Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stamp collecting

Often people miss-understand philately as being the collecting of stamps, however this is not the case. Philately is the study of stamps and collecting stamps is a whole different world. Stemming from early collectors of postal stamps and dated letters, stamp collecting has become big business and collectable stamps can be brought at auction for values largely exceeding what you might imagine. Collectors of Postal Stamp Collectables also act as a critical source of income for some random small countries, who quite literally produce stamps just for them. Releasing high limited edition rare and elaborate stamps typically intended for western stamp collecting audiences, usually they produce more of the stamps than are actually needed in that country, proving that the stamp collecting market is substantial. As with all hobbies and collections Stamp collecting comes with its own things to learn, angles and oddities. You can get stamp collecting equipment such as quality stamp magnifying glasses, stamp albums, perforation gauges and stamp tongs, all of which will aid you in identifying real stamps and building the ultimate stamp collection! The only thing stopping you now is buying a few small stamp collectables to start your collection!

Penny Black

The Penny Black - The world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp

The Penny Black was the world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp. It was issued on Wednesday 6th May 1840 and the Twopenny Blue was issued on Friday 8th May 1840 early in the reign of Queen Victoria (b1819), who reigned from 1837-1901, her portrait was used on the stamp as it would be more recognisable by the public. The portrait on the penny black is based on the Wyon city medal of 1837 which William Wyon modelled in 1834 when Princess Victoria was only 15. As this was the first postage stamp, the country name is omitted, a tradition continued with all the stamps of Great Britain, the identifying characteristic is the monarch's head which always faces to the left on definitive stamps. The postal rate of one penny meant that a letter not exceeding half an ounce in weight could be sent to any part of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the stamp was to indicate that the postage had been prepaid. Before the invention of the stamp the receiver paid the postage rather than the sender.

Stamp collecting equipment

No equipment is needed in order to be able to collect stamps. However, the great majority of collectors choose to invest in a few essential items for the better display, preservation and inspection of their stamps. Below are some of the more commonly used pieces of stamp collecting equipment.

The easiest and cheapest method to store stamps is placing them in glassine envelopes and storing them in a box free from humidity, light, and heat. This obviously will be of no help when trying to go through the stamps for display or other purpose. Placing stamps in stamp albums helps in easy display of the stamp collection. Stamps can be displayed as per the wish of the collector, by country, topic, or even size, such that the ultimate display is pleasing to the eyes.

Archival stockbook with clear plastic pockets for the stamps: one of the safest means of stamp storage

Clockwise: hinge-mounted stamp, stamp about to be hinge-mounted, stamp damaged by a hinge, stamp hinges

Magnifying glass

Stamp tongs with rounded tips, to prevent damage from skin oils and rough handling

The tools and items of collecting all fit neatly on a desk blotter.

Acquiring stamps

The starting point for many new collectors is to ask family and friends to save stamps from their incoming mail. Although the stamps received by major businesses, and those kept by elderly relatives, may be of international and historical interest, the stamps received from family members are often of the definitive sort. Definitives seem mundane but, considering their variety of colours, watermarks, paper differences, perforations and printing errors, they can fill many pages in a collection. Introducing either variety or specific focus to a collection can require the purchasing of stamps, either from a dealer or online. Large numbers of relatively recent stamps, often still attached to fragments or envelopes, may be obtained cheaply and easily. Rare and old stamps can also be easily obtained from similar sources, with costs extending far beyond the means of all but a tiny minority of collectors.

Duplicate stamps are the stamps that a collector already has, and are therefore not required to fill a gap in a collection. Duplicate stamps can be sold or traded, so they are an important medium of exchange among collectors.

Many stamp dealers sell their merchandise over the Internet. Others have neighborhood stamp shops, one of the best resources for beginning and intermediate collectors. Some dealers also jointly set up week-end stamp markets called "Bourses" that move around a region from week to week. They also meet collectors at regional exhibitions and stamp shows.


Saturday, November 8, 2008


Candles are a perfect way to add that special touch to any occasion, and any room in your home.

The ancient Egyptians first used the power of scent to heal over 3,500 years ago. They would burn fragrant woods and herbs, believing the smoke rising into the air would carry with it their hopes and prayers to be answered by the ancient gods.

Today, the use of aroma to heal is deeply entrenched in the art of aromatherapy. It is now one of the most popular forms of holistic medicine. Used not only to help soothe and relax, there are now documented benefits of aromatherapy in helping control chronic disease and illness.

Candles used in aromatherapy come in special combinations of fragrances designed to achieve specific goals. Eucalyptus is used to energize, while lavender is used to calm. Taking in these scents alters the psychological state, allowing the body to follow suit.

