It’s a Giveaway!

giveaway graphic 10-2015One of my favorite holidays is just around the corner, and, to celebrate, I’ve put together a giveaway!  This will end at midnight on Halloween, and one winner (picked at random from the comments below) will get these treats:

  • a PLANT WEEDS: THE “S” MAKES IT LEGAL t-shirt.  It’s a unisex size XL in a nice dark chocolate brown.
  • a copy of Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide
  • three travel-sized spray bottles of Urban Moonshine bitters (one each of their maple, original, and chamomile bitters)

I’m pretty excited about this little package:

UM spraysUrban Moonshine bitters – in addition to being delicious – are ideal to have around during the approaching holiday season.  You can read here all about how bitters help curb sugar cravings, balance the appetite, soothe gas and bloating, and relieve upset stomach.  There are always more sweets around than usual through November and December and – whether I want to pass on having an extra cookie at work or alleviate the effects of indulging at a family party – I find it’s a huge help to have bitters close to hand.  These little spray bottles are convenient and also just fun.  Urban Moonshine’s maple bitters are a delicious choice for the bitters newbie (or anyone who’s mad about maple).  Their original bitters are yummy and complex, and the chamomile bitters are beautifully aromatic and soothing.  I’m a big fan of dandelions (as you can tell from the seed featured on the “Plant Weeds” t-shirts), and all three of these contain organic dandelion root and leaf.

RG Med HerbsRosemary Gladstar‘s Medicinal Herbs is a perfect introduction to herbalism for the beginner, but also has tons of material and recipes for more experienced herbalists.  This is the book I like to keep on hand to give to people who you can tell really want to try herbalism but just haven’t taken that first step yet.  The photography is gorgeous and – like most, probably all, of Storey Publishing‘s books – the design and layout are inviting and easy to use.  Rosemary’s style of writing is personable and rich, and her instructions are accessible and practical.  This book features sections on 33 easy to obtain plants, including culinary herbs like basil and turmeric as well as wild and weedy species like dandelion and plantain.  There are plenty of recipes in this book for enjoying during winter months, but it’ll also have you planning your garden and forays into foraging come spring.  You might even decide to set aside some space in your garden for weeds!

Image-2The PLANT WEEDS – THE “S” MAKES IT LEGAL shirt is my own design, and is locally printed by Amalgamated Culture Works.  It’s made of super soft organic cotton.  You can read more about these t-shirts here, and if you can’t wait until November to find out if you’ve won, you can order one here.

How can you enter to win these goodies?  I’m glad you asked!  You can enter up to four times.  When you log in to leave a comment, make sure to enter a correct and valid email address, so I’ll be able to get in touch with you.  Leave a comment for each individual entry:

  1. What’s one of your favorite weeds?  Do you harvest it?  Have you planted it?  Tell me in the comments of this post.
  2. Visit a Vaguely Bohemian shop.  Poke around a little.  Come back and – in a comment on this post – tell me what’s most important to you about these shirts (that they’re organic? that they’re printed locally?) or something you’d like to see (e.g. a different color or fabric).
  3. Follow Vaguely Bohemian via your method of choice, e.g. email (sign up in the righthand sidebar, under “Stay in the Know”) or  twitter (@vaguelybohemian).  Comment and tell me you’ve done this.  Are you already following Vaguely Bohemian?  Comment and tell me so.
    PLEASE NOTE:  You can also find Vaguely Bohemian on Facebook, but following on Facebook is excluded from this method of entry, due to Facebook’s terms.
  4. Share this giveaway, or a Vaguely Bohemian shop, via your method of choice.  This might be word of mouth, on your own blog, on twitter, etc.  Comment on this post and tell me you’ve done this.
    PLEASE NOTE:  Sharing on Facebook is excluded from this method of entry, due to Facebook’s terms.

Good luck!  The entry period ends at midnight EST on 10/31/15, and the winner will be drawn on 11/1.

Giveaway ends 10/31/15 at midnight EST. Open to residents of the US only.  (Shipping address must be in the US.)   Winner will be selected randomly and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Vaguely Bohemian will send the prize to the  winner directly. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. This giveaway is administered by Vaguely Bohemian only, and Facebook and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway.  If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!


