Monday, February 25, 2013

Spooky basket: The Essence of Oil

My momma has always said that if you're going to spend money on something, better make it good.

I'm afraid I haven't closely followed my momma's advice, and only last year did I reconsider my perfunctory spending. Desperate was I, to find the product which would aid me to achieve vibrant skin and hair...
Beauty products have been a consistent source of bad spending for my wallet, buying products indiscriminately because I was led to believe that one product alone would not suffice-- I needed an arsenal. If you'd have asked me a couple years ago that essential oils served more of a purpose alone than processed into creams and potions, then I'd think you were simply riffing.

I have used essential and fragrance oils for perfume making as a hobby for many years; the impact of scent alone and how it excites the memory and senses, is quite alluring...
But for reasons beyond my comprehension, it never dawned on me that they could be used for your skin and for your hair. I knew that minute amounts were used in many products; I've had this misconception that in their purest state, essential oils would be too strong for direct usage.
Indeed certain essential oils are too strong, but they can be complimented with equally potent but gentle carriers.
And that was the missing link! The carrier oils. I've also harbored this notion that a carrier oil serves only to dilute the potency of those stronger oils without affecting the scent. Little did I realize that the carrier oil can also be an integral part of the effectiveness of a final product.

The answer lies in plain sight, yet I feel that much like my previous thought path, many believe it is better to buy the store bought products because they would lack the savvy to create their own. In a nutshell, waste money on trial and error; sound familiar?
The very thing that sets us apart from other species on this planet is the ability to learn and adapt; there is an abundance of information on each product on the market (especially essential oils) handed to us by a myriad of authors; it's very difficult to make harmful mistakes. It just takes time, which considering the topic, shouldn't be much of an issue. If one has time to ruminate and spend money in matters of beauty, then one has time to do the research.

And so, my dear readers, I will briefly go over ways in which oils can be utilized:

Oils for your skin: I have already discussed cleansing with oils briefly in this post. Paraphrasing from the link inside the link-- the oil cleansing method (OCM) is a method in which certain plant oils are collected for their effective properties over certain skin ailments, such as acne, and mixed together to create a concoction which is then massaged into the face, then removed with a damp hot towel. A concise exposition behind the OCM is simply "dissolving with like"; you strip the filthy and used, then replenish with new. Oils, such as sweet almond and jojoba, can also serve as a moisturizer for your skin with repairing effects.

Oils for your hair: oils, such as olive and coconut oil, are used for deep conditioning treatments, or simple yet effective hair repair and growth stimulation. This is because they are effective at penetrating deep into the scalp and roots to nourish the hair. But be wary of fillers or cheap quality oils, as this can hinder the effectiveness and yield little to no results. This is especially true with olive oil.

Oils as perfumes: oil perfumes are proven to last 3 times longer than an alcohol based one. This is fact. The reason it is not so widely used is because it's expensive to manufacture in large quantities. Oils as perfumes benefit the wearer in more ways than just scent however, as aforementioned certain types of carrier oils will offer moisturizing properties.

Oils for aromatherapy: Scent therapy is one of the longest standing practices in nearly all civilizations. Scent has the power to encourage healing of the body and the mind. Aromatherapy can be as simple as opening up a bottle of oil and taking a whiff and relishing the emotions in which it evokes, or as complex as creating sessions with certain scents to guide the user into harmony.

When you make an investment into essential oils, you're not just purchasing one practical use, you're buying a versatile product with limitless amounts of room to perfect a product that truly fits you I have purchased my collection one by one as I wanted to expand the combination of applications; you don't by any means need to purchase a bundle to begin to find the uses.

There is a controversial topic about cats and dogs, and the use of essential oils around them. Some people say it's cruel and inhuman to use essential oils around them, but I found that all animals I've owned; a couple dogs, several cats (including Poe), and a hamster; have never ever reacted badly with the smell or shown annoyance-- even when I wear them. The only thing I wouldn't dare risk is putting the oils on them, so I make sure I wash my hands thoroughly after I've been concocting when it's cuddle time.

Always test the oil on a small section of your skin before practical usage. Essential oils should not be used during pregnancy or by women attempting pregnancy! Essential oils should not be ingested unless the label clearly states otherwise. Avoid application on broken skin or open sores. If an allergic reaction occurs discontinue usage, and seek medical attention. Some essential oils may be highly toxic to pets and can cause fatal reactions if they come in direct contact. Please make sure you thoroughly do your research before you buy!

Links to help you get started:

I will keep updating this as much as possible!

Bonus good buy!

My mother purchased these for me late last year, but I found out about and used them since roughly two years ago. I was waiting for the perfect time to post about them.

