Sunday, August 30, 2009

Decorating for Autumn

Autumn is such a fun time of year to decorate with the rich color schemes.Natural elements fit in nicely with the rustic fall colors, so there are many ways you can inexpensively decorate for the season. Instead of using your glue gun to make seasonal decor consider buying grapevine forms-wreaths in different shapes and small swags, then use ribbon and seasonal picks that you weave in and out of the grapevine, rather than gluing. You can then remove and replace these for the new seasons. You won't end up having to store the wreaths or wall decorations, instead just keep the small items in a shoebox size plastic tub for each season and switch them as each holiday approaches. When they start to look worn, you can always give them to the kids to try their hand at making their own seasonal decor!

Gather pine cones, seedpods, acorns and fall leaves to put in wicker baskets. Use these on the porch or in entry ways for simple, rustic decorations. You can also use small branches with the pine cones and/or leaves still attached and place them in vases and crocks. Potted mums this time of year are the same prices as cut flowers, or cheaper, so why not buy several, pot them up and place them around your walks, steps and porch. Tie autumn themed ribbons around the base of the pots. If you have room plant them in the ground after the blooms are gone and lay down some mulch(grass clippings or chopped leaves) for the winter.

Go for a rustic but yet dramatic look by placing a large grapevine wreath in an empty space such as the peak of the garage or the house. You don't need a bow for fall, and at Christmas you can attach a large red bow. It's simple, but adds so much!

Pumpkins and Gourds Galore! Put them everywhere. Try to find a grower or farm market instead of buying them at the garden center or store. You'll find some great buys on the "less" than perfect ones, but they are still great for decorating. We buy small and medium sized pumpkins for .50 and 1.00 each year. Grandpa always grows a biggie for the kids too! Put your gourds and pumpkins in groups...place some on upside down pots to raise them up to different levels in a grouping. Mix a mum or two in with them, and tie a few bows all around!

Winter Squash--Look for Hubbard and Turban squash. They have an interesting texture and a neat look to them. Decorate the porch, but don't allow them to freeze, and afterwards you can eat them for Sunday and holiday dinners! Group them in a large wicker basket.

Garland-Make a garland of smaller gourds with the long necks and Indian corn still in the husk. Use jute or twine and alternate between corn and the gourds. Measure a section of your porch. I have arches and hang garlands in each one. In the middle of the garland make a bow from raffia and pieces of torn rust or orange colored fabric. You can also hang the garland from a porch or deck railing.

Rustic Scarecrow: Instead of stuffing clothing, take two pieces of scrap wood and nail together a cross formation. Take a piece of muslin and place it over the top piece of wood-tie it at the "neck" and draw on a face with a waterproof marker. Dress your wooden friend in clothing, a hat and you can even put hooks on the end of each "arm" and hang buckets of flowers, a birdhouse or other fun items. Turn your scarecrow into a country lady by dressing her in woman's clothing and giving her a gardening hat, gloves, and small garden tools. The great thing with this is that you literally can use scrap wood and old clothing,and go wild with your imagination!

Tin Can Fun: Save those cans! Prime them and go to town painting them in fun fall colors. You can plant mums in the larger coffee type cans and in the others place wildflowers, dried grasses and branches to decorate outside.

Milk Cans: If you have any old worn rakes, shovels and other lawn tools laying around, put them to a decorative use. Place a couple of cornstalks in an old metal milk can, behind the tools, and tie a big fall themed bow around the milk can! You can do this with a large bucket or basket too.

About the author: Brenda Hyde Autumn is a wife and mom living with her family in the Midwest United States.She is also a freelance writer and the editor of Old Fashioned Living.

Blessed Be!
Ghost Wytch

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In the Molds

I just finished pouring a 5 pound batch of "Toil & Trouble" into the mold. And it is the most delightfuly wicked shade of boiling cauldron green you've ever seen. I'm praying to the God and Goddess that it stays this color. It does have a bit of patchouli in it so I'm hoping it does morph to a darker brownish green. At any rate, it should be ready just in time for the Spooky Shopping Season :-)

I also cut up yesterdays batch of unscented Castile. I wish I could come up with a catchy name for the fast selling Castile. I make so much it and palin old Castile is so boring to put on the labels. I need something fun as I'm feeling particularly wicked as of late. It must be the feeling of fall in the air.

Blessing Be!
GW

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Game Called On Account of...........

Bad Sportsmanship!!

This Ghost Wytch could have been and started out being a great ally to the honest, hard working stiff. We traveled this journey with it's highs and lows (more lows than highs) as comrades in support of one another. But now the journey must come to an end. It was a great ride, but unfortunately someone spiked the fuel tank with sugar.

It seems that not all are the honest, hard working stiffs they were assumed to be. And someone (most likely several someone's) do not know how to play the game as a team. They are self-seeking, and self-serving, which makes them untrust-worthy. So just who is who? And who isn't?

