Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quote Wednesday 6/29/11

Every time you lose,
You think that Life's unfair.
You think of the bad breaks.

But when you're winning and playing well,
You still get those bad breaks,
Only you overcome them.

It just depends on how strong your mind is.

---Greg Norman

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

EmeraldChandlery --- Featured Artisan

Entwined Vines interview with Emerald Chandlery

When and how did you first become interested in crafting?

I've always liked to make things, in school my favorite class was 'technology' which was just the politically correct name for shop. That was the only class where we actually made things.

How long have you been creating your chosen craft?

A bit more than a year. Feels like much longer.

Summer Flowers Scented 18 Hour VegiSoy Votive Candle, Single

What are your crafting influences?

Commercial goods oddly enough. It almost feels unfair to pick on commercial candles, but many of the ones I've seen are of such low quality that it's almost impossible to look at one and not think "I can do much, much better".

Does anyone in your family do a similar craft?

Nope. Most don't make anything at all.

Jungle Waterfall Scented 18 Hour VegiSoy Votive Candle, Single

What kinds of places have you displayed your craft in your life?

Right now I have candles in two consignments stores, two online shops (Artfire and Zibbet), and I'm starting to do craft shows. I also did a weekend a local flea market.

What else do you do besides create these beautiful pieces?

Mostly I cook and play with my cats. In a previous life I was a software tester.

Vanilla Lavender Scented 18 Hour VegiSoy Votive Candle, Single

What is your favorite piece that you have created so far?

My current favorite is definitely the votives, with Almond and Apple Pie usually duking it out for favorite scent. I've got a new product in the works that might take over as favorite though.

Why did you make that piece?

Almond is one of my original 4 scents. I went down to the supply store and started smelling samples that sounded good alphabetically. That one caught my attention. Apple Pie came a bit later as a Christmas season addition.

Almond Scented 10 Hour Coconut Wax Travel Candle

What does it take to create pieces like that?

Lots of patience, no fear of molten wax, a reasonably good nose, quite a bit of testing and a willingness to scrap a recipe and go back to the drawing board. There's also a surprising amount of math involved in candle making.

What is special about your pieces?

I don't skimp on quality ingredients or candle size. Yes you can get an imported votive at the local drugstore for as little as a quarter, but they're usually tiny and of poor quality. My candles manage to have both long burn time--approximately 18 hours, some have been known to last longer--as well as very good scent throw. I also do a lot of testing to make sure the correct size of wick is used for each. It's very rare for one of my candles to have a dangerously large flame, smoke while burning, develop an unsightly knob at the top of the wick, or drown itself, all of which I've seen in commercial candles.

Cherry Scented Coconut Wax Tea Lights, Pack of 6

What makes this kind of craft "good" to you?

Candles appeal to both my need of having a 'right' way to do things (namely a recipe to follow when making stock) as well as my desire to create something new (product development). Originally I was going to start a bakery which provides the same sort of satisfaction for me, but getting to sleep later than 2 or 3am every day sounded much better.

Stop in and see the entire line at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Life, Doors and Oppurtunities!

When one door closes, another opens.

But we often look so long and so regretfully

upon the closed door

that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

–Alexander Graham Bell

This has always been one of my favorite quotes. One which I try and remember every time a new opportunity arises. This is much harder when you have several such doors that each present unique opportunities with different paths and results. This was the case for me last year. It wasn't so much looking upon the doors that closed, but being presented with several new opportunities throughout the year both personal and job related. Which one would think would be a good thing and in some ways it was, in others not so much. Two such opportunities arose in regards to, for lack of a better term, jobs and they are ones I am going to talk about today.

One opportunity that I was presented with was a job that I think that while not loving it I would have enjoyed it enough that I wouldn't come to hate it. With the bonus of it being that it would have left me financially solvent within a couple of years. This is the opportunity I didn't take. Not because I couldn't see the opportunity, but because it would have changed my lives in ways I didn't want.

Recently I have had the same opportunity that I turned down last year offered to me again this year. As oft times happen in life I have been second guessing my original choice, I made last year. While it is probably a good thing to second guess yourself and take a step back and reassess the path you are on, it can be a bit disconcerting. In my case the second guessing was extremely short lived.

