Kira Joya’s Blog

Introducing My New Etsy Candle Shop – – See How You Can Win a Free Candle

Posted in candles, Holistic Healing by Alissia on November 24, 2009

These are a few of the candles I have for sale at my new Etsy shop. You can check it out at www.FlameCandleCo.etsy.com Also, a new friend on Etsy approached me to see if I wanted to do a giveaway on her blog…being brand new to Etsy, I jumped at the chance to network with her. Here’s the link to see how to win a funky new candle from the Flame Candle Company...http://buggieandjellybean.blogspot.com

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Light my Fire

Posted in Holistic Healing, WAHM, Yoga by Alissia on November 2, 2009

I took a 5 month hiatus from my blog. I began a yoga teacher training in June and that has occupied most of my free time since. I love it! I’m writing essays again. This time, I am actually learning from them. It takes me about a week to write one five page essay. It’s a bit different from college. The essays I wrote then were written the night before into the wee hours of the morning. Then I had all the time in the world and didn’t know it. Now, essays, readings, and training classes must be scheduled and squeezed in between playing house and dropping Kira off at preschool. Life is different, but life is good!

I have missed the blog though. It is a great way for me to work out my thoughts. I am currently working through some thoughts regarding my website and my creative endeavors. I thought the blog might be a good place to do that. I have come to the conclusion that I am going to change my jewelry to make it more affordable. I want to change it in a way that I can still feed my soul while I am creating it. I’m thinking of bringing yoga into it somehow. I think that is a few months away because I am letting those ideas simmer for awhile to see what I come up with.

I have also decided to make some candles to bring in a little extra money. I bought all the supplies, thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. NOT SO!! I have a very holistic approach to the way I live my life. I thought I would approach candle making in that same way. I bought palm wax from a company that guarantees it is sustainable, harvested in an environmentally sound manner. I chose palm wax because paraffin throws harmful chemicals into the air and soy wax is made from soybeans. Soybeans are almost always genetically modified and I do not want to support that in any way, shape, or form. I also am trying to scent them with essential oils instead of synthetic, chemical fragrances…notice I said trying. Therein lies my problem. I have been experimenting with essential oils (and high quality ones too) for a few weeks now. I can not get my candles to “throw” scent while burning. ARGH!!! It’s driving me nuts and costing me too much money. I am almost to the point of wanting to give in and use chemical fragrances…but no, I can’t. I can’t contribute more chemicals to the world…something just won’t let me. A familiar phrase helps when frustration sets in…if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I’m gonna try again a couple more times before I give up. By give up, I mean produce candles that are much more lightly scented than I would like. They will still be cute when I’m through with them. If you have any advice for how to make them more scented without using chemical fragrances, I would be happy to hear it! Wish me luck!

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Flower Girl

Posted in Flowers, photography by Alissia on May 30, 2009

Sunflower
Yeah, that’s me..the flower girl! I have decided that I’m going to buy flowers once a week and practice arranging them. I need the practice…it’s been soooo long. I really love it! I would have to say that flowers and plants are my passion. They even rank above jewelry making. Of course, after I make the arrangement, then I will spend some time practicing my flower photos…I also love, love, love that!

Yesterday I bought two bouquets at Trader Joe’s…they really have nice flowers. I found a bouquet that I really liked and the wheels started turning…what can I do with this? It had Queen Anne’s Lace as a filler or accent flower…I love that. They really add dimension and movement to an arrangement. Side view arrangement As I turned around to put the bouquet in my cart, Kira picked up another bouquet and decided that we needed to have sunflowers. I love sunflowers, but I really wanted the other bouquet. I compromised…I said she could pick the flowers this time, but next time it would be my turn. She agreed…hopefully she will remember that next time. ( I won’t count on it.) Anyway, we walked away with a Sunflower bouquet and a Wildflower bouquet.

