Two girls. Two plus years of friendship.

One store devoted to making life a little more bearable.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fight like a Girl.

Gentle Readers,

Perhaps you've wondered where I have been recently. Perhaps you have even missed me in my absence. Or perhaps you did not notice the absence. If indeed the latter is true, resist the urge to tell me so.

I took a break from blogging last week to start spending some free time AWAY from the computer or the television or any other appliance that could be enjoyed by sitting down. I got up and got moving.

Here is the proof:

Let me remind you that exercise does not come easily to me. I am neither lithe nor limber. There are no long, lean muscles in my arms or legs. In fact, I am fairly convinced that the strongest muscles in my body at the moment are indeed all found in the seat.

However, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. (Yes, I am catching the tail end of it, I realize, but unfortunately my powers of organization are about as well developed as my tricepts. Besides, breast cancer awareness may be highlighted each October, but it is a subject serious enough to warrant action year round.) Lots of studies suggest that moderate exercise decreases one's risk of breast cancer dramatically.

One more reason to tie those tennies and hit the pavement.

Please note that my newfound (nearly week old) commitment to exercise did require several new outfits, including the one pictured above--appropriately pink, I think!

In fact, shopping is another great way to fight Breast Cancer--one that comes much more easily to me than a couple of sets of jumping jacks.

Lots of great etsy sellers have created special listings with profits going to Breast Cancer research and treatment.

I bought this art card from Stiletto Heights:

She did a series of several for charity and I was lucky enough to grab this one. I love the vintage screen queens--like Garbo and Monroe and Hepburn (both of them--actually) and this original art card really captures their glamour and mystery so well. This card is even more beautiful in person. I can't wait to frame it. If only this exercise would lead me to that kind of hourglass figure!

Nevertheless, any good workout ends with a nice cool shower. This soap by Kopah is the perfect way to scrub down for a cure.

This soap is appropriately pink grapefruit scented and couldn't be a prettier reminder of the need to be aware. I love grapefruit and after sweating it out at the gym, I really appreciate a fresh clean scent. I think these are the perfect way to pamper yourself just a little! Oh and don't forget that just before or after a shower would be the perfect time to do a self exam.

Finally, I want to highlight Paws For Beads--a shop that typically donates profits to animal welfare charities, but which has created the following ornament for Breat Cancer Awareness. I love the gold leaf!

Is there a more beautiful way to remember that Breast Cancer effects women in all places, at all stages of life, in all the months of the year? I don't think so.

In all the Halloween hoopla, I hope you don't forget to hug the survivors in your life and hit the pavement (and the stores!) for your own health.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Give it up for Halloween!

me and my sister performing Under the Sea, 1991

Candy corn and make-believe--what's not to love about Halloween?

My mother (who routinely worked sixty hour weeks outside the home, who cooked our meals and never missed a school program, who went to the grocery store every single day though she hates the grocery store, who still laughs at all my jokes--even the really bad ones) made my halloween costumes. With a sewing machine.

For those of you in the etsy community, this will seem like no big deal. After all, the revolution is handmade, no? But I am not from a family of crafty people.

My grandmother's great loves: matching accessories, gold purses, shopping bags, clearance sales.
My grandmother's hates: needles of the knitting or sewing variety, working from home, following a pattern.

And the mother doesn't fall far from the tree so to speak.

However, each year my mom got out the singer and got to work on the costume of my dreams. I was a gypsy. I was a genie. I was swaddled and sometimes stuffed into costumes of satin and sequins, felt and fake fur--and always love.

As happens more and more in my adulthood, I find that I am not quite up to par with my mother. I am more laid back, more lazy, maybe even more tired than this woman who is apparently totally tireless. Also I have no sewing machine. So this year, I bought costumes for my nephews who live in the UK.

I made a mistake though and now I have an extra costume. You see, I did learn from my mother and from my grandmother before her that everything should match. (See my grandmother's loves above). After twenty-six years, the impulse to put two related things together is almost pathological.
Etsy and Katie are slowly breaking me of the habit. Note that we are big on coordination in the shop and we don't worry so much about actually matching. But it takes time. Meanwhile, I bought my infant nephew a lion costume, but couldn't find one for his older brother. Even after a hunt worthy of a Hemingway short story, I couldn't find a tiger. Or a zebra. Or a four legged animal of any kind. So I went back to the drawing board and bought the toddler a darling octopus costume and got the baby a matching goldfish swaddle.