Remember the days in school when you would pass notes in class? Seemed like the teacher (the old witch) always caught you and made you read it aloud for all it's secrets to be revealed. Then you were embarrassed for days (maybe weeks or months) because everyone knew what you did or said. Hum...funny how that thought just crossed my mind.

As I looked over the pasture this evening I could see hazy layer of smoke resting upon the meadow. Hum....there must be a firestorm brewing....

Ghost Wytch Blessings!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dream Pillow Testing

My Amnesia Sleep Dream Pillow Blend has been "brewing" so to speak for a few weeks now so that the herbs could meld nicely together. It is now ready for testing. I will be testing tonight on my husband because with all the stress he has had lately I thought that he would be a great test subject for this blend.

The intended purpose of this blend is to make one sleep so soundly that when they wake the next morning, they would remember nothing but their head hitting the pillow the night before. And my husband could definitely use a night of peaceful, blissful, baby like, TKO sleep.

So, I shall report back with the results and if all goes well, you shall see the made up pillows available on the website soon!

Blessed Be!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Green House Days 2 & 3

It’s been a few weeks since I posted about the greenhouse. The project did not stall out, hubby just needed a few days off. And let me tell you he got allot accomplished during those few days!

On Saturday our good friend and neighbor John came over to help set the huge and very heavy windows while I was gone to my nieces baby shower. I really had no idea how different it would look once the windows were in, but it just really changed the whole appearance of the structure so dramatically.


East side door. West side door.

Windows done, the roof went on. This is where we recycled, using the metal roof and siding from the old chicken coop. It had been previously attached with screws as opposed to nails, so it was in really good shape. It was a bit of a tedious job to remove from the coop, but it was well worth salvaging. To have a metal roof that allows the snow to slide off of, instead of having to shovel it off, is a real asset around here. And it saved us a chunk of change by not having to buy it.


Full bank of windows. Total southern exposure!

On day two John came back over and wired the building for lights and power. John is an Electrical Engineer and we are SO very grateful for his talents, time and help. He also wired a few more outlets into Matt’s shop while he was here. He’s a great guy! And we owe him a case of Dos Equis at the very least!!

Wiring for outlets and overhead lighting. North wall, west and east corners.

Then it was time to put up the insulation. What an Un-fun job that is. But thankfully the insulation is finished. Now all we need to do is put up the interior walls, lay down the weed block and gravel, hang the doors and paint. I think that’s it anyway.

Light switch on east wall & insulation in ceiling & walls.

We even have enough lumber left to build potting/growing tables for the inside. And I would like to find some siding to match the house for the few areas of exposed exterior wood.
I am SO excited I can hardly stand it. I want to rush out and buy seed starting soil NOW! I do plan to at least grow greens for salad during the winter in this baby. We plan to heat it will a self contained oil heater. They are safe and efficient. And I think will heat an area this small and insulated quite nicely. I will have a small barrel pond inside as well as I hope to winter over some of my non-hardy pond plants in the greenhouse. My hope is that the mini pond will help keep the humidity level up. And of course there will be a fan to move the air.
So, there is the update. And I'll let you know how the growing goes :-)









Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Valhalla Forum!!!

We are very excited to announce that we now have a forum!!

The Valhalla Circle is a fun community for customers, friends, fans & others of Valhalla Soap Co. to chat, learn, grow & support one another. There are a multitude of subjects to chat about that are not limited to VSC products, including General Off Topic Chat, Cooking/Recipes, Crafts, Spirituallity, Humor and more.

We are still adding more interests and would love for you to join with us in this new and exciting project. We are looking for category ideas and moderators. So please browse on over the The Valhalla Circle and join the Tribe! We look forward to seeing you soon :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Impressive Meteor Shower Tonight!!

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show this week for those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning and wait patiently for the shooting stars.

In North America, the best time to watch will be between midnight to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, but late Tuesday night and also Wednesday night could prove fruitful, weather permitting.

The Perseids are always reliable, and sometimes rather spectacular. The only things that puts a damper on the August show are bad...........Read More.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Welcome to August! & July's Blog Winner!!

First a few anouncements, then I will post the August correspondences from PaganPages.org

Our Blog Follower Winner for the month of July is:

Bitten by Books
(chosen by the list randomizer at Random.org)
Congrats!! Please contact us HERE via email with your mailing address so we can send your goodies :-)


Now on to the August Corespondences.

August
Originally called Sextillis by the Romans, was later named Augustus in honor of Augustus Caesar.
August is the eighth month of the current Gregorian calendar and the third month of Summer’s rule.
Traditional birthstone amulets of August are the peridot and the sardonyx.
The gladiolus and the poppy are the month’s traditional flowers.
August is shared by the astrological signs of Leo the Lion and Virgo the Virgin.
During the month of August, the Great Solar Wheel of the Year is turned to Lammas, one of the four Grand Sabbats celebrated each year by Wiccans and modern Witches throughout the world.

Gathered harvest are celebrated during August.