I wouldn’t say that the arrangement was the best I’ve ever done, but it was pretty good for not having done it for almost a year. I uncovered the Oasis in the basement and went to work…trying to keep in mind all of the tips I learned in my Floral Design classes at Longwood Gardens. SunflowerI filled a bucket with water and let the Oasis absorb the water. When I pulled it out of the water, I cut it with a knife to fit the container…making sure not to cram the edges of the Oasis, but cut them to ensure the best water absorption by the flowers. I got out my floral scissors, which I am careful never to use for anything else, and went to work. I had a lot of flowers to work with…Sunflowers, Lilies (which I was unable to use), purple Mums, Yoko Ono Mums (green mums), Wax Flowers (little pink filler flowers), Solidago (yellow filler flower), Babies Breath (which I think is overused and didn’t use in this arrangement), white spray roses, Salal (greens), and a few blades of floral grass. SunflowerI try to really look at the flowers to see where they want to go…where they seem to fit best in the arrangement. I wait to cut until I have measured the height I want the flowers to be….sometimes I still move them, but not too often. Continually moving them turns the Oasis to mush and then it doesn’t hold your flowers. Usually, I also try to use all of my greens and flowers if possible…it wasn’t possible this time since the lilies were trashed and I don’t generally use baby’s breath. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the way the arrangement turned out. These are the best of the photos of the Sunflower Arrangement…I took one of the whole arrangement, but the photo turned out to be less impressive than the arrangement itself. I think most flower shots are best close up, so that’s what I usually do. I plan to keep practicing using different flowers and containers, so stay tuned…there will be plenty photos of each arrangement.

Wax Flower Close-UpSide View arrangement


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I’m Back

Posted in Flowers, Kira, photography, Yoga by Alissia on May 21, 2009

Wow! It’s been quite awhile since I have written. Try as I might, I just can’t keep up with everything. I was completely sidelined by a cold that has been knocking me around since right before mother’s day and is still hanging on. I think that it’s at least partially a detox reaction from all of the things I have been doing to rid myself of the Candida. It’s been about 2 weeks now and I’m feeling better, but am ready for this to be gone!!

I am beginning my year long yoga teacher training course in June. I’m so excited! I know I am going to learn so much. I am debating about whether or not to Blog my essays and experiences. I think it might be good for me, but some topics can be really personal…I’m not sure if I want that displayed all over the internet. I have been thinking that I might do it anonymously…we’ll see. I have already finished my first essay and spoken with the director of the program about the lifestyle changes that I want to make over the course of this year. I have a list of ten personal things that I would like to work on. I am trying to approach this with a completely open mind and by being completely honest with myself. I have barely started the program and yet, the questions pop up. I’m going to hold off on discussing the actual issue that I’m working on right here, but the response was this…that I am in the wrong because I expect too much. I should not have expectations. Yikes! Really? I thought that was part of being human. Humans have expectations. I’m not sure how to live my life without expecting things from people and from events. I guess this will be the first experiment.

The interaction with my new teacher also started me thinking about how much of yogic philosophy comes from a woman’s point of view…my guess is not much, if any. All of the yogis who wrote all of these ancient texts were men, right? Things change a bit when coming from a woman’s perspective. This I know for sure. Women come from a much more feeling – centered place. Would yogic philosophy be different if more women were involved from the beginning? My guess is, yes, a little bit. I am just beginning my yoga journey, so I don’t pretend to know much about yogic philosophy yet. I’m just asking questions…that’s part of any educational journey. One of the things that I learned so well in college was to look deeper…take nothing at face value. I plan to take all of the information like a sponge, absorb what I need, and squeeze out the rest. I think that any path you take needs to be adapted to work for you as a person.

I think that’s all I have to say on that for now. I am realizing that with summer coming and a yoga teacher training starting, I may have less time to work on the blog and website. I’m going to do the best that I can to keep up. Overachiever? Who? Yeah, that’s me. Anyway, this is for my family that may check my blog to see what’s going on, I thought I would share some photos from our Mother’s Day weekend in New Jersey…Gallery style….you can look if you’re not family too. Just click on the photos and they will enlarge.