You see while the other opportunity of starting and operating a business is the definitely the harder path and a huge risk it is the one I chose. It's simple really; it is the one that provides the greatest benefit. While being a partner in business with a good friend, is both rewarding and frustrating in the same brush stroke. All the frustrations pale in comparison to the rewards.

Being in business with someone I both respect and like. The opportunity to pursue an artistic and creative life, being in charge of how we run our business, and eventually deciding our own schedule; I say eventually because we are building our business around our current lives. These are just a few of the benefits and rewards that will eventually bear fruit for us. It is something I want for myself and my business partner and the difficulties and sacrifices we are making this year will pay off for us in the long run. Meeting long term and short term goals that we will both benefit from as our business continues to grow is our reward.

While opportunities arise and we need to be aware of them and consider them, one needs to remember that we don't have to leap at every opportunity. Sometimes they are presented in our path as a test or an opportunity given to remind ourselves of why we made previous choices. Which is what this last opportunity was for me, it was even easier to turn it down the second time around.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garden Delights 6/26/2011

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been,
I have great faith in a seed.
Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders."

                                     -- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Portland Saturday Market 6/25/11

Glorious day at Portland Saturday Market today.  so much to see and do that it is hard to remember it all.  Today I took random shots of different vendors and there wares that can be found down at the market on any given weekend.  Take a peak before you come visit.

Stained glass booth
Stained glass booth

Customer shopping for cat art
Customer shopping for cat art

Mostly Cats booth
Mostly Cats booth

Tie dye t-shirts
Tie dye t-shirts

Hand painted silk scarves
Hand painted silk scarves

Wood cutting boards and kitchen utensils
Wood cutting boards and kitchen utensils

Live Bonsai trees
Live Bonsai trees

Glass Vases
Glass Vases

Brighten up a window with stained glass
Brighten up a window with stained glass

Stone ceramic art

Friday, June 24, 2011

Defining Customer Loyalty

Defining customer loyalty is a challenge all business's face.  However, lets face it loyal customers are the back bone of any business, be it a brick and mortar, on-line, a chain store, a small mom &; pop store down the street or for handmade artisans. Anyway you look at it a loyal customer will repeatedly purchase from you, will refer people to you and will think of you when it comes time to purchase gifts. Yet, what makes a customer loyal? What sets apart one business over another in the minds of the buying public?

Here are a few things we have come up with that generate loyalty from those businesses’s we repeatedly purchase from.

1.) Clear, easily found policies. While I don’t mind dealing with different policies and there isn’t anything specific that I look for, the lack of them or inability to find them easily is a turn off.

2.) On-line, no shipping charges. We know that ultimately we are paying for shipping. See our shipping blog here, for full explanation.

3.) Coupons to use on next purchase. While I don’t expect this every time, once in a while it is a nice surprise to receive.

4.) Mailing lists and the ability to opt out of receiving notices. If they don’t have an opt out option I am not interested. F.Y.I. currently Entwined Vines is not maintaining or creating a mailing list, perhaps in the future we will revisit this option.

5.) New and different items, while maintaining core items. I know that seems contradictory, yet certain products like lotions, soap and other consumables, a store that carries them consistently and maintains quality will have me returning time and time again. Yet, other stores that carry items, such as clothing, new items and the same quality in the new items are a must.

6.) Communication, be it in person, via email or phone. If communication doesn’t happen frustration occurs and chances are I won’t shop with them again.

7.) On-line it is important that I actually receive what I order. If it is an item where color is an issue, it should be close. I know pictures never truly portray the exact color, but it needs to be close.

These are just a few of the ideas of what inspires customer loyalty within us.

What inspires customer loyalty for you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aventurine Gemstones

Green aventurine gemstones can be found in tones of earthy green from a softy pastel to a green so deep as to be almost black. Most often you will see specks within created by tiny particles of hematite or mica, often these specks sparkle to mimic flecks of gold. While my favorite is the green aventurine, you can also find it in peach, brown, and blue tones. 

Aventurine and amethyst stone earrings            5AV
Aventurine and Amethyst Earrings

As is the case with other gemstones there is legend, folklore and healing properties associated with aventurine gemstones. In today’s world there is a resurgence of these beliefs as societies and more importantly individuals strive to find balance and ways to improve their lives.

