Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A little humor on this greenest of holidays!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

missing in action and other randomness

Yes, I have been. I am in super create mode, getting ready to put things in a retail shop. I've started a couple of posts, but haven't finished them. I have plans at attempting a mini tutorial, but that takes some doing and right now I'm not set up for it, so I've put those on hold. So basically, this means that I've put in the time, but no posts to show for it. tiny bit aggravating.

Spring forward is kicking my butt. I overslept on Monday, making me very late for work. I worried about that last night, couldn't get to sleep, was late again today! 

I have been doing some research into yeast (long story) and have discovered that the companies that are making the breads, cookies, cakes, etc, are using, on average, triple the amount of leavening agents that a recipe needs. Some of the long story: My husband is a sugar hound. He can sit and eat 20 or 30 of the ever shrinking soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies that come in the red packages. I said to him "When I make cookies you only eat 5 or 6, but the store bought you can eat a bag at a time. There is something that they are adding or doing to the cookies to make them so lightweight and insubstantial." Then, when I started in earnest, making bread for our family - all the loaves I made were dense-very unlike the commercial bread, including the pricey, foo foo brands.

Why and why do I care... Why: Well, I suppose like everything else, they are trying to make the most out of the littlest possible. By increasing the leavening agents, they get bigger, puffier bread, that takes up more volume, but requires less ingredients. It also reduces the 'proofing' time required for things that need a rise. They also use various 'additives' to attain elasticity and uniformity in baking. They also use additives to prolong shelf life.

Why do I care: Those additives are very controversial. Many additives commonly used in the US are banned in other countries for their known harmful effects. BANNED. Seriously. In addition, there is some discussion about the impacts of the significant increase in leavening on the body, some serious discussion. There is also the fact that commercial yeast has been cultured and no one knows how this might affect you and me.

There are chemicals used in food production and products for your hair and skin that are known to be "Hormone Interrupters". While no one (probably) will be affected by the first use, over time, these interrupters have the ability to change the way your body responds. If one of those chemicals is in your shampoo, your conditioner, your body wash, your face lotion, your laundry detergent, your eye shadow, your body powder, your deodorant, your perfume... then every single day you are absorbing that chemical times 9, before you even consider what's in your food.

So, from me to you, spend a little time investigating what's in the products you are using. Decide what is and isn't okay with you. I can't answer that question for you and I won't pretend to have all the answers. I will say this, if a chemical is banned in 65 countries, but not here, I don't want to ingest it or use it on my super absorbent skin!  Here is the other thing I will say about this: When you know better, you do better. It's time for corporate America to do better. If you've ever wondered why the poor are not the healthiest, consider what lousy nutrition is available in the most economical grocery items or chemical laden health and beauty items are the least expensive. 

Hmmm-little bit of a soap box there. But seriously! I was a poor kid. I know what being poor is. I get so tired of talking heads, who've never been anything close to poor, talking about it like they have any idea. If there are three cans of green beans available to you, you will buy the cheapest ones. Were they sprayed with pesticides? Are they seconds? Are they loaded with chemicals to keep them shelf stable for a decade. Are they in a can lined with plastic that is unsafe? YES, YES, YES, YES. IT IS TIME FOR CORPORATE AMERICA TO DO BETTER! It is also time for all of us to do better. If we demand better, corporations will have no choice but to respond. Okay, totally off my box, now.

Did you notice I discovered the "Color my text" feature? I'm sleep deprived and a little loopy right now.

Today, at work, I totally got my unnies in a bunch over an implied slight. You know the kind of thing I'm talking about... someone says something, but not coming right out and stating it, but implying that something you did or didn't do negatively affected the work. They don't say it to you, or mention you directly, or even ask you about it. They say it in your general area, where you cannot possibly not hear what they are saying and you know and they know and everyone knows that you are the only person who could have 'possibly applied that incorrectly'. I really detest that kind of cowardice. Either say it, to me, or better yet, shut your mouth. But just right now, I'm sitting here laughing at myself. As if it materially affects who I am or the work I do. It doesn't. Which after 45 minutes of research, I had definitive proof that it wasn't an error, but that isn't the point. The point is, if you have something to say, say it. If you can't say it to the person, it probably doesn't need said at all. 

