Friday, January 30, 2009

FRIDAY !!!!!!

T.G.I.F. !!!!!

Showcased:


One of my products is featured on another blog! Sumpinelse.com included my Loving Kitty Onesie in their Little Pleasures II series last night! I’m really honored to be shown there. Please check them out at http://www.sumpinelse.com/ and see their other great Valentine’s finds!!
_________


Today's Recipe:


I got the urge to make something good yesterday. After digging around the cupboards to see just what I had to work with, I found the goods for Pineapple Muffins! Want to try some of your own?


Pineapple Muffins
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. ginger (We LIKE them a little spicy!)
4 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup butter (or margarine), melted
2 ½ cups crushed pineapple, drained


Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, milk and butter and stir until smooth. Add the pineapple and mix well. Spoon into standard muffin tins, filling them ¾ full. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. (The tops only brown slightly.) My batch made 27 muffins.

I think next time I may add some chopped maraschino cherries to make them prettier to the eye!



From the “You have to laugh to keep from crying!” file:


We’ve all been so seriously commenting on the CPSIA lately that some of us forgot how healthy it is to have a good laugh. Our friend Sarah at http://www.starsapphire.etsy.com/ however, found a way to laugh about the CPSIA and wrote this humorous poem.


CPSIA, or A Half-Baked Idea
By Sarah Booth-Neades

The toys seemed so appealing,
The kids were very pleased;
So the ‘rents forked o’er their money
To the big toy companies.

And as the kids got older,
They seemed to be brain dead;
But how could Mr. Smiley have
Been double-dipped in lead?

The government got angry
When they looked at all the facts
They wrote a lot of garbage,
And then called it an act.

They didn’t think to tell the folks
Who made the paint and dyes,
To certify their product
Before they reached our lives.

They just cracked down on grandma, who
Makes toys to sell at fairs.
She now must pay a grand to sell
Her twenty dollar bear.

The government is satisfied,
And smiles, feeling tough;

Now Junior’s things aren’t made with lead –
Just all his family’s stuff!


*****
Sarah does the cutest little “candy crocheted goodies!” Check them out in her shop! www.starsapphire.etsy.com/ They look so yummy, they sort of made me hungry. Guess I’ll eat a mufffin.

Okay, gang! I think that's all for today. Enjoy your Friday!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weather's got me down!


Let it snow , Let it snow, Let it snow--- Someplace else. Please!!!
_______
I'm practicing mental imaging - thinking of a warm, sunny setting and remembering those great, relaxing lunches in the park The Big Guy and I were doing weekly only a few short months ago. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling any warmer yet!
_______
Will somebody please take the proper precautions to assure us all that the groundhog won't see his shadow next week? We've had enough!!
_______
Okay, I'm generally a little grouchy today. My cold has progressed from a slightly stuffy feeling to major congestion and I'm losing my voice. I am not a happy camper! I don't feel inspired to paint today - or to work on promotions or clean house, etc.


This week's book review:


I did read a book this past week. (That's the one thing this weather is good for - curling up with a good book!) I really enjoy a genre I call "Murder Mystery - Lite" and I've dug through the archives and found a few of my favorite authors' early works. This week I read Diane Mott Davidson's first "culinary mystery," Catering to Nobody. Diane's introductory description of the trials and tribulations of finding a publisher to buy into her concept of a "culinary" mystery was almost as entertaining as the novel itself. Anybody familiar with Diane knows of her series featuring Goldie Bear, caterer and amateur sleuth extraordinaire. In this book, we are introduced to Goldie, Arch (her son), and The Jerk (her ex). Goldie's successor, Marla (The Jerk's second wife) and one of her various love interests, the big protective Deputy Sheriff, Tom. We get a feel for her home turf, Aspen Meadows, Colorado, (It's a real Peyton Place, or for my younger followers, Wisteria Lane.) and find she's a caterer who actually shares recipes. All of the books in the series include some tasty recipes. Give one a read and cook up something special while you're at it!


Yet another blurb about the CPSIA!


