Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I haven't much to say today. The whole day I was listening to news, reading news, and watching news. I was doing other things, but I was keeping up with the day's events. The shooting that took place at Chardon High School is just a few miles from my home. The Walmart that they used as a triage is My Walmart. And the School is one we were recently considering sending my Grandson to. This is hitting a little too close to home.

I won't say much more, only that no matter how mature and sensible you think your teenagers are, they all have the ability to be confused, or hurt, or angry in an instant. No matter what you think, your teenager can be unintentionally hurtful, or confused enough to hurt back. Don't let them just sit in their room with their computers, talk to them about life and what they think about the world. They won't want to talk to you, but it's important that you let them know how you feel about things.

A boy in my son's High School class killed himself in his grandparents garage. A girl in my daughter's class, took her friends out for a drunken joy ride, and killed herself. I know the girls mother and she was a good woman and mother.

Follow your kids on Facebook and Twitter.

I am so sorry for the family of DannyParmertor who lost his life today. I am also sorry for the young man who did the shooting, because I think he was confused and didn't really realize the end result of his actions. His life is lost too.

And to the families of Russell King Jr and Demetrius Hewlin. And all their loved ones. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shops I Like - The Little Red Door

I haven't done this in a while, not because there aren't shops I like, I love so many it's difficult to choose. I haven't done this feature because, quite honestly it takes a lot of time to get the images together the way I was doing it. I really need to find a quicker way to make this post. Because there are so many shops that I love, that in the future, I will be featuring 3-5 shops a week.

This week however I will dedicate to one of my sponsors, The Little Red Door. I've admired this shop since forever, as she was right there when I first started on Etsy. I adore her little houses. They are the sweetest. And she will custom make them for you and there is even the Breast Cancer Hope version with proceeds donated to the  Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. These are real ceramic houses too, not polymer. And crafted with loving hands.

If you haven't already visited the shop, please take a look. You won't be sorry. If you have been there, stop in again. I'm sure there is something new for you to love and treasure in your own home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Evah! - a Taste of China

OK, it's not all as bad as you might think. There are some parts of China that have McDonald's and Wendy's, and even Starbucks. Well that is if you like corn and shredded carrots on your burgers instead of Lettuce, pickles and tomato. I'm not sure they even know what Mayo is there. Not really sure I want to ask them.

I do remember a companion trying desperately to get a glass of milk to settle his stomach. We were staying in a Chinese hotel where no one spoke English. We finally called someone to translate and he got at glass of reconstituted evaporated milk. There was no fresh milk available. That particular hotel tried it's best to satisfy international clients.

At the breakfast buffet this restaurant had an item marked sausage, but it looked incredibly like a hot dog. Tasted that way too. Forget ketchup, you get soy, or some other stuff that looks and tastes a lot like Kitchen Bouquet.

I have eaten in many different restaurants in the East and eating things you wouldn't feed to your cat. My favorite type of restaurant is the seafood restaurant where they keep huge tanks of all kinds of sea creatures and fish. You pick out what you want and it gets prepared the way you like. I never picked, because other than the eels and spiny lobsters, I had no clue what anything was.

Those are the good restaurants that are usually safe to eat at. Used to be that many restaurants weren't sanitary. They didn't wash dishes properly. It is a custom still when eating with Westerners, to take your first pot of steaming hot tea and wash your bowls, plate and chopsticks with the hot water. This way they will be safe. I have however been given greasy plates and was very glad of the boiling tea water.

In the bigger cities, there are many international restaurants. People have found they can make a decent living off of all the international business people working at the factories. There were a lot of Argentinian restaurants where I worked in Guangzhou. That food was good too. But when in China....

I liked the restaurant at the top of this post. You see those big pots? They aren't for decoration. A man makes soup in them every day. He waits outside the restaurant for customers to ask for the soup. The server will go out to the man and get a bowl of soup from him if you ask for it, and he gets paid. The restaurant does not make it's own soup.