Aventurine is one of the few stones that had a man made stone prior to the gemstone being discovered. Legend has it that the name aventurine comes from the Italian word “per aventura” that means “by chance”. It is said that a glass worker first created the man made version when copper fillings accidentally fell into a container full of bright and sparkling molten glass. However, tools have been found containing the genuine gemstone aventurine, dating back almost 2.5 million years ago.

Coral, Citrine Chips, and Adventurine Chips Necklace
Coral, Citrine Chips and Aventruine Chips Necklace

Aventurine is good for all of these as it is believed to be a good luck stone. It is also thought to reduce stress, develop confidence, and increase ones imagination. It is also attributed to business success of the wearer and an increase in one’s monetary prosperity.

Sodalite and Aventurine stone earrings      SA1
Sodalite and Aventurine Earrings

Folklore attributes the capacity for bringing inner peace and calming a troubled mind to aventurine. Other healing properties associated with aventurine include:

• Balancing blood pressure

• Neutralizing the electromagnetic pollution

• Relieve bronchitis

• Reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease

• Shorten the length of time it takes wounds to heal

The Chakra’s it is associated with is the heart chakra. In this same vein it is believed to balance the male and female energies within one person.

Swarovski Pearls Coral Aventurine and Lampwork Bracelet
Swarovski Pearls, Coral, Aventurine and Lampwork Bracelet

Note: This is provided as information only. It is not to be considered sound medical advice. You should seek medical treatment from a professional for whatever ails you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quote Wednesday 6/22/11

Where there is no power...
There is never any desire to do a thing;
And where there is strong desire to do a thing...
The power to do it is strong.

---Wallace D. Wattles

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MadeByLovingHands -- Featured Artisan

Grab a cup of coffee and read our interview with


When and how did you first become interested in crafting?

I grew up with a Mom and Dad that were both handy. I remember my Mom sewing and crafting with me as a kid. I always enjoyed learning new crafts from hand sewing, to latch hook, cross stich to sewing. One summer during college I taught myself to quilt and I have been hooked ever since. I love making baby gifts for friend.

How long have you been creating your chosen craft?

I started sewing in 4-H when I was about 10 and have never stopped. I started quilting about 10 years ago.

Pink and Black bold baby quilt or wall hanging


What are your crafting influences?

I love new fabrics! I love customers who have ideas of something they want made.

Does anyone in your family do a similar craft?

Both of my grandmothers were quilters and my mom is great at sewing garments. I got my sister-in-law a sewing machine a few years ago and she now enjoys sewing.

Handmade Brown and Blue Batik Baby Quilt

What kinds of places have you displayed your craft in your life?

All of my curtains are handmade along with my son's nussery. All of my couch blankets are either quilts or croched afgans I have made. I make more to give away as gift than I do to keep.

What else do you do besides create these beautiful pieces?

By training I am a chemical engineer. I am currently on leave to be home with my son who is almost 2. I find sewing to be great for me ... creativity within limits with lots of angles and math. Keeps my mind busy thinking through my next project.

What is your favorite piece that you have created so far?

I made my parents a Frank Loyd Wright quilt for Christmas a couple years ago. It was time consuming with all the 1/4" strips of black, but I am very pleased with the end product.

Why did you make that piece?

I love doing modern quilts. The pattern just looked like my parents. I figured I should do it before my son was born and I am glad I am not trying to make it during nap times now. I don't sell larger or more complex quilts because there are very few customers that are willing to pay for all the time that goes into them. I focus on smaller kids quilts to sell, but I am always open to larger custom requests.

What does it take to create pieces like that?

This quilt was very time consuming due to all the little pieces. Piecing 1/4" black strips against white is not forgiving of any mistakes or sloppiness! I can't even guess how many hours went into it. It was a labor of love.

What is special about your pieces?

Everything I make is made with fabrics that will last. I don't think you can buy as bib that will wash like my 100% cotton flannel bibs. So many mass produced items add polyester to the fabric that holds stains. 100% cotton washes so much better. Everything I make is a labor of love.

Yellow Colorful Number Bib with Chenille Back

What makes this kind of craft "good" to you

I love that quilts are pass down from generation to generation. I also love the fact that they can be timeless. Some are "dated" but they carry so many memories with them. People treasure the previous generations that made and used them. They are not disposable like so many things are today.

