Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fan Appreciation Giveaway!

I have a fantastic new giveaway for you lovely followers to enter! Erin over at For Him and My Family is giving away a Super Flip Color Kit  and a Lash All You Want Mascara by Mark Cosmetics! A really awesome prize! As some of you know, I did a review on the Lash All You Want Mascara, so you know you're getting a quality product with this giveaway!

to enter, please sign-up HERE.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Disney Bow: Ariel

Have a little Princess in your life? Feel like having a little Princess flair yourself? I have just started creating a Disney inspired line of hair bows! Each bow will have either a clip, or be made to fit over a headband. This is my first creation, called Ariel.

I sell these through my business, Shades of Grey Emporium. They are marked for $3.00 each plus shipping. A wonderful way to dress up a dull outfit, or show some of your inner Princess!

Love and Lightning Bugs,

King of the Jungle

Time for another Shutterbug Saturday!

This was taken in 2011 at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita , KS. I remember that day really well, as it was the first time I had gotten to hang out with my very dear friends Brooke and K for a very very long time. We went to the zoo and met up with other good friends, then went to Chipotle for Lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon at an old used book store, reminiscing about our childhoods. 

I really started to get to know a now good friend, Las, that day. It was the start of a great friendship. I post a picture of this Peacock instead of my friends simply because of how over the top this guy was. He was strutting and calling, and posing like no other Peacock I have ever seen. He was a delight to photograph.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Scentsy Giveaway!

Well, one Giveaway is coming to an end, and another is just starting! Remember Erin over at For Him and My Family? I did a review of some of her lovely Scentsy products a week and a half ago, and she in turn has offered to sponsor a giveaway for me! That's right, FREE SCENTSY PRODUCTS!

For this giveaway, there are actually two prizes: a Scentsy Plug-In Warmer, and a Scentsy Bar. These prized have a cash value of $25, and are a wonderful way to spruce up any home, or are even better as gifts.

The warmer is a wonderful piece called Lei, which will add a bit of fun and whimsy to any room you place it in. The size isn't too big, and it's not too small, allowing for wonderful placement in just the right place you may want or need it.

As for the bar, it's the April Scent of the Month, and is called Cerise. "Walk along a charming Paris side street, where a slight breeze makes the cherry trees-cerisiers-shower you with pink sugar petals. Cerise is an embrace of cherry blossom, fresh plum, and soft white blooms warmed by golden vanilla." Doesn't that sound lovely?

If you like these products, by all means, sign up as a customer at Erin's Scentsy Store for the latest news and specials!

To enter, just fill out one or more entries below. All entries will be placed into an excel spreadsheet, then put into Myself or Erin will contact you within 48 hours of the end of the  giveaway. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Loyalty of the Horses

I am going to start this post with something I have never done before: a warning. Some of the images below may be heartbreaking and disturbing to some.  This is not my intention with this post. My intention is to show the sheer loyalty and love that the horses of the Civil War exhibited. As some of you may know, I am a Civil War Reenactor, and proud member of the 1st North Carolina/12th Missouri Cavalry. If you're interested, you can find all of my history and reenactment related posts at my other blog: Confessions of a Reenactor. I am also an avid animal lover, as can be noted by all the odd animal facts on this blog. I wanted to share a bit of my passion for history, as well as my passion for animals. I hope you can enjoy.

Myself on Maggie at the Lamoni Civil War Dats event, 2012

Capt. Charles Francis Adams served in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. The grandson of one U. S. President, and the great-grandson of another, Adams possessed the family’s gift for the written word. The winter of 1863 was an especially harsh one. Adams had a chance to observe the torment of his unit’s mounts as they suffered alongside their masters:

My tent is logged up, I have a good fire-place, a pretty complete outfit and am as comfortable as I have any wish to be; but I feel for my men and dare not go and look at my horses. I know just how they look, as they huddle together at the picket-ropes and turn their shivering croups to this pelting north-easter. There they stand without shelter, fetlock deep in slush and mud, without a blanket among them, and there they must stand–poor beasts–and all I can do for them is to give them all the food I can, and that little enough. Of oats there is a sufficiency and the horses have twelve quarts a day; but hay is scant, and it is only by luck that we have a few bales just now when most we need them. I have them fed four times a day–at morning, noon, night and midnight–and if they have enough to eat, they do wonderfully well, but it comes hard on them to have to sustain hunger, as well as cold and wet. It is all over, however, with any horse that begins to fail, for after a few days he either dies at the rope, or else glanders set in and he is led out and shot. I lose in this way two or three horses per week.

