Wednesday, September 30, 2009

old town farmers' market at scarecrow festival 2009

The 23rd Annual Scarecrow Festival was held in Ottawa, IL on Saturday, September 26th, and Lonesome Road Studio was takin' it to the streets at the Artist and Artisan Days during the local farmers' market! The weather was great (after a prediction of storms earlier in the week), the crowds were thronging (is that a word?) and it was generally an awesome fall day!

I introduced my newest addition to my show display, my as-of-yet-unnamed mannequin, with an illustrated face by yours truly and beautiful "Desert Flowers" handspun yarn hair by GregoryRoad. One little girl ran up, pointed and screamed "Hannah Montana!!" Not sure I see the resemblance, but oh well, LOL.

In addition to my terrific customers (and a visit from a repeat customer, my first since doing shows, yay!) I had a great time with other vendors. For the most part, this is a community of artisans who are willing to share information and support each other, and this camaraderie is a valued experience.

Although my canopy has been packed away for the season, Lonesome Road Studio will still be around in full force for the holidays. If you happen to be in the Ottawa, Illinois area on Saturday, December 13th, stop by the Holiday Bazaar and Christmas Farmers Market at Jeremiah Joe's Coffee and meet me in person! And, drop me a line at if you'd like to receive a FREE zine/holiday happenings newsletter dishing the latest about Lonesome Road Studio... coming to email inboxes in late October!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

sessions at east 21st - artisan talk with hendricks' hearth

(Above, Hendricks' Hearth cold process bath soaps. Top to bottom: Vanilla & Sandalwood, Tropical Fruit Punch, Earth Blend. At right: Exotic Blend.)

Looking for exceptional spa-quality, natural and organic bath and body products at a great price, combined with top-notch customer service and attention to detail? Look no further than Hendricks' Hearth, owned and operated by Lauren Hendricks. Hendricks' Hearth offers a complete line of fabulous bath and body creations that will delight your senses and keep the world a little greener ... and naturally beautiful. In addition to her luxurious soaps, Lauren's bountiful shop features lotions, creams, butters, sugar scrubs, hair and lip care products, fragrances, bath salts and teas, vegan deodorants and even a variety of unique garden seeds.

I was very honored to interview Lauren for this feature; her talents and interests are numerous, and philanthropic in spirit. Hendricks' Hearth is a member of the Etsy North Georgia Street Team, EFA Artists Helping Animals, and AOE Altruism On Etsy. Lauren also discusses some of her own beloved charitable works in this interview.

So, settle in for a bit and get to know Lauren Hendricks, the amazing artisan behind Hendricks' Hearth!

1. What inspired you to begin creating your organic bath and body products?

Thank you for asking, Angie. I have very fair, sensitive skin and used to go through ten brands of soap before I could find one that I could actually use without suffering ill effects. My husband had to be even more careful than I did and it seemed like we were always battling skin sensitivities. Back then I did not understand the value (or lack thereof) in the ingredients on the label or that I was using skin care products that actually stripped my skin with the use of harsh synthetic detergents and other questionable ingredients. I decided one day that with the right dedication, research, and ingredients that I could make a bar that was much better for our skin than the store-bought variety, and so it began.

2. You have fabulous bath and body shops on both Etsy and Artfire, AND you have currently returned to school to pursue a nursing career. How in the world do you manage to fit everything into one day?

Thank you so much for the kind words! I actually have no idea how I manage my time these days, but somehow it works out. I had wanted to become a registered nurse for a long time (I love helping people and am very interested in the medical field), but I was working at a corporate office that was turning out to be quite a worthwhile position towards an advancing career and before I knew it four years had passed. However, as a result of the economic downturn, the company decided to close the office this year. I could view it in two ways- as a burden or as an opportunity. I chose the latter and enrolled back in school to become a nurse. I am still working full time right now at my office job until the final shutdown at the end of the year, so I am going to classes in the evenings after work until spring, when I will officially be a full-time student again. In my limited free time now, I spend time with my husband, grow and maintain the organic garden and animals, I cook and bake quite a bit, and dabble in fiber arts. Oh, and I craft artisan soap and bath and body items, fill orders, and run my little Etsy shop of course! :o)

3. You are on several Etsy teams, including one which we share in common, EFA Artists Helping Animals. As part of your efforts on behalf of sustainability, tell me a bit more about your connection with Heifer International.

