Archive of ‘giveaways’ category

Sister-Spirits, Glittering Hearts: The Extraordinary Bejeweled Creations of Flannery Grace Good (& a special giveaway!)

FG Bleeding heartsAs a young girl it was my dearest wish and highest aspiration to swan about in glittering piles of jewels; to own an actual, honest-to-god treasure chest, full of glowing pearls and shimmering gems and all manner of rare, sparkling baubles.

As an adult, not much has changed and I am well on my way to this goal (I’ll get that treasure chest for it all one day, mark my words!) but I have found that in my vast array of frips and finery, I really only wear a handful of things from three or four of my favorite jewelers.

Flannery Grace Good is one of these artists.  I originally learned of her work a few years ago through another beloved artist, Meredith Yayanos, who praised Flannery as “…a phenomenal maker of bespoke, commissioned pieces,” and I have been utterly enthralled with her creations and her unique, beautiful vision ever since. I vowed right then and there that I must get to know this brilliant human, and that one day I would adorn myself with her jewels.

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I learned immediately that to collaborate on a custom piece of jewelry with Flannery is to trust your heart and guts and sketchy ideas with a fabulous human who is not only a consummate professional, but a genuinely empathetic, compassionate and infinitely creative soul who has the ability to craft tangible, magical works of art from your most nebulous, ridiculous dreams.

This custom ring possesses an eerie stone, a picasso jasper, that reminds me of an autumn forest at dusk. The mysterious moth lady is a fever dream of Flannery’s own creation, based on a bit of preliminary correspondence we had.

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My second custom piece that Flannery dreamed up for me was a stunning moonstone necklace with lunar phases engraved on the back.

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This is a custom night vision “monocle” designed to help one see in the dark, with translucent white banded agate and topped with an electric yellow sapphire. I can’t quite recall how the idea came about, I think I was beating myself up for not seeing something or something for what it was, and the idea of a talisman for which to see in the dark was born! We chose the stone because it looked like an eerie, milky blind eye; more specifically it reminded me of that iconic image of the creepy blind woman in Fulci’s The Beyond. Etched on the back is “et vident in tenebris” my best approximation of “to see in the dark”, in Latin. (If I got it wrong, don’t tell me.)

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If you can dream it, Flannery can coax it to life in her own, inimitable style. (Which, if pressed, I would describe as one part mystery, one part whimsy and all heart.) And that’s not just hyperbole–if there is any artist I know who pours her entire heart and soul into each and every one of her creations, it is without a doubt, Flannery Grace Good.

Born on the day of the dead at the instant of moonrise, Flannery Grace Good has integrated these facets of her persona into the narrative of her creations; in her hands, these eerie instances take fantastical form as one-of-a-kind rings, earrings and pendants, cuffs and bangles, incorporating astonishingly gorgeous hand-picked gems in every hue of the spectrum. Often these works are imbued with extra bits of symbolism and magic, inscribed with emblems and enchantments, sacred scribbles and divine doodles.

Having entered her 20th year of making jewelry just this summer, Flannery shared with me a bit of her history and experiences with the craft. After some initial lessons and silver experiments with her beloved uncle Bubba in New Mexico, she attended college in Colorado to continue her education and training, where she graduated in three years and was valedictorian.

To finance a solo show she is currently working on and which is scheduled for 2017 (“I went looking for you”, dealing with themes of mental illness and addiction, loss and grief) Flannery opened up an Etsy shop this past autumn where you will find all manner of magical adornments, all of them ready to ship!

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Pictured above is one of the Spirit orb necklaces; this particular creation is is handmade from Argentium silver and set with a AAA quality labradorite. On the back of each setting is a hand carved symbol found in the Tigris-Euphrates area. It is an ancient symbol that is believed to be a map of the known cosmos at the time. It was drawn in Babylon either around 2300 BCE or 700 BCE.

And if you can believe it, we are giving away this breathtakingly gorgeous necklace! For the opportunity to win, please comment on this post and share a bit of magic with us. Whether it is a story, a spell, a bit of wisdom, a recipe, a poem–whatever kind of enchantment you want to pass on ! You don’t necessarily have to like/share either of us on Instagram, but why wouldn’t you? I mean, we are pretty interesting people! But for the purposes of this giveaway, leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random, one week from today, on Friday December 23rd.

In the meantime, find Flannery Grace Good: Etsy // Facebook // Instagram // Website

No Unrest For The Wicked: Meredith Yayanos & The Parlour Trick (& an excellent Giveaway Contest!)

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Cover of “A Blessed Unrest” by Ellen J. Rogers

Greetings, kind spirits. Pull up a seat. If you care to stick around for a spell, below you will read my humble ode to an incredible human being, an amazingly dazzling soul. You may know her too, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t also think she is pretty fucking amazing as well. And if you read a bit further still, you’ll be rewarded for your patience with a rare and remarkable opportunity … (hint: it’s a giveaway contest, the title of this post probably spoiled the surprise.) 

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but in 2010 I experienced a grand renaissance of the soul. For years I had been half-living in a fog of repression and resentment and misery due to circumstances I felt trapped in, a poison I willingly drank. It would be another year before I would realize “hey, I don’t have to be here anymore, and I just can’t even with this poison”, but in that dim, half-lit time between unhappiness and sudden joy I discovered Coilhouse, and the glorious humans who helmed the endeavor.

A “love letter to alternative culture”, the Coilhouse blog and magazine was stunning, subversive and absolutely unparalleled. Their writing on artists and musicians and various visionaries led me down so many marvelous midnight rabbit holes, of course leading to other wondrous discoveries–because that’s what happens when you are informed, infected, and inspired, as they heartily encouraged in their logo– while also emboldening me to begin looking more closely at my own obsessions and writing about them, myself.

Though my tenure there was brief, I was both privileged to to write alongside these extraordinary people for a time, and honored to have the opportunity to forge relationships with and begin getting to know the kindred spirits whose nurturing, support, and gentle encouragement to revel in and celebrate my own weirdness was a boon for which I am still thankful today.

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Meredith Yayanos was one of those kind, clever, awe-inspiring women. Meredith’s writing was insightful and irreverent and beautiful, always, but it also made me slow down and think. I felt more mindful afterwards. She made a reader out of me who began more thoughtfully seeking meaningful context rather than pithy, shareable highlights. And most importantly, knowing this woman, this writer, musician, “monstrous feminist”, and “foul-mouthed harpy”, made me feel okay about my quirks and oddities and my habit of “making things weird”.

