8/2/15

TOO DARN HOT SALE! Everything 1/2 OFF


1/2 PRICE SALE Missing You & 16" x 20" mat, lonely girl embellished print of original art
Missing You - signed print with 12" x 20" mat

It seems like ages since there's been a sale in my online shop, Artsnark.etsy.com - Time to do something about that!

1/2 PRICE SALE ACEO - Ships Free - Greek Mythology digital art - Pyrrha plus 5 x 7 mat
Pyrrha - Digital art ACEO print with 5" x 7" mat

Everything in the shop is 50% OFF through August 22nd. 

1/2 PRICE SALE ACEO Red's winter walk - Red riding hood, wolf & snow print of original art
Red's Winter Walk - ACEO with 5" x 7" mat

This includes originals, prints, ACEOS, photos, paintings, drawings, digital art ... you name it. 

1/2 PRICE SALE Original framed drawing - Blue dryad portrait, ready to hang ACEO
Blue Dryad - Original Drawing, framed & ready to hang

Many pieces are already matted. Some are framed and ready to hang! You will find details in each item's description. Feel free to contact me with any questions. 

1/2 PRICE SALE Red's Dream - girl resting on skull - digital art in 11" x 14" mat
Red's Dream - Digital Art print with 11" x 14" mat

8/1/15

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash - book review



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

While a  fan of the supernatural, I've always been more of a monster kind of gal - not so much into the witchy- thing... until recently. Last spring I finally got around to watching Season 1 of Salem while playing with a few enchantress canvases and went off on a full blown sorceress-binge. Several books and movies later I came across Michael Phillip Cash's short novel, Witches Protection Program. I loved the silly title with its Mike Hammer meets Men In Black kind of vibe. The promo summary had a fun feel too:

"Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he's reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program. His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar Cosmetics company’s diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself. Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time, Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City."

And the youtube trailer has cheesy-beach-read all over it, just right for a sleepy sunburned(out) brain:



I really wanted to like this book but just couldn't get into it, even with tongue firmly placed in cheek. While a quick read, it never quite grabbed me. I'd pick up a few pages, only to set it aside with every little distraction. The author's writing style, dialog and characters remind me of the hard boiled detective stories and pulp magazines I enjoyed as a kid. However the cliche's, at first amusing, became tiresome and I lost interest half way though. I think this book is good for a certain type of reader, maybe just not me. 

My copy of WPP came with some fun witchy swag, immediately claimed by the kiddo.


Witches Protection Program seems well suited for a quick interlude, say a plane ride or bout of insomnia.  My husband took it on a trip before I finished, so I purchased the audiobook version of WPP on Audible.com to finish. Dan McGowan's stilted narration is well suited to the pulpy prose style and I found the story made excellent background entertainment. It didn't have enough to hold my full attention, but was amusing enough to entertain me while doing chores. While I will not be seeking out any of the author's other books, I 'd still give Witches Protection Program 3 stars (out of 5) as it seems a good example of its genre.

7/30/15

Mail Call



Fun stuff in the mail today! 
I sense a couple of DIY blog posts in the near future.... 

7/24/15

DIY Candy People from LEGO Inspired Minifigure Ice Cube Molds + product review #CornucopiaBrands


Chocolate... Vanilla... Minifigures!
Yes, Yes and Yes!

When the opportunity to check out Cornucopia Brands Lego-inspired minifigure ice cube mold popped up my first thought was ..... Caaaandy! (Insert sing-song voice here.) Disclaimer: I received 2 of these silicon ice cube trays for free in exchange for an honest  & unbiased review.  All opinions expressed here are my own. 


Here the molds are washed, dried and ready to rock and roll. At this point I was still more excited than my Lego-loving kid. (Caaaandy!)


We tried them first as ice cube trays. Due to the small size they froze up quickly and but also melted quickly and were a little bit anticlimactic. (Caaaandy!I think they would have been more impressive I'd either made them out of, or put them into, a brightly colored liquid like Kool-aid or juice. 


But wait! Did someone say CAAAANDY?

First we warmed up some Wilton Vanilla Colorburst Candy Melts. You can melt these on the stove or microwave using the directions on the melts' package. I used my Wilton chocolate melting pot. This is one of my favorite kitchen toys; it always gives a super fast/never fail melting experience. 


