New piece for Garden Art Party this Saturday 4/25


You are invited to a Garden Art Party! 

If you find yourself in St. Petersburg, FL on 4/25 pop over to the Green Bench Brewing Co. between 7pm -11pm and enjoy some local art (& beer!)

Many Tampa Bay area artists in the show received a 16" square canvas board with instructions to create something inspired by nature: could be a plant, insect or other garden resident. Others have the same challenge, but are playing in 3D. 

I picked the humble bean. 

Caught this little fellow just as he was just waking up and having a good stretch. It is a mix of mediums: collaged papers, watercolors, acrylic, iridescent paint, colored pencil, pens and markers. And then finished with a UV resistant topcoat.

This project was a real pleasure. It seemed like a fun challenge... and it was! I think I'll have to make some more painted paper plants very soon. Many thanks to Blue Lucy & Green Bench Brewing for pulling this festive event together.


GoPure Naturals 100% Pure Peppermint Oil review + DIY for stinky sneakers

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

First, I love mint! I always have a few types growing in pots, the tea is perfect for upset tummies and hair rinses, and I make a spray with the leaves to keep ants out of  the house during the rainy season. So I was really looking forward  to playing around with  GoPURE naturals 100% Peppermint Oil. 

The product arrived securely packaged. The inner box contained a large 4 oz. bottle of Peppermint Oil and a tall glass/rubber dropper. With essential oils, a few drops goes a long way; this bottle should last me quite a while. GoPURE states that this is "100% Pure, Therapudic grade A cold-pressed peppermint essential oil. Ideal for treating a wide range of ailments and disorders, this peppermint oil is the purest oil available." Also that it contains "No harmful chemicals, No parabens, additives or artificial fragrances" and has a "90 day money back guarantee." Hey, you can't go wrong with that.

There are many different uses for peppermint oil, from cosmetics and fragrance to health and home. A drop or two added to a glass of water can ease a stomach ache or freshen bad breath. A quick sniff of few drops added to an oil warmer or cotton ball can open sinuses and even help headaches. I now carry a tiny vial in my purse for minor complaints and reach for it before taking over the counter medication for these basic problems. 

I  also added a few drops to my store bought hair conditioner. I love the wake-me-up scent and tingle. Plus here in hot and humid Florida, it leaves my scalp with a light cooling sensation which is much appreciated. If you give this a try, just give the conditioner a shake before each use. And do NOT get it into your eyes.  

This past weekend, I was spray painting and managed to zap my arm. When scrubbing with soap and water did not remove the paint, I reached for a cotton ball, a drop of  peppermint oil and a drop of vitamin E oil (what I happened to have on hand). This took the paint off easily, leaving a light tingle. I then washed with soap and water as usual.

Please note: Peppermint is very strong! If you are going to apply it to your skin, it is best to add it to a carrier oil (like coconut, almond, or even olive oil)  or lotion so that it doesn't tingle too much. Be sure to test on a small patch of skin first just in case it does irritate you. 

My son has sensitive skin, sweaty feet and VERY stinky sneakers. We decided to tackle these problems with peppermint oil. Last week's temps reached 90 degrees and the walk home from school was extra sweaty and sticky. First I made up a simple spray to cool his toasty toes. This is super easy and refreshing:

I filled a 2 oz. spray bottle with water and added 2 drops of peppermint oil. My kid gave it a shake and a spray. It wasn't quite tingly enough for his tastes, so I added 2 more drops. Success! He spritzed this all over his feet to cool them off. We popped a label on the sprayer and he stores in in the fridge for even more chill factor.

That was the easy part. Now for the smelly shoes.

Last summer we made up some deodorizing shoe powder using tea tree oil. Tea tree has anti-fungal / anti-bacterial properties which did the job, but it left a strong medicinal scent behind. I figured we would give it another try with the peppermint oil. All you need is:

Baking Soda
peppermint oil
measuring spoons
a container to store it in - I used a small baby powder shaker

Measure out 2 Tbl. each of the baking soda and cornstarch. A curled piece of paper makes an easy funnel.

Then add 3-4 drops of peppermint oil. (You can use more, but this should be strong enough and too much oil may make the powder too clumpy to easily shake out). Close the container. Give it a good shake and let it sit for a while.