That restaurant would make just about anything though. I did have frog there. They also served dog, although I wouldn't try that. At least I don't think I ever had any. You just never know what they will try to pass off on you there. A lot of Westerners will only eat in McDonald's, because they feel that's safe. But what fun is life if you play it safe all the time.

I've had Peking duck and I so love it. It's pretty special though and I rarely got it. The duck is hung and the skin inflated and cured, then the skin is crisped and the duck cooked. The best part is the skin, wrapped in a pancake around scallions in a soy dipping sauce. So yummy.

Once I went to this very cool restaurant where they made noodles in front of you. They took dough and stretched and folded ad stretched and folded over and over until there was a huge bundle of fine noodles.

And there was this tea that was served by a man with foot long fingernails from a teapot with a 3 foot long spout. They shoot the tea across the table into your cup. Scary but cool  - and the tea? My fave Ba Bao Cha or Eight Treasure Tea.

I also had the pleasure of Pizza Hut in Taiwan. The factory owner was so pleased to be able to offer us this. But Pizza in China is not quite like ours. The crust in not risen, no yeast, and again, there's corn and carrot slivers but the best part is the tiny unknown fish with their heads still in tact. Kind of like some unknown minnow. You eat them head, bones and all. Mmmmmm.

The Chinese prepare their food intact. They believe that all the body parts add important flavor. They also like to have the critters look at you if they can and the eyes are the tastiest part. They are kind, however, to Westerners who don't like to have their food look back at them. Usually you will eat beef, because it is taken off the bone after cooked, or served with bigger bone pieces. Chicken is usually chopped up with bone, so there are lots of bone splinters in it. Most Westerners don't know how to eat food carefully.

One day I watched as my Chinese companions, who ate fish so carefully with the tiny bones. I realized how we don't take the time to eat slow and truly appreciate what we are eating, like they do. They have to eat slow, or die with a sliver or bone in their throat or gut. I think I like how they eat much better.

I've eaten so many meals in China that I can't recount them all for you. Many scary, but I lived. Some International buffets in Hong Kong were unbelievable. But why don't you take a chance and try it out for yourself?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Life on Mars - Another Quiet Week?

Ha, I fooled you. No it was not quiet. My DD had a horrible sinus infection and was moaning in pain for days before she gave up and went to the DR. On Valentines Day we were invited next door for dinner by her MIL who felt that us eating Lasagna there was better than the steak dinner that DD's DH had to make for her. Of course she would rather have Lasagna with her MIL.

So early in the am,  both of us in pain get a call from MIL. Can she use our stove to cook the cake, because hers doesn't work? Great, we get one pan of batter. We bake and she comes over, "that's good I'll send over the next one in a few minutes". She only had one pan so she baked half at a time. Then she was going to make the lasagna later. We always save energy by planning what we need to bake at the same time. The freaking oven was on all day, and we really didn't feel like dealing with the nonsense that day.

Wednesday we got DD to the DR and got some meds. I did grocery shopping with a whopper of a neck ache and sinus headache. Later that day I heard from my DS who is at the Mayo Clinic, trying to find out if and when he's getting surgery. He was sent there by medicaid for 2 days of testing.

The second day my DS was at Mayo I got more updates. They really weren't sure, because they needed more tests that couldn't get approved by Medicaid. They are thinking that maybe he can hold of on surgery for a while, but that he needs a defibrillator to regulate his heart and start it if it should stop. Apparently because surgery is so difficult and the replacement valves only last so long, they like to hold off as long as possible.

Later that day I was writhing in pain with the worst headache I think I ever had. It wasn't sinus, it had to do with the neck ache and it was in the back of my head. DD and I passed the poor baby back and forth as we each had our moments of misery. After nearly 2 weeks of this, we were getting pretty weak too, and so behind on work.

Finally catching up on work. Car still not mobile, but it does start up. We are thinking the emergency brake cable is hung up. We are praying for a decent tax return. I won't have one, but DD might. I start work on it next week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What's Cooking? - French Market Beignets

This week is Mardi Gras. We usually make a king cake, which is basically sweet bread formed in a ring with sugar icing on top sprinkled with green and purple sugar. Stick a plastic baby in it after it bakes and you're good to go.

