Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Star Wars: An End of an Era

Big news in the world of my Star Wars fandom....Disney has bought out Lucasfilm Ltd.

That's right, the universe I grew up with, full dangerous rogues, amazing Jedi, and strong Princesses, is going to be owned by the people who brought you Snow Dogs, The Country Bears, and every awful straight to video sequel.

Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 Billion in cash and stock, allowing for Lucas to begin preparing for retirement.

His hand is signing his name, but his eyes whisper “I’m sorry”.

Not only does Disney now have the creative right to Star Wars, no, they couldn't stop there.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Disney announced that Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for a release date in 2015 and that “more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.”

On a conference call, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that in addition to Episode 7, episodes 8 and 9 are also in the works. The goal, Iger said, was to “release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.”

Yes, you read that right, they're making MORE Star Wars films.

Can Disney not leave anything alone? They plan to begin the movies 20 years after Return of the Jedi, following what happens to Luke and Leia after the fall of the Empire. But how can they do that without the original cast? I can only imagine who they will cast for Luke, Han, Leia, C-3PO, and the many others.

Star Wars fans the world over are mixed right now. Some are rejoicing, other are reeling. I'm in the latter group. I fail to see how they can feasibly make a new Star Wars movie every two years, at least, one that will be worth anything. Again, I could cite the hundreds of horrible straight to DVD sequels put out by Disney.

Not only that, but the universe I imagined being a part of as a child, will now be remade and altered, and called canon. How will these movies end? Will everyone hug and be nest friends at the end? Will there be tiny talking woodland creatures who aid the cast in their trials? Oh, and lets not forget the musicals!

I wonder how "The Force will be with you..." will sound when sung?

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Classy in the Kitchen: a Core Bamboo Review and Giveaway

We all have those days. You're tired, sick, or just not feeling like yourself. You've cleaned all day, and have finally decided to make yourself a quick lunch. So you grab that loaf of bread you baked this morning, and cut off a few slices for a sandwich. Only problem? Your only cutting board is now littered with what seems like a million tiny breadcrumbs, and has to be cleaned and wiped down before you can cut your tomatoes and other yummy sandwich goods. Does it ever end? Can't just one thing be made a bit easier today?

With Core Bamboo, it can!

I received this great Slotted Cuttingboard about a month ago, and have been using it nonstop! 

On their website, they have this to say as to why they decided on making bamboo products:

"Bamboo is one of the most remarkable resources on Earth. As a member of the grass family, not a tree, it grows at a much quicker rate than any other wood. From start to harvest (60-70 feet tall) it can take just four years. Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial, therefore stopping bacteria from growing. It is also one of the strongest yet lightest materials around. Bamboo is 16% stronger than Maple and is 33% lighter in weight than Oak. What is probably most remarkable is its unique extensive root system. When bamboo is harvested its natural root system spreads and automatically regenerates itself.
Virtually all of the bamboo we harvest is used in the process." 

I just love an eco-friendly company! This board has a removableslotted top, allowing all your breadcrumbs to fall through to the recess in the board. No more messy crumbs everywhere! Even better, I used the slots as guides, to make each slice of bread the perfect thickness. And it's not just bread you can cut on this board. I've cut up tomatoes, apples, melons, and other juice filled fruits. Then I let all the juice collect in the bottom, and drained it and washed it after I was finished. So much easier than cutting them on a normal cutting board!

But if you still love to have a normal flat topped cutting board on hand, no worries. Simply flip this board over, and you have a smooth side to cut on. That's right, two boards in one! This is a really easy to clean and use board, and would make a great gift for those who spend any amount of the time in the kitchen.

Love what you've heard here? Enter the rafflecopter below, then feel free to hop around and enter all the other awesome giveaways going on in the linky.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Want to Play a Game?

Today, I have a game!

Now, it's nothing fancy in the slightest, but it will be fun, and a bit gross.

The rules are simple, just look at the images below, and try to guess what it's a picture of. Easy right? Maybe not...these are images taken with an Electron Microscope. Meaning that it could be anything bigger than a DNA strand....so good luck! The answer will be listed under each image, so no peeking!

A microcrack in a sheet of steel

A house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus). Millions of dust mites inhabit the home, feeding on shed skin cells. They mainly live in furniture, and are usually harmless. However, their excrement and dead bodies may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people. Thought your house was clean didn't you?

 A human hair...with a split end. Yes ladies, this is what our split ends look like up close!

A Human artery, and blood cells that run through it. 

