Traditional Techniques: Celebrating National Embroidery Month

February is National Embroidery Month— just one of the many traditional techniques we love so much. We’re celebrating by spending extra time appreciating the beauty of all our handmade and embellished textiles. If you love unique fabrics, patterns, colors, and seeing the individuality of the maker who crafted the products, you’ll love any of our embroidered items (or for that matter, other textiles with unique handmade variations—check out especially our block printed and batiked items!).


At Mexicali Blues, it’s very important to us to celebrate the traditional techniques of the countries we buy in. Declining demand and a preference for modern, cheaper, faster, goods has led to a decrease in work for those skilled in the traditional arts. Purchasing goods directly from local artisans helps preserve these cultural crafts. Mexicali Blues is helping to keep these traditions alive and well in the countries we buy in— not only are the techniques incredibly beautiful but they are part of the rich flavor of the lands we travel to and the villages we love so much. Just as Maine wouldn’t be the same if you could get a fresh lobster roll anywhere else, these beautiful art forms merge function with the local fashions.


Gaze upon the beauty of something handmade… and get it at a sweet price for just a few more days! Our Feb Sale ends when the month does, so don’t wait!

Save 25% on embroidered, block print, and batik clothing, textiles, & accessories here.

Mexicali World of Goods: A Connection That Builds Community in Guatemala

 

Mexicali Blues is spending the month of February concentrating on restoring our sense of community through acts of compassion, and we want you to come along—all the way to Guatemala.

Last week, we told you about the community-building power of our handmade beaded bracelets. By teaching women living along the shores of Lago de Atitlán to bead these bracelets, the Guatemalan Housing Alliance (GHA) creates economic opportunity where it is needed most. But GHA is building community in another, equally amazing way, and we’re so proud to be a part of it.

In the poverty-stricken Guatemalan highlands, very few villagers have housing that can withstand the cold, driving rains and winds of the rainy season. A full day of backbreaking work in the coffee plantations brings in less than $4 per day. No matter how hard or how long they work, families can’t afford the materials and labor required to create safe, sturdy homes. That’s why GHA volunteers are using sustainable materials, local building techniques and smart engineering to build affordable (and wonderful) housing for these hardworking villagers.

And here is the best part! GHA doesn’t build these houses alone. The villagers who receive a brand-new home from GHA have made a powerful promise: to help GHA build another home in their village for someone else in return. Neighbors helping neighbors build their homes? We can’t think of a better way to build community than that.

Our World of Goods charitable giving prioritizes programs that build the skills and infrastructure communities need to be self-sustaining. When we heard about the incredible way GHA sources labor for its housing projects, we went all in to help. Mexicali Blues donates 100% of the proceeds of our beaded bracelets to GHA.

Each bracelet creates a compassionate circle of giving as perfect as the bracelets themselves: the money from each bracelet builds a house, and the owners of that home build a house, and … the goodness just keeps on going. So, help us keep it going! Get your beaded bracelet here.

Travel Builds Community (And building community is what we’re all about!)

For many New England families, today is the last day of school before the midwinter school break begins. With snow piling up to crazy heights all around us and weeks of winter still ahead of us, it’s a particularly tempting time to just … get away. You might be leaving your community for warmer weather or a big adventure—but did you know that you are also helping to build community in your travel destination?

Travel and tourism build communities in many ways, but here are three that have the most impact:

Travel supports community economies. If you buy local at home, buy local abroad! Seek out entrepreneurs and independent businesses, and your vacation dollars will do more to build community in the places you visit.

When you spend your tourist dollars at hotels, restaurants, markets and local businesses, you help keep the community economy strong. You also boost the local tax rolls that pay for the schools, hospitals, and infrastructure that make it a good place to live. And the money you spend while traveling has a double impact: tourism creates jobs, and the money workers earn in those jobs is also spent in local businesses.

Travel strengthens community traditions; it lets us gain insight into other cultures and other ways of living. Make a point of truly experiencing the culture of the communities you visit.