I truly believe that we (as a species), need to do what we can now to provide a sustainable agriculture and a survivable ecosystem for future generations. I love animals of course, but Heifer International is more than that- it offers those without the means to care for themselves and their families a new life through training, accountability and self-reliance, sharing with their community, and the gift of life in the form of donated livestock. Heifer International is geared towards long-term solutions and really does change people’s lives- all through sustainable development with animals. I support them because I believe in their cornerstones and want to do my own small part to make the world a better place, for people and for animals.

4. Hendricks' Hearth is also working to raise money for a Flock of Chicks to help provide nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to those less fortunate. Please tell me about this project.

I am glad to! Quite simply, when someone makes a purchase from Hendricks’ Hearth, 10% of the sale is set aside to donate to Heifer International. Instead of making a general cash donation, I prefer to donate “the gift of life,” wherein a selected family will receive livestock that is chosen for a very specific reason. In this case, they will receive 10-50 chicks to raise for protein-filled eggs to feed their family and to sell their excess at the market to bring in much needed income. One hen can lay over one-hundred and fifty eggs a year, so it can add up to quite a bit in a relatively short amount of time. The family will be provided with the training to raise the animals properly, the equipment to get started, and will be required to donate offspring to another family in their community as well. I am proud to announce that Hendricks’ Hearth recently reached the goal for the purchase of a Flock of Chicks too, so that is great! I have created a donation page through Heifer International so that progress can be tracked by those interested: next goal for Hendricks’ Hearth will be to raise new money to provide the gift of Honeybees, which will help families earn extra income through the sales of pollen, beeswax, and of course honey. Bees are also critical for pollination in many areas affected negatively by chemical spraying and industrialized farming practices.

5. Gardening also seems to be one of your passions (I was just looking at the Organic Heirloom Black Beauty Eggplant Seeds currently for sale in your shop). What grows in your organic garden this year, and do you sometimes use the harvest in your bath and body products?

I really do enjoy gardening immensely. Despite questionable weather such as a late frost at the start of the growing season, I am happy with this year’s crop so far, and it exceeds last year’s, too. So far, I have harvested blueberries, strawberries, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, garden beans, eggplants, snow peas, sunflowers, onions, watermelons, and others. My herbs have done very well this year, too- from sweet basil to lavender to rosemary. Unfortunately I did not have any success this year with corn, but the flower beds are lovely and I am looking forward to planting cool weather crops.I love to dry fresh organic garden herbs for my bath and body items and lavender is my personal favorite despite its small yield. It has an absolutely lovely aroma, truly. Even after I work on the lavender beds, I love how the fragrance of the fresh buds and leaves lingers on my fingertips for hours. I currently grow French, Spanish, and English varieties in two different garden beds. If I had the land, I would grow much more of it, too.

6. Do you have a favorite "Hendricks' Hearth Organic Garden" recipe to share?

Sure, a lovely summer and autumn recipe is homemade garden pesto. I use 1 bunch of fresh chopped basil leaves (and you can substitute some fresh parsley and/or fresh spinach for part of the basil if preferred), 2-6 minced garlic cloves to taste, ½ cup chopped fresh oregano, ½ cup toasted pine nuts, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, ¾ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend together until smooth and serve warm over noodles, on bread, sandwiches, omelets, etc. For a vegan-friendly option, substitute 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast for the Parmesan cheese. A lovely, versatile recipe that is absolutely delicious!