See more creations in her studio:
Follow Made By Loving Hands on facebook

Monday, June 20, 2011

Graduation, Life and Dreams

With so many graduating this month, thought it would be a good time to share this story.  Not sure which college she attended, for it wasn't in the email my dad sent when he sent this to me.  Yet, the message is clear, you are never to old to follow your dreams.  The road may wind and twist, however if you don't give up there is always time to follow your dreams.  Rose did and in doing so made a difference.....

"The first day of school our professor introduced him-self and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being..

She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?'

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze..

'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked.

She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids....'

'No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me..

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.'

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, ' We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody! Can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets....รข€™

She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.'

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be."

So, remeber growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional.  Life is what we make it and it is nver too late to follow your dreams.

For the not familiar with it, here are the lyrics to the song "The Rose"

Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.

I say love, it is a flower,

and you it's only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking

that never learns to dance.

It's the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin'
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been to long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,
just remember in the winter
far beneath the winter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose.

*"The Rose" is song written by Amanda McBroom and made famous by Bette Midler and others.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

We are spending the day with our families today.  Hope everyone has a great day!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there.
Here are a couple of favorite quotes about for today.

"Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a dad." -- Anne Geddes

"Be kind to thy father, for when thou wert young, Who loved thee so fondly as he? He caught the first accents that fell from thy tongue, And joined in thy innocent glee." -- Margaret Courtney

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Portland Saturday Market 6/18/11

Dancing Cat Studio's

One of the many vendors that can be found at Portland Saturday Market, are one of the market's Reserved Vendors and can always be found in the same location, under the Burnside bridge.  Linda and Harold a husband and wife team bring their talents, goodwill and cheerful attitudes to the market.  They are their every weekend.

Linda and Harold of Dancing Cat Studios
Linda and Harold of Dancing Cat Studios

Harold applies his talent in creating gorgeous lampwork pieces.  While Linda creates and designs their jewelry creations, using a mixture of lampwork and gemstones.

Assorted lampwork glass wine stoppers by Dancing Cat
Assorted lampwork glass wine stoppers by Dancing Cat

Here is a glimpse of wine stoppers that they have accented created with their lampwork creations.

Dancing Cat Studio - necklace creations
Dancing Cat Studio - necklace creations

While my pictures do not do Linda's designs justice, here are a few examples of her lovely creations. 

Dancing Cat Studios-wine stoppers
Dancing Cat Studios-wine stoppers

Gemstone and lampwork necklaces - Designs by Dancing Cat
Gemstone and lampwork necklaces - Designs by Dancing Cat

Goldfish lampwork glass necklace and earring set by Dancing Cat
Goldfish lampwork glass necklace and earring set by Dancing Cat

Harold's lampworking, includes animals.  The goldfish above are just one example.   His animals are so cute, they include panda's, cat's, turtle's and so many other's.

Tea strainers embellished with lampwork glass from Dancing Cat
Tea strainers embellished with lampwork glass from Dancing Cat

Everyone need's a loose leaf tea ball, why not make tea a special occasion, with one of these?  The addition of the lampwork chain with which to handle the tea ball, turns a common cup of tea into an event.

While Dancing Cat Studio's does not have an online presence, they can be found at Portland Saturday Market both Saturday and Sunday threw out the season.  Portland Saturday Market season runs the first weekend of March threw December 24th.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shipping -- Free, Included, Domestic, International

Shipping, especially international shipping is a topic that continual comes up in discussion in a few business forums we are part of.  While discussed often it is always something that is returned to time and time again, with a few running themes.  I am going to spend a bit of time on each shipping topic I have seen or been involved with the discussion on, with a great deal of time dedicated to the complicated international shipping challenges that face sellers based in the United States.

--- The first topic that seems to come up for new sellers, is whether or not to charge shipping to customers or not.  Shipping has to be paid, but what sellers have to ask themselves is what is the perceived value?  If the customer thinks free shipping offers them a greater value, then they will always choose to shop from sellers who don't visibly charge shipping.

For me free shipping isn't about perceived value as I know somewhere along the way I am paying shipping.  It is just easier when shopping with a set budget to deal with sellers who don't charge shipping, so I don't have to attempt to add the shipping in as I go when shopping.  Basically it is easier to stay within my own budget when I don't have to worry about shipping being added.

