Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FireStOrm Wine Stoppers (giveaway)

 I seem to be developing a thing for beautiful lampwork items!

Taralee Weckert of Calgary, Alberta creates one-of-a-kind lampwork beads which she then fashions into colourful pendants, wine stoppers, and bookmarks.  When I happened upon her online Etsy shop recently, the wine stoppers featured caught my attention.  They strike me as both playful and elegant.  An example of this is the Ice Cream Dream wine bottle stopper, pictured here.  Looking for a great "statement" gift?  These wine stoppers would be perfect as a hostess, wedding favour, thank-you, or house warming gift.

Taralee has had a lifelong love of art and glass work in particular.  She studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2001, later establishing a home studio. She has been crafting lampwork beads for three years, and enjoys a growing clientele.

When I contacted her to learn more about her work, I asked her what she loved most about her craft.  She confirmed that glass can be a difficult medium to work with, especially if one is attempting to duplicate results (e.g., make several matching beads for a pendant necklace).  Though a challenging form of art, Taralee enjoys creating each piece, describing the end product as unique, trendy, and simple.

"I love finishing a piece and looking in my kiln in the morning when they are annealed.  The pieces always look so different after they cool.  It is like finding a treasure!"  

Designing pieces with her finished beads is another aspect of her work Taralee finds extremely rewarding.  Wine stoppers are her favorite pieces to make, as the wine stopper beads are large, and a wide variety of coloured glass can be used in creating them.  It is also a product that elicits much positive feedback from her customers!

"Lots of people enjoy wine with friends and family and to have a beautiful wine bottle stop is a great conversation piece.  Especially if it is handmade or locally made."

Taralee takes great pride in producing high quality, handmade Canadian pieces and makes customer service a high priority in her business.  Her best advertising has proven to be word-of-mouth and wearing pendants fashioned from her favorite lampwork beads to showcase her work. Though the pieces she wears are ones she has every intention to keep, she joked that she she has lost a few of her favorite beads to on-the-spot customers this way.  She parts with these pieces knowing they will be treasured, well cared for, and worn often!

Taralee currently sells her pieces listed under the business name FireStOrm (inspired by the critical role the element of fire plays in lampwork) in her Etsy shop  

If requested, the silver plated chains and findings used in Taralee's pieces can be upgraded to silver, and the base metal wine stops can be upgraded to a non-tarnishable stainless steel base for die hard wine enthusiasts.

Taralee Weckert has generously offered to sponsor this wonderful giveaway! 

FireStOrm Etsy Shop Giveaway

Prize: Winner's choice of any piece listed in Taralee's FireStOrm Etsy shop, up to a value of $40.  This contest is open internationally. 

Contest ends Friday, March 11, 2011 at 8:00pm Pacific Standard Time.  Winner to be randomly selected using randomizer.org.  If the winner has not responded to my notification by Monday, March 14, 2011 at 8:00pm PST, another winner will be selected.

This contest has now ended. Congratulations to Amber G. of Chicago, IL USA! 

Thanks for visiting True North Treasures!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Salt Spring Seeds - Article & Contest

This week finds us in the midst of a welcome mild spell in Northern BC. I'm pining for green grass, the smell of warm earth, and the chance to play in the dirt. Resisting the urge to pour through the glossy pages of gardening magazines and seed catalogs, preferring to save that for March, when I'm really desperate for signs of Spring. Yearning to turn the compost bins, plant some lemon balm, chocolate peppers and rainbow Swiss chard.  Defy the climate. Attempt once again to grow eggplants in zone 2a.  I am nothing if not optimistic when it comes to my little garden. 

There are dozens of excellent seed companies in Canada, and combined they offer a staggering selection of seeds, bulbs, and plants.  I favor untreated heirloom seeds, which are genetically diverse, open-pollinated, and often have family and community histories attached to their development and growth. Once an heirloom flower, herb, or vegetable of your choice has matured, it is easy to harvest seeds to trade with friends or to save for the next growing season.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be featuring two of my favorite heirloom seed businesses.  Let's start with Salt Spring Seeds.

Salt Spring Seeds (Salt Spring Island, BC) was my first venture into heirloom seeds. Red Belgian peppers - these grew like mad - and Carbon tomatoes - juicy and delicious - were among the first seeds I tried.  Founder Dan Jason offers a wide variety of flowers, vegetables, power foods, and culinary herbs.  There is also an outstanding selection of medicinal herbs.  Check out the Salt Spring Island Emporium section for mushroom extracts, beeswax candles, organic teas, massage oils, herbal medicinals, and seasonings.  To learn more about heirloom seeds, seed saving, and gardening, browse their selections of books and DVDs.  Whether you are an avid green-thumb or simply grow a bit of basil in your kitchen, I encourage you to check out this site.  It is a fantastic resource of articles and video clips that explain how to grow various crops, demonstrate seed saving techniques, and educate re: the politics of seed saving. I have gone through pots of tea and lost hours at a time browsing! 

Two unique aspects of Salt Spring Seeds made it stand out for me from other seed businesses.  The first is their very popular Zero Mile Diet Seed Kit.  As described on the site, it is a kit "for gardeners or groups of gardeners eager to become more self-reliant in food".  It includes 13 packets of grain and vegetable seeds as well as a comprehensive growing and recipe booklet. Note: Unfortunately, the Zero Mile Diet Seed Kit will not be sold this year due to the unavailability of certain seeds typically included in it.  Do mark your calendars and keep your eyes peeled for it in 2012.  This kit sells out quickly, so it's best to place your order early in the season!

Another draw is that it is closely linked with The Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada, also based on Salt Spring Island.  Seed sanctuaries play a critical role in preserving genetic diversity in plants, securing local food supply, and in promoting the importance of keeping unmodified seeds in the public domain, rather than under the control of major corporations. You can support the ongoing development of this vital and unique seed and plant sanctuary by becoming a member or purchasing a gift membership.  Being an active member allows you access to the seeds in the sanctuary, and you may select the 5 varieties from their data banks you wish to grow.  Learn more about this opportunity HERE.

Seed orders can be placed online, or you can order a printed catalog (cost $2.00). Gift certificates have also recently become available for purchase!

Dan Jason has generously offered to sponsor this wonderful giveaway!

Salt Spring Seeds Heirloom Seed Giveaway

Prize: Winner's choice of 10 packets of heirloom seeds (value approx. $35 CAN)

Eligibility: Residents of Canada

Contest ends Sunday, March 6th, 2011 at 8:00pm Pacific Standard Time.  Winner to be randomly selected.  If the winner has not responded to my notification by Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 8:00pm PST, another winner will be selected.

This contest is now closed. Congratulations to T. Kooper of Montreal, Quebec!  Happy gardening!

Thanks to everyone who visited and entered this contest.  I encourage you to bookmark Salt Spring Seeds and keep them in mind the next time you're in the market for heirloom seeds!