In an effort to comply with the general request that all of us bloggers speak about the CPSIA yesterday, I threw together a few thoughts and published them last night without a lot of consideration, much like Congress passed the new law. I wanted it to appear I had done something constructive. (I had, after all, already written and prepared yesterday's post - a long feature article about a great crafter and her creations. That posting had been carefully researched, written and advertised to run yesterday. I really hated to take away from it by jumping back on the CPSIA soapbox.) In the light of day, last night's CPSIA comments appear rather lame. Here, I will try to improve on that.

I'm to the point where I just want Congress to say, one way or the other, if there will be revisions to the CPSIA coming soon. "Just come out and make a definitive statement, will you?" Knowing how our government generally works, I'm not holding my breath. My mind keeps flitting to a scene from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas where the governor does "a little dance" the "two step" to keep from taking an official position. Can you picture a chorus line of politicians dancing on the steps of the Capitol? Now, that might be worth a drive to D.C.! I believe our only realistic reprieve may come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the form of exceptions, exemptions and a new enforcement time table. This is feasible and may actually occur in our lifetime.


As a crafter, I am not asking permission to produce dangerous and hazardous products for children. MY PRODUCTS ARE SAFE !!! I am only asking that small manufacturers, like myself, be provided with practical, manageable conformity rules and regulations that will not effectively wipe out America's cottage industries.


My merchandise is produced by using ready-made, commercially available clothing, which under this law, has already been certified by it's manufacturer - companies like OshKosh, Gerber, Carters, etc. - to be lead and phthalate free. I buy my blanks (the clothing pieces which I paint) on the retail market. I then embellish that garment with certified non-toxic paints produced by two American manufacturers who have also already certified their paints as safe under this law. (I have copies of their test results.) A child could literally drink a bottle of this paint without any health repercussions. (Of course, you'd want to be sure they were wearing disposeable diapers!)
This combination of two harmless components does not trigger any chemical changes in the garment or paints but it does create a brand new product. I, as the manufacturer of that new product, will now have to have that item tested by a third-party tester. Redundent? Wasteful? Expensive? Yes!!! Reasonable? No!!! Financially possible? -- Let's just ask. "Will you pay $75.00 (or higher) for tht cotton onesie for your next baby shower gift?"


Many opponents of the law have pronounced it as the death of "cute" creations. Maybe not the end of "cute" but definitely the end of "one-of-a-kind" productions for children. The testing process itself destroys the garment requiring at least two of any lot to be made. One to be tested - one to use/sell/give, whatever. Remember watching the Jetsons, Star Trek and other futuristic shows - everyone dressed the same. I guess they'd already passed a CPSIA in their societies.


The first phase of the law, effective 2/10/09, does allow me to certify that my products are made with safe, tested components. I can do that. Therefore, I will continue to make and sell my children's products after that date. The second phase, scheduled to kick in sometime in August, 2009, requires me to do the 3rd party testing. That isn't financially feasible for me. If the law doesn't have exemptions or changes made by then, I will need to stop manufacturing those items. My business will suffer while it goes through a transformation forcing me to gear toward grown-up sales.


The impact of this new law is far reaching. It pertains to ALL children's products whether they're made by Aunt Bessie ("the crochet queen") or Mattel. OshKosh is also just another American manufacturer who will need to comply. Of course, Mattel and OshKosh and the like don't produce one-of-a-kind or few-of-a-kind lots. They can afford to test one item in order to sell 15,000 identical pieces. (I'm sure you can count on the retail price reflecting the costs of such testing.)


Aunt Bessie, on the other hand, crochets for something to do. She makes baby blankets and preemie hats for her local hospital. She goes to Walmart and buys a hank or two of baby yarn for these items and lovingly spends her afternoons stitching with love. That yarn, as a component, is safe. Now, without altering the chemical properties of that yarn, Aunt Bessie will need to do 3rd party testing before giving that item to the hospital. The CPSIA pertains to "any distribution," not just "sales for profit." Did Congress mean to shut down all of the meaningful charitable work like this being doen by America's seniors? I hope not, but as enacted, that's what this law can do!


Let's work together to get this changed -- NOW !!! Contact your Congressman. Bombard Henry Waxman, the man in power, with letters, phone calls, voice mails, e-mails, etc. Ask for revisions to this law before the American craftsman becomes just another chapter in our history books.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Speak out about the CPSIA - NOW

There’s an organized effort to have all craft-related blogs talk about the CSPIA today. I have talked a lot about the new law in the last few weeks but now is the time to contact your representatives in Congress if you have not already done so. The comment period as to exceptions and other enforcement details ends at the end of the month. More importantly, a hearing has been scheduled next week to ask Congress to reconsider this law and start working toward revisions and clarifications.