Healthy and Wealthy

Posted in Holistic Healing, SAHM, WAHM by Alissia on May 9, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy! That describes my life for the next month. The craziness of summer has begun already. May started off with a bang and it’s just going to keep going and going. Last week was spent at my sister’s house. We had the kids’ pictures taken and Kira and I had an appointment with a holistic practitioner that my sister sees regularly. She muscle tests for food allergies, environmental allergies, and a wide array of other conditions. She also muscle tests to see what holistic healing methods your body needs at that time (essential oils, vitamins, minerals, homeopathics, etc.) I had my first session with her and we discovered that one of my main issues is a full body yeast overgrowth. I also have allergies to quite a few foods…a lot of them are nuts. She prescribed for me a custom set of points (KI Method or Jin Shin Jytsu) to do everyday for 10 days. She also prescribed two homeopathic remedies (Tobacco Detox and Pain), some flax seed oil, some zinc, some Grapefruit Seed Extract, and some essential oils (Pink Grapefruit and Rose Geranium). To alleviate the food allergies, she gave me a recipe for making a homeopathic remedy for each food. (If anyone wants this remedy, please comment and I will send it to you…it’s definitely worth a try.) Hopefully, after I follow all of her suggestions, I will be yeast and allergy free and on my way to perfect health. I’m feeling very optimistic about this, especially since others have had such a positive experience when working with her. I will keep you posted on the results.

Anyway, this weekend we’re off to Atlantic City and then to my in laws at the Jersey Shore for Mother’s Day, next weekend back to my sister’s house for my niece’s second birthday party. Can I keep up? I think I can, I think I can…Actually, I’m pretty sure I can keep up and maybe I can even win a little money in the process. I may not have any new jewelry pieces for a few weeks and I may struggle to find the time to update my blog, but I think I will be OK. As far as I’m concerned, these are good problems to have. I’m excited to see the ocean again…it’s been awhile! It’s so calming and awe inspiring to be at the shore. I love it! It’s one of my favorite places to be. Maybe I will have some good photos to share when I return. Well, I’m off to start the whirlwind…

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New Skills

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography by Alissia on May 4, 2009
Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

I was really, really looking forward to this day. I felt like a kid…so excited about the new adventure I was going on. I woke up a little late this morning, but still made it to the Valley Forge Convention Center with plenty of time. Little did I know how much I was going to need the map they handed me at the Bead Fest Wire registration desk. It was quite a trek from the desk to the classroom, but I’m not afraid of a little walking….so I forged ahead. At last…the classroom! Yay!!

I walked in and gathered my supplies. I had ordered them from the teacher ahead of time. Before today I had really only done a tiny bit of wire wrapping…so I needed A LOT of supplies. (My favorite tool of the day was the wire winder, it made coiling the wire so simple and the results were perfect.) I set up my work station and awaited the beginning of the class…not for long. We jumped right into our project for the day. Our teacher for today’s class was Debra Danyi. She is a really mellow, sweet kindergarten teacher and WOW does she know her stuff! I was really impressed with her knowledge as well as her teaching skills.

I feel like I learned a lot in this one class. I’m extremely happy with the Scrollwork Bangle that I made. It turned out beautifully and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Of course, it’s always a little easier with good direction. After this class, I’m really confident that I could make this bracelet again pretty easily and also that I can use the skills I learned to make more intricate designs of my own. That is the whole reason I took the class. I want to expand my jewelry making horizons. I get a little bored with using the same techniques over and over again. Thank you Debra…I would do it again in a heart beat!

Also…a little bit off the subject of the rest of this post…check out my website, I added 3 new pieces of jewelry. The photography thing is a work in progress for me. I am playing around with some new backgrounds to see which ones I like best. I think I am liking the darker backgrounds right now. I took so many pictures of just these three items to try to get it right….and I know I will change them again because they aren’t quite right. I just wanted to get the items put up on my site. I would gladly hear any opinions on how to improve my photos. I would also like to hear which photos you think stand out more…light background or dark.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Desert Glow

Desert Glow

Caribbean Cool

Caribbean Cool

Backyard Photos

Posted in Flowers, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 30, 2009
Little Toad We Found Hopping Around our Backyard

Little Toad We Found Hopping Around our Backyard

I love taking pictures. We saw this little toad in our backyard and I ran inside to get my camera. It was the time of day where the lighting was perfect. Is it a little silly? I get excited when I see an animal that I don’t see very often. I was so close to him and he just let me take his picture. There were a few times where he decided he needed to get away from the lady with the camera. He started hopping and startled me. Through the lens, the toad looks a little bigger and, for some reason, it was more unexpected.

Dogwood in my backyard

Dogwood in my backyard

I so love springtime. I really do look forward to this time of the year…the month or so where the trees are all different colors and covered in flower blooms. We are lucky enough to have two Dogwood trees in our new backyard… and I’m lucky enough to not be allergic to springtime. I don’t even know what I would do if I were allergic to flowers and pollen…I love them so. I guess I would just deal with it.

