Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Cozies In the Shop!

Excited to show you my new batch of cozies . . . quite a few more to come, too!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What difference can $560.32 make?

Here’s another update from Chicago’s Emergency Fund, the organization I’ll be donating 10% of my Etsy profits to this year. I’m posting some of the stories they send to supporters so you can have an idea of what impact they make in the Chicago area.

Lillia knows that Small Change Matters


That's how much Lillia, a little girl with nothing but a Small Change jar and a determined attitude, raised at this year’s Annual Meeting and Reception.
What's that? You didn't think the evening was meant to be a fundraiser? Neither did we! But with a little bit of encouragement from her father, Fund Manager of the Year Carl Wolf, Lillia convinced Community members to dig deep anyway.


That's enough to buy 249 bus passes, 51 bottles of laundry detergent, 28 IDs, or 11 work uniforms. It's enough to prove that Small Change Matters. Thank you Lillia, for your hard work, and thank you to everyone who contributed that evening.

* * *

I can’t wait to blog more about Emergency Fund’s annual reception and the Small Change Matters campaign!

Please, make a donation to the Emergency Fund today. Together we will make the small change that changes lives.

Donate today and your new or increased gift will be matched* by an anonymous donor!

*Double your impact! An anonymous donor is matching all new or increased gifts. That means that 100% of first-time gifts and gifts from donors who have not given since 2008 will be matched. For those who gave in 2009 or 2010, any amount above the highest annual gift amount in 2009 and 2010 will be matched.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lunch at the Shelter

A few weekends ago, my kids and I joined my friends at High 5 Functions to prepare and serve lunch at Lincoln Park Community Shelter.


Mural on the wall at LPCS. LPCS was recently awarded “Partner Agency of the Year” from Emergency Fund, the organization I’m donating 10% of my Etsy sales to this year. It was just a coincidence that my friends at ^5 chose to do a volunteer event at LPCS, a very cool coincidence!

LCPS is a comprehensive social service agency serving adult men and women who are experiencing homelessness. LPCS has been providing shelter and other basic needs to Lincoln Park’s homeless neighbors for 25 years. Today, LCPS provides interim housing, meals and a targeted array of social services to over 300 people each year. (from the LCPS website)

Check this out – I’m connected to LCPS in another way that I just realized, when looking up their website to get a description of their services. I’m a student in the Non-Profit Management program at North Park University, and the LCPS website says: At the annual symposium hosted by North Park University’s Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management Lincoln Park Community Shelter was honored with the prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence! This is a competitive field each year, with previous winners such as The Night Ministry, The Cara Program, and Deborah’s Place.

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Bennett (9) and Kori (11) eating a healthy breakfast of iced honey buns, waiting for the el (elevated train) to Ana’s house. We left Rian (3) at home with Daddy. He can help out when he’s a bit older.

First, we went to Ana’s apartment to prepare the food.


Here’s the ^5 team: Curt, Kelli and Ana. You’ve seen them before as a pirate, parrot and mermaid when they raced in the Chiditarod. These awesome folks are among my very favorite former co-workers, and though we don’t work together anymore, we’re still buds. You would be hard pressed to find smarter, funnier, cooler people with more energy and interest in the world around them. Love, love, love them. They are each rising stars, too – super awesome at what they do.

We were quickly put to work. The kids were given multiple copies of the placemats which had menu selections on the opposite side.

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Their job was to color up the placemats, and they took the directions to “be creative” seriously. They began using the salad bowl as a spot to personalize each placemat. They started with Chicago sports team names/logos and then moved into country flags.

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At one point, a Kelli and I came into the living room to see how the kids were coming along, and were telling the kids we liked the creativity they were using. We notice Bennett had just finished coloring a salad bowl with the German flag on it, and began writing something . . . we watched as each letter was formed, and seemed to understand what he was writing at the same time. Kelli and I both said, “Ohhh . . . OH! Um, ok, no, Bennett, I don’t think this one is going to make it to the shelter. Your sentiment is in the right place, but . . . no. Inappropriate.”

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Later, on the kitchen counter, an iPhone covered up the important part, allowing the placemat to send a very different message. This placemat is now awesome fridge art at Ana’s. I should note that I had to confiscate one more placemat that said R.I.P. and had a picture of the Undertaker (professional wrestler). No more messages, Bennett. ;)

So! While all this was going down in the living room, I was helping the rest of the team & volunteers in the kitchen and dining room. That’s me, holding up a tomato.