A human head louse, commonly called head lice, clinging to a hair.

The surface of a strawberry. 

Fimbriae of a Fallopian tube. These beautiful tissues gently cradle and sweep your egg to the Fallopian tube.

 Household dust which includes long hairs such as cat fur, twisted synthetic and woolen fibers, serrated insect scales, a pollen grain, plant and insect remains.

 Cigarette paper

Eyelash hairs growing from the surface of human skin. If you look closely at the base of some of the hairs, you can see the tail end of eyelash mites sticking out from the base. These mites live on almost everyone,  and feed off your dead skin cells. Best part? They don't poo!

 A clutch of unidentified butterfly eggs on a raspberry plant.

 Bacteria on the surface of a human tongue. Did you brush your tongue today?

 The nylon hooks and loops of velcro.

Toilet Paper!

 The head of a maggot of a bluebottle fly (Protophormia sp.) with tiny teeth-like fangs extending from its mouth. The maggots of this fly are used medicinally to clean wounds. The maggots are sterilised and placed in the wound, where they feed on dead tissue and leave healthy tissue untouched. Their saliva contains anti- bacterial chemicals which maintain sterility in the area. Maggots are used on ulcers and deep wounds away from organs or body cavities, most often being used to treat diabetic ulcers on the feet.

A human nerve ending.


Wan't that interesting? I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did...and remember, a little bit of gross and weird in your day never hurt anyone. It just makes life more interesting.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Midwest Pet and Garden, Helping Rabbits in Need

Last February, we had a tornado bear down on our house at nine o'clock in the evening. We had no warning whatsoever, until the sirens went off. We struggled to change out of our pajamas, and into proper clothing. I gathered up my camera and laptop, stuffed a bag full of clothing and food, and some bottled water, and began to run to the cellar. The only problem? My rabbits didn't have pet carriers, so were were forced to carry their cages into the cellar. The wind was blowing about 80 mph, with straight-line winds, and heavy rain...pelting us at every step. The 100 feet from the door to the cellar was never longer.

We made it to the cellar, tired, wet, and cold. The cages were swamped with water, and my poor bunnies soaked to the bone. I did my best to dry them off, as the sirens wailed. The tornado passed, and we had only a few trees down, and some roof damage. One thing was abundantly clear though; the rabbit cages could easily cost us our lives if we had to keep carrying them down to the cellar in the middle of a storm like that. So I began looking for a good pet carrier that would be easy to use, light, and quick to load my often cantankerous bunnies into.

After almost a year of searching, I found the perfect carrier! Midwest Pet and Garden has an amazing carrier called the Petmate 2 Door Top Load Kennel, which is a must for any bunny parent looking for a simple way to load and carry your bun.

The Petmate 2 Door is an awesome pet carrier, due to one simple feature; a top loading door! Any pet parent who has a hard time getting their pet into a carrier should look into this amazing product. As I was looking for something that would be easy to use during both the day and night, I needed a kennel that would allow me to put her in without really looking or fussing with her.

There was plenty of room for her inside, and it was so simple to put together. There is even a small food dish that attaches to the front door, so she can have hay in there with her. I did a test run with the carrier, and I can have her loaded and into the cellar in 2 minutes! Not to mention how much lighter it is than her cage! It's a really sturdy carrier, with great longevity. I took Claudia outside to have a look at her carrier...

Midwest Pet and Garden was an absolute joy to work with, and has so many awesome products to choose from, for almost every animal. A couple of their best lines are the Pet Gear and Majestic Pet lines, which are chock full of great products for dogs, cats, small animals, birds, etc. If you have a pet need, be sure to check out their store!

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Weird Hobbies: A Guide to Civil War Clothing

I've been recently asked a few questions concerning how a lady dresses in my Civil War Reenacting hobby, and I thought now might be a good time to cover that. This particular question will depend on the impression you portray, but for the most part, everything is still the same, just the colors and material change. Let’s start with the basics.

These will be according to closeness to skin, so we’ll begin with your ‘unmentionables’, and work our way out!

Layer 1

* Drawers made of cotton or linen.

-       That’s right ladies, as horrifying as it sounds, there was no underwear like we know it today. Drawers, not bloomers, were like linen or cotton pants, which could be as short as the knee, or as long as the ankles, depending on wearer preference. The fancier ones were trimmed with lace. They were tucked beneath the chemise and corset. So what happened when a lady had to relieve herself? There were these inventions called split bloomers, and they are amazing! There is a split that runs from the front to the back, allowing the wearer to use the facilities without becoming completely undressed to do so. Have you ever struggled at a reenactment, trying to use one of those tiny port-a-john’s? It’s hard enough with all the layers and the hoop…trust me, the split bloomers are a God send. I hated them until I tried them, and there is no going back. Plus, they help keep you cooler in the hot summer months.