Now, I have this lonely lion costume:

It comes from the Children's Place and is a brand new 0-6 month costume with a body piece that you could wear over a shirt, a matching head piece, and two booties. Unfortunately, you can't tell from the picture that it is new because in my haste (before I knew how hard it was to get a second safari animal costume) I took it out of the packaging. If you know a little lion in waiting who is without a mane or tail at the moment, leave me a comment. I will be conducting a raffle Saturday morning for this costume and will send it to the winner priority mail, so that it will be sure to get there in time for Halloween festivities.

To be honest, I am not even sure whether they do trick or treating in Wales the way we do it in Texas. I get the impression that British people are willing to buy their own candy and don't need to resort to begging for their tootsie roll fix. But I could be wrong. Anyway, I bought my nephews their costumes not because they needed them, or even because they would particularly appreciate them (they are really only babies), but because it allowed me to slip into that Halloween world where anything is possible and everyone is transformed.

For one day a year, you can be a fish or a bird. You can be a plane or you can be Superman. You can be the wicked witch or you can wear the ruby slippers. That is the homemade magic of Halloween.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What a Wonderful World...

Today, bloggers around the world have committed to taking up the cause of the environment. I decided to post some photos that Richard and I took while visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. We took them so that we could send copies to our 2-year-old nephew, Kai. (Unfortunately, Auntie Rachel has been busy and Kai is yet to see them.)

He's going through a phase in which he is fascinated by photos and since we live on the other side of the world (Kai is a native of Wales), he sees us far more often in print than in person. Actually, there was an unfortunate period in which he had me a bit confused with Al Gore. Thank goodness it was mostly in the name and not in the look.

Don't get me wrong--I think Al Gore looks pretty good for a middle-aged man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. But while I am somewhat flattered that my nephew confused me with a Nobel Prize winner, I do want Kai to think that I look slightly more--feminine.

Apparently, the confusion was never about look but about sounds. The names Rach-el and Al Gore sound a bit alike to a very clever young Welsh boy. I don't really hear it myself, but I have a hard time making my own voice or the voice of my interior monologue stretch to a Welsh accent.

Oh I hope that Kai someday understands what work Al Gore has inspired, the work that is yet to be done. I hope Kai lives in a world where we value the future--his future--as much as we value our own creature comforts. I hope Kai lives in a world where all the creatures pictured still exist.

After all, I may live on the other side of the world from my nephew, but it is such a small planet.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Come on Eng-a-land.

Today we practiced the other other religion--RUGBY.

Richard, Lizzie (my sister), and I headed to Fado, a local Irish pub that claims to have the best Guiness in North America, for the England v France semi-final game of the Rugby World Cup. For our part, we stuck with lager and ale. None of that Irish stuff today. We were channeling England all the way.

Before the game, Richard gave Lizzie a long tutorial in the rules. Before the game, I tried on four different outfits until I landed on the one that a) best represented the flag of St. George, the symbol of England and b) did not make me look fat. Hence, I still don't know the difference between a prop and a flanker. Nor do I appreciate the significance of the 22 yard (or is it meter?) line.

But, I am sure that Lizzie and I were the cutest ones in the pub.

Before you get worried that I have developed a big head, please understand that there were maybe 5 women in the place because most wives/girlfriends/sisters of the rugby fans at Fado would probably not have been caught dead in the mosh pit of men, sweating and screaming, "Come on England!" One guy scootched past me and the ripe stench that hung on the air after he was long gone suggested that he had been playing International Rugby, not watching it in an air-conditioned pub.

Even my darling mild-mannered husband transforms into a hooligan when it comes to Rugby. Once, when we were dating, he screamed in anger at my flatmate who changed the station while Rich was watching the rugby. I had run upstairs to put on a sweater and by the time I got back, Richard said, "Get your coat, Rach, we're going home." In that moment, he was Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart--some classic Hollywood leading man, taking charge and taking care of the little woman. It might have been really romantic. Except I was already at home.

Today, Richard encouraged his team in his usual sweet way--most of the time. He was the only one in the pub saying, "Good play, lads. Keep it up" But when a Welsh man dained to cheer on France at a pivotal moment, I heard my darling husband yell back: "Traitor!"

I must say that this is not his normal attitude. In fact, we got home from the game this evening to find that a gift we'd bought for our newest nephew, Finnlay--who is a native of Abergavenny, Wales--was waiting for us in the "post box." Charlie and Sarah created this custom long-sleeved onesie for the little guy using a block printed design from their British Flashcard collection and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. I plan to buy a matching one for Rich soon so that he and one of his favorite Welsh citizens will match.

