Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to take out a coffee stain and save a new shirt


A brand new white t-shirt, worn for not more than an hour, attracts a coffee stain.

After the initial argh! of complaint, and after having come to terms with a new white t-shirt that has a coffee stain, I decide...tackle said stain and salvage new shirt.

So, I pulled out my copy of Green Clean to find a recipe for removing stains. Not only is this book printed on recycled plastic pages, it's also chock full of the most incredible potions for cleaning the clean way...sans chemicals. It's simple to convert to non-chemical cleaners, too. Especially when you get to make them yourself with things like lemon verbena, vinegar, borax and lavender.

I looked up coffee stains. Since the stain had already set in, I followed the recipe for dried tea stains. Which is:

Drape stained fabric over a bowl or basin
sprinkle with laundry borax until the stain is thickly covered
Pour a pot of hot water around the stain working toward the center

I didn't have any laundry borax, so I used Mrs. Meyers Surface Scrub (geranium scent, of course). I'm not quite sure what laundry borax is, but it seemed it would have a similar texture to a granular scrub cleaner. I'm not sure if there's a valid logic to this rational, but my parents always had a shaker of boraxo, which was also granular, boraxo...borax....surface scrub...hmmm.

Regardless, I covered the stain in the surface scrub, let it sit for about 10 minutes then poured boiling water over the Mrs. Meyers and the stain. I kid you not, the stain vanished...vanished! It's the wonder stain remover. Go ahead, spill some coffee on your new white t-shirt and then try to remove it. It'll be good as new when you're done. NEW I tell ya!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A beanstalk for Christmas


My little family of three has had a funny relationship with "the Christmas Tree" for the last several years. The first year we were together, Jeremy really did not want to buy a cut tree for the fabled holiday. I, however, really did. I couldn't get him to budge, so in protest I went out and bought the most terrible (yet somewhat appealing) fake white Christmas tree. The following year, we moved to Massachusetts. And, still wanting to have a real pine smelling Christmas Tree, I decided on a potted indoor northern spruce. It was quite cute. Perhaps a little Charlie Brown-ish, but really a very nice spry tree. Unlike my mother though, I do not have a green thumb and I managed to kill the terribly cute tree. I think a bit traumatized by all this, Parker suggested that this year we make a tree. I was so caught off guard by her suggestion and could hardly believe that my child of 10 years old, who I had been trying to convince of the value of making (and ever resistant) would suggest a felt tree. I said, "that sounds great!"

We only last night had the opportunity to try and make this tree (I'm late with everything...it drives me nuts). While we were sketching out what we wanted it to look like, and brainstorming construction plans, Jeremy suggested the beanstalk!

My thesis exhibition (2 years ago) was all about myth-making and fairy tales and how they play out in our social cultures. It was a very personal investigation into my own family and upbringing. Parker made drawings of my family members and I made them into 41 stuffed little creatures. When installed, they were all gravitating towards a giant handmade 80 foot beanstalk that buttons all the way up. The exhibition was a success, but I was left with a few unresolved feelings about it all...until last night. Jeremy's suggestion to use the beanstalk as our Christmas tree brought everything full circle. It's so very perfect.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

a sigh and a mess


So, this evening, I finally got the last of the orders that were promised for Christmas, in the mail. And, I really really want to go to sleep (and, I just might get to). Before I do, I want to publicly say "thanks a bunch!" to all of my kind and patient customers who anxiously waited an extra week for their packages, which will arrive just in time for that lovely morning when lots of people like to surprise and be surprised by fun presents.

I do not like having to send late notices out to people, and I've had to in high numbers over the last few weeks. It's really been 3 months of total mayhem. All of the attention surrounding Moop has been wonderful, and rapidly increasing...I'm still a bit shell shocked and trying to keep up. But, everyday I learn ways of better accomplishing the things I need to in order to keep filling orders and designing new bags. Most recent addition....Quickbooks (thanks Jeremy!). I never thought I would be so excited about accounting software.

*sigh* I think the above photo gives a good representation of the daily state of things here in the Moop household...I'm not going to try and analyze it too much, as I'm super tired and feeling a bit delirious...usually when I say the most stupid things...so I'll save you all from my ramblings (as I ramble)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why Etsy is revolutionizing the way we spend