None of us want to create unsafe products for our children but the law is so broad and ambiguous as to include products that have a minisucle to no chance of containing lead or phthalates. In doing so, this law creates undue hardship on the very small manufacturer (crafter).

When was the last time you saw a baby afghan recalled as it contained lead? Or a child's onesie? How about a recieving blanket? I challenge you to locate such a recall.

Want to know more details? Review some of my previous posts and google "CPSIA". The important thing is to ask your Congressional representatives to revisit this issue. The law needs immediate revision!

Meet Eva of ejcrafts.com

“Have you hugged your bear today?”



In a quiet, desert home workshop in Fort Mohave, Arizona, flanked by mountains on both the East and West, Eva designs, creates and brings to life a whole menagerie of critters. You can see, and buy, her spectacular selection of teddy bears, soft dolls, bunnies, hand puppets, mice, dogs, bear head baby blankets and even potato pouches, on her website, http://www.ejcrafts.com/ .

Eva has been making dolls, bears and other stuffed animals just about forever, but bears are her passion. Her website’s home page tells a story about a little girl and her love for a new teddy bear. Eva still feels like that -- she loves to hug her bears and it still gives her a sense of joy and comfort. Over thirty years ago, she began making and selling teddy bears so she could share them with others and she’s still going strong. She estimates she’s made thousands of bears over the years.



New bears are born each week. Eva says her inspiration comes from a lot of places. Sometimes she sees someone else’s bears and thinks, “I can do that or I can improve on that.” Other times, a new bear or doll comes to her in a dream. Customers also come to her with special requests. Eva’s home is often overflowing with bears, dolls and other creations. “I enjoy creating and the joy of seeing the finished products,” she says. “I really do enjoy sewing and don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t sew everyday.”



All of Eva’s critters are designed by her personally. This way, she knows she is not infringing on anyone else’s patterns. She has drawers full of patterns that she uses for inspiration. Not too long ago, she found an old pattern from the 50’s and modified it to make it her own design. (I’d love to be able to sort through her pattern collection, myself!) Eva also designs and makes the clothing for her bears and she often feels the bears “talk” to her and tell her what type of outfit they need.

“I’ve always got several things in the works and my husband will say when are you going to finish them. As a designer, there are some projects that will never get finished because they just are not right.” Eva says her “favorites are any bear that I have just finished.”


Eva uses long-haired faux fur for her animals because she feels the longer fur adds character and personality to each bear. The faux fur is durable and washable, making it practical for a child’s toy. All of her bears, animals and dolls are stuffed with premium Poly-Fil stuffing as it doesn’t bunch up and it does allow the item to be washed and dried when necessary.

She has always made bears that are child-proof. This means plastic joints, eyes and noses for her bears and other animals. All such parts attach with a safety-lock mechanism so they cannot pop- off and become a choking hazard. The plastic won’t rust like some of the cotter pin joints do and allows the bears to be washable. Eva feels a bear is meant to be handled and to be played with by children. She does make some little bears (6-7 inches) which are designed more for collectors and are not marketed for young children. In some of these bears, she does use the cotter pin system and bead or button eyes.

Eva made many of her own clothes from the time she was a teenager, even making her suits when she worked in an office. She made most of her children’s clothing when they were growing up, including formal gowns for her daughter when she participated in beauty contests and Western-style shirts for her husband.

After the kids left home, Eva took up making teddy bears and the business started from there. She basically taught herself by reading books and a lot of trial and error. “Yes, maybe lots of errors,” she acknowledges with a smile. Any advice to newbies just starting out? “Hang in there and you will master it. Just have fun and don’t get stressed out.”

"I will help anyone who wants to learn to make something. All you have to do is ask. I have been sewing since I was a little girl and even though my grandmother taught me, most of the stuff is self-taught and I have read a lot of books. I probably could design and make a bear in my sleep now. I am still learning from others, too. We are never too old to learn something new and I strive to learn something new everyday.”