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After cooking up a hearty tomato soup, packing up the sammich fixins, mixing, freezing, cutting & bagging the peanut butter rice krispie treats and putting together the salad, we were ready to go!

Lincoln Park Community Shelter is housed in the basement of Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church. 

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The kids hung out in the conference room and played games while we got busy in the kitchen.


We butterrmarginerenened a whole lotta bread . . . and yes, that’s what we called it. The word changed every time we said it. That’s me & Curt next to all the margereinereetterd bread.


Lacey checking an order to be sure she was making the right sammie. That’s Jenny behind her, you may recognize her as the first mate from the Chiditarod!


Royal modeling his apron, daydreaming of a weekend at Martha’s Vineyard, while Jessica stirs the soup. Royal kept us laughing all afternoon. 


Ana was our grill master – we served a few different versions of grilled cheese sandwiches. It was pretty awesome – the lunch guests all raved about the food. The sandwiches were a hit, the soup was complimented over and over, the salad was called a “perfect summer salad” and everyone was happy that we brought a dessert that wasn’t chocolate. Take note, Chicago – serve something besides chocolate once in a while, dang! (You are free to always serve me chocolate). Oh, we also served tasty lemon water and cucumber water.

kelli jenny salad Kelli and Jenny prepare salads . . . closeup below!

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Here’s another great mural in the dining room.


We didn’t take a lot of photos of the guests, we didn’t want them to feel as though they were on display for us. I do want to note that everyone was exceptionally nice and appreciative of the time we spent there and of the quality of the food. Lots of compliments, smiles and thank yous all around. I would LOVE to serve here again, and I really want to go back and learn more about what LCPS does for the community.

The staff at LCPS were so kind and let us take over their kitchen. They thanked us over and over. One of the guests was helping out in the kitchen when we first got there, she was cleaning out the refrigerator and needed some help cleaning up some water that had spilled on the very bottom of the fridge. I’m crazy short, so I said I would do it, but she refused immediately, and said, “You are already doing so much here. No way.” That felt great, and we were so happy to serve, but the most credit should go to the people who run the shelter and the guests who also give of their own time and energy to help keep the place in working order and good condition. All the guests were appreciative of the lunch we prepared and thanked us many times. One guest wrote a special note of thanks to us on her menu.


Big thanks to the High 5 Functions team for setting up the volunteer session at LPCS and organizing the day. And even more thanks for continually spreading the word to their friends, co-workers and community members that serving our community is a fun and worthwhile way to spend some time. If you’d like to keep updated about the interesting ways they’ve gotten involved in our community, follow along on Facebook!

*  *  * 

Random, but on the way home, we saw a wedding party up on the Fullerton el stop. Dunno if their ceremony was there, but they took pics there. Fun!

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Dance Party Friday! Turn that frown upside down!

I asked for Dance Party Friday themes on Twitter this morning, and was asked to play something to help a friend wake up, and . . . polka. Now, I am no stranger to polka. You don't grow up with German and Czech family in central Kansas without going to a few weddings or state fairs or small town shindigs that have a lot of polka. And a lot of big skirts with 18 bazillion petticoats underneath. So - I am gonna give a shout out to my childhood, and my friend Kelli, and look for a song by her requested Polkaholics. And after that? We're gonna get into a session of songs that are just deliriously happy. They will make you smile or they will make you wake up or they will make you dance. But if you listen to these songs and still have a frown on your face or no pep in your step? Well, then you obviously have a heart of cold, cold stone.

Ok - The only good quality Polkaholics videos I can find have embedding disabled, so I'm gonna link them - No Beer In Heaven. But yeah, give them a listen, I like them. I will say, though - and I can't believe I am defending traditional polka - seriously, am I doing this? Yes, I am - their sound really just makes me think more ska/punk than polka. I mean, they have nice cheesy vests, and wear lederhosen in other videos, but where's the accordion?!?!

Here's what I sent my friend Sally so she could wake up. I might have to play this a few times in a row. F-U-N

Oh, middle school. Not only was this out when I was in 6th or 7th grade, but I had a girl crush on this chick named Angela who I thought was THE coolest ever. And she wore babydoll dresses and alice bands in her hair just like Lady Miss Kier. AND? Q-Tip is in it.

