Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Book Club Debacle: All the Names October 31, 2008

I just joined a new book club, and the first choice for the club was All the Names by Jose Saramago. He’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is probably best known for his soon-to-be-a-movie book Blindness. Now I, of course, being the classic good student made sure that I read every page, and it wasn’t easy. It’s 238 pages of Kafka meets James Joyce, and the first few dozen pages are slavishly devoted to an intricate description of the Central Registry, archive of the living and the dead, a gray bureaucracy worked by grayer clerks. It takes real tenacity and fortitude to get through All the Names, but just the accomplishment of that is enough to sustain a reader. That and the fact that Saramago, in his page-long streaming sentences, has a way of making you think. (As in: Whoa, what just happened?)

I was the only person in the club who made it even close to all the way through, and had to give the Cliff notes version to fellow club members. I’m not sure that I inspired them to finish, but it is worth it. However, the book is circular, at best, and you don’t necessarily end up in a better place, i.e. climaxed and resolved in the usual novel style, for having read it. Saramago fans are a passionate bunch, and chances are that if you evolve through one of his long-winded tomes (it’s not long in pages, but, trust me, you’ll feel like it’s a tome), you’ll read them all. His prose is closer to poetry than narrative, and he changes point of view mid-sentence without so much as a how do you do. Just in case you don’t know anyone else who has finished All the Names, and you want to hear what the pros think, here’s a great discussion.

P.S. We need another book, and we spent our three hours together combing bestseller fiction, nonfiction and reader lists without finding one that a) all had not read and b) all wanted to read. If you have an idea, let us know. This next one should be a little more fast-paced …


Okay … So What Is Etsy and Why Is It So Much Fun? October 30, 2008

Get your shopping hookup at

Get your shopping hookup at

This article is excerpted from the Wickedly Chic FaceBook discussion board and is written by the brilliant Liz Nonnemacher, chief editor and creator of Wickedly, the web site Athena would be if she were a real grown up web ‘zine and took ads, and written up here on Athena recently.

By Liz Nonnemacher

According to Wikipedia, “Etsy is a website which provides the general public with a way to buy and sell handmade items.” The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee. It has been compared to “a crafty cross between Amazon and eBay” and “your grandma’s basement.”

Eh … personally, I think it’s way cooler than that. There are over 262,000 sellers on Etsy as of right now, and if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind items that not everyone has, Etsy is a fun place to shop. Each seller has their own store and does their own pricing. So it’s like tons of little shops under one roof. Each shop has its own style. Some are more sophisticated; some are more country-style. And many fall in between. One of the things that I love the most is just browsing through, watching trends and checking out what’s out there.

What I would do to start out is to head on over to Etsy, and click on the Register button in the upper right hand corner. You must be a registered member of Etsy to make purchases. Don’t worry. It won’t cost you a dime. It’s all free. You will create a user name and a password. Then you’ll enter your email address. And click on submit and you’re in. Now you’re ready to buy.

What are you looking for? Nothing? You don’t know? You want to treat yourself but don’t know what you want? Well … when you click on the Buy tab, you’ll be taken to a series of options. You might choose Local Sellers. Maybe you live in Pittsburgh or Kalamazoo, and you want to check out local vendors. You can look through Categories if you know, for example, that you are looking for a bracelet. You can even search by color. Maybe you want a peach bracelet or a blue purse. You can search by items that have recently been listed. Or you can simply go to Sellers and find items from sellers as soon as they are listed.

If you’re looking for jewelry, artwork, cosmetics, bath & body, clothing, hats, vintage items, candles, accessories,you name it, you can find it while browsing through Etsy. Sometimes you’ll see things that you’ve just gotta have. Right now. And if you are a crafty designer yourself, you’ll find plenty of shops selling stones, beads, yarn, fabric, etc.

Each shop is an individual store, so to speak. When you see an item that you want and you click on it and you’ve read all about it and you must have it or buy it for someone else, I would first make sure to read the shop’s policies. Each shop has their own policies, so make sure that you read up on them before making a purchase. Most of them are self-explanatory.

