Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Petaluma Craft Mafia Hatches a Half-Dozen.

Since forming the Petaluma Craft Mafia with my other two founding members Anna and Dee, our crafty little famiglia has grown by double this past month. In the land of butter and eggs, (and films), commonly known as Petaluma, we are hatching creative DIY chics as fast as a hen lays eggs. In livestock speak, our famiglia head count is now a half-dozen and counting.


We approached our membership carefully and methodically as we had such a great existing group dynamic. Adding or subtracting members can change chemistry tremendously for the better or worse.

And for the worse was quite simply not going to cut it.

The Petaluma Craft Mafia had simple and honest criteria that we expect from our members: Play nice, be professional within the group and our community and exercise good communication skills and adhere to our basic rules and policies. Listening is number one. Follow-through on correspondence and group activities are key in excellent communication.

Our founding members are busy women with many commitments and responsibilities outside of the Petaluma Craft Mafia. So, we decided early on that baby-sitting other grown women was just not going to work for us and would cramp our style tremendously. Plus, we wanted to have fun. It's no fun having to coerce other members into doing what they should be doing anyway. And if not, a major red flag for potential flakiness and possibly obstinance. In other words, not our kind of member.

They had to fit with our core group and roll-up their sleeves in community and group activities as well as help promote each other's businesses. Commitment to the the group's well being is priority. Selfishness is something we wanted to avoid at all costs. Squatting with the PCM name was just not going to cut it.

We had clear things we outlined in our membership criteria. I also received some excellent counsel from my girls in Richmond. Hey Richmond! They were doing what we knew we wanted for our group as we saw it growing. While growth can be scary and we didn't wish to come across as exclusive, yet we knew we didn't want to disrupt the good chemistry and wanted to keep the harmonious flow going. The Craft Mafia probably says is best, "no Ax murderers need apply" Or something like that. :)

Very important to us too, is possessing a sense of humor. Oh Yeah. The Petaluma Craft Mafia thrives on fun. Fun and hard work. The two should go hand in hand.

Seems simple, the requirements not terribly stringent, but finding good members is not always easy.

So, it is with much pleasure that I announce our newest member, the charming , and talented Tami Lovett-Brumfield of The Felt Baron. We feel she will make excellent addition to our crafty famiglia and we are proud to have her aboard.

The Petaluma Craft Mafia is hatching a craft show this summer. And will post applications at a later date for vendors and local crafty folks. More on that later!

Himself, who knows all the work I've put into the PCM, teases me, "Is it cheaper by the dozen?" Well, I don't know about that, right now we're working on a half dozen for this crafty famiglia, but maybe a dozen ...I'll keep you posted!

BTW- The PCM chics may be thrifty, but we're never cheap .... cheep, cheep!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Craft Mafia in the New York Times

I so meant to blog this over a month ago, but you know the holidays got the best of me. Just a quickie link to the awesome mention our talented and diverse crafty Mafia received in the New York Times last month.

Rob Walker wrote a great story about the DIY spirit that is alive and thrivin' here in the good ol' USA. Even the euros, such as the UK are starting to smell the DIY Spirit from across the pond. It's an excellent time to be a crafter or a confirmed DIY'er. But that shouldn't be news to any of you crafty sorts out there.

If any of your are still carrying around antiquated notions about what a crafter is or should be, Rob's article should enlighten you a bit and bring you into the current century.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vivid Scarlet Impressions or (how funky is your chicken?)

"How funky is your chicken, how loose is your goose?"

Remember that cheer we used
to do? Yeah, that one!
Okay, true confession time. I (Moxieville), was a cheerleader, albeit briefly for one season, because it really kind of sucked.
I couldn't hack it. Our first away game it poured, literally poured torrents of unrelenting rain, and you could take my blue and gold skirt and wring it out. We looked less like cheerleaders, and more like wet, yowling pole cats. Our captain, just told us to go out there and smile when I'd look her way and shudder with cold, hoping she'd get the hint and let us off the field and into warm shelter. Not on your life, buster! she was a hard-core cheerleader captain, an old-school down to her big hair-do and big nails.

