Check out my latest Examiner article!

I’ve been following the news about Russian activists Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova ever since I wrote this article about Tolokonnikova’s hunger strike, so today I thought I’d follow up with the most recent events surrounding these two (now former) members of Pussy Riot who have recently been released from Russia’s penal system. Read the latest article here, and if you have any thoughts please share them on the Examiner page!

I usually don’t post about my Examiner articles on my blog, so if you want to receive future notifications about them you can follow my Facebook Page April Writes for Whirled Peas (where I post links for all of my content, among other things). You can also follow me on Twitter and/or Examiner!

Ponder on!


May God Bless Us All . . . with Discomfort, Anger, Tears, and Foolishness


I think this is really poignant! Be sure to give John’s blog a visit, he has a lot to say.

Originally posted on What Is Real True Love?:





This is not by any means what we normally think of when asking God to bless us.  Maybe when asking God to “bless” our enemies or oppressors, but not when asking him to bless our family and friends.  (And certainly not ourselves!)

How would this fly in the real world?—“Hello, Neighbor, may God bless you and your family with discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness on this fine day and on many many of the days of your life.”

Who in their right mind would want to be blessed with discomfort, anger, tears, foolishness?

We would much rather be blessed with peace, comfort, prosperity, and happiness.  In fact, this is likely what the vast majority of we humans ask for.  The Joel Osteen positive-thinking prosperity-Christianity sells very well.

But if we really take this whole Christianity thing (or Islam or Judaism) seriously, if we really believe in God…

View original 308 more words

Mobile Oregon: Driving Through the Desert in a Clown Car

It’s been a busy trip this week, and I spent the last two days stuffed in the backseat of a VW Golf with two other people (and all of our jackets). The scenery was totally worth it, check it out below!



The above photos show Mt. Jefferson, The Sisters, Mt. Hood, and Mt Washington (all up in the Cascades).

This is a quaint little mountain town we drove through, and


these are turbo truffles! Best name for fancy chocolates ever!

I’ll be posting more pictures once I’m back in Florida. For now I’m going to enjoy the space of our hotel room before we stuff ourselves back into the car and head to Portland. Sorry if the pictures are weirdly tiny or large, I’m new to mobile blogging!

Mobile Oregon

I’ll be bouncing between Portland and Salem Oregon over the next couple of weeks and thought I’d pop in periodically to share some photos and winter cheer! All of my posts and photos will be written/taken and shared using my mobile phone. Please excuse the brevity, I’m not used to working from this wee little keyboard.


From this photo you can see that I’ll be freezing my Floridian buns off!

So if you find yourself with the time during this busy holiday season, pop on by for some beautiful pictures and cantankerous comments about the cold (I have to wear two pairs of pants just to go outside :/).

Hello Beautiful People!

I miss you!

I miss writing for you, and I miss reading your beautiful words!

In the last month I’ve moved and gotten a new job, and I haven’t really written here since I started writing for Examiner. I’m easing  back into the blogosphere, so look out! April’s going to be popping up on your blogs again! She’s also going to be referring to herself in the third person, and wont be writing as much until she has a chance to catch up on all of your beautiful words.

To my new followers, I can’t wait to get to know you! I can’t tell you how tickled pink I was to get new followers while largely remaining silent on my blog. it has helped to keep that blogging fire kindled in my breast until the day I could sit at my keyboard to write again!

Ponder on!


The Smoking Gun

The below post is the looooong overdue second instalment of ‘The Kindness of Strangers Part 1’ which you will find over on my blog (but please stick around here for a while first!) I emailed April, here at pondering spawned just to run the below post by her, to make sure that she was okay with being mentioned. April very kindly offered to host this entry – so welcome to your Smoking Gun:

I wrote the post ‘The Kindness of Strangers Part 1’ way, way back in March just before I had the pleasure of experiencing a complete mental meltdown (tongue-well-in-cheek). I have no idea why I have called Part 2 ‘The Smoking Gun’ but I write intuitively so maybe by the end of this post we will both be wiser!

Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to thank a fellow blogger: April here at ponderingspawned. April and I have never met in the non-virtual world and yet April has been one of the most supportive presences any man could hope for from his friends. Not long after publishing the post ‘Close to the Edge – Still HERE’ which very honestly exposed my vulnerability, loss of security and how I was dealing with that, April emailed me to say something along the lines of: ‘You’ve been on my mind a lot lately and whilst I was shopping today I just couldn’t stop thinking about you and knew I had to email you the moment I got in’. This stranger (as in, we haven’t met) then wrote me a lengthy email full of love, support, advice and hope. April told me that I was doing so well, she sent me the link to a song that had helped her through her darkest moments and she even apologised that she couldn’t send me any money! This is the epitome of kindness, of compassion – of humanity. There was a lot said in that email and lots exchanged between us after that but of course, in respect for April and also myself – that must remain private and between April and I. What I am saying here, as I said in Part 1 is this:

Friendship does not always come from where we expect it to. Love is often showered upon us from unexpected avenues and when we least anticipate it. Connection is not just a physical experience. Sometimes – we need to be vulnerable in order to let our true selves emerge (Scrap that – always we have to be vulnerable in order for our true selves to emerge!). This emergence is our way of asking for help (whether we are aware of this or not).

Ask for help.

Wherever you are, whoever you are and whatever you are experiencing right now – Ask. For. Help.

You are ‘only’ human and as such you, like me, like us: are interdependent on each other. We are the only providers of a support network for each other and when you see the signs of meltdown, when that smoking gun appears, before you fall upon the concrete floor without a cushion:

Ask. For. Help.

It’s a very brave, and vulnerable, act of humanity.

So now we both know why this post is called ‘The Smoking Gun’. Look for the signs of you needing a hand. Notice how your body communicates with you. Be alert to your moods and know this:

When you allow your Smoking Gun to let the world know that you are in trouble – the world will respond.

Until Next Time,

Matt xx


The entertainment industry is no place for children

I’ve been trying not to do this, but I just published a new article on Examiner that I really like and so I thought I’d share the link here!

The entertainment industry is no place for children, published today on

Hope you guys enjoy it, and if you have any thoughts please comment on the Examiner page!


Smolder Perfume, created by Kat Migliore


Have you ever shopped the perfume counters in the large, fancy department stores and wondered how they came up with so many delicious and enchanted scents? The mix of perfume oils to make just the perfect blend that makes you swoon when you spray a tiny spritz on your wrist, the pretty packaging or the beautifully sculpted bottles to decorate a vanity at home. That wonderfully small and delicate glass bottle that says “Come over here and try me! I’m the perfect addition to any outfit and for everyday!”

The allure of the perfume counter has always been my weakness and I love them all!

I have the privilege of knowing someone who has created her own scent and it’s now being marketed on a national level. I have a bottle of this elixir myself and I can tell you…it’s a winner!


Smolder Perfume, a perfume to be fearless and be beautiful, is the creation of my friend Kat Migliore, who owns Luxury, an upscale lingerie and beauty boutique on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I recently caught up with her in between shows to ask about her process creating Smolder.

Something every woman would love to do, and you’ve actually done it! Why did you decide to create your own signature perfume?

I always had trouble finding a scent in mainstream department stores.  When I started to explore niche perfumes, I developed a love for truly unique and original scents.  Since I also love to create, I wanted to mix my own scent.

You always see in the movies the numerous visits to labs with the constant testing. Was this part of your experience too?

For a few years, I explored what was out in the market looking at the scents and branding and price points. Along the way I asked a lot of questions exploring the various ways to learn perfumery.  I spoke with a few established perfumers and decided that was the way to go since their extensive experience and knowledge of ingredients would be beneficial to getting my product finished quickly.  The perfumer had me answer questions about what I wanted my scent to be, and the feelings and emotions behind it.  We went through several rounds of 4-8 different blends per round.  I would sniff and make notes about what I liked in each one until we finally came up with the perfect blend.

I know as a consumer that packaging is my weakness. A pretty bottle, or a great name is enough to make me pick the perfume up for the first time to try it. How did you decide on the name and the overall look of the perfume?

