buy some sweets & pop at a bakery and take our cameras out. Why? Why not? I have to grow old, but I don't have to grow up.

The moral of the story is? Um....er....doctors like to scare the crap out of you for fun. Well, maybe that is not exactly true. But that is what it feels like. They kinda give the worst case scenario and hope for the best. But damn, there has be a more balanced way of going about this.

The most important thing and the bottom line is:

This cat landed on all fours and dodged another bullet. Whew!

But ladies....do get your yearly mammograms, do your monthly exams and do follow-up for your physicals every year, especially after 40. This shit ain't funny! And the people that love you need you to. Thankfully I do keep up on this stuff and listen to things, especially myself, since I am the only one I talk to most of the time. (Did I just say that out loud?) Oops.
Thanks everyone for all your love!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

And I looked at the screen in disbelief

Because it couldn't happen to me? Hasn't enough happened to me? I just came back from New Zealand feeling the best I have in years but facing a very difficult decision of having to put my 17 year old severely disabled son with MR and autism into full time residential living because it was becoming unmanageable at home. I mean we have been living with pad locks on our doors for years now and my almost 13 year old son had no social life and he deserved some time. My 17 year old is mentally 2 at best and it was eating me alive. In the way that only a mother could understand. His entire life, every day I made every single decision of his day. What he would wear and dress him, what he would eat, where he would go, all of his educational decisions...the works. Now suddenly I was faced with someone(s) else doing that and my home falling silent from his various sound affects. He cannot talk, but he is far from quiet.

So I go away, clear my head and come home to take on this huge challenge before me.

Then something else happened. Something I didn't see coming, nor did I expect. I don't smoke, drink, do drugs and I have no family history. My history thus far included giving a tiny bit of help that I could to this powerhouse of woman named Joan, whom at 70 was now a two time breast cancer survivor. I think we laughed more than we did anything else, but isn't laughter the best medicine? This was early in October and I had no idea what was going on with my body. Joan was taking on a whole town and organizing a Pink Walk. I was in awe of her. Having been an event coordinator myself, I was so impressed and I think I was looking at myself 30 or so years down the road. I adored her, she was just so much fun to be around.

This past Monday night I went out with a friend and met up with an Angel Psychic. I had some questions lined up, but before we could get started, she said "We need to talk about your health, specifically your breast health." I kinda looked at her baffled but listened as I have learned to listen to those who are speaking to her, my angels. I have a lot, I need a lot! She gave me info specifically about my left breast and suggested I get a mammogram, soon and we went on to other topics. I had no idea how soon that would be.

The very next day I was surfing the web, and on our local on line paper there was this nifty little thing you could sign up to remind you to do your monthly exams (which I already did, but brush ups never hurt) , get your yearly mammograms and check ups, had some tips, recipes and it included three main symptoms of breast cancer. One was drainage from the nipple. I said "Huh, I use to get that for some time after breast feeding, wonder if it still does that?" So while doing my self exam I tried to extract (you breast feeding moms know what I mean there.) Nothing on the right, went to the left and dammit, blood came out. I froze. I literally froze.

OMG, I have never had anything like that come out of my breast before! Dammit, my doctors are closed! I got in when my doctor returned to the office on Thursday as I was having no of this business with a fill in after 16 years of us tactling everything from autism and abusive husbands, and had him give me the full work up on an exam and showed him the bleeding. He didn't like it and thought he felt something on the underside of that breast. I said "What? I cannot feel a thing." Fact of the matter is that often women don't feel anything early on, which is why after 40-41 you start going every year for a mammogram. Ironically I was scheduled to go next one month, since I pushed it back by two months for my trip. Which really is not a big deal since my base line was normal five years ago and I am in a low risk category.

My doctor asked me if I could get a mammogram and an ultra sound that day (this is Thursday now) I said HELL YES! And off to the nearest imaging center we went with an opening.
I was told on the spot there was a nodule, it was not a cyst and they didn't like it because of the bleeding. Strike 2 on the bleeding thing. I call my family doctor back now hysterical in the parking lot and he tells me he is going to call me later that night with a name.

By 8:30 p.m. he calls, but I am pretty out of it from crying most of the day. I am just in shock. He said he will be calling me in the morning with her name and number and I am to call to make an appointment. Next morning I get a call instead, they made the appointment for me, and I am to be there by 1:30 p.m. I am now going to the Helen H. Graham Cancer Center and I am scared to death. But I have angels among me who are pushing and making sure I am getting where I need to go and as quickly as possible.

