Friday, July 31, 2015

A Small Island Town "Budget Pool" - The Ocean Pool of Playa Rosada, Puerto Rico

The same day we experienced a slice of paradise in Caracoles, Puerto Rico, we went to see another island wonder! Playa Rosada build a deck and enclosure in the warm Caribbean sea, creating an ocean pool!


I rushed my camera out, took some swift shots, then tucked it safely away so I could dive in! The enclosure prevents critters like jellyfish, but most beaches in Puerto Rico are so calm and beautiful if can be enjoyed with or without it. It was still such a fun novelty to behold! There's breath-taking natural beauty around every corner on this little island, I adore exploring every inch of it that I possibly can every time I'm there visiting family. Now I need to put that same dedication to exploring every inch of my state, Florida is also rich with gorgeous beaches and nature.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Make Your Own Kombucha Fermented Tea + What it is, Why it's good for you

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You've probably seen or bought Kombucha from your health food store. An acquired taste to some, it's a fizzy, tangy tea drink that's purported to help you lose weight, increase energy, and generally improve health. But why? And how can you make your own and save on buying some, as most bottles cost around $4.00!? I've made galloons of kombucha with various methods now and feel confident saying it's stupid easy to make your own healthy kombucha tonic

How it's Made: Your kombucha tea is fermented by a bacteria culture (The "Mother" or "Scoby" for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.) All you'll need is sugar, your scoby, and black tea to make your fizzy health drink. Most sources recommend black tea but I've made it successfully with rooibos, hibiscus and even ginger tea.

Why It's Healthy: Modern North American society is obnoxiously germ-phobic. Everything on store shelves is heated to the point of killing beneficial bacterias and many vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The healthy bacteria (probiotics) in fermented food like sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha and raw vinegar alkalize your body and speed-up/aid in digestion. With less energy spent on digestion, you should feel light and more energized. Your cells can then dedicate more time to repairing and improving, too. They should be a go-to to prevent and/or solve any digestive issue, especially constipation. It can be used externally as a hair and skin softener, too! It's a tonic that improves all areas of health, since good health starts with robust nutrition and digestion.

Store Bought vs. The Home Made: Home made kombucha is not only monumentally cheaper than the stuff you'll buy for $3.75+ a bottle, it's also healthier. The FDA forces companies to pasteurize their kombucha. Probiotics are then added back to the bottles. They're still beneficial and delicious, I may buy a bottle on-the-go, but they're as healthful as the kombucha you'll make at home.

Taste: Making your own kombucha means you can play with the flavoring. You can fermented it longer for a more sour taste or ferment it less for a sweeter taste. You can play with different flavored teas. All kombuchas are delightfully fizzy and a touch vinegary. I enjoy the hell out of the taste, it may be an acquired taste to others.

Supplies To Make Kombucha:


  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 4-6 black tea bags to taste
  • Starter Culture- SCOBY- for best results, harvest a SCOBY from a store-bought kombucha container (the slimy part in the bottle), or from someone you know
  • 1 Cup Starter Liquid (this can be a store bought kombucha tea)
  • Purified Water (You're supposed to avoid tap water due to the chemicals like chlorine and sulfur. I've forgotten this step and my tea still came out fine. Oops!)
  • Tea Kettle or Pot
  • Brewing Vessel (I use recycled pickle jars)
  • Cloth Cover or Coffee filter
  • Rubber Band
  • Thermometer (optional)
  • Funnel

Step 1: Steep your tea in 4 cups of water for 5-10 minutes, add and dissolve your sugar.
Step 2: Fill vessel 3/4 full with cold water. Wait until the tea is room temperature to proceed.
Step 3: Add your starter liquid
Step 4: Cover your jar with a cotton cloth or coffee filters and secure with a rubber band
Step 5: Set in a warm, airy spot away from direct light or prep of greasy/aromatic food for 7 days
Step 6: Taste your kombucha in 7 days, refrigerate it if you want it to stop fermented. (This puts SCOBY to "sleep".) 

You can blend your kombucha with other beverages to yield tasty results, experiment! I've had ginger, grape, green-drink, chai, green tea, pear...lots of varieties! It's not hard to blend away any trace of it's natural acidic flavor.

Tip: Clean EVERYTHING that will touch your SCOBY with apple cider vinegar before you get started. Spray your hands with it and swipe the jar with a cloth soaked in it.