I’ve always felt, well, weird about how I might open my mouth and say a bit more than I intended to–and I don’t mean negatively, I am really not that kind of person–but more like… to friends and folks I really admire. Because I almost just couldn’t help myself. I used to long to tell people “I adore you and think you’re amazing, I truly do!” but you know, I felt that might be kind of weird to say to someone I’ve only been talking with for two days. And you know what, fuck that. Life is short, and sometimes brutal and I think people need to know when you’ve been impacted positively or touched by something they have said, or created, or maybe you just think they are an exceptionally luminous human being. I think it feels nice to hear these things about one’s self, and it certainly feels good to say them to someone else. I don’t try to stifle that instinct anymore, and I think, in part, that may be why I felt like things begin to change so dramatically for me in 2011.

Wax cylinder player photograph by Audrey Penven.

In 2012 Meredith released a kickstarter drive to fund her ghostly, atmospheric chamber music project, The Parlour Trick, an endeavor which she had originally began in 2006 after being compelled to “explore and unpack some of the creepier, more dysfunctional aspects of Victoriana.”  Along with fellow composer and multi-instrumentalist, Dan Cantrell, they conjured forth The Parlour Trick’s first full-length release, A Blessed Unrest, as a creative response to outmoded perceptions of female hysteria.  A “conjuring”, though. Hm. I suppose that’s an inaccurate take on this album. Perhaps it was less a summoning of spirits into existence and more a driving out of the demonic stuff. Meredith herself notes that the undertaking was, ultimately, “a failed exorcism.”

(On a personal note: when I heard a rough, unmixed version of what was to be the album’s second track, “Half-Sick of Shadows” that Meredith had posted on her tumblr, back in 2010, I was floored. I had never before heard music like this, and I felt it gave voice to all the haunted chambers of my heart. I recall telling her–and this took some bravery on my part at that time–that it sounded like ” the melancholy dead were singing to me but they haven’t got words anymore; they don’t know what they want. It’s beautiful and it makes me want to weep”.)

To sum up: the kickstarter was fully funded, an album of unearthly beauty was produced and available in both digital and vinyl mediums, and the vinyl completely sold out.

But have no fear, folks who have visited our home and wondered at the haunting sounds issuing forth from our gramophone, only to be saddened upon hearing the record is no longer available! Meredith is doing an independent repressing of this classically-tinged dark ambient record and pre-orders are still available! For now, that is. I would suggest you hie thee to the bandcamp page linked above, so that you do not miss out on her spectral masterpiece this time around.

Or…if you like, I have a proposal for you. Are you the musical sort, yourself? Do you tinker with madness and melodies? Do you dare summon forth some spooky sounds to share with us? Also…do you like to win things? Because if you dig all of these ideas, we have an enticing offer for you.

A competition, if you will! If you dare. Whosoever records the most chilling audio will win the “Theremina and back again Bindlestaff Hella Limited edition bundle”, worth $333. This includes the autographed album repress and “a meticulously assorted bundle of charms, artifacts, merch, and media culled from Mer’s vast personal Stash of Strangeness.” There is a more detailed listing of these glorious goodies on the bandcamp page, but dang– that’s a lot of text, so go to the site and check it out. 

…and what’s more, the chosen winner’s audio will be included in a future Parlour Trick track!

Send dropbox links of your creepy wavs and mp3s to theparlourtrick@gmail.com; you have until the Winter Solstice (December 21st), 2016 to sufficiently spook us with your deliciously disquieting sounds, at which point we will announce a winner sometime shortly thereafter.

Ah…but what’s that? Don’t steal away just yet, friends…can’t you feel it? A plucking at the sleeve,  an eerie murmuration on the wind. A shudder along the spine, evoking a frisson of fear, a shiver of anticipation:

Something is coming, it whispers. Keep the channel open…

 

 

 

Spooky Stitches: interview & giveaway with Rachel Dreimiller of YourGothicGranny

unnamed (3)Remember Ello? The social media site that, back in 2014, was predicted to be the next Facebook type thing? Or maybe people were hoping it would be, as it seemed to be a virtual utopia, built on promises of  “no ads, no data-mining, no algorithms that make decisions about what you should see, no turning users into products” — and perhaps the hype and the hope were helped along due to the fact that it came into being just as people were falling prey to Facebook’s ridiculous “real name” policy business.

Well, I remember it. If not only for the reason that if there’s somewhere on the internet to have an account and post your crap there, I want in on it. Unfortunately, it never really took off (at least as far as I can tell), and everyone still on Facebook. I think it’s a little bit like those those folks who are forever threatening that if this, that, or the other thing happens or doesn’t happen, they’re moving to Canada! No you’re not. You’re still on Facebook, just like the rest of us.

However, I do have a summer home on Ello, and I do peek in quite frequently because there are some amazing creators to be found over there. As a matter of fact, friends on facebook may recall that in March of this past year, I posted over on facebook of one such find: Rachel Dreimiller of YourGothicGranny.

I was immediately taken with Rachel’s work–embroidery is something I’d always wanted to “get around to”–and her spooky and subversive stitches totally captivated me. Her creations, a mixture of memento mori, sweet flowers + salty language, and general creepy weirdness, is an an aesthetic that is near and dear to my heart; it’s almost like she picked through the landscape of my ridiculous brain and stitched up what she found!

Actually, here is a great example of this: a dear friend of mine had, unbeknownst to me, commissioned a piece of Rachel’s work for my birthday this past year! If this isn’t totally me, I just don’t know what is…

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“Get to the point, you long-winded weirdo!” is no doubt what you’re saying at this point. I get it. I know I ramble. It takes me a very long time to tell a story, and sometimes I never even get to the point. Thanks for putting up with me.

Below is an a bit of a Q&A with Rachel, who has not only graciously endured my intrusive questions but who has also agreed to do a giveaway at Unquiet Things for one of her pieces of embroidery! If Rachel were to pick through your brains, what story would her needle and thread tell from what she found? Leave a comment if you wish and let us know, and for giveaway details, check out Rachel’s Instagram!