I go and meet up with the breast surgeons assistant and she says "I'll be honest, I don't like the bleeding either, but most nodules we fine are benign." Strike 3 on that bleeding thing...I am now beyond terrified. I look at the screen in disbelief for the first time and I didn't like it. There it wsa, this dark black circular THING. It was an unwelcome and unwanted invader in my body and I wanted it out and fast. They were hoping this coming Monday that I would get my biopsy, but I have to wait till the 9th and I get all the results in on the 16th. Apparently business is good at the cancer center. So I must wait till the 16th to know what my future holds. I know it holds at least a surgery to take that sucker out no matter what it's attitude may be...I did not invite it and it is leaving. My attitude is piss poor as far as it is concerned.

So here it is Halloween, and the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I cannot express enough to everyone out there to get your mammograms and do your monthly exams. Also check in with your doctor about anything strange looking about your breasts or change in them. Don't be embarrassed. Because I gotta tell ya, I would have stripped for anyone and everyone without hesitation if they were going to help me. All I could think about were my kids. No question is a stupid question, not asking is stupid. And don't think you are safe if you have no family history and live a low risk lifestyle. It can happen anytime to anyone. One in 8 women they say. Not great odds. I really didn't see this coming and I always have kept up on my girly health maintenance. I wasn't there, and then it was.

I am just hoping and praying that this sucker is benign and they will take it out and I will be on my merry way. Will I feel like I worried over nothing if it is? NO. I have a family I am responsible for and it's my job to worry and make sure I am OK. If it's not benign? Well, we will worry about that part after we get past this first part.

So, that is why I stopped with the pleasant blogs on New Zealand and I have lots more to tell, but I have had this bit of a hiccup in the road and need to deal with it. Which I am, full steam ahead. So Think Pink....it will save your life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And the winner is....

Last week I announced my dear friend Dancing Mooney was having a sale and a giveaway. I just wanted to do a quick follow up and let you know who the fabulous winner was since this is an Estian that I never met before.

She is The Charm Lady and her shop looks rather interesting. Anyone who knows me knows I love my charms and pendants. It's my big weakness...next to Have It Sweet's Fleur de Sel Caramels. (Another day...but oh my!)

Dancing Mooney writes: " TheCharmLady is our lucky lady today, who's won her choice of
Sugar Body Polish and matching Soap from my shop. She is an Etsy artist that makes really cool jewelry, and is an amazing photographer as well, along with being a fantastic mom
{I can only tell by her blog!} and so much more!"

I found several pendants I liked right away, it was hard not to find something I liked. It was a fun shop to visit and I never would have known about it if it was not for Dancing Mooney's contest!

Anyway be sure to visit Dancing Mooney. You can read up on her shop and her wonderful soapy goodies. She also has jewelry and collages too! You can find the post here. I am quite sincere when I say I have been using her products since she has been making them and I truly love them. I am also always so excited when she comes up with a new scent or product, she works so hard to get it just right. I have very sensitive skin and her soaps always work for me so well.

I have two other soapy ladies I use for different reasons and I will reintroduce them soon.

Why so soap crazy you ask?
Well, it is something we all need and use.
It is consumable and does not go to waste or to your waist.
It can and is an art form for many which makes it a LOT of fun.
It makes a great luxury gift and it will not be left laying around collecting dust.
It is something someone will use and get a great deal of pleasure out of. So you can always go back and refill that item for the next holiday or birthday or what have you.
Many of the soap makers on Etsy use only the best ingredients and not all of that nasty stuff that is in the soaps you buy in the stores. Once you start to use hand made artisan soaps, you find your skin no longer gets itchy and looks and feels better.

Coconut Bar by Dancing Mooney

So, that is why I am a bit nutty in the soap department and support my equally nutty soapy friends who show no end to their creativity. I just love it. It's good clean fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Before Ohakune there was Omaru Falls for my Birthday

Sometimes words just do not do justice for some of the things you get the privilege to witness. I had a very special birthday.

Omaru Falls - New Zealand

It was a bit of a hike through some bush, flooded fields and a swollen river over this rope bridge. Fun stuff!

The look on my face when I first saw the falls

I know, I am a complete sap....

I didn't have much to say while I was there. I was in awe and just sat there taking it all in and taking a lot of photos, in between wiping away my so called water proof mascara!

