Thursday, March 27, 2014

Art Class - A Video

Class, pay extra close attention to our guest teacher today.  We're going to learn how to draw a rainbow.






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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops - A Product Review

 Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops - Product Review by Substance of Living


Before we get started with our product review, let's learn a little about Pine Brothers:
"Ulysses S. Grant was President, the population of America hovered at 39 million, and the telephone was still a pipe dream, when in 1870 J. Herman Pine hung out a confectionery shingle on 8th Street above Walnut in Philadelphia and, along with his brother, sold their first batch of what they called 'Pine Brothers Glycerine Tablets.' In an attempt to relieve his own sore throat and those of his family members, Mr. Pine, a former German confectionery maker, determined that by combining the soothing natural qualities of glycerin with the healing properties of gum acacia, he could sooth and mitigate the mild discomfort of a sore throat. Add in some natural flavoring and a sweetener and voila, Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops were born. "I have discovered something," Pine wrote, "which will give quick throat relief to thousands afflicted as I was." He added,"Perhaps I won't make much money out of this. But I can make people happy, and that's more important than money." Mr. Pine was being unduly modest, as his "discovery" would become one of the most successful, most delicious and most unique throat lozenges in the world. Nor has the recipe changed appreciably since it was first introduced to the public over 140 years ago.

In 1930 Pine Brothers was sold to the Life Savers Company and continued to flourish. Known for its 'soft drop consistency,' Pine Brothers lozenges became a favorite of adults and children alike. The product, which attracted healthiest sales in the eastern and northern states, due to its icy winters, reached its peak popularity in the 1970's. The company was sold by Life Savers, and then, having been re-sold and acquired a number of times, found itself essentially rudderless and under appreciated; this despite a legion of loyal consumers. Cost cutting changes were made to the original recipes, packaging became stale and marketing non-existent; Pine Brothers began to be made overseas. Sales declined.

Recently, Pine Brothers was acquired by the creator and former owner of Airborne, Victoria Knight-McDowell, for her new company 3 Sisters Home Products™. Much time and effort has been spent locating the original Pine Brothers recipes, redesigning the packaging, and creating an exciting yet classic new look. The natural product is once again being made in America, and is launching nationally in fall 2011. At which time old Mr. Pine, will succeed once again in "making people happy." God bless him!"
Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops - Product Review by Substance of Living


Do you remember Pine Brothers cough drops?  I had never heard of them until being chosen to write a review.  The cough drops actually arrived at my home when DH was in need of some lozenges.  The timing was perfect and we were able to really test the drops.

The cough drops are small enough to fit comfortably in the middle of the tongue and roof of the mouth.  They are "softish" and by that I mean they aren't hard like a normal cough drop but not as soft and squishy as a gummy candy.  The flavor of each (wild cherry, natural honey, and licorice) is soothing.  Beware that if you prefer the licorice one that your mouth will turn color as if you'd just eaten a string of black licorice!  Which I totally found to be fun.

Getting back to the perfect timing of these drops, my adorable husband was auditioning for an upcoming musical and his throat was a bit dry and scratchy.  One of these cough drops - not mediciny in flavor or smell - did the trick and he got one of the lead roles (unfortunately - according to him - not one of the supporting roles he was wanting).  OK, I totally am bragging but I'm so proud of him.

Here's another testimonial to the quality of these drops: We were at a play this past weekend and a lady in the row in front of us was having a coughing spell.  I pulled out the convenient round carry case and gave her a cough drop.  Her coughing stopped right away and she was able to enjoy the rest of the play.  After the play, the lady turned around and thanked us for the cough drop and wanted to know what brand they were because she hadn't had a cough drop work like this did.

My personal findings were that the semi-softness of the drops was enjoyable but I didn't care for the sugar, corn syrup and dyes (dyes - Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40 - found in the licorice drops).  Then again, most cough drops have sugar and corn syrup and the sugar-free drops have all kinds of other ingredients.  So as far as cough drops are concerned, I would purchase Pine Brothers.  I like that they use natural flavors and sunflower oil.  I also like that my breath didn't smell like medicine.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

P.S., Your purchase through any affiliate links will provide Substance of Living with a small stipend and help its continued efforts to bring you quality posts such as this one.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Creating Your Destiny

Creating Your Destiny by Substance of Living
Creating Your Destiny
You can begin controlling your life's destiny today.  It doesn't matter where you are in your life, your career, or anything else as long as you begin believing in yourself today.  Sure, there will be slips down the slide but each time you will come back stronger and healthier.  Healthier in the belief that you are on the right path.