--- In conjunction with Free Shipping the topic of accurate verbiage seems to come up just as often.  Whether it is better to have the verbiage read free shipping or shipping included.   The consensus seems to be that it is dishonest to list free shipping when it is included in pricing.

Yet, my view is that the buying public is intelligent and that on-line shopping has been around long enough that everyone knows shipping is built in somewhere if it isn't being visibly charged at the end.  Shoppers know that lights, bags, shelving, heating, water, sewer and employee labour is being factored into the pricing when they are shopping at a brick and mortar store, yet it isn't posted.  Why should it be any different for an on-line business? On-line sellers have the same overhead, just on a much, much smaller scale.

---International Shipping

Shoppers in other countries do not understand why so many U.S. sellers make the choice to Not ship international.  There are a lot of factors to consider and we looked at them all before deciding that international shipping was not for us on a regular basis at this time.  At Entwined Vines we are currently not set up for International Shipping and that is stated in our policies.

Let me try and explain some of the challenges facing a seller shipping to outside of the U.S.:

-- Each country has a package size limit. 
Meaning that if the dimensions exceed the allowable they are rejected.  If the weight limit of the package exceeds the maximum it is rejected.  Usually at that point depending on the country the package is chucked and not returned to the sender.

-- First class USPS international .
has four different types of pricing, within those there are nine different lists of countries to choose from.  It can weigh no more than 64 ounces, be of no more than 24 inches long, and cannot exceed 36 inches in combined length, height, & depth.  

-- Priority Mail USPS
has 17 different price lists, countries are assigned  a number and you have to choose.  It cannot exceed 42 inches in length, 79 inches in length plus girth combined. As well as weight limits which vary from country to country.   Tracking is not available with this type of shipping.

And that is the easy part in regards to international shipping.  There are more options, but I won't bore you by discussing all of them.  They tend to all run the same guidelines in regards to weight restrictions and multiple pricing methodologies.

--- Where it really gets complicated is in the restrictions of what can and cannot be shipped to other countries and their requirements, especially in regards to jewelry.  I understand why some of the restrictions are in place for jewelry.   Stop and think about it gemstones, gold, silver, and other metals act as currency.  Importing them in the form of jewelry, while seemingly innocent can have an effect on economies, if a person chooses to dismantle the jewelry.   How often in our history have we heard of women selling their jewelry to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads.  As the cost of metals goes up it is a lot of money that can be lying around in one's jewelry box.

Here is a direct quote for Canada to give you a better idea of what US sellers are limited to when it comes to international shipping on Jewelry.  The guidelines for Canada are a couple of pages long, so I am only quoting the specific information in regards to jewelry.


Under Prohibitions
*Gold bullion, gold dust, and nonmanufactured precious metals.

*Coins; banknotes; currency notes; securities payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; gold, silver, platinum, manufactured or not; jewelry; and other valuable articles may be sent only in registered items.

*Precious stones, set or not set; all items used as dress ornaments and coming under the term “jewelry” including articles of gold or other precious metal for personal use such as cigarette holders, cases, powder cases, card cases, opera glasses, fountain pens, watches, etc., are permitted in insured parcels provided the articles have value not over $5 U.S. A parcel containing a number of such articles valued at $5 or less may be insured for the total value of the contents up to a maximum of $200.

Let me give you an idea, shipped a package to Italy last December, less than 16 ounces, the insurance on that package was 23.00.  Not an expense that a small business owner can absorb and not an expense I can imagine many customers being willing to pay.

This also doesn't cover what happens on the customers end, when they receive the package as far as tariffs and duty taxes.   I know that when I visited Canada and made purchases, had to go through customs and pay those costs, I would think it would be the same in all countries.  However, I could be wrong.

You can see the full list of International Shipping Guidelines here.

I did not write this to whine or complain about the difficulties of shipping international.  Nor was it written to justify why we currently do not ship international.    My intent in writing this was to give international buyers a better understanding of why so many artisan's in the handmade community whom are based in the U.S. choose not to ship international.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amethyst Gemstones

Amethyst semi precious gemstone has been mentioned throughout mankind’s history. It is the official modern birthstone for those individual’s born in the month of February. Need a gift for a 4th, 6th or 17th year wedding anniversary? Choose amethyst as it is the recommended gift for those particular anniversaries. This is a gemstone that I have been around my whole life, is such a beautiful stone.