A very very special birthday that I will never forget!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dancing Mooney is having a sale and a giveaway!

I have a few Etsy vendors whom I am very loyal to, and they earned that loyalty through great customer service, great product and just being great individuals. I have many of them listed on my links sections down below there on the right. Not everyone there is an Etsian, but they are all great folks.

No messed with, no fragrance, real honey, oatmeal goats milk soap.
This girl's best friend facial bar.

Dancing Mooney is special because I made my very first Etsy purchase from her and well, we have been an "item" ever since. I am totally hooked on her soaps. I have three lovely soapy ladies. I know that seems a bit ambitious, but I have them all three for very different reasons and they all three make very different products. I like to think of Dancing Mooney as my "lady soap." Very elegant, soft, pretty and oh so good on my skin!

Sweet Pumpkin Spice Goats Milk Soap
Imagine pumpkin pie with whipped cream...a Thanksgiving Day must have!

To celebrate her 2,000th sale she decided to have a 20 percent sale in her shop and even better a give away on one of her new and fabulous products.....her sugar body polish.
Who doesn' t want to smell edible and have glowing kissable skin at the same time?

I'm game!

She was kind enough to send me a sample while in the final stages of development on this new product. I got to try the ginger/peach. As a friend of mine would say "Oh my Lara!" It smells of fresh peaches and the ginger only enhances the fragrance.

The consistency was perfect and after a week of using it at the bathroom sink my cuticles were is salon perfect condition.

I gave her a 10/10 for the new line. Then I start to ask what flavors she was going to start making!

So here is her ad for her sale and contest to receive a free bottle of her sugar body polish. Good luck and happy shopping!

P.S. I highly recommend the Kona Bar....it is out of this world!


And now a word from Dancing Mooney....

Hey Everyone!

This week I reached the 2000 sales milestone in my shop, and I couldn't have done it without the support of all of you!

Thank you all so much for encouraging me, inspiring me, and giving me the strength to keep moving forward. ♥

This weekend I am holding a Give-Away on my Blog, to say thanks to all my loyal readers and followers.

And, I'm having a 20% off SALE in my shop this weekend as well, which includes everything in the store! Soaps, Jewelry and More!!

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks so much again for all of your continued support!

Look forward to hearing from you!


Stay tuned more adventures in and from New Zealand to come!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Off and running in Auckland, Traveling Pendant and Rugby

As you see I am home from New Zealand and WOW what an adventure! I had the privilege to travel alone, no husband, no kids....just me.

I arrived at the Auckland airport. I am exhausted, jet lagged, on the tail end of a bloody vertigo trip, in a strange country, get off the plane, through customs, exchanged my money and out the door to the nearest Goodwill to find some second hand clothes as I was traveling with a single 15 pound bag. Yes ladies, I traveled around the planet with a single 15 pound bag that included my lap top and boots. I only needed a few extra tops and the second hand shops came in handy. I HATE checking in bags and carrying around extra crap I don't need. Some folks thought I was restricting myself by packing this way. I found it rather liberating to have the "less is more" mentality. The less I had to keep track of the better. I loved it.

Off I go to what will be "home" for the next few weeks. On the way there I recall my mouth hanging wide open as we travel about the country side to get home and I just cannot believe what I am seeing. Green, everywhere...so much green. Mountains, hills, beautiful skies. I think I am going to like it here.

I was set up in a very nice and comfortable room that even has a kitchen with the works. So long as I have tea and a dry bed I am good. I wake up later with my computer set up and an offer to eat....Rugby in Hamilton the next morning for two days...I have not a clue about Rugby.

Again I find myself gawking at the landscape and this becomes the norm for me while I am there. Interruptions in conversations of me saying Omg, look at that" were eventually expected and ignored as time went on.

It is slightly wet and cold. Alright I was freezing my ass off, but this seems to be rather tepid weather to the locals who are walking around in shorts or even no shoes while I am dressed up and looking something like Chubacka.
Me the Eskimo, and yer typical Kiwi.

I have heard of rugby, know of rugby, know its something like American foot ball crossed with soccer, but from there, I have no idea how the game is played. I am lost. Not only am I lost....I am still walking around jet lagged and remnants of a vertigo attack I started to get before I left home were still with me, albeit letting go. This was still making me very tired and disoriented no matter how hard I was fighting it. At some point you have to stop fighting it and just give in. I found myself waking up in the van with no idea of the time and almost forgetting where I was. I am grateful to have been left in the care of some lovely folks such as Aroha (which means Love) whom was as lovely as her name indicated and kept me out of trouble. Like wandering into the middle of a field while the boys played. She also introduced me to chocolate covered pineapple toffee of sorts. I love her.
Mmmmm Chocolate covered pineapple toffee....Aroha yer killing me! lol!