Piping the liquefied candy would have made less mess, but fast and sloppy worked too. When pouring melted candy wafers (and chocolate) bubbles tend to form. As soon as you've added the melted candy to the mold, drag a toothpick through the smaller bits to make sure it goes in those hard to reach spots. Also, tap the mold a few times on the counter and other bubbles will rise to the top. Add more candy if needed. You will want the back as level as possible, since you will need to trim off the overflow; see figure above. 

The filled trays went into the refrigerator about 10 minutes, until the candy hardened again (and I cleaned up my mess). The flexible trays made it very easy to pop the little men from the molds. In the photo below you can see gaps where bubbles were (I forgot to tap the first tray on the counter to release them). If needed, you can fill these holes by adding a dot of melted candy and smoothing over. 


Here I'm playing with some edible ink markers to make my minifig look more Lego-like. I wish I had known about these molds and markers when my son was younger - these little guys would have been a big hit on top of classroom and birthday cupcakes once upon a time.

A Touch of Sea Salt EXCELLENCE Bar

Now onto the really good stuff! 1 1/2 bars of Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate were broken into the freshly cleaned melting pot. A few minutes melting and occasional stirring and we were ready to go.


The minifigure molds were again filled and refrigerated. The chocolate takes a few more minutes to set up than the melts, and it is a bit softer to work with. The little guys then popped right out.


 And devoured soon after.


The next day, there are only a handful of these left and the family is already asking for more. My son said "This chocolate is good, but I can't believe how much better it tastes shaped like a Lego man!" before decapitating the minifig in his hand. 

I've pinned some colorful candy recipes to try soon, including some for hard candy (without corn syrup) & minifigure gummies. (Once again) if my son was younger, I would also have made some crayon figures too.

I would definitely recommend these flexible molds to anyone who enjoys an easy DIY project. They are super easy to work with and clean. And whatever you make will make your Lego fan smile.

You can find these silicon molds on Amazon.com. You can also find out more about Cornucopia Brands and their product catalog on their website.

7/17/15

Sleep Sublime Eye Mask by Smarter Rest - Product Review


Good Morning!

I am a night owl... and a light sleeper. Unfortunately, mornings do not seem to care. Even if I've only fallen asleep a couple of hours before, the slivers of sunlight creeping from behind the curtains (or the vague blue glow from my husband's phone) often wake me up. I've had a "just in case" eye mask by the bed for years. I've worn through several types, so when the chance to test out Smarter Rest's eye mask came up it seemed like a good fit.

Disclaimer:  I received this Sleep Sublime Eye Mask from Smarter Rest at a discount in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.


The mask comes with a satin-like pouch and built in holster for earplugs, making it super easy to pack. It also comes with some "memory foam" yellow earplugs. These were a bit too large for me. They do compress, but I found them too stiff to be comfortable. I do use earplugs for sleeping (snoring husband) but have a smaller size that I prefer. My smaller ones also fit in the little loops, so I do not forget to pack them while traveling.


The inside of the mask is soft, with some extra lightweight material around the nose to keep out the dreaded streak of sunlight that sneaks under many eye masks. This did make the fit a little bit bulky but it does keep things dark. See the fit in Smarter Rest's stock photo below:


I don't wear an eye mask all night, preferring to slip it on only if necessary. This one has an adjustable strap with plenty of play for sizing. Wide enough to prevent slipping, it also has a velcro closure which is easily modified for a comfortable fit. I like to leave enough play to slip it over my head. That way it slides on just as easily when needed and my sleepy neurons aren't firing in the wee hours.

I'd give this eye mask 4 out of 5 stars. While a little bulky and the earplugs don't fit my smallish ears, I love the overall comfort and flexibility.  And it does keep the light out. If you are in the market for this sort of thing, I'd say check it out. It has a 120 day money back guarantee if you don't like it.

For more info, visit the Smarter Rest Website or check them out on Amazon.

------------

Final Note: If you are wondering "Where the heck is the art?" or "What's with all of the reviews?" don't worry! There really is post variety in the near future. I got a little too excited about signing up for product reviews and overextended myself a wee bit, kind of like when you put too many library books on hold in the same sitting... and next thing you know they all come in at the same time and there is no way you can read them all in 2 weeks. Or maybe I'm the only one who does that? Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing a book review (the one in the top photo), a DIY for Lego man candies and a few other products. But there will also be random doodles, "call to artists" info, and a new Thursday Giveaway prize. Phew. Lots going on - Hope to see you here.