Check the seller’s feedback. At least 99.9% of the sellers on Etsy are honest and fabulous. There are few exceptions. Make sure you read the feedback from both buyers and sellers. Yes, Etsy sellers purchase from each other too! After you make your purchase, your seller will leave you feedback, and you are expected to leave feedback for them once you receive your item.

Now you’re ready to buy. Yay! What you will do is to click the green button that says Add to Cart. This will take you to the next page to confirm your added item, and you’ll see an option of two buttons to click. One will say Checkout (this means that this is the only item that you are going to purchase from this seller’s shop) OR the button below says Keep Shopping. Click this button if you want to add more items from this PARTICULAR seller’s shop. Otherwise mosey yourself along and click Checkout.

At this point, you’ll enter your address (or the address that you would like your item(s) shipped to). Because you must create an account and sign in, Etsy will store your address information once you make a purchase. Don’t worry. You can always change your address on subsequent purchases.

Click Next Step and now your item(s) will show up. This is the last chance to change your order before submitting. Change your mind? Just click the remove x right next to your item. Your shipping and item price will be confirmed in this step. Keep in mind that shipping charges will vary from seller to seller. This is important to note! Very important. You’ll find that some sellers will offer free shipping and others will charge varying prices. As a general rule of thumb, if you are stateside, you’ll find that shipping costs are lower from state to state. The same goes if you are in the UK or in Canada or Spain. Shipping within your own country is likely to be less than shipping from another country.

BUT don’t let this stop you! Choose items based on what you like and not where they come from. So you pay a few dollars more. How cool is it that you can buy from all over the world? One of my favorite pairs of pants (although my husband doesn’t think they’re so sexy) came from a shop in Thailand. They’re thai fisherman’s pants, and they’re awesome. Got ’em on Etsy. If you want to know more about them, I’ll send you over there. Let me know.

But wait … do you have a Paypal account? If you do, great. If not, you can pay through Paypal using any major credit card without having an account or exposing your information to the Etsy seller. Using Paypal is free whether you have an account or not. Some of the sellers are taking what’s called RME payments but I don’t have an RME account, so I have to skip over that. If anyone has any info, feel free to share it.You might see something on Paypal mentioning low fees…don’t worry. That’s only if you are a seller. For instance, I take advertising payments on Wickedly Chic through Paypal, and I pay the fee. So when you purchase something on Etsy, you aren’t paying any fees and you can simply pay with a credit or debit card. On the other hand, if you want to pay strictly with a credit card and do not want to set up a paypal account, that’s not a problem.

Once you make your purchase, you can always sign in and go to Your Etsy. Once there, you log in and you can see the status on your account. Most sellers will mark that payment is received or the item has been shipped. But sometimes they forget and you can always send them a convo to ask about it. What is a convo? It’s Etsy-ese for conversation. Let’s say that you see a necklace with a blue stone. You might think …”I love that necklace but I’d like to have a pink stone.” Well…send the seller a convo and see if that’s possible. Most sellers are very accommodating and love to do what they can to please their customers. You might also send the seller a convo if you have questions about ingredients in bath items, etc.

Another reason that you might need to send a convo to a seller is regarding payment. There are some buyers who prefer to pay through a check or a money order. If this is your situation, you will need to contact that seller to make sure that will be acceptable. Some will say yes and some will say no. You’ll want to make sure and not take any chances.

You will receive a confirmation to your email account once you make a purchase. And chances are, you’ll hear from the seller too. You might not…but don’t worry. Most of the sellers are very busy making one-of-a-kind items (OOAK) just for you!

There’s an entire Etsy world out there with amazing sellers who have things that you just can’t buy anywhere. It’s easy to begin, and, I have to admit … very addicting.

OH! One of my favorite features on Etsy is that all of your information is stored in Your Etsy. That means that years from now, you can see the actual listing for each item that you have purchased even if that particular seller has closed shop. Sometimes we buy things and then forget where we purchased from. This isn’t a concern with Etsy. ALSO, let’s say that you are just browsing but don’t want to make any purchases. But you see a store that you like. Go to the bottom right of the seller’s shop where you will see Page Tools. You’ll see that you can click to Add Seller to Favorites. That way, next time you go to Etsy, you have your shop already stored without having to grab a pen. You can even add an individual item to your favorites but beware … next time you come back … it might be gone!