Sprinkle a bit in the shoes and leave overnight. These were some stinky sneakers but, once again, a little peppermint went a long way.

The next day, the shoes had a faint scent of mint (& only mint- yay). The bottle is small enough to keep by the front door and the kid just adds a quick shake of powder into each sneaker when he gets home. Easy Peasey!

Want more uses for peppermint oil? GoPure Naturals has tips on their Facebook pagePinterest Fan? There are oodles of ideas and projects there.  

You can also find out more about all kinds of essential oils and other natural products at the goPURE Naturals website.

Looking to pick up some 100% Pure Peppermint Oil? Here is a link to this item on Amazon.

Also, be sure to pop back next week. The kiddo and I are going to try our hand at soap making using essential oils. We will share our results... and an easy to follow DIY if we are successful.


Book review: With Malice Toward One, a historical graphic novel for kids

Disclaimer:  I received a free download of  Mike Person's graphic novel With Malice Toward One in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my son's and my own.

Last Tuesday was the 150th anniversary of  the assassination of President Lincoln. I was talking to my 5th grader about this event and found that he only knew the very basics: that the president was shot while at the theater by the actor John Wilkes Booth. 

I hope my son's upcoming middle school program will at some point focus more intently on American history. In the meantime, I gave him  my online copy of Mike Person's With Malice Toward One. At first, he wasn't too happy with me ("Ugh. Now my Mom is giving me homework!"), until I showed him the front and back of the book. The cover didn't really do anything for me, but he thought the red devil looked "cool". He also liked the dramatic text on the back page, especially the last sentence, and told me "This might not be so bad."

While this book says it is a graphic novel, it is more than that. The layout is a bit different. The story starts as text but then every other page is an abbreviated illustrated recap. This seems like an effective way to draw in both early readers and those who are interested in more details. 

My son loves to read, both regular books and manga (Japanese comics). He thought WMTO was a great mix of comics and text. The illustration side caught his attention and "kept things moving" while the text pages "went deeper into the story and made it better." He wondered why most school books didn't use this approach and said it would be really helpful in the classroom. Since kids in his class read at different paces, he said the style would appeal to those who like to read as well as those who don't. He also felt that some students who might get bored with just a textbook would be more likely to keep reading because the colorful pictures make it easier to imagine what is going on. 

We were both impressed with how much information is shared in  WMTO. I was familiar with the details from books I'd read years ago (as an adult, not in school) but enjoyed refreshing my memory. We had a great time discussing the book. We both agreed that this would be good source for schools to teach from; I thought it best for students from 5th - 7th grade. He suggested 4th - 9th, and again wondered why his school didn't have more books like this and why they haven't yet taught more about the assassination of President Lincoln. We both also hope that the author has more historical graphic novels in the works, My son's suggested topics include Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and anything about the American Civil War or American Revolutionary War (Right now he is reading Sophia's War by Avi and had to draw a few chapters of it in comic book form for a class assignment.)

I would definitely recommend this book to teachers as well as parents who homeschool and are looking for a book that would interests a range of ages. I would also suggest it to kids who want to know more about American history, as well as adults who are looking to have  an engaging conversation their children.

With Malice Toward One is available in paperback from several online retailers. Click here to find it on Amazon. 


Greenfest 2015

Last month we enjoyed one of my favorite annual events, Greenfest at Plant Park. The day was jump started with a cup of Tebella's Lavender Fog at the always photogenic Oxford Exchange.

The weather was perfect, dropping 20 degrees from the high 80s into cozy springtime temps. 

Perfect for jump starting oodles of blooms and gardeners' dreams.

All kinds of vendors filled the park with their pretties. In addition to the gorgeous plants, there were local food, spice and garden decor booths. 

It was really, really hard to not bring everything home.

We ended up with a 5 foot macadamia tree, a couple of passion vines, some kind of blue flowered climber (will have to look that one up), plus grape tomatoes and oodles of herbs. We also replenished our stash of spices from VSpicery (The kid just loves their hot blends).

If you find yourself in Tampa, FL next March, mark your calendar. It is always a fun weekend, even if you are not a plant-junkie!