When you run out, use the same SCOBY and start over! You'll notice your SCOBY will readily grow and reproduce like crazy. You can "separate" it (you can "peel" the layers) or cut your SCOBY into pieces and have them in several jars so you have lots of kombucha brewing at once, sell them, give them way, dehydrate them into pet treats (VERY healthful for your pets, especially sick ones), eat them yourself, or even use it as a super rich plant fertilizer. 

I'll follow-up with more things you can do with/more benefits of kombucha. It's an incredibly health-boosting beverage and damn tasty, too! Let me know if you have any questions now or along the way in the comments or via e-mail. It's scary at first, but once you get the groove, it's too easy to make your own kombucha health elixers.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

15 Practical Feng Shui Tips for Attracting Wealth and Productivity to Your Business

You want to be productive, wealthy, and happy, it's only natural. Applying Feng Shui principles to your life is one way to make achieving all of these things easier. It can be as somple or as complex as you want it to be. There are Eastern vs. Western practitioners, bagua maps, color recommendations, elements, and rules for how to place your furniture or layout your floor plan. From my reading, the fundamental Feng Shui rules are practical and rooted in known brain and psychological study. (Like the brain's reticular activating system, which I wrote about here.) This ancient wisdom has been passed down and practiced for a reason!


I'm going to update as I apply Feng Shui elements to different areas of my life. For now, here are my favorite 15 practical tips for attracting wealth and productivity to your business:

1. Go Slow

Apply new Feng Shui rules at a slow, steady pace. Don't try to do it all at once. Go at a steady pace while you work because you often mess up with you're too rushed. I know this is hard for my fellow Type-As, but realizing reaching your ultimate goals is going to take years is helpful. Slow changes help you to better observe results, too.

2. Declutter

Clutter is the #1 killer of concentration. It's stressful just to look at it! Do regular clutter sweeps, keep a box to add duplicate items/stuff you no longer want to, and donate the items regularly. Tackle bigger projects until all of the clutter is gone.

3. Own Less, Buy Less

Don't fill your home with junk willy-nilly, buy only what you'll need and use or what you'll absolutely love for years to come. Make purchases about quality, not quantity.



4. Keep Only the Best, None of the Rest

Get rid of duplicates, only keep what you absolutely adore. Get rid of anything you don't use and only feel so-so about.

5. Fix The OBVIOUS Problems First

We often ignore the big problems- wobbly furniture, an entryway you can't walk through, leaks, etc. They add stress over time in the background, hurting work flow. Fix these big issues ASAP.

6. Move Your Desk to a "Power" Position

Try to position your desk so that it points towards the room's door or a window. Your back should face a wall, never your front. It makes sense that you shouldn't face a wall while working if possible when you really think about it! How depressing is that?  Face the door or window so you can see who's coming. Your desk should be accessible on all sides. If anything; make sure your desk area isn't claustrophobic. You need to be able to stand up and stretch your arms and legs easily! If you must face a wall, hang a beautiful picture of a landscape or something that makes you happy to look at. (In my cubicle, I hung colorful octopus fabric I special-ordered.)



7. Keep Your Desk Clear and Alluring

Keep your desk completely clean and clutter free. Make it alluring by placing a beautiful item or items on it, and maybe make it fragrant with an essential oil diffuser or scented candle. (I like to keep an aromatherapy spray on the desk and/or wipe it down with a few drops of essential oil. I'll write more about Aromatherapy soon!)

8. Clear Your Work Purse and/or Briefcase of Clutter

You may have to do this at the end of the day every day, since of course, purse/briefcase clutter just happens. It feels good to start the day with a fresh, organize work bag/briefcase with everything in its place.

9.  Be Grateful For What You Have Now

This one is huge for attracting wealth. You're already vastly wealthy in different areas: you're smart, dedicated to improving (since you're here reading this!), and creative. Start the day writing a list of everything you're grateful for if it helps.



10. Make All of Your Work Supplies 100% Quickly/Easily Accessible

This way when the mood strikes or work or make something you set to work fast and easily. It drains your energy/focus and generally pisses you the hell off when you can't find a supply you need to get started. (I know all my fellow crafters have been there!)

11. Use Your Intuition: If a Space Feels "Wrong"- Work at It

Your intuition is rarely wrong. Feel out a space and work at it until you're 100% satisfied. The photo above with my "apothecary" sign is one of the few spaces I'm "done" with. Everything else is slowly going to be adjusted until I'm happy with it.