The following are some recent Wickedly Chic articles featuring Etsy sellers. If you want to poke around before taking the Etsy plunge (and I know it can be daunting), you might browse through some of these Wickedly Chic favorites. Because they’re wonderful.

Prim Pantry & Jamie Noel,

Liebling Designs,

Jenny Karlsson Design,


Deb’s Design & 4th Avenue Soap Co,

The Venerable Bead,—july-10-2008


Happy shopping! Let me know if you have other questions or other suggestions. And if I missed anything (and I very well might have), feel free to post & assist other shoppers!


A corset, of course October 29, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files — rebmas03 @ 2:42 am
Tags: , , ,

By Louise Sleigh, excerpted from Catwalk Creative blog

My Christmas Treat: Apricot Couture Part I

Mira Corset by Apricot Couture

So, after careful consideration I decided it was time to invest in one of these divine undergarments and who better to purchase from than Apricot Couture?  Wearing a corset is very much in vogue.  Perhaps you’ve already worn a corset, tried one on or maybe you’re lucky enough to own your very own vintage gem?  They’re not just for the likes of Dita Von Teese, although the gorgeous Dita has probably had a lot to do with it’s increased popularity.  Whatever the reason, from red carpet to catwalk show and beyond, corsets are in!

Dita Von Teese

Betsey Johnson: Ready-to-Wear 2009

Betsey Johnson: Ready-to-Wear 2009

Mine is going to be a single layer, over-bust in the style of ‘Mira‘.  It will be made from a luxurious, black brocade fabric with a gorgeous, satin finish.

The Mira corset is versatile and can be worn as part of an outfit, or beneath clothes so you’ll always have a great waist. Not surprising since this corset will also include five metres of steel boning.  It’s very light-weight though and even suitable for wearing in the summer months.

Eleanor has agreed to have some photographs taken whilst she’s in the process of making my corset and you’ll be able to see the finished item on a mannequin. No-one, other than the rightful owner, is allowed to wear an Apricot Couture, made-to-measure creation – unless you are a mannequin of course!

Sheri Corset by Apricot Couture

Corsets from Apricot Couture are totally unique; made from the highest quality, luxurious fabrics.  The Mira corset is £144.00 (GBP) – astounding value for this fabulous made-to-measure service.  My corset will be something I can wear and treasure for years to come.  There’s no denying that it’ll also be pulling my waist in by two to four inches!  Apparently, a corset will eventually mold itself to your natural shape and as shown here, will provide you with the most stunning, hour-glass shape.  Corsets enhance the figure in the best possible way.

I’ll be reporting back with updates so I hope you’ll join me on the journey.  Please subscribe to Catwalk Threads by RSS or email and don’t miss it.  Photos to follow along with a brief outline of the corsetry making process.

View and order a corset from Apricot Couture here.  Please register on the site before making your order and use the contact form if you require assistance with measurements.  I found the whole ordering process very straightforward and Eleanor is on hand if you have any questions.

My divine corset will be a Christmas present from my lovely husband.  At least I’ll be getting something I really want this year (and so will he!)  If you’re looking for a unique gift for yourself or someone special, take a look at Apricot Couture – you won’t be disappointed!

SPECIAL OFFER: Members of ‘Dare to be Glamorous‘, a new social networking site, will receive a discount from all merchandise orders from Apricot Couture until 31 October 2008 It’s free to join. In order to qualify for this special discount, you must be a member of Eleanor’s group, Loving Corsets and your order must be made on or before 31 October 2008 12.00 GMT.  Your reference number should be quoted on your final order along with confirmation you are a registered member of Dare to be Glamorous.  See group for details.


Indie Jewelry: ChezChani Jewelry October 28, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry

ChezChani, an independent jewelry business located in Las Vegas, NV, consists of the mother/daughter team of Roz and Elayne. ChezChani is pronounced Shay Sh-Ann-ee and their jewelry is quite unique.