Amethyst semi precious gemstones and Silver Swirl Earrings

Deep purple is the predominate color people think about when they think of amethyst gemstones. It can be any shade of purple; including mauve, light lilac or lavender. Amethyst gemstones are classified as a member of the quartz family. They are the most prized and valued of all the quartz varieties.

Naturally occurring quartz comes in many shapes and sizes. They can be found on the inside of geodes, in drusy form and as crystals with one end having six sides.

Amethyst, Blue Lace Agate and Swarovski Crystals Bracelet

A quick overview of a few lists you will find amethyst on:
Chakras - Third Eye Chakra, Crown Chakra
Birthstone - February
Zodiac - Virgo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces
Planet – Jupiter
Element – Air

Metaphysically, amethyst is attributed with a number of traits. Here is a quick rundown of the traits that are associated with amethyst gemstones.

Increases nobility
Spiritual awareness
Psychic abilities
Inner peace
Healing of body, mind & soul
Positive transformation
Relieves stress
Green Lace Jasper and Amethyst Semi Precious Gemstone Necklace

Amethyst can also be used to activate one’s spiritual awareness, opens intuition and enhances psychic abilities. It calms and stimulates the mind, helping you become more focused, enhancing memory and improving motivation. Amethyst assists in remembering and understanding dreams. It relieves insomnia. Encourages selflessness and spiritual wisdom.

Amethyst encourages sobriety, having a sobering effect on overindulgence of alcohol, drugs or other addictions. It calms and stimulates the mind, helping you become more focused, enhancing memory and improving motivation. Amethyst assists in remembering and understanding dreams. It relieves insomnia. Encourages selflessness and spiritual wisdom.

Double Amethyst and Magnetic Hematite Bracelet

Folklore has it that Amethyst is a powerful and protective stone. It guards against psychic attack, transmuting the energy into love and protecting the wearer from all types of harm, including geopathic or electromagnetic stress and ill wishes from others.

In regards to health and medicinal uses; amethyst semi precious gemstones are believed to be a natural tranquilizer. Relieve stress and strain, soothes irritability, balances mood swings, dispels anger, rage, fear and anxiety. Cleanses the blood. Relieves physical, emotional and psychological pain or stress. Amethyst eases headaches and releases tension. Alleviates sadness and grief, and dissolves negativity.

Lavender and Amethyst Gemstone Torque Necklace

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quote Wednesday 6/15/11

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far. 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worse,
That you must not quit.

-- Unknown

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sewn From the Heart -- Featured Artisan

Sewn From the Heart

When and how did you first become interested in crafting?

Most of my life, but It was not a passion untill around 2002.

How long have you been creating your chosen craft?

Since 2003 when I decided to do something productive with my life. A close friend (my God given angel) taught me and inspired me.

Walker tote bag Blue leaves on light blue
Walker tote bag

What are your crafting influences?

My close friend as well as kid’s, teens and young adults whom have had disabilities from birth or from injuries due to accidents. There are so many younger people that live with disabilities, I am one of them. I chose fun bright bold colors and fabrics for that very reason. The things I sew are what I use myself to make things easier and thought others would like to as well.

Does anyone in your family do a similar craft?

My very close friend whom I consider to be my true mother.

What kinds of places have you displayed your craft in your life?

My wheelchair and all over my house. I made a matching cell phone, mp3 player and sunglasses bag I take with me everywhere. I use the 'walker bags' on my night stand and table where I sew. I have made bags that hang on the arm of my power wheel chair. I LOVE Veggie Tales, so I use that fabric for my personal items. I even made curtains with the Veggie Tales fabric.

What else do you do besides create these beautiful pieces?

I write, sew, paint, cook, bake, and I Love music. I am a proud published author.

The Misfits Who Became Family by Alicia E.

What is your favorite piece that you have created so far?

That changes from time to time. Right now it's my aprons.

Apron Purple camouflage with peace signs

Why did you make that piece?

They are fun and a great challenge for me. I enjoy making them with lots of pockets. I love pockets. My first apron was a custom order for an Art Fire seller. I chose to take on the challenge, and it turned out great.