12. Keep Your Work Space Attractive

You'll want to work more if your space is attractive. Productivity and wealth obviously follow.



13. Add A Live Plant and/or a Water Element to Your Work Space

We need plants and water to live, evolutionarily, we are drawn to green spaces and bodies of water. They innately make us content and happy. Add a small plant to your desk, if you're a plant killer, try something easily like bamboo. Consider a small desktop fountain. (See my guide for keeping houseplants alive here.)

14. Have an Inviting, Calming Sleep/Resting Place

You need a respite from work chaos. A sexy, relaxing bedroom will encourage you to get the sleep you need to tackle another day.

15. Keep Reminders of Your Ultimate Goals In Your Workspace

This goes back to RAS. Keeping your goals on your mind keeps you working toward them. Have mood boards, photos of places you want to visit or photos of family to remind you why you want to make money. I put a few coins on a tray on my desk to remind me to focus on profit, something I move away from far too often!

* * * * *

Good Luck applying these tips to your home and work life. I've noticed excellent results from these additions and changes already, and I'm excited to keep applying Feng Shui rules and writing about them. I have to work on the giant hallway and closet mess next. Like I said, one step at a time...

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Savannah Eats + Shopping: Retro Wares, Robots, Transformers, Hippie Goodness

Tourist towns usually boast amazing indie shopping experiences. During our recent trip we went on a general exploration, walking around broadly to soak in as many oak-lined classic streets as possible. On the next visit I'll drill in and examine more indie businesses. I saw what looked like an herb shop on the way out of town and plenty of cafe and "tea" houses that looked good, too!


Civvies Clothes I spent a good chunk of time, and could have spent more, in Civvies Clothes. They had a beautiful array of retro and retro-inspired clothing, all well-curated and excellent prices.


It's located on the top floor of an old brown stone and was just a beautiful space with ample natural light and unique architectural flourish, the perfect spot for a funky clothing boutique. Check it out and treat yourself to unique duds if you're in the area!


Planet Fun I can't resist a retro nerd shop if ever I encounter it, and this one had a giant robot and a Pikachu in the window! Sold! The back of the space had cases of 80s-eras Generation I Transformers that I sighed over and took multiple pictures of.


There were indie-made cosplay pieces, plenty of good comic books, regular books, and manga and a wide assortment of modern and video game, pop culture, and general nerdy collectibles. Great little shop!


Savannah Bee is absolutely gorgeous! (Why, you could even say it's...wait for...BEEautiful.) This is a clear, bright, meticulously-branded experience with high quality product. The honey is delicious and the natural honey-infused products are well-formulated. It looks to bee a popular, successful business for a reason! Oh ho ho! That was a bad one. Sorry, I've been around a lot of pun-makers lately.


They have a big store in the heart of the touristy King Street shopping district, a long strip of shops next to cobblestone roads, right next to the river. Go in to taste the honey at if you're in the area.

 * * * * *


Green Truck Pub was our first stop when we got into town. I got a massive, delicious black bean burger and subbed whole wheat for regular bread. I'm fairly certain the bread had butter on it but ate it anyway; I'll never waste food! It was so massive I ate half for lunch and half for dinner. This is an excellent restaurant that sources local food and had charming, retro decor.


There was a found art display outside, too! This college town delivers on visual beauty for sure. It was pouring rain so I couldn't shoot it, maybe next time. The outside of the restaurant is beautiful.


Kayak Kafe was the only other place I ate at. They had plenty of healthy options on the menu and bright, clean decor. I was excited when I read the protein-rich ingredients of their inexpensive super food salad, and was sad when it was so small! Still a great little place to stop, just make sure to order something hardier if you're ravenous! That salad's pretty, but the plate's the size of a saucer.

* * * * * 

I left my SLR at the hotel the night we went out for drinks but I especially enjoyed The Tree House. The live music was awesome (the guy sang acoustic classic Motown and Prince, of course I'd love that!) and the view from the balcony is lovely. We watched a guy get accosted by the cops in a abandoned lot cops-style! Charming! No, but really, it was a cozy roost. Spoken by someone who sleeps in tree houses every chance she gets. The other spots didn't stand out as much, but I'm excited to visit and explore again soon. It's only two hours away! Two days was not enough to explore all Savannah has to offer. E-mail me if you have any recommendations!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Adventures in Soap Making: The Best Damn Dinosaur Fossil Soap You've Ever Seen

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It's been a little bit since I've updated on my body care line/soap making adventures. We're nearly ready to launch. I've bought a couple of domain names, products are sitting waiting to be labeled, and we're anxious to get out selling! The thing that keeps us from moving forward swiftly is formulating. As my wise teacher advised, things rarely comes out as you envision; it takes time to invent quality formulations. We moved a lot of products that were intended for our initial launch to future launches because we refuse to put out anything we can't endorse 100%. Today I had to share our favorite project so far! Sometimes The Universe has mercy, the stars align, and a project comes out exactly as you envisioned!


