Saturday, August 13, 2011

When Buying Organic

If you are anything like me growing up you used the classic products for cleaning, grooming and eating. In the 80's and 90's there was not a big concern over what chemicals were in your shampoo or whether your chickens were free range or not.

After experiencing some major health issues I started to investigate what I consumer with a much for cautious eye. I started to buy organic and expected to be able to use all of the products with the same abandon I had with the not so natural products.

Something to think about when buying a natural product though is that if you wouldn't be able to walk through a field of a particular flower with our scrunching up your eyes and shedding a tear then you are not going to be able to use a shampoo or laundry soap fragrances with the essential oils from that flower.

Synthetic fragrances cause a lot of problems and going with natural products is a much better sulution. Some of the natural products are made with exotic plants though that you may or may not be allergic to. I have found a line of fragrances free shampoos and cleaning products at places like Whole Foods that have been the perfect solution to this problem.

Buying organic just means you have to be much more aware of your bodies allergies because it is made with real ingredients that you may never have used before and your body may react differently to these natural plants and oils. Good luck on your quest to live a healthier existence and thanks for reading. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Oregon Coast

I realized I needed to describe my day at the beach in text. Sometimes I get so caught up in photography I forget to write. Photos are amazing but writing can sometimes make a pictures that is even better then the picture.

When Roger first said to me he could make the move to Oregon happen I spent hours browsing the internet for images of the Oregon coast. There are tons of pictures of Hay Stack Rock. I knew this was a must see. It was quickly added to my bucket list. Like many of the moments in this trip mentally stating that you will go see something just doesn't bring home the reality like the moment you turn the corner and see some spectacular site. This is how a lot of things are in my life. When I am working on a piece of art I never believe its going to happen or turn out as I envisioned untill it is done and I sometimes look down at it in disbelief that I was the person who just created it. That has how this whole move and now this ocean experience seemed to me. It seemed as if it was happening to me and I was doing nothing to propel the experience along. I think this is why people can go on vacation and then return to their homes is because they just think of these things existing in that brief moment and not as always being there. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to live here and miss these incredible sites fewer times. We literally doodled around till one p.m. today and at the last second went on a vacation that most people spend months planning.

To see the rock in real life is just breath taking. I just can't believe these things exsist. They have only existed on the scale of a television or computer screen for me. I sometimes think to my self that this amazing thing has been here being stunning my entire life and I had no idea. During one moment in my life when I was mundanely burshing my teeth in New Woodstock, New York the sun was setting at  Hay Stack Rock and a dark purple starfish was gently crawling down the side of a rock.

I was honest to god just impressed by the shattered sea shells and the sand that had been washed into a exotic fish scale pattern. The rocks were stunning but still far and not quite registering in my brain yet. We walked with bare feet on the warm but comfortable sand till we got to the part the waves had touched and this was much cooler. The water on the Pacific is biting to say the least. It is not easy to find a warm patch. These images alone could have rocked my world and sent me home with hundreds of words of text to share with you all. We drew closer and closer to the main attraction though and I started to see the tidal pools. I fighred I might see a itty bitty starfish like the ones you see at the pet store in the salt water tanks. I saw hundreds of people tompsing around and figured there would barley be anything to see here. I was completley wrong.

I spotted the small circles jutting out of sand surrounding the shallow rocks at the entrance of the tidal pools. I did not realize there were anemones let alone they were even alive! I soon came to a part of the pools where the water was deeper and the creatures were fully out and slowly moving independently of the current. They were composed of slight blushes and greens. They were visually the most exotic creatures I have ever seen. I have been to aquariums but there is no comparison. Some how being behind glass made the aquarium creatures just like T.V. creatures. Unreal and somehow not registering as a real wild creature. There were so many creatures in these pools. Tiny crabs scurried around, fish that blended into the sand perfectly it took me some time to spot them, all kinds of snails and clams. There were three colors of anemones there. The smaller blush colored ones, larger neon green and then I did spot one large white. The starfish came as a complete shock. We were walking around finally noticing the rocks after being totally ripped away from them by all the awesome creatures when Roger asked if that was a starfish. He did not think at first that it was alive. It was and soon we spotted tons of them. They were all tangled in with one another on the under sides of rocks and hidden blending perfectly with the rocks in the shallow pools. There were mostly dark purple starfish with an occasional bright orange mixed in. The Orange would be at the center of the group. I imagine they were different genders and perhaps mating. I am not sure though. When looking close their skin was not smooth but looked as if it was made of soft spongy textured skin. I have no idea if it is refereed to as skin. Their shape was highlighted by a lacy pattern of white nob like formations.