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I initially saw your work via Ello, if I recall. Sometimes I feel like you and I might be the only two people over there, but I’m sticking it out. How do you feel the site has been for exposure and sales? Also, do you find interesting artists and inspiration over there, in the same way, I suppose, that I found you?

I really enjoy Ello. The creators are very active and super supportive of the artist community. They’re always adding more categories for artists to share their work, which makes it easier to discover new artists and pieces. I have been featured a few times which has totally helped with getting views and also some sales. Because they are so supportive I find a lot of artists, especially photographers that I had not come across on instagram.

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I’ve read that after a few years of experimenting with the medium, you fell into the style in which you create and design now. How would you, personally, describe your style?

I would have to say that my style is still developing, to be honest. Or that I am still working on it. I have a more set style for drawing and sketching, which I’ve been doing for years, but it never made the transition into the embroideries I’ve been making. I’m very inspired by line-work and pen and ink illustrations and engravings, like John Mortensen and Fritz Eichenberg. I would like to experiment more with working some of that style into my embroidered pieces. I love some of my more recent spooky ones that have very thin line work, I would like to stick to that style while still exploring more macabre subjects.

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What do you get up to when you’re not creating spoopy stitches?

I really like going for bike rides or walking the trails in the woods by my house, especially with my pup. Recently I have been focused on organizing and tidying up my work space. My husband and I bought a house a few months ago, and now I have my very own room for arts stuffs. It’s so exciting, but time consuming. I’m looking forward to the cooler months and boarding myself up and getting a lot of work done while watching all the classic Spoopy movies.

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What are your current inspirations and how do they work their way into a new piece of embroidery? What imagery would you like to stitch that you have not so far?

I have been going through all the spooky movies and shows on Netflix to get inspired for Halloween season. I’ve watched Stranger Things twice now and keep scrolling through the B Horror flicks while I draw up ideas. Currently I’m working on the Inktober challenge to try and force myself into creating new ideas. Even doodling out simple sketches help, but it’s hard for me to make time to do them, so Inktober is really helping me set aside a little time every day to practice and draw. I would like to do larger pieces and try to get out of the confines of the embroidery hoop. I’m planning on doing some larger wall hangings over the winter months.

What’s your creative space like? What is your ideal environment like for this sort of craft? What sort of music or background noise do you like to have? Candles, incense? Night/day? 

I usually love to have movies on, the kind that you have seen a million times and can play in your head, or Buffy. I have a part time job so when I get home and if I have the energy to work on projects I will usually put on a movie and sit and work for a while. My actual work space is a bit cluttered while I ready myself and my work for a spooky market at Gypsy Warrior a few towns over.

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I understand that you live in NJ–I lived up there for 6-7 years! I moved back to FL in 2010. The autumns and springs are gorgeous there; I’m wondering if seasonal motifs end up amongst your stitches?

I love springs and autumns and the noticeable changes in the seasons. I wouldn’t say that my work reflects them though, but my mood and willpower totally does. I am much lazier in the summer months. I find it harder to focus and accomplish things, since all I want to do is swim, ride bikes and lay around. This will be my first winter out of the city (I lived in and around Brooklyn for a few years) and I am very excited for the peace and quiet that’s to come.

I know you also do commissions, as I was the recipient of something beautiful that you created for me at someone’s request. What’s the weirdest, most interesting thing that anyone’s asked you to create?

A family friend just asked me to try cross stitching for a gift for her mother. Something like, “I wish I was a guppy, because guppies eat their young.” That’s pretty strange, I’d have to say, but she had a smile while she was explaining it to me, so it seems like a fun thing to do. Besides that, the Nine Inch Nails lyrics I did, “God is dead and no one cares” was pretty great, but I got a few messages and emails from followers that did not care for that message. It seems it’s best for them to figure out what I am about sooner than later though.

Thanks so much, Rachel, for sharing with us and for the giveaway!
Find Rachel/YourGothic Granny: Etsy // Ello // Instagram

Wyrd Words Giveaway Winner!

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Thanks to everyone who entered our giveaway for copies of Katie Metcalfe’s Dying Is Forbidden in Longyearbyen and In The Hours Of Darkness.

Death, magick, love and lunacy are carved open and carefully explored in these books of poetry, along with poems that touch on the hardships and beauty of the far north. And Jaimie, you are going to have the chance to read both of them! Please contact me with your address and I will mail them out to you next week.

Interview & Giveaway with Aubrey Bramble, songstress, scenteur, and crystal-slinger.

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Isn’t a wonderful thing when you discover that someone you admire for one particular reason actually has another, previously unknown-to-you facet that is equally, fascinating?

Captivating songstress Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble is one half of the duo Golden Gardens, whose shimmering, shadowy sound I became aware of through my dear friend and ghost poet, Sonya Vatomsky. I can think of few greater pleasures than new music to obsess over! Few, that is…except for fragrance. And so you can imagine my surprise when I realized that Aubrey is also a crystal worker, an aromatherapist, and the proprietress of Swan Children Alchemy for which she creates and sells “Oil blends, crystal magic, and herbal wisdom for personal empowerment and maximum luminosity.”

Well, am I the grandchild of the world’s nosiest woman, or what? You know my interest was piqued to a fever pitch and of course I had tons of questions for Aubrey. She has graciously indulged my curiosity below, as well as generously offered a few of her scents for a giveaway here at Unquiet Things!  One winner will be chosen at random on September 23rd and will receive two fragrances listed below. To enter, just leave a comment about your current obsessions, or recommend to us something that you adore! Nothing to repost anywhere, and no, you don’t have to be following either of us on instagram, but I mean, why wouldn’t you want to? Well, just in case, here we are:

Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble @primaesq
Unquiet Things/S. Elizabeth @ghoulnextdoor

Red Room from the Twin Peaks Collection {Terror. Shadows. Doppelgängers. And a strange little dancing man. The scent of danger, unfiltered. Top notes: hallucinogenic incense smoke; Middle notes: motor oil, scorched wood; Base notes: tobacco ash, ambrette, murky forests}

The Morrigan from the Goddess Collection {A dark and mysterious forest calls to your inner crow through a deathly blend of dragon’s blood, juniper berry, black pepper, fir needle, patchouli, and sweet almond oil with an inky black onyx obelisk holding queenly court in the center of the vial.}

And now…tiptoe past the swan for my Q&A with Aubrey!