"Hey, let's take a shot for the traveling pendant!". I grab my hat (Thank you Julie!) and I grab the pendant (Thank you Kelly!). This is real life and undoctored so here it is. Just as it was, the traveling pendant in Hamilton, New Zealand at the finals, Rugby Tournament, last of the season. It is spring and I am still amazed I am there despite all the discomforts I know I am going to pull through and be fine, I just need a bit of time. I had no doubts whatsoever!

I am sure my state of being was more amusing to everyone else watching the "silly American girl" than it was to me trying to figure out the game. Oh well, just so someone got something out of it, even at my expense. Amusement is amusement.

By day two of the event I was kinda getting the swing of what was going on, although I was still finding myself falling asleep. The cold wet weather was not helping me snap out of the funk I was in. I did manage to get some photos.

This was my favorite shot I captured. I am not sure what this move is but it happens fast and is pretty amazing to watch as they throw their team mates up into the air to block the ball or catch it. This happens in just seconds. Still not sure what is going on there. Either way it was fun to watch.

A few of a team who won their game, not the championship, but did a fine job winning what they had in front of them and ending off a good season. They were all fired up.

I was even asked at the end of the day to take the team group shot, which I must say after wrangling up the cheeky teens I managed to get several shots. My favorite was the one where I got them all to give me a bit of a battle cry and give them permission to get wild. It truly is my favorite of the whole batch. I had tight quarters I was shooting...cars to the left, cows to the right...everyone has these problems with group shots. Right? I was honored that they asked me to take the shots. Truly. I was the out of town gal and they handed me the camera. That was a lot to be trusted with.

Finally back home, a warm shower, into my really warm cozy bed and I pass out till the next day and the next set of adventures. Ah skype I can call home and see my son's face. How wonderful. I tell him of my adventures and show him pictures from the day off. Sip my mint tea and then drift off to sleep. What a better way to end the day.

Now off to the next set of adventures...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm Back & Lean Dog is looking good!

I'm back from a long hiatus in New Zealand and I am feeling good! Nothing will put you back in the game better than clean air, water, gorgeous green hills, mountains, toss in a few dead volcanoes and caves with active sink holes, blue waters and island hoping, breath taking beaches with sand that glittered in the sun, rugby tournaments with cheeky teens and waterfalls....lots and lots of water falls. Did I mention I was on top of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings? You could not look left or right without getting b*tch slapped with beautiful. It was impossible.

I was also fortunate enough to meet some really incredible folks. From Joan, a two time cancer survivor who was taking on a breast cancer walk on her own in her town. To a couple (Pat and Diana) who ran charters on their boat out of Auckland. So many lovely folks and so little time!
I am almost feeling homesick now.

If you want to catch up on my NZ adventures or just my daily shenanigans, check me out on facebook.

So back home and back to business! Right out of the gate is Lean Dog who wanted a new look for her shop. I love working with Lean Dog because she has so many vibrant colors to work with. And of course I want to use ALL of them. :) Fortunately she gave me a palette she wanted and I went sniffing through her shop for stuff to sample from. Oh the drudgery of having to look through so many pretty things.

She wanted something seasonal, so I came up with this and it was a home run for her on the first hit.

Just click above to get whisked away to her
fabulous funky friendly shop!

Her cute little matching avatar.

She is having a huge sale with 15% off of everything in her store. So do check her out!

I will try to do some catching up with my posts in the days to come. I just had to spend some time over the past several days catching up on sleep and trying to reset my schedule! Jet lag was an understatement!

P.S. Yes! The Traveling Pendant went with me on my adventures and there will be stories to come!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome, Welcome!

Welcome Terry of Delaware Myofascial Release! Terry is a new customer of ours who was seeking out a new logo and ended up with that, a brochure, blog and looking like a new website coming down the road. Terry has been a blast to work with, a lot of fun and we look forward to working with her in the future. You can find her brand new sparkling blog at

Her website will be back up and running soon too with a total revamp taking place. So please take a moment to visit Terry, say Hi, welcome her to the internet community.