* Chemise (long undershirt) usually made of linen.

-     Depending on what material this is made from, and the length, it can either be wonderfully cool or insufferably hot. My chemise is made from white cotton, and falls to about mid-calf. It is an off the shoulder chemise, allowing me to use it with everything I wear, not just my everyday bodice, but my ball gowns as well. I sewed in some sheer cotton panels along the side, allowing for some extra breath-ability in the summer. In the winter, I use a heavier chemise. You can either tuck the chemise into your drawers, or allow it to fall freely, and act as an extra privacy petticoat. I prefer the latter.

* Stockings
 -    In all honesty, I have always just used knee high thin wool or cotton socks. But this is because I find those thick striped stocking from Sutlers kind of ugly. I prefer a white or black stocking, not orange, red, green, yellow, or any of the other colors that I have managed to glimpse other reenactresses wearing.

Layer 2

* Corset, or stays, stiffened with whale bone

-       Don’t worry too much, as most corsets made today have no whale products in them, and instead use steel boning. A good corset should NOT be constraining. The fashion of making yourself thin with the corset was really started between 1870-1880. During the War years, it was simply used to lift, support, and help manage. And yes ladies, nearly ALL women wore a corset. Working, wealthy, and even pregnant women wore a corset. It was like wearing a bra today; you wore it, or were considered vulgar and loose. A good quality corset will not pinch or bind, but will actually help straiten the back and ease some of the weight off your chest. It also is an invaluable piece to have, as it supports the weight of all your skirts and petticoats. I would suggest one made from canvas, or a heavier duty material. 

* Corded petticoat, hoop skirt, or 1 or 2 petticoats
-     Now, there is a very strict layering system in place for these garments, and it goes as follows, one or two under, or privacy, petticoats, then the hoop, or corded petticoat, and a couple of other petticoats to put over the hoop, or corded petticoat. So something like this: petticoat, petticoat, hoop, petticoat, petticoat. Now there are many differences between the three support garments. The corded petticoat was fashionable before the 1850’s, when the hoop skirt or cage was invented. It was a skirt, with many rows of thick cord sewn on. For a working class impression, this is a popular option, along with two or three petticoats. The hoop skirt, or sometimes called a cage, has more support, and allows for a bigger bell shape. This is more common among the upper class or wealthy impressions.

Layer 3

* Corset cover, or camisole, and over petticoat

-       It was common place among wealth ladies who could afford a sheer dress or garibaldi blouse to wear a corset cover or camisole. This garment was designed to allow a lady her modesty, but completely covering the corset from view. I made my corset cover out of a thrifted blouse. I removed the sleeves, altered the neckline a bit, and voila, a cheap corset cover. These are best made out of cotton, and can be as ornate or as simple as you like.

      A petticoat is used to keep you both warm, and to support your skirts. By using them, it also wicks moisture away from the skin, allowing for a cooler day. I prefer to use cotton for the summer months, and wool once the weather turns cool. These are VITAL to keeping the appropriate shape, and keeping the dress clean. Without all the undergarments, your body oil will get on the dress, causing stains and dirt...in an era where doing laundry took an entire day, you want to avoid soiling your good dress as much as possible.

Layer 4

* Bodice

-       The outer clothing, the clothing seen, will depend hugely on your impression. Younger ladies of wealth were the only ones who could wear the much too often seen Garibaldi blouse. It was simply not common for a lady over 30 to wear such a garment. The blouse in question was made from silk, not cotton, and therefore was a sheer and light blouse.

* Skirt, sometimes held up with "braces" (suspenders)
-       Younger ladies of wealth could afford many different colored fabrics, and often times wore a skirt and bodice of different vivid colors. Younger working class ladies wore a simple dress and bodice of the same fabric, and may even have a one piece dress instead of a two piece one. They could wear brighter colors and calicos as well though. Older ladies, 30+, in general wore more muted colors.

* Belt
-     The belt was a very common item to be worn, and could be any kind of fabric or leather. Ladies of any age could wear belts, and it was often times used to hang a fan, chatelaine, purse, etc off of. The belt could have a buckle, be tired like a sash, or have a rosette clasp.