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You’re a self-professed perfume addict–I am curious about the fragrances you loved when you were younger, how your tastes have changed and evolved, and what scents you are obsessing over now.

The very first “fancy” fragrance I can remember falling in love with (and one that I just wore yesterday) was Cacharel’s “LouLou.” I remember my parents purchasing it for me on a cruise ship vacation we took when I was 11. A couple of years ago, it popped back into my mind after reading Luca Turin’s and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and I went on a mad search for it. I now wear it regularly and always get stopped by people wanting to know what I’m wearing. It’s so oddly sweet and dark and juicy and musky and intoxicating. It’s a gem.

As for the progression of my scent addiction over the years, it wasn’t always tasteful. I had an embarrassing spell of time when I wore “Exclamation!” in middle school and a peer-pressure-inspired “CK One” phase in high school (hard to type that without rolling my eyes). Luckily, post high school I seemed to be a little more mindful and discerning in my scent selections, though clearly there’s been a maturation over time. In college and directly after, I was obsessed with the original self-titled Anna Sui fragrance. The bottle and design just captured my little romantic goth heart! My early 20s were dominated by Givenchy’s “Hot Couture” and Hanae Mori’s “Butterfly.” My mid-twenties were all about “Lolita Lempicka” and Narciso Rodriguez’s “Her.” Later I became consumed by Tom Ford’s “Black Orchid: Voile de Fleur” and Fresh’s “Cannabis Santal” and “Cannabis Rose.” I’m probably still in my peak obsession phase; I currently have (and wear and love) Diptyque’s “Volutes” and “34,” Atelier Cologne’s “Orange Sanguine,” Fiele Fragrances’ “Viola,” Raw Spirit’s “Smoke,” Chanel’s “Sycomore” and “Coromandel,” Serge Lutens’ “Fille en Aiguilles,” and Santa Maria Novella’s “Gardenia.”

I tend to gravitate towards more woodsy, incense-y fragrances and super rich, dark florals. And I love strange combinations/unusual pairings of notes. I like to think of my perfume style as one part Josie Packard, one part Bjork, and one part Elizabeth Taylor – mysterious, avant-garde, decadent. My absolute favorite current perfume house is Byredo. I love and regularly wear their “Oud Immortel.” My number one signature scent of the moment is their “Black Saffron.”

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Your Twin Peaks inspired line of perfumes is such an intriguing idea! Tell us what was it about Twin Peaks that captured your imagination? Twenty five years later have you found anything else that measures up?

I remember being allowed to watch Twin Peaks when it first aired, when I was about 11 years old. (11 seems to be the magic age for this interview, huh?) It was just so completely imaginative and non-traditional. It mesmerized me, and began a lifelong David Lynch crush. I have yet to find anything that holds the intensity of magic in my heart that Twin Peaks does. I suppose being introduced to it at such a young and impressionable age has a little bit to do with the intensity of romanticism I give it, but I also think part of the magic of it all is the window of time it originally unfolded in – before that sort of adventurous programming was a regular occurrence, and before some of the more restrictive and bland/formulaic standards of modern media really dug into society. My line of Twin Peaks perfumes came about because I always found myself wondering what each of the characters smelled like, what certain environments reeked of, etc. It’s been a really fun project to explore, asking myself questions like, “Would Shelly with all that amazing spiral-curled 90s hair smell like mousse and curl spray?” Probably.

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If you could choose to bottle a scent right now capturing the essence of current artistic zeitgeist or inspired by a piece of 2016 pop culture, what do you think that might be?

I’d have to say what inspires me most about current events/current arts/the current evolution of humanity is the dissolution of and breaking free from the more restrictive and traditional ways society “expects” people to exist in the world. Despite the increased persecution and destruction and authoritarian control and trauma, people seem to be having these beautiful personal transformations in the way they express themselves both internally and externally. There seems to be a heightened commitment to authenticity and reclamation of individual power. I look at what is going on with the resurgence and rebirth of witchcraft, gender roles, self-expression, ways of earning a living. It’s really exhilarating and motivating and exciting. If I were to “bottle” that feeling or movement, I like to imagine it would be something incredibly animalistic and wild, something strangely juxtaposed and with an unmistakable presence. I immediately think of notes like aldehyde, vinyl, galbanum. Those notes that either turn you off or turn you on. It’d be a very cilantro fragrance haha.

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You mention the healing power and wisdom of stones and crystals with regard to your mystical education. I am wondering when you first noticed this deep connection and how did it develop? And personally, I am always interested in practical applications of metaphysical and psychic knowledge–I am wondering how you might utilize these philosophies and principles on a day-to-day basis?

I have always loved a pretty, sparkly crystal. My cousin used to bribe me with loose rhinestones that he told me were diamonds when i was really little, and of course I always took the bait. In my early teens I began to immerse myself in witchcraft and metaphysics, so that’s when my current connection to the magic of stones and crystals really began. What I love most about working with crystals and stones is that they are three-dimensional, physical tools – objects you can hold in your hand or place on your body and actually feel energy around. I regularly add whole crystals to my perfume/oil blends, or infuse them with a handcrafted gem essence, to add an element of vibrational magic to the potions. I wear crystals and stones as jewelry everyday, for specific intentions around energies I am trying to manifest, balance, be shielded from, increase, etc. I dream, journey, and meditate with crystals; I have conversations with them. If you intentionally tune in to the crystals and stones, they have a lot of information for you. Just sitting and holding one in your hand and asking it to share its magic with you can be pretty transformative and powerful. We all come from the Earth; sitting with a crystal is a beautiful way to reconnect with that energy.

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In addition to a perfumer, aromatherapist and crystal worker, you’re also a musician! Can you tell us as to how that came about?

I’ve always wanted to sing in a band. Always. All of my idols are dreamy vocalists (Kate Bush, Elizabeth Frasier, Harriet Wheeler, Julee Cruise). Lucky for me, my friend Gregg was looking to start a dreampop project a few years ago but was having trouble finding a singer. I asked if I could give it a try, and voila! Golden Gardens was born. We wrote one song, three more immediately followed, and within a month or so we had our first EP (Somnambulist). Now we’re working on album number three! I really love collaborating with Gregg – I feel like we are psychic music twins. We each have a very independent and unique way of working that – when combined in a final composition – creates a beautiful complexity of sound and harmony with a depth and intricacy all our own.

