Thursday, December 30, 2010

Etsy Shopping ... yes, it's for me

As luck would have it, there was a nice pile of money in my paypal account right before Christmas, so I bought myself a few presents.  This etsy shop is my latest obsession.  I purchased these 2 cups with plans to own lots more from this talented potter.

You really must check out Creative With Clay.  I'm sure you will be amazed by the explosion of color in this fun yet functional pottery.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kahlua Chocolate Walnut Squares

This is a recipe I've been making for years and it never fails to please.

(one does not need a fork to eat this -- I just want you to think I'm civilized)

Kahlua Chocolate Walnut Squares

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP Kahlua

Cream the butter with brown sugar and egg until smooth.  Stir in 1/4 cup Kahlua, flour and baking powder.  Fold in chips and nuts.  Spread in greased square baking pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Cool for about 15 minutes.  Brush the top with the 1 TBSP of Kahlua.  Cool completely.  Spread with Brown Butter Icing.  Cut into squares. Or rectangles. Or triangles.  Or don't cut it at all and eat the whole thing yourself.  I won't tell.

Brown Butter Icing

2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP Kahlua
2 TBSP milk or cream
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Brown butter in small saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet Marilyn

I recently decided that I needed wanted a dress form form as a photo prop for my scarves and necklaces.  I had been using a glass vase for modeling my scarves and I must admit, it was quite lame.  For my necklaces, I was using a display easel/bust similar to the ones I use at craft shows.  This worked alright, but longer necklaces never looked quite right on the easel.

I searched ebay and with the help of another etsy seller, found the perfect dress form.  Of course, shipping to Alaska added significant costs, but I was willing to do it anyway.  Then, a friend suggested a I post a wanted ad on Craig's List.  Within one day, I had a response from a woman (former seamstress?) who no longer wanted hers!  I picked it up yesterday. 

Meet Marilyn:

She's simple and basic and precisely what I was looking for.  Yay for Craig's List!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Earrings with Vintage Components

This is almost the last of these vintage brass twists.  At one time, they were part of an antique necklace that I purchased at one of those antique malls we so often visit on our trips Outside.

(for those of you that don't live in Alaska, the term Outside refers to the lower 48).  

I had lots of them, but sold all of the earrings I made with them.  This pair, and maybe one other, are all I have left.  They are incredibly interesting elements -- embossed, twisted and framed.

From the bottom, where there is a convenient loop, I added dangles of black vintage glass beads.  It just seemed right to use vintage beads with these vintage twists.  Click the photo to go directly to the listing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Iolite Earrings

I've had these iolite briolettes for a couple of years, but had a hard time making pairs of them. On the strand, they all looked the same, but in reality, there are variations in size, color, shape and drill. I know this is an old refrain, but it's a consistent problem (?) in the world of beading.

Even these two stones aren't an exact match.  There is a slight color variation and the sizes aren't identical either.  Such is the beauty of handmade jewelry!

If you must have these earrings, click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video Share

An online friend of mine tweeted about the video.  It is a must see video for anyone who has ever done a craft show.

(If anyone can tell me how to resize a youtube video so that it actually fits my blog, I would be ever so grateful)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rethinking : Selling Online

Yes, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately.  No, I have no immediate plans to close my etsy shops.  All I've been doing so far is thinking.

You're probably wondering what is prompting all this deep thought.  Even if you're not wondering, I'll tell you anyway.

As many of you know, I sell my work at craft shows, the state fair, on consignment at galleries and wholesale to gift shops.  All of those sales venues result in Sales In Bunches.  I've never actually counted the number of sales at any one of those venues because it does not seem like a relevant number.  Only on etsy is the number of sales visible and attention-getting.  I always measure the success of my business by the amount of money I make.

ALERT -- the crux of my deep thinking is about to be revealed

Why does it make sense to sell (and ship!) items one at a time halfway around the world??  Okay, sometimes it's 2 or 3 or 4 things at a time.  And sometimes it's only a quarter of the way around the world.  But I think you get my drift.  Selling online in small quantities is not only the polar opposite of earth-friendly, it's inefficient and expensive.

Think about all of that packaging and time involved in getting each individual parcel ready to be shipped.  When I look at the etsy sector of my business, I sometimes laugh out loud at the sheer silliness of it. I'm sure there's a better word than silly, but that's what is coming to mind right now.

I have no alternative to what's going on with online shopping, but I hope this post has prompted you to think about your online selling and shopping habits.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Emerald & Tourmaline Earrings

I've had this graduated strand of chubby emerald rondelles since Tucson (last February) and finally started using them.  Does anyone else do that?  Save up your most special beads for several months before actually cutting  the strand?  And have I mentioned that I really, really dislike graduated strands of gemstones?  I use most of my gems for earrings, and matching up beads from graduated strands can be ridiculously time consuming.  But I digress.

I made a pair of these right before the Bad Girls of the North craft show in Fairbanks in September.  They sold pretty quickly, so I made another for the Anchorage show.  But they did not sell, so I listed them in my etsy shop.

I topped the emeralds with a tight cluster of earthy, multi- colored tiny tourmaline rondelles.  The combination is rich and warm.  If you feel you must have these, simply click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A New Scarf Pattern

I rarely enter contests or giveaways, but in this case I'm glad I did -- because I won!  Brenda from Phydeaux was offering a giveaway of some knitting patterns from her etsy pattern shop.  I won my choice of 2 patterns and have already completed one.  This is the pattern I just completed:

I did not use as bulky a yarn as the pattern called for -- mainly because I wanted to use yarn that I had in my stash and none of it was super bulky.  Here's my version in a slate-ish blue wool/alpaca blend.

The pattern gives the scarf a really nice texture.  I'll probably make this scarf again and again!

What, you don't knit?  Then you really should check out Brenda's shop of hand knit accessories, Phydeaux.  Her work is absolutely lovely.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Auntie's Beads

Recently, I was approached by Auntie's Beads to select some items from their huge selection of beads and beading supplies and blog about them.  After much deliberation, I selected some 10 mm lapis beads and a super chunky variscite bead/pendant.

The lapis beads are beautiful and quite glossy.  I have not yet decided how I will use them, but I will definitely post it here when I do.  The size of these beads is consistent and they have such nice metallic pyrite inclusions.  That's one of the characteristics that I love about lapis.  That and the rich, bright color, of course.

This variscite pendant is like no other stone I've ever seen.  I do have some variscite rondelles in my 'stash', but because they are relatively small, they don't have the impact that this stone has.  The color is a bright apple green (love that) with lots of interesting cream colored matrix.

Keep checking in for progress on how I will use these gorgeous stones.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pamphlet Stitch Books

Using the same method that I used in these books, I made some more.  Mostly made with beer 6-pack holders, these books were a blast to make.  For this set of books, I actually added closures, which I had not figured out during my previous session.  Each one has 28 pages and was completed with the simple-to-do pamphlet stitch.

I sewed a button on each of these 2 books above and used coordinating ribbon to close them.  Fun, huh?

The 2 books on the left in this photo use elastic closures and the 10% off book has a button/ribbon closure. 

The most fun part of these books is choosing the coordinating papers, buttons and ribbons.  I also love that these 6-pack holders have found new lives and are not destined for the landfill or the recycle pile.
I still have plans to make some books from Monopoly property cards!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Textured Copper Necklaces

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a bunch of new snow, which was great because it covered up all of that nasty ice!  Plus the house smelled great all day and we had a nice quiet dinner -- just the two of us.  Perfection.


Recently added to my etsy shop, these two necklaces are made from copper sheet that I cut, filed, hammered and patinated.  This first one is pretty simple, so I added the 3 metallic burgundy glass beads in front, for a little accent.

Next up, a similar copper panel.  This time I used my alphabet stamps to add the word peace along the lower right hand side.  A simple yet important message.

These necklaces are super affordable and will really appeal to a wide range of ages.  You can go directly to the listings in my etsy shop by clicking on the photos.  Don't forget to use coupon code NOV2010DISCOUNT to get 15% off your entire order!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Notecards

Since my show season is over and all of my stores and galleries are stocked, I decided to take some time to restock my notecards.  I sold close to 100 of them at the Bad Girls show!  I keep a small basket of them at the very end of one of my tables and think of them as a way to make a little extra money.  It works!

I tried a new technique -- well, new to me.  It's actually quite old -- it's from the February 2007 Technique Junkies Newsletter and is called Dazzling Windows.  It involves transparency sheets, Sharpies, clear embossing and glitter.

While making this first card, I must have been a little distracted because I forgot the step where it says to add the glitter.  Hence, not much dazzle.  But hey, it's still pretty.

Determined to get it right, I made another card, this time with glitter.  Not sure if you can see it in the scan, but there is plenty of dazzle in this one.

And a reminder -- 15% off your entire order in my etsy shop.  Use the code NOV2010DISCOUNT in the nifty new coupon code field and the discount will be applied automatically.  This code will be valid through end of day Monday, November 29!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Sale in my Etsy Shop!

Starting now, I'm offering 15% off your entire order from my etsy shop.  Simply enter the code:


in the brand new Coupon Code field upon checkout and the discount will be applied automatically.  How cool is this new feature?!?

This offer is valid through end of day Monday, November 29.  HAPPY SHOPPING!

Here's a new pair of earrings from my etsy shop:

These earrings feature robin's egg blue briolettes of chalcedony and small apatite rondelles. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

This yummy recipe is perfect for the season.  The combination of these wonderful flavors will delight your taste buds!  The recipe makes 2 loaves.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I substituted 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg & ground cloves)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 16 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce ( this is an old recipe - the cans are now 14 oz!)
1 16 oz can pumpkin (I only had a 29 oz can -- you can't imagine the higher mathematics that ensued trying to figure out how much I needed -- just get the right size can, please)
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
3/4 cup chopped pecans

The recipe I had copied from who-knows-where contained no mixing directions, so I just mixed it all together in whatever order I grabbed the ingredients.  I don't think it matters for a quick bread recipe like this one.

Anywho, turn into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for about 65 minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out of pans and cool on racks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stampsmith November Challenge

http://After much procrastination, I finally made time to work on my November challenge from the Stampsmith yahoo group I  belong to.  One of the reasons I was procrastinating was because the product we create had to use at least one Stampsmith stamp and be Thanksgiving themed.  I couldn't see where any of the Stampsmith images I have (and I have a lot) could be interpreted as Thanksgiving oriented.  So I said "screw that" and I just picked one.

The project was to make a card and gift bag into which one will put gifts for and elderly person who might need some goodies for this holiday.

Here's my card, which as you can see, is not too exciting.  Nor is it very Thanksgiving-y.  I see some autumn in there, however.

And here it is tied with ribbon to the gift bag I decorated.

Much better.  And a close up of the bottom of the bag.

I'm so glad I signed up to participate in this challenge.  It has forced me to work within the deadline and try some stamping projects I never would have done otherwise.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Boots!

One of the benefits of living in a cold, snowy place is that one needs boots.  A variety of boots is always a good idea. I mean, seriously, weather conditions vary considerably and every woman should have several pairs of boots.

I have my practical red boots from Land's End, which are warm and have a super non-skid bottom.  One slip on the ice was all it took to convince me that this feature was necessary.  I have a pair of black lace-up Blondo's for dress-up.  For as dressed up as I ever get, these are good enough.  I've had both of these boots for a few years, so I could not find photos of them on line -- not to worry, it would not be exciting anyway.

What IS exciting however, is this pair of boots.  No, they're not really warm and I have my suspicions about the gripiness of the sole, but hey, they are gorgeous!

Am I stylin', or what??

If you are at all interested in shoes and boots (who isn't?) you must check out the El Naturalista website.  Their styles are wonderfully different and the color selection is incredibly fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New! Concave Cut Whiskey Quartz Briolettes

This is a cut one does not see very often.  I did a search on etsy, and only 32 pairs of earrings showed up -- a minor miracle!

The color of these whiskey quartz stones is warm and rich. It's sort of a cross between, well, whiskey, Dijon mustard and honey.  Sounds like a fine marinade to me. hehe

And the matching necklace ...

Click the photos to go directly to the listings in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bad Girls of the North -- Anchorage Show Re-Cap

All that preparation.  All that stress.  All those questions and doubts.  And now it's over.  In summary, it was a huge success.  Turnout was phenomenal -- my friend Nancy couldn't find a parking spot on Friday evening and gave up and went home.  I don't like hearing that, but parking is a bit out of our control.  People were creative and parked along the shores of Lake Spenard.  I think they're lucky that they didn't get towed away.

I managed to walk around before we opened to the public and took some photos of artists as they were putting the finishing touches on their booths.

Here's Vicki Prewitt hanging her fabulous paintings.

Kathy Peters, one of my favorite potters, always has a wonderful selection of bowls, plates and mugs.

Here's Rick, mugging for the camera.  His booth, along with mine and Carol's (and a few others) were in the pre-function area (hotel-speak for lobby-ish), so we had to be ready for business about 30 minutes earlier than the main rooms, to accommodate the early arrival of anxious customers.

Chelline's booth full of hand painted silk art is always visually stunning.

Deb Ives of Posh House makes fabulous outerwear that makes you glad you need a winter coat!

Have a look at Cindy Shake's blog for photos of some additional booths.  Stephanie Uttech-Tonino also has a blog with some great photos of her booth.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Preparing for the big show ...

This coming weekend is the annual Bad Girls of the North craft show at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage.  As I prepare for that event, I will be scarce in these parts. 

Not only is it my biggest show for selling jewelry, it's actually a double whammy because I, with my partner Carol, organize this monstrosity!  This will mark our 13th year of producing a craft show in Anchorage and I must confess, we are both tiring of it.  That does not mean we will stop, but we are feeling our ages, for sure.

Now that I'm down to only 3 shows a year, this is my last show for the season.  Yay!  I can spend the remainder of November and December working on my etsy shop, trying to exceed last year's sales on that venue.

If you're local, please stop by the Millennium on Friday evening (can you say cash bar and free hors d'oevres?) or Saturday.  If I have time, I will take some photos to share with you next week.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I know, I know.  A seemingly boring, dull and drab topic.  BUT NO!  Potholders can be beautiful and artful.

Ever since I became a 'maker', some 14 years ago, my appreciation for handmade has become prominent in my life.  I wouldn't consider buying a set of potholders at Target or Walmart (I haven't stepped foot in a Walmart in years).  Where did I go when I needed new potholders?  Why, Etsy, of course.

Surprisingly, I did not find a multitude of regular square potholders, which made my decision making quite simple.  The ones I did find, however, were absolutely gorgeous.  I selected these beautiful, miniature works of art from b taylor quilts.

There are all sorts of quilted goodies in that shop.  She doesn't stop at potholders.  Briana makes placemets, quilts, nesting bowls, coasters and an assortment of other items.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Peach Moonstone Earrings

Just when I think I've completely run out of new ideas for earring designs, something happens.  Rick comes back in from his studio/shop (it's a building separate from the house and I only let him back in the house at lunch or after 5pm -- I run a tight ship) with a bag of sterling silver ovals that I asked him to solder closed for me.

Here, I must digress to tell you why these ovals were cut in the first place.  I make these very popular and good selling bracelets of mixed chains.

As you can see, half of the bracelet is large link chain that I purchase in bulk, by the spool.  Yes, it's very expensive because it's heavy.  Those of you that work with chain know that every time you cut a link, you lose a link.  This is not so painful when working with small cable chain, but this big stuff really hurts!  Each link is about an inch long.  I had a big bag full of them and .... continued ...

So, I'm staring at these now solid links and I start scheming.  This is the result:

Voila!  A new earring design is born.  Needless to say, I made a whole series of similar earrings with a variety of stones.  They are longer than many of my designs and will (hopefully) appeal to a different set of shoppers.

I only have one show left this season and for that I am grateful.  It's the "lightest" show season I have had since 1997 and it feels good.  If you live in Southcentral Alaska, please visit me at the Bad Girls of the North craft show at the Millennium Hotel, Nov 5 & 6.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Hat - Just for Me!

Remember this post?  If you don't, I'll refresh your memory with this photo of some wonderful yarns.

The yummy green yarn (79% wool, 21% linen) is now this cute hat:

Yes, I cropped out my face.  Why, you ask?  Because it was cold and I had an extremely goofy look on my face. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Road Trip!

Over the weekend, we took a little drive to Girdwood, about 40 miles south of Anchorage.  It's a beautiful area, known for skiing and all sorts of winter activities.  Since there is still no snow, the drive was pleasant and the views outstanding.  We had a nice lunch at Chair 5, a local hangout.

While there, I paid a visit to Shelbi Lynn, owner of Babes in the Woods, one of the stores I consign with.  I had never actually been in the store before and was pleased with how nice the store is.  It's cozy and full of all sorts of handmade goodness.  I bought a really nice handmade journal with a vintage feel to it.

Of course, I forgot to take any pictures, but I found a couple online that epitomize the town of Girdwood.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lemon Layer Cake

Last week was Rick's birthday -- I'm married to an old geezer -- he turned 60! --  and he requested a lemon cake.  I scoured my recipe collection, as activity I thoroughly enjoy.  As a matter of fact, I think I enjoy that more than the actual baking.  Anyway, I found a recipe for an orange cake that looked exactly like what I was looking for, except it was orange flavored instead of lemon.

I knew I would probably need to add some additional sugar, because lemon juice is much more tart than orange juice.  Bottom line: I didn't add enough extra sugar.  Rick loved this cake, but it was a tad too tart for me.

I baked two layers and split them.  The filling (the part that needed a bit more sugar) is similar to the filling you would find in a lemon meringue pie.  I used it between each of the layers and on top.  The frosting, which was only applied to the outside, is a simple lemon enhanced butter cream.

It was definitely a pretty cake!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Carnivale Necklace

No, I was not experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs the day I made this necklace.  I realize that the color combination is a bit wild for me, but I LOVE IT!

Hot pink chalcedony, golden honey colored chalcedony and bright orange carnelian.  It looks like candy at a carnival!  Click the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Peek Into My Work Area

I spent all of yesterday morning making pairs of briolettes and beads in preparation for an earring making marathon.  I really enjoy the pair-making.  It lets me reacquaint myself with my beads (why, hello HUGE garnets!) and take stock of what's still left in my inventory.

Sometimes it can be frustrating as well.  Like when you have many (like 20+) large, beautiful iolite briolettes remaining, yet can't find a pair among them.  Makes me want to growl and say lots of bad words.  I think I did the last part ... a lot.

Close up of the right end.  And yes, those are some deliciously large marquis cut citrine briolettes.

And look!  There's another pair on the left side.   I never put pairs of the same stone next to each other, lest I get confused and pair up the wrong 2!

And lastly, this little baggie of multi colored tourmaline briolettes that I have yet to cut.  But I will.  Soon.  (They're not from Rio Grande -- that's the baggie of beadcaps behind them.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SALE in my etsy shop!

I've decided to run a nice little sale in my etsy shop.  Between now and end of day, Friday, October 22, I'm offering 20% off your entire order!  This sale is only open to my newsletter subscribers and blog readers.

I will refund the appropriate amount to your paypal account after you have completed your purchase.

Don't miss the "back pages" of my shop -- most of those items will be expiring soon and will not be renewed

Happy shopping!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alaska Bead Society

This past weekend was the 14th annual Alaska Bead Society "Bead Arts Gala", held at the Anchorage Museum.  This show is always fun, even though sales are usually pretty mediocre.  This year was no exception.  Imagine trying to sell bead jewelry in a venue with about 50 other artists selling bead jewelry.  It's a delight (or a nightmare!) for the shoppers.

Here's a photo of my booth.  This show is so limiting for me because we are each only allowed one table.

My neighbor was the ever-friendly and cheerful Jeanne Wooderson.  Here's her booth/table.

The good news is that I probably don't have to make very much jewelry to be ready for my next show,  Bad Girls of the North in Anchorage!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Artist Spotlight :: Maggie Hallam

In an attempt to "freshen up" the Bad Girls of the North craft show in Fairbanks in 2009, I search etsy by location and was pleasantly surprised when I found Maggie's shop.   I was so impressed with her handmade boxes.  I contacted her about the show and she agreed to becoming a vendor.  This year, she came back and sold not only her fabulous boxes, but her line of rubber stamps and note cards as well.

Maggie's work is meticulous and her selection of papers is delightful.  She uses traditional book making techniques to cover the heavy book board that she makes the boxes with.

Maggie also designs some really great rubber stamps. I purchased a few of them myself.  This wild iris is one of my favorites.

So, have a visit to Maggie's etsy shop and you may just find that perfect box to store your treasures!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fun and Unique Etsy Purchase

It's no secret that I like to cook and bake.  It's also no secret that I have a thing for antique kitchen ware.  Imagine how excited I was to see this item on etsy.  If I remember correctly, it was in the etsy finds email a while back.  It is from New Dominion Blues.  I'm not sure I'll actually bake in it, but if I do, it will make really cute corn muffins!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alaska Bead Society

The annual Bead Arts Gala organized by the Alaska Bead Society is fast approaching.  It will be held at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art this coming Saturday and Sunday.  The hours are 10am to 6pm on Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.  Here's a photo of my booth from last year, when the show was held at the Conoco-Phillips Atrium.

I think I'll just use one of those shelf units and make a longer riser for the earring racks, but it will be basically the same this year.  With all new jewelry, of course!  I'll take some photos and share them with you next week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Artbeads for Autumn ... Focus on Botswana Agate

If you remember from this post, I had a strand of Botswana Agate briolettes that I had not yet decided how to use.  Well, I've been busy matching them up into pairs for earrings.  The color and pattern differences proved difficult to work with, but I like a good bead-y challenge.  I managed to find several pairs of briolettes for this selection of earrings.  These Botswana Agates can be found on Artbeads website, in the Gemstone category.

This pair features a set of circles I fused from fine silver wire, then textured.  The earwires are handmade by me.  I kind of like the way the stripes in the beads are going different ways.

I found some large barrel shaped Botswana Agate beads in my stash that complemented the briolettes from Artbeads beautifully for this next pair.

For this pair, I suspended a short section of chain from the earwires and added a moonstone rondelle dangle from each link.  The peach and gray of the moonstone seemed to match this pair of agates perfectly.

This last pair is similar to the first pair, but the earwires, which I made, are a very different style.

Now I am left with a bunch of unmatched briolettes that will be part of necklaces such as this one, where the agate has been teamed with a peach moonstone briolette and a peachy coin pearl.

I really enjoyed working with these stones.  The holes were generous in size and I found enough pairs to make several pairs of earrings.  This is always more tricky than it looks when you first get a strand of any gemstone briolettes.  I actually enjoy the task of making pairs.  It allows me to fondle beads :)

Disclosure: Artbeads invited me to join their blogging community. I receive these products free of charge in return for honest reviews. I have not been paid for doing this.