Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Upcoming Craft Shows!

I will be at two different shows this coming weekend.

Saturday April 30th, I will be in Guelph at the Old Quebec Street Mall for the Guelph Creative Arts Association "Made For You" Art and Craft Show!
From 10am- 4:30 I'll be in the indoor mall with lots of other fabulous local artisans, as well as face painting for the kids, raffles, contests and more!

On Sunday May 1st I'll be at the B.A.Y.T. Synagogue in Toronto for the Sisterhood Gift Show!
613 Clark Avenue West, from 10am- 5pm.
This will be a great show, and the perfect opportunity to pick up something for Mother's Day!

I hope to see you there!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Afternoon Cat Break!

Ms. Boss Cat is NOT pleased that you are taking a picture of her...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why I’m voting Green- and not voting strategically

Although I don’t think people are surprised that I’m voting Green, I do get the feeling that people think a vote for the Green’s is unwarranted, unhelpful, and frankly, rather useless.

I wanted to explain my reasons, as well as explain why I’m not voting strategically- even though, if my end goal is to ensure that the Conservative’s don’t end up with more seats, I should.

On Strategic Voting
I don’t like strategic voting. I think it undermines democracy and defeats the purpose of our democratic system and our multi-party commons. Unfortunately we have a voting system that encourages "efficient" voting, and one that has become a (mostly) two-party system.

I don’t think that the answer to a First-Past-the-Post electoral system is vote strategically and thus vote against the party you like least, versus the party you like the most. A democracy should have many parties, and many different representatives in parliament to represent the diverse views of the people of Canada. Simply voting against the party you dislike the most is not a good way to exercise our democratic rights, and not a good way to tell the government and the parties that you are unhappy with them and seek change.

I should be voting strategically though.

In the 2008 election I was still in school and voted in the Kitchener- Waterloo district. I voted for the NDP.
What happened? The liberal incumbent was defeated, by less than 100 votes for the conservative candidate.
Had I, and a few others, voted strategically would that race have turned out differently? Probably.

Last election in my home riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, and the riding I am voting in this year, Liberal incumbent Joe Volpe managed to keep his seat by 2260 votes. Should I be voting strategically this year for Joe? Probably.

Will I? No.

Why? Because we need electoral reform, and voting for the status quo does not a change make. Because I choose to exercise my democratic rights and vote for the party and candidate that best reflects my views, ideals, and vision of Canada and the future. And because strategic voting cheapens democracy by making a joke out of the electoral process.

Our First-Past-the-Post system is outdated, doesn’t reflect the actual views of the populace, and would radically change the face of Canadian politics if it were to be changed. This is one of the reasons I’m voting Green this year. They are the only party to stand up and agitate for electoral reform.
(They are, of course, the one party that would reap huge benefits from a change in our electoral policies. Of course I know this. And just as naturally, the Liberals and the Conservatives (and the BQ) will never want a proportional electoral system put in place because they would then lose seats overall).

So, why am I voting Green?
Obviously, and this is a very important issue to me, for the environment.

We need a solid, action-oriented plan for the future of Canada’s environment. The fact is, right now, we don’t have a plan at all.
Canada was even awarded a Fossil Award at the Copenhagen talks. This was an award given to whichever “country has done the most to delay and otherwise disrupt negotiations for an agreement on a global reduction in carbon emissions.” Great job there Conservatives.
Instead of action the current government has been ignoring the environment, which works really well when you love oil and Alberta.

Do I think we should all immediately leave our cars and walk to the nearest farm and start to grow our own food and can our own winter goods? No.
Well, not exactly.

I think we need to rely less on cars, and that means investing in public transportation and better infrastructure for our cities. I think we need to focus on agricultural issues and start promoting locally grown and sourced foods. I think Canada needs to be food self-sufficient before we start exporting our food. I think that our food prices are going to start going up (oil prices are increasing, and the climate hasn't been helping), and that we need to make sure that all Canadians have the money to afford healthy, local produce. We also need to make sure our farmland isn't paved over with subdivisions, or that limestone mines are not being planned for 2300 acres of it.