Finn--just remember that you may be "mini" now, but someday you'll be bigger and when the time comes, we'll be happy to watch you play rugby, even if you do play for Wales! (Well, at least Auntie Rachel will...)

But back to the game...after 80+ brutal minutes, England won! This is the face of a boy who has just pulled his wife to him in excited revelry (nothing to do with the beers he had--absolutely NOTHING):

I am now quite the fan of Rugby, myself. Anything that makes a man grab his wife like this has got to be good. Next weekend, we'll be back at Fado's for the finals and I'll be screaming, "Come on, England" with best of them.


P.S. I know that I married the right man because of the following conversation:

Me: That number 11 guy is pretty hot!

Rich: Who, Josh Lewsey? Yeah, he reminds me of the guy on the Gilmore Girls that you are in love with.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I know why the caged bird sleeps.

My father says that I am like a little bird--not, mind you, because of my bone structure or my peckish little bites. I wish. Unfortunately, nothing about me is delicate, mostly because I am indeed often quite peckish.

No. My father says that I am like a caged bird, one that needs her caretakers to drop a black cloth over her cage so that she knows it is time to sleep. When I was in high school, he felt it was his job to lower the darkness each night. He went around the house in his red bathrobe, turning off all the lights and then he would say, "All the lights are out. Everyone else is in bed. It's okay for you to go to sleep now."

You dad understands the reason I don't like to sleep. I hate to miss out on anything. I don't want you to have fun without me just because I'm getting 40 winks.

As I am still reminded, one of my first (and favorite) sentences as a toddler came in response to my parents' entreaties that it was time for a n-a-p. "But," I said, "my awake." Note: pic to left is me, circa 1982--standing near the bed and demonstrating just how bright-eyed i can be.

Tonight, I am dead-dog tired, but have I put on my PJs? Started my nightly ablutions? No way. Everyone else is up, so my awake too.

And as I most certainly am awake, I did a quick search to find some of my favorite etsy bird items.

I love these cards from JJB Studio. The original line drawings are darling and the details are great--especially the songs made of antique sheet music. Maybe if I buy these, I can write little love notes to friends and family next time I am trying to while away the evening hours (tomorrow night.)

Kitty Empire also has this fantastic messenger bag featuring a freed bird. I'm a big fan of Kitty's work. I recently featured another vegan friendly messenger bag from this shop in my laundry treasury (for a pic check out my previous post) for etsy.

I think I have a new favorite from Kitty's shop.

Finally, I want to highlight this amazing brooch from Wired called "First Frost." I recently bought a similar one in a different color pallette (love the muted, winter colors of the one below) for a member of my family--one of the few family members that I am hoping does not keep up with this blog!

It was more beautiful in person and could not have been an easier transaction. Craig--the artist behind Wired--was so so nice and completely went out of his way to make a piece that was not just good enough, but perfect for my loved one. I can't recommend his shop highly enough.

Okay, it's taken me an hour to complete this post and no one in my family has made a move towards sleep. So here I sit, anchored to the couch and holding my eye lids open. Still awake and still shopping!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Jig is Up!

So I don't think that I can say that our products come from a pet-free environment...

This photo was taken moments after Richard tried to entice the cat with a pair of shoe laces. See how well it worked?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Kitchen Confidential

In my house, it's biscuits and butter--the old fashioned kind that are made with baking soda so they are a little bit salty. And chocolate cake with cinnamon and pecans. And potato soup with lots of black pepper. All from scratch.

By the way, isn't scratch a wonderful word?

These are the ordinary family meals that our lives are organized around. (We're carb people!) My great-grandmother made the biscuits first. She fed them to her children for as many meals as they could tolerate during the depression.

My mother made them for her own children as a special Saturday morning treat. At our house, they were served with butter and jam and syrup.

Now my husband makes the same biscuits to go with his soups. They are a part of my favorite evening meals--the ones that bring comfort against the cold or solice at the end of a difficult work day.

Life seems to happen around the kitchen table and it is those most ordinary moments that I also bring me comfort and solice when my world is rocked.

Today I am listing a new memory board in our etsy shop. I think it is totally darling in a bright kitchsy sort of way.

I already want one for my kitchen--one to hang up reminders, one to hold our memories, one to recall the laughter and love we've already shared together, so often in that very room. I look forward to the special Saturday morning breakfasts and the birthday parties to come. I want my own children to know that despite our sometimes meager means, we are rich in the things that matter--chocolate cake and love. And these are the recipes that will be their most precious inheritance, the thing that links us to those we've loved and lost.

