Thursday, October 28, 2010

i laughed until i cried. seriously. i did.

Your Logo Makes Me Barf is my new favorite website.  oh the laughter it brought to our home tonight....who knew there were so many pet crematoriums and bereavement centers? and that all their logos would be so hilarious?

Handmade Nation

It's kind of embarrassing to admit but, I have not yet seen Handmade Nation.  Somehow it's never coincided with a time and date that I could attend a showing and I didn't want to purchase the dvd until I had seen it on the proverbial big screen because I wanted to have the shared experience of watching it with fellow makers.  I'm happy to say, that now's my chance - Faythe Levine and her documentary are coming to Pittsburgh!  I bought tickets for the whole family and you should get yours! Maybe I'll get to meet her - she's like a DIY ambassador.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I often get emails from customers asking if I have plans to design a Moop clothing line.  At the current moment, there's a lot still to focus on and refine with Moop (psst..we'll be releasing some very new and exciting bags next month i can't wait to tell you about them!) - but, in the meantime I would shop for clothing at Madewell.  It's exactly my style…neutral, casual, styled, works in a variety of situations and not too precious (i wear my clothes until they're threadbare…me and precious clothing just don't match).  I would start with these jeans.  I love perfectly dark washed denim.  I would also love to have this dress, these boots, these oxfords (in grey) and this sweater.  Maybe Moop should just collaborate with Madewell!?

Monday, October 25, 2010

I love dinner parties

I am so excited to start hosting dinner parties in our new apartment.  Preparing food and sharing it with others is one of my most favorite things to do...and something I have only done a handful of times in the year and a half since we've moved here.  Thanksgiving will be our first gathering and I'm so excited!  I've been scrolling through Taste Spotting and 101 Cookbooks for ideas (recommended by my friend Kelly)...there's so many culinary experts out there!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This weekend

Let me just start out by saying, I'm so anxious to move.  I can't wait to finally feel a sense of organization in our home life.  This weekend I've been trying to temper my anxiety by organizing everything in this house so we can move out and really begin to work on it…that and baking.  Our farm share has given us a bounty of squash.  None of us are too crazy about squash as a side dish to our meals…though, we've been good and we've all tried to eat it.  It's just so much tastier in the form of sweet breads and pies.  Aside from the excess of squash, joining the CSA has been such a good fit for us.  Every week we get a box full of veggies…some of which we've never had before.  Like Celeriac - thanks for all of your twitter help last weekend in identifying it!  I sauteed it up and it was super tasty.

This week we received a bag full of ground cherries.  I had never heard of or seen these before and oh my, are they just mysteriously delicious.  They look like tiny tomatoes sheathed in delicate paper little tomatillos.  They taste kind of like jelly beans, kind of like tomatoes, sometimes tart, sometimes super sweet and sometimes like….well, i'm not sure!  The flavor is so distinctive and so delicious I can't really describe it.  It's like nothing I've ever tried before.  If you ever come across them and have not had them before…try them! 

Off to a busy day of baking and packing (oh, and putting together parker's halloween costume. she's going as a pile of cute!)  Hope you all are having a lovely weekend!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Learning to ride the bus

So, I've been researching the bus maps..trying to understand the routes and it appears that Google Maps on the iPhone gives pretty accurate bus directions along with daily schedules.  Do any of you use this?  Have you found it to be reliable?

There's also another great project in the City of Pittsburgh called Route Shout (coincidentally developed by a friend of Jeremy's).  All of the city bus signs have a number you can text and it will immediately send you a text message with the next arriving buses and times.

The magic number is 900

Yesterday I wrote about how excited I am for our upcoming move out of our renovation project and into an apartment with solidly intact walls (HGTV if you want a 100 year old house to do a show about...i know a good one. wink wink nudge nudge).  This is something I have been trying to make happen for about 6 months.  Because we wanted to stay close to our house, studio and Parker's school, we were limited in our search area.  And, taking on another monthly expense was something we had to really plan for financially in order to make happen.  So in many ways, we had to just wait for the right thing to come along…and it finally did.

In the weeks leading up to this move (which is now under 2 weeks away, yay!), both my car and Jeremy's car have needed major repairs.  We started with Jeremy's, taking it in for an inspection, only to find it needed over $900 worth of work.  Neither of us drive nice cars.  We drive old cars.  Repairs go along with not having a brand new car.  We decided to go ahead with it, thinking my car had just had $1200 worth of work a year ago, $500 for all new tires 3 months ago, $200 for two new tires two months prior to that (yes…my tires we sliced on the street by our studio twice in 5 months) and surely…surely my car would not need any more major repairs for a while.  So we repaired his car then made an appointment to take mine in for its inspection.  I felt really on top of things because I was a full 2 weeks from my inspection expiring..typically, I'm the one on the last day possible begging the mechanic to inspect my car before it expires. 

The day we had planned to bring it, we went out to leave and it wouldn't start.  Of course…of course it wouldn't start.  We had it towed to our mechanic who told us the timing belt had snapped.  Not too big a deal if we had any other car but a Volkswagen Golf where every repair is 100 times more expensive than a non-Volkswagen!  $500 for the timing belt and another $400 to make it pass inspection.  Here's the clincher.  Because of how the fine folks at Volkswagen engineer their vehicles, when a timing belt snaps on a Volkswagen it often busts out all the valves on the engine.  This means when your timing belt snaps, you most often have to replace the engine.  Sounds like intelligent engineering if you ask me.  I feel like Volkswagen should be replacing my car for free because of their idiocy.  Do you know how much an engine costs?!? More than my car is worth and more than we can afford to pay.  So thanks to Volkswagen's ridiculous engineering we are now down to one car….a pick up truck.  Three of us barely fit in a pick up truck. 