Photoshop adjusted Dogwood

Photoshop adjusted Dogwood

I am trying to practice photographing flowers and blurring the background. I seem to do alright, but the lighting never seems to be quite right. I always have to play with it a little bit in Photoshop. (I’m trying to learn my way around…there’s so much to learn!) Here I decided to play with color a lot. It’s the same photo as above, but cropped a little more and the color is exaggerated for a dramatic effect. This version is pretty too, but in a more retro way. I usually prefer the more natural photos, especially of flowers.

I am slowly learning…maybe I should take a digital photography class, that might help. Anyway, I just wanted to share these photos of spring. Since it’s gone in a flash (as evidenced by the high temps of this past weekend) it’s nice to capture it on camera. It’s possible you may see me again later today, I may try to do 2 posts…I guess we’ll see what the day brings. A day in the life of a work-at-home mom…things are always changing and surprising me.

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A Hard Days Night…

Posted in Flowers, Gardening, Kira by Alissia on April 27, 2009
Colombines

Colombines

Well, it hasn’t really been a hard days night, but I have been working like a dog. I planted one of my flower gardens this weekend. I planted peonies, colombines, lilies, and a butterfly bush. Gardening really is hard work, but it hurts so good! I love it! There is nothing like that feeling of being tired from actual physical labor. You know, the kind of tired that you felt when you were a kid in the summertime…when you ran and ran and ran and then finally collapsed in your bed against your will at the end of the day.

More Colombines

More Colombines

When I was done planting, I decided that I wanted to take some pictures to share on my blog. The photos of the whole garden were a bit anticlimactic since most of the flowers are not in bloom yet. I decided to take a few close-ups of the Colombines. So gorgeous, aren’t they? I love that deep blue! I’m a sucker for some blue flowers.

I’m not going to write any mind-blowing composition this evening. Even my hair is tired. I just wanted to share some pictures of my weekend. It’s amazing how the sun and warm weather can infuse joy into your life…I just want to express my gratitude to mother nature and say bring on the summer!

Kira...talking as usual.

Kira...talking as usual.


Kira's muddy shoe...I had just polished them, UGH!!

Kira's muddy shoe...I had just polished them, UGH!!

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Decisions. Decisions.

Posted in Yoga by Alissia on April 25, 2009

All day I was trying to think about what to write about tonight. If I keep my blog up to date, then not only do I have a chance of gaining more readers, but I will also have a journal of how I did things when I was starting my business. Maybe later on, I can help someone else who happens to be where I am now. Anyway, I think I am going to talk about something that has been getting in the way of my creative thinking.  I have been weighing a decision for the last few weeks and it’s really starting to get to me. I want to just make a decision and get it over with. To me, this is a really important decision and that’s why I have been agonizing over it for awhile. I am looking into yoga teacher training programs. I want to become a yoga teacher to further my own practice and to help others develop a practice that works for them. There are a few different studios I am looking into and all the programs seem to be great, but each have their own pros and cons.

1) There is a teacher training intensive that I have been looking into in Pittsburgh. I have been in touch with the teacher and she is really welcoming and kind on the phone.

PROS:

a. The teacher seems wonderful.

b. The training is an intensive, so it isn’t a year long commitment. There are two week long intensive sessions, two Friday night workshops, and a fall weekend retreat intensive.

c. I went to college in Pittsburgh and could stay with friends while I’m there.

CONS:

a. The training is in Pittsburgh, a little over 300 miles from where I live. I will have to travel there twice, once in June and once in August.  The weekend retreat is even further from me at the Olmsted Retreat.

b. I will still have to search out 2 more workshops to take and find a teacher close to my home who is willing to let me student teach.

c. Tuition is low, but doesn’t include any books, the retreat, or extra workshops.

d. Since the training is in Pittsburgh, any friendships that I make in training will have to be long distance friendships.

e. Since the training is an intensive, will I learn all that I have to learn to be a yoga teacher in such a short amount of time?

f. I will have to be away from my daughter for 2 weeks (one week at a time) and find child care for both weeks as well as the weekend retreat.  My mom has offered, but something could always come up.

g. I will not be able to visit the space or meet the teacher before training begins in June. 

2) Another option is the Yogalife Institute teacher training. I took a class there on Wednesday.  The class was great, the staff was great, and they had quite a large bookstore for such a small space.

