Weyakin Designs, Visual Creation by Victoria Chapman

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons...

Image. Lemon.Times are tough in the current economic state of the world. I was seeing the effects, feeling them a little. But, I didn't truly feel how bad things are until I was laid off from my job a little over two weeks ago.

When you end up at home for long days by yourself, you begin to do a lot of soul searching. I've spent some time, looking into the options of where to go next. I think when people are forced into a situation like this, the first reaction involves panic, especially when it comes to financial concerns. But, often following the panic phase, there comes a quiet solitude of self-reflection and introspective pondering. You begin to wonder where you had been and where you will go and suddenly, the ideas and possibilities appear on the horizon. That horizon is the hope for something greater, something more fulfilling and something more meaningful.

I began my inner-search and soon after, stumbled upon this film. Lemonade is a short documentary by Erik Proulx, a former employee at large ad agencies. After he lost his job, he was inspired to create this film after talking to other people in the ad agency field who were let go from their jobs. I myself did not work specifically in advertising, but my job as a web designer has some similar trends among the ad agency folks. I found a lot of inspiration from this film. Whether you have been laid off or not, the message of Lemonade is inspiring for anyone who has ever considered doing something more with their lives.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

FREE Ways to Help Charitable Causes

I'm so pleased to see how well the Hearts for Haiti Etsy shop is doing! The Etsy community has already raised over $20,000 for Doctors Without Borders' Haiti relief fund. My heart-shaped herbal heat pack went quickly to a generous overseas buyer. I'm so glad I was able to be part of this wonderful cause.

On the topic of generosity and helpful charities, I wanted to share with you a few ways you can help other causes for FREE every single day. There are several charitable donation sites out there that receive donations based on clicks from users. The money comes from the sponsors who advertise on those pages. It is a great fast, free way to do something positive. Here is a list of some great sites that do great things to help the environment, children, women and people of all kinds:


Do you know of other great ways to help great causes? Comment here with your links!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hearts for Haiti Etsy Donation Shop

Some wonderful people started up a new Etsy shop last week called "Hearts for Haiti". This great cause is raising money to help the people of Haiti from the earthquake destruction. The Etsy community has come together to create a shop full of unique items, all of which are donated by the generous sellers on Etsy. The money raised by Hearts for Haiti will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, who are providing hospital and medical services to the people of Haiti.

A Warm Heart for Haiti Heat PackBe sure to check out all of the wonderful handmade goods everyone on Etsy is providing to the cause and lend a helping hand! I have donated a special purple herbal heat pack in a heart shape. View the Warm Heart for Haiti purple heart heat pack.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fabulous Vegan Rum Cake!

Vegan Rum CakeA co-worker brought in a rum cake, which looked absolutely delicious, but was completely not vegan. So, once I received the recipe from her, I set out to make my own vegan version. You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy this recipe. It's also cholesterol free and tastes just as yummy as one that isn't!

I asked a friend what type of spiced rum would be good for making rum cake with. She recommended Sailor Jerry. So, here is Sailor Jerry's *fabulous* vegan rum cake...

Cake Ingredients:

- 1 cup of chopped/toasted pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
- 1 box vanilla cake mix (it called for an 18.5oz box, but I used a 16.5oz box and it was fine... I know that Dr. Oteker's cake mix is vegan, so that's what I used)
- 1 box 4 serving vanilla pudding mix (it called for instant, but I used the cook kind and it still works fine... I also used Dr. Oteker's for this because I know it's vegan)
- 1 cup plain or vanilla soy yogurt (this replaces the 4 eggs)
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup cold soy or rice milk
- 1/2 cup dark spiced rum

Glaze Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup dark spiced rum

Pre-heat oven 325°F. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Put the pecans or walnuts evenly in the bottom of the pan. Mix all of the cake ingredients and blend for a couple of minutes. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan and after it cools, flip it upright onto a plate.

To make the glaze: Melt the margarine in a pan. Stir in the sugar and water and let it boil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour in the rum. It will bubble and steam, so be careful! Stir. Pour over the cake!

If the glaze seems kind of runny at first, if you let it cool down, it will solidify more. But, you can pour it over the cake while it is still runny and it can solidify on the cake too. I also noticed this make a TON of glaze, so you don't have to use it all.

Eat and enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Incredible Bat!

Lately, I've been making a few bat-themed products for my shop. I love bats, because I think they are both adorable and interesting creatures. Their shape also makes for an extra spooky, but fun way to dress things up. I know that a lot of people associate bats just with Halloween, but I love having them around all year-round.

Giant Golden-crown Flying Fox BatThe bat consists of about 1,100 different species, ranging in size from 2 grams to 1.2 kilograms. The largest bat is the Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox, which hails from the Philippines. I love the Flying Fox because it really does look like a fox with wings (image courtesy of Wikipedia). Most bats (about 70%) eat insects, while the remaining bats eat mostly fruit.

The bats that we have here in Massachusetts are usually the "little brown myotis" and the "big brown bat". I often see little bats flying overhead at dusk across the open space in my front yard. I think they might be the little browns. I love watching as they quietly flap across, catching all the nasty mosquitoes. It's an interesting sight to see the silhouettes of 10 or so bats swooping across between the trees. This year, when the weather warms up, we plan to build some bat houses to encourage our little winged friends to hang around. Here are some instructions on how you can make your own bat house!

I hope you enjoyed this quick excursion about our little winged friends!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year Wishes...

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday with your friends, family and loved ones. It's hard to believe that the year is almost over already. Where did the time go?

As we approach 2010, I hope to have many new and wonderful things to share with you in the coming year. I hope you too have some great plans for what you hope to accomplish this next year.

Whether you make resolutions or not, I hope 2010 treats you all well and that you find many pleasant surprises and much happiness!

As a seasonal holiday card this year, I gave my friends and family a card which I created from a watercolor painting, titled "Winter Spirit". To pass on the good seasonal wishes to you all, here is a web version of the front of the card. The inside reads, "May the Spirit of the Season be With You... Happy Holidays!"

Winter Spirit by Victoria Chapman
Click to Enlarge

Don't forget also that I have a Facebook Fan Page. You can find more little tidbits there.

Thank you all for your support! Have a safe and happy new year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let it Snow!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...
Photo. First Snow in Massachusetts 2009.

But the fire is so delightful...
Photo. Warm woodstove fire.

Today is the first real snow of the season here in western Massachusetts. Well, we did have a small snow in October, but it was short lived and doesn't really count. This is the first snow where it's lasting a while and sticking to the ground. Happily, it's on a day when I don't have to drive to work!

My husband and I got our errands done earlier before the snow picked up and before we headed home, we picked up a beautiful pine and cedar swag hanging from the local Emerson Family tree farm in Greenfield. They had some lovely wreaths, swags and lots of trees to choose from. Plus, they had a nice warm room with an antique wood stove and free hot cider and popcorn. If you're in the western MA area, I recommend stopping by. They are on Rt. 5 on the way to Bernardston.

It's getting chilly here and we've been using our wood stove (pictured above) every day. I'm sitting in my favorite spot next to the warm stove with my handy laptop cart.

Speaking of chilly, I've listed several more herbal heat packs on my Etsy shop and plan to add several more in the next few days. This is the perfect time of year to pick them up - for gifts or for yourself! They go in the microwave for a couple of minutes and ding! You have a nice, toasty pillow to snuggle with, which smells great too. Check out my herbal heat packs here.

I hope that wherever you are, you are keeping warm and happy!