The Soothing Effects of Aromatherapy Candles

The Mind
The scents that come from these candles which are the essential oils incite parts of the brain that affects emotions including the hypothalamus. The people around benefit by inhaling the aroma which then affects the mind and body in special ways. It does so by entering their bloodstream through their lungs. The aroma goes straight to the limbic system which produces chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. Serotonin reduces anxiety while endorphins work to decrease pain and stimulate sexual response. A result is a balanced emotional state and a positive outlook which has a dramatic therapeutic effect on physiological problems especially disorders that are related to stress.

The Body
The body meanwhile absorbs the essential oil through the skin. These oils travel around cells, enter the sebaceous glands and interact with the natural emollients of the skin. This results in thorough cleansing, detoxifying and balancing of the body.

The Spirit
Aromatherapy has great positive effects on one’s spiritual journey. Scented candles and their aroma are used to assist in meditation and prayers.

The unique properties of essential oils found in some scented candles are efficient in enhancing and affecting energy levels positively. In order to achieve the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of scented candles, it’s a must to engage in a form of relaxation with the use of aromatherapy candles. You may think that you don’t have the time or the money to indulge in such experience. But the truth is when it comes to your state of well-being, there’s no such thing as a waste of time or money. And besides there are wholesale soy candles that are not that expensive. You can also engage in soy candle making which in itself is also a form of a relaxing hobby.

Spend a couple of minutes of your day alone in a room, inhaling rich therapeutic aroma of candles and essential oils. The key here is to keep your mind off things that are related to work and stress. Try your best to imagine that you are in a tranquil place with nothing to worry about. This will do a lot in calming your mind and refreshing your body and soul.

Enjoy Sweet Dreams

If you have difficulty falling asleep, try lighting a few of these scented candles before bedtime:

· Chamomile - Long used in teas to promote sleep, chamomile has a sweet, fruity aroma. In addition to helping you achieve a peaceful slumber, chamomile is said to have properties that promote psychic awareness and hone intuition.

· Lavender - An aroma that promotes inner calm and peace, lavender has a fresh, floral scent. It will free you from emotional stress, promote inner stability, and can even be used to relieve headaches.

· Patchouli - This rich aroma has long been connected with love and passion. Not only can it ignite your inner fire, it is known to have properties that help you achieve rest.

· Sandalwood - Bring on those sweet dreams with the sweet, woodsy smell of sandalwood. Perhaps its clairvoyant properties will help you see into the future, while it’s calming properties help you dream the night away.

· Ylang-Ylang - This scent known to enhance love and relationships will surround you with an intoxicating mixture of sweet, floral, and fruity aromas.

Lighten Your Mood

Many scents have been known to ease depression and relive anxiety. Try one of these if you find yourself with the blues.

· Sage- Powerful for removing negative feelings, this earthy yet fruity herb will clear your mind and cleanse impure thoughts from your system.

· Frankincense - This spicy, woody fragrance frees your mind from impure thoughts, releases you from destructive habits and obsessions, and has protective qualities.

Tighten Your Focus

Perhaps your thoughts are wandering or you cannot remain focused on a task or assignment. Burn one of these candles at your desk to help improve your concentration.

· Bergamot - This citrusy yet floral aroma provides mental clarity, as well as protective qualities.

· Peppermint - Another aroma known to increase intuition and psychic awareness, this famous scent is strong and minty.

· Basil - A sweet, slightly medicinal-smelling herb that promotes overall well-being

· Lemon - This citrus scent not only will clear your mind, but will call upon protective spirits to aid you.

Reduce Stress

If you just need to relax and unwind, light one of these scented candles while enjoying a hot bath or some quiet music.

· Jasmine -Exotic and floral, this scent promotes psychic cleansing, assists with creativity, and has powerful qualities for attracting love.

· Geranium - Providing qualities that promote success and well-being, this floral yet slightly fruity scent will relax your mind and spirit.

· Apple - The aroma of this sometimes-tart, sometimes-sweet fruit brings relaxation and peace of mind, as well as aids wisdom

If one of these is not quite your cup of tea, here are some of the protective or spiritually enhancing qualities of some of your other favorite scents:

· Cinnamon - Increases your spiritual awareness, focus, and concentration.

· Citronella - Attracts friends and neighbors, while repelling unwanted insects.

· Clove - Protects from evil spirits while enhancing memory

· Musk - Long associated with passion, this strong scent also boosts self-confidence and strength.

· Rose - The deep, floral smell of roses brings tranquility, inner peace, and harmony.

These fragrances have long been found in spas, combined with soft music to provide the client with a feeling of total peace and relaxation. You can achieve the same experience in your own home by following suit and filling it with scent.

Combine these fragrances together to achieve the mental and physical balance you are looking for, or to gain the spiritual awareness you desire, and allow the healing benefits of aromatherapy to work for you.

Use scented candles, fragrant oils, or wax burners and transform your home into a soothing, healing place of refuge. Allow yourself to indulge in the total relaxation of mind and spirit, and then feel the healing essence fill your body as you reach a heightened level of tranquility and well-being.

After all, if it worked for the ancient Egyptians, it may be able to work for you too.