7/16/15

LaLune Naturals 100% pure Lemon Oil refreshing DIYs + Product review


Disclaimer:  I received a free bottle of  LaLune 100% Pure Lemon Oil in exchange for an honest  & unbiased review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Lavender, rosemary, peppermint... these have been the staple essential oils around my house for years. Lavender to freshen up linens and rooms, rosemary rubbed into temples for headaches, and peppermint for indigestion. Lemon is now added to the mix and has quickly become one of my go-to essential oils. 

About a year ago I discovered the vast world of essential oil DIYS (Thank you, Pinterest!) and have been having a great time testing new home and bath/body projects. Throughout this post you will find purple links to the original recipes that I found most helpful or intriguing. Just click on through and they will open in a new window. 


I love lemon! When my LaLune Naturals 100% Pure Lemon Oil arrived, I couldn't wait to use it. Right after opening the package, I whipped up a 1/3 batch of EveryDayRoots.com's Olive Oil and Lemon furniture polish, basically 1/2 c. olive oil with a few drops of lemon oil mixed in. I dabbed a bit onto a soft cloth and rubbed it over half of my dining room table. In the photo above you can see the difference on either side of the bottle. I have since made this polish using coconut oil, also with excellent results  - smells great too! 


The kind folks at LaLune Naturals sent me a large 4 oz bottle. The dark bottle keeps light from deteriorating the oil and a handy glass dropper is included for easy measuring. You only need a little bit at a time so this will last me a while.  Lemon essential oil has a clean refreshing scent, not bitter at all. It mixes well with a large variety of other aromas, which increases the number of uses for this particular fragrance. A few things I have done with it include:

Cleaning the microwave. Fill a microwave safe bowl part way with water. Add a couple of drops of lemon oil. Microwave on high for a few minutes until you get a good steam going on. Turn the micro off but do not open the door. Let the interior steam for a few minutes (more if a nasty job). Then carefully remove the bowl and wipe out the microwave with a damp cloth. The mess comes right off and smells good. *The leftover lemon water can be drizzled around your doorway or garden. It is supposed to help deter some bugs and spiders. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable pouring it down your sink, it will freshen up your drain and garbage disposal. *

Brighten up a room by adding a few drops to an electric oil warmer. I like mix it with rosemary oil for a pick me up, or a dash of vanilla extract for a yummy cozy smell. I also fell in love with the lavender/lemon combo for an all around clean scent... so much so that I:

Add a dash or two of lemon and lavender oils to my vacuum cleaner bag every time I install a new one. A quick pass with the vac and the house smells waaay cleaner than it really is. 

Always have a spray bottle of homemade air freshener in the wings for zapping the air or linens. I had been using lavender oil in this recipe from BackToHerRoots.com for months but found that I preferred the scent with much less vodka (or rubbing alcohol) and more water, so I've tweaked it. I also now add a couple of drops of lemon oil, just enough to add the clean scent but not overpower the lavender. It smells wonderful and lacks the unpronounceable chemicals found in most commercial air fresheners. I have also splashed some of this into the washing machine when I'm running a particularly funky load. 

You can find more air freshener recipes at ThePrarieHomestead.com. Many include lemon oil. You can also swap out any citrus oils in the other recipes with lemon if you love the scent as much as I do.


Florida summer's can be wilting and lemon is such a revitalizing fragrance. A couple of drops added to Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo has been a sweet eye opener in the mornings. Be sure to give the bottle a quick shake before each use to remix and don't get it in your eyes. As with any essential oil, before slathering yourself in your latest DIY potions, it is a good idea to first test a drop (diluted with a neutral oil) on your skin to make sure that you will not have a negative reaction. 

The other day was hot and dragging. And so was I. Seeking a pick-me-up, I  made a body spray based upon the peppermint mist created back in April for my son's hot feet (still his fave, by the way). Starting with the same 2 oz of water and 2-3 drops of peppermint oil, I then added a drop of lemon oil and 2 drops of argan oil. A good shake and spritz and I was feeling (and smelling) a whole lot fresher. 