PROS:

a. The owner/teacher is quite knowledgeable.  He has a PHD in yoga, I believe, and owns Yoga Living Magazine.

b. The program seems to be really comprehensive and I have no doubt that I would learn an incredible amount about yoga, yoga philosophy, and a yoga lifestyle.

c. It is close to my home.

d. Friends that I would make would also be close to my home.

e. They have a rolling admissions policy that would allow me to start in May if I want to.

CONS:

a. The program is a year long.  I would love to be done sooner, for my own personal reasons.  If this were a 7 or 8 month program, I would jump right in.

b. Childcare…not sure if I can get it all covered.  There is one Saturday, two Fridays, a workshop…I don’t have it all clear yet.  Nonetheless, I will have to work out childcare consistently for a year.

3) The yoga studio I recently joined, and really like, also has a teacher training program.

PROS:

a. I really like the studio and teachers.  I’m still new there and it takes me a little while to warm up, but I feel pretty comfortable there.

b. I know the instructors really want their students to learn yoga…mind, body, and spirit.  They do facilitate a meditation practice even in their daily yoga classes.

c. It’s close to my home.

CONS:

a. I missed their 2009 program and would have to wait until March 2010 to begin my teacher training. ( I think this is the only con for this program…but it’s a big one for me.)

4) There is another option…but I think that even as I write this, I have made my decision.

Wow!  I wish I had written this a week ago.  That was so helpful to me to write out all the pros and cons.  I think that I will go with the Yogalife Institute program.   There is only one real con…the year commitment.  The con is also a pro because I’m not sure that I would learn what I need to learn in an intensive anyway.  Hopefully, they will accept me.  I left my yoga mat at the studio on Wednesday….What kind of future yoga teacher leaves behind one of the only tools she needs?  The kind of future yoga teacher who thinks she will be late to pick up her daughter from preschool, that’s who!

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Product Photography

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 21, 2009

When I started my website and business, I don’t think I really knew how multi-faceted I was going to have to be. I read books and researched things online, but you never really know until you just jump in. I know that I had no idea how time consuming it was going to be to photograph and describe all of my products. I have a pretty small inventory at this point and, even so, I have spent countless hours agonizing over the quality of the pictures and trying to get the wording just so.

Yesterday, I spent a good two hours, if not more, trying to get pictures for two recently finished necklaces. (I showed photos of components in previous posts.) Of course, lighting was the biggest issue. I have tried the light box and don’t really like it, I don’t know why. I think I find it too cumbersome. It’s not as easy to get in there and get the shot I need. For jewelry shots, if you want your whole piece to be in focus, you really have to be directly overhead. Anyway, I have a room in my house with tons of windows. I usually take my pictures in there. I definitely use the tripod. I have tried before to get away without using it and my pictures suffered.

This is what I do:

1) I take a ton of pictures…I think I took 150 photos of two necklaces yesterday.

2) I use varying shutter speeds to see which one brings the best light. For each product and each background I take at least 20 shots, varying the lighting slightly each time. It’s amazing how one shot can be fine and on the very next setting it will be either too light or too dark. I also make sure that I still take photos well into a range that I might think will be too dark or too light. That little screen on your camera is not a really accurate way to tell what the shot will look like on the computer. I find, with jewelry anyway, that the brighter the shot, the better the piece looks. Usually it’s the shot that I think is going to be way too bright that I end up using.

3) I use software to adjust things a bit and crop photos. You can use Photoshop, Gimp (which is free), or any other image editor you choose.

4) I research things if I am having a hard time. I found this page on Thimble Arts and Crafts Blog to be helpful. She gives links to some product photography tutorials and tips. I was also happy to discover that Darren, the man who is running the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge has a website called Digital Photography School. It seems to be a wealth of information. I haven’t explored it fully yet, but I plan to.

It can be really frustrating to take 150 photos and not have a single one that you feel is usable. To that, I have to say…practice makes perfect…well, maybe not quite. I actually really enjoy the process. I’m learning more about my camera and photography in general, which I have always liked. I am by no means an authority on the subject, I am just sharing what has worked for me so far. I am really just learning. I could go over and over my photos and still feel I need to take more shots, because something’s not right…there comes a point where I just let go and say OK, good enough!

These are the best of the photos I took yesterday (click on them to enlarge them.) Any constructive comments or suggestions are entirely welcome!

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