St. Patrick's Day is nearing and I thought I'd share a blessing from my house to yours:  "May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours. That stay with you all the year long."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Be Bold

This photo came across my fb today. Had to share. To everyone who reads this blog, thank you. Knowing that anyone is visiting gives me a kind of impetus to share that if I thought it were just for me, I might have stopped long ago. Your virtual presence makes a difference in my life! Thank You!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Come into the light!

So, starting this new business is time consuming. From figuring out just what I need, shopping for supplies (primarily online, but still...) discussing: marketing, promotion, packaging, actually making things. You see what I mean.

Yes, this is going to be a recurring theme for a few minutes. Try and bear with me.

When I set off on this journey, I had no real idea. I mean, I like to make stuff, I love to share it with others, I was very attracted to doing something creative. But I had no idea how much time and energy it would take. I am not complaining, so much as taking stock.

Since I'm not complaining, I bet you are wondering why I'm even talking about it... I'm concerned about the effect it is having in other aspects of my life. For example, a friend broke her foot recently and I haven't been over to see her. Argh. I'm behind in my letter writing. I know, we live in a digital age, but I started sending snail mail to my favorite kids this year and I've let an entire month go by without sending notes. There is a serious amount of dust in my house. There is a serious lack of groceries in my house.

Anyway, I just am trying to come to grips with the changes.

Onto the real topic of this post - one new purchase is a light kit for taking photographs with true colors. I purchased on Amazon and am very pleased with the kit. It was not expensive, but gives me a lot of options. There are three stands, two umbrellas and a world of possibilities.

Here is a picture of the kit in action. I was trying to get this particular cowl to look the way it ought to. I've mentioned it before, it's a deep forest green with flecks of other colors. There is an undertone of black in the green and when it's photographed, you only see black, not green. I've tried fiddling with the color in a photo editor, but even then it just doesn't look right. The white fabric behind the dummy is a fabric remnant, which keeps the color of the walls from reflecting onto the item. The three lights, which I've used in every single configuration, make every other thing I'm photographing look amazing. But this cowl is determined to keep it's beauty under wraps.

Another cool thing about the light kit is it comes with a tote back and all the bits just go right back in to put away or carry along with you. We've misplaced the tripod attachment that goes on the camera, otherwise that would be in the picture, too.

Picture one
So, look at these two pictures... Picture one was taken with the light kit with no touch up whatsoever. Picture two is from before and to get the color to be a reasonable facsimile of the true thing, we edited it in a photo editor. Notice how it's still not 100% accurate, even with the fiddling.

Don't you think that's interesting? All for want of a little light. The smaller light is for back lighting and I'm amazed at how much of a difference that makes. I've never really studied photography before now and geez louise is there a lot of information out there. I don't plan to be a professional, I just want to have some nice, accurate pictures of my creations, which are primarily for sale via internet. So good pictures are important. I look at the light kit as an investment in my business. That's it fun, is icing on the cake.
Picture two

I took pictures today of all the new things I've made this week and it took a total of 10 minutes. Zip, zip, snap and I was done. Hmmm.... there is something important in this off the cuff thought I think. It took me several days, off and on, to look and ponder and talk to others to find and order the light kit. But, that's done now and the taking of the pictures took a fraction of what I was spending to move stuff around the house to find good light or on the computer to edit the pictures. Whoa!

Hallelujah! That is important. I'm at the beginning of this business and it's taking some mondo time right now, but once I have the tools and processes in place it's going to be manageable. Woo. Woo.

And once again, this blog has worked it's magic. Is it too soon for another Hallelujah?!

Happy Saturday, one and all!