So, remember that your destiny begins with your thoughts.  That means no more negative self-talk or putting yourself down because you made a mistake.

Who was it that first said we must take care of ourselves before helping others?  I'm sure I'm paraphrasing but if we don't take care of ourselves and get ourselves on the right path, who are we to help others?  Here's a prime example: If you are dirty from working outside and don't wash up or change your clothes before bathing your children, who are also dirty from being outside, won't you get them dirty all over again after they get out of the bath from your dirty hands and clothes?  If you were to take care of yourself first, you would be clean and therefore so would your children after their baths.

I know that example is elementary but can you see how important and unselfish it is to take care of yourself first?

Do you use positive self-talk?  What is your favorite affirmation?



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Taming Romeo - A Book Review

Taming Romeo by Rachelle Ayala - Book Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.



Taming Romeo by Rachelle Ayala is a full-on sexy and very adult read leaving very little for your imagination.  Rachelle's style of writing is laced with powerful adjectives throughout enabling the descriptions to form a movie in one's mind.

Evie Sanchez, a medical student, has returned home to nurture her broken heart and work in her family's Filipino restaurant.  What she didn't expect was to find her childhood secret sweetheart, Romeo.

Romeo Garcia is the sexy bad boy that has graduated from a boy band into a promising acting career.  Romeo has also never forgotten his first love, Evie.

The story revolves around Evie's struggle to fully acknowledge her unresolved feelings for Romeo and his need to find out why she left him, without word, the night of their prom.

As much as I enjoyed Evie's antics from dumpster diving to debuting in the movies, and Romeo's relentless pursuit of truth and Evie's love, it was the family dynamics that kept me reading.  I had to find out what the family members were up to and who was coming into the restaurant next.

I had to keep reading through to the end; one page, one chapter was not enough!

"Taming Romeo" is a bit of a misnomer as the title should have read "Romeo - the Good/Bad Boy".  Romeo is the type of guy that fulfills our nightly fantasies but somehow is able to cross over successfully into our daytime world.  He's the one you take home to meet Mom and Dad.  He can rock your world as any self-respecting rock star could dream.


Come along for the motorcycle ride of your life and see if Evie and Romeo's relationship will burn as hot as their recklessly erotic night or will it fizzle as it winds through the twists and turns of their past?  Can't wait to see what Rachelle brings us next and I hope there is a lot more of Evie's family.

"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"  Have to say that I was really lucky when DH came into my life.  He was and still is my Romeo.  Who was or is the Romeo in your life?


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+




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Monday, March 17, 2014

Fiber One® Protein Cereal - Product Review

General Mills Fiber One Protein Cereal
General Mills

Disclosure:  I received a box of each Fiber One Protein cereal shown above free in return for my honest opinion from General Mills through BzzAgent.

Start your day with a big bowl of Fiber One® Protein Cereal.  For the mornings you and your family don't have time to sit down to a wholesome breakfast, then be sure to have these incredible muffins on hand.

It will be a tough call to decide which box of cereal is your favorite.  DH and I haven't been able to decide.  In fact, we hosted a brunch this past weekend serving both these cereals in bowls, muffins, and as granola for everyone to take home and eat later.  We asked them which flavor was their favorite and the overwhelming answer was, "Both!".

Fiber One® Protein Maple Brown Sugar
"A delicious granola cereal with the powerful combination of protein and fiber! It’s a perfect blend of wholesome goodness, the taste of maple brown sugar and our delightfully tasty sweetened granola with crunchy pecans. Wake up to delicious!"

Fiber One® Protein Cranberry Almond
"It’s the perfect blend of wholesome goodness and our delightfully tasty mix of crunchy almonds, sweetened cranberry pieces and sweetened granola. Protein and fiber come together as one delicious cereal!"
Fiber One® Protein Cereal Muffins
Fiber One® Protein Cereal Muffins

Ingredients

(Adapted from Buttermilk Raisin Bran Muffins)
2 cups Fiber One® Protein Maple Brown Sugar or Cranberry Almond cereal
1 1/4 cups Almond Milk
1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1 Egg
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Directions

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and the apple cider vinegar, allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  Add the cereal and allow to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Break up any large clumps of cereal.
  • With a mixer, combine the flour, egg, vanilla, brown sugar, oil, baking soda, salt. 
  • Stir in raisins and the milk/cereal mixture until everything is moistened.  The cereal will not be mushy.
  • Divide batter among the muffin cups.
  • Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
 
Gluten-Reduced Muffins
Milk / ACV / Cereal after sitting 5 to 10 minutes
Look at all that golden deliciousness waiting to be enjoyed with some butter.
Gluten-Reduced Muffins
6 Large Muffins

Mini-Loaf
If you're wanting to share all this yumminess or baking gifts, try making mini-loaves.