Charles Francis Adams to his father, January 28, 1863. 

Some 1.5 million horses are estimated to have died in the American Civil War.

The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads was fought near Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 10, 1865. Pvt. William F. Sewell of the 5th Georgia Cavalry received a mortal wound in that harsh fighting. While the Battle of Bentonville raged on March 19, local blacks ventured out onto the Monroe’s Crossroads battlefield. They found Sewell’s unburied body lying on the bank of a creek where he fell and died on March 10. His large black horse, still saddled and still carrying all of its accouterments, grazed nearby, faithfully waiting for his master to awaken and for them to get back to work. That black horse loyally stood by its dead master for nine long days.

The National Sporting Library in Middleburg, Virginia commissioned a monument to the Civil War cavalry horse. Rather than portray a hale and hearty horse, the monument shows an exhausted, malnourished cavalry horse, still faithful and still serving, even though it was clearly near the end of its rope. The scabbard to his master’s saber is empty; we don’t know what happened to his master. The monument accurately depicts the condition of Civil War cavalry horses, and shows the frightful toll that endless hours of marching and picketing took on those proud beasts.

Here are the words spoken during the dedication of that memorial: an appropriate tribute to the cavalry horses who sacrificed so much during the Civil War.

“Here lies the steed with his nostrils all wide,
But through it there rolls not the breath of its pride.
The foam of his gasping lies white on the turf,
And as cold as the spray of the rock-beaten surf.”
Ah! The horses—the blacks and bays, the roans and grays, the sorrels and chestnuts that pulled Lee’s army from the Rappahannock to Gettysburg and back, and all the other horses that pulled and tugged at the wagons, at the batteries of artillery; the horses that carried the men, the unstabled horses and the half-fed horses.

Let my right hand forget its cunning if I forget to pay proper tribute to those noble animals that suffered so much for their masters. How often my mind goes back to that horse my mind’s eye saw coming across the field from the front at Bull Run with his sides all dripping with blood. He was a hero and coming back home to die.

The cavalryman and his horse got very close to each other, not only physically, but also heart to heart. They ate together, slept together, marched, fought and often died together. While the rider slept, the horse cropped the grass around him and got as close up to his rider’s body as he could get. The loyal steed pushed the trooper’s head gently aside with his nose to get at the grass beneath it. By the thousands, men reposed in fields fast asleep from arduous campaigns with their horses quietly grazing beside them, and nary a cavalier was trod upon or injured by his steed.

They were so faithful and unfaltering. When the bugle sounded, they were always ready to respond, for they knew all the bugle calls. If it were saddle up, or the feed, or the water call, they were as ready to answer one as the other. And they were so noble and so brave in battle. They seemed to love the sound of the guns. The cavalryman might lie low on the neck of his horse as the missiles of death hissed about him. But the horse never flinched, except when struck.
Lo! As we should, we build monuments for our dead soldiers, for those we know, and for the unknown dead. So with the ultimate sacrifice of our lamented fallen honored upon their noble deaths, is it not also just that we recall their valiant steeds? What would you think of a monument some day, somewhere in Virginia, in honor of Lee’s noble horses?

What could General Lee have done had all his horses balked in unison? Nothing! Then all honor to Lee’s horses, which pulled and hauled and fought and died that this might be a very great nation.

“The good black horse came riderless home,
Flecked with blood drops as well as foam;
See yonder hillock where dead leaves fall;
The good black horse dropped dead—
That is all.

‘All? O, God! It is all I can speak.
Question me not; I am old and weak;
His saber and his saddle hang on the wall,
And his horse is dead—
I have told you all.”