In the modern world, it does not always make economic sense to do things in traditional ways. It usually requires more skilled labor, better materials and more time. When we seek out authentic foods, traditions, arts and celebrations on our travels, we make it worthwhile for communities to preserve and pass on their cultural heritage. This strengthens the bond between generations that forges a community’s unique identity.

Travel builds empathy—and empathy builds community.

Celebrating Buddha Around the World: Today is Nirvana Day!

Today our Mahayana Buddhist friends in Tibet, Nepal, India, China, and Japan are observing Parinirvana Day (commonly known as Nirvana Day)—the day the Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, through physical death.

Nirvana Day doesn’t celebrate the Buddha’s death. It celebrates his entry to Nirvana, breaking the cycle of suffering and rebirth and reaching the highest happiness. In Buddhism, death is simply a change, and change should be accepted, not mourned.

Celebrations vary throughout the world, but Nirvana Day can be both a meditative and a social occasion. Within Buddhist monasteries, Nirvana Day is a day to welcome the community in. Families and children visit their local monastery and bring offerings of food, household items, money and other gifts to the monks.

At home, Buddhists read passages from the Nirvana Sutra, which describe the last days of the Buddha’s life on earth. They reflect upon their own lives and contemplate their own eventual deaths, and remember loved ones who have recently died. The goal of these meditations is to make peace with the inevitability of death and change. Instead of grieving over death, we should focus on living our lives to the fullest. As the Buddha taught, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

We are joining with our friends around the world by focusing our daily meditations on the positive aspects of change and by remembering loved ones we have lost in this past year. Learn more about the life and teachings of the Buddha here.

February 10th Astrology & Energy: Full Moon & Lunar Eclipse in Leo

awesome Leo art by Chris Saunders

Tonight is a full moon AND a lunar eclipse in Leo. Since eclipses work in cycles, and the last one we saw was on September 16th, now is the time for releasing everything we need to that has occurred between then and now, in order to move forward in a new way. We are closing one door and opening a new one, and we should pay attention to any insights or ideas that arise right now because they just might serve to guide us on whatever part of the path comes next. As the shadow of the earth crawls across the moon, so too do we see our own shadows coming out to cause chaos and gnash their teeth at us. Aspects of ourselves that we have hidden or repressed might be activated in interpersonal conflict, but as these things are illuminated, we can use the supportive light of the moon to recognize the pattern playing out and look at this emotional baggage in a new way. Your relationships are a mirror, and if you look for and take responsibility for yourself in this reflection, they can be very powerful teachers and healers for you right now.

Leo loves to be worshipped in the spotlight and has a great desire to feel cherished, secure, and admired. When we don’t receive the adoration in abundance that we desire from our loved ones, this regal lion conversely brings up our fears that we are unworthy or unloveable, and we tend to act out in ways to test our loved ones that end up sabotaging ourselves. Be aware of yourself manipulating or playing mind games to get what you want; it’s probably not going to go the way you want it to this weekend. What will work better, however, is speaking truly and from your heart. You will find it easier to connect with this voice if you dedicate some of your energy this weekend to playing with and through your inner child. Find and do whatever makes you laugh and feel playful and curious, no matter how silly it may seem. The more you cultivate this spirit of play, the more you open yourself to the beauty and power of your own heart, ultimately coming to understand that you don’t need approval from outside to know that you are worthy. When we are embodying the highest vibration of Leo energy, we are passionate, creative, and confidently following the luminosity of our golden, glowing hearts. May we ALL come to see and be that light. Shine on, you crazy diamonds! 

Mexicali World of Goods: Bracelets that Build Community

Mexicali Blues is spending February concentrating on restoring our sense of community through acts of compassion and we want you to come along—all the way to Guatemala.

Acts of compassion can build community. Nowhere is that more evident than in the remote highlands of Guatemala. The scenery is stunning but life in these villages is an economic struggle for so many. The Guatemalan Housing Alliance (GHA), with help from Mexicali Blues, is working hard to change that.

In a region where a full day’s work yields less than $4 per day, families need new skills to survive. GHA volunteers gathered groups of women and taught them how to turn traditional cultural patterns and colors into beautiful beaded bracelets for export. The money these women earn from beading bracelets has become a lifeline for their families.

