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Lotions & Potions for beautiful skin. Herbs, recipes and information to help you be your best self.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#books I've read recently

I am a bookaholic it seems to go hand in hand with being an herbalist.  Well, at least all the herbalists I know.  I read a lot.  I collect books; signed books.  I read multiple books at once.  Instead of a bedside stand I have a bedside coffee table - it holds more books and trust me there is no room for a cup of coffee.  I do have a jar filled with pens, highlighters and bookmarks though.  I have them arranged in three neat piles according to reading schedules.  The maybe some day, the I'm half way through but have lost interest for now and the currently reading pile.  Lately I have been on a kick of finishing books.  The piles have been getting out of control and I need to either pass some along or finish them. I'm also hesitant to buy more until I finish a few.  A self imposed challenge.
I started winter break being gifted three new books.  I sat and read two straight through and am half way through the third.  Since then I have finished three more. I am binge reading the stacks on my coffee table.  And it feels good.
I'm inspired in part by Tara Swiger.  Each month she posts what books she has read along with what she is currently reading.  She challenged herself to read 100 books last year.  I love to read but tend to be a slow reader so I'm not sure I will achieve that but a book a week sounds like a good number.  I read very little fiction, my favorite books are biographies and reference books. I read herbals, cookbooks, soap making and business books.  So, what have I read since winter break?

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, I admit I was hooked after Eat, Pray Love and have read everything she has published since.  It took me a long time to get through the Signature of All Things but, Big Magic was a quick read and had lots of great ideas and inspirations for life and work.



Cooking as Fast As I Can by Cat Cora  The autobiography of the first female Iron Chef.  I love to cook, love cooking shows and books about cooking.  I must say this left me wanting more - a story without an ending - well because she's still young and learning and in mid lesson.

Traversing the Wild Terrain of Menopause by Gail Faith Edwards   I took one of her workshops at the New England Women's Herbal Conference.  I have friends who studied with her at Blessed Main Herb Farm and I could see why.  As I traverse the wild terrain myself I could see correlations and the text intermingles with a great materia medica, recipes and the cycle of the year.

Deranged by Nora Jamieson   This is a book of three short stories that delve into spirit and human experience and understanding.  I know Nora and some things felt familiar and at the same time I felt the baring of her soul.  Her writing is raw and thought provoking.


Free to A Good Home by Anne Kelleher   I have been friends with Annie for years.  She is an amazing story teller.  A skill I lack - I get to the bones of a tale and can never really flesh it out.  My hubby and his family have this skill as well.  For Annie it translates into her writing.  This book is a collection of her short stories.  They make you pause and think.  And though they are not horror stories the truths they impart are frightening.  Mostly because you can envision these stories becoming reality.  Shameless plug: If you are local stop by my studio for a signed copy.

I'm currently reading my last Christmas gift My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem and The Anatomy of Arousal  by Sheri Winston. This last one I purchased at my daughter's suggestion.  When we were at the Women's Herbal Conference she took Sheri's workshop and enjoyed it so much that she dragged me to her booth to buy her book.  It is the sex book that everyone should read for fantastic orgasms.


Friday, January 1, 2016

#Happy New Year

I don't celebrate the dawning of a new year with parties and such.  I did for a brief period of time back in my twenties.  Staying up until midnight holds little appeal.  The new day will dawn if I am there to witness it or not.  I am much more a wee hours of the morning person.  I get up before the sun and enjoy those quiet moments of solitude.
My new datebook is on my desk, a new calendar is hung on the fridge to coordinate all family appointments, a new calendar is hung in my studio to help keep me on track and date my batches.  I reflect because I must - prepping taxes and such both for myself and my clients in my job as an accountant.  I reflected a month ago as we prepared to give thanks in a more formal way and I wrote my annual holiday letter.
Welcome to the possibilities 

This past year has been one wild trip.  Our family has grown by two grandchildren, my business has expanded from house to studio and my annual holiday letter could not be copied and pasted from the prior year.  It was full of new travels, struggles, growing pains and birthing in all its forms.  It was full of joys and successes and much gratitude.
Luana Rose


Charles Warren











I do not make new year resolutions.  I do set goals, steps to attain my hopes and dreams and this I do on a regular basis.  Each day I reflect on where I have been and where I want to go and adjust or stay the course.  And each day I give thanks - thanks for a new day, the new lesson, the struggle, the triumph, the love and friendship I have in my life.  I am grateful for all the relationships I have forged in cyber space and physical space.
May you celebrate each day like it is the dawning of a New Year!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#Holiday Schedule