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Dark, lustrous, shimmering–these are just a few words to describe Golden Gardens’ shoegaze/dream pop sound, billed as mystical music for “ghosts and shadowy spectres.” What’s your inspiration for the forthcoming album, and would you say that your sound or tone has shifted with the new stuff? And if so, why the shift?

The new record “Reign” is all about dismantling the Patriarchy and reclaiming personal power. All of the songs were inspired by fierce female archetypes throughout mythology and history. It’s an invocation to the warrior queens and the enchantresses, the priestesses and the mystics – those parts of ourselves that the status quo works so hard to shame and contain and erase.

Our sound has definitely shifted over the years, but I feel like it’s been a slow, continuous shift. We were definitely more “shoegazey” when we first started, and these days our sound is decidedly more pop-oriented. But if you’ve listened to us from the beginning, or if you go through and listen to the releases in order, I think you can hear that progression unfold in a natural, intelligent way. No matter what genre we are playing with I think one thing is always consistent, and that’s our dark mood. Everything we create has a bit of a somber overglow, even the so-called happier songs. And I absolutely love that about us. Doom and gloom 4eva.

Jumping back in time a bit, I saw that you worked with Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall (!!!!) on a few projects; these are two wildly different musicians that I think I can say that I adore equally. Can you tell me what it was like working with them?Do you have any dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist musicians or artists that you would like to work with? Who are they, and why?

Before I moved to Seattle in 2009, I was living in Tampa, FL and writing for a regional arts and music publication which provided me the opportunity to talk to/work with some of my favorite artists and musicians. Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall were two of them. I got to interview Marissa a couple of times around the release of her album “Songs III,” and later create a music video for one of her earlier compositions, “Virginia.” (My background is in film and television.) She was always really lovely to interact with, and I’m so glad she’s become a more well-known musical name in recent years because her work is always fantastic. Meeting and working with Leslie was also pretty spectacular. She is a smart lady, that one.

As for dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist artists, from a musical perspective I would love to collaborate with Max Richter or Dirty Beaches. If I could convince Gregg Araki to direct a Golden Gardens music video that would be magic.

Tell me about the art/music scene in Seattle. Do you find it to be a relatively welcoming, supportive community? And is there anything good coming out of Seattle right now that we should know about? Also, if a kindred spirit, someone with similarly gothy inclinations wanted to visit your fair city (HINT: IT ME), what are some things that you’d recommend or suggest for them?

The Seattle art/music scene is very supportive. Or, rather, it’s very encouraging. I feel like the opportunities are endless here if you’re willing to do the work to make them happen. I feel very lucky to be in a place where I can make my art and have an audience for it, feel support from the community-at-large. That is definitely a gift. The journalists, the DJs, the promoters in this town are all art and music lovers (and many times artists and musicians themselves) which makes the “scene” even stronger in my opinion. It’s a very creative town.

There are so many great things coming out of Seattle it’s hard to select a few. I am definitely loving all of the local female, trans and non-binary magic being created in this town at the moment. And I do have to say we have our witchy wares on lock with so many rad local independent witch-owned businesses (do a quick #seattle search on IG or Etsy). As for a mini-list of local-gem specifics, everyone should read Sonya Vatomsky, listen to Belgian Fog, buy art from Kirk Damer and Heidi Estey, and gaze at anything made by Allyce Andrew.

If a kindred spirit was in Seattle for 24 hours, I’d recommend they hit the following spots: Gargoyles Statuary in the University District for gothy delights, The Cunning Crow Apothecary in Greenwood for witchy wares, The Belfry in Pioneer Square for all things undead, Essenza in Fremont for luxe perfume magic, Ballard Consignment for amaze vintage treasures, Sun Liquor Lounge on Capitol Hill for a decadent cocktail, Pony on Capitol Hill for Bloodlust and/or Hero Worship, Easy Street Records in West Seattle and Everyday Music on Capitol Hill for music finds, grocery shopping at Uwajimaya and book shopping at Kinokuniya in the International District, and you must visit the grave of Brandon Lee in Lake View Cemetery because, duh.

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Between ‘fuming and crystal slinging and singing and songwriting, what do you get up to in your spare time?

Witching, Netflix binging, black cat cuddles, skinnydipping in alpine lakes, being out in nature, cooking, reading everything by Dion Fortune, drinking mass quantities of La Croix, overfilling my social schedule, worrying about everything, buying $30 lipgloss, thrift shopping to find all the All That Jazz 90s dresses a girl can uncover.

I’m always curious as to what folks are currently into/digging on: are there any books/music/movies/television/whatevers that you’ve indulged in recently and that you would recommend to Unquiet Things readers?

Books: I read a lot of witchy reference books, too many to list; Essence and Alchemy – Mandy Aftel; The Magdalen Manuscript – Tom Kenyon; I am also finally getting around to reading The Mists of Avalon and I love it
Music: Been digging Samaris recently, also “Lost Boys” by Still Corners has been my jam this summer and even though it came out awhile ago I can never get enough of iamamiwhoi’s Blue album
Movies: The Neon Demon on repeat; Teen Witch always; The Sisterhood of Night; White Bird in a Blizzard
TV: Marcella, The Ascent of Woman, Stranger Things, Penny Dreadful, The Night Of, and The Great British Baking Show
Etc: I am currently obsessed with the weekly Pele Report by Kaypacha. Everyone should watch it. He’s on YouTube, you can look it up.

Thanks again, Aubrey, for your time and generosity. And darling readers–don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!

Salt is For Curing Winner

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Thanks to everyone who read my interview with Sonya Vatomsky and who entered our giveaway for one signed and kissed copy of Sonya’s most recent collection, Salt Is For Curing. Our winner is revealed in this wonky, upside down video! That’s what you get when you resort to mystical means of doing something that a random number generator could have done more efficiently.

 

A video posted by S. Elizabeth (@ghoulnextdoor) on

Ok, just consider that video a teaser! It was fun to make but I’m not certain you could actually see anything. Our winner is…Allison!

Allison please contact me with your address and such, and I will drop your copy of Sonya Vatomsky’s Salt Is For Curing in the mail this weekend.

