Sunday, February 28, 2010

6 Days to the first Craft Show!

That is right - in 6 days I'm taking the leap from online sales to local, in person, table-top selling! I'm so excited!

I've always had some of the necessary ingredients for being an entrepreneurial crafter... I have 1) had a steady stream of creative projects flowing since earlier than I can remember, and 2) attempted to make sales. Not always successfully. I remember one ill-advised roadside stand I set up when I was 7 or 8 to sell the shed exoskeletons of cicadas... I believe they were going for 1 cent each, but for some reason the only person who bought one was my 4 year old sister.

But now we're actually making it official- tax reg. and all. And insects (at least for now!) are not part of the inventory. So, without further ado:

Cabin Fever Crafters Show
First Congregational Church
Saturday March 6, 2010 9am - 2pm
43 Silver St, Greenfield, MA 01376

I know a few other great vendors who will be attending, so come and join us if you are in the area!

In the meantime there is a lot to do. I'm knitting as fast as I am able (later shows this summer will focus on my artwork instead), making labels and working on setting up an attractive table. This show is a small one which will be ideal for my first attempt.... what fun!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Vermi-update

I'll admit right off that the worm's compost bin has been going through a rough patch. Everything was great at first, but then an odd smell arose and many of the red worms went mushy. Not fun. Instead of happy, healthy red worms I now had a bin full of food and millions of little tiny wriggly white worms. THEY seemed happy, but what was going on?!

After some research and soul searching, I think I have the answer. The little white wrigglers are "pot worms", a member of the family Enchytraeidae and so related to the regular red worms. They really love acidic and somewhat anaerobic conditions. Pot worms themselves aren't harmful to the regular worms, but the conditions on the other hand... These are problems brought on by overfeeding, especially of foods like starches (rice, potato), citrus, and onion.

I was guilty guilty guilty of over-enthusiastically feeding most of my worms to death! Happily the little white worms were continuing to eat, so the smell was back to normal and the food was slowly disappearing. I added another few newspapers worth of shredded paper to dilute the food and decrease the moisture content a little, and for the past week I have been mixing the bin every day and not adding any more food.

At this point I have found several healthy red worms hanging out, including a mating pair! I did not get a picture of this (seemed wrong, somehow) but if you've just gotta see what this looks like go visit this awesome worm blog.

Here is a picture of the little white worms- its a little out of focus so hopefully it won't squeam anyone out too badly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dreaming of Spring

Yet another winter storm warning tonight and tomorrow and we're all starting to feel the winter gloom. However, spring is just around the corner and it is garden planning time. To keep motivation high, it seems like a good time to share some photos from last year's deck garden. I have to say, my Earthbox experience was a WONDERFUL one. Don't let their gimmicky sell turn you off... for a limited garden space (like our 8x10 2nd floor balcony) they really work.
Lettuces, broccoli, pearl onions, herbs, spinach... we started out small in late April.
May brought peas and salad.
By June we were in full swing, complete with 8-ball zucchini. In July we had a jungle and were eating fresh from the garden practically every day.

But in August we moved. The plants were adopted by some lucky friends... the transportation was quite amusing.Spring is almost here... and may all your gardening dreams come true!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greening the Post Office - Sewn Parcels!

Lovely snowy day here- greened the (nearly daily) trip to the post office in two ways.

1. Walked. I love the days I get enough time to make the 2 mile round trip on foot (or bike in the summer). Today was especially great due to the fresh snowfall.2. Sewn packages! I have to admit that this was not all my idea. I have been trying to use recycled materials in my packaging as much as possible... I hate all of the waste that usually goes with mailing.

Because I wasn't sure if it could go in paper recycling or not, we have a huge stack of brown paper padded wrapping that was around all of our artwork during our recent move. The sheets are huge but can be cut into manageable chunks easily enough. If folded and taped this wrapping made a perfect envelope for my cozies to sail through the mail.... but the amount of tape necessary was ridiculous, expensive, and certainly not green.