I'm trying my hardest to take this all in stride.  Both Jeremy and I are all over the city on any given day.  Between work (J. has a new job), studio, Parker's activities and the rest of life we really feel like we need two cars.  But, we can't buy a new one right now…we can't even buy a used one right now.  So, I'm taking all of this as a forced opportunity to scale back our reliance on cars.  I'll plan my days around the public transportation system.  Organize all of Parker's after school activities and sports around the bus stops, we'll coordinate a schedule to share the car…we'll be more creative.  It will be fine.  We are probably too reliant on our cars anyhow.  Really, I'm up for the challenge.  It will likely mean I go into the city more often, too.  I rarely drive downtown…or to any other part of the city because driving in Pittsburgh sucks.  If we ride the bus, we just hop on, the bus flies through traffic on the busway and we'll be to our destinations without a hitch.  And, many of Pittsburgh's buses are electric...which is better for all of us.  Glad to be in a city that has a decent public transportation system.  And it seems likely that it will not cost us $900 to take the bus.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

news on the homefront!

So…it might not be a surprise to most of you, but we're moving.  I know, I can hear you all saying "WHAT! again!?

Have any of you renovated a house…I mean top to bottom, total gut renovation?  Have you done this while living in it with your family and while trying to run a business?  If you have and you stayed sane…please tell me how you did it.  Because the indefinite state of chaos led to monthly breakdowns, then weekly breakdowns and recently they have been almost daily.  It's been difficult to get any work done on the house while we have been living there.  It's a very small place…only 1200 square feet between the two floors (600 each floor).  We gutted all of it just before we moved in..thinking it would not be so hard to renovate while we were also living there…that has not proven to be the case.  It is hard. We have lived for a year and a half in what looks and feels like a squat.  So, we're moving out while we renovate.  This should speed up the process and allow us to really address all of the issues this house needs.  Like all new plumbing and electrical.  There's still some knob and tube in there! (i only learned this a year and a half ago, so for those of you who don't know, knob and tube is like...when electric was invented and first put into's dangerous and very old).

We found a fantastic cozy little apartment and we're moving in just under 2 weeks.  I can't tell you the relief I've felt since we signed the lease.  All of our house items, except our clothes and dishes have been in boxes since we moved a year and a half ago (can you believe it's been that long!?).   I miss being surrounded by books and comforting things like walls without holes and ceilings that are intact.  We are all very excited to be moving to this new place.  I'll post photos as soon as we are in and settled.  But, there is lots of light, open spaces and clean finished walls, ceilings and floors!  woo!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a new fall

 It has been a busy week around here.  We put two new bags into production.  Going into production with new designs is always slower with the first two runs or so.  We have our studio production techniques down to a pretty good system, but anything new always takes an extra amount of attention as we work out the best and most efficient way to make something.  The way in which we operate is advantageous because we have the ability to immediately respond to problems as they arise (and they always do), this minimizes waste and allows us to produce better bags.  As most of you know, durability and functionality are the two most important characteristics of Moop bags.  We begin with what we want the bag to do, who we want it to serve and how we need to make it.  From there, our aesthetics have formed making our bags instantly recognizable.  I always feel a sense of accomplishment when a new design evolves and fits with the rest of our line.  Both The Backpack and The Little Letter Bag are great examples of this and have come from all of your suggestions. 

Your feedback is so important to me as I have worked to build this business…this business that has been not only an extension of my personal practice as an artist but has become my practice as I have learned how to be a small manufacturing entrepreneur.  I firmly believe small, artisan manufacturing can take place in a productive profitable manner in our current society of cheap mass manufactured goods.  It means we have to be firm about where we stand on many things and stay very focused.  I don't see this as a drawback to what we do, though.  In fact I believe it is one of the things that bolsters who we are.  You can only get Moop bags directly from us.  We have come a long way in the last 3 1/2 years and we plan to go much further in the next three.  We're super grateful to all of the people who have helped us get where we are and hope to have their support as we continue this excursion of building the best canvas bag business we can.  Daily Candy wrote about us on Sunday and People Magazine wrote about us just a month or so ago and everyone we met at the Maker Faire/Bust event was truly wonderful. We hope to meet and work with more of you! 

Sorry for gushing all over you…it's just one of those mornings where I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have worked with and interacted with so many great people all because of a shared appreciation for a well made bag.  Thanks for being awesome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Little Letter Bag

My assistant Emily called in sick this morning. Jeremy had class today (he's gone back to teaching) so I was the only one in the studio. It's a rare occasion this happens any more and today I took full advantage. I've been tossing around an idea for a small cute shoulder bag. I've had many requests for one but, like The Backpack, it has taken me quite some time to work out the design. I came up with this today and I'm super thrilled about it. I won't have it in the shop for a week or so because I would like to make an entire set first (we've moved away from the made-upon-order model of production and my life has become so much happier). I made the first one in provincial blue corded canvas because I had some scraps around...but it will definitely be one of the colors because i-love-it-and-it's-perfect-for-this-bag.

I'll only be offering this design in two colorways...but would love your input...what other color would you like to see this in?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Friday, October 1, 2010

two funny things

here are two funny things to start off your Friday morning.

1. this baby gives the evil eye and it's hilarious

2. seolol is hilarious.