For the name of the perfume I wanted a simple one-word name that also conveyed a subtly sexy feel.   The look of the perfume was built around that and what the scent evoked to me.

Where will it go from here? How are you marketing Smolder?

Smolder is available at my store, Luxury, located in Duck, NC at the Scarborough Faire Shopping Center and also online at  I would like it to be available in specialty boutiques that have unique products.  I feel confident it would also be well received at other specialty lingerie stores. The marketing has been very grass roots at the moment.  People seem to be drawn to the travel friendly packaging.  Hopefully they love it enough to make it their signature scent!


Leave it to Kat Migliore to accomplish every girl’s dream of creating a signature scent that hits all the marks.

Smolder perfume has a lusty, yet flirty lightness that can be worn for everyday, or on that special night. With subtle notes of floral, citrus and spices, this oil based perfume combines the fragrance notes of creamy peach, California lemon, jasmine, muguet, rose, musk and a hint of amber. Packaged in a convenient roll-on that is perfect for traveling and pretty enough to grace any vanity, this perfume is the perfect complement to every outfit.

Find Smolder online and on Facebook!


If you’re looking for something fun to sample at your next bridal shower or girl’s night, contact Kat Migliore and ask about receiving a Smolder sample bag!


Smolder online:

Next time you’re visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina make sure to include Luxury as one of your destinations! Located in the beautifully rustic Scarborough Faire shopping complex in Duck, NC, Luxury lingerie and beauty boutique, offers something to delight your senses and to make your vacation a remarkable one.


A Post-Mortem


Lately I’ve been reading that blogging is dead, something many seem to have known about long before I came across this information.

I’ve seen posts giving reasons for this ranging from micrblogging and new technologies are killing it off to individuals don’t blog anymore, only professionals and corporations.

I know that video killed the radio star, but I’m left wondering what exactly is killing–or going to kill–blogging. I also don’t understand how 140 word tweets or Facebook status updates could replace a well-thought out post, and if individuals have stopped blogging I’d like to know just who or what I’ve been talking to through this whole WordPress thing?! Maybe it’s Target in disguise, you know, just a little friendly interest to better supply me with coupons. I’m on to you, big box stores ….

Other people talk about how content is now shared through larger platforms such as wikipedia instead of being shared in the personal space allowed by a blog. Wikipedia is certainly awesome, but it doesn’t allow me to cover the walls in my own doodles or build virtual ponds. If it did, wouldn’t it just be blogging?

Saying that blogging is dead because it no longer belongs to the realms of individuals and amateurs, or because it has competition from microblogging and larger websites is a distortion of the truth. To my thinking, blogging isn’t dead so much as it is changing. Maybe there are fewer individually run blogs, though I seem to find plenty on WordPress alone, but there is also a growth in collaborative blogging. Is blogging not cool unless it’s a lone endeavor? As bloggers are we supposed to be cut off from human cooperation, otherwise we’re just another silly organization? This seems to fly in the face of every experience I’ve had on wordpress, which seems to be all about community.

So is blogging dead, or are people jumping on the “blogging is dead” bandwagon in an attempt to seem in touch with the times on their own–wait for it–blogs?

Related Articles:

Blogs aren’t dead. They won, and now they’re evolving.


Random Poetry

I’m a writer who can’t write

fantasies stuck in daydreams

a ball of potential energy wasted

on another day of misspent solitude

I stand stringing together words

futile expressions of beating a dead horse

so read my words, consume them

the false phrases of a lost fool

just wandering through


and so I continue

beating that horse

stripping away the hide

I create a hollow and crawl inside

carefully worded chrysalis

bringing beautiful wings

to metamorphasize

 and rise


dreams realized

from idle fantasies

of a little girl lost and found

once bound to the words

now composing the breeze

she flys on kinetically

transformed energetically

Thank You my Beautiful Guest Bloggers!!!!

This is a little late, but better late than never!

Thank you, Guest Bloggers!

You’re a big part of what makes this blogging experience so much fun!