7. Which of your many products is your favorite to create?

I absolutely love crafting cold-process soap. I enjoy planning what fragrance I am going to use and what I would like the finished batch to look like, measuring the individual raw ingredients, and even hand-cutting the fresh bars before the cure. I find the whole experience very relaxing and rewarding, even though I’ll be the first to admit that not every batch turns out just as I imagined it, but that is part of the fun sometimes.

8. (*groan*) If you were stranded on a desert island, which three of your fragrances would you want to take along? (You know that I would say "the Exotic Blend!")

Wow, that is a tough one! I love sampling fragrances and trying out new blended combinations, so this would be a very difficult decision. First, I would need a refreshing, clean fragrance so I think one of my choices would be Water Blend, which is a combination of Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Ginger essential oils. I would have to take a vanilla, so I would probably go with Madagascar Vaniglia, which is a knock-your-socks-off aroma of Madagascar vanilla orchids and vanilla beans. My third choice would probably be Manuka Lavender, which is one of my new favorites- exotic New Zealand raw honey blended with fresh lavender buds and a hint of bergamot. It is just incredible. I know you said three, but I really would need Apple, Cranberry, & Ginger Cider, Pumpkin Pie, White Tea, Oatmeal Ginger Cookie, and the list goes on! Are you sure that I can’t bring four? :o)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

fiber in the park festival 2009

Today I had the honor of meeting another Etsy shop owner - Knitspin of Naperville, Illinois! Today the third annual Fiber in the Park Festival was held at Shabbona Park in Earlville, Illinois; it's a wonderful event and its popularity grows more each and every year, attracting vendors and shoppers from all over the midwest. Here we are, Knitspin and Lonesome Road Studio:

At the top, from bottom to top, here are some of the treasures that I found...
  • Beautiful merino yarns; the green was purchased from Knitspin.
  • Wonderful Tagua Nut buttons... "vegetable ivory" from the Amazon rainforest. The purchase of these buttons supports the employment of 35,000 native people, helping to maintain the trees and ultimately stabilize the rainforest. (Chong the Cat needed to inspect these.)
  • Simple and richly colored recycled-sweater coasters by ReSweater; beautiful for the spare bedroom!
  • And of course, I managed to find beads! These are "Soul of Somanya" beads, created in Ghana... "creating art, transforming lives."
  • Adorable Shepherd's Pride Apple Spice goats milk soap from Vickie's Raspberry Hollow of Burlington, Iowa.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

sunday dinner redux - love on a plate with a twist 4 - happy rosh hashanah!

Celebrate the Jewish New Year, as Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Friday, September 18 and ends at nightfall on Sunday September 20.

As you look forward to the brand new year with the sweet tastes of fruit and honey, enjoy this easy and delicious sweet glaze on chicken or even salmon. Combine equal amounts of honey, red pepper jelly, and Dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may even add a bit of cayenne pepper; surprisingly, the red pepper jelly doesn't add a lot of heat to this glaze, just great flavor. As you can imagine, this recipe can be personalized with all sorts of special touches; use honey mustard instead of Dijon, experiment with different types of honey (darker honeys are wonderful in this recipe).

If baking, the glaze can be added to the meat immediately and creates some tasty pan juices. If grilling, add the glaze at the last moment and keep a close watch on the meat so it does not burn.

Shana tova!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

cancer is a word, not a sentence

I really want to believe John Diamond's words.
Cancer claimed my parents, both at only age 66 ... numerous relatives...
a classmate who was also too young...
beloved friends... and cherished pets.
I'm not even counting the many lost to cancer who
were all of the above to others,
whose paths never crossed mine,
but whose life experience had a ripple effect on their loved ones
in the same ways that my losses affected my life.
I want to believe that cancer is just a word, not a sentence,
and I do believe that it will become reality.

There have been miracles here and there.

But I want to see miracles happen all the time.

Frankly, I'd like to see the terms "cancer survivor" and "miracle" not even remotely connected.
"Cancer survivor" should be just another fact of life.

Like having a cold and getting over it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

that silvery time again

What is it about the sunlight in September?