Elayne, who also works in a Las Vegas casino, creates fabulous peyote stitch designs, including this one-of-a-kind black and cream freeform peyote bracelet with a cameo closure below.

Roz does all of the beautiful glass and wire wrapping work, like this stunning glass leaf pendant cabochon. As they say in their shop, it looks as though this leaf has been frozen in time, encased in a smooth milky white glass.

I asked Elayne how she and Roz became interested in making jewelry and here’s her reply.

“I was an obsessive candlemaker. While at a craft show, we were next to a jewelry booth. Having dabbled in a little beading years earlier, it sparked a fire and suddenly I decided I just had to make some jewelry. After a few months of stringing braclets and necklaces together, I decided to take a class in Peyote at an LBS. The picture of the ring was reminiscent of the Tiffany ring I had always wanted but was too frugal to treat myself to. A new obsession was born and I’ve been doing nothing but Peyote stitch since. I hope to branch out someday but this passion shows no signs of abating.

“Roz was a frustrated crafter all her life, too busy raising an unappreciative family and working to give in to her temptations. Now semi-retired and living in a community that has groups and classes in so many crafts, she has been able to fulfill her desire. She began in ceramics but then a lovely piece of glass caught her eye. Starting with plates and vases, eventually she saw the beauty in smaller pieces of glass as jewelry and this is where her passion now lies.”

I also asked Elayne if she had any advice for jewelry designers who are just starting out in the business.

“The only advice I can give is love what you do. Find the artistic outlet that lights your fire and go from there. If you don’t love it, don’t bother. Also, if you want to eventually make a living at it, don’t get addicted to Peyote. I don’t think you could ever get paid for your time with something that is so slow to make.”

Elayne has a busy schedule, working a full time job in addition to creating jewelry. Here’s how she manages.

“I have a fairly rigid schedule for everything but beading. I work full time and go to the gym or pool 5 days a week. I can only get myself to do this by having a schedule. Every other possible minute is devoted to beading because that’s what I love to do. Because Peyote takes so much time, I don’t need to be creatively inspired all the time. One inspiration for a bracelet and I’ve got hours, days, and weeks of work ahead of me. Some bracelets can take me over a week to finish due to time constraints.”

Elayne works in a small locals casino as a poker supervisor. She’s celebrating her 5-year anniversary Nov. 1. She was living in LA and worked in TV casting for many years. Needing a change, she came to Vegas to stay with her mom, went to poker school, and never went back to LA except to pack and sell her condo. To me, working in LA sounds very exciting. Elayne tells me that it’s a sometimes fun, sometimes hair pulling job. She has to break up fights (he started it, no he did!) and cut off those who’ve had too much to drink. When there is a dealer error or any kind of controversy, she has to make the decision which almost always leaves one person angry. She says it’s a tough time for casinos right now and she’s lucky to have a job. Poker rooms, which make very little money for casinos, have started closing and downsizing.

I also talked to Elayne about how she goes about marketing the jewelry that she and her mother design. They have a shop on Etsy where their jewelry is available for purchase. She also wears her jewelry and talks about it a lot. She shows it to people but in a non-saleslike way—just sort of “Look what I made!” She also tries to work on her jewelry where people can watch her, which sparks people’s curiosity, which gives her an opportunity to answer questions and give out her business card. Because of her schedule, Elayne can’t do craft shows and she doesn’t feel Las Vegas is a great craft town. Roz is able to do a few shows but it’s hard to schedule as she does temp work. They’re also doing some social marketing, blog, twitter, which they’re having fun with.

Elayne is a cat and animal lover and she creates  jewelry for pets too! Here’s an example of her work. It closes with velcro and can be custom ordered with names or initials.

They welcome custom orders. Here’s the link again to their shop on Etsy. And also check out Elayne’s blog where she’ll keep you up-to-date on all that’s happening at ChezChani.


Needing more favorite music—What’s yours? October 27, 2008

Granted Cold Play’s Viva La Vida has a well-earned spot as my favorite listen of the summer and will definitely become a classic for me. Yet it can’t be my only music, much as I love it. Lately, I’ve also become a big fan of Bubbles and Cheesecake. And been listening to Mary J. Blige’s Growing Pains and anything Al Green. But I need more—what’s your favorite music?