Fiber One® Protein Cranberry Almond Reduced Gluten Muffins
Cranberry Almond Muffin
See the crunchy bits inside and yet look how moist and airy the muffin is waiting for you to enjoy.

Notes:

  • Replace buttermilk for the non-dairy milk and the apple cider vinegar.
  • I used almond milk but any non-dairy milk is fine.
  • Any vegetable oil will work in place of the grapeseed oil.
  • All-purpose flour in equal parts to the gluten-free flour will work.
  • *This is not a gluten-free recipe but by using the gluten-free flour, the amount of wheat and gluten has been reduced.  I call this a gluten-reduced recipe.
  • Non-dairy milk has been used in this recipe to reduce the amount of dairy in the overall recipe.
  • One batch yielded 6 large muffins and a mini-loaf or 12 regular muffins.

Fiber One® Protein Maple Brown Sugar Reduced Gluten Muffins
Maple Brown Sugar Muffins
How would you eat your Fiber One Protein Cereal?




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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bring Back Prayer and Thoughts on The National Anthem

You know how some things touch you even though you don't remember where you read, saw, or heard it?  Sometimes you might even misquote someone as having said something because you don't recall who actually said it.  I've done it!  In this case, I guess we're not really trying to misquote or give someone else credit, it is the message that we are trying to get across.

I think that is what has happened with this editorial that was forwarded by a reader.  Don't get me wrong, I really do appreciate the emails and stories and this particular reader didn't actually give someone else credit, I think the message was simply forwarded onto me.  Thank you for thinking of me.

The message is powerful and I believe reflects the feelings of many Christians around the world.  Let me stop there for a second, if I may.  I say Christians, but wouldn't any person feel strongly about their faith and want to stand up?  Stand up and have the freedom to pray.

The following email has been circulating since about 2000 and attributes Paul Harvey or Andy Rooney as the author.  According to Snopes, the actual author is Nick Gholson, who writes for the TimesRecordNews in Wichita Falls, TX.  In addition, not all of the editorial below was in the original message but still seems prevalent.
ck Gholson, a sports writer for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. Gholson's September 1999 essay (which was a fair bit longer than the version later circulated via e-mail) decried the prohibition against school-led prayer at high school football games.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/prayer.asp#5ipe1DlhsSy1EItz.99
Nick Gholson, a sports writer for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. Gholson's September 1999 essay (which was a fair bit longer than the version later circulated via e-mail) decried the prohibition against school-led prayer at high school football games.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/prayer.asp#5ipe1DlhsSy1EItz.99
Nick Gholson, a sports writer for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. Gholson's September 1999 essay (which was a fair bit longer than the version later circulated via e-mail) decried the prohibition against school-led prayer at high school football games.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/prayer.asp#5ipe1DlhsSy1EItz.99



I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.
 

I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered in any way because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

So what's the big deal?

It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts.  They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, and Canada, countries founded on Christian principles.  According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1.
 

So what would you expect -- Somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.

When in Rome .....

But what about the atheists?  Is another argument.

What about them?

Nobody is asking them to be baptized.  We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds.  If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom.  Visit the concession stand.  Call your lawyer!  Or, just exercise their right to leave this country!

Unfortunately, one or two will call their lawyer.  One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do.  I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights.  Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep.  Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.  Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us.  And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long.  It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want!

It is time that the majority rules!

It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him.  That is your right, and we will honor your right; But by golly, You are no longer going to take our rights away.  We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!"




Pretty powerful, huh?  Is there any way that we can each pray or meditate while together and not offend?  If I pray to my God, why can't someone else pray to theirs at the same time?  I think part of the problem is that a prayer to a Christian God is being publicly officiated while the other gods and deities are not acknowledged.  I mean, we do the National Anthem of each country represented during the Olympics.  Is that the not the same?
 