Not much to cheer about there. Adding to that misery, two of my fellow cheerleaders, who surprisingly were best friends, argued incessantly, thus ending their friendship and ruining what could have been a fun time for the rest of us.

Frankly, I only tried out because I had a mad crush on one of the footballers. So, I was surprised I made the cut! Luckily, as it turned out, he had a crush on me too, or it would have been a complete waste of time. Of course, cheerleading wasn't all bad. I loved the travel and of course the music and dance routines. Loved the music! But I was never one of those compact gymnast, head-bobbing, squat little cheerleader types. I was too tall and possibly to philosophical to really ever fit the stereo-type.

So here we sit making some PCM, funky chicken tags. I haven't done this sort of crafting in a very long time, and its kind of zen like, printing, stamping, smooching the tags - printing, stamping, smooching the tags. Okay, the smooch was actually a stamp, we're into hygiene around here. But, don't put it past any of us not to leave a vivid scarlet imprint on our papery goods. We're those kind of girls. We leave vivid scarlet impressions wherever we go...

I decided we should make some PCM swag to send over to Indie Valentine to help out our St.Louis famiglia, and we need as much swag as we can get around our own neck of the woods too.

I hope to get this desk cleared off by tomorrow, because I still have loads to do for Valentines and Chinese New Year.

I just know I'm gonna have nightmares about red roosters.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Strawberries N' Cream

I love strawberries and cream. Mixing the decadent with the healthy.Hey! A girl's gotta live a little. While, I'm not quite ready to post product photos yet, the girl with the most moxie, aka, Moxieville put me on the spot on her last blog.

Yes, I do have a new product in the works. I have not formulated any specific Siren Suds products for the face, at least for commercial use. I make them for myself and a few select friends all the time. Moxie has been begging me to make a facial scrub, maks, toner and spray mists forever. She is pretty persuasive.

What she doesn't realize is that, it means more work for her too. As my designer, she gets to design the new labels. Actually, She'll probably just fix the type and description because I like the labels as they are.

Strawberries n' Cream for Sirens is a gentle,and so yummy you might just want to scoop some up and eat it! But, I wouldn't recommend that!

I promise to post photos as they are ready.

Here's to lovely skin in 2008!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Let ye be burdened with Heart and Flower

LOVE is in the air. Love. Love Love. That four-letter word that makes the world go 'round. The Beattle's said,"All you need is love." Ali McGraw said, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
Aretha said, "L-O-V-E, find out what it means to me. Fool!" Actually, Aretha said something a little different. But you get the drift.

Duly noted. Last year was not our best Valentine's day. It was the day my mother's cancer took command central of her brain. Such a benign term for what the unpredictable cells did to her brain, "sugaring" as the oncologist called it. Microscopic sugaring of the cancer cells created such pressure on her brain she went into a seizure. She awoke at around 2 A.M. looked at my father and laughed, we rushed her to the hospital where she fell in and out of consciousness burning with fever.
We finally brought her home with the help of hospice, and on February 22, 2007, she left us. The year has flown since that day.
I was trying to decide which photo I was going to post for this blog. I'm creating a few funky Valentines in a technique I've never used before, and I thought that I would post photos of those.

Then, I remembered my secret stash of Valentine's candy. ( Yes, you knew this candy girl couldn't wait). But for some reason, my mind kept straying back to the clay dove and cherub I photographed in my mother's garden days after she died. I don't know why I took this photo, but it compelled me to. What was odd, was that my mother would have made sure the statuary wasn't full of mud. Perhaps that is why I took the photo. A rare opportunity to capture the blight on an angel. In a blink of an eye, or the snap of camera, everything gets out of focus. So, the cherub and dove won out over the red and pink chocolate foiled hearts and the homemade DIY Valentines.