All of a sudden you notice it; the sunlight has changed to a silvery gleam and everything on which it shines takes on that crisp, cool shimmer: grass, leaves, even the air it seems. There is a sparkle in September that bridges the time between golden summer and snowy winter, even as trees are putting on a show of fiery reds, oranges, yellows and toasty browns.

Is it the southward movement of the sun at this time of year that creates this effect, and prompts deciduous trees to shed their leaves? Or is it because I just really love autumn and see things differently myself at this time of year?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

sunday dinner redux - love on a plate with a twist 3 - pickled!

At left... my awesome kosher dill pickles and bread & butter slices!
What to do with all those cucumbers? Well, there's really only one thing you can do: make pickles (or try to pass them off on friends and family who have an overabundance of cucumbers as well).
My favorites are the kosher dills; hubby likes the sweet bread & butter variety. Fortunately I make both... and they totally rock!
I'm sharing the kosher dill recipe because it's my personal favorite... don't rely on those "easy" pre-made seasonings; it's just as easy to gather some simple ingredients and make your own from "scratch." Check it out:

Per quart of pickles:

1/2 lb. small pickling cucumbers (or trim larger cucumbers to a comparable size)
2 tablespoons dill seeds
1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, if you like
2-1/4 cups water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling salt

Pickle Crisp, use as directed on package

Carefully clean and trim cucumbers; be especially sure to trim blossom ends. Pack loosely into prepared, hot canning jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Add dill seed, garlic (and pepper if you like).

Prepare the brine with the water, vinegar and salt and bring to boiling.

Slowly and carefully pour hot brine over cucumbers in jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust new lids. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Pickles are fabulous in about a week!

Polymer Clay - Why Didn't I Try It Sooner?

I've only recently discovered that I love creating pieces with polymer clay. I don't know why I thought that it was so difficult or tricky. I spent a lot of time talking myself out of trying it. Well, what a waste of time that was! I really believe that you can create virtually anything with polymer clay; it's certainly perfect for jewelry-making due to its versatility and light weight (nice for keychains as well).
I'm also enjoying the fact that I can use my enormous collection of rubber stamps on polymer clay. I used to be an avid rubberstamper and still would enjoy doing it if I had the time. Fortunately, I've discovered that most clear and crisp rubber stamp designs make great images on polymer clay, so my wood-handled treasures have been resuscitated from their dark drawers!
I'm also amazed that artwork can be transferred to the clay much like Silly Putty (just remember to print out the artwork in mirror image). In the future I'd like to experiment with using my own artwork for this technique.
As a polymer clay newbie who has many more things to learn and and try, I don't have a lot of sage wisdom of the ages for other polymer clay artists. Except one: always use the right product to finish the job. I use a lot of acrylic paint, mica powders, etc. on my pieces so I always seal them. Do not use just any sealer; often the surface will remain tacky, or the finish can chip, peel or yellow. I always use Studio by Sculpey glazes in gloss or satin finishes; they are made specifically for polymer clay and you can't go wrong with them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

gettin' out the branding iron

As part of my ongoing efforts to streamline my business strategies and to find what works most effectively, I've decided to jump headfirst into "branding" Lonesome Road Studio. For, as I read on, "If you don't brand yourself, you can rest assured that others are branding you."

As I research the topic, I do find that I've already taken some of the many but fairly simple steps to branding myself, such as purchasing my own .com domain name, participating in social networking (not just tweeting haphazardly, but really trying to participate in a helpful, interactive way) and blogging. But I do find that I have a long path ahead of me, and the path can be daunting and a bit overwhelming if not navigated in an orderly fashion. Fortunately, I discovered this helpful Personal Branding Worksheet of steps to be taken in the process of branding yourself.

Not only is branding a type of "tooting your own horn," it's also about discovering the music you enjoy and play best on that horn. I'm positive that I'm going to enjoy following this worksheet each step of the way; I'm certain that I will learn new things about myself and I know that this can only help in my aspirations to become the best business owner that I can be.