Thanks Terry....we appreciate having you on board! Have a great weekend!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Beautiful Warning

A friend passed this on to me and asked to keep passing it on and I was certainly not going to shelf this one, to important. Please do the same.

Always wear your seat belt, please! This was so beautifully done. You have to watch it.
Makes you stop and think. Two seconds of effort will save your life.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Opps, did I miss something?

Terribly sorry for the absence here. Life has been rather like being Alice in Wonderland, sans the Wonder part. I try to look at things that give me inspiration when times are rough and so I turn to my art. I thought I would give a peak at some of the things that would be coming down the path soon. I have been also working on my own inventory for my own shop. I have also asked for another wonderful Etsian that I do admire so to come here and tell us a bit about herself and her craft. So do stay tuned.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Taking a Break...

Sliced Brie Cheese with Slivered Almonds Drizzled with Honey.

There were no survivors. Vessel Courtesy of One Clay Bead.

I am not sure what the point is here...I was just hungry and it looked good.
I was also lazy today. I am thinking I may be lazy tomorrow.

Thank you for stopping bye. Please enjoy some sweet tea and cookies before leaving.

Happy 4th of July to those of us in the States and Woo-Hoo! to the rest watching the World Cup Series...May your team play well!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Please Minnie, don't stop Moaning...The Mad Hatter!

It is clear that I love style, but I also buy style that has form and function. You won't see me sporting a diamond tennis bracelet or pricey sunglasses with a small dog as an accessory or to use as a doll to dress like me. (I find that cruel!)

(The Lady in Red - Left)

I kinda had this health issue where my long locks of thick Irish hair was failing out...at a rapid rate. I later found out what the medical issue was and have since been working on remedying it. Nothing was hiding the thin spots so I thought a hat might work. One night while cruising the Etsy pages I came across Moaning Minnie and her lovely hats. I instantly fell in love with her black Kashmir cap with buckle. So I ordered it.

My my my....it was so soft, comfortable and became a staple of my wardrobe. Most pictures you see of me I am wearing my favorite black cap.

(Black cap like mine but in linen instead of Kashmir for the warmer months of the year.)

After a while I decided I needed a few more hats. The quality was undeniable and I was constantly getting compliments. I grabbed a few sale hats and later a brown cap and blue/brown cap. I love them! I feel rather naked without a hat on now.

So I had a few questions for her and she was kind enough to reply. So here you go, The Fabulous and talented
Moaning Minnie....

Why Moaning Minnie as a name?

This came naturally to me. My mum has always called me Moaning Minnie, apparently I moaned a lot as a child! She taught me everything I know including my sewing and pattern making skills. When she was the age I am now my Mum was a Bag Designer and pattern maker for a major retailer so had great skills to pass on.

Why hats?

I have a large head and mainstream hats are always made to one size and always too small for me. I love hats and this inspired me to make my own and the business side of me realized I'd found a niche in the market. A win win situation, I run a business selling a product I love to make with a passion.

What are your favorite materials?

First and foremost,fabric. High quality natural fabrics. I especially love wool tweeds. Secondly, vintage buckles. A weird obsession but I do genuinely love buckles!

What can we look forward to seeing in the near future?

MM is just a baby at one year old so the future is exciting. In the short term you will see new products including arm warmers and a new design of hat. In the autumn you will be seeing a fab new range of bags, all in wool tweeds and some leather. In the longer term you will see a new shop selling home wares.

Needless to say, to not have a Moaning Minnie upon my crown would be like a day with no sunshine. They have become a trademark of mine. I recently saw similar hats being sold in the mall. Blah! Flimsy, no lining, horrible material and the craftsmanship... well let's just say they are meant to be "disposable." I'll have my Moaning Minnie hats and head bands for years to come.

So keep up the Moaning, Minnie...we like it when you do so!

This Raven gives Minnie 5 out of 5 feathers for quality, creativity, friendly service and for just being and out and out great gal. Only on Etsy can you shop in England, Prague, Germany and Seattle all in one day. Who needs a mall??

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Blues and the Browns

Update! My first treasury made FP on Etsy! I completely missed it, but others saw it and here is the link: The Blues and the Browns

Thank you to everyone for providing such beautiful items to share!!!
-Cher (The Raven)


My first treasury! That is way to fun, addictive even. I have to watch myself there. Anyway, many of you will most likely recognize yourselves on there and I think it all look FAB! Click on image for full treasury and thanks!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Let them eat cake!


Or so I said, which was quickly followed by laughing, snickering and someone handing me a mixer.