Domestic Goddess: Packing for Holiday Travel October 26, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess — rebmas03 @ 3:40 am
Tags: , , ,
Pack Bathroom Bag

My bathroom bag is always packed.

By Julia Pantoga

Between this time of year and January, I take several lengthy driving trips to visit friends and family. Because I am typically away for 3 or 4 weeks, and I am doing so many different things and seeing so many different people, packing for these trips is a big project. But, I lead a life full of obligations at home, so I never have much time to pack. Hence, I have developed various systems to make the job easier and to make sure that I don’t forget things.

Packing List

Packing list

Keep a List

I keep a running list of things I need to pack. This list includes everything I might need in every circumstance. I also keep a short list in the corner of the things that I need to remember for this specific trip (e.g. cranberry relish recipe for sister). I keep this list handy on my computer and update it as the trip approaches, and I remember things. Right before the trip, I print this list out and refer to it carefully while I am packing. I put a line through things that I don’t need for this trip and check things off as I put them in the “staging area” for my packing (which is usually my bed). If I pack anything that is not on my list, I write it on my list and, if I may need it for a future trip, I add it to the master list on my computer.   When I leave the house, I fold the list and put it in my purse. I then have a checklist to use every time I repack along the way.

Pre-packed Bathroom Bag

Have Some Bags Always Packed

My bathroom bag is always packed. I don’t pack bathroom items such as: toothbrush, shampoo, hand lotion, deodorant, etc., because I have duplicates of all of these in my bathroom bag. The main disadvantage of this system is that my bathroom bag is heavy, as it not only contains a toothbrush, but sunscreen, insect repellant and a host of other emergency items. The great advantage of this “system” is that when I return home late at night, I don’t have to unpack my bathroom bag to find my toothbrush. All my “home” bathroom items have been left in their usual spots.

Here’s another tip—put really nice products in your bathroom bag–shampoo and conditioner that smell so great, that showering is a treat. As you are driving at odd hours, sleeping on different couches every night and adjusting to other household’s routines, you need to remind yourself that you always take care of yourself. No robber would ever realize it, but my bathroom bag is one of the most expensive items in my car when I travel.

In addition to my bathroom bag, I keep an extra workout bag in the car, complete with extra sneakers, water bottle, sports bra, swim suit, etc.

My Bags Are Packed

My Bags Are Packed


My own strategy is to pack a lot of small bags that I can handle myself. If I have help loading and unloading my bags (and I usually do), helpers that are bigger and stronger than I (a category that includes most adults) can carry multiple bags at once. But, if I find myself in a situation where I have to handle my luggage myself, I can handle my own bags with multiple trips.

Leave Your House Ready for Your Return
Every time I leave any dirty dishes when I am going to be away for any length of time, I regret it terribly when I get home. Pe-ew! Wash all your dishes, take out the garbage, sweep the floors and generally pick up the house before you leave.

The best tip I ever got about traveling is to change my sheets right before I leave. Nothing says, “Welcome Home!” like a fresh bed.

Welcome Home!

Welcome Home!


Alle Willis presents Bubbles and Cheesecake “I Confess” October 25, 2008

More from the lovely chanteuses Bubbles and Cheesecake. Where can I buy this stuff?!


Great Scot: Glass Artist Fiona Macneil October 24, 2008

Floral Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

Floral Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

By Louise Sleigh, excerpted from her Catwalk Threads blog

Fiona Macneil: Glass Artist

What is your earliest fashion memory?
Wearing the clothes which the band the ‘Bay City Rollers’ made famous in the ’70s.  This involved wearing white flared trousers with tartan up the side, a lilac (yuck) jumper with tartan on the front, and yes a tartan scarf.  Even for a Scots lassie, this was too much tartan.  I haven’t worn tartan since.

What are some of the best things about living in Glasgow?
The museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, markets, night life but most of all the Glasgow people, they’re unique.

Describe your business:
My business is new and I would describe myself as being a self-employed glass artist.  At the moment I sell fused glass jewellery in my Etsy shop but in the future I hope to be using all the glass skills I learned at college to branch out into other ‘glassy’ areas such as glass panel making, fusing and mosaic work.  I plan to do commissioned work and I would also like to showcase my ‘arty ‘ type glass via exhibitions.