The business of selling crafts has changed over the last three decades, today, most of Eva’s sales are made on her website, http://www.ejcrafts.com/ , but she does still do at least two traditional craft shows each year where she can interact with live buyers. She says she needs the feedback they provide. “Customer input helps me decide what I need to change or fix.”

Bears don’t move as quickly as they did at the big craft shows in the 80’s but she still loves to make them. Eva believes the days of the good cheap craft shows are gone. “People are going to the internet now to sell because of the cost of craft shows today. The fees to enter a show are higher and the expenses of travel and lodging are high.” She feels crafters can reach a lot more people on the internet than any show in the country can do. Today, Eva’s age and health have stopped her from doing the traveling and the internet allows her to get her work shown.

Ultimately, Eva says, “I don’t intend to make a fortune, just enough to keep me busy.”

Raised by her grandparents, Eva saw her grandmother sewing constantly. Her grandmother was an independent woman and taught Eva she could do anything if she put her mind to it. She was completely self taught and made all of their clothes, including winter coats. She taught Eva to do needlecrafts as early as age five. Eva recalls making embroidered pillow cases and table runners in those early days and says she learned to use the sewing machine by making doll clothes. Eva now has three sewing machines including an old treadle-style but uses a computerized New Home machine that she has had for about eight years. She says it will sew through any fur or fabric she uses. Most of the bear construction is done by machine but face sculpting and finishing still needs to be done by hand.

Her childhood memories of sewing include making tied quilts because that is what her Grandma did and taught she and her sister to do. Eva still occasionally does one but, today, she machine stitches most of her quilts. Those quilting memories include a stretcher frame set up in the parlor where her grandmother would put the backing, cotton insides and the top on the frame and make sure everything was tight. Then Eva and her sister would do the tying. She really hated sitting on the floor and tying all the quilts. Every Spring, her grandmother would take apart all the quilts they used on the beds, wash and repair the tops and bottoms or replace them with new tops that she had made over the winter. Then the girls would have to tie them. Eva recalls it was quite a chore to do this each year. Eva wonders if people today even know what a parlor was and understand that it was only used on special occasions, like Christmas.

Eva doesn’t just sell bears, she also has a great collection of bears . She says she’s afraid to count how many she has! People have always called her the “Bear Lady” and have given her many different types of bears. “Everywhere you look in my house, you will see bears.” The collection ranges from pictures on the wall in her sewing room to bears on the book shelves in the living room. There are shadow boxes full of bears in the dining room, bears in all the bedrooms and there are even stuffed bears and a bear plaque in the bathroom!

Eva has been married to her high school sweetheart and best friend for almost 51 years and they share their home with a 17-pound cat named “Mutt.” She’s “Mom” to three, a grandma to five and a great friend to many. If you’d like to contact Eva, you can usually find her in the forum at Craftbuddy.com. She’s there several times a day!

Take time to check out Eva’s shop at http://www.ejcrafts.com/ and don’t forget to give your bear a big hug!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tune in tomorrow...

Remember, gang, tomorrow is the big day for my article about Eva and her bears. Here's a sneak pic of just one of her little guys. Isn't he cute?

The feature runs a little long and I debated about making a 2-parter or just running it straight through. I went with the latter for continuity's sake. The write-up is all finished and the pics are lined up so tomorrow's post is easy for me.

I'm having trouble with motivation today. It's snowing out which is an automatic downer for me. Add to that, I'm fighting a cold. I'd like to just hibernate with a good book but can't bring myself go with that flow. I've been tied to the computer for today's "necessary" activities. Found a saying I love: "A clean house is a sign of a broken computer!"

Maybe I'll be inspired with a better message later this evening after doing a little shoveling.

Stay warm, all !!

Monday, January 26, 2009

This week at the movies...

Okay, it was so cold while we were hanging out in South Carolina this past week, we did the usual winter activity - we went to the movies, twice! I enjoyed both movies but if you can only see one - go for Clint!