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Have you seen this message?  How does it make you feel?  What did/do you think?

 




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Monday, March 10, 2014

Light Spectrums: A Collection of Poetry ebook - A Book Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
 
Jessica Fuqua is an author of poetry and blogs about being a mommy at Shatterlion.  When I was offered the opportunity to review her collection of poetry, it was an absolute YES!

 photo lsamazoncover_zps013d7902.jpg It's been a long time since I've sat down with a poem, let alone a collection of different types of poetry.



"I have chosen to release 25 poems in a novel today in celebration of World Poetry Day (March 21st) and the Spring Equinox (March 20th)." - Jessica Fuqua

If you love nature, spring, and poetry, then you'll enjoy Jessica's beautiful words written in six styles.
  • Haiku (Japanese style) - a poem written in three lines; containing 5, 7, 5 syllables respectively; seasonal reference
  • Tanka (Japanese style) - a poem consisting of  5 lines and 31 syllables; 1st and 3rd lines have 5 syllables while the other lines have 7 syllables
  • Triolet (French style) - a poem or stanza consisting of 8 lines; the first line is repeated in the 4th and 7th line; the second line is repeated in the 8th line
  • Shandorma (Spanish style) - a stanza of six lines with no set rhyme
  • Sonnet (Italian style) - iambic pentameter rhythmic style written in 14 lines
  • Acrostic - the title of the poem is spelled out vertically; the first letter in each line begins with a letter in the title (example, DEW is the title so line 1 will begin with D, line 2 with E, and line 3 with W)

Since my reviews are honest, I have to admit that my initial reading of the poems didn't quite make sense.  After reviewing each type of poetry reflected in the book, the poems spoke much clearer and stirred my longing for spring.  If I were to pick three poems out of the book that resonated the highest, they would be "War and Phoenix" (Haiku), "Dew" (Haiku and Acrostic), and "Writer's Block" (Sonnet).  The words immersed me with wonderment as if I were actually there and feeling the emotions of the moment.

Please follow Jessica on twitter and like her facebook page.  While you're at it, if you aren't already, please follow Substance of Living on twitter and like our new facebook page.  Thanks!


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.





P.S., Your purchase through affiliate links will provide Substance of Living with a small stipend and help its continued efforts to bring you quality posts such as this one.
Please share me with your friends!
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Interview Introducting the Artist for MONA | ANOM

MONACELL etsy store MONAANOM


I am so honored to introduce you to one of my favorite artists and people -- Kristen Monacell.
To give you a little background before you meet her, Kristen is one of those super talented artists that seem to be able to do anything.  She can paint, create amazing outfits, and as you'll see her ability maintains its high standards of quality in her jewelry.

Here's a little secret that she'll probably want to clobber me for telling and that is that she is a little on the shy side so today is extra special because she opens up with us.

One afternoon Kristen and I were sitting in her studio and the idea came to me to interview her.  All we had was my phone as a recorder so I've typed our conversation rather than having you sit through the not-so-great sound quality.
Artist Kristen Monacell
Kristen Monacell

Kristen, thank you for this opportunity to record our conversation and share with my readers.  So let's see, where do we begin - that's a good word - we'll begin at the beginning.  Were you always an artist, drawing, creating, crafting as a child?
 
I have had an inherent need to create for as long as I can remember. My mother was a large influence as a child.  She would create these amazing life size games for my birthday parties made out of ply wood and paint.  I remember a cow that she made that we had to milk at my 8th birthday party.  It was pretty exceptional.  I have always been captivated by anything fantasy related.  I think of it as a great escape, like I am some character in a beautiful story.

I have always had an obsession with all things mini.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe I imagine these little fairies or creatures living among us, protecting and watching over us.  I was really into making accessories for my Barbies.  I think I enjoyed art that could be functional.  I was really into trying to make creations that could be sold...I guess I still am (laugh).

Where did you study and what was your preferred medium at the time?
 
I got my BFA (Bachelor of Fine Art) at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. It was a life-changing experience. Going to school there felt like a mixture of the culture of the deep south mixed with the enchantment of Harry Potter. The school's bookstore had a winding staircase made completely out of old books. That image is engrained in my mind. It was magical.