Ok - now I loooooooove dancing, line dancing, and OH HOW I LOVE THE CUPID SHUFFLE. This is a fun video where you can watch people doing the dance - if you like it, click through to YouTube and look at their other videos.

Ok, one more line dance - I really like the Wobble too. I probably like it as much as the Cupid Shuffle, but I just haven't had a chance to do it as much. This is a REALLY fun video to watch.

I've been a Harry Connick, Jr. fan since I was in piano lessons as a kid. My piano teacher started the Jazz Festival in Wichita, KS (my hometown) and I was telling her that I liked big band, so she let me borrow a HCJ *tape* (yes, cassette tape) and I was in love. This is one of my favorite songs.

The Indigo Girls' classic: Closer to Fine. If you haven't sung along to this at an IG concert with thousands of people, well, you've missed out on something special. It's only life, after all . . . yeah.

This is a horrible recording, but I cannot tell you the joy that coursed through my veins when I saw this episode of The Office where Jim and Andy drunkenly sing along to the Indigo Girls.

You know what? I don't care how overplayed this is, it's still a fantastic song.

Driving beat. Lots of "ow!"s and "yeah!"s. Horns. Sunshine. HAPPY!

Get thee to a local convenience with 2-3 of your closest friends and show the dude behind the counter what Dance Party Fridays are all about.

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid - the song and the video. Just TRY not to dance or bop around while listening to this.

I love Stevie's original but this is the version I listened to on my walkman on a mix tape from my friend Justin, over and over and over and over. You should have seen that mix tape - Dead Milkman, 24/7 Spyz, Pixies, Primus . . . I was a much cooler middle schooler than I am as an adult.

I hope every one of you has had the opportunity to both BE Rickrolled AND to Rickroll someone else. I pat myself on the back for having loved this song since I was a kid, before it was cool to ironically like it. This was 3rd or 4th grade for me.

Did a lip sync in high school to this with my friends Katherine & Carla (we also did a string of Beasties performances, I'll have to do a Beasties day & tell you about it then) AND I got to see this performed last summer when Rob Base, Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick, Salt N Pepa & Bell Biv Devoe came to the Taste of Chicago.

Man, I wish this group was together. I want to see them live.

You know all those "The ___s" bands that came out in the last 90s, early 2000s, with The Strokes, that were all supposed to save rock & roll? Well, The Hives are my favorites of all of those. They wear matching outfits and have names like Howlin Pelle, Arson, Dangerous, Destruction, Vigilante . . . I just love them. LOVE. THEM.

Yet another "I don't care what you think of me, I love this song and you can't make me feel guilty about it."

Great for a snack!

Tabloid footprints everywhere . . .

Closing out this DPF is THE happiest song ever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Changing Lives: Charlie and Maria

I’m excited to bring you some updates from Chicago’s Emergency Fund, the organization I’ll be donating 10% of my Etsy profits to this year. I’ll be posting some of the stories they send to those on their email list so you can have an idea of what impact they make in the Chicago area. Below is the first story!

* * *

If you met Charlie, you would see a regular eight-year-old boy. You would never guess that he was born three months early, that he weighed only one pound at birth, or that, as a result, he has permanent breathing problems.

This winter Charlie's mother, Maria, noticed that he was having more trouble breathing than usual, and that his symptoms were at their worst when she turned on the dirty gas furnace. Maria knew that using electric heaters to warm her home would be costly, but with her son's health on the line, she didn't have a choice.

Maria did what any mother would do, but that didn't help her pay the electric bill. With no one else to turn to, Maria came to the Emergency Fund for help. We helped Maria pay her electric bill, and a Fund Manager at Renaissance Social Services provided her with information on furnace cleaning.

Today Maria doesn't have to worry about keeping the lights on, and, now that the furnace has been cleaned, Charlie can breathe easy.

* * *

Next week I’ll be going on a site visit with Emergency Fund staff, and will then blog about the visit. Can’t wait!

Please, make a donation to the Emergency Fund today. Together we will make the small change that changes lives.

Donate today and your new or increased gift will be matched* by an anonymous donor!

*Double your impact! An anonymous donor is matching all new or increased gifts. That means that 100% of first-time gifts and gifts from donors who have not given since 2008 will be matched. For those who gave in 2009 or 2010, any amount above the highest annual gift amount in 2009 and 2010 will be matched.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dance Party Friday: ROCK OUT

Today's Dance Party is a rock 'n' roll extravaganza . . . these songs are one of my favorite genres of rock - at least the genre exists in my mind: hot rock . . . sex rock . . . sweaty, dive bar, driving fast in your car rock. Yeah, man. I think it's no coincidence that a lot of these rockers are in each other's bands.