Marking the Darkest Days

Hans Gude--Vinterettermiddag--1847Here in the northern hemisphere, we are closing in on the darkest day of the year.  In my neck of the woods, the cold gray months are only beginning, and may last through April – but on the 21st, the sun will start returning to us (or, more objectively, we will start returning to the sun).

There are all sorts of mythological renditions of the sun’s yearly return.  I admit my favorite is Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, a book I adore and a film I watch every year.  This story of deities adjusting to a changing world, of the importance of believing in things (like justice and perhaps Santa Claus) that exist only if we believe in them, is my favorite Christmas story.

And what of “the” Christmas story?  The story I grew up with?  Despite that I no longer practice Christianity, I still love this, too.  It strikes me as the most hopeful, joyous story of the New Testament.  The moment of birth is one of sheer potential.  The image that speaks most emphatically to me is the simplest: A star in the darkness.  Light that shows us hope.  Light that shines at the start of (a) life.

For me now, this holiday is about light in the darkness, about hope in the face of winter’s long dark days, and the potential of the new year and the returning sun.  At or near the solstice, we bring light and brightness and greens into our home.  At the darkest time of year, we stage a holiday full of jollity and firelight and promise.  We shake our fist at the long black night – not to provoke it or exert any influence whatsoever over the night itself, which was here long before we came onto the scene – but to show that we are still alive and hale and whole, though the snow is deep and the sunlight scarce.  We gather together and feast and exchange gifts to show that we have put enough by and will share our goods and sustain each other while the plants that nourish us are resting as seed and roots.  We bring greenery into our homes to remind ourselves of the scent of the forest and the sight of leaves, of all the growth that will take place as the days warm.  And lo, we tilt toward the sun, the days lengthen, and – though there might yet be a long journey before spring – we find that we have, together, made it through the dark days.  We find that our faith – in the wheel of the year, the return of light to the world – has carried us through.

For herbal support this time of the year, I recommend listening to “Joyful Herbs for Darker Days” by Guido Masé.  You can also find written notes here, on his blog.


All I Want for Christmas is This Cool Swag from Indie Artisans

Eek!  My last post was Halloween-themed and it’s almost Thanksgiving.  I’d better get a jumpstart on the next holiday with some gift giving suggestions for Christmas and Yule.  Here’s what I want for Christmas: Support these and other indie artisans so that we’ll be living in a world full of creative, talented people.  Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive:  If I listed all of the artisans and companies that I love, this page would never load – and some of my favorites (you know who you are) aren’t actively selling their work right now.  There are also tons of jawdroppingly talented handcrafters and artists that I haven’t even discovered yet.  Don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!  And now, without further ado, I present to you:

A basket of goodies from Carioca Witch. (Photo used with permission.)

A basket of goodies from Carioca Witch. (Photo used with permission.)

Carioca Witch

Nydia Macedo, a Brazilian witch and the artist-owner behind Carioca Witch, says, “Creating and recreating goddesses and gods from several pantheons, as well as familiars and runes, is how I fulfill an important part of my spiritual path. Hand-embroidering and sewing them together is like bringing these adorable deities to life over and over again, honoring their power and reaffirming my spirituality. This is the reason why Carioca Witch exists – my love for my pagan path and the opportunity of seeing my art being sweetly spread in literally hundred houses around the world – from Canada to China.”  I’m constantly struck by how beautiful Nydia’s work is, and how each design is so evocative of the deity it represents.  When her creations arrive, they’re always even richer in color and workmanship than I imagined from the photos.  My long-term plan is to collect the gods and goddesses related to healing and plants and hang them around the edges of my herbal workshop, with a scarf or garland swagged between them.
Make it personal: By giving a god or goddess that is special to the recipient, or who might be particularly helpful to the recipient at this time.
If you just can’t decide: The Yule ornaments are absolutely stunning!
How to order:  Browse Carioca Witch’s Facebook page and then message Nydia for more info.  Custom creations take time to make – and to ship from Brazil – so order early and often ;-)

 

Advent calendar from Sweet Enemy Art. Used with permission.