Ever since the vendor I purchased them from at a Flea Market went away, I could not find a decent place to buy them. The search only became harder when I moved down. These are Song of India oil perfumes.

One day, my mother and younger brother collaborated on a care package and I was happily surprised to see these in my box. I don't usually like to have mixed/signature label perfumes because I love to make my own on the whim of my moods; these are perfect because the scent is ultra concentrated, super long lasting and very true to the herb or flower they're supposed to be. I typically use these for deodorant; I completely cut out store brands right out of my medicine cabinet. These actually work ten times better than even Tom's or any health food store/organic brand I've ever bought, AND no marks on my black delicate clothing! I can smell them even after a hard work out. Applying it to my palms and then running my fingers through my hair, well, the scent stays straight into the next day-- and they're not pungent which is really great when I'm around sensitive noses. I've received many comments on the way I smell when I wear these.
These are the roll on bottles, and carry the most oils from their line, but they can be purchased in really pretty hand blown glass perfume bottles (which I have in the past), or in solids. I really really enjoy the boxes Song of India packs them in, too! They're such a treat!

Do you use oils for any part of your daily regime?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Musing (unrelated imagery for viewing pleasure)

I've been feeling indisposed these past couple days; I feel like I'm on the cusp of an illness, and I'm fighting in vain to stop the inevitable.
Snuggling on the couch to watch Star Trek, or cocooning myself in front of my computer have been the jist of what my body and mind are willing to do.
I've found myself with a bit of will to think about other things today, however...

Mostly about what I desire the topics for my next posts to be about. There are three that stand out at the forefront of my thoughts; make up tips for the person of color who also wears glasses (mouthful), participating in a goth blog challenge, and creating a creepy crafty challenge of my own.

The creepy crafty challenge would likely only happen monthly or perhaps bi-monthly. What I had in mind is fairly simple; create a tutorial for something crafty, and then challenge you, my readers, to recreate it in your own creepy ways and post back about it. I'll pick my two favorites to showcase in full (that number is totally dependent on the amount of participants)-- I may even ask you some questions so that I may write about it here. The challenge won't necessarily be about something like sewing; I could make a post about recreating a vintage look with make up or clothes and things that you have in your wardrobe already.

I guess my question then would be, is there any interest in that at all? How extensive/challenging would you all prefer this to be; the way I see it, it's a way to break the status quo for those of you who do not create something very often, and it's definitely different than many challenges out there in the blogosphere. Who know's, it may even reveal hidden talents!


I don't really consider myself an expert in the things I do, which is why I very rarely discuss topics such as style guides and tutorials... but who knows, maybe someone out there believes I do indeed have something to offer than what I already do.
I thought that since there is a lack of make up tips for the neutral skin toned goth of color, that it might be interesting to do; as one who also wears glasses, this topic is particularly challenging, but would hopefully yield some use to someone. Assuming I don't completely botch it...

My dear readers, your feedback is a gift I do enjoy receiving-- please feel free to give me your two cents.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Skeleton Closet: Day Out-Of-This-World

I am very grateful that my bad luck is yielding a quick turn around this year-- karma must be taking care of me.
I got to working on the skirt after mulling over my rant. The next day, I was invited by my friend and neighbor to head into the city. I was not only able to buy the remaining supplies I needed to continue the purse, but I was also able to spread the gospel of Five Guys burgers. She never had them before-- we were too busy enjoying our burgers and day out to take any pictures of the day, heh...

Well! I finished the skirt in time for the day out; being able to wear an entirely self made outfit filled me with profound gratification and pride, especially when I could say I made the entire outfit-- including the necklace and purse! I very rarely get a chance to do that.
While working on it, I decided to change the way I designed it originally because I just wasn't in love enough with the trim I was to use for the side seams. So I used some venetian lace that was purchased some time ago from an Etsy shop that closed its doors; I waited for the right project to use it with, and so I trimmed the front horizontal seam with it. To add a little more detail to the front I also adorned the vertical seams with satin rosettes that I crafted. I also ended up using some scalloped lace to create an overlay to the side flounces.

I'm still deciding if I should use the remainder of the venetian lace on to the back. I didn't add it yet because if I did it would remove all the stretch and allowance it has for movement-- and since there is no vent, I would literally hobble as I walked.

The day out turned out to be crazy fun-- I don't remember the last time I spent an entire day with a friend (friend that I made the unicorn hood for). It felt really great. To top the night, as we were heading home we were discussing the meteorite strike that happened in Russia and how she loved it when she had a job studying meteorite debris. Admittedly, we were being a little facetious of the events in Russia; commenting that if a premature death were to occur to us that a meteorite strike was the best. To our shock and astonishment, we witnessed a burn out! Ahead of us! We sat with our jaws wide opened, unable to fathom the coincidence of such an occurrence...
We knew it was a meteorite because of the trajectory; it was coming down and burning out, rather than up and fizzling (like that of a firework or flare). It was bright and flaming and just... pure magic!