-          Clark B. Hall
Middleburg, Virginia

For all of us who have had the privilege and honor of being loved by a horse, this is for you.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Animal Fun Fact: The Honduran White Bat

HONDURAN WHITE BAT (Ectophylla alba)

The Honduran white bat has snow white fur and a pig-like yellow nose and ears. It is tiny, only 1-1/2” - 2” long (3.7-4.7cm)—that’s about the size of a ping pong ball. The only member of the genus Ectophylla, it is found in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama. It feeds at least in part on fruit.

The Honduran white bat cuts the side veins extending out from the midrib of the large leave of the Heliconia plant causing the leaves to fold down and form a ‘tent’. They cling to the roof of this tent in small colonies of up to half a dozen individuals, consisting of one male and a harem of females. The tent protects them from rain and predators. Most tent-making bats take flight at even slight disturbances, but researchers in Costa Rica have reported that Honduran white bats take flight only when the main stem of their tent is disturbed, possibly because they are well camouflaged. Although their tents are typically low to the ground (about six feet), sunlight filters through the leaf which gives their white fur a greenish cast. This almost completely conceals them if they remain still. It has been suggested a colony may have a number of tents scattered within the forest. It is one of 15 species of Latin American bats that roost in tents.

Plus, they're pretty much the cutest bat in all of existence. <3

Love and Lightning Bugs,


Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Mondays: Alex Day "Lady Godiva"

Welcome to the first installment of Music Monday! Today, I'm going to be doing my part to help a wonderful independent artist from Essex, England. His name is Alex Day, and some of you may actually know him from a fantastic band called Chameleon Circuit, which is an alternative type band who write songs about Doctor Who. As you can very well imagine, I adore them.

As I said before, Alex is currently an independent recording artist, making music for the sole purpose of wanting to make people happy with his songs. Over the Christmas season, Alex made it a goal to get his song Forever Yours to number one in the UK charts. He never made it to number one, but he did make it to forth place, as well as placing in the top ten in the US and other countries. A HUGE accomplishment for an independent artist. Well, he's setting out to do this again with his newest single, Lady Godiva.

To be able to do this, Alex needs everyone who wants to, to purchase Lady Godiva on April 1st. Not before if possible, but exactly on April Fools Day. He wants to show the world that a lone artist can make the top ten, not once, but twice! He turned down a record deal after the success of Forever Yours, because he felt that it wasn't talent that made you in Hollywood, but money. He wants to stay true to his roots and beliefs, and make music just to make people happy.

But Alex is very adamant about one thing: "Don't buy Lady Godiva if you don't love it."

Now as for the song in general, I loved it! It has a great beat, that isn't too heavy, but rather fun and lighthearted. The lyrics are much the same way, and over all the song has some fantastic energy in it. I listen to it, and I can't help but bob my head do a little dance if I'm standing. Just a great flirty song.

The Video 

If you'd like to purchase the song, you can get it at the following:

Please help support a wonderful artist!

Love and Lightning Bugs,

The Start of Music Mondays

Well, it's Monday, and as promised, I'm starting a brand new string of posts called Music Monday's!

Music Monday's will be posts about a particular song that has really caught my attention and has me thinking. It could be an old song, a new song, foreign song, etc. I'll post a link or a video of the song, and my feelings and attitude towards it.

I'm doing this because for one, I love music, and two, I have been told by many people on various occasions that my music taste is one of the most eclectic they have ever seen. not sure if that's a compliment or not, but I thought that I would love to share my personal music digest with you wonderful followers.

I'll be posting the first Music Monday later this evening, so I hope you'll all enjoy!

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

For the Love of a Dog

Not the best picture, I know. But this is Pippin, my soulmate and best friend in the entire world...and he lives over 4 hours away. He was my dog when I lived at home with my parents, but when I moved, I wasn't able to take him with me. I took this a few months ago, during my last visit home. Just look at that face...

People can ridicule me all they like, but honestly love this dog more than I love most people. 