Corn Moon
Astrological Signs: Leo, Virgo
Nature Spirits: Dryads
Herbs:Chamomile, St. Johns Wort, bay, angelica, fennel, rue, orange
Colors:Yellow, gold
Flowers: Gladiolus, poppy, sunflower, marigold
Scents: Frankincense
Stones: Peridot, sardonyx, cat’s eye, carnelian, jasper, fire agate
Trees: Hazel, alder, cedar
Animals: Lion, phoenix, sphinx, dragon
Birds: Crane, falcon, eagle
Deities: Ceres , The Corn Mother, Demeter , Diana , Ganesha ,Hathor ,Hecate ,Lugh ,Nemesis ,Thoth and all Goddesses who preside over agriculture.

From: http://paganpages.org/

Don't Tread on My Garden!!

There has been a very active conversation going on one of my herb lists. The conversation stems from a large soapmaking supply company’s blog post which implies that anyone who makes and sells herbal products for the health benefits of humankind is in effect and I quote "a drug dealer", and "in violation of FDA regulations".

So, to simplify this statement, If I make a salve that is infused with herbs that are reputed to help soothe and heal minor scrapes, scratches, and skin irritations. Though I make no claims that MY product will "heal" anything, only what the herbs themselves have been believed for centuries to do. According to the above mentioned article I'm a "Drug Dealer" and to the FDA this violates theirs regulations.

Now I find out that if we make soap that is moisturizing, or skin-softening, or has any kind of “special” qualities beyond just cleansing the skin the FDA now considers that not a soap, but a cosmetic, and thereby they have the right to regulate it.

This kind of legislation makes me crazy!
Just because a bar of soap is superfatted or still has the natural glycerin intact and therefore is more moisturizing than the average bar, does NOT make it a freaking bottle of lotion, face foundation, or a damn tube of mascara! If I eat a damned hamburger, does that make me a freaking hamburger until it is digested and comes out the other end? For cripes sake!!

And to go one step further into the land of petty ridiculous government interference…..you’ll love this. Now the FDA wants us to be mind readers. We can make and sell a product that has herbs in it but make no specific herbal claims. However, if the end user (customer) buys said product with the intent to use it as a natural healing product, then we the manufacturer of said product have just violated FDA regulations. WTF!?

Now for all of you that are saying, “Oh, the FDA is just trying to protect the consumer. We need to have some kind of regulatory system in place. Blah, blah, blah.” Let me refer you to the following articles:

Aspartame - Rumsfeld's Bioweapon Legacy
http://www.rense.com/general67/rum.htm

Some of you may be old enough to remember the big gumball marketing push for Aspartame. Gumballs of every color in the rainbow were mass mailed to homes all across the U.S. Perfect! We could consume artificial coloring and sweetener all in one step! The timing just so happened to coincide with the ban on stevia. Coincidence? I think not!

Stevia & the FDA
http://www.feingold.org/PF/pf_stevia.html

Interesting how we are now seeing products like Truvia on the market that have been released by the big box companies like Cargill, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. For years the FDA claimed that there was no solid evidence to prove that Stevia was safe for human consumption as a food additive. And now all of a sudden the big companies with the big money have been given the approval to use it as such! Hummm???

Bush/Monsanto Push to Give FDA More Power
http://current.com/items/89162342_bush-and-monsanto-pushing-to-give-fda-more-power.htm

One question? Who is regulating the FDA?

Roundup—the American Weed-Killer—Is Likely Killing American People, Too
http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/roundupthe-american-weed-killeris-likely-killing-american-people-too/

We can’t use stevia as food additive. We can’t put herbs in our soap. But our neighbor can spray poison on his lawn and the shrub between our houses with no regard for which way the wind blows, thus potentially causing Sally two doors down to miscarry her first child, or Joe across the street to suddenly become afflicted with prostate cancer. And worse yet possibly contaminate the ground water in the area causing birth defects in children born to families on that block for years to come!!!

Still think that the FDA, EPA and the government in general is “just trying to protect the consumer”? Well, if so then I dare say that you are very naive indeed! The FDA is nothing more than another corrupt money making entity for the government. And we are just guinea pig pawns to be used for their experimental money making ideas.

Between this and the recent fear mongering blog posts I've been seeing lately from others in this industry, pretty soon there will be no such thing as the soapmaking cottage industry, or any other small business/cottage industry. And then big brother, big box manufacturers, and big pharmacology will have won and the general public will have no say over what they can and cannot use on/in their bodies, what they can eat or drink, etc. Gods forbid that anyone should have the audacity to think for themselves, or any little cottage industry of should possibly take one dime out of big commercialisms pockets!!

I have a cousin (in-law) with a very large farm (around 100+acres) and the flipping government pays him NOT to farm it! What is wrong with this picture? He is one of many farmers in the U.S that Monsanto and the FDA do not want to compete with. So the farmer is simply paid off instead. And we wonder what has happened to American Pride. The government has paid its people not to have any!!

What’s next? Will the government be mandating what we can and cannot grow in our own gardens? Oh, I forgot. They already do!!