So much for being the QUEEN, I was now the baker. When I said for dinner "Let them eat cake." I was thinking more along the lines of a frozen pizza...instead I was now making pound cake. Not just any pound cake, but my sour cream pound cake AND I was baking it in my grandmother's tube pan. Anytime I use any of her bakery items I just feel good all over.

My grandmother was an incredible cook, and (Damnit! I am trying to post this blog and my business partner who lives in New Zealand is at some conference and is taking photos of New Zealand made sweaters of New Zealand spun wool. This is soooo not fair!)

Ahem...where was I? Oh yes....my grandmother was an incredible cook and always liked to eat her dessert before her dinner. When asked why she would say "It's my favorite part of the meal." Hey, who am I to argue with such wisdom!

The thing I miss so much was not the complexity of her deserts....oh she could sling them out when necessary...but my favorites where her simple deserts. Even a bowl of sliced up strawberries with fresh milk and a sprinkling of sugar was such a treat!

These days I grab my grandmothers tube pan and make up a traditional pound cake that would make her proud. I love pound cake because of its simplicity, but also because of it's diversity. You can mix up the flavorings for vanilla, almond, lemon, lime, orange or whatever your heart desires. Extracts are nice to have. But if I am going to go with lemon, the juice of one and the zest of two lemons works wonders.

This recipe also allows you to drop in an unlimited list of dry goodies to customize your cake anyway you like;
Chocolate chips
Dried Cherries
Blueberry's (Blueberry and lemon would be great!)
Swirl in some preserves such as strawberry, raspberry...whatever tickles your fancy.
Icing or glaze can also be used.

This is a heavy solid cake, so it can take a bit of punishment with add- ins.

So here is the basic recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Spray bundt or tube pan with cooking spray like Pam.

1/2 pound of salted butter at room temperature
3 cups of sugar

Cream butter in mixer and add one cup of sugar at a time till fluffy.

1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs

(They do not call this pound cake for nothing!)

Add salt and continue to beat on medium adding in one egg at a time.

2 tsp of almond extract, or vanilla, or both, or none or add juice of one lemon and zest of two lemons. This is when you get to be creative with flavors.

Beat until mixture is creamy and almost fluffy.

Put 3 cups of flour into a bowl and mix in 1/4 tsp of baking soda. Set aside.
Measure out one cup of sour cream.

Pour one cup of flour into egg/butter mixture and beat on medium low. Add in half the sour cream, blend, add second cup of flour, then second half of sour cream and then final cup of flour. Mix until all flour is absorbed and there are no lumps. This is also when you can mix in your add-ins such as dried fruits, nuts, etc.

Going into the oven...

Pour batter in to greased tube or bundt pan and even mixture out. Bake at 350 f for one hour to one and a half hours (depends on your pan, your oven, you altitude.) Start to check it at the one hour mark. Mine works best at 1 hour and 10 minutes.


After knife comes out of cake clean, set out to cool for about 25 min. Take knife and clean sides of cake from sides of pan and don't forget the middle too!

Flip cake out onto plate, then flip it again in hands and turn it so the baked side is up. Wa-la! A wonderful pound cake. Sounds simple eh? Well it is... and just how I like it. My preference is either almond or lemon. No icing, no other fillings....just plain Jane pound cake.

I would honestly share with all of you, but...this cake is lucky to last a single night in my house.

So speaking of experimenting with flavors and having fun cooking up something new and exciting out of something so simple and easy.

Allison over at Epically Epic Soaps has this deal where you can custom make your own lotion, soap or roll on fragrance from a huge list of oils she has available. The super fun part is that there is no limit on what you can mix together. Talk about fun! And there are no dirty dishes left over after you get done experimenting.

Well I had been experimenting with Epics lotions and a few of the roll on's for months. It was a lot of fun. I liked everything I had her mix together for me, some more than others, but never a mission fail. She has admitted to having just as much fun in the process. For only $6.50 a tin of lotion it was certainly worth the gamble.