Enter my AMAZINGLY brilliant mother! "Why don't you just sew them?" she asks.... Brilliant! A few little zig zags later we really had something. Cute, tough, and ready for the post. Now all I had to do was add the item and tape the edges closed (or sew if I felt really industrious and had left enough of an edge.) Let's recap:

1. Cut wrapping material (brown paper etc) into sizes appropriate for what is being mailed.
2. Fold sides and sew down 2 seams with a zig zag or other strong stitch
3. Add item to mail- if it is a little more fragile, like a CD in a jewel case, you can wrap it in some left over bubble wrap first.
4. Sew top or tape closed.
5. Walk to the PO and ship!

I sewed a whole bunch of packages at one time since I know the size I'll need most - this saved some time.

I hope this was helpful - everyone is welcome to share their own green ideas!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Big 50!

Made it to a total of 1/2 century of sales on Etsy today- help us celebrate by taking advantage of free shipping on almost all of our items for the rest of the day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gold Medal Pie

Happy Olympics everyone! We had a lovely evening watching the opening ceremonies - the floor of the arena was just amazing and we always have a good time watching the athletes walk in with their matching outfits. I figured that this was as good of a time as any to break out the February Pie.

I was a little torn on what to make (don't worry, the suggestions are just biding their time)... but it came down to what I actually had in the house. I settled on the Very Cranberry and Pear Pie in Ken Haedrich's PIE book. Festive, red (like Canada's color), and very delicious! I probably can't publish the recipe here for legal reasons, but it involved cranberries (frozen from Thanksgiving), ripe pears, cardamon, cinnamon, and a brown sugar/nut topping. How can you go wrong with that? Enjoy the pie-y pictures!

Monday, February 8, 2010

And the winner is...


You can find her very nifty blog HERE - Congratulations!
Results were generated by Thank you everyone for entering!

Friday, February 5, 2010

One more day... news and ... book reviews!

That's right, one day left to enter the cozy contest- go to THIS LINK to see the easy rules and win. International entrants are welcome and don't worry, even if your favorite cozy has temporarily sold out, I think we can make a new one for you :o)

For those of you who would rather knit your own heart cozy we can now accommodate - check here! (this one counts in the contest too!)

Cozy shipping for any ordered between noon Friday 2/5/10 and Sunday 2/7/10 will be shipped Monday.

Reviews! We seem to have been ignoring the geekery posts promised, so I thought I'd talk about some recent (post-holiday) reading.

1. City of Thieves by David Benioff:
This quick read takes place in World War II ravaged Leningrad (or Piter according to natives of the city), loosely in the form of a flashback. The characters are vibrant, alive, and living through the terrible hardship of a city under siege. Told through the eyes of a boy just reaching adulthood it is a gripping and suspenseful novel, full of close escapes and close not-escapes... I thought that the ending was a bit predictable but it was still an amazing tale, more so because the author really did his homework and the bleak Russian landscape comes alive.

2. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling:
Ok, here is the real geekery. Set firmly in the Steampunk provenance, this novel combines Victorian sensibility, vast calculating engines relying on gears, dinosaurs (most notably the doomed Brontosaurus), smog, and a feeling of overwhelming foreboding. Poets are turned scientists and it is very much a London of "what if". There are several main characters, but the story arc tends to use them and then leave them for dead (quite literally in a few cases) so it is a little hard to become too invested in the story. As a piece of hard steampunk and a bit of a mind bender this book is great... for more satisfying reading I may look elsewhere.

All right- have a GREAT start to your weekend, and go enter the contest if you haven't already done so!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stir fry for dinner, great lunch for the worms!

Almost a week has passed since we started our little worm farming operation and all appears to be going well. I started out feeding slowly to let the little composters settle in, but now we're ramping up. For instance- we had a lovely veg-filled stir fry for dinner last night, and today the worms get the great veg scraps.
Mmmm. I am adding water via spray bottle (conveniently at hand due to its other use as a "bad cat" sprayer) every few days, otherwise the bedding seems to dry out too much. The compost bin smells earthy and good, just like they say it should.
Worms do not love the camera it seems, so I guess you'll have to take my word for all this. That's all the update for right now- remember to enter the cozy contest!