We discovered a hidden gem in town; a thrift store that offers some wonderfully vintage and second hand finery for unbelievable prices. We found a super sexy long dress jacket by Newport News that was made from a purple and black printed rayon polyester material detailed with a velvet collar... among other equally delicious items.

I didn't have money for anything I found, so she purchased the jacket for me in an arrangement we decided upon.
In the next skeleton closet post, I will have an outfit given entirely by another friend I made here in town. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around me-- it's a wonderful and redeeming factor to this town; the people who work for the National Park service that reside in and nearby.

What I am wearing:

  • Blouse: self made
  • Skirt: Selfmade
  • Belt: Fairweather Co.
  • Jacket: Gift from friend
  • Necklace: self made
*closer look at my handmade jewelry*

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: A Little Black Flower Tutorial

Since Valentines is just tomorrow, and many of you lovelies are planning to make themselves up pretty; I thought that I would give you the option of making your own pretty little black flowers. Although, if you aren't into black, then by all means use a different color fabric! You can put them anywhere-- sew or glue them onto headbands, clips, bags... whatever!

You'll need:

  • A piece of scrap cloth
  • Sewing implements: either your sewing machine, or hand sewing needle and thread
  • Any miscellaneous items you plan on putting it on: a head band, a clip... etc.
To begin:

Cut your scrap cloth into strips.

I only cut one layer for this tutorial, but you may layer it with other fabrics like tulle, or lace. Cut the width of strip as tall as you'd like the petals to be. The length dictates the volume of the blossom; the longer it is, the bigger the flower will be; the shorter, the smaller it will be.

Next, cut a scalloped edge. These will be your petals.

You may make them as spaced apart or as frequent as you'd like. Doing this also affects the volume of your flower; more petals, more bloom! Don't throw away that scrap that comes from it just yet...
You can incorporate it as a layer into your flower as well, just to limit the amount of waste.

Pin your layers together, and sew using a wide stitch. 

Don't tie off the last stitch, this is crucial for the next step.

Next you're going to begin scrunching.

Make sure that the bottom edge stays in one direction. If you face it up, you will have a center to your flower, but for this example the edge will be facing down.

Now, you'll sew the bottom together.

Slip stitch the opposite ended petals together so there isn't a gap. You may do this on your sewing machine, but it's more effort than simply doing it by hand. Keeping sewing into the base till it feels snug.

And now you're done, and ready to apply to whatever!

Two small flowers beside a larger one.
If you know what this is, well I'm sorry-- this is going to a special client and friend. Perhaps in the future I will be inclined to make yet another one. If you don't know what it is I'm working on, well... have a looksie here and here.

Happy crafting, my Valentines!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Topsy Turvy

Alright, I'll be the first to admit it; I am horrible with following lists systematically...
At least I am completing it, and really, that's all the counts.

So the... uh, "next" thing on my list was to sew the skirt to my blouse-- but my topsy turvy nature decided I rather felt like making the mini top hat (Top hats, Topsy Turvy? Get it? Get it??... ho ho!).

I really would've preferred to have one of those neat felt premade mini top hats, but I didn't have the budget for one (the really awesome well made ones-- not the ones at the local craft store). With a little bit of imagination; some fabric and ribbon; a whole lot of glue and cardboard... resulting in a huge mess on the kitchen table...

I give you top hat the second.
The first one didn't turn out as great, but luckily it is still very much salvageable. It occurred to me while constructing them that I completely forgot to add the lining of felt to the brim-- so they're a little too malleable for my taste, but nevertheless wearable and make really great photo props!

I had a few tattered feathers and some acrylic pearl beads roaming about in my craft bin that made their way happily onto the hat. I love dyed/bleached peacock feathers; there once was a time when I was into millinery; I had such a bountiful craft room, with so many trims and things to pick from... hum.

I'm thoroughly happy today! My mother sent me a skirt she didn't want anymore; I took it in and discovered it was the perfect pair up to my thrifted victorian mourning blouse (which was only 50 cents!). I accessorized with my top hat and a thrifted waist belt. Feelin' gooood.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Shun The Non-believer Edition

I am making good headway with my small but time consuming "to-do list" for February! Woo hoo!
It's really a Bat-fit kind of triumph, I'd say. It's an exhilarating feeling ticking off something on a to-do list. I feel like that simple act has begun a centralization that I so needed and have failed to find in the past; problems with over analyzing things.... anyways, enough of that!