Inspired by Jurassic Park, I wanted what looked like a dinosaur fossil trapped in sap resin. Does it make sense that a dinosaur was in a tree? No. Just run with it! The amber sap could be an analogy for soil or any other more conductive fossil medium! These soaps are so gorgeous in person, I wish I could have taken better photos but my DSLR camera is on the fritz. They're very shiny with depth.


The soap has a natural honey-base, making it anti-microbial, a good choice for cleaning your hands or face. It has a rich lather and smells absolutely amazing. We used a mix of vanilla and orange essential oils to make a "dreamsicle" scent that immediately brightens your mood. Just smell the soap and you'll want to devour it. Or live inside it forever. I have one on my desk to smell periodically, it takes me to a happy place. (Orange and vanilla essential oils are mood-lifting.)


If you'd like to buy a dinosaur soap they're $5.00 each. I have 8 rectangle bars and 4 round bars (not pictured). Send me an e-mail. Otherwise, we have some delicious coconut lime, pineapple grapefruit, and various other soaps, roll-ons, deodorants, toothpastes, room/body aromatherapy sprays, and more coming soon.

Have you been working on any interesting summer projects? I've been doing the soap biz, school, taking some of my first clients for my new businesses (love. it!), exploring nature as much as possible and I feel like I'm nearly done with Project-Better-Apartment. Can't wait to share more updates on the blog! Early May was stressful but income is streaming in again, savings is building up, I'm learning tons every day; things keep improving. I feel so happy and grateful every day to be alive, working on projects I've always been passionate about. Stopping my attempts to do everything has been a big help! How's your summer been?
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Monday, July 20, 2015

My Herb Allies: Herbs You Need to Try for Healing, Taste, Nutrition, and Much More

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You use the power of plants for healing, or just to add pleasure to your life, more than you think. You probably enjoy iced black tea (camellia sinensis) or morning coffee (coffea arabica). The food you enjoy daily is flavored with spices (garlic, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon- all anti-microbial to one degree or another, all aid in digestion) and if you cook at home you have a rack with your favorite spices (AKA herbs) to cook with. Until I started studying herbalism I didn't think of how creative you can get with using herbs as preventatives, digestive aids, and even weight-loss aids when you make your daily favorites. You can steep tea leaves to replace the liquid in any recipe to add nutrition (especially good with a root for a soup), you can carbonate your tea and make an tasty medicine herb soda, you can add herbs to your coffee filter or french press when you make coffee or perhaps make a hibiscus simple syrup you add to all of your teas for an herb boost. The flexibility and creativity excites the hell out of this nerdy hippie!

The following herbs are my current go-tos and favorites to spice up meals, smoothies, teas, infused oils, skin care products, and tinctures. Every herb has multiple uses, they're all nutritious with some anti-microbial qualities to one degree or another, so they will overlap. All the vitamin C herbs are immune boosting and amazing beautifiers because Vitamin C repairs skin, for instance, but I grouped them as best I could for easy reading. Give some of these herbs a try if anything, or the sake of taste and experimentation.

Digestion

Peppermint: Uplifting/energizing scent. Make a tea or tincture for all digestive issues. Great taste.
Sassafras: Long-used to make root beer! Make a delicious digestion aiding soda, tea, or soup.
Burdock Root: A delicious base for your soups or stir fries. Nutritious.
Dandelion Root/Leaf: Make a tea or tincture to aid digestion.
Fennel: None better for gas. And delicious! Absolutely makes a vegan "sausage" type dish.
Ginger: Delicious digestive aid, I love the powder for food and the root for tea.
Chicory: The-best no-caffeine coffee substitute (used to imitate taste). Nutritious, digestive aid.