King Cake is a New Orleans, Mardi Gras tradition. That and a lot of drinking. I personally think I'd like a thick rare juicy steak for Mardi Gras, if I'm not supposed to eat meat for how many weeks of lent? The getting drunk think is not something I will miss or do miss, because it happens so rarely these days.

I've only been to New Orleans once, and it wasn't for Mardi Gras. That city is crazy enough on a regular weekday, or at least it was before the flood. I got my first tattoo there in the French Quarter. That's another very long story. I do have a family connection though. My step mom is from Louisiana and she has been to Mardi Gras many times. She loves it and sends us very cool beads from the casinos. And no, she doesn't expose herself to get them. You see when you're over a certain age, they give you beads if you promise NOT to lift your shirt.

I just had to post this yummy recipe for French Market Beignets (pronounced ben-yay). These are little square fried dough pieces covered in powdered sugar, usually served three at a serving, with coffee.

French Market Beignets

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105°f to 115°f)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
Sifted powdered sugar

Combine yeast and warm water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
Combine yeast mixture, evaporated milk, and next 3 ingredients. Gradually stir in enough flour to
make a soft dough. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface; knead 5 or 6 times. Roll dough into a 15- x 12 1/2-inch
rectangle; cut into 2 1/2-inch squares.

Pour oil to depth of 3 to 4 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Fry 3 or 4 beignets at a time, 1
minute on each side or until golden. Drain; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bizz Buzz - Storm Kit

I had a really bad two week period of illness. It came and went, but mostly came. My daughter was very ill to, so when I was OK, I had to help her with her kids. It kind of put a damper on my new design progress. I was lucky to complete orders I had and I really hope they were OK. There were days I was sewing, that I could barely see.

I thought today, that I have an emergency "Storm Kit" for the house in the event we get stuck here, or the power is out for a few days.I have water stored, and fuel stoves to cook the abundant canned and boxed food with. We have enough to keep us going for probably a week if needed. I could figure a way to run the lake water through our sink filter if we need more. But what about my business?

I'm really not prepared for an emergency with my business. We do have the phone to go on the internet to talk to buyers, but that won't work to list new items. I can't even really drive my laptop to a hotspot without a car. The most important thing is to stay in communication with your shops or websites.

I like to have a supply of most things I am selling on hand so I don't have to run to the store. I'd love to have a backup plan for product. My daughter could make most of my sewn items for me, but she can't make my jewelry. There are some in stock already made. Maybe I should tag them in stock, so that she could deactivate the jewelry I didn't have in stock.

Another great idea, is to leave a few details about your business for your family. I mean, you could slip on a muddy rock and hit your head and not wake up for a few days. Your family could package the things you have ready to go. I guess a detailed note would be a good addition to the "Storm Kit"

Think about the possibility of disaster and what you can do to keep your business storm proof, Are you Ready?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Evah! - Chinese Factory - Not Possible!

I was commenting on a post about biodegradable sneakers, when I thought of how hard factories in China would try to make these possible. One thing about Chinese people, is that they are clever an industrious. Not that there aren't lazy or sneaky, cheating, deceitful people there, just in general, most are hard working.

I also made mention that, although you will get anything you want, not without being told that "It's Impossible".

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been told by the workers or managers "that's impossible" or "no, we can't do that". Who taught those people that word anyhow? If you teach English to anyone Chinese, please do not teach them the word "impossible"

I've never even asked anyone at the factory anything that I couldn't do myself. So when I was told it was impossible, I would show them I could do it myself. If a carver said it was impossible, I would grab their tools, if a painter said they couldn't do it, I grabbed the paint and brushes.

Not really sure I could make eco friendly sneakers though. But even though the workers would like to complain, in the end they would always find a way to do what you wanted. I swear they just say it's impossible to make themselves look better when they finally complete the task.

I just can't begin to tell you though, how much clever and inventive ways my Chinese friends would come up with to make my wildest imaginings come true.