The magical Liopluerodon has indeed shown me the way....

I find this situation so completely ironic, because I had made this for a friend (and also neighbor) who is a fossil preparator for the Petrified Forest National Park (where my hubby works, as well). I wanted to make something special for her, because our friendship clicked almost immediately. We have been going on hikes, going out to town together, and just chilling out.

I made this from super soft and cuddly "baby blanket" yarn, in super thick. The horn and hooves are made from a gradient yarn that shifts with colors of blue, purple, green and magenta. You can't see it very well, but within it there are threads of glitter yarn which only adds to the magical nature of the horn.

Consequently, she has introduced me to the magical world of unicorns, and has unveiled the possibilities. In production currently, is a lip balm I am creating inspired by her influence-- which in time I will unveil.
For now, I feel this bubblegum frenzy building within my core... it'll burst, I can feel it-- hopefully it doesn't stain my black clothes.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Camisole Blouse

As promised, I will showcase for you today the blouse I never got around to uploading after I had completed it.
The silhouette is fairly simple, it's just a large rectangular piece that has two drawstrings to cinch up for the ruffle-poof effect.

 The drawstrings also contribute to the overall piece as well, adding a large bow on the bottom hem, and a small one around the top.
Instead of buttonholes with buttons, I opted for a more eye-pleasing approach and used loop closures.
I picked a set of pretty buttons, and suddenly there was a nice focal point!

I was really toying with the idea of using the tattered flower trim for straps, but in the end I decided it would've made it look more like an under garment piece than something you'd wear out.
I also took this as an opportunity to attempt something I haven't done on an actual garment before: pintucks!
They seem easy, but when it comes to applying them on a garment... eh... it wasn't as easy as I first thought, hehe.

Despite the slight complications with the pintucks, what frustrated me most were the straps. Maybe it was the night I was working on it and the mood I was in, but I had to unstitch and reattach them three times before I finally had them the way I wanted, which was criss crossed on the back.

And that's that... the tribulations of a seamstress without a dressform!

It's very difficult to really tailor my tops until I am either sent the one I had in Canada, or save up enough to purchase another one... whichever comes first, I suppose. In the meantime time, I ache for a the myriad of fitted blouse ideas which sit in my sketch books!
Hopefully throughout the month I can complete the outfit which I constructed this blouse for: I still need to make the skirt and the over-top!

Necklace is self-made.

Yes, I also do wire work!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: FeBRRRuary.

February is supposed to be the coldest month for us Northern Hemisphere folk; I remember the teachings of my Jr. High school teacher as she'd patronize the entire class of 14-15 year olds with the spelling of the months... fantastic art teacher, though-- just wasn't cut out for general studies.
This hardly has anything to do with this post, mind you, but I'll never get rid of her raspy voice as she exaggerated the *brrr* in February. I suppose in a way, February is the artistic month of the year-- when it's far too cold to wander about outside, and the crafting room looks far more tempting than usual during this dismal windy cold.

I've decided that this month I will follow a plan. I consider this part of my personal therapy; snatch myself out of my seemingly perpetual funk-- it's likely this town that is inducing such malaise (which I do think I complain much too often about, but you really need to live here to know what I mean).
Because of the extra effort I am taking to keep busy, my blog has been receiving less and less attention, and I've been falling behind with all the photos and projects that are begging for posts. In fact a few of these projects are underway already-- one of these has a completed counter part (the skirt for blouse, for example!). The last one might take more time than I allotted myself... double knitting is something I hear can be a little dicey, and if lace knitting is any indication of the comparison of difficulty, than perhaps I better brew my "mood" tea before I begin...

In the next post I shall post the entire process of the blouse which was finished, but not shared.
The first thing I will tackle is: The unicorn hood! Similar to the knit cat hood in style, but instead of cat ears I'll be knitting horse ears and of course the the iconic horn.
I'll be knitting it for a friend and neighbor of mine-- I'm super excited about the yarns I have picked out!
I'll be using a very soft and fluffy baby blanket type white yarn for the base and ears, and the most wonderful yarn of all; a purple, blue and green shifting yarn with hints of glitter for the horn and hooves! I was debating if I should add a mane, if it'll even look good... This project is casted on, and I've completed several rows but it's not yet worthy of a progress report.

Later in the month I'll work on the high waisted bustle and finish creating the skirt for the blouse (pattern drafted and ready for cutting).
I have all the trimmings I need, and the most decadent of fabric for both-- can you guess which one is for which?

 I have some other projects that are not mentioned on my list, but those are ones that I'm not as thrilled about as these-- small projects and favors, you see. Still fun, nevertheless!

I hope everyone has had a good first month of the year! What did January look like for you, and how do you foresee your February?

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