Immunity-Boosting

Rose Hips: Vitamin C powerhouse, I use it in mixed teas for vitamins and the tangy/sweet flavor.
Hibiscus: Another Vitamin C booster I use for taste. The flower's tea tastes/looks like Kool-Aid!
Orange Peel Powder: Rich in Vitamin C and DELICIOUS! I love this for cooking.
Echinacea: Make a tea or soup during cold season to strengthen immune system.
Sage: Add to meals during cold season for an anti-bug boost. Very anti-microbial. Nice tea, too.
Elderberry: Try my cold-syrup! Immune boosting, delicious as a tea.

Nutritious (Minerals, Iron, Chlorophyl)

Horsetail: Tincture or tea for the iron and silica boost. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Oatstraw: Another iron/mineral rich grass for tincture or tea. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Red Raspberry: Helps balance hormones. Take one week leading up to period. Mineral rich.
Alfalfa: Yet another nutritious, iron-rich grass. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Stevia Leaf: Has nutrition, but I mostly steep this with my teas for sweetness. A pinch will do!



Calming

Catnip: A calming and tasty mild nervine.
Chamomile: Calming, amazing in an infused oil for skin, nutritious. Will increase appetite.
Passionflower: Only if you want to knock yourself out, potent nervine.
Valerian: You'll sleep soundly and quickly, again, will knock you out! Warning: stinky. Take pills.

Skin Healers 

Lavender: Anti-microbial. No better infused oil for burns. Amazing for skin issues.
Rose: I love an infused rose oil for healing and repairing skin. Experiment, it's tasty in tea.
Calendula: A super skin healer, a must for skin care products. Great infused oil and tea.
Comfrey: Try as a tea or  make an infused oil. Heals skin/tissue.
Aloe: Aids digestion, hydrates, heals skin.
Rosemary: Anti-bacterial, fresh and energizing smell. Good for wound-healing.

Energizing/Nutritious

Beet Root Powder: I add this to smoothies, very iron-rich and the sugar makes it energizing.
Ginko: Adaptogenic (helps your body cope with stress) and energizing. Make a tea or soup base.
Bee Pollen: Nutritious, immune boosting, and energizing. Try it in a smoothie.

Pain Relief

Arnica: Never to be ingested! Numbs pain as an oil or lotion. Aids hair growth, too.
Turmeric: Extreme anti-inflammatory, aiding in pain relief. Delicious!
Cayenne: A tasty spice (I load my food up), stimulates circulation, helps with pain.
Black Pepper: Like cayenne, stimulates circulation and helps with pain.
Cramp Bark: Try one week prior to your period to help reduce cramps.
Saw Palmetto: Great for UTIs, prevention and healing.
Corn Silk: Save the silk from your corn this season! Amazing for urinary health.
Witch Hazel: Mild pain reliever, good anti-microbial for healing skin wounds, too.

I could go, but these are some good basic ones to keep on-hand for your common ails, or just for taste and pleasure. Of course, feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about any specific treatments. Always check with a doctor before you try any herbs for healing serious illnesses, and especially double check if you're able to take any herb if you're pregnant! I've already had some people e-mail me about making custom herbal remedies (lotions, balms, teas, herbal pills, etc.) and I would absolutely love to do that for anyone reading! For everyone who asks for help, I do recommend, first and foremost, a look at nutrition, because drinking enough water and eating enough fruits and vegetables are the absolute foundation of good health. No herbs, supplements, vitamins, or minerals are a substitute for starting off with nutrient rich food! Furthermore, herbs are best taken as preventatives, and they slowly heal you over time with consistent use. It takes a little bit to see a difference when you do anything the right way.

I also have detailed e-books coming on all kinds of natural care, aromatherapy, herbalism, etc. I've been researching and scribbling in notebooks like crazy for them! Expect some tea mixes and herbal recipes (diy conditioner, focus tea, skin/hair tea, and diy gel are coming) soon, too.

If you don't have health food stores near you, try Bulk Apothecary to order high quality herbs. Locally, Green Lotus Studios (where I work and go to school) and Southern Roots (pictured in this post) has herbs available to buy by the ounce.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Tips for Visiting Natural Springs in Florida + Ichetucknee and DeLand's Blue Spring


Many tourists visit Florida for the theme parks, sexy Southbeach/Key West party life or the sandy beach coasts that stretches south from the Atlantic to the Caribbean sea. An often overlooked treasure are the sapphire natural springs, with ice-cold, crystal-clear waters, a welcome respite from the oppressive southeast summer humidity. Florida's springs are widely considered some of the most beautiful in the world! Whether you're an amateur ecologist, thrill seeking diver, or simply looking for a relaxing float down stream, you'd be remiss to neglect a visit to one of the springs if you're planning a trip to Florida.


