Sunday, January 29, 2012

On reading and living...

I often write about the books I've just finished…usually, as I've just finished them, when the emotions and excitements and longings of having just completed something you truly, deeply enjoyed have ended.  Tonight, it was, A Visit From the Goon Squad.  I loved this book.  There were so many moments/descriptions/events that felt so close to my own past lives - in a way that always makes me uncomfortable.  I have become very good at living my life in chapters…sections…closing off entire eras of my life in order to deal with (or not deal with) (or make it through the present) (or reinvent myself) (or to make things okay) whatever memories are trying to work their way into the present.  I tend to avoid things that drum up the past - avoiding the easy things, like not watching certain movies that I know will trigger a certain memory or not delving into the dregs of facebook to find people I used to know or not going back through emails from 15 years ago (when email was really new) but, often I am sideswiped by books.  Perhaps because I love to read.  Maybe because I can be wooed by beautiful language.  Possibly because I cherish getting lost in something else to end my evenings.  But, it seems the books I love the most…the ones I find myself thinking about throughout the day and hurrying towards the reading hour Parker and I have each night, are the ones that most closely resemble the lives I've had or the life I'm living. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Little Printer

Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.

I saw this the other day on Something's Hiding in Here's blog (you know that uber prolific, talented and charming duo of Shauna and Stephen…aren't they lovely!!).  Anywhoo, back to this incredibly charming little printer.  I can imagine doing so many fun things with this.  Sending my little Parker love notes from work that she would receive when she gets home from school (the working mom's version of fresh baked cookies), printing out cute to do lists (i am a prolific list maker), printing a daily list of things I would like to read over while I eat my breakfast like news headlines, a new word to learn each day, recipe ideas (I prefer paper to digital for reading material while I eat my breakfast).  Plus, it's adorable. Double plus, this looks like something Jeremy would have invented.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

Over the weekend, after we went sledding (because there was finally snow in Pittsburgh!!), Parker and I spent some time with a book that Jeremy had given us for xmas. It's called Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It - and it is full of simple ways to make seemingly complicated food staples.

 I have long fantasized about canning. How I would get all of the equipment, make lots of jam and sauces and can all of our tomatoes and green beans and peaches and anything else you can put in a jar as a way to make our farm share last year round, to avoid vegetables spoiling because we did not eat them in time, to continue to teach my daughter how to own what she eats, how to cook and how to prepare just about anything (a skill I learned from my mother and value to this day)…but, the reality is that I will likely never take up canning. I have too many things on my list of things to do and things I would like to do and at the moment, canning is kind of far down on that list. Yes, I love the idea of it, but I know the reality is that I would get all of the equipment and it would take up lots and lots of space and I would always say I was going to use it, while feeling guilty about not using it, then rationalizing my guilt by stating out loud how I just don't have enough time to use it…so, to save us all from that unnecessary chain of events, Karen Solomon has written this book.

In this book, I can indulge in all of the things I think I love about the idea of canning by taking on tiny projects, one at a time, without purchasing a whole bunch of equipment that will not get used. Like, for instance, the pickling project Parker and I did over the weekend. We took a few carrots, green beans and cucumbers and we pickled them! It was easy and delightful and we both learned how to quickly and deliciously extend the life of a vegetable. Perhaps next weekend we will learn to make marshmallows.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Victory in a small space...

The last few months have been quite a whirlwind.  Our holiday season set in around mid-November.  Every year we start upping our production around August and every year we think we'll be extra prepared for the holiday rush so it won't be such a drain on our energy (anyone who makes things will understand this - it's an incredibly rewarding time of year while also being incredibly exhausting and draining) and even still, every year we are working extra long hours from November to January.  This year, we had thrown into the mix a huge project - an order for 300 Moop bags!  300 of anything is a lot to make.  Bake 300 cookies..that's a lot.  Make 300 custom bags in the middle of the busiest time of year, each with at least 57 steps...that's a whole whole lot.