Do you have songs that fit in this genre? What are they?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slowing Down This Handmade Train

So I set these goals for my Etsy shop this year. Update my brand (actually, MAKE a brand) and come up with new products. I’ve been pretty stressed out lately as I’m behind on most of the big and small goals I set for myself and my shop. Looking at my life right now, nothing else is slowing down, I still don’t have time to make these goals a reality, and I’m a little overwhelmed.

As such, I’ve decided to remember that some progress toward a goal is worth something.

Here’s my Some Progress List:

· I have come up with ideas and started work with a graphic designer for my brand.

· I have renamed my blog.

· I have found some great mentors and listened to their advice.

· I have made some decisions about what I will and will not do to market myself.

· I have come up with some ideas for new products.

· I have tested the products. Some have been successful, some still need some work.

· I may not get the new products out this year. I may decide not to do a big launch on these products. I may keep working on new ideas, working toward something I can be really satisfied with.

I was hoping to do all this by the fall so when my big sales season came around, I could be ready with a whole new shop & game plan. I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

But you know what? I have had 2 successful fall/winter sales seasons. I was successful far beyond what I thought I could be, and that was without all the fancy changes I’ve been trying to make. I hope to have a successful third year.

And if it takes until year four to make some of these larger changes and to meet my current goals, so be it. I am ready to dig back into the rest of my life and stop freaking out about something that is helpful to my family income, but is nowhere near the bedrock. I’ve been in this weird place for months now where Etsy stuff has taken over my thoughtlife when I should be doing other things, but I haven’t had the ACTUAL FREE TIME to devote to making those thoughts a reality. I’m tired of stressing about it, so I’m gonna stop.

This means my sense of urgency is going to die down, which means I will probably not be as heavily involved in all the handmade biz chit chat and planning and all that. Not saying I’m completely going away, but I’m allowing myself a bit of a break.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

They/We Wrote It, You Read It

Read what some other folks have to say . . . ok, I’ve said some things too. But mostly it’s other folks.

An Open House – my high school friend and her husband (who happen to be one of the most gorgeous couples I've ever seen, they kind of put me in the mind of Jennifer Connolly & Bradley Cooper from Hes Just Not That Into You - I'm seriously, they're so pretty it's ridiculous) sold all their stuff, bought an Airstream trailer and are traveling the country. This entry on their blog gives you a tour of their trailer, which they customized. Make sure to read through their old entries on the why, how, and latest adventures!

Handmade Philanthropy: How To Series – posts written by myself and others on the Handmade With Purpose Blog. How to . . . Decide If You’re Ready To Give Back . . . Who To Give Back To . . . What To Give . . . Approaching a Charitable Organization . . . Establishing Credibility.

Chicago Style Crafters Blog – Follow along as my local Etsy team writes about the Chicago handmade community with reviews, member bios, tips, questions and events! Here’s my first entry on Social Media – new social media posts will be posted every Thursday. The rest of the week, look for other awesome content!

What I’ve Learned About Marriage – thoughts on what marriage requires and how our parents’ marriages impact and shape us, by my Twitter friend.

Erase the Tape – another Twitter friend writes about those damaging thoughts that stick with us . . . that aren’t true . . . yet we still believe them.

From Inny Mini Biz to Mega Empire – Mayi Carles is my new favorite handmade/small biz guru. Watch this video and read the comments and tell me you’re not a believer. And hey – if you, like me, aren’t interested in a mega empire? Just a fun, successful, educational journey on this handmade biz road? The post is for you, too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Writing About Writing

Recently, an online friend of mine said something to the effect of, don’t apologize for your lack of blogging. Blog when you can.

That means a lot to me, though the truth is that I feel I’m letting myself down much more than anyone else, when I don’t consistently blog. This is because I have thoughts! Thoughts to share! Lots of thoughts! Full of opinions and questions! I want to tell you my thoughts, and I want to hear what you think about my thoughts.