We need to improve Canada's image on the world stage, and one of the best ways to do that is to start doing something, seriously, about climate change and global warming. Business as usual will not cut it.

We need a federally mandated childcare program for Canada, so that all children can start their education on even footing, and so that parents that need to work to make ends meet have a place for their children.
We need a federally mandated school lunch program so that all kids can eat well and that those children who don't even get sent to school with a lunch can eat.
We need more emphasis on small, local sustainable economies - small-scale economies is one way to prevent the global issues surrounding recessions, food prices, oil prices and the free-market effect us.

We need to take another look at NAFTA and make sure if reflects the best needs of Canada (and not the best needs of the United States).

We need electoral reform in Canada. Our first-past-the-post system does not properly illustrate what Canadians want to see out of our elected representatives. In a country as large, diverse and wonderful as ours we need to make sure that every province, territory and township can be represented properly.

In the last federal election the Bloq Quebecois managed a whopping 49 seats in parliament, with 1,379,991 votes. The Green Party, on the other hand had 937,613 people who cast their vote for them, and yet didn't manage one seat in parliament. There is clearly something wrong with our current system. Equally odious is the fact that the NDP had over 2.5 million votes for them and only 37 seats in parliament.
You tell me if that sounds right to you.

We need more and better transparency in government. The Conservative Party - not so good on that front. Canada has no "open-data policy," which we clearly need when our elected representatives don't bother with notifying parliament of anything.
The CPC is still running on the platform of accountability, small government and (gasp!) transparency. And this is the party that won't allow journalists to ask certain questions, a Prime Minister that simply won't answer questions if he doesn't like them, and a party that requires the people who attend rally's and events be pre-vetted by the party. This is a party that likes to stifle it's MP's, their opinions, and generally run things like a one-man Steven Harper Party.

This is a party which has clearly stated that they won't open the "abortion debate" in Canada (which is great), but also a party that has no compunctions about ending funding to international aid organizations that offer abortion as one facet of family planning in developing countries (this is what happened at the G8 in Toronto).
I'm not sure which reality the CPC is currently living in, but it can't be this one.

Do corporate tax cuts really help unemployment - not always and not so much. So why is this such a huge issue for the CPC? I don't know. Because it makes a good sound bite, or because most people will simply hear the statement and not look into it?

Why is the CPC so keen on making the word "coalition" such a dirty word? Perhaps because if elected to another minority government the Conservatives will have to court the other parties through his Throne Speech, and if that doesn't work then the Liberals, with the help of the other parties can defeat the Conservatives and form a government themselves.
Is this legal? Yes!
Is this how our parliament is supposed to work? Yes!
Does Mr. Harper not like this fact? Obviously.

Those are the reasons I'm voting Green this year. They are the party that has addressed the issues I think are important for the future of Canada, and that are important to me.
I can only hope that if enough people vote for the party they truly believe in that the other "main" parties will stand up and notice us, and perhaps not ignore these issues.

Why else should you vote for the party you feel best represents you, and not simply strategically? Because each party will receive approximately $2 per vote that they receive to spend on the next federal election. Your vote means that your party will be better equipped for the next election. (Although a Harper majority has pledged to end this).

Why else? Because you should vote for the party that you believe in. The party that you feel will truly make a difference and the one that represents you best.

But don't just listen to me - read the party platforms and make an informed decision when you cast your vote on May 2nd.

The Green Party Platform
The Pirate Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada Platform
The New Democratic Party Platform
The Conservative Party of Canada Platform

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Creative Hearts Collective: Tomorrow!

Don't forget I'll be at the Gladstone Hotel tomorrow from 11am- 5pm, for the Creative Hearts Collective Spring Show!

Money raised at the door is going towards a scholarship project from the lovely people at the Corsage Project.