Images via http://www.chinaenvironmentallaw.com/2009/08/14/recyling-in-china/ and http://www.weirdasianews.com/2007/06/08/beer-sunshine-hot-water/

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life on Mars - A Week Abbreviated

I didn't post last week, because I was sick. I need to catch up with life so I'm giving you the abbreviated version of the week.

No ambulance or police visits, but MIL did get out of the Hospital, seems she was really sick last time.

Kids and Animals really do go crazy during the full moon.

Even if you throw the damn cat out the door for a few days he will still find a way to pee on the new carpet.

Cats with muddy paws will find their way onto the new sofa even if it's covered.

I know why God gave us fingernails, and, that She did intend for us to invent the sharp kitchen knife.

The human sinus can hold an absolutely astounding amount. My brain must be smaller than I thought it was.

I don't care enough about you all to blog when I feel lousy.

I can get hooked on Downton Abbey too.

Cars do not heal themselves. Damn things!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's Cooking? - F'oat Cheese or Faux Goat Cheese

I love Goat cheese, but sometimes it can be so expensive or not readily available. I made this easy spread when I wanted some goat cheese for my homemade Tapenade, but couldn't afford it. It came in handy when my DD was pregnant and not allowed to eat goat cheese too.

F'oat Cheese

1 package creamed cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Soften the Creamed cheese and mix with Parmesan. You can add herbs or garlic if you like.

This is so great on French bread or crackers with a bit of tapenade on top.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bizz Buzz - First Sale Doctrine and Copyright Infringement

This is not definitive information, just a lively conversation of what you might consider in the subject of copyright laws.

What with all the Buzz lately about SOPA and the possibly of sites getting shut down in the event of any mention of any copyrighted materials. I thought it would be good to have a discussion about the harm it potentially could have. I do agree that someone shouldn't profit from the sale of another's copyrighted material... to a point. (I'll explain in a bit).

 I do not think, however, that a theoretical discussion of say, a Disney Movie, or Dr Seuss' impact on society, or even an analysis of a piece of music or art, with examples, would be copyright infringement. This is how the law is written and there has been created a thin line between freedom of speech and copyright infringement.

In receiving a comment on one of my Bizz Buzz posts - Handling Buyers Requests, there was an unrelated comment about My Star Wars Apron as copyright infringement of the Entire Lucasfilm industry and that I should "thank my lucky stars" that George doesn't sue me. Well the very mention of the Star Wars franchise could get the blog shut down under SOPA.

I'd like to explain to you exactly why George Lucas wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court. It's called the First Sale Doctrine, and I will explain it shortly. This pertains to US copyright laws only.

I will, however, mention that may people do infringe on the Star Wars Franchise, from most of the over 5000 items listed on Etsy to the yodabot on twitter. A copyright in most cases lasts 70 years after the author's death. If you are copying the copyrighted name, image, logo created by someone else, you are infringing. There are 2 exceptions that I am aware of. And both are tricky in a court of law.

The first exception to copyright is parody. I am not going into this, but you are permitted by law to make a parody of copyrighted or licensed material. That's how shows like Saturday Night Live can do it and not get sued. Generally things like that are considered good publicity anyhow. Like I said, tricky, because some artwork could be considered parody too. But don't try to make a parody of Dr Suess or dare I use the word TWILIGHT!

Now to First Sale Doctrine

There is a nice little explanation of some DIY and Copyright laws on the "What the Craft" Blog.

Do not confuse First Sale Doctrine with Fair Use, which is the use of a trademark or copyrighted material for educational, news reporting and parody, but not for profit. 

Basically, when you buy something, you are the owner and can do whatever you want with it. You can take a Star Wars bed sheet and resell it on eBay, you can buy it again and cut it up and make Star Wars bags, hats, t-shirts, or even Aprons, and use the name Star Wars to resell them. You can even buy licensed Mickey Mouse charms, or Hello Kitty charms, put them on bracelets and perfectly legally sell them. You cannot take the charm, or a Lego and make a mold for soap or resin. That is not legal. You can't take the fabric and scan it in your computer and print the pattern on fabric. 