This crafter is not going to bah humbug Valentine's Day, though. I like Valentine's Day, but I've never luuved it. St.Valentine would have wanted us to celebrate our affection and love for family and friends, by creating out own special Valentine's keepsakes and goodies, without the dictates of the retail world.

Did you happen to notice that this month's tunes have a theme? Yep, just listen. Who says this crafty blogger isn't in the cupids and candy spirit?

The Petaluma Craft Mafia doesn't really aim to break your heart. Okay, well perhaps just a wee little bit. It can feel kind of good. If you haven't had your heart broken, you need to live a little. The thing I do heart about Valentine's Day is that as much as I'm skeptical about the holiday itself, I enjoy so much designing stuff around it. See, I'm a die-hard romantic at heart, so my ambivalent feeling of Valentine's day surprise even me.

I'm working on a few Valentine's Crafts, one inspired by a commission I'm doing for a client. I will most likely post the Valentine's later. Anna is going to post something. She has a surprise. Well, it's not a surprise to me, see, because I"m on her team of official testers. It goes with the territory. Jeesh! :-)

I'm always curious to see what other people do for Valentine's Day, as Valentine's Day was never a particular favorite of mine growing up, so it's fun to see who gets excited about this particular day of hearts and flowers.
You could say I love Halloween, and I'm learning to like Valentine's Day. We were thinking of making rooster and heart cards, with a risque greeting. This is chicken and egg country , ya know. I nixed that idea, as I've done something similar to it before.

My thought was that the Petaluma Craft Mafia would kick the year off right with a big ol' Indie Have a Heart" Craft Show." Everybody feels we should wait until late spring. Tsssk. Okay, but next year we're gonna do a Valentine's Craft Show. It should put a spring in your step and a glow in your heart to anticipate this holiday with deep pagan roots. Randy villagers everywhere eagerly looked forward to St. Valentines Day. But you already knew that. It was the Roman Catholic church that put a 'kabosh' on the whole celebration of Valentine's Day, thinking it would have a devastating affects on the sanctity of marriage.

Until then, Valentine's Day is exactly one month away. What will you be doing? How do you spend your romantic day? Do you go out? Exchange tokens of luuuve? And in your secret heart of hearts, what do you really want for Valentine's Day?

I just got an idea to do a sweet little Valentine's goodie swap.... hmmmm.
Anybody crafty crafters game?

p.s. Lookout for stray bow and arrows!

Friday Night Knitting Club

A few weeks ago, author Kate Jacobs, invited me to come to one of her book signings for her new book, The Friday Night Knitting Club.

I am not a knitter, though I believe I would like to learn. My mother was teaching me a few crochet steps, and last winter we started a very easy project of a hot pink crocheted scarf. Alas, we never got to finish it. So, there it sits, in my knit/cross-stitch project bag mocking me to finish. I've got a lot on my plate right now, but knitting has long appealed to me. It's a very tactile and portable craft, and once you get the hang of it, I hear it's a wonderful way to knit and purl your cares as you work stitches.

Kate is from Canada. Hope, B.C., as a matter of fact. Like me, she's a small town girl who couldn't wait to set off for greener pastures after school. She is a writer and editor and has worked for Working Woman and Redbook among other publications.

Kate says she loves writing for and about women. The Friday Night knitting Club is about a diverse group of women who get together for knitting, education and encouragement. Hey, much like the Petaluma Craft Mafia! Those Craft Mafia ladies sure have great ideas. Each sharing their own tales of heartbreak and joy. How they come together is un-premediated, and each member of the group have their own quirks and problems they are trying to cope with. Some of the friendships are not easy ones at first. Some gel immediately.

The central character is a woman and successful entrepreneur named "Georgia." (Of course, you already know why I like this name). Georgia is trying to raise her daughter and juggle her Knit Show Walker and Daughter. I skipped ahead in the book by accident,and hit the Reader's Guide by accident. I was stopped cold when I read that one of the characters get's cancer. Ovarian Cancer. That's