Advent calendar from Sweet Enemy Art. Used with permission.

Sweet Enemy Art

Kristin Richland swears her artwork isn’t “whimsical,” and I understand why.  We often use the word “whimsical” to dismiss work that has a fantastical element, and you just can’t dismiss Kristin’s artwork:  Sometimes I look at one of her pieces and find it charming – and then am absolutely caught up in the depth and specificity of expression on this rat’s or that tiger’s face.  Sometimes I look and think, “oh, that’s cute,” and then realize that the image is actually complex and haunting, and sometimes even rather disturbing.  Kristin Richland’s brain contains some pretty cool worlds.
Make it Personal:  Peruse the offerings on Society 6 (prints and products) and Etsy (original), or get in touch with Kristin to ask about a piece you don’t see there.
If you just can’t decide:  Quick, get the advent calendar!  Or, for this time of year when we celebrate light in the dark days, get a print of “We Gathered One Night.”
How to order: Click the links above, and don’t forget to follow Sweet Enemy on Facebook and read the blog.

 

 

Small pitcher from Doolin Pottery. Teapot from Rooftop Pottery. Large mug from Please Touch Pottery. Spiral mug and shot glass from Dancing Pig. Bowl from Glen Cross Pottery.

Small pitcher from Doolin Pottery. Teapot from Rooftop Pottery. Large mug from Please Touch Pottery. Spiral mug and shot glass from Dancing Pig. Bowl from Glen Cross Pottery.

Your Local Potter

I first fell in love with pottery at Doolin Pottery, in County Claire which – sadly – is no longer there.  I’ve since branched out, and I’m a repeat customer at Dancing Pig‘s and Glen Cross’s Pennsic booths, and this year I added Please Touch Pottery to my favorites.  The tea pot I use for herbal teas is a gorgeous fairy-tale-like creation from Rooftop Pottery, right here in Vermont.  When elsewhere, pottery is my favorite souvenir, as it’s fully functional – not just a shelf-sitting knick knack.  On the other hand, it’s not merely functional: I find tea and hot chocolate taste so much better drunk from a handmade mug than a mass-produced one, and my life also feels richer and more textured when I use handmade cups and bowls.  Since I’ve collected mugs of various sizes, as well as water glasses and a few bowls, I’m currently on the lookout for plates, which I understand are surprisingly hard to make.  Some day I’d like my full collection of dishes and bowls and vessels to be handmade, all mis-matched from different makers and with different memories.
Make it personal:  Purchase a cup, goblet, or mug that’s just right for the giftee’s favorite beverage, and include ingredients for said beverage.
If you can’t decide:  You really can’t go wrong with a good mug.  How about this one?
How to order:  Visit your local farmer’s market, craft show, or craft store, or check out the links above.

 

Used with permission.

Used with permission.

Urban Moonshine

With Urban Moonshine, you give the gifts of yumminess and good health all in one.  These bitters and tonics are a delicious way to take your medicine, and they come in gorgeous packaging.  The people at Urban Moonshine are flippin’ brilliant, and they source crazy-vibrant herbs, many of which come from Zack Woods Herb Farm (another business I’m a huge fan of).  If you’re in on the trendiness of bitters in cocktails, you will absolutely love this company’s product.  If bitters sound like something you’d rather avoid, take heart:  They’re amazing for your health and, after a while, actually taste good.  For a start, try Urban Moonshine’s Maple Bitters, which has been called “bitters with training wheels.”
Make it personal:  Use the Urban Moonshine Holiday Gift Guide (click on image at right)  to suss out which bitters or tonics are best for your giftee.
If you just can’t decide:  Embrace the holiday spirit and give them Joy.
How to order:  Right here at the Urban Moonshine website.

 

 

Juniper Ridge incense.

Juniper Ridge incense.