The jelly fish and the anemones both had jelly like qualities and the colors seemed to be something that could only be synthetic. It is quite amazing to see something in nature with the same color as my plastic high tops from the 80's. I always think people invent things but we just mimic it. Remember that the next time you pick up one of those rubber tentacle ball toys at Wal Mart. Some person was hanging out at the ocean and thought "oh hey, this would be cool as...."

We have two dogs. A Cairn Terrier named Ozzy and a Beagle named Daisy. They had a blast at the beach but were starting to get cold and very tired. We decided it was time to head back. As we left the beach and were walking down the touristy sidewalks I gently licked my lips. I tasted the ocean on my skin. What a fantastic taste it was. I felt so happy I was left with a small souvenir to remind me of the day. 

Incredable Things I Saw At Hay Stack Rock

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buffalo Musium

In Jamestown North Dakota there is an amazing site. The first thing I saw was the gigantic buffalo statue and then I saw them!

I have never seen a buffalo in real life before. We stopped into the historic pioneer village to see the Buffalo Museum made possible by White Cloud. I remember reading about the white buffalo in the paper a few years back. It was incredible to see and to just happen upon unplanned for that matter.

Buffalo are such powerful creatures and something quite miraculous happend. When we drove by the buffalo were near the highway so that I was able to spot them. Mind you they have over 200 acres to roam and are rarely spotted. When we drove up to the museum the buffalo came so close to the fence it was incredible.

There were many miraculous sites on this trip that I took to be signs but this one was one of the most powerful. The chances of that happening were slim to none. We literally only stopped in for a few minutes so it was absolutely a miracle.

I will never forget this moment and wanted to share it with you. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photos From Our Cross Country Move

The clouds just before tornados touched down in Dickinson North Dakota.

Forest Grove Farmer's Market

I checked out the Forest Grove Farmer’s Market today. It is cute. We were greeted by two young boys playing acoustic guitars to people sitting at small cafĂ© tables on the right and to the left was a very friendly man selling smoked salmon. Columbia River Smoked Salmon “Chief Salmon Snacks”. I tried some of his product. It was delicious. It was not what we had in mind for dinner but next week I plan on picking up a few fresh catches from him to cook on a cedar plank with lemon, salt and pepper.

As we moved down the line we saw so many fruits and vegetables. I picked up some fresh local grown peaches for some cobbler (made Southern style) no foo foo crisp here, some squashes, onions, garlic, honey and eggs.

My favorite squash is Patty Pan squash. I combined this with a smidge of salted butter, extra virgin olive oil, zucchini, summer squash, portabella mushrooms, onion, roasted red peppers, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and old bay. I am a east coaster by nature. Old bay should go on everything in my opinion. I steamed the veggies so they were soft with a little bit of crisp to them still then put them on a whole grain wrap with provolone cheese. Tomorrow I will use up more of the ingredients with zucchini and that peach cobbler I was talking about.

They guy who sold the honey thought I was silly when I asked for his most spicy honey but some honey is more spicy then others in my opinion. Mmmmm spicy honey!

I really enjoy getting out and seeing people from the area. I love at farmers markets there are always dogs, great smells and music. I plan on hitting the markets at Hillsboro witch is a little bigger and may have a bit more to offer. Supporting the local farmers is a great thing and everything tastes amazing.

These eggs are from My Little Sister's Farm

I ended my night with some cheep extra dry champagne and lemon juice. It reminds me of a whisky sour with bubbles. Yall take care and I hope to see you tomorrow.

A Wandering Soul

My shop is back up and running. I have to do some work on it. I will be adding certificates of authenticity to the luminaries. They take hours to make and are functional pieces of very unique art.

I really need to get some candle sales under my belt. For my readers you can enter the coupon code WANDER to get 10% off any of my candles. These are made with the finest materials I could find. I literally spent two months researching materials so that I could bring you eco friendly, sustainable and healthy candles. The scents that come in the green jars are the most eco thoughtful because the green jars are 100% recycled. I am also doing a free sample give away to bloggers so you can test it out and do a short write up on what you think of the candles.

Rock lamps will be coming back as soon as possible. I have to buy a brand new drill press because we were unable to transport the one from New York. Once I have the new press, new lamp parts, bits and have hiked to get the rocks I will have new looks for you all to browse from. This is all very exciting and I cant wait to get going. Thank you so much for your support!

Connie Bankus
A Wandering Soul
Team: Inspiring Origins

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tips On Running Your Own Small Business

A team mate from Etsy asked about how people make their small businesses work. I did this post and thought I would add it to my blog.