It is my hope that others will reap the benefits of this course as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

reflections on labor day

It's Labor Day weekend in the USA... cookouts, family fun, summer's last fling; and the promise of fall is in the air. For me, fall brings "busy-ness" but as this change of season approaches, I am reminded also of "business" and how I yearn to make my own changes.
Now more than ever I dream of spending all of my time making my own small business the best it can be, but still have to work a part-time day job. It's just a paycheck really; I didn't even have benefits when I worked full-time. Then there is the guilt trip that the economic downturn has placed on me as well; who would be insane enough to leave a job in these bad times? Still, it's hard not to wonder if I could be doing so much more for my own business if I had that other 24 hours a week to spend nurturing it. I guess the "good part" is that there are many others who feel the same way, and we can all support each other.
On a positive note: I recently took another step to making my own business grow; I purchased my .com domain name for two years. It was surprisingly inexpensive at GoDaddy, and with an online discount, even more affordable. In addition, shortly after I created the account someone from GoDaddy called me to discuss my account, what I hoped to accomplish with it, etc. Frankly, at this point I just wanted to purchase the domain name and figure out how to create a redirect to a landing page (my Etsy shop, for now). Well, the kind people at GoDaddy did it for me over the phone and I am so thankful because I certainly didn't know how to do it, LOL.
So, even though I still feel that I'm stagnating in my "old career," my "new career" is taking off, even if it's just semi-sporadic baby steps.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

sunday dinner redux - love on a plate with a twist 2 - labor day edition

Chet Atkins' Coleslaw
Planning on grilling this weekend for the big "end-of-summer" Labor Day cookout? What could be a more perfect side dish than cool, crisp coleslaw?
This is reportedly the coleslaw recipe of the guitar great Chet Atkins, published in the awesome "Dinah Shore Cookbook" (yes.. Dinah Shore) which I scored in my favorite resale/consignment shop. It is one of my all-time favorites; a vinegar-and-oil-based recipe with just the right touch of sweetness. The original recipe does not include onion, but I do like a bit of onion added to the slaw. I also use real apple cider vinegar in place of the recipe's original white vinegar; it's probably just me but I equate white vinegar with pickle-making and house-cleaning. Heh.

For best results, let this blend for about an hour before serving with your masterpiece of the grill.

7 to 8 cups shredded cabbage (or a 14 oz. bag of pre-packaged coleslaw mix)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (if not using the coleslaw mix
1 tablespoon finely minced onion (more if you like)

For the Dressing:
Scant 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I've used light olive oil with good results as well)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar (I added the extra teaspoon of sugar because the apple cider vinegar is quite piquant!)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (like Coleman's)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, more or less to your taste (I like Tabasco's green sauce made with jalapenos)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Thoroughly whisk together the dressing ingredients (the dry mustard will want to clump a bit; just keep whisking it until dissolved). Add dressing to the cabbage, carrots and onions; refrigerate for around an hour before serving.

Serves 4 to 6, depending on how much you like coleslaw!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

belt buckle swank-o-rama!

Just bought five of these six buckles today (except the silver flower, purchased at an earlier time); each buckle was only $6.00 at my favorite consignment/resale shop! Unfortunately I don't have any info about them regarding metals, stones, etc., but I really dig 'em.

Hey, and they're actually practical; every mermaid needs a little help keeping her tail stay up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes, by Ruth Ann Schabacker.
Here at the Lonesome Road, I'm just relaxing after wrapping an order for shipment. In the past few months, I've really gotten into the "experience" aspect of my business. My primary aim is to create my art, jewelry and gifts with only the highest standards. But there's always that "something extra" that I really enjoy doing for my buyers. Even the smallest unexpected delights make everything just a bit more fun, more enchanting, more special; like a surprise birthday party with extra frosting roses on the cake. Some unexpected tender loving care makes our days more joyful, and everyone is worthy of extra joy. Receiving means giving back as well...


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