The first day, we went to see Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood plays his usual tough talking, strong-willed and opinionated character as Walt Kowalsky, a recently widowed, retired auto worker who still feels like he's fighting the Korean War. Obviously, he's not too thrilled to see Hmong (Vietnamese) neighbors move in next door. Cheerful determination and persistence on the part of his teenage neighbors cracks that hard exterior and Walt's humanity leaks out. There is a fair amount of language throughout. If you are highly offended by various racial and ethnic slurs and labels (he doesn't just pick on one ethnic crowd), then sit this one out. There is also gang violence throughout the movie. Ultimately, it's pure Clint and the actors do a superb job. He is well supported by the performances of Bee Vang and Ahney Hu, playing his teenaged neighbors, Thao and Su Lor. I'll give it 4 stars.

The next day wasn't any warmer, so we again turned to a nice cozy theater and saw Last Chance Harvey. As Harvey Shine, a fading jingle writer from New York, Dustin Hoffman is having a bad week. His career is definitely on the skids, his daughter is getting married - in England, his ex has made his hotel arrangements for him - away from the rest of the wedding party, his daughter tells him her step-dad will be giving her away instead of him and the job situation worsens over a long-distance phone call. The light at the end of the tunnel appears as a conservative, spinster, played by Emma Thompson, when she approaches him at the airport carrying a clipboard and attempting to take a survey about the airline's customer service. It's a little slow moving, sentimental and predictable - definitely a chick-flick. It does, however, subtly state it's never too late to find love. I liked it but it won't win any awards. I think its appeal to the younger audience (under 30) will be limited. I, on the other hand, am over 30 and I'll give it 3 stars.

CPSIA Update :

I think there may be a little reprieve, at least for a little shile, for folks like me. I've just seen an opinion, dated 1/15/09, written by Cheryl A. Falvey, General Counsel for the Consumer Products Safety Commission, that explains the differences between the General Conformity Certification required as of 2/10/09 and the certification based on 3rd party testing required by August of 2009. In part, she states Section 102 of the CPSIA indicates that if the manufacturer (me as a crafter) is confident with the results of lead tests done on components, that my product does not necessarily require tests of the final product -until August! She uses an example of jewelry to illuistrate this point. I believe this would also pertain to my handpainted clothing. Check this out at http://www.cpsc.gov//library/foia/advisory/323.pdf .

This does not permanently solve the problem but it does buy some time for folks like myself. Maybe I will still be in business after 2/10/09!!

In the meantime, stay warm, keep creative and live happy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Here a bear ... there a bear...




With only a few more days before I run the profile of my friend, Eva, and her teddy bears, I thought I’d share a few of the bear-related items on my own site, http://www.splashin.etsy.com/, with you. I hope to still be able to bring you these cute items once the CPSIA goes into effect next month. I do, however, anticipate the possibility of suspending sales in that area while the powers-that-be sort out all of the details.


I’m not sure what direction I will go with the kids’ merchandise on 2/10/09. I mean I know my merchandise is safe. Number one, it is clothing made from fabric and made by legitimate companies like OshKosh, Carters, and Gerber. I buy these items from the retail market so they will already have had to be tested in order to be marketed by the original manufacturer. The paints I use are American-made and I have their manufacturer’s safety test results available for each color. I’ve done nothing but combine the two to create (“manufacture”) a new item. Under the new law, I now need to have this item tested once again. Since most of my work is one-of-a-kind, the cost of testing the individual item will make me price myself right out of the market place. My regular customers have assured me they still want my merchandise. Funny, I never thought of myself and my crowd considering dealing in the underground market. It’s hard to think of a cute little onsesie being contraband!

I believe, FIRMLY, that the law will be altered eventually. This is the Federal government we are talking about - nothing good happens quickly. The fact remains that the CPSIA (Consumer Protections Safety Improvement Act) has been enacted and will take effect on 2/10/09. It is LAW. The new President cannot, by law, change that fact. It is simply not within his power. There has been a big discussion about his putting a hold on new “regulations” while he sorts out the impact of such regulations. This does not change the law or its enforcement date. What it does do is change the effect of any currently proposed exceptions. It also extends the public comment period for such exceptions.

While all that is happening, we can still lobby our representatives and, specifically, Senator Waxman, Chairman of the committee, to bring the law up for revision. The concept of limiting lead and phthalates in our children’s merchandise is not a bad one. It just has not been executed well by the wording of the CPSIA. With our pressure, they can quickly postpone the date of enforcement for the new law and then they can pursue the arduous task of revamping it to protect the American crafters and small business that may well be destroyed with enforcement of this law as currently written. Want more details, simply google CPSIA and you’ll find more than you can digest in one or two sittings.