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Thanks again for everyone who read and commented with your favorite scents and beloved rituals.  In the meantime, perhaps you were wondering how to outfit yourself for reading these magical, transformative poems? Ok, so maybe that’s just me?  That’s ok, I will share my ideas anyway.  See below, and if you are curious as to the items used, click through the image for a detailed listing.

 

Salt Is For Curing

 

 

Apotheosis

 

A super fucking interesting chat: Sonya Vatomsky

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Sonya Vatomsky, lovely new friend, and author of Salt Is for Curing, has been interviewed previously by some very smart people who have asked some excellent questions of this ghostly poet of the witchy and intense.  I am not one of those people.

In my initial spurt of nosiness about this exquisite creature, I uncovered  a handful of informative, well-written and wonderfully interesting interviews with our subject today. And my conclusion is that there’s not much I can ask Sonya Vatomsky about poetry and the writing process that another more intelligent and more articulate person has not already shared with us. And as a matter of fact, I encourage you all to read these previous interviews when you can, because they offer fantastic insight into Sonya’s works.

I am, however going to ask some fun questions, which I have shared below, and we are offering a giveaway consisting of a signed copy of Salt Is For Curing, –so I hope you will continue reading!

I became acquainted with Sonya in early 2016 when I noticed that a user on Instagram calling themselves @coolniceghost started following my account. Normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to new followers on social media but an interesting username always piques my interest.  And come on…. COOL + NICE + GHOST!  That sounded too good to be true–I wanted to believe this mystery internet person is all of these things!

I discovered, with just a little bit of poking around on the internet, that this indeed all true. @coolniceghost turned out to be a poet named Sonya Vatomsky, (A POET! You know my heart exploded with this knowledge) whom I found on facebook and reached out right away to say hello. And here we are.

Sonya has written two collections, My Heart In Aspic, a book of :”sensory-rich poetry investigating the body, decay/fracture, rich marrow, salted flesh, and breathing in all the dark things”, as well as the more recent Salt Is For Curing, which is described deliciously by author Ariana Reines as “a feast, a grimoire, a fairy tale world, the real world. It’s also too smart for bullshit and too graceful to be mean about the bullshit”.

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{Apotheosis / Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky}

In my reading of Salt Is For Curing, it took all that I had not to devour this small book of spooky delights in one greedy instant. I feared that to do so, to ingest all of these potent magics at once, would give me a terribly heartsick sort of heartburn and yet leave me with the very worst sort of emptiness, knowing there is no more to be had. I drew it out for as long as I could stand.

Anyway, I do go on, don’t I?  We are going to talk about stuff and things and I trust that you will read further and enjoy. After having done so, please leave a comment to be included for the giveaway of one copy of Salt Is For Curing, signed by Sonya Vatomsky.  Do you have a favorite collection of poetry? A beloved fragrance? Maybe a strange ritual you’d like to share? Tell us all about it in the comments and a random winner will be divined by esoteric methods exactly one week from today.

Sonya Vatomsky

Sonya Vatomsky

 

Mlle Ghoul: The other night I had a dream that I peeled back the onion skin of my toes to uncover chocolate bonbons, which I plucked and ate with relish (I knew they’d grow back). What have you been dreaming about lately? What sort of stock do you put in dreams, if any? Are they signs, guide-posts for you? Or just brain-blips? Do they ever make their way into your poetry?

Sonya Vatomsky: Honestly, I kind of just have a lot of nightmares. I always have. They range from the basic psychopath-on-a-rampage kind to the crueler twists of, say, killing someone while blacked out and then having to explain that you’re a murderer to your parents who, against all mounting evidence, are maintaining your innocence during the trial because they know you, you would never. Because of this, I learned how to wake myself up from dreams when I was very young.When I’m really scared, I reach a sort of lucidity where if I force my eyes open really wide in the dream-state I’ll wake up. Besides the waking up trick, my lucid dreams are pretty useless. There’s a sort of misconception in lucid dreaming tutorials where people equate them with control over your dreams, which is just not accurate. Being self-aware doesn’t automatically make you God.

Speaking of dreams and sleep, you mentioned that you suffer from sleep paralysis. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with that?

Sure! It first happened in my late teens — scared the shit out of me, but I figured it was a freaky one-off nightmare. Then it occurred every few months for several years. I have an “all the toppings” version of sleep paralysis: aural hallucinations, visual hallucinations, and the cherry on top is an overpowering sense that there’s a demon in the room. I first read about sleep paralysis when I was 24 — 6 years ago — and since then it hasn’t happened much. Reading about it was very surreal. I was going through the Wikipedia pages of Japanese horror movies and reading the synopses and clicking links and ended up reading a medical paper on kanashibari. Having this frightening, seemingly-inexplicable, and deeply-personal thing medically explained (and experienced by other people!) was such a relief. In terms of the impact on my daily life, sleep paralysis was far more isolating than terrifying… or, rather, don’t we all have a very visceral fear that our mind has chosen an utterly unique kind of madness? That we’re somehow inherently blocked from ever being understood by another?

In Salt Is For Curing, the thread that ties so much of it together is food, but I get that it’s not really about food. You’ve said, and I am paraphrasing, that at the very root of these themes you write on– women, and bodies, and autonomy, and trauma, and power– it’s you exorcising your demons while “making people think they’re reading a witchy little book of folklore.” Which I think is fantastic and I loved that aspect of it. The role of food in folklore is such an interesting subject, though, and not one that I’ve thought on overmuch until now. I guess what I want to ask is how did you make these connections in relation to your own personal mythology and go about incorporating it into your poetry?

I think food and folklore both fall into my writing through the simple fact of me being Russian. Specifically a Russian immigrant, so my sense of culture has basically been distilled into those two things, partially because they’re such cultural building blocks but also because food and folklore are all you really have awareness of when you’re a child. I was six when I moved.

… but I am also obsessed with food, so we have to come back to that. Would you consider food/cooking a fascination for you, and has that been a constant fixation throughout your life or something that developed around the writing of these particular poems? What do you like to cook for yourself? What do you like to cook and serve to other people?