Juniper Ridge Incense

This is the one company on this list that I’ve always bought via a ‘middleman,’ my local co-op, rather than direct from the source.  That being said, their product speaks for itself:  This is pretty much the only incense I burn.  The scents are amazing, not at all perfumy, thanks to their use of wildcrafted, minimally-processed plants to make this incense.  I always keep their sage on hand because I find sage a little heady while it’s burning but love the scent it leaves in the room.  The other varieties that I’ve tried (sweetgrass, pinon pine, and juniper, which might be my favorite), are so delicious that I can sit right near them, and it’s only after a while – or after leaving the room and returning – that I realize what a gorgeous scent is filling the space.
Make it personal: Choose a scent that has special meaning to the giftee (or, even better, make your own incense in that scent).
If you just can’t decide: You can’t go wrong with sweetgrass.
How to order: Right here at the Juniper Ridge website, or ask for it at your local co-op.

So, there are a few ideas to get you started, and hopefully to inspire you to look around your own region for awesome artists, artisans, handcrafters, and other concoctors of wonderful things.  If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments!

PS:  I know some blog posts of this sort are paid advertising.  This one isn’t!  I’m just posting about these people and products because I like them :-)


Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone gets lots of treats, finds their fears not so fearsome, and has a warm flame burning in a friendly jack o’lantern to protect them from whatever nasty things may be about.

“Fire” (Element Series) by Jonathan Russell
www.jonathanrussellart.com

The Green Man and the Lady of the Seasons

I think it was about a year ago that I was lucky enough to win the Green Man pictured below during a giveaway over at Confessions of a Country Witch.  Nydia of Carioca Witch and Bringing Up Salamanders makes these beautiful hand-embroidered felt god and goddess figures.  She put her etsy shop on hold a while back, which is why I put this post on hold, but I’ve noticed some new designs over at the Carioca Witch Facebook page, so I thought it was about time to post this thank-you.

I really can’t say enough how much I love Nydia’s creations:  They’re beautiful, made with obvious care and skill, and stunningly creative.  Persephone (also pictured, and the aforementioned Lady of the Seasons) was the first that I ordered for myself, and I absolutely the balance of light and dark elements on Persephone, and how subtly the face appears out of the leaves on the Green Man.  Until recently, the Green Man has been living with my jars of herbs, but since our house has been in a bit of a to-do lately, I’ve had them together.  I think they like each other’s company :)


Vaguely Bohemian Angels

My sister has a knack for getting me presents no one else would have thought of.  For my high school graduation, she filled a small wooden chest full of everything from smudge sticks to a fountain – in short, a complete kit to make a boring old dorm room into a home.  For my twenty-first birthday, she bought me a mini waffle maker.  Not a traditional choice, but I lived on whole grain waffles under various toppings for the next two years.  For my most recent birthday, she commissioned custom cookies.

‘Custom cookies?’ you might ask (though you know that custom-made creations are indeed near to my heart).  Yes, when you know Angelica Howland of Scrumptious Angel.  This woman is – as my sister put it – the Vienne Rocher of cookies.  (If that reference doesn’t ring a bell, read or watch Chocolat.)  I can easily see Angelica setting up shop in a stiff little puritanical town and bringing out everyone’s best and most joyous traits with her deliciously original cookies and brilliantly creative self.

My first taste of Scrumptious Angel cookies came when a box packed full of Elegant Angels, Drunken Angels, Sparrows, and Streaks of Lavender arrived for my birthday.  Holy deliciousness, Batman.  I’ve had a lot of good chocolate chip cookies, but Angelica’s have the richest and most indulgent texture I’ve come across yet.  Plus, they’re not chocolate chip cookies; they’re chocolate chunk cookies, and dang good chocolate too.  Plus, they’re not just chocolate chunk cookies, but cookies with the most creative and balanced of flavorings and wonderfulness.  Just try these, for example:

Streaks of Lavender:  Dark chocolate with toasted almonds and a touch of actual lavender.  These were my first favorites, both indulgent and subtle.
Elegant Angels:  Dark and milk chocolate in cookies sprinkled with a touch of sea salt.  Absolutely addictive, in a way that makes you savor every bite.
Drunken Angels:  Amaretto-soaked cherries, cinnamon-roasted almonds, and dark chocolate.  Did I say the other two were my favorites?  This was definitely a favorite.  Scrumptious is exactly the right word.
Sparrows:  Dark chocolate, dried blueberries, and roasted sunflower seeds.  Frickin’ beautiful.  In the end, these are the ones I was saddest to finish.