In the meantime, I am preparing by adding some grown-up items to my site just to keep it alive. This is not really a new line for me, I just didn’t offer my adult items on my website until now. I have been making and selling them for many years. I am holding off on designing and creating new merchandise for children at the moment. This breaks my heart as it is the work I love to do most.

So, ultimately, this is the time for you to act if you want my children’s items. Time may be limited. These are just a few samples. You can see many more at http://www.splashin.etsy.com/. Please, take a look.

I hope you’ll tune back in next week to read my article on Eva and her bears (and dolls and mice and much more!) Impatient? You can look at Eva’s creations on her site at http://www.ejcrafts.com/.

Till then, stay warm, stay creative and keep on loving life. Spring is coming! (I think.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Teddy Bear Tease - "Eva's Coming!"

Eva's Coming!!

Did you have a favorite teddy bear when you were young? Do you still have it? I did and I do! (That's him in the pic.)

He's German made (but not a Stieff), a little hard and stiff, and very well worn. I was going to add that he still quacks (You know, like a duck.) but today I found he has lost his voice. When you squeezed him, he made a "quacking" noise. (I guess it was the toymaker's early attempt at making a toy bear that growled.) As a child, I just thought he spoke German!

Over the years, I've told Teddy many a secret - if he ever learned to communicate with other humans, I guess I'd have to kill him!

****Watch this space next week for a feature story about my friend, Eva. She makes (and sells) some spectacular teddy bears (and related critters and dolls.) I've loved her creations since I met her and I want the rest of you to meet this great lady and her furry pals.****

I plan to feature stories about other crafters, like Eva, at least twice a month here. Any candidates you'd like to nominate? E-mail me at splashincrafts@gmail.com and tell me about them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

“A cat is there when you call her, if she hasn’t got anything better to do.” Bill Adler

My S.C. hostess was the first recipient of one of my newest products - my cat lover’s apron. (This will appear on my etsy shop later this week.) Please check it out.

Remember: A house without a cat is just a house and who wants that?

(I, myself, am a dog person but I have mostly cat people for friends. Just proves, opposites DO attract!)

I am slowly adding some “non-child” related items as none of us are sure what will become of our children’s lines once the new CPSIA goes into effect. Keep checking the shop for my new adult clothing line (I’ve actually been doing these for a while but simply did not offer them online.) I expect to be adding numerous aprons in the coming weeks, also. I’m also rolling up my sleeves and “inventing” some additional “grown up” merchandise.

So, please, stay tuned…

“Zero degrees!! What is this, the NEW South?”


We finally rolled in this evening from our first Road Adventure of 2009. We drove 600 miles to the South just to find colder weather and snow! Well, that wasn’t the original goal. I am definitely not a winter gal - I try NOT to do snow at all and I can’t stand the cold.

I should have been suspicious when we needed to change our outgoing route due to snow forecasts. We normally take a Western route, hugging the Appalachians, Blue Ridge and Smokies but decided to take I-95 South to Richmond and then swing west on I-85. Turned out to be a wise move. As we passed through Washington, D.C., we picked up the radio reports of weather-related school closings in the first three counties we would have hit using that route. We caught a few snow flurries as we drove past Potomac Mills Mall in Northern Virginia but were soon sailing along in some very chilly sunshine. We arrived at our South Carolina destination at a cool 20 something temperature. (Okay, so we’d hoped for the 50s!!)


We awoke to an 11 degree morning on Friday. We hadn’t been that cold at home yet this winter! Worse yet, we awoke to a rare snow-covered lawn on Sunday morning. (We felt so privileged!!!) Again, we have not had that much snow at home this winter - yet. I don’t think we ever hit 40 degrees over the 5 ½ days we were there. We ended up staying an extra day to avoid driving home in the snow through North Carolina and Virginia yesterday. The icing on the cake, or should I say mountain, was the 0 degree reading we found as we passed the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign on Route 81 this morning. Some Southern welcome! And, yes, we did see snow along the shoulders - all the way home!!!

We did, however, have a wonderful and cozy visit with close friends who have become family over the years. We hardly noticed the cold between the great meals, wild card games and laughter. We always have a hearty laugh when we’re together and that’s what makes those long hours behind the wheel and even those frigid temps worth the effort.