I’m impatient and busy so I usually cook things that can be done in 30 minutes, ideally with most of that time away from the stove. Baked fish with lemon, rosemary lamb, duck breast, tuna steak, that sort of thing. Also sandwiches. Always sandwiches. My current favorite is some kind of nice bread, gravlax, sliced hardboiled egg, tomato, mayonnaise, and hot sweet mustard. I’ll usually make the same type of dish for other people, because hosting means I’m a) stressed from accepting too much responsibility for the personal happiness of my dinner guest and b) drinking a lot, though I might upgrade my put-it-in-the-oven entree to cornish game hen. I can do piroshky and vareniki and pelmeni and borsch and all of that too but would need a third party to mind the guests because I’m very leave-me-the-fuck-alone in the kitchen.

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Sonya Vatomsky

Another thing you mentioned in an interview and I am taking it totally out of context here so that you can expand upon and play with it however you like, is: “I’m interested in myself quite a lot.” I cannot tell you how refreshing that was to read, and how excited, and well, RELIEVED I was to hear someone actually say that. You know, as a writer, I am extremely interested in myself, as well (I’m my favorite subject!)…but that’s not always something people are comfortable expressing, I don’t think. I was hoping that you could talk a little more about this.

My coolness and my writing ability have just never been things I questioned. Which doesn’t mean I assume everyone will adore me (why would it?) or anything; I’m just stressed out by starvation economies. Impostor syndrome is a thing I deal with, as are various insecurities about success, but I don’t conflate feelings about my movement through the world with my intrinsic sense of self, I guess? I think I’m super fucking interesting, and I get chills re-reading my own work, but that ego also frees me up to feel joy at the genius of others. There’s not a finite amount of coolness. I find books all the time that reduce me to Facebook-messaging incoherent “omg… you are disgustingly amazing”s to people and that’s a real pleasure.

Make America Goth Again

Make America Goth Again

Onto lighter things! One of the things we initially bonded over was our huge goth-y tee shirt collection–do you have any favorites right now?

MAKE AMERICA GOTH AGAIN, which I discovered through fellow goth Deirdre Coyle.

I don’t want to assume you are a fellow perfume enthusiast, but I sort of get the feeling that you might be. What sort of scents do you find yourself drawn to? Do you have a particular beloved fragrance?

Ha! I am definitely a perfume enthusiast. Except I find the alcohol in alcohol-based perfumes really overpowering so I mostly wear oils. My everyday stink is Sugar & Spite’s Brewster (buttercream frosting, candied violets, vanilla cake) with Common Brimstone’s Petite Mort (caraway, cardamom, leather, honey, rose) on top. I also really love BPAL’s Vixen (orange blossom, ginger, patchouli) but I’ve had it forever so it kind of just smells like the summer I was 21 at this point. My gotta-have-it oils are anything that mention campfires, dirt, or cardamom, and lately I’m really enjoying rose as well. Oh! Another always-favorite is Debaucherous Bath, though I purchase more lotions than perfumes from that shop. The Queen Bee (milk, honey, cardamom) is delightful.

I did read your post about perfumes the other day and am thinking of treating myself to Norne or De Profundis (though for those prices maybe I’ll just come over for a weekend and smell you a lot).

I think you and I have something else in common, too–that you don’t really love showering, because you don’t like getting wet. Me too, I hate it! I sort of have to trick myself into the shower, make a ritual of it with fluffy towels, fancy soaps and potions and unguents. This made me start thinking about our own individual, personal rituals. I was wondering if you had any that you might like to share? Whether with regard to getting your hair wet, or writing, or …whatever, really.

Showering is the worst. I exercise every morning and that does make me more inclined to shower, though I soaps and potions help as well. I like to have a creepy soap (gunsmoke, seaweed, rotting wood) and a sweet lotion. An off-putting handsoap is nice, too. Blackbird used to do a really strong, salty licorice one but since they discontinued it I’ve been using Nevermore Body Company’s Sacred Ground (chamomile, oak, black currant, dried leaves).

My other rituals are secret, for now.

You just traveled to Iceland! What did you love about it? Did you find any inspiration there? Anything that you might recommend to a fellow traveler on a whirlwind journey?

Iceland! The best thing we did was go to the Secret Lagoon which, first off, has a Facebook page so how secret is it really? The lagoon is an hour or so outside Reykjavik, and we did a night excursion where we got there around 9 or 10pm — it’s dark and freezing cold and next to the lagoon is this scary-looking cement shack structure and there’s a reddish light coming from somewhere that makes the entire scene look like the first result of when you go to a website of free desktop wallpapers and search for “creepy shit”. It was incredible! You get little floaties and float in the water, which is really warm, and there are these underwater speakers playing fucking Sigur Ros, and you can drink wine and then get a massage. Someone also brought a dog so I was petting this giant fluffer while drinking wine and being up to my waist in a hot lagoon.

Perfect. Then when you’re done soaking you get to have a little meal of cucumbers and tomatoes and black bread and schnapps and softboiled egg and the rotting piss shark thing which, I don’t know, definitely needs a lot of schnapps after it.

Photo credit: Sonya Vatomsky

Photo credit: Sonya Vatomsky

I am led to believe that you may have some great poetry recommendations. If one loved Salt Is For Curing, for example, what else might you suggest?

I HAVE SO MANY POETRY RECOMMENDATIONS. Recently I have read and loved:

Kate Litterer – Ghosty Boo
Janice Lee – Reconsolidation
Natalie Eilbert – Swan Feast
Segovia Amil – Ophelia Wears Black
Emily O’Neill – Celeris

Finally, closing on a more serious note– elsewhere, you referenced a J.G. Ballard quote:

“’I wanted to / rub the human face in its own vomit / and then force it to look in the mirror’—and that’s basically what I’m trying to do. Except with my vomit. In a nice way.” I know that our motivations and inspirations are constantly in flux, so I am wondering if this is still what you are trying to do? Or has this changed?

No, that still sounds about right.

Thanks again, Sonya, for entertaining my curiosity and indulging my nosy nature. And readers, remember to leave a comment below in order to be eligible for our giveaway of one signed copy of Salt Is For Curing.

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Chase and Scout Q&A and Giveaway

IMG_1962Austin-based Chase & Scout creates beautifully crafted jewelry for those for those who walk a path between the dark and the light.  Blending ancient symbology, natural objects, and modern design aesthetics, designer and creator Elle Greene creates jewelry for kindred spirits, pieces that she hopes will resonate deeply with the wearer. Inspired by meditations on nature and the possibilities of unseen realms, these adornments are designed with an appreciation for the past while always looking forward.