I studied Fashion Design. I was more into the costume side of things. I experimented with all kinds of textiles and fiber techniques. I have a love of all types of fiber art, weaving, screen-printing, knitting...I could go on. My senior collection was made up of these huge cocoon-like structures that I knit by hand using these really thick needles. The theme was sort of this protection from the earthly elements. They were styled as these snow nymph type creatures that I imagined living in an arctic tundra somewhere. I didn’t know how to knit at the time and was working at a restaurant where I met a woman who said she would give me a lesson. Next thing you know I’m knitting all day, every day.
Knitwear by MONACELL
Knitwear by MONACELL

That's an incredible story. I don't know if I'd be brave enough to take a newly learned skill and turn it into my senior collection. I'm sure they were gorgeous. How has your work developed over the years? Do you still work within your earlier artistry or have you moved on?
 
I would say that my basic influences and principles have stayed the same, but my work is always changing and evolving. While I still love to knit; I have expanded my interests into weaving, painting, and jewelry making. I’m always trying to challenge myself with a new project. I get bored easily so I like to have multiple things going on at once, that way I can switch it up. Right now I have a few paintings I am working on (oil paint takes forever to dry, so that is something that I can put down and come back to), and have been making jewelry daily. There are so many sources for inspiration out there so I am constantly getting new ideas.

Have you moved on; if so, why and how did you become interested in what you are doing now? 

I wouldn’t say that I have completely moved on, but jewelry is a newer thing for me. I started creating little things for myself. I would see a necklace or something somewhere that I couldn’t afford, and try to recreate it. That sort of spawned this whole thing into creating items for friends as gifts and then having a desire to work with new tools. There are so many different ways to create jewelry, so I am constantly learning. If I don’t know how to do something I will search the internet. Youtube is an incredible tool.

Who is your favorite artist?

Wow. That is a hard question. I am constantly looking at art. First of all, aside from creating, I am also an art teacher at a public charter school. I teach 6-10th grade, so together my students and I are always looking at art. Of the masters, Georgia O’Keeffe, Egon Schiele, Marc Chagall. Currently, I have been obsessing over the work of Charmaine Olivia. She really captures that fantasy element that I was talking about earlier. I’m really impressed by photo realism, mixed with some sense of surrealism. Kehinde Wiley is another favorite, and North Carolina native and local artist John Hairston Jr. Hairston's paintings have a truly dream-like quality.

If you were to own one specific piece of art, what would it be and why?
 
Geez! Another great, but difficult question. I would have to think about this for a while. The top of my list would be a Jeff Koons sculpture, one of the metallic balloon animals. They are just so fantastic and make me smile every time I look at them. I would also love to have every Fornasetti plate, the wonderment and mystery they evoke makes me giddy. Finally, a painting from a girl I went to school with, Lisa Hoffner, she does these incredible large scale oil paintings of women in various imaginative settings. I wouldn’t say that I often come across art that I would want in my home. If I do, it has to give me a special feeling. It doesn't necessarily have to be a happy one, but some sort of feeling, whether it be serenity, release, or transporting me to another place, the feeling has to be there.

You mentioned Youtube for inspiration?  Where else do you find inspiration? 
 
The internet is a wealth of inspiration for me. I am constantly looking at photography, fashion, and food blogs. I draw inspiration from nature and different cultures around the world. I have not traveled very much outside of the country, but have a longing to explore the world. Being able to see beautiful pictures of places around the world helps satisfy this urge. Right now I am really interested in Hindu and Buddhist relics. I love the ornate nature and bright bold colors of a lot of the artifacts I come across, as well as the meaning behind them. I’m a sucker for a meaningful piece or something that comes with a story.

Speaking of stories, what message do you want your art to tell?
 
Right now, my work is about making people feel special. I view it as the one thing I can do to spread a little happiness in the world. All of my pieces have a meaning, or story behind them and whoever ends up with them will create and add their own story to the piece. It’s about connecting with people and filling the universe with beauty.
Rings by MONACELL
Rings by MONACELL

What type of work environment do you prefer? Music, candles, solitude, late at night, early in the morning as the sun is rising?
 
I am definitely more of a morning person. I think I am most productive in the morning when I am fresh and coffee fueled.  Scent is huge for me.  I have always been attached to scents.  You know, when you get a whiff of something and it transports you to a special time, whether it be last week, or ten years ago?  It is a phenomenal experience.  So that being said, candles?  Yes, in every room if I have it my way.  Music is also key. It all depends on the mood I am in.  If I am feeling a lot of energy, Daft Punk, The Black Keys, The Beatles, The Black Crowes.  For a softer mood, I love classical piano, Adele, Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne, and Wild Belle.