So, until we chat again, keep a smile on your face and a laugh at the ready because : Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BRRR!! We're heading South!!

Not much time to chat today. Slept in a little this morning as tomorrow will be both an early and long day. We’ll be traveling 10 hours by car, leaving long before dawn. When we did the planning, we figured this trip would be a jaunt into the warmth and comfort of the South. Well, it will be comforting but the only warmth will be from the love and companionship of the friends we are visiting. This artic blast is reaching deep and they are expecting some of the coldest temperatures there in years. On the upside (for us) temps should be running about 20 degrees warmer in the daytime than they will be here at home. I think I’ve been cold for three days, even inside. I think just knowing how cold it is outside and knowing it is just getting colder has chilled me mentally. I just don’t DO cold -- and don’t even bring up the subject of snow! (At least we haven’t had much of that here - YET.)


I need to thank all of you who have chimed in with moral support for our battle against the new CPSIA. It does seem the Commission is looking into exceptions. I just hope they can come up with sufficient adjustments in time to prevent the vast majority of children’s crafters from closing up shop. That would be catastrophic to our nation’s culture as a whole. I have stopped creating new children’s products for the moment but I have continued to sketch ideas for designs -- just in case. Oh, and I did take one giant leap. I listed a few non-child-oriented items in my etsy shop. I am currently taking photos of more “adult” items and hoping to list them within the next few weeks. Who knows, they may be successful there.

I need to perfect the photography of the bigger items. I was set up for shooting the tiny stuff but my backdrops just can’t accommodate the larger sizes. I will probably be replacing the existing photos on the site shortly as I really wasn’t thrilled with the final results yesterday. I need to spend time packing and such today so it will be next week’s project.

Coming Attractions :

Also next week, I plan to profile another crafter and her business. I hope to do such profiles on a regular basis. Hey, maybe one day it will be one of you I’m profiling. I also have a couple of recipes I want to share next week. I’m sure most of us could use a few “stick to your ribs” dishes and some real comfort foods, too.

Well, I’ve got to get in gear and get busy with that packing. Remember, if you want to voice your opinion about the CPSIA to the powers that be, the deadline for public input to the Commission is January 30. Actual “revision” of the law will require Congressional action, so contacting your representatives there can’t hurt either. For more info, simply google “CPSIA.” I’ll be MIA until the middle of next week while traveling. In the meantime, stay warm, think creative thoughts and enjoy life.

See you all next week!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Illegal after 2/10/09 !!!




Thought I'd show you just some of the items I can't sell under the new CPSIA as it now reads. Look dangerous don't they?
All of these items are garments made by Gerber, OshKosh, Carters and similar BIG name manufacturers who will need to test and certify all of their products before sending them to stores where I normally purchase my garments. Once I've painted them with certified safe fabric paints, I will again need to have them tested and certified by that third party tester. Not financially possible!!! I shall miss making cute kiddie stuff. Hope the old men look just as charming in my new line of painted clothes!!

Stay tuned to see the items I plan to present to the "older" generation!!!




Wow - 2009 !!!! How did this happen? Remember all the science fiction shows that were set in the future? I think we’re there.

If you only have a moment to read today, please jump down and read the part about the CPSIA!! It’s really important!!

I try to look at January as a transition time. Time to clean up the left over everything from last year and time for a fresh start in so many areas.


Out With the Old --

I still have a few Christmas gifts to get to their rightful recipients. This is not unusual as there are a few family members and close friends that we simply do not catch up to until sometime in January every year. I like to keep the tree up as long as possible but this year, the needles were dropping fast and we definitely took it down a few days ahead of normal. (“Normal” for us, that is.!) I think the Big Guy was actually thrilled. He comes from a family that always put the tree and decorations up like clockwork on the day after Thanksgiving and most of it is packed away by noon on New Year’s Day. I came from a family that put the tree up on Christmas Eve and it stayed up at least until Little Christmas and often into mid-January. I love the holidays and taking it all down seems so depressing. I mean, January and February are not that exciting a season to rush into! I guess I’ll have to take the wreaths off the door and windows this week, too.