Today I am thrilled to be sharing a recent interview with the lovely Elle Greene of Chase & Scout and hosting a giveaway over on Instagram for one of her gorgeous pieces, a stunning oxidized, sterling silver and labradorite pendant.

Read on to learn more about Elle and her creations and a chance to win!
…and P.S. there’s a 20% discount code for Unquiet Things readers at the bottom of the page, as well!

Mlle Ghoul: Tell us about Chase & Scout – the company, the aesthetic, and the vision.

Elle Greene: Chase and Scout was created in 2008, and is based out of my studio in Austin Texas. It’s a bit of a one woman operation. I conjure up, design, and hand craft every piece in the C&S collections. It’s very important to me that each component of my work be made from raw materials and by hand. There is a certain coldness to machine manufactured jewelry that is cranked out by the 100’s. I want the people who wear my work to feel its depth. Each piece has been in my hands, on my bench–it’s a closeness that I hope resonates with anyone who holds or wears my jewelry.

Aesthetically, I’m naturally drawn to the dark, but I let a little light in, as well. The mystique of ancient symbology, botanicals, and modern design are all aspects of my inspiration. I tend to steer clear of obvious inconology so that each wearer can ascribe their own meaning. A little mystery can be very powerful.

When you look back at the primitive roots of jewelry, it was used not only for physical adornment, but to announce tribal affiliation or provide spiritual protection. I see much of my work in this way. I am creating amulets and talismans that are charged, not only with what I have put into them, but also with what the owner brings to it. My vision is that these pieces become fixtures in their wardrobe and part of their daily armor.

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You mention that your jewelry is “with a bit of light and a bit of dark”, and that in your pieces you like to “ explore the duality of our own nature” – these are fascinating concepts and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this and how it relates to the adornments that you create.

For me, it’s about the depth and breadth of the personality I am designing for. Personally, I like quirky and weird; I dig dark humor but not gore. I lean more towards a Victorian Gothic sensibility over graphic horror films. I think that the people who gravitate towards my jewelry have that same broad sense of attraction to all facets of this style. The term “Gothic” is too often dismissed as “all gloom, all the time”, and that’s simply not the case.

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You also refer to an appreciation for the past and an interest in ancient symbology with regard to your jewels – what are your influences and inspirations in this vein and can you give us an example of how you might incorporate them into a design?

I was really fortunate to grow up in an artistic family. My father was an archaeologist and we always had a museum’s worth of cultural relics around the house.

I gravitate towards items used in funerary rites and burial customs. All cultures have a series of mystical rites that need to be performed and objects ascribed solely for funerary use. One of the attractions to ancient cultures is that almost every object created contains decorative elements of form and function.

Ceremonial knives are quite beautiful, every tribe has at least one style that is specific to the region or era and I find a lot of inspiration in them. In New Guinea the warriors would carry these elaborate fighting clubs with shark teeth embedded along its edges: a seriously evil-looking object. The shape of that club, combined with the shape of the federal shield (iconic during the US Civil War and Victorian era) came together in my Skull and Shield earrings.

Shield Earrings

The Frida earrings from the same collection are derived from the Incan tumi axe. The tumi was used for ritual use in burials, and was also used in sun worship ceremonies. Your average passerby will simply see a pair of cool feathered earrings, but the owner knows they’re wearing an interpretation of a 2,000 year old sacrificial knife.

Frida Earrings

I know that you’re getting ready to release a new mini collection -what can we look forward to with this?

Mini collections are a lot of fun for me! It’s less pressure than a full line, which allows me to play and try out new ideas. Right now, I’m creating a small group of orchids and flora, just in time for the spring. For me, orchids carry a real presence that tiny flowers just can’t convey. Capturing something as fleeting and fragile as a flower in metal is definitely a technical challenge. I’ve found a Japanese alloy that allows me to achieve a deep patina in the metal. This Black Flower collection currently consists of pendants and earrings. I’m really excited to bring this collection to life!

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Where can we find your creations for purchase?

My website is the best place to find my current designs and collections. Anyone can visit Chaseandscout.com and purchase their favorite pieces directly from the site. Should you find yourself in Austin, stop by Blackmail Boutique on South Congress Ave. to see a selection of C&S jewelry in person.

Follow me on Instagram (@ChaseandScout) for a peek into studio life at the bench and my daily inspiration.

Thank you Elle, for graciously answering my questions, and for offering this generous giveaway!  Be certain to follow, tag, and repost for a chance to win!

P.S. Get 20% off of everything at Chase & Scout with code: UNQUIET now thru 3/20.

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Summer Scent Giveaway Winner!

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Thanks to all who entered my Summer Scents For Those Who Shun The Sun giveaway, over on the bloodmilk blog last week.  I loved reading all of your beautiful, evocative scent descriptions! Alas, I can only choose one winner, and according to the random number generator, our winner of samples for each scent listed (along with several other selections!) is….#7, Tai!

Tai, please email me at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com so that I can send these fragrances your way!

 

In the original post it seems I neglected to mention where these scents can be found.  Allow me to remedy that! Most of them can be found on amazon.  See below for links. Regretfully, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent that I listed, “Danube” , looks like it is no longer on the site (I must have a really old bottle). I have found their scent “Arkham” to be strangely comparable, though..

Jean Couturier Coriandre on amazon
Annick Goutal Mandragore on amazon
L’Artisan Safran Troublant on amazon
Jo Malone Orange Blossom on amazon
Comme des Garcons Incense Series: Kyoto on amazon

 

The Giveaway winner is….!

…and the winner of my Weirdo giveaway*  is…#28, and that is Rachael! Thanks to everyone for playing along and taking a moment to comment and share something about yourselves. It was wonderful to learn a little about about you and hear all of your fantastic stories! I think we are all in good company.

I am trying to post a video of random dice rolling to choose the winner, but the embed code does not appear to be working. You can see it, (and hear me squeak out the number “28!”) here: https://instagram.com/p/0kjxbdgeLF/

*Please note: the items included in this giveaway are things that I have purchased myself.  This is not being sponsored by any of the brands or artists whose pieces are enclosed.
However! If you would like to send me something to use in a giveaway, I am certainly open to hearing about that.

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