It's easy to neglect taking advantage of the resources in our own proverbial backyards (if you're somewhere mountainous, admire those purple mountains majesty in the background for me, there's not much as a hill on this entire state), for years I've wanted to explore the springs in the summer, but put it off. (One of my last trips involved a scare with an alligator, it's hard to believe that was already years ago!) This year, I've visited two and have plans for some more visits before summer's end.


Ichetucknee Spring: The first spring I visited was Ichetucknee, or, "Icha-my-tuck-knee!" as my twin brothers joked the whole drive down to visit the spring over a decade ago! I believe I was 10 and they were 15. AJ calls it "Itch me, touch me", I call it, goddamn beautiful river and headspring. Jill and I packed some fruits and nuts to snack on, but there's a concession stand if you don't want to bring lunch.  You can rent tubes for floating down the river/spring upon your arrival or bring your own and pay 50 cents to inflate them via their pay machine. You can walk to the spring or take a tram. There are three runs of varying lengths. We went on the median one and it was over too quickly for our tastes. My favorite part was the gorgeous crystal-clear and icey cold headspring, where we easily spent close to two hours looking at plant and animal life with goggles.


Blue Spring (DeLand florida): There are too many springs named Blue Spring! We almost drove to meet AJ's family at the wrong spring! This spring has a very short run for tubing, but it's the clearest I've ever seen! If you go right instead of left and swim against the current or walk on the shore there's a deep area ("the cave" it was called) for further swimming and snorkeling. Lots of divers were there exploring. Definitely bring your water shoes to this one to protect your feet from the sharp rocks! This spring would be perfect if you're visiting Florida for the theme parks because it's close to Orlando, and the short-run makes it an easy day-trip for in-state visitors. This spring also had a concession stand if you don't want to pack lunch. You can pay (it's by the size) to have your tube blown up for you. The gift shop has water shoes and goggles but it would be way cheaper to buy them before you get there.

General Tips for Visiting Springs:

Bring something to hold you car keys (like this waterproof card case), water shoes, and possibly your own floats to save money unless you're visiting or just don't want the hassle of owning and/or blowing your own up. The weekends are usually crazy busy in the summer, during the week is a better bet if you want a more tranquil trip down the river. If you're going on a busy day like the weekend or holidays, the park limits the amount of people that can visit, so arrive early!

* All shots save for the first two starting the post and a couple of Jill were shot by Jill (a nature photographer, interviewed here on her art school experience) with her underwater digital camera. I need to invest in one of those. Speaking of which, it looks like my old, heavily-used SLR finally bit the dust! If anyone has any recommendations for a new camera, let me know :P

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Burnish and Bone's Taphonomy Studio: Curiosities, Fossils, and Business Dedication

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I really appreciate passion/detail-oriented and self-taught business owners. When I saw Ali's business, Burnish and Bone it could't be more obvious that she put so much work into making her small company beautiful. It's clear she's talented, detail-oriented, and dedicated. I had to ask Ali some questions about her taphonomy studio.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Ali? 

Hmm, always a hard question to answer without sounding like a resume, or a Personal ad. Well, I started my professional and educational life as a communication designer with emphasis on traditional media (paper, ink, bookbinding…) storytelling, and imagery. It was a natural fit because I like getting up close and personal with concepts and problems, pulling them part, and reinventing them as creative solutions, or unconventional interpretations to help people foster new perspectives.

2. Can you tell us about Burnish and Bone? 

Burnish + Bone is the name of my taphonomy studio where we clean and preserve animal bones, teeth, and claws. People aren't usually familiar with the study of taphonomy, which is the investigation of organic decay and preservation, (imagine mummies and fossils) so, based on our creative approach to it, we call it "taxidermy without the skin." In a nutshell, we make fossils.