You see, I told you it was a thin line. For those of you who think My aprons are copyright infringement, how do you think that SOPA law will affect you, when you use your Robert Kaufman fabrics, or jewelry with your Herkimer Diamonds? And all those members of Congress that said they need a nerd to understand what SOPA meant? Well I think the makers of "Revenge of the Nerds" might have something to say about that.

And does anyone remember who wrote the Disney Classics, like The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Anderson), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo), and Snow White (Brothers Grimm)? Even Micky Mouse wasn't Walt Disney's sole creation. I could go on, but you know, Disney is great at defending their rights to licensed works created by deceased authors. I've also found other examples of Disney Studio Plagiarism: Finding Nemo and The Lion King

So what do you think? I don't want anyone to steal my designs (although I have) I've had a few of my original designs stolen when I was designing lighting. But I don't mind if someone pins my work or blogs about it. Where do we draw the line?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bizz Buzz - Life Without Etsy Part Deux

I had another post written for today, I bumped it to next week because I wanted to write this post about my amazing Daughter Poppy.

About a year ago, Etsy made an unfair decision to shut down Poppy's shop. She had been on Etsy for years and was a top supporter and a top seller of handmade original clothing designs. She also reconstructed shirts and there was where the problem lay. While she sells reconstructed shirts on other sites without problem, Etsy chose to remove her and all of her shops including one we shared, because of excessive flagging, even though her items were legally made and the flagging not valid. Etsy didn't listen to reason. You can read more about the incident in these past posts. Etsy Shop Closings

Poppy's clothes are beautiful, original and wonderfully comfortable and well constructed. She's amazing at her craft. Watching her design is a treat. She gets an idea in her head, lays out fabric and just cuts it. She takes her pieces to the machine and just like magic it's perfect. No patterns, no measuring and she can reproduce it over and over without pattern, in any size. I could never sew for her when she was in the hospital, because her patterns are all in her head. When she was on Etsy, she was on the front page regularly. You remember her adorable Poppy Longstockings I'm sure.

This month Poppy is Clearing out her Poppy shop on Artfire at ridiculously low prices as she prepares to close shop. She has to go back the the Genre fashion that brought her to Etsy from eBay. It makes me very sad, and I'm sure it makes her even sadder to see all of that wonderful work sold for practically nothing. But Artfire and eBay are a different animal than Etsy was.

Poppy will still have her genre shop, Poppy's Wicked Garden but that's her cash cow, not her heart and soul. I know how she feels, because I'm not selling my beloved product either, but I chose to try another path with it. Poppy has a new baby and doesn't have the time to try other markets, when she has product that sells.

So if you get a chance, stop by Poppy and pick up a great deal, or tell Poppy how great you think her designs are. She'll appreciate that.

Thank You Poppy for Making the world a prettier place.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Putting it Together - Selling your Craft Part Two

This week I'd like to send you to other blogs. Yes that's right, you heard me. I've been reading a lot of information to boost sales and there are some really wonderful resources out there.

If you haven't been to Handemadeology you should. It is just loaded with great tips for sellers, and while the focus is on Etsy, many of the tips are great for all internet selling. I do wish they would realize that there are more sites to sell on, but Tim Adams has a really great source of information in his site.
Look for the tab Etsy Selling Tips. Most relate to all of us.

My favorite site to browse is Oh My Handmade Goodness. They are just full of resources for sellers. they have great tips for growing your business in every way, where ever you sell. They are even working on a resource guide that will be available in April of 2012 at a suggested price of a $2 donation. What could be better than that? The sponsors will be picking up most of the cost of producing it. Oh My! Handmade Guide to Businessy Goodness make sure you check out that one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Giveaway Winner!!!

Not sure, this will get to the winner by Valentines Day, But I will try, because the winner lives in Spain. Congratulations Pili, You are the winner. Sorry to all the other entrants, but keep an eye on this blog because you may get a chance to have a great gift certificate on my blog.

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