*The argan oil is optional. I have very dry skin, even in high humidity and it adds a non greasy, quickly absorbed yet moisturizing layer. You could easily leave out the argan oil. This is a super flexible "recipe". Add more lemon oil or even swap out the peppermint for another favorite flavor ... hmm... maybe add something that keeps mosquitos at bay. I will have to look into that. You could also do like my son and store your spritz mix in the refrigerator for extra cooling action. Just remember to give a it shake before spraying.*




LaLune Naturals has some wonderful free ebooks on their website with lots essential oil DIY projects for your home and body.  Some even use ingredients commonly found in the home, like vinegar. Click here to check them out and get inspired.

I am looking forward to playing with more potion and lotion DIYS using this lovely lemon oil and will be sure to share them on the blog. Totaally excited to try some crafts from HumbleBeeAndMe, including the Lemon Meringue Whipped Soap and Lemon Eucalyptus Toilet Bombs. Yes, I'm excited to make toilet bombs. Sounds scary but apparently smells nice. 

Looking for more info on LaLune Naturals oils? Visit




What are your favorite uses for lemon essential oil? 
Any successful experiments or projects you've pinned?
Please share. I'm always looking for something new to try.

7/14/15

Happy Birthday, Gustav Klimt!

For the birthday of one my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt, let's revisit this post from his 150th birthday a few years ago:

Gustav Klimt in Blue Smock by Egon Schiele (private collection)

Have you ever walked into an art exhibition and everything just falls into place? Your world shifts, your jaw drops and time really does stand still, if just for a moment .. and there just aren't enough cliche's to cover it..


Judith by Gustav Klimt

This happened to me years ago in Rome - we were driving around late, taking funky night photos and stumbled upon a show of the collected works Gustav Klimt. And, well, my brains just fell out.

Avenue of Schloss Kamer Park by Gustav Klimt
I didn't "discover" this artist's work until later in life.  In my teens I was put off by the ubiquitous  poster of "The Kiss" in every 3rd (lovesick) girl's dorm room. To be fair this was during my Tom Savini / Jackson Pollock phase.


Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt 

At the time of the Italy trip I was working in antiques restoration and had been learning about the  furniture & decorative pieces of Josef Hoffmann. I'd come across some prints of Klimt's paintings while reading about the Vienna Secession (the " golden age" of arts & crafts in Vienna from 1895 - 1920). While I admired their decorative quality and noted how well the frames complimented the works (they were often designed by Gustav & made by his brother Georg), I was unprepared for the impression original paintings would have on me. (Do you find that certain artist's works are remarkably different, more powerful "live"? The energy just doesn't quite come through in even well reproduce prints? Klimt is definitely in this category)

passport of Gustav Klimt from Klimt.com

Now I am a big-ole Klimt fangirl! Over the years, I have had the good fortune to stumble upon  several Klimt shows. One of these days I will get to Vienna.

If you are looking for some glamour and awe you can find this artist's work in museums around the globe. One of my favorite spaces is the the wonder-filled Neue Gallerie in NYC, which houses the glowing Portrait of Adele Block Bauer among others.
If you are in Vienna this is a great resource  for finding his pieces.


Fish Blood by Gustav Klimt

Right now The Getty in L.A. is featuring a number of his drawings.
Artcyclopedia has a pretty good list of where to visit Klimpt paintings worldwide.

Some fun online sources include:

http://www.klimt.com 
http://www.iklimt.com/
http://www.abcgallery.com/K/klimt/klimt.html - this one has a list of paintings & where to find them.
Also, click on any photo captions in this post that are highlighted & they will take you to the museum that houses them.


The Bride (unfinished) by Gustav Klimt (private collection)
Oh, I really could go on and on .... about Klimt's love for women (he drew many of them naked before painting their clothes).


Goldfish (to my critics) by Gustav Klimt
... about his irritation with the old-school and the famous "kiss my ass" Goldfish painting

Portrait of Emilie Flöge by Gustav Klimt

... or his life-long relationship with Emilie Floge and the silly "did they or didn't they..." discussions

Malcesine on Lake Garda by Gustav Klimt (destroyed or lost 1945)
... or wonder aloud will any more of "the lost paintings" ever be found....

... and the list goes on... so I'm just going to wave goodnight to anyone still listening and raise a glass to this brilliant creative artist in honor of his birth 150 years ago today.


Gustav Klimt by Madam d'Ora 
Happy Birthday, Mr. Klimt!

(July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918)

Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist which alone is significant - they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognise what I am and what I want. - Gustav Klimt