I have so many things on my plate right now and I love it.  I always function better with almost too much to do.  No time for procrastinating and a great time to gain some focus. My ability to multi task with the best of them has diminished but..... my ability to focus on one thing at a time and do it well has increased.  And I make sure to schedule plenty of fun, enjoyable activities as well.
It's a busy time of year for many with family, feasts, parties, shopping and celebrations.  I worked retail for many years and I would do my best to avoid the crowds and rush completing many tasks and chores very early in the season.  I would then spend the rest of the year enjoying this time and feeling bad for all those around me freaking out.  It gave me the calm to be more present with my customers.
Now that I have my own business I want to bring that calm into the mix.  Comfy chairs and rockers by the giant windows with the sun streaming in, a pot of tea always at the ready and a dish of really indulgent chocolates to nibble are always waiting in my studio.  And I hope the fact that I just love - LOVE - love being there is felt by all who enter.  It is my play space.  I forget who said if you love what you do you don't work a day in your life. This is so true.  I can't wait to get there and create, experiment, share, teach and talk to folks wandering the historic building or coming to see me.
A soft place to land

I will be there every Sunday from now until Christmas.  Plus extra days and events.
Black Friday is get out in Nature Day and I'm planning to walk with the Winsted Rails to Trails Volunteers on their City Walk Tour.


Saturday, November 28 is Small Business Saturday and I will be open from 11 to 4 along with many others in the Mill including Tina's Baskets, Walk in the Woods, Air Borne Creations and RR Model and Hobby Shop.
My Whiting Mills Community

December 5 & 6 is open studios at the mill from 11:00am to 5pm. It's one of the most unique and interesting artist communities in Litchfield County.
You will enjoy over 50 artists, crafters and specialty shops featured at Whiting Mills, along with guest artists, live entertainment and free refreshments.
You will have a chance to win a t-shirt stating  "You have been through the mill."
Also Lippincot Van Lines will have a drop box for non-perishable food items, toys and clothing to benefit Fish, Inc. and Family Strides.

December 13, I will have all the ingredients to make your own milk bath.  Fill a pint size jar with your custom blend to keep or give away.  The first jar with recipes and instructions is $25.00 each additional jar is $7.00.

December 20, the studio is open from 11 to 4 for last minute shopping or a quiet spot to sit and relax.
And if you are to overwhelmed to leave the house you can find all my skin nourishing products on line.
I hope to see you at some point in the coming weeks.
Blessings, Kim




Sunday, November 8, 2015

#Peace and Love

November 4 is the blog blast for peace day.  I have participated for years.  I am usually good about writing my post ahead of time and just posting on the day.  This year I spaced prior to the day.  I am having a hard time keeping focused on more than one thing at a time.  I set down my crown as the Queen of multi tasking.  But, peace is important whether I blog on the correct day or not.

The theme this year is "Peace and the power of love."  Sounds simple at first.  But, as I dive deeper into my thoughts it occurs to me how over used the term love is.  We only have one word for love and it becomes a catch all for many types of feelings.  I love potatoes - never met one I didn't like, I love my handsome hubby, my children, my friends, plants, trees and learning among an entire array of things, but I don't love them in the same way.
Loving people is so much more complicated than being enamored with your favorite slice of pie. I don't have to think about enjoying the pie. Loving people is a choice.  Some days it comes easily, other days not so much.  I love my kids.  There is not much I wouldn't do for them but some days I don't like them very much.  When they are rebelling, mouthing off, making poor decisions (in my opinion), etc.  I love them anyway.  They can express themselves because they know no matter what I will love them.  It is their safety net.
Taking that a step further how do I love the stranger on the street, the annoying co-worker, the bully, the person who doesn't like me? And that I believe is the key to peace through the power of love.  Some days I am successful at it.  Other days I fall terribly short.  It's a choice.  Each day I wake up and say thank you.  I try to live from a place of gratitude.  I try to choose love and when I do that brings a sense of peace.  If I can bring joy to one person and that person brings joy to the next from one loving act, peace would spread like the ripple effects of a stone thrown into a calm lake.  What if we each chose love?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My love of #Aprons

My father-in-law recently sent me the following e-mail.  OK, I skipped printing the part that said to pass it on and a few other silly comments but, it really did bring me back and make me think about my aprons. 

"I don't think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few.
It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material.
But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love"

I don't remember my Grandma wearing an apron but I do remember my Auntie wearing hers (she still does) whenever she was in the kitchen.  And I can tell you like me it's a lot.  It protected her clothes and gave her a spot to wipe her hands.  I think her love of cooking landed right in my heart.

I have a few aprons of my own.  The first I made in Girl Scouts.  It was for our sewing badge -a reversible patchwork apron.  We learned basting, pinning, hand and machine sewing.  But most of all I learned I HATED sewing.  I will sew a button back on but other than that safety pins and duct tape work wonders.  Having someone take pity on me for using safety pins worked a few times as well.  But, my smartest move was to marry handsome hubby who loves to sew.  But, I digress.
My apron - sewing project 1970 something

The second apron I bought two decades ago.  I was in a cute little kitchen shop on Cape Cod with my boyfriend at the time.  It was beautiful - floral, heavy material and pockets.  It hung in my kitchen for years.  And then one day, many years later, I realized that maybe it would work better if I put it on.  That realization  came with having kids and making supper as soon as I came home from  work.  When I was single I could come home, change my clothes and putter before making dinner.  A little splash here, some grease there didn't matter to my comfy clothes.  But, it did to my work clothes.  This is the apron you will see me walking around my studio in.  It has served me well.  And I still think it's beautiful - even with a few stains and a small rip in it.  I love the pockets for stashing things in and the heavy material that nothing soaks through.
My blue floral apron

I also have two aprons at home that I use regularly when cooking.  One a present from my hubby - a little herby, witchy vibe and the other has a raven on it and says Ravenous.  As you can see they are well used.  And now that I have learned the appeal of my Auntie's apron I have to stop myself from collecting a few more.
 