Luckily, that wasn’t the end.  Next came the development of the custom Vaguely Bohemian Angels.  Angelica and my sis had brainstormed some ideas, one of which was oats, Earl Gray, and dark chocolate.  ‘What about oats, dark chocolate, and chai?’ I asked.  Angelica took that, added crushed fennel, and came up with the most delicious…I’ll start at the beginning:

When the cookies arrived from the Scrumptious Angel test kitchen, I’d been drinking some spicy herbal tea.  Because of this, upon my first bite, I tasted mostly cookie gorgeousness and dark chocolate.  ‘I don’t really taste the spices,’ I though to myself, ‘but damn, I have never tasted a cookie that is so rich yet so packed with oats.  This is pretty amazing.’  As I went on, I started to taste, subtly, the fennel – almost like, I imagine, the sensation of breathing out after a sip of absinthe.  Then, the taste of chai spices began to grow in my mouth.  It was as though the cookie contained the progression of bohemian beverages, from the absinthe of early 20th century Paris to the chai of my favorite bohemian teahouse.  In the second cookie, I was able to taste all of these flavors together.  Alas – although I knew I’d only get another box of samples if there was something I wanted to change – the cookies were perfect!

If you’d like your own box of Vaguely Bohemian Angels, or to find out more about other scrumptious Scrumptious Angel creations, you can find them on Facebook right here.  (Just click on “about” to see the listing of flavors and ordering info.)  The business is relatively new, and so far without a fully developed website, but you can keep an eye out at scrumptiousangel.com.  Believe me, if you’re ever so lucky as to taste any of Angelica’s creations, you’ll be as devoted as I am!


Why I Love Valentine’s Day

Godward-An Offering to Venus-1912
“Offering to Venus,” by J. W. Godward

I’m not sure if I know anyone else who really loves Valentine’s Day.  Those without a significant other feel left out of all the hoopla, and those who are attached are either nonplussed or stressed about the holiday.  For me, it’s a stepping stone that helps me through the dourest part of the winter.

New England seems to be tailor-made for Christmas.  We have crisp, cold days and snowfalls that paint the branches of our bare trees white.  Our evergreens look as though they’ve been drizzled with icing.  Our landscapes sparkle in undulating drifts of white or blue or pink, depending on the hour.  Indoors, we deck the halls with garlands and swags, and we dress ourselves in our cheeriest berry red or forest green.  On New Year’s, we might even wear sparkles.

Then, we seem to remember that our states started out as Puritan colonies.  We revert to greys and browns, and occasionally navy blue.  The landscape is still beautiful, but the roadsides grow dull with dirty snow, and even a fresh snowfall might not be quite so cheerful without the contrast of vibrant greens and reds.

“Pink Rose,” by Jonathan E. Russell

We wouldn’t dream of wearing pastels before Easter, but Valentine’s Day, that dear Hallmark Holiday, gives us permission to break out the bold pinks and purples, and to give red another go.  All the gaudy advertising (with its pressures to make sure our partners receive the most expressive card, the sweetest chocolates, the biggest bouquet) is packed full of these colors.  And flowers!  Cut flowers may be the most frivolous indulgence on earth, but in mid-February, I can’t help but be happy for the sight of them.  So, while I’ve never been one for big, expensive gestures on Valentine’s, I revel in the brilliant hues that it throws my way.