In With the New --

CPSIA
Unfortunately, not everything “NEW” is good. The bureaucrats in D.C. have come up with a doozie this time!! The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has been passed into law and will be enforced beginning February 10, 2009. Excellent intentions with terrible execution!

In an effort to stop dangerous, lead laden imports from falling into America’s smallest citizens’ hands, Congress rushed into this legislation. Attempting to appear proactive, especially in an election year, they passed a broad, general and very ambiguous bill requiring all products geared toward children ages 12 and under, and all products that could conceivably be used by those under 13, to undergo rigorous and expensive testing for hazardous wastes - specifically lead and phthalates. These are normally found in plastics and some paints. Most American-made paints since the late 70s have not contained these ingredients.

Aimed at those cheap, junky imports the law also blankets American manufacturers, both large and small, and the independent craftspeople who manufacture and sell even just one toy, outfit or baby afghan. It also covers “distribution” (not just sales) of all children’s products. All materials are included, even that sweet, soft baby yarn Grandma is crocheting with. As written, donations to the church bazaar or the local hospital are prohibited unless we test that little hat or afghan for these hazards.

None of us wants to create harmful merchandise and hand it to a child and that is not why this law is badly written. The law requires every item to be 3rd-party tested and to carry “certification” of those test results even for those items made from components that are sold for use by children and certified safe by those manufacturers. This will put most of us out of business or at least stop us from producing quality, safe and unique children’s items. I guess that’s why all the kids on “The Jetsons” all wore the same outfits!

The testing is expensive, starting at $40 “per component.” Using one of my, one of a kind, items as an example, let’s say I want to make and sell a baby onesie with a cute fish painted on it. I will go to the store and purchase a plain onesie marketed by Gerber or Carter or a similar company and, presumably, already certified as toxin-free under this new law. I then paint it with American made fabric paints, also each certified by the manufacturer to comply with this law. After taking the onesie home and painting the design on it, I am now the “manufacturer” of that product and must have it tested and certified. I would need to have the onesie itself tested, and if the design used, say 6 colors, each of those colors needs to be individually tested, too. Should I be able to locate that tester that is doing it for as low as $40/test, we are talking seven separate test procedures for a testing charge of $280! Normally, I sell the product for $15. Will you pay almost $300 for a onesie in a newborn size?

I believe this law will be altered and revised to accommodate the good old American craftsman but there is the question of when that will all happen. Congress has never been known for speed! If you are interested in knowing more, simply google “CPSIA” and you’ll come up with a ton of info. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly find a shortage of children’s products available after February 10th!!

Okay, I'll climb down from the soapbox for the moment.

Among the fresh starts I planned has been putting more time into promoting my business and website. I’ve been making all sorts of notes for the last few months concerning marketing approaches, promotionals, etc. Now with this huge roadblock - the new CPSIA -I’m not quite sure what way to go. I’m sure exceptions are coming - eventually - that will allow me to make and sell my products. However, those changes are unlikely to be made before February 10, 2009. In the meantime, I need to focus in other directions. I need to determine which of my adult clothes I can put on the website and determine which household and d├ęcor items I want to go that way with also. I believe I need to get some of these on the site before the deadline as Etsy may need to take administrative action to remove the children’s products from the server. I want my site to stay active, so I need to have some “legal” products there.

I want to work on some other areas of my life, too. I've kind of let my attempts at fictional writing slide a bit since this time last year. I want to get back on a stricter schedule of writing. I'll never be Danielle Steele turning out several books a year but I'd love to do at least one in this lifetime!! (My style is closer to Evanovich than Steele !) As always, I want to do better at staying in touch with friends and family - especially the older folks. (Yes, there is a generqation OLDER than ours!) Of course, I want to get more organized and stick with it!!! (Like that'll take!!!)

As for the immediate wants - I'm fixing a turkey dinner tonight so I need to get busy in the kitchen soon. We're traveling later in the week so I also need to get laundry done and ironing so all we have to do is grab from the closet tomorrow night so I can pack. Our original plan was to leave very early Thursday morning but there's a weather system we're watching and may end up driving through the night Wednesday instead, leaving as soon as the Big Guy gets home from work. That makes packing happen a day early! I also need to finish a birthday gift that is traveling with us.

So, I really need to get off this computer -- NOW!!!