3. When and why did you start Burnish and Bone? 

I was always fascinated by animal bones—I loved how they were artifacts of history; real windows into what was, and how things lived. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a palaeontologist and dig up dinosaur remains. Life didn't take me in that direction, but I stayed a dedicated naturalist; collecting animal shells, feathers, bones, and bugs, writing about my finds, cleaning them, and giving them respective spaces in my home. Next thing I knew, I was designing my life around these artifacts, and discovering their power as natural, historic, and artistic statements. Anyone that came by wanted to see my house and the bones, quills, and feathers. They wanted to know the stories, feel things, an examine them. It was interesting to me—like people were instinctually drawn to nature. They always looked upon the artifacts like distant family members; careful and curious, a little uncertain, but always tender. The requests I would get to "find someone a bone" were constant! Everyone either had, or knew of someone with a strong affinity for a particular animal. Usually the animal symbolized something to them—strength, wildness, calm... and the idea of having a unique representation of that feeling was important to them, instead of something mass-produced. I saw an opportunity to share my love for nature, and started Burnish + Bone in 2010—a bit more of a smelly basement than a real studio. 2015 marked it's true Renaissance as a real-deal business—one with a basin of clients, financial records, permits, and all the real-life stuff.



4. What type of clients do you get? 

Usually nature-enthusiasts—people who want something beautiful for their homes that is personally resonant with their vision of the natural world. I’ve had a lot of people want particular animals because they have a personal connection to them, either spiritually or otherwise. For them, the bones are symbolic, and provide tangible access to things otherwise intangible, and therefore shareable to other people in their homes. Others just like having a cool conversation piece, and I’m always getting collectors knocking on my door.


5. What's the biggest challenge with what you do? Probably government logistics. 

Most of my business deals with wild animal remains, and there are a lot of rules, permits, and regulations behind their acquisition and ownership. It can be intimidating to clients and it limits me and my sources. International shipping, for example, needs a lot of fees and documentation, which can be so outstanding that no one will bother— myself included! Nonetheless, I respect these rules because they do a stand-up job of protecting our Canadian wildlife from exploitation. In a way, they force you to heavily consider your actions in respect to our natural world, and we could all stand to do that from time to time.

6. How do you network and get new clients? 

When you clean and preserve animal bones for a living, it always makes for amusing conversation. When people find out that’s what I do, they are always curious to know more, and it’s remarkable how many people would, or know of someone that “would be totally interested in a bear-fang pendant!” I don’t play well with social media—too crazy for me—so I lean heavily on word-of-mouth, and real human contact. It may be slower-paced, but when you make quality connections with people based on bonafide relationships, the network of support that blossoms from it is amazing. I am always busy!


7. What other crafts do you indulge in? 

When I’m not burnishing bones, I teach yoga, meditate, write, draw, read anything I can get my paws on, and enjoy cooking good meals for my friends and family.

8. Did you take any courses to learn your current craft, or are you self-taught? 

It was all me, baby.

9. I love that! What's your most memorable story operating Burnish and Bone, I'm sure you encounter many interesting clients!

 I think my most interesting "client" was someone who approached me one day and asked, "Would you clean my parrots’ skulls?" I looked at him and smiled, "Sure! I have never had parrots in my studio before, I would be happy to.” He looked at me a little hesitantly, "Really?" "Sure, the process is always the same." I replied "I don't need, like, a special permit or anything?" "Not unless you live outside of Canada…” I said, noting the curious expression beginning to wrinkle his forehead. He stared at me for a long time, and I stared back. I could tell he was trying to send me some kind of psychic message, like I had missed a punch-line, or we were communicating in some kind of codified language. I tried to match his expression, ending in a dumb grin. “Great!” he exclaimed, “My folks will be so happy—they asked if I could find a creative way of commemorating them after they passed away, and when I mentioned your site, they were so excited!” Parents. Not Parrots. I suddenly realized we weren’t talking about birds. Needless to say, the transaction never proceeded—not that I didn’t honour his intention, but, even I get creeped-out by stuff.


10. Any tips for staying motivated as an indie business owner when times are tough? 

I have a quote by Albert Schweitzer that I fall back on when I feel discouraged: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

11. How about any tips for success for beginner indie business owners? 

Before you do anything, before you spend a single penny: realize your business inside-out. Develop a business plan, isolate your client demographic, know your brand, colours, schtick, mantra, ethics, and mission statement. Write up your terms and conditions. Get your business so deeply memorized that if anyone were to ask any question about anything you do, you could answer them succinctly and confidently. Love your business by breathing life into it, and protecting it because it is yours. Don’t let people take advantage of you by having your documentation ready, your t’s crossed, and your i’s dotted. Be fearless, confident, and never be discouraged—you can’t finish a marathon without running it, first.

Thanks so much for sharing the behind-the-scenes on your unique and awesome indie business! Check out her website, Burnish and Bone!
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