Rafaela is one of those women. She was born in Santa Lucía Utatlán, a small town in Sololá. Her father, a day laborer, worked hard to support his eleven children. But in a region where a day of backbreaking work can bring in only a few dollars, everyone in the family had to pitch in to survive.

Rafaela began working at the age of six. She started by selling food in the streets and taking in sewing—and the work has never stopped. She married at age 15 and moved to Pasajquim with her husband. Just as Rafaela once worked tirelessly to help support her ten siblings, she works just as tirelessly today to help support her four children.

Rafaela wakes at 4 AM to begin cooking the traditional sweets and dishes she sells door to door in town. When she returns home at the end of the day, she starts sewing for extra money—working as late as 11PM. Her husband spends his entire day laboring in the coffee plantations around Pasajquim but earns less than $4 per day. When GHA taught Rafaela how to bead bracelets, they gave her a new way to reach her greatest goal—giving her children an education.

Because she began working so young, Rafaela never had the chance to finish school; she taught herself to read and write. She wants something different for her two sons and two daughters and the money she earns beading bracelets is making that happen.

When Pete and Kim Erskine heard about GHA’s work in Guatemala they knew immediately we had to help. Our World of Goods charitable giving prioritizes programs that build the skills and infrastructure communities need to be self-sustaining. GHA does both by helping women learn beading, providing school classes for village children, and helping villagers build much-needed housing.

We decided to donate 100% of the proceeds and costs from the beaded bracelets made by these strong women right back to GHA. All $8 of each bracelet purchased is donated. This creates a compassionate circle of giving as perfect as the bracelets themselves: the money earned making them supports families and the money used to purchase them supports schools and sustainable housing. Thanks to GHA and our customers, these wonderful women know their community extends all the way to Maine.

Click Here to purchase your beaded bracelet (and help women like Rafaela) 

Gemstone Magic to Amplify Your Love Vibes

All crystals and gemstones have different energies that can be used to enhance your own energetic vibrations, and some are uniquely suited to supporting feelings of love & romance! Here are a few of our faves, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Rose Quartz – A stone that relates strongly and directly to the heart chakra, rose quartz is the stone of unconditional love. It has a very soft feminine energy of compassion, tenderness, and sensuality. It opens the heart chakra and encourages a peaceful flow of self-love, romantic love, and platonic love. If you want to increase the energy of loving and being loved in your life, rose quartz isTHE ultimate stone to attract and support it.

Amber – Considered a good luck charm for love and marriage, this stone is both energizing and calming at the same time. It is said to help in attracting and manifesting positive desires,and brings energies of patience, protection, sensuality, healing, and balance to those who wear or carry it.

Jade – Jade is particularly supportive of new love, as it increases energies of trustworthiness and fidelity. It is a lovely stone to offer as a gift when you want someone to know that you will always be true! It is also a calming stone, and signifies peace through strength.

Moonstone – Moonstone is known to bring luck in love, and has been a common wedding gift throughout history for that reason. It is considered useful in reconciling estranged lovers, and Indian and European folklore both purported that two people wearing moonstone on a full moon would fall passionately in love!

Lapis Lazuli – Lapis promotes and protects interpersonal harmony in relationships, and helps to keep the head and heart in balance. Known as a protector of interpersonal relationships, this stone can help to heal broken or injured bonds. It can support being more comfortable and honest with your feelings, and enhance loving communication. It facilitates self-knowledge and self-expression, as well as inner piece. Ancient folklore says that if you give lapis lazuli as a gift, you are forging an eternal bond of friendship, loyalty, and trust between the two of you.

Which of these stones is your favorite? Check out our awesome selection of gemstone jewelry—all presently on sale with 25% off– in Mexicali Blues stores or at www.MexicaliBlues.com!

If you’re ordering online with Valentine’s Day intentions, please note that today 02/07 is the last day to order for delivery by 02/14!