I often think that when I am older, I will be able to look back on the tapestry of my life and find that the common thread that binds my memories together is baking soda biscuits.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Other Religion

Here in Texas, we have two things that sustain us--faith and football. Faith in Football. Even better.

It's October and the football season is in full swing. My sister and I took Richard to his first Longhorns game a couple of weeks ago. It was a rare treat. They even won! Unfortunately for Richard, we cared more about how we looked in our burnt orange regalia than we do about the rules. He had to make a friend in the guy sitting in front of us just so he could follow the game.
When I see the event through his foreign eyes, I can understand what a spectacle it must seem--80,000 fans screaming from the stands as a live steer watches on the sidelines and a cannon goes off each time the team scores. Everything really is bigger in Texas.

It's also hotter--a lot hotter. And though football season has begun, we're still waiting for the weather to catch up here.

So I've decided to feature a few etsy items that are part of my fantasy football season.
The first store that I want to feature is See Also. I love the color and detail in these mittens, particularly the swirling brown loops on a fresh green mitten. Don't they match the new look of the blog well? I think they would be mine if it weren't so summer here.

And the "mismatched" pair in blue and brown is so fun. When I am a grown up, I want to have the kind of unanticipated coordination of this pair of mittens, unexpected and yet fitting as they are. If anyone could make mittens look sophisticated, See Also can. Besides, I noticed that the shop is located in Canada. Personally, I think Canadians know their mittens.

At my dream football game, I would walk through the stands, the crunch of autumn leaves beneath my feet and a cup of hot cocoa in my be-mittened hand. I would yell like a cheerleader (and look like one too!). With all that yelling, I'd need a nice scarf to keep my throat warm and in prime cheering condition.

For this, I'd turn to Little bit funky's store for this little number. As you can see, I love the chocolate and aqua combination. In fact, this fantasy scarf would look great with my fantasy mittens!

I also like the width and the slightly open weave. It has a real unisex feel. In fact, Richard would be grateful to have a new scarf I think. I "knitted" one for him one winter when he was in London and I was in Texas. Suffice it to say that Little bit funky has a little bit on me in the knitting department.

Finally, I think every couple attending a football game should have a blanket to snuggle under. Like I said, the rules of the game don't mean much to me. I know that makes me a football agnostic or something, but it's true.

I'd take snuggling any day.

For my favorite blankets on etsy, you would have to go to Lindy Lou. These patchworks of coordinated Amy Butler fabrics in muted blues and greens are right up my alley. Seriously, check out my store and understand why Lindy Lou might just be a soul mate. (I have my eye on some pillowcases in her store too!)

The major catch here: these blankets are for babies and at present there are no babies that reside in my house. But then this is my fantasy.

Maybe someday, Lindy lou will make blankets big enough for grown ups.

Maybe someday, I'll have a baby to wrap up in one of her blankets.

I certainly hope so.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dirty. Dirty. Dirty.

Well no, not really. My latest treasury at etsy is devoted to laundry day.

To be honest, I haven't had to participate in laundry day at my house lately. I have a stay-at-home husband at present and he is kind enough to take care of this routinely. I am a very lucky girl.

So in honor of him--the man who refuses to use anything but a clothesline, much better for the environment that way--and in hopes of passing along my good karma, I am featuring several sellers with laundry related products.

Some of them even make the process look fun.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Buy and Replace Debate

For those not familiar with etsy (and seriously, if you aren' the link and discover the wonderful world that awaits), the phrase "buy and replace" probably makes absolutely no sense.

Oh what wonders await you at etsy. (click the link. click the link.)

The Buy and Replace concept works like this: a list or treasury is made with a number of sellers. If you buy something from one of those sellers, your shop replaces theirs in the list or treasury.

Some people love BnRs (as the etsians say). Some people don't. I have been putting us forward in them a bit lately because I am doing a lot of my holiday shopping on etsy and I might as well get us some publicity too.

Here are some Buy and Replace opportunities that you can find us at right now:

Check us out there and tell me what you think of the Buy and Replace concept.

Monday, October 1, 2007

One day at a time...

So as I type this (ignore what blogger says at the bottom of the post), it is nearly 2 AM on the morning of October 1.

We're celebrating 10/1 over at etsy by offering our photo mats one at a time--for the first time.

Check out our store as we will be listing quite a lot this week.

So far--we've sold one of these funky monkey mats this evening (or morning). Wahoo! When I first saw this fabric, I thought it would fly out of our hands. Not so...yet. My sister says that is because some people love sock monkeys and some people are afraid of them. I am in the former category. She is in the later.

Question of the day: (in her best newscaster voice) Where do you fall on this crucial sock monkey matter?