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Mark - Lash All You Want Review

Part of the great review package I was given by Erin over at For Him and My Family was a few of her Mark products. Mark, for those of you who don't know, is a high end cosmetics line headed by Avon. Since I'm very animal aware, and seversly against animal testing, I checked the tested on animals status before I ever opened the product. Sadly, Avon has ended it's cruelty-free campaign that was in place since 1989, so they could sell their products in China. Their Mark line however, is still cruelty-free. So I went ahead and gave this product a try.

This was the package I received, and the product as well.

Lash All You Want is a high volume mascara, which claims to instantly add 12 times the volume. It also claims to not flake, smudge, clump, as well as create fuller and longer lashes. I myself have very thin and brittle lashes, as you can see below.

You can barely see that I have lashes at all. I took this without my eye liner on, to show you just how thin they actually are. Now before I get into the results, I thought you should see the wand.

If you have sensitive eyes, this may not be the right mascara for you, since the wand is a hard wand, with long plastic bristles. Do they get the job done though? You bet! Here are my after pictures.

From straight on, you can see a huge difference from the image above. I have put on my eyeliner, though it makes little difference in the appearance in the mascara makes. My lashes have a nice dark noir color, which is the color I tested.

From below, you can really see the extension I got from this mascara.

And even more so from above.

I only used one coat on my lashes, so imagine what 2-3 coats will do. Overall I was very happy with the results, and would suggest this product to those with little to no lashes. Not only does it add length and volume, but it's a huge confidence booster to those of us who can never find a good mascara.

To purchase this product, please go HERE

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lilla Rose Giveaway - FH&MF

As you know, I'm very good friends with Erin over at For Him and My Family, and I wanted to help her get her newest giveaway out to the masses!

She's giving away an fantastic hair clip by Lilla Rose! These hair clips fit all hair size and thickness, and are just so much prettier than your normal hair clip. She doesn't have very many entries, so go try your luck!

Enter HERE

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Free 10x13 Wall Portrait from Sears!

Have a Sears near you? Want to get a portrait done for your family, or for another reason entirely? Well wait no more! Right now you can print This Offer for a free 10x13 portrait with Fresh Photo Effects, from Sears, with no session fees! This is a great offer, so you know it won't last long! Book your session today and take advantage of this great offer!

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Purex Detergent Sample Review

As a severe penny pincher, I often sign up for and receive free product samples in the mail. Some are great, and others...well....not so much. I figured I should start sharing my experience with these samples, so maybe other people can see the results before they buy.

Yesterday I received a sample of Purex Triple Action Detergent. The package looked like this, and contained a sample pack of one load worth of detergent.

I took a picture of two shirts, with separate stains, before the wash, and after. These are both white cotton shirts, the one on the left having a couple drops of chocolate on it, the one on the right being a victim of my love of animals, and having some goat spittle and dung on it.

As you can see, the stains are decently noticeable. I placed them in the washer following all the directions on the package, then ran the washer like normal. I then put them in the dryer, and waited. They came out looking like this.

While the goat stain is mostly gone, it's still faintly there, and the chocolate has only lightened a bit. I'm not happy with how this detergent worked at all. I typically use Dollar Tree detergent, and if that can get the chocolate out of my clothes, this name brand should have been able to. Plus, the Purex detergent actually dulled my whites, not brightening them.

I'm glad it was a sample, because I would have been very angry had I actually paid for this. In my opinion, a waste of time and money.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bento Journey: Apple Rabbit Tutorial

As you know, I'm a huge fan of Bento. Part of the fun of Bento is to see how cute and creative you can get your food to look. I have gotten a few requests for Bento Tutorials, so I thought this would be a good time to start! Let's start with something easy, that even non-Bento makers can do: Apple Cutting!

The equipment and supplies you need:

All you need to cut your apples are shown here. A cutting board, a sharp small knife (here I have a serrated one, but a smooth bladed one is better really), a toothpick, and a bowl filled with acidulated water (cold water with some lemon juice in it) to dunk the apple slices in to stop them from turning brown.

Apple bunnies (Usagi Ringo)
Apple bunnies, or usagi ringo (うさぎりんご)are the most commonly seen decorative apple cut. It’s also one of the most simple, so I thought I’d go over it, and explain how to establish some basics of decorative apple cutting.