Over the weekend I spent a great day volunteering with my kids and some friends. Next weekend I’ll be recovering from my employer’s largest event of the year (recovering from all the planning and making sure it goes off without a hitch, that is). So far, plans to find flowers for front yard planting, and visiting our local waterpark/pool are in the works. I imagine many weekends spent this way, though of course I will do some hiding from the heat inside with the air conditioning (what a luxury!!). Anyway, my point? My point is that all these things I want to write about, might not get written. Maybe not anytime soon, maybe not ever. Consider that I think of new things all the time to write about, I don’t see that changing anytime soon . . . my “to write about” list will just grow and grow.

I have no good solution, other than writing when I feel motivated and when I have the time. I guess we’ll see what turns up!

Here are some topics I’d like to write about:

  • Emergency Fund! I’d like to get some of their client stories posted. Two good things about this – my volunteering this weekend was at one of their partner agencies, the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, and later this month I’m going on a site visit with EF staff to Inspiration Cafe. These blog posts are going to be top priority for me to get written . . . but I want to do a good job of them, which puts the pressure on. I also want to write about their annual reception which they graciously invited me to, where they kicked off their Small Change Matters campaign.
  • I’d like to do a “day in the life” entry.
  • I want to continue with the series of posts I started a few months ago about Black History Month.
  • I would like to talk about some of the things that are frustrating and difficult about having a handmade business.
  • Faith, and where I’m at with mine.
  • Career thoughts and questions

So – no apologies, but yeah . . . I hope I can find the time to write about these things.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Multiple Mom Fails In One Entry!!

We’ll see if I actually publish this thing. Actually, we’ll see if I can write for 5 minutes without being interrupted. I’m taking the challenge from Veronica at the Crunchy VT Mommy blog, to do Stream of Consciousness Sunday, which is hosted at all.things.fadra.
Let’s see. I’m sitting in one of those foldup canvas chairs, on my front lawn, with the laptop on my lap, stealing someone’s wireless. My 3 year old just ran up to me to grab his shoes, we’ve been having quite a time outside today. First he was having fun with the neighbor boys as they chased each other, trying to throw water from a baby pool on one another. Then he got wet, and it was cold, and the game wasn’t fun anymore. I had to keep him from punching the kid who got him wet, so Fail #1 as a mom, I guess. My husband and I have this awesome parenting technique where I say, “violence is not the answer” and my husband says, “you have to show people you’re not a punk.”

Finally, all the kids tired of the water, mine got new dry clothes to wear, and now he’s running around with no shoes on. Which I’m cool with. My husband isn’t, though. I’m like, it’s just grass! I really don’t care if my kids get dirty and I’m not worried about them catching parasites. Mainly, I want them to not cut their feet . . . but that’s what eyes are for, AMIRITE?

Now he (the 3 year old) is mad because I won’t let him go inside someone’s garage to play. Sorry! Not really. While I don’t care about rusty, pointed objects piercing my kid’s feet, there is no way I’m letting him inside your home without me being there. Call me overprotective if you want. You can get the big WHATEVs.

Ok! 5 minutes are up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

OH, life

So life is ratcheted up to about the top level of crazy right now, and I don’t have time to give you anything of real substance. I’ll point you to some others who can. I work at a grad school and next Friday is our commencement (graduation) ceremony. I’m on the commencement committee, we’ve been working on this for months but as the date gets closer, the work level increases. So a week away from the ceremony means I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Next Friday, it’ll all be over. Next Friday, I’ll be consuming a few frosty beverages with co-workers. Next Friday, I will once again say, “I’m not going to work on that committee again next year!”

Anyway – I may not get around to Dance Party Friday or any posts after today. Get yourself to Pandora or YouTube or your mp3 player or even your local radio. Dance it all out. Say a prayer for me that I don’t lose it on someone during the next crazy-stressful week.

Blogs You Will Want To Read

every nothing wonderful

Tricia’s roundup of summertime citrus-y cocktails, with some of the most gorgeous photos ever! Can you say, blood orange?

Love Isn’t Enough

Good Whites/Bad Whites: A False Dichotomy Prevents the Anti-Racism Progress of White People – This is a great post that digs a little into the idea that racism isn’t just the overt violence we’re used to seeing on film. I don’t agree fully with the author’s final point – I agree with her but also think there’s still value in the TV show featured.

Chicago Style Crafters

This is my Etsy team blog. Sometime this week, I believe, will be a post from me about social media. The welcome currently on the page is from me & our team’s web captain.

Handmade With Purpose

Earlier this week we posted about why you should get in contact with a charitable org if you plan on donating shop/blog revenue to them, and how to do so. Would love feedback!

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