I have no other choices for work at the moment. About five years ago I got really sick. I was one year from graduation with a bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The pressure from school, a new marriage and trying to sell our house just broke me. It took me about 5 years to get to the point I am now where I am happy and healthy.

Art has been a massive outlet for me in getting better as well and finding something that makes me feel useful. Don’t get me wrong, my husband’s income is what pays the bills but I can do ok for my self when my business is in full swing. I thought I could put some ideas out there that you might like.

My mom ran a small shop selling consignment. In our small town that didn’t really pay the mortgage so she started doing classes. She did knitting and ceramics but teaching people a small craft like that really draws a crowed.

Other outlets really help your business bloom. About 85% of my sales come from word of mouth. Talking to every single person you meet and telling them about what you do and why they can’t live with out it works great. I have done most of my networking through the internet. I am a gamer and have found a lot of business through friends I have met there but for the non nerd there is blog networking, twitter and emailing people with WebPages about interests similar to yours. True story. A lady wrote this awesome article about how to make healthy candles. Through me emailing her with a question about them we developed a friendship and she bought three of my rock lamps.

Every time a friend says to me “Oh, I can’t hang out this weekend because I am going to my so - in -so’s birthday I say “Hey…. Need a gift?” People rarely plan for the event they are going to and will hop out to the mall to get some gift they put little thought into so if you get to them before they make that silly purchase you can grantee a sale and make them look like the hero for buying a hand made thoughtful gift. I always tell them the story behind the piece too and they repeat it to the person receiving the gift. It just makes it so much cooler.
Outside of the house displays of your work is great. I am not a huge fan of consignment but if you can find someone who will buy your work up front and put it in their shop that works great. I have done shows but have found never to mess around in small towns. Small towns tend to be filled with people who think because its hand made they could make it them selves even though they can’t and probably wont. I did best at shows in bigger areas with a little bit of cash.

Mixing in small ticket items with the big really helps. I have sold a lot of personal jewelry in the $15 - $20 range and then would sandwich them in with some bigger sales like lamps. My best bet is selling to a business that needs several of an item. I keep thinking your baskets would be amazing in a yarn shop. If you know anyone opening a yarn shop go forth and conquer!

I have started to do a give away to my friends with active blogs. I will be doing this more after I get unpacked from my move. My hope is they can try out my lil candle samples I made and rave about them so their friends will try them as well.

I was tossing this last idea around a little. I don’t know what the technical end of it would be but I thought it would be neat if hand made artists did little shows like Pampered Chef or Avon folks do. I mean think about it. Your friends could come in, sit down and order the real deal! My friends drop butt loads of cash on stuff made in China when they could get real rustic home decor from someone like you!

Well, thanks for reading my long winded list of ideas. I am not a raving success by any means but I still think they are awesome ideas and I have done or plan to do all of them my self. Good luck on your shop. I love your work and your blog.

- Connie
A Wandering Soul

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amazing Soaps Save The Day

The Green Bath has been a place I have stopped by to make purchases from several times. Eric Wood's soaps came in the most handy when we were on the road though.

These are some of my favorites. I knew hotel soap was not going to be great so I carefully packed some of his Orange Spice soap in my travel bag. I can't tell you what a welcome site it was after a 16 hour ride in the U-Haul.

I have given his lil sample soaps to people who came to visit us in Chicago just so they would have something organic and quality while traveling. These soaps are amazing and I just wanted to give a shout out to the shop.


Shout Out

I would like to give a shout out to Grand Brass who actually had heard of A Wandering Soul. Made my day.

They make the finest lamp parts I have ever seen and have a really unique assembly to them that makes them by far the highest quality easiest to assemble components I have ever seen. I have been using their parts for three years now and will always use them in my lamps. Way to go!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Best Ever

My husband got me the cutest little thing for our anniversary.

The Under Appreciated Table

We were looking around at all the antique stores for the perfect rustic table. I wanted the new place to feel like my grandmother’s house and boy did we pull that off with this table and chairs. My grandmother had a set of T-Back chairs like t his on a larger scale.

When we found this gem of a table at Le Stuff and they sold it to us for a great price because they felt it needed a little work. I totally disagreed. The character in the wood grain is stunning and the legs have a really unique way of folding in allowing the table to be easily moved. We were able to slide it into the mini with plenty of space on the sides.

We are only using two thirds of the table at the moment so that it fits nicely in our breakfast nook. We are also only using 2 of the chairs that I found at Heirloom Antiques to go with it and will pull the others out when we have guests. My great grandmother’s vase and cut flowers from the yard accent the table in just the right ways. I love this table and it will be cherished.