 

January 27th, 2017 Astrology & Energy: New Moon in Aquarius

There’s a New Moon in Aquarius tonight! This new moon should help us to begin clearing away the shadows of 2016, bringing the beginning of a rebirthing energy that will continue to build. Aquarius is the sign of the rebel and revolutions, with energy that is all about starting fresh and thinking about things in a new and different light, outside of the box of prior assumptions and perceptions. Certain old ways of doing things are breaking down and will continue to reveal the ways in which they can’t be relied on. You may find that more personal effort and action is required than you thought, so it is time to think about where and how your particular aptitudes and skills might be best used. Old habits, beliefs, and behaviors should be questioned now, and it is a great time to make a to-do list for your year featuring all of the new and inventive ways of progress-making that you can come up with, no matter how-far fetched they may seem. We are called now also to examine our views and try to see the stories we tell ourselves in a different way.  One way to do this might be to think of a particular issue and write down your ideas about how another person might see it. While this exercise is clearly speculation from your own imagination, any method you can come up with just to *try* to see things from a different point of view will be of service to you now.  A broadened perspective is ultimately in the service of seeing clearly who and where you are now, and using that information to reinvent yourself in some way. The time is coming to decide what you stand for, and what you’re going to do about it.

Create Your Own Boho Canopy Bed in Less Than an Hour w/ Recycled Silk Curtains

Turn your bedroom into a blissful bohemian haven with exotic textiles from Mexicali Blues!  Racheal’s bedroom was already rocking a subtle boho vibe, with a block print duvet and pillowcase set, moon-like round paper lantern on the ceiling, 2 coordinated recycled rag rugs on the floor, and recycled silk panel curtains in the window with 2 chic scarves draped as a valance on top.  Inspired by the mystical light that came streaming through the opulently curtained window, she decided to build her own canopy bed using more of these one-of-a-kind curtains, and you can easily do the same in your home!  These luscious patchwork curtains are absolutely perfect for a project like this because they are ultra-lightweight and can easily be held up by ordinary household tacks.

Since she already had the window covered in curtains and a valance of scarves, she used 7 curtain panels.  If you don’t have a window behind your bed, and want all four sides to look the same, you will need 8 curtains.

  • To create the “roof” of the canopy: Above the end of the foot of the bed, hold a curtain in half  and pin to the ceiling inside the fold and straight down the center crease you have created.  You should now have a rectangle of doubled-over fabric hanging in a straight line across the ceiling.  Repeat on all sides around the bed.
  • Grab the middle of each of the rectangles and pin to the ceiling, as shown below, to create the look of gathered valances all the way around.
  • Using the top tabs as pinning points on the fabric, pin the remaining 4 curtains to the ceiling around the four corners you’ve just created.
  • Relax and enjoy your magical new boho chic canopy bed!

 

 

Healing with Aromatherapy: The Olfactory Magic of Incense & Oils

Look at this pretty picture long enough, and you just might start smelling the intoxicating aromas of our incense collection! It’s amazing how burning just one stick of incense can totally alter the mood of a space–we love using incense’s olfactory powers to create a relaxing meditative atmosphere after a busy day!

Smell is more directly linked to the emotional regions of the brain than other senses, and actually operates differently than the other senses in registering that connection: with sound, sight, or taste, we identify the information first and then react emotionally. With smells, we have an emotional reaction first and then identify the scent shortly thereafter.

Aromatherapy uses mindfully chosen scents to enhance mood and well being. You can use essential oils (like those that come with these diffusers or those in our Auric Blends rollerballs, perfect for olfactory uplift on-the-go!), smudge sticks, or incense to enhance your atmosphere and elevate your spirit. Here are a few of our favorite scents and their potential mood-boosting powers:

Sandalwood: relaxing, calming, creates mental clarity, boosts memory

Lemongrass: refreshing, mind-stimulating, relieves anxiety & stress, helps with insomnia

Dragon’s Blood: cleansing, enhances feelings of love and courage

Patchouli: sensual, heightens creativity, encourages new ideas, soothes nerves

Nag Champa: all the benefits of sandalwood, plus the stress-busting and soothing power of champa flower

Sage: cleansing, stimulates the mind, enhances intuition

What mood or emotion does the sweetly scented smoke of incense evoke for you? What is your very favorite incense or aromatherapeutic oil?