The Gladstone Hotel is on Queen Street near Dufferin - 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto

Come on down and look for some great gifts for Mom for Mother's Day!

I hope to see you all there!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Dance Break + News about this weekend's shows

So, our Friday dance break today is courtesy of the Gin Blossoms! Yes, that awesome mid 90's rock band.

And some changing show news:

Due to a communication snafu with the City of Kitchener I will be unable to attend tomorrow's show at Kitchener City Hall.
The Bloomin' Earth show is still going on, and looks to be fabulous- and everyone should head out there and support the local artisans and all the hard work that has gone into planning this event.
The Bloomin' Earth's Website can be found here.
Saturday April 16th, from 9am- 3pm, 200 King Street, Kitchener, Ontario.

However, I am still a go go go for this Sunday's show at the Gladstone Hotel- the Creative Hearts Collective!
There is a donation request at the door, and all the proceeds go toward the Corsage project.
It should be an amazing Sunday!

Sunday April 17th 11-5pm, in the Ballroom
1214 Queen Street West, Toronto

And, now- Follow You Down from the Congratulations I'm Sorry Album, 1996- The Gin Blossoms!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Product Profile: Sugar Scrubs!

Sugar scrubs are fabulous. They allow you to get rid of all the dead skin cells and other gunk that can build up on your skin over time. They will help your skin revitalize, grow new cells, soften and add a healthy glow. A scrub utilizes an exfoliant of some kind (sugar, salt, pumice, jojoba beads, apricot kernel or almond shells, loofa...) to scrape off old skin, and to soften, smooth and regenerate your skin.
Try not to purchase or use scrubs with plastic beads as the exfoliant. Plastic does not degrade on its way down your drain and will end up in the world's river and ocean systems, where it will bio-magnify, meaning it will continue its way back up the food chain, and back to you.

Why use a scrub?
Your skin sheds millions of skin cells on a daily basis, and if these are not routinely cleansed off they can buildup and create a barrier to other forms of moisturization and lead to wrinkly and older looking skin. Skin with this type of barrier tends to be "thirstier," as well, even though the benefits of moisturizing don't help it as much.
Exfoliation will also help with ingrown hairs, it helps to stimulate circulation and gets rid of dirt and build-up without the use of soap.

Scrubs can be used on the face and the body, but there is generally a difference between the two. Mainly, facial scrubs will be less abrasive and utilize different oils and exfoliants. This is not to say that you can't use a regular body scrub on your face, only be careful when you rub, and don't overdo it.

Why sugar?
Sugar is usually the exfoliant of choice for many people as it is less abrasive and doesn't sting, like a salt scrub would. It also has some fantastic chemical properties going for it as well. Not only will sugar act as an exfoliant in a manual sense, but because it contains natural glycolic acids it also exfoliates on a chemical level, by dissolving dead skin and clarifying your skin.

Here is a really basic sugar scrub recipe that you can make at home:

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Olive oil
1 tblsp Lemon Zest

Mix well, and use!

What is an emulsified sugar scrub? And what makes them better?
An emulsified scrub is one that will become creamy and 'lotion-like' in the shower when water is applied to it. Emulsified scrubs use water soluble ingredients in it (butters, oils and an emulsifier) to create the creamy lotion-like texture.

The sugar scrubs I make are emulsified sugar scrubs, which means they have a few extra ingredients in them which adds to the texture of the scrub in the shower, as well as the moisturization properties of it. These scrubs will wash off without a greasy feel and utilize butter and oils to create a moisturizing feast for your skin.

My scrubs:
I use cocoa and mango butters, as well as castor, cherry kernel, jojoba, rice bran and soya bean oils in my sugar scrubs for their amazing skin properties.

Why do I use those specific ingredients? Well, cocoa butter has a long shelf life, has both phytoesterols and polyphenols, as well as palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids in it. Also, it happens to be my favorite butter! It smells amazing and is always the butter in my favorite lotions, I find it amazingly moisturizing and smooth on my skin.