* Shoes

-     Depending on what you’re going to be doing will alter your footwear. I have a few different pairs of boots and slippers just for the differing occasions. Normal footwear for a lady out for a walk would be a simple leather traveling boot, which is ankle high, and laces all the way up. I have these in white, black, and brown. For a riding shoe, these same boots can be worn, but I prefer my knee high leather riding boots. For dances, slippers were more common. Slippers were made of satin, velvet, done in knit, or crochet on the top, and had a hard soled bottom. Some were high heeled, others were flat.

Layer 5 

* Shawl, jacket, or mantle
-       No matter what, you need to have some kind of wrap on. Be it a simple crochet shawl, a lace shawl, or a full on jacket. If you were outside, you had a wrap on. I use a peletot jacket I made for all my impressions, since it was useful in almost all situations.

* Gloves or mitts
-     No polite lady showed her bare flesh in public, and that included the hands. If you’re outside, you should be wearing wrist length gloves. The hands were covered when outdoors, and only taken off when eating or when prompted by the lady of the house whom you were visiting. The gloves should be in muted colors of white, black, or brown. This applies mostly to upper class ladies, as they would not need their hands for the task of cooking or cleaning. At home though, all ladies went without gloves. I prefer my leather riding gloves, but I use cotton and wool as well. Crochet mitts were popular among older ladies, and crochet gloves were used as well.

* Parasol
-     This is again something for ladies of some wealth. Fair skin was a sign of money, since you could afford to be inside and not work out of the home. A good parasol is made of silk, but there are so many different styles that you really need to do your research in order to find one that is right for you.

* Bonnet or hat

-     Again, a must for ALL ladies. A hat or bonnet helps keep the sun off your face, works to shade your eyes, and covers the hair. There are many many different styles, but upper class ladies were more likely to have a bonnet that didn’t cover the face, such as a spoon, settler, or fashion bonnet.  Hats were also a very popular accessory, but were more commonly worn by younger ladies.

* Bag or purse
* Handkerchief
* Hand Fan

Whew! And that isn't even all of the things that you can have, but those that are required, at the very least. There are other minor things, such as collars and cuffs, but it's getting a bit late, and this post is getting a bit long. 

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Uncommon Gifts for Extraordinary People

Have you ever searched for days, or even weeks, for that perfect gift for someone, only to come up short in the end? After an exhausting search, nothing you find seems to suit their personality, so you give up and purchase something bland and boring. Well I have a way to fix that, with Uncommon Goods!

Being a bit of an eclectic soul myself, I often times have a taste for the odd, old, dark, geeky, and artsy...which happens to mean buying a gift for me can be difficult in most instances. However, when offered the chance to review a few items from Uncommon Goods, it took me literally hours to narrow down my "want" list to only a couple of items. There were so many amazing things that caught my fancy!

This first of which was this vintage looking camera bag. 

It's called the Iconic Camera Bag, and despite it's small size, it packs a punch! It's made of durable canvas, with a great velour camera pictured on the flap. There are two large pockets on the outside of the bag, and a super comfy  strap that is used to carry it. Not only could it hold both my SLR Film Camera and my digital, it held two extra lenses, my wallet, 6 wildlife guides, my sketchbook and pencils, as well as extra batteries and memory cards. If that's not impressive, I don't know what is. It has quickly become my favorite camera bag, and I will be using it almost exclusively on my outings.

But the goodies don't end there, oh no! Did I mention they have fantastic Christmas gifts? To find some of their more unique Christmas gifts, click here.One of my absolute favorites is this unique art book, intended for all ages and drawing abilities.

In this book, it gives you everything from how to draw the fundamentals like shapes and shading, to more complex things like how to draw a bird. There are all kinds of really fun art activities in here, and they don't stop at drawing!  There are masks to be made, painting tutorials, mobiles, inkblots, color wheels, letterforms, fingerprint creatures, and so much more!

Not to mention, the great tutorials that teach you how to make your own masterpieces  based off the styles of great artists like Matisse, Mondrian, Warhol, or Pollock. This book is perfect for that budding artist, or the long time art enthusiast. I'm using it to retrain myself to draw, after years of neglecting the skill.

Looking for something a bit more manly to give that amazing guy in your life? Try their awesome gifts for men, found here. I'm sure Dad is getting a little tired of a new tie every year. While you're there check out the fun and quirky stocking stuffers here. There is something for everyone, from young to old, and it's always going to surprise and delight!

So why not try something new for the holidays, and get an uncommon gift for an extraordinary person?

Love and Lightning Bugs,