Star Pendant

Did you study arts? What was your course, where did you study and for how long?
I studied design, fine art and architectural and decorative glass at the Glasgow Metropolitan College.  I studied for four years, the last two years were spent learning all about glass.

Did you have any work experience in arts and crafts prior to setting up in business?

I’ve always loved art but I didn’t get interested in crafts until I was married though I had been taught how to crochet by my Granny when I was a little girl.  I enjoyed teaching myself various crafts and got really into salt dough modelling and used to sell my creations at craft fairs.  More recently I’ve been working at the local youth club teaching the children arts and crafts.

When did you set up in business and what inspired to you do that?
I set up my business this year after completing my glass course.  The course was geared to teaching students how to set up their own business because of the nature of the work they do.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about setting up in your type of business?
My advice would be to first of all learn all you can about running a business and research whether there is a market for your glass work or service.  Decide whether you are dedicated enough to cope with the business side of things (and all which that entails) and not just the ‘creating’ side as this could make or break your business.  If you apply all you have learned thoroughly then your business has got a good chance of succeeding.

Leaf Earrings

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Design inspiration for my jewellery comes from my interest in abstract forms which involves looking at shape, texture and colour. I am also inspired by nature.

Approximately how long does it take to design and make one of your glass pendants?
It depends on which type of pendant I am making.  Cutting the glass and placing abstract pieces is a fairly quick process.  This can take from 10-30 minutes.  The glass has then to go into the kiln to be fired.  With my kiln the process takes approximately one hour.  If I am painting the pendant, waiting for the paint to cure then baking it again this can take a further day and a half.  Further time is spent putting on the bail and making the necklace, this takes one day due to curing time.  So really a pendant can take from 1 -3 days to make.

You are a supporter of work HANDMADE IN SCOTLAND.  Is there a website for this?  How can readers find out more about it?

You know the internet is a big place and Scotland is a very small country.  Small, yet talented. Like all other small countries in the world including our neighbours within the UK …. England, Ireland and Wales I feel strongly that our arts and crafts should be promoted to the rest of the world.

Abstract Fused Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

If you are interested in supporting small countries then I suggest using search engines for specific crafting areas which interest you within the country of your choice.  There is also a facility within Etsy which allows you to shop “locally.”  Again, just type in the country of your choice.

Although I do not work for the ‘Scottish Tourist Information’ service … lol … their website can be found on-line at

I am also a member of the only ‘Scottish Team ‘ on Etsy.  It’s called McEtsy … great name!  If you want to find work from Scotland from this group of ladies then just type McEtsy into your search whilst on the Etsy site.

Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

Purchase Fiona’s products at


Street Fashion It-Girl Suzie Kondi October 23, 2008

Suzi Kondi dress, far right, goes iconic in New York magazine slideshow.

Suzi Kondi dress, far right, goes iconic in a New York magazine street fashion history slideshow.

Media-magnet, designer Suzie Kondi is having another it-girl moment with her featured item in a New York magazine 40-year history of street fashion. Get this: the history begins in 1968 with a really, really mini dress and ends 40 years and much fashion meandering later with Suzie’s really, really mini dress. So she’s not just another page in fashion history—she’s the last page.
See the fashion slideshow here.

P.S. Check out Suzie’s adorably, effortlessly hip line here.


Crazy for Kitschy October 22, 2008

Peter Max "Love" Bowl

Peter Max

You may not know it to look at me or my home, but I adore vintage kitsch. I store my jewelry in state souvenir tumblers, and have a collection of 1950s plastic sunglasses without the lens and tiny Frankhoma boots, just to give you a hint of how deep this fetish goes. is just the place to indulge your urges to connect with a kitschy past, with home items from mid- to late-century. Check out this Peter Max “Love” bowl from the 1970s—just what I need to remind me of my Love cereal-eating childhood. That’s what kids today are missing: a little snap-crackle-pop culture in the morning like a Peter Max-decorated cereal box. Get your classy kitsch here.