I think Valentine’s Day should be a day of frivolity.  Pink hearts and Victorian cupids aren’t the symbols of fully realized love or devotion.  They’re the symbols of fresh affection, of new found delight in each other’s company.  So if you’ve someone to celebrate with, forget expensive celebrations and do something silly and fun.  If you’re on your own, celebrate your own company with an at-home spa treatment.  Either way, consider celebrating Valentine’s like the kids do:  Give a little platonic love to everyone you meet.  One year I signed and sealed a whole basketfull of cheesy kiddie Valentines and handed them out to everyone I saw that day.  People were delighted.  When I handed out the last few cards of the night at the local pub, I had one friend give me a big hug and break into tears.  I’ll never forget that, and I’ll never forget what it taught me:  Even a seemingly insignificant gesture – so long as it’s made out of love and kindness – is worth making.

PS:  Next year, I’m hoping to have Glitter Dragons Valentine’s to hand out…


Giveaway Addendum

In addition to Halloween, there’s another really rockin’ event happening this weekend: The Rally to Restore Sanity.  I wish I could go, but as a next best thing, I’m covering a friend’s shift so she and her husband can go.  So, I’ll be working all day on the 31st.  In order to preserve my own sanity and generally have more fun, I’m extending the deadline for entries to midnight EST on Halloween night.  Then, I’ll announce the winner on Monday.  Until then, click here to find out how to enter –  and good luck!

PS:  There’s an extra opportunity to enter at blog.talktostrangers.org!


Greetings!

…to all who have found their way here from Mrs. B’s!  I’d like to invite you to scroll down to Thursday’s post, Halloween Hauntings and Giveaway, where I introduced myself as part of the Haunted Blog Tour and offered my own Halloween giveaway of a Looseleaf Handcrafted Five Phrases Story (you pick five phrases, I fit them into a one-page hand-bound story) set on Halloween.  I hope you’ll enter that giveaway too!

I started Looseleaf Handcrafted Stories just this fall,  because while I’m fascinated by the mainstream publishing industry, by what makes a book into the next Harry Potter or The Help, I would also like for there to be a lot more sense of community between writers and readers – much like there is with blogs.  I’ve always loved getting snail-mail letters and I thought, how cool would it be to send stories to real, live individuals instead of to publications.  If you like, you can check out some sample stories by clicking here (you’ll find them on the right sidebar), and I’m always open to suggestions for new types of stories!

And to those of you who’ve arrived from elsewhere in the ether, if you have any love for Halloween, you must check out the Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom 31 Days of Halloween for a month-long celebration including tons of treats!


Halloween Hauntings and Giveaway!

Hello and welcome round the campfire!  Pull up a seat – and throw on some extra logs, if you like, since the nights are getting longer and chillier as we head toward Halloween.  I hope your journey – from Mrs. B’s Haunted Blog Tour, or some other hospitable way station in the ether – was a pleasant one!

I hope you’ll join me in exploring tricks of the trade and misadventures in my quest to live resourcefully, sustainably, and creatively:  Please take a moment to look around, and maybe check out some of my fave posts, like “A Knight in Moderation” and “Trifles of Terrors…or is it Truffles?”  In the future, keep an eye out for more herb-related entries, since I’ve just started a course on herbalism!  You might also like to check out the links above, which will bring you to the rest of VaguelyBohemian.com, a nascent resource for vaguely boho skills, entertainment, recipes and more. 

 I wish I could offer you each a cup of tea, but since pixels don’t steep as well as real leaves, here’s a giveaway instead.  The winner will receive a custom-written Looseleaf Handcrafted Five Phrases Story, set on Halloween.  If you win, you just submit five phrases that you would like included in the story. Then, its my job to come up with a Halloween story that those phrases fit into naturally.  (To check out sample stories, click here.)  The one and only first edition of this story will then be printed on 100% cotton paper and bound in a booklet made primarily of reclaimed, recovered, and/or upcycled materials. (Styles vary; the pattern pictured is just one of many possibilities.)

This giveaway will last until October 30th 31st at midnight, and I’ll announce the winner on Halloween Day November 1st.   

  • To enter, be or become a follower of this blog, and leave a comment telling me what your favorite fairy tale or myth is.  Please make sure that you either have a blog I can find through your profile or that you leave your email addy in your comment.  Thanks!

For additional chances to win (leave a separate comment for each entry):

Thank you so much for haunting my blog today;  I hope to see you round the campfire again!