What does it take to create pieces like that?

It takes time, a good heath day, and heart. If my heart is not into sewing right then, it does not get sewn.

What is special about your pieces?

They all come from my heart and joy. I put a lot of myself into my work. I was born with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and ADHD. Neither of the diagnoses was made until later in life. I am permanently in a wheel chair and cannot walk. If it was not for the proper medications I would not be able to move my fingers or be able to write or sew. God is the reason I have the strength to write and sew and live each day of my life.

What makes this kind of craft "good" to you?

It helps me meditate, calm down, relax and unwind. It keeps my mind focused and clear when so much is going wrong around me. It makes it so I can go another day without totally losing all my sanity. It\'s just me and my sewing machine or paint brushes. I can be creative and unique.

You can find more creations by Sewn from the Heart at

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pearls -- June -- Birthstone

Pearls are the traditional birthstone for those born in the month of June. Properties associated with the pearl include friendship, loyalty and faithfulness. Metaphysical properties associated with the pearl are purity, modesty and chastity. It is believed that pearls will also enhance ones personal integrity.

4 White Freshwater pearls with Simulated moonstone earrings in silver
Fresh water and simulated moonstone earrings

These properties, lead me to believe that is how June has become known as the month in which to be married and why many anniversary years list pearls as the appropriate gift. As the traits of the pearl properties are in line with what one seeks in a life partner. Those born in the month of June tend to exemplify these characteristics, which can only be enhanced with the receiving of a gift containing pearls.

"By her who is this month was born
No gem save Pearls shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity."


Pearls derive their name from the Latin word “pirum” which when translated means pear. This is a reflection of the shape of the pearl. It is the rare natural pearl that is perfectly round. You see natural pearls are created within a living entity. While most believe all pearls start as a grain of sand that becomes lodged within a clam, oyster or mussel, that isn’t always the case. It can be a small parasite or tiny fish that becomes lodged. Once lodged a substance known as nacre is produced surrounding the irritant. Over the years the nacre provides coats that layer one on top of the other creating a lustrous pearl over the intruder.

Peridot Pearls and White Fresh Water pearls Bracelet
Fresh Water Pearls and Peridot Pearl Bracelet

Due to natural pearls being so rare, a method was created to grow pearls, by using a piece of shell or bead to start the process. These pearls are known as cultured pearls. Cultured pearls account for 90 percent of the pearl industry.

Snowflake Obsidian Gemstones and Fresh Water Pearls Necklace
Fresh water pearls, snowflake obsidian gemstones and copper accent necklace

The human race has a long standing love affair with pearls. Something about pearls inspire people to become obsessed by them. History shows that at one point they were only worn by royalty. Some cultures ground them up for use in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. And through the ages they have been used to adorn crowns, jewels, clothing, and temples.

Moonstone, which is such a lovely feminine gemstone, and it is listed as an alternate birthstone for the month of June. It is also one that we enjoy creating with. To learn more about Moonstone, you can find it here.

Triple Moonstone Necklace
Triple Moonstone Necklace

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden Delights 6/12/2011

"A garden is a friend you can visit any time."

"Friends are flowers in life's garden."


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Portland Saturday Market 6/11/11

It was a beautiful sunny day today.  This is unusual for this time of year as traditionally it rains the entire week of rose Festival weekend.  Especially on the day of the Grand Floral Parade.   The ships are in, so it is also referred to as Fleet Week.

In additional to the Grand Floral Parade going on today.  The Dragon Boat races were today and
military recruiting center were up and running...So much to to see and do, one day surely isn't enough.

Which is a great thing because Portland Saturday Market runs on Sundays as well. Stop in and see us.

Market and Rose Festival Crowd
Market and Rose Festival Crowd

Rose festival fleet ships in port 2011
Rose festival fleet ships in port 2011

Rose festival grand floral parade
Rose festival grand floral parade

Rose festival crowd 2011
Rose festival crowd 2011

One of the fleet ships at Portland Rose Festival 2011
One of the fleet ships at Portland Rose Festival 2011

Crowd control and security fence for Rose festival 2011
Crowd control and security fence for Rose festival 2011

To view full album of photos, follow the link below: