"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

21 August 2009

Quote of the Week

"...when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Backyard Friends- A Cooper's Hawk!

In late winter, I awoke one morning to a loud, distinct bird call I don't normally hear in my yard, and went outside to discover a hawk sitting in one of the trees behind my house! Based on info I could find in books and online, I am pretty certain it is an adult male Cooper's Hawk who graced me with his presence. :)

18 August 2009

Bittersweet Harvest Rocks!

Hooray! The fabulous blog about the "emerging Pittsburgh art scene," Bittersweet Harvest, has shown me some love and given my shop, SilentLotus, a shoutout! Thank you bunches! :D

And... EtsyVeg pals Karen of purplecatscorner and Lisa of pandawithcookie for including me in their Etsy treasuries- you rock! Thanks so much!

The Web Out Loud: What's Worth Paying Attention To This Week?

My latest finds worth paying attention for the ethical web surfer: great articles, awesome sites, and other juicy tidbits!


Animals Don’t Want to Eat GMOs, So Why Are We?, healthychild.org

There is No Vegan's Dilemma, PowellsBooks.blog

4 Million Pounds of Space Junk Polluting Earth’s Orbit, ecoworldly.com

In-vitro meat: Would lab-burgers be better for us and the planet?, cnn.com

Monsanto's Global War on Farmers, organicconsumers.org

New Film on Ocean Acidification Reveals Unseen Face of CO2 Pollution, solveclimate.com

Elephants Pass Self-Awareness Test Passed Only By Humans, Gorillas, and Dolphins, ecoworldly.com

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, MelanieJoy.org


Protest Ringling Brothers' Animal Cruelty! Sign
PETA's petition calling on the USDA to seize the abused, neglected, and heartbroken elephants Ringling hauls around the country in filthy boxcars and forces to perform under the constant threat of punishment. Watch PETA's undercover videos from RinglingBeatsAnimals.com if you need convincing.

Tell your Senators that the path out of world poverty isn't through Monsanto and GMO crops. Sign this CREDO petition to promote helping farmers in developing countries produce and distribute their own food, rather than implementing an Obama administration goal to use genetically modified seeds and chemicals as tools to fight hunger.

Cool Sites

Your Daily Vegan: the daily vegan spin- Your source for all things vegan: intriguing facts, thoughtful editorials, intelligent quips, food talk, news bits, and so much more, all in one place.

Green Lashes and Fashion- Love this blog by a fashionista with a compassionate conscience! Stay informed about ethical fashion, natural beauty, green living, and vegan/vegetarian food- way cool!

Environmental Graffiti- A veritable playground for the eco-conscious, planet loving, ethical, and off-the-wall. An "eclectic mix of the most bizarre, funny and interesting environmental news on the planet... on behalf of all environmentalists who don’t take themselves too seriously and compile it into a daily blog." What lured me in initially were breath-taking, brilliant photos of animal life, like these.

Other Stuff

T-shirts upcycled from plastic bottles?
Two companies, be present and A Lot To Say, launched tees made from recycled plastic last week! They are super cute on top of being super green! be present states on their site that 3-5 plastic bottles are diverted from landfills with every tee made, and A Lot to Say calls their 100%-recycled-bottle tees "eco-revolutionary." Maybe plastic is fashionable after all. ;)

I am in love with this bike!
Madsen's Cargo Bikes are dream cycles for those who rely on or choose biking for doing errands like grocery shopping and even moving! I swoon every time I see one... If only I could even think of affording it... ;)

17 August 2009

108 Sun Salutations for Charity: Yoga Aid in Pittsburgh

Photo by Mike Flokis/Getty Images
Yoga Aid Challenge 2009 is happening in Pittsburgh!

The idea of "Giving4Living for Life" was the seed for Yoga Aid, founded by two yogis with a desire to "give something back to the world through their love of yoga." This event, a coming together of local yogis to complete 108 sun salutations to raise funds for charity, happens annually in cities throughout the U.S. and at sites all over the world!

This year's U.S. Yoga Aid Challenge will be held the weekend of September 12-13th, 2009. Here in Pittsburgh the "coming together" happens on Saturday, September 12 at 10:30am, at Tunnel Park behind REI at the South Side Works (S 27th and Tunnel Blvd). Yoga folks from all over the area will meet to put "giving" and compassion into action, together practicing 108 sun salutations throughout 2 hours. Their mission? To support Yoga Aid's charity partners and to spread awareness about the benefits of yoga.

Open to anyone regardless of age, fitness, or yoga skill level (beginners welcome), the gathering is led by local yoga teachers and will be fun and safe. Attendance is free. Participants are asked to fund-raise before the event by gathering sponsors to donate via an easy online interface. All money raised goes directly to
Yoga Aid's charity partners, which include Amma, The Africa Yoga Project, 4 Oneworld, The Foundation for Women (FFW), and India Heritage Research Foundation (IHRF).

Registration on the morning of the September 12th challenge starts at 9:00am.
Register here for Pittsburgh's Yoga Aid happening, or for more info, contact our local Yoga Aid Community Ambassador Maddy Landi at YogaAidChallengePittsburgh@gmail.com.

Visit the Yoga Aid website to find a challenge in your area if in the US, or do a web search for worldwide venues.

14 August 2009

Quote of the Week

"The life spark in my eyes is in no way different than the life spark in the eyes of any other sentient being."

~Michael Stepaniak

13 August 2009

SilentLotus on the Web! :)

I've been honored by some awesome crafty pals featuring my items in treasuries or on their blog recently. Yay! Lisa of Etsy's pandawithcookie, creator of adorable monsters, tofu pirates, and darling bags for all ages, featured my brass butterfly necklace on the EtsyVeg blog in her weekly "Panda's Picks" column. And Megan of Etsy's hippopotamejewelry featured
some of my beads on her blog. Thanks so much to both of you! :)

A Winner!

Hooray! Announcing the winner of my vegan cookbook giveaway.... It's Heather of the awesome blogs Holistically Heather and vegan craft samples' It's All in the Blog! Congrats, Heather! Thank you so much for entering. And veggie love to everyone for entering and for your very kind comments- you all rock! :D

07 August 2009

Quote of the Week: Bird Song

"Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a brokenwinged bird that cannot fly."
~Langston Hughes

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song."
~Author Unknown

Silentlotus Creations: Charity of the Month!

Every month, my Etsy shop SilentLotus Creations donates 10% of sales to a cause related to animals, marginalized populations, human rights, or peace and justice. August' profits from sales of my handcrafted jewelry and original art will be donated to It's Meow or Never Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter that rescues animals in immediate danger from Animal Control, police departments, animal shelters that euthanize, and other situations.

It's Meow or Never not only runs an almost always full shelter that cares for and adopts out pets needing a new forever home, they also fund spaying/neutering and vaccinations, feed and shelter feral cats, and offer
helpful resources to pet owners and animal advocates. Fund raising for much needed land and a new adoption/sanctuary facility is also in the works. 100% of donations is spent on caring for rescued animals, and the rest is personally funded by founders Michael and Madonna.

Their currently-full shelter not only accepts monetary donations (auto donations accepted as well)- supporters can sponsor an animal or make purchases of It's Meow or Never's wishlist items, made easy with the click of a PayPal button right on their site! Handcrafted pet items like dog biscuits and kitty beds made by sanctuary volunteers are available in exchange for a donation. Help also comes from It's Meow or Never's Etsy shop, where all profits go toward shelter operation costs! Visit their blog for more info, and to meet some of the sanctuary's animals.

05 August 2009

Vegan Out Loud: Vegan Cookbook Giveaway!

To help spread the word about how easy and delish it is to eat vegetarian and vegan, I'm giving away a vegan cookbook! Win a copy of Fresh & Fast Vegan Pleasures, by Amanda Grant, which includes over 140 tasty, compassionate recipes for everything from basics like Vegetable Stock to entrees like "Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Fresh Mint" and desserts like Warm Hazelnut Scones with Fruit Salsa!

Enter by commenting here about your favorite animal or veg-related cause, posting both a link to their site and describing the organization. Tweet about this contest or post about it on your blog or FB page, and earn an extra for each! Earn a bonus entry by doing any two of the following: become a fan of my Etsy shop's Facebook page; follow my blog; follow me on Twitter; or follow any of the EtsyVeg, Vegan Etsy, or the Cruelty Free Etsy blogs! That's up to four chances to win! Just make sure to post back here with a list of where you posted the contest or the pages you followed. :)

Enter by midnight local time Monday, August 10th. Winner will be announced by Wednesday, August 12th. Good luck!

Vegan Out Loud: Why Vegan?

I've been vegan for over 11 years now. Originally, I went vegetarian without knowing much about it other than that it involved choosing not to eat animals. I became vegan a year or two later for health reasons (milk allergy and lactose intolerance), again, not really knowing much about it. My understanding and knowledge about being vegan has grown a thousandfold since then. Once I started meeting other people who were veg/vegan, my whole idea about it changed. Through reading, asking questions, and listening well, I became more educated about veganism and the impact on the planet and on animals themselves of consuming living creatures for food and utilizing them for human purposes. I choose it as a lifestyle now for deep ethical, spiritual, and moral reasons. Every year I have been vegan, my veganism and the ethics, morals, and beliefs that have formed around it and because of it have grown more complex and more deeply ingrained.

Today I am vegan because I want to try my best to honor and respect all beings as equally deserving of compassion, love, and freedom. Being vegan is about intentionally living compassionately and with love toward all beings, and choosing a way of being in the world that has as little and as positive an impact as possible. I am vegan to give back to Earth, to help to heal it rather than take from it. I am vegan to maintain a healthy mind, body, spirit, and soul. As best as I can, I want to live as an example of how to walk tenderly, harm minimally, love fully, and lead with a compassionate heart, and to learn from others who are doing the same. Living compassionately spreads love. I am vegan to hopefully help to counter all of the fear, hatred, and cruelty out there with peace, kindness, and openness, while also attempting to make up for my own negative crap I send into the world.

My reasons for being vegan aren't all pretty and all about love and peace and happy-happy, joy-joy, though. There's an ugly, insidious part of it. Every day, millions of animals endure intense, incomprehensible suffering or die lonely, prolonged, painful deaths at the hands of humans who treat them as worthless objects. Animals have souls, too. They are sentient beings that think and feel and hurt, develop lasting communities and families, and build strong attachments and loving relationships. Most of us live in a society where exploitation of animals for human purposes is not only condoned and justified but also turned a blind eye to, the experience of many other marginalized populations around the globe.

On farms, in rodeos or circuses, in puppy mills or fur farms, trapped in a pharmaceutical lab or the home of a callous pet owner, or hunted in the wild, so many animals are destined for lives filled with chronic abuse and neglect, hurt and confusion, grief and loss, and mistreatment of unimaginable proportions. And related industries like factory farming wreak havoc and destruction on the health of the environment and people. Most experience horrible, prolonged, painful deaths. I feel that any use of animal products on my part says that I'm okay with this, puts a stamp of approval on animal cruelty to further human ends and reinforces living beings being treated as objects. And from an energetic standpoint, the last thing I want to put in my body is any animal product that carries with it the trauma of a life and/or death of tragic suffering. For me, being vegan is a way of giving the animals a voice and honoring their lives so that they are no forgotten- they so desperately deserve and need that. I definitely do not live a "perfect" vegan life, if there is such a thing. I am fallible, and I find it hard as hell and pretty near impossible to be 100% vegan 100% of the time. But I try with all of me to do so.

It's kinda been a natural progression to move toward eliminating everything reasonably possible from my life that isn't compassionate, including materials used in creating my art and jewelry. Anything else feels 'unnatural' and incongruent with who I am, what I care about, and the impact (or lack of one) I want to make in the world. Plus, I put so much of my true self into creating things that to me (and hopefully others) are pure and convey beautiful things. Cruelty isn't beautiful. Materials that are derived from cruel methods or that dishonor other beings aren't beautiful.

Living a vegan lifestyle is strongly aligned with my spiritual and religious beliefs. I am a yogi and a Buddhist, as well as an advocate of rights for all beings, humans and animals and plants and the planet. Animals, human beings, and the planet- all are one, and in essence, of the same energy and spirit. I also don't think humans are any less valuable or have any less potential to be pure of heart and spirit than animals- we're all created equal and are all sacred beings. We just have much more of a chance and likelihood to become deluded or or lost and disconnected from love and compassion. Anyway, all of that stuff is entwined with being vegan for me, really hard to separate out.

I don't judge people for not living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. At any given time, everyone falls on a spectrum in terms of global awareness and what compassion means to them. That tends to change for people as they go through life and have different experiences. Each of us makes the decision that is best for us at the time, something only we can know. In my opinion, it's compassionate awareness, living from the heart, and deep understanding of the impact of choice and the consequences of inaction that are most important- how we live our lives tends to naturally follow intention and thought. The heart is never wrong.

04 August 2009

Featuring... ME!

Wheeee! My Etsy shop, SilentLotus Creations, was featured in two treasuries on Etsy today that showed off EtsyVeg members. Thank you so much to my veggie teammates, Jill of VinMo and Sam of TheAwesomestPossum, for kindly including my jewels. Veggie love to you both!


A friend shared this with me recently:

Mend A Quarrel. Search out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter. Share a treasure. Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word
and deed. Keep a promise. Find the time.
Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen.
Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand.
Flout envy. Examine your demands on others.
Think first of someone else. Appreciate. Be kind.
Be gentle. Laugh a little more.

Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice.
Decry complacency. Express your gratitude.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the Earth.
Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it once again.

~unknown author

03 August 2009

Handmade Out Loud: Fabulous Items from EtsyVeg Pals, Pt 3

Part three of a collection of gorgeous creations I have purchased/swapped for/won/been gifted from my wonderful veggie pals in EtsyVeg! Thank you so much to all of you... :)

Ah- finally some sweet relief from an odorous yoga mat! This stuff rocks!

You can't actually see it so well in Lynn's photos, but these cards have incredible detail in how they are made! Besides the wonderful photos, the images have lovely stitching all-around them that make them feel special and luxurious along with appealingly natural and earthy. :)

I've been able to try several of Erin's soaps, and they are the most skin and body luxurious soaps I've ever tried- seriously! My favorites? The Orange Truffle, with a zesty scent that's not too sweet, yet energizes and warms, and feels great on my parched skin! My very favorite is the olive and coconut oil based bar, which made every inch of my skin feel soft and nourished after months of dryness neglect on my part. I really noticed the difference this healthful, natural, and nurturing bar made when I ran out and went back to my old sandalwood soap- after two days I was dry and itchy all over. And to add to their amazing-ness, Erin's products are vegan and earth-friendly- yay! Thank you, Erin, for making such wonderful products and sharing them with me! :)

Meredith makes the cutest chiyogami jewelry in vibrant colors and fun patterns! I have a necklace, ring, and earrings in a beautiful deep blue pattern very similar to these. Eye-catching and unique, not to mention very affordable, friendlytaco's jewelry is stylish, fun, and definitely a standout! Thank you for the set, Meredith- I love it!

Everytime I visit claynfiber, I am wowed by Gina's creativity and unique approach to blending with stoneware and fibers. She continuously adds wonderful, earthy, and beautiful forms to her collection that blow me away! I am lucky enough to have held one of Gina's heart ornaments like this one, and the shape and pattern were even lovelier in person. I own a tiny little square shaker box that Gina made, imprinted with awesome, earthy shapes and patterns. It sits among my favorite pieces. :)

I have a SweetWolf pocket mirror from Cathy almost like this one, only mine has a little bunny on it! :) I carry it in my makeup bag, and it is very well-made and sweet- a pocket mirror I purchased from another shop last year lasted only several months, and this one has lasted far longer with no sign of wear. Visit Cathy's shop to see all of her adorable zippy pouches and darling mirrors like this one. :)

To see more fabulous handmade and vintage creations and supplies from vegan and vegetarian artisans, check out EtsyVeg's Crafty Veggie Marketplace!

The Web Out Loud: What's Worth Paying Attention To This Week?

I've been coming across so many great articles, sites, and other juicy tidbits of info lately that I want to start sharing them! Hence the start of this weekly or bi-weekly column. Here are this week's finds worth paying attention to!


"Six Ways to Become an Ethical Fashionista", GreenLashesandFashion Blog

"Urban Panning: The 10 Meanest Cities In America", NPR.org

"A Revolution of the Heart", Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach Blog

"10 Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media", Treehugger.com

"Rethinking the Meat Guzzler", NYTimes.com

"Veganism is Too Difficult", ElaineVigneault.com


peta2's Meat's Not Green Petition- Sign peta2's petition mandate that all meat be labeled with a warning that it is the number one cause of global warming.

Cool Sites

CraftWeasel- Thanks to my pal Cari for sharing this tool! Type in your Etsy username, and Craftweasel will look through your favorites to get an idea of your tastes. Then it searches through all the items that have been listed on Etsy within the last 24 hours and recommends things you might like. Fun!

Butterflies and Moths of North America- For nature lovers, an awesome gallery with information about and photos of every butterfly or moth you might come across.

Other Stuff

Anti-war Medallion- Remember that anti-war phrase from the 60s, "War is not healthy for children and other living things?" Well there's a great necklace/medallion imprinted with the historically significant phrase available on the site of Another Mother for Peace, an organization created "to empower and encourage citizens to take an active role in convincing our elected leaders to work for peace." The medallion is a silver or gold metal mini version of the classic poster for a very affordable $15 (which benefits the organization)- so sweet and so moving!

If you live in "the Burgh" you know how awesome this tee is! The phrase is available on all sorts of tees and sweats by Dirty Jerzey on CafePress.com.

01 August 2009

I'm Featured on EtsyVeg!

I'm featured in a treasury on the EtsyVeg blog! EtsyVeg is a fabulous group of Etsy artisans who are all vegan or vegetarian. Everyone is super warm and supportive of one another, and there is so much amazing talent. I am so proud to be team leader of such an extraordinary group! Check out the CraftyVeggie Marketplace of member shops.

Heather of aktie9 is one of those wonderfully supportive members who does loads for the team. She has been so kind as to feature me in a treasury! Visit her shop, 3Am Art Productions for beautiful photography, amazing digital art, and unique polymer clay creations. She donates 10% of all sales to charities of the customer's choice!

Thank you, Heather! Yay! :D