You've talked about your artwork having a story and that each person who wears or owns your art will add their story.  Do you become emotionally attached to your work?
 
Definitely, I always create things that I would want to buy, so the influence is there.  From the moment I start creating, I have it in my mind that it is a gift for someone special.  Even if they are purchasing it, I want every item I sell to feel like a unique present that will be cherished by someone in the world, so that means a lot of love and care goes into every piece I create.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone open something that I have created for them.

What was the first item you ever sold?
 
Hmm, I think it was this pink and yellow sorbet colored, bohemian looking hat that I knitted by hand.  We were having an art sale where I went to school for my teaching degree at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine.  This teenage girl and her mom kept walking by to look at my knitted hats and scarves.  Finally the girl came back to try on and I can still remember that pleasure I got when I saw the smile on her face.  It was like the hat was made especially for her.
Knitwear by MONACELL
Knitwear by MONACELL
Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Always a hard question. Hopefully, running my own business full time with a steady client base.  Right now I am just getting started, so it is most important for me to have customer loyalty.  I want people to be more than satisfied with anything that I create for them.  I would like to expand into creating different types of accessories including hats, clutches, and jewelry.  Everything is handmade and one of a kind, so I would like to find more time to create!

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
 
It sounds cliche, and everyone always tells you, “Don’t give up,” but seriously, don’t.  Just know that you will have times of doubt, and frustration.  That is normal, and part of the process.  I went through some frustrating times when I was trying to make it in NYC.  Stay true to your design aesthetic and quality, and do something else to pay the bills at first.  If you want it enough, and keep trying, doors will open.

Now for the question that we're all wanting to know -- Can you tell us 10 things about yourself that we might not already know?
Ok here we go..
  1. I hate pickles but am extremely adventurous with food.
  2. I have a deaf, white boxer named Dice, who is my best friend next to my boyfriend. 
  3. I was a waitress at a sushi restaurant called Pisces before I was an art teacher. 
  4. I want more than anything to travel to Japan (for the sushi, Harajuku girls, and hello kitty, to name a few.) 
  5. I made it through a year of living in the arctic tundra of Maine (it was cold, but amazing!  Awesome, down to earth people, art and music scene in portland, and the best sushi restaurant I have ever been to called Miyake. 
  6. Right now I am teaching 8th graders to make steampunk metal bugs. 
  7. My family means the world to me and I am grateful to be close to them since I was away for so long. 
  8. I love holidays and birthdays. 
  9. I enjoy cooking and can make a mean potato latke (baking is still a challenge). 
  10. I love movies.  One of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen is Cloud Atlas, about how we are all connected.  It is deep, but magically moving and really resonated with my outlook on life.

I know we're running short on time but if you'll indulge me with one more question -- Will you stay with jewelry or do you see yourself carrying other items as well? 

I will certainly continue with jewelry but see myself as a maker of all kinds of goods. It really just depends what I am into at that time.  I can bet you that I will most likely always have more than one project going on at a time.  That would usually include a painting or two, and something fibrous such as knitwear or a weaving or sorts in addition to jewelry.





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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Club Reading Selection for March 2014

There's an old saying that says that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  I think it's a perfect time to take a vacation - even if that vacation is in the comfort of your own home through a book.

Shall we start with a trip to Las Vegas or Paris, France?


How far would you go to follow your dream career?
WHAT STAYS IN VEGAS - written by Beth Labonte
WHAT STAYS IN VEGAS - written by Beth Labonte

What would you do if you only had one year to live?
CARPE DiEMILY (Part 1) - written by Riley J. Ford
CARPE DiEMILY - written by Riley J. Ford

If you've ever had to make a tough decision that had the potential to alter your life, then you will enjoy this endearing story about a young lady who travels to Paris to forget a love lost and ends up finding her life.
PLUM BLOSSOMS IN PARIS - written by Sarah Hina
PLUM BLOSSOMS IN PARIS - written by Sarah Hina

Would you consider the ability to read minds a gift or a curse?
THE MIND READERS - written by Lori Brighton
THE MIND READERS - written by Lori Brighton

If you enjoyed this month's selection, please visit our Book Club to see what we've been reading then join us each month as we discover new authors and genres.

What books would you like to read and discuss?  If you have a book that you've previously read and would like to give us your thoughts, we'd enjoy featuring you.





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