Mango butter also has palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids in it, but has more polyphenols than the cocoa butter. Mango butter also has ingredients in it that act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. It also a drier feel to it than other butters, which works well in a scrub by not making it too greasy.

Castor oil is a great oil, although a bit on the heavier side. I use it here because it tends to penetrate skin easily and acts as a fabulous humectant (a substance that will preserve the moisture content of skin). I like using Jojoba oil in many things because it is generally considered to be non-allergenic, and has anti-oxidant properties. Jojoba will penetrate the skin and not block pores, and contains octacosanol, a fatty acid that can soothe dry skin. Cherry kernel oil has natural antioxidants, vitamins A and E and is a light moisturizing oil.

Rice bran oil contains Ferulic acid, an anti-oxidant that is more effective than vitamin E, and also has anti-inflammation properties. Rice bran oil also contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E and squalene (a natural moisturizer). Soyabean oil is a lighter carrier oil and has oodles of linoleic acid in it, as well as Vitamin E, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the highest concentration of phytoesterols in any of the carrier oils I use. Phytoesterols help soothe damaged skin, inflamed skin or red skin, and can also act as anti-inflammatories.

All in all, these are all oils that have fabulous skin properties, and combining them together in an emulsifying sugar scrub means that once those dead skin cells are gone these fabulous oils can start moisturizing your skin!

I now have 5 scents of sugar scrubs available: Luscious Lime, Decadent Neroli, Radiant Yuzu, Midnight Pomegranate and Morning Orange!

All of them smell fabulous and will cleanse and soften your skin.
Both the orange and the pomegranate scents are new for this season, and will be available on my store soon.

Sources: Organic Body Care by Stephanie Tourles, Point of Interest, Tipnut and Wikipedia.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dance Break! Party, Karamu, Fiesta Forever!

All Night Long.
Quite possibly the only good Lionel Richie song in existence!
Complete with African dance break in the middle! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's All About Mom Artfire Collection

The fabulous and snazzy Marquis Creations, maker of gorgeous jewelery, made of wire and glass pendants has curated a wonderfully eclectic collection of gifts to buy for mom for Mother's Day (which is coming around the corner at full speed!).

Glass pendants, book plates, earrings, change purses, necklaces.... and my very own Lavender Sachet!

Handmade Soap

Check it out for some great Mother's Day gift ideas!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy April! New products and new ideas.

I cannot believe it is April already! Where do the days go?

Here at Madstone Headquarters I've been working on tons of great products for my upcoming shows - and the first one is April 16th, in Kitchener at the city hall- called Bloomin' Earth. The very next day, on April 17th, I'll be at the Gladstone Hotel for the Creative Hearts Collective from 11- 5 p.m.
I'll be at lots of other shows throughout the summer, click here for a list.

I'd love to see you at either one!

I have new scents, some new products and new packaging to unveil for the spring, and I can't wait!
All of the new items will be available on my store very shortly, but if you are interested in anything new just email me!

New packing for bath salts! A gorgeous glass jar, and it comes
complete with a scoop too!

Three new soap scents: Green Tea and Ginger, Lime, and Rosemary and Grapefruit!

New lotion bottles! And yes, they are square!
This one is sans-label :)
I also have two new lip-balm flavors, Coconut and Coffee, both of which taste fabulous!
There will be a new sugar scrub scent too!

All in all this looks like it will be a great spring! Stop by a show and see the new items!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Summer product poll!

This will be a product made with essential oils, specifically formulated to make those pesky Northern Ontario mosquitoes and black flies ignore you.
Made with Citronella, catnip, clove, eucalyptus, cedarwood and peppermint essential oils - this should smell like summer camp and keep the bugs away.

Which type of insect repellent would you prefer? I was leaning towards the large lotion bottle, but am open to other suggestions in the comments!