My well used home aprons

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Whiting Mills #Historic Building



Whiting Mills - View from Holabird Ave. Parking Lot
      Winsted, settled in 1750, was formed at the junction of the Mad River and the Still River.  Winsted is part of the town of Winchester and derived it's name from the towns of Winchester and Barkhamsted when the congregational church moved from the hill to the valley forming the the First Congregational Church of Winsted.  The beautiful stone church is still located near the Winsted green.  Winsted is one of the first mill towns in Connecticut. 
      The Winsted Hosiery Company, founded in 1882, was a small manufacturer of men’s hosiery and occupied two red brick industrial buildings and a stone building on Whiting Street. The company later expanded its products and by 1936 became the largest hosiery manufacturer in Connecticut. The company’s red-brick industrial complex exemplifies the Italianate and Renaissance Revival design influences on manufacturing facilities around the turn of the century. The designers of the Winsted Hosiery buildings developed pragmatic solutions to the needs of a large manufacturing facility, maximizing natural lighting through open plans and continuous rows of windows. 
     On a tour of the building my childhood neighbor told me how her grandmother worked at the mill.  She would take home scraps of wool, dye them and braid them into rugs for her home.  
    In June of 2004, Whiting Mills, LLC was established when Jean Paul and Eva Blachere purchased the 135,000 sq ft complex. The historic Whiting Mills building was turned into artist studios. There are now more than fifty studio spaces occupied by herbalists, master artists, photographers, wood workers, cabinet makers, craftspeople and a railroad hobby store.   The majority of which are on the third and fourth floors.
Sign at entrance in back parking lot

    The Mill is set up a little quirky but that is the charm of it as well. The four floor building is built into the side of a hill and has a ground level entrance on each floor.  It can make it a little confusing for first time visitors.  If you enter from the main parking lot behind the building you are on the third floor.  These studios are numbered in the three hundreds.  The old freight elevator is located across from Tina's Baskets & Woven Art. If you take the stairs located next to this you will see a sign that says this way to the second floor.  Don't be confused - you are actually going to the fourth floor.  The studios her are numbered in the four and five hundreds.  That's right, the five hundred series of studios is on the fourth floor.  
Sign directing you to the stairs that lead to the 4th floor

     
Sign in stairwell pointing to the 4th floor
If you enter the building from the Holabird Avenue side of the building (the parking lot next to the firehouse) you can enter on three different floors.  Entrance 210B towards the bottom of the hill will bring you in at the second floor and the Northeast Farrier Supply.  You can take the stairs from here to the third and fourth floor.  Going up the hill entrance 210A is a small section of the third floor and hosts several artists.  There is no way to get to other parts of the building from here so to continue your tour you must exit the building and enter another way.  At the "top" of the hill you enter the five hundred series on the fourth floor.  The four hundred series of studios is just down the hall.

   I am located in studio 418. My large windows face the west and I receive tons of afternoon sun. I was told that people might have a hard time finding me around the corner in a hallway with two other artists but follow your nose.  The latest soap creation wafts through the halls and will lead the way.  
A view of my windows before moving in

My studio (418) with the windows in the background


Friday, October 9, 2015

Women Healers #Bookreview

     I am an herbalist. I am a bookaholic.  The two seem to go hand in hand.  I love to read.  A few novels here and there, biographies more so and books that I read with a highlighter in one hand the most.  I have a mini library in my house.  The books I save are mostly what I would call reference books.  A shelf filled with poetry and some of my favorite novels on another.  My herbal books are my prized books.  Many of them are signed.  This thrills me to no end.
     I am usually reading multiple books at once.  Put one down and digest the information while I start on another.  I actually do finish most of what I start.  It just may take a while.  This summer I finished multiple books.  Yeah me. One was Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History, and Geography of Herbal Medicine by Holly Bellebuono.
 
     The book is beautiful with lots of pictures.  It is an oversize coffee table book that you actually read. She introduces one type of healing modality at a time and then references women in this area of expertise.  Some are contemporary and she was able to interview them for the book.  Others are from the past - recent and ancient - and oh so relevant.  The book includes stories(histories, facts) about Hildegard von Bingen to Rosemary Gladstar, from Western herbal traditions to native nations, folk, shamanism and so much more.  She ends the book with recipes for basic herbal remedies.  I thoroughly loved the book.  I learned about my herbal heroes, I got to know some of my herbal sisters in a new light and I was introduced to women I hadn't heard of before.  There are many sidebars that explain the etymology of words, and go into detail about different herbs and places.  It is chock full of information.
     Holly taught at the New England Women's Herbal Conference this year.  She also had a booth in the emporium with her books and herbal treats.  And..... I was able to have my book signed.  Swoon!