And if you want to see a few more pics, pop over to my Instagram and scroll back to March 28 & 29.


True Synergy - Pure and Potent Turmeric, Curcumin Extract Review

Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of True Synergy Turmeric Dietary Supplement in  exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

This is a bit different than my usual review. Instead of sharing events, creative tools or printing products, I am getting a little closer to home today. Like anybody, I have some health issues. Some days they slow me down or distract me more than I like. One thing I've come to understand is that many of my troubles (osteoarthritis, headaches, allergies, etc) have one thing in common: inflammation. 

I've tried a variety of OTC and prescription meds, corticosteroid shots, all sorts of things. Some did nothing, some had lousy side effects, and others helped for a while. I've also learned to avoid foods, environments or activities that seem to make things worse. The last couple of years I've also been checking out different herbs, teas, minerals, and other supplements to find which ones help with pain and swelling. 

There has been  a lot of talk online about turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties. Curious, I started adding this spice to my cooking. Some people don't care for the taste, but I really like it. (It is great in scrambled eggs!) I've also read that curcumin is turmeric's key to reducing inflammation, so when True Synergy offered me a chance to try their turmeric capsules with 95% curcuminoids it sounded interesting.

Turmeric/ Curcumin are supposed to help with more than just inflammation. Here is some info from True Synergy:

Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own, then stimulates the body's own antioxidant enzymes
• Powerful Antioxidant
• Potent Anti-Inflammation Response
• Promotes Cellular Homeostasis & Health
• Blocks the formation of beta-amyloid the substance responsible for the plaques that obstruct cerebral function found in diseases like Alzheimer's
• 6 different COX-2 inhibitors the compounds the create inflammation in arthritis sufferers
• Supports Joint, Heart & Brain Health
• Benefits Radiant Skin & Hair
Support Your Body with this all natural Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant Miracle spice. Helps relieve pain and inflammation in the body safely & naturally. 

I've been taking these easy to swallow caps every day for about a month. While I started this to help with arthritis, I have found that my skin is much softer and clearer than usual. I've also received a few random compliments on both my skin and hair lately. Hmmm...

I'm not really sure if the capsules are helping with swelling, as my troubles come and go. Thinking about it now, I have been using less Claratin D and have had less wrist/finger joint pain. However that could be due to other things as well. 

I have been reading about how black pepper helps the body make better use of the curcumin, so I think I'll continue with these supplements another month and maybe add some pepper into the mix. (Have read a bit more about it first).  

Interesting in checking this turmeric supplement out for yourself? I found it at Amazon here. (By the way, this is not an affiliate link.)

Have you experimented with "alternative" medicines? I'd love to hear about what has worked (or not) for you.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear. Please, let me know what you think of this type of post. Do you mainly pop by here for the photos, art-stuff, and occasional DIYs? What else would you like to read about on this blog? Thanks in advance for any feedback. I'll be back tomorrow with some fun pics from the past month. And be sure to pop back soon for the new random drawing prize announcement!

**Update 6/30/2015**

I'm still taking these capsules, as they seem to help with some of my joint pain & inflammation. I have also added turmeric spice to my diet. There have been a couple of days/weeks when I stopped taking it (1st as a test & then when I had a stomach bug). Both times there was an increase in joint pain/swelling. When I resumed the turmeric, after a few days there was less swelling and inflammation. I have also noticed a huge decrease in menstrual cramps and think this may be due to the turmeric/Curcumin. I am not a medical professional, but adding this supplement and the turmeric spice daily has definitely improved my arthritis symptoms.


Long time, No see

Hey there. How have you been? 

Been busy with life-stuff here, but I'm back at last. Lots to share over the next couple of weeks: a few reviews, new art purchases, at least one DIY and work in progress... plus some other bits of random.

Here's a peek at what I've been filling the extra hours with lately:



Listening to

& blooming


succulent pups


For more pics pop over to https://instagram.com/artsnark

Oh! And, best of all, the monarchs are back! I just love the gold band on their cocoons. It is like a glimmer of the drama that is about to unfold.

So, what have you been up to? Are you still hibernating or are your thoughts turning to spring & dreams filled with summer breezes?