So, this post may be a bit long winded and/or esoteric, but I think very necessary. First though, I want to state my relationship to Etsy. I have an Etsy shop, it's called Moop, and it's doing quite well. I came to be sewing out of my frustration with consumer culture, rolled in with the perpetuation of corporate exploitation, not only of consumers, but of the laboring men, women and children working to make the goods sold in the global marketplace. I also want to establish that when my protest began, I was not in a position of privilege. I was a young single mother working two jobs and going to school full time. So, to say I was not going to shop at big box retailers was not because I could afford luxury, I was quite poor. I saved for several weeks to purchase an $80 Brother sewing machine. I was in art school at the time and wanting to use it as a tool in my studio, but it was used more as a tool for my home. I began sewing clothes for myself and my little girl. I used that machine for 6 years, all the way through grad school, until very recently when I started my Etsy shop. When I began selling the bags I was making, I quickly outgrew the machine. But, I still didn't have much money to purchase a new one...so I borrowed one. It was a fantastic 20 year old Bernina. Then, I outgrew it. I borrowed money from my family and purchased a Juki. It's the best and most risky investment I've ever made (aside from falling in love and getting married 2.5 years ago).
Now...I have no interest in victimizing myself (I spent several years combating stereotypes and those wanting to victimize me and my single-parenthood), I simply want to make note that my participation in this thing called Etsy has brought full circle my philosophies about consumption, labor practices, art, life, skill, craft, capitalism, protest, talent, long hours, little sleep and lots of dedication. I've worked really hard to hone my skills. I've made hundreds (literally hundreds) of bags over the last 6 months, and plan to make hundreds more until I'm the best bag maker on the planet (I strive for perfection...sorry). I never could have guessed, 10 years ago (when my daughter was born and I was 19), that I would be able to make a living making things. I love what I do so much, everyday I feel like I should feel bad about how lucky I've been. Because it's really that. I was lucky that my sister-in-law said, "Hey, have you heard of Etsy?" I was lucky that, I looked it up and joined. I was lucky that someone in Australia bought the first Moop bag, which said to me, "hey, give this thing a try." Since that time (which was only in March of this year), riding on luck, the support of my little family and a lot of really hard work, I've been able to quit my job and establish something that looks like it's going to sustain itself, and that feels really good! I lived in lots of roach infested apartments above screaming neighbors and scary streets to know, that's not the life I want for myself or my kid, even if I'm sewing from 9am to 1am just about everyday. I LOVE what I do, and I love that Etsy has made that happen. Since then, I've been invited to join some really great things, one of which is Supermarket. Now that we've met, I love Supermarket, too! They've brought together a great collection of people and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
So, for all you naysayers out there, Etsy is chock full of really talented people, making really great things (and doing it well). Take a look:
Treehouse 28
Satsuma Press
Trapper Jane
Elizabeth Scott
le Bouton
Porcelian and Paper
There's lots and lots of others....go and see them. Give Etsy a try, you'll be more than pleased, I'm sure. And while you're at it, read the New York Times article...all the way through. It's well worth it, and then you'll really see why Etsy is helping to revolutionize the way we make things and buy things. We're all establishing a new economy, one that's about knowing where things come from. A philosophy that can fit just about anyone's politic...except perhaps the lazy apathetic folk among us...who just don't care.

p.s. tomorrow's post...why supermarket is super.
p.p.s. it's now 2:45am, i'm wrapping things up and heading to bed, for tomorrow begins at 7am. that is very soon.
p.p.s. i'm not usually this personal...but i felt it necessary tonight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Updates and the view from here


Unfortunately, I've had to push the Etsy shop update off until next week. I'm really struggling to get through all these x-mas orders and won't be able to get all of the new bags finished and photographed until at least the end of next week. It's going to be my reward for making it through the holiday orders...I'm really looking forward to it.

p.s. The photo is a bird's eye view of the state of things here. As you can see, "sewing like mad" isn't too much of an exaggeration. Although, it's more a photo of all the packages that went out this morning..32 in all. The goal is to have the other 65 finished and in the mail by Monday morning.

Snow Angel


Today started with The Misfits (circa 1985, of course) and ended with Ornette Coleman. Yes, the day went as you might expect with a range of that sort. I began by sewing..and making good progress. When, after several hours, intensely focused on what I was doing and hunched over my Juki, I looked out the window to see snow! For a while it felt like I was inside a snow globe, looking serenely out the window while snow fell wildly but gently, covering everything in a beautiful blanket. Then, the thought crossed my mind that school might close early. But, this is Western Massachusetts, surely they won't close school for a bit of snow!? (I grew up in the D.C. Metro area, where everything closed if anyone even mentioned the word snow...and throngs of people would rush the supermarkets for bread and milk, fearing mountains of snow embalming streets and neighborhoods...it was usually unnecessary mayhem) Moving to Massachusetts, I expected hearty souls braving the weather no matter what! But the snow kept falling...and fast too! Intuitively, perhaps, if not a bit late, I picked up the phone and saw I had missed 3 calls. All from Parker. All around 9am (it was now noon) and all saying school was being let out at noon. Needless to say, I had to rush out of the house, clear the car, and drive to her afterschool program to pick her up. Normally a 10 minute drive...it took almost an hour to get there. it's now past midnight and still snowing. There must be at least 10 inches. I didn't get today's packages out due to the weather, so tomorrow will be spent sending emails apologizing for the snow and my lateness...so far, those purchasing a Moop bag from me have been so nice about any delays in the production process. It's nice to know that people understand handmade takes time and patience and in the end pays off with a beautiful reward.
Now, I must sleep (if I'm to accomplish what I would like to tomorrow). But I'll leave you with an image of a snow angel Parker made in the parking lot tonight...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vegan Indulgence


So sorry for the lag in postings. We arrived home from the Craftacular late Sunday night. The event was quite fun. It was really great to meet everyone who came out and came by! I think the whole thing restored my belief that humans are innately good. I was really excited by how nice everyone was. Just so very nice! We really appreciated everyone's comments and complements. It made the whole weekend worth it...so thanks!

So, I started sewing out of protest to sweatshop labor....but, I arrived home to face the reality that I have created my own, right here in my apartment. I have an inhuman amount of sewing to do this week. But the best forms of relating come from immersed experience (I'm well aware that my experience does not compare...my needs are being met). My years of protest to industries that facilitate sweatshop labor have been renewed and bolstered over the last six months. It's so important that we hold corporations accountable for actions that act in gross negligence to human integrity. So, my fellow connoisseurs of handmade and independent design....resist! Change is happening.

One last note to end my soapbox and start my sewing. I think all of you should make a visit to Vegan Honey. The best...BEST I tell you....vegan twinkies anyone could imagine. They're perfect. And even more perfect on this lovely tea plate from Porcelainandpaper. She makes really fantastic stuff. Go...take a look!