The overall production of this huge project was condensed into a 3 week period...with the bulk of it happening in the last 2 weeks.  We worked long long long continuous days and finally reached our satisfying end when we packed up the last bag in the last box and stacked it in a tower that reached the ceiling of our studio.  This was definitely the largest project I have ever taken on and I could not have done it without knowing I could rely on those around me.  

I can't gush enough about the fantastic team of incredible women I have working with me.  Emily and Jessica (on the left and right of me in the above photo) came through in ways that bring me to tears every time I think about their dedication to this thing called Moop that I have worked so hard to build.  It means the world to me that they have chosen to work with me.  Jeremy's parents were a huge support in making this project happen, helping us with Parker and in 25,000 other ways that can't be listed here on this little blog.  Mina, our high school student who comes and helps out for a few hours each week, spent a majority of her holiday break at Moop pressing over 300 straps - I don't know many 16 year olds who would want to spend their holiday break to come to work, but she did and we love her for that!  My dear sweet Parker who  put up with having two absent and exhausted parents for two weeks over the holidays, seeing us only at night and meeting us with warm meals she had prepared for us, is the best daughter in the world.  And, Jeremy, the love of my life, dropped everything to join Moop for the last 10 days and worked 15 hour days right along side me.  I love him for that.

So, I think I speak for everyone at Moop when I say,  bring it on!!!  We're looking forward to the next huge project :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I love this.  Completely.

by Yayoi Kusama
called The Obliteration Room
currently on view at The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art
found via Janice and This is Collossal
this will make you smile.
hope you're having a super fantastic week! now, go sticker something!

p.s. all photos courtesy of the museums website and thisiscollossal.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pittsburgh. Yes.

Yes, Pittsburgh is the land where people work hard - and they're/we're proud of it!  It's also where I live and call home.  Granted, I know I'm new to this town...I married into it (J was born & raised here)...but, we also decided to leave Oz (read: Western Massachusetts) to make it our home (who does that??) and we love love love it.  I can't wait to show you what 2012 has in store for Moop and co...but, in the meantime, just read this great clip on my great town that I and Moop call home.

p.s. thanks to Karlye for the link ;)

p.p.s. i have nothing against Portland or Portlanders or hipsters. i love 'em all.

p.p.p.s. (several hours later) i can't stop thinking about this article and now i'm really annoyed by it. no one should pit one city against another. generalizations are just that...generalizations. i'm pretty sure being a butcher is pretty hard work. and i'm pretty sure so many, so called hipster enclaves, built up because people who want to work in a different way need a support community around them to do so.  they need like minded-ness to support their types of businesses. they need like minded-ness to find people who want to work in their tiny businesses. they need those that are willing to try something different, to be something different.  hipster-ism may be mainstream now, but that's just the typical cycle of sub-cultures. it always has been. i say, so what! if dealing with thrifted ironic t-shirts in the 90's made way for mustaches and shirt dresses and butchers and seamstresses and handmade and entrepreneurship and small tiny micro business booms and teeny tiny manufacturing businesses like my own, then i say, bring it on!  all of that led to me doing what i do. i am like the butcher...only i make bags (which is not bloody work...unless you stick yourself with a pin, which hurts like hell and bleeds a surprising amount). i'm not town proud because i love pittsburgh to death. i would probably love living in portland, too. i'm town proud because this is where i live and make a living and am raising a family. i like it here. i'm happy here. i have friends here who are building lives in a similar manner to my own. you may like it here, too. but, don't bash portland. there's annoying people that are full of themselves here in the 'burgh, too. just as there are everywhere. so, that's all of my rant...i'm tired and overworked and headed back to work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

handwoven scarves

I'm pretty sure you all know how much I love nicely handmade scarves.  I am not a knitter or a weaver but I am a maker and I really appreciate seeing something that has been produced from someone else's finely honed craft.  These scarves are handwoven in Germany.  They're nice.
top, middle, bottom.