First, cut out a wedge from the apple, and cut out the core. Score the skin with a V shape with your knife, as shown.

Carefully lift out the center V point (the part you’re going to cut away) with your knife. This helps to make a clean point there.

Cut under the outer points (the ears) fairly close to the skin. Cut them all the way down to the center V point.

Peel away the center skin, taking care not to cut into the ears.

Voilà, your apple bunny! You can cut eyes in, stick in cloves there, or just leave the ‘face’ bare, for a modern minimalist bunny.

After you’ve finished cutting, dunk the apple wedge into the bowl of acidulated water. You might want to dip the wedge while you’re working on it, if you see it turning brownish. This will also make the bunny ears stick up and curl up a bit.

So to review, here are the basics of decorative apple cutting:
·         Cut out a wedge and cut away the core.
·         Score the surface with a sharp knife.
·         Cut away the parts you don’t want, working from the corners first.
·         Dunk in acidulated water to stop it from turning brown.

I hope that helps those of you who want to add a bit of fun and cheer to an everyday snack. I find that most people I meet while snacking on these love them, and it seems to help some of those more picky eating kids too.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Animal Fun Fact: Sunda Flying Lemur

Galeopterus variegatus by yiwenwong

The Sunda flying lemur (Galeopterus variegatus), a species of colugo, uses its great expanse of membrane - spanning its entire body - to glide distances up to 150m. But while the natural assumption has previously been that this adaptation saves energy, recent research has found that in fact it doesn’t: it just saves time. Gliding actually requires about 1.5 times more energy than clambering the same distance across the canopy would. However, colugos are clumsy climbers, lacking opposable thumbs to help them move through the trees. As a result, gliding rather than climbing can be up to 10 times faster, leaving more time for essential foraging.  

Love and Lightning Bugs,


Scentsy Warmer Review

I've been given a great opportunity this week! A very dear friend of mine over at For Him and My Family has given me some of her fantastic products to review!

Erin has many great products she sells, but one of my favorite's is her Scentsy store. Scentsy, for those of you who haven't heard of it, is a safe and wickless alternative to scented candles. Their scents are amazing, and the sheer amount of products guarantees there is something for everyone to love. On the plus side all you need is one small light bulb to operate this product, making it very simple to change when you need to. 

First up, is the plug in warmer I received. It came in the box below.

Once I opened the box, I was glad to see that everything I would need came with it, even the light bulb! This warmer is called Bud, and it's very simple to assemble and use, it took me about 3 seconds to get it all put together. The warmer itself is ceramic, conducting heat in a way that melts the wax, but doesn't make the warmer hot. A real plus for families with kids. It even has an on and off switch, in case I leave the house. This is a great size for an office cubicle, bathroom, or other area where space might be an issue. But don't let it's size fool you, it packs a punch!

The scent that was included with the warmer is called Sunlit Morning, and it the March scent of the Month. The scent bricks are actually wax, but don't fear for your children's fingers! The wax is cool to the touch, even after it's been heated all day, therefore, no burns. The front looks like this.

The great thing about Scentsy is that it comes in easy to break bricks, allowing you to use as much scent as you want. I used one brick in my warmer, and it was just the right amount of scent. Another great feature is the fact that you can mix and match scent bricks in your warmer, creating an all new and unique to you scent. This scent, Sunlit Morning, has a wonderful concoction of smells, including lemon, white flowers, and a hint of sage. That's what I smelled instantly anyway. 

I plugged the warmer into my bathroom socket, placed my one brick in the top, and it has seeped it's way through the entire house! I have two house bunnies, and sometimes their cages smell a bit. Using the Scentsy warmer though, I can no longer smell their cages! Even all the way across the house, this warmer is doing it's job.

Overall, this was a very wonderful product, which I will defiantly use everyday. It's safe for houses with animals and kids, and has plenty of products for everyone to find something that fits them. If you're interested in purchasing some of these great products, I have the info listed below!

If you have any questions about it, please feel free to stop over at Erin's blog, For Him and My Family, and ask away!

Love and Lightning Bugs,