Then one day I noticed she had added violet to the list. I am not a huge floral person, but I do love violet. And I was reminded of those violet candies you can get in France.
I was also a big fan of her vanilla bean soap. I also saw blueberry on the list and somehow I came up with a mix of vanilla, violet and blueberry. A friend of mine speaks French so we came up with a name of bleuets a la vanille violette. Well as accurate as that name is which just means blueberry vanilla violets, NOT the easiest for customers. Apparently Allison took a liking to it as well and decided to rename it to Blue Bell Knoll (much easier to pronounce and remember) and add it to her regular line of goodies. I was so HONORED, THRILLED and EXCITED. I could just point folks to the scent we created and tell them to go for it. This is very new and recent news, so if you have not visited Epically Epic Soaps in a while, you must! And if you want it in a custom soap, I do believe you can order 3 bars for $12.00. I have had it in the soap, and trust me....they are wonderful!

I also have the roll on fragrance and it too is just wonderful. Perfect to stick in your purse. I love it! You smell good enough to nibble on with this one. It is soft, a bit sweet with a lovely light fragrance of violets. This one is a smooth ride...just lovely. It will be a signature scent for me as long as Allison is willing to produce it.

Have I also mentioned that Allison is an artist as well. She took a break from the art world to try a new art...and I must say that whatever Allison sets her mind on doing, she does it very well.

Seriously hankering for some blueberry pie now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dancing Mooney - My first date with Etsy!

My VERY first Etsy Artisan I ever purchased from is Dancing Mooney. I still have the little hand painted card with a butterfly in purples and blues with a brass button on it that says "Believe."
I bet she didn't know that!

I have watched Dancing Mooney evolve over time and I have to say she is one hard working and even more so, hard thinking gal. She is constantly trying to create balance in her shop, cater to her customers and come out with very reasonably priced high quality products that just make you FEEL GOOD.

We have never personally met but have become good friends and talk to each other about ideas and likes an so forth. What do you get with Dancing Mooney? You get one of the sweetest and classiest ladies running an on-line gift shop there is, who will go out of her way to make sure YOU are happy. This shows in the pride she has in her work. And it is always quality over quantity. No mass production of anything here. I have a bit of everything from her...soaps, to salts.. earrings and necklaces and even her art which she often does in collages. We are kindred spirits who love butterflies. :) I had to splash as many photos as I could on here today, as it is a bit dreary here and she always has so much beautiful color in her store. I hope you enjoy her as much as I have and still do and don't be afraid to ask her about what is coming up next, she is always cooking up new ideas and that is where you get them from....your customers. So here is here interview....

Why do you do what you do?
It's always been my dream to have a gift shop, and when I found Etsy I was hooked. It's been a process trying to decide where I want to put the focus on my shop because I love creating so many things, but what it really boils down to, is that I love creating items that make women feel beautiful, both inside and out. Be it a new piece of jewelry that makes you feel pretty, a fresh bar of soap that cleanses the body and refreshes the mind, or a piece of art that inspires your creative soul. My simple slogan has always been {Mind . Body . Soul} and I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about my work. I hope that women feel pampered when they get their packages in the mail, because doing a little something for yourself now and then is a treat, and I think we all deserve it.

What inspires you?
Gosh, I am inspired by so many things... Music, nature, color, food, fashion, gardening, girlfriends, you name it... inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes I am in the mood to make something poppy and bright, while other days I may keep it more earthy and neutral, but my ideas are really all over the place. It's hard to contain them sometimes, and it's been fun watching the true persona of DancingMooney evolve over the years.

What is your favorite thing to make?
I go back and forth. Well, I go round and round, how's that? Primarily I make soap and jewelry as often as I can, but sometimes I feel the need to get out my paints and get my hands dirty, and that's when making new collages comes to play. I don't know why I can't just focus on one thing, I drive my self crazy about it... but in the long run, I've narrowed it down, and I've spent a great deal of time trying to create balance in my shop.

What are your future wishes for your shop?
I feel like I am just now getting to the point that DancingMooney is finding her true self, and it's a constant work in progress. My goal for this year is to really spend some time developing my jewelry line and creating a more cohesive boutique feel in my shop. My intention was never to be a bath and body shop or a jewelry store... my goal has always been to be more of a gift shop, or a boutique. It's been hard trying to decide which way to go next, but I feel like I'm really starting to find balance within my variety and even though we are just now approaching spring, I am already thinking about fall and getting ready for the holidays. It's amazing as a small business owner how much forward thinking you have to do, and it's a skill I've had to learn, but my goals for this year are really just to keep moving forward, and see what happens next...

Just a few more pictures before I have to go. Coming up is Moaning Minnie and my Golf/Nascar/Autism showdown. (I did finally get some good photos with Moaning Minnie's hats....and now I realized I have a lot of cropping, editing etc to do. lol!)