So, I’d like to give a shout out to all of you:

Curtis Perry of Memoirs of an Unremarkable Man

Madeline Laughs of Stop the Madness



Curtis’s post is thought provoking and seeks to find common ground with the answers from all past WTOE participants. It is a well-written piece, and I’m happy to have the honor of sharing it with all of you on Ponderingspawned! Thank you for your words Curtis. You can read his post here.

Madeline really outdid herself last week, sharing the artwork of several different people in posts that were as beautifully written as the pieces crafted by the artists. Thank you Madeline for sharing! Read Madeline’s Posts here.

Reyeshine shared poetry, pictures, and a very sobering video. His work provides a blend of the most beautiful things in life with the some of the most horrific, and as always it is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing Reyeshine. You can see his posts here.

Have you had your work featured on PonderingSpawned as part of The World Through Our Eyes project? Do you have something to say, would you like another platform to say it from, and do you want to truly be a part of this growing community? Send me an email at and let me know! I appreciate each and every one of you for sharing your work and your thoughts with me, and this is an open invitation to become an author on PonderingSpawned. Come share your art, and your thoughts on art, through the World Through Our Eyes project. Why?

Because art has the power to change. To change people, to change structures, and to change the world. It seems sociologists are finally catching on to this unique power. Let’s prove them right. Let’s unite and start a movement.

Let’s repaint the meaning of humanity together.

To join the World Through Our Eyes project grab a badge below and put it on your blog. Write a post about the power of art and link it back to this page. If you are already a featured artist, grab a badge below!

WTOE-Badge WTOE-Badge-small

To become a participating artist, see the details on this page.

Check out the blogs from past participants:

Curtis Perry; Rainey Daze; Controlled Chaos; Abigail Lu; Matt Chase; Jonathan Hilton; Grayson Queen; Madeline Laughs; Purnimodo; and Reyeshine

Note: artists without blogs are not listed here, check out their work at the WTOE Gallery!


The quality and LOVE that is Tootie Welker

by Madeline Laughs


When you bring something home that has been handcrafted by Tootie Welker, you fill your home with the scent of love. Tootie has been creating in the land of make for over 30 years and her crafts are treasured items that will stand the test of time.


She began her interest in making something with her own two hands many years ago as a struggling student with a desire to give something back to the people she loved. She told me about sending baskets home to her mother as gifts, filled with homemade jams and jellies. The baskets she started weaving were dipped and dyed with all natural colors from berries and teas and she says her hands were always a unique color.


Her father passed away this year and Tootie went home to say her final goodbyes. Throughout her parent’s house she found her baskets, lovingly placed throughout the home and made useful over the decades. They still looked new and the joy she felt in making something out of love for her family that was kept in sight was overwhelming.


Tootie is also well known for her beautifully folded origami peace cranes. The handmade Japanese printed papers are folded into shape and then attached to a beaded leash for displaying them in a window or hung from a lamp stand. She makes some special ones for friends and family members and will enclose hair or other talismans within the belly of the crane for good luck.

The story behind the peace crane dovetails nicely with Tootie’s own professional leanings and her desire to help lift up others.

Professionally I have worked on the issue of violence against women for over 20 years. I’m currently back in grad school working on a second masters in sociology so that I can gain the theoretical and research knowledge to continue my work on violence against women. I do some contract work and work very part time as the weekend back up staff for our local YWCA every other weekend. 

I have often brought what I do into the groups I ran for survivors as there is nothing more healing than creating beauty. These were women who were told they were stupid and worthless and couldn’t do anything. To show them they could create beauty was miraculous in how it lifted their spirits.

toot 11

She is an avid gardener who feeds herself and many of her neighbors and friends from her vegetable patch. She cooks all of her meals from scratch and believes in living a green, eco friendly and healthy lifestyle. Her life and her easy way of living sets an example for the rest of us to follow.


Tootie makes lavender wands using fresh lavender, hand picked from a neighboring lavender farm. She also makes lavender sachets that you can tuck in your pillowcase at night for sweet dreams and lavender filled eye pillows to ease the day away. She blends and creates wonderfully scented creams, soaps and many other self care items from all organic, sustainably grown and harvested, wholesome ingredients.

One of her face creams is said to work wonders!

My face lotion has become very popular by word of mouth. Each woman says to the next “What are you doing? Why is your face looking so good?” It’s from a secret essential oil I discovered totally by accident! It has a mycobacterial property and really heals blemishes, ages spots and just makes the skin glow. I didn’t even realize it until a friend asked me what I was using. I told her and sold her some. Then her co-workers started asking her about her face and so on…


Tootie’s all organic lavender pumpkin dog biscuits are also a big hit with the canine persuasion, though they sound so awesome I might like to try one myself!

Tootie crafts with quality in mind, but most of all, she crafts with love, and it shows.

You can order any of the items I talked about by emailing Tootie here: You can also order her organic dog biscuits by sending an email to her here: Her Esty shop will also be up soon and you can find her on Esty by searching for Maya Rising Shop. Tell her Pondering Spawned and Madeline Laughs sent you!

View From in Here, Nikki Frank-Hamilton

by Madeline Laughs

Nikki header

Nikki Frank-Hamilton and I became friendly after meeting in an online blogging group. We were tasked with writing a blog a day as well as reading everyone’s submissions and sharing them. We became enamoured with each other’s style and have remained loyal readers of each other’s work since then.

I asked Nikki about her beginning as a writer.

I started in 2010 and let it die. I just did not understand what I had my hands on! I started writing again in late 2012.

Nikki had read a chapter story I had written on my own blog. This story is a horrific tale, based on a real life experience for me. She was intrigued about how I could tell this story and put so many raw emotions out there without batting an eyelash. I remember explaining to her that in writing about my pain, it released me from continuing to process it.

So Nikki began telling her own story.

Nikki 1

The “Letting Go” series is all about telling my secrets in order to take away their power. I have always been someone who “swallows” all my deep pain, I don’t talk about it, I talk around it, I don’t grieve I just lock it away and try to forget about it. By not dealing with pain and grief I have not only hurt myself, but others. It may have seemed to some that I did not care, but I cared so much that thinking about it would have killed me. “Swallowing” my pain is a defense mechanism, and I have relied on it to get myself through to the next day, next week, next breath…actually. But locking away the pain kept it inside of me, I never let it go, I am just realizing that.

nikki 2

Letting Go is a poignant story that covers years of her life during her first marriage. It spins and weaves and leaves you breathless with anticipation for the next chapter. You end up just having to know what comes next and you can feel and experience every second of her pain right along with her as she relives a piece of her own history that had remained buried deep for so many years.

I reread my last chapters to put myself back into the time and place. At times I will write chapter after chapter in one sitting, but times like now…I know what is coming and I am avoiding it, so I have not written a chapter in a week or so.

When I sit down to write, I write until all the words are gone, then I read, edit, read, edit, read, edit…search for photos, read, edit. Sometimes when I want to understand myself and my brain…the “why’s”… I will do research on Google for hours and then incorporate that into my article.

nikki 3

Nikki’s daughter Georgia

She and I have chatted briefly about her state of mind and her feelings and her process while she is writing this delicate piece. It has been one of the most difficult, and yet, one of the most rewarding projects she has embarked upon.

I have always been told that I think differently than most people.

I like to ask lots of questions, absorb the information, spin it around in my mind and then form my own interpretation. I may not always be politically correct, but I like being different!

I am also writing to learn about myself, for myself and my family. Now that I can look back, in hindsight, I can assess my decisions and my actions. I have changed how I parent and how I associate with others. I can see that I did not know or truly like myself when I was younger. I was looking for others to give me validation.

nikki 4

Nikki’s son Levi with Rosie the pup

Thank you Nikki for every word you write and for every tear that has brought all of us closer to you. May you always have something to share with us because we will always be here ready to soak it all in.

You can find Nikki Frank-Hamilton on the Internet on her own blog, View From in Here and also at Focusing In On the Fort. She can also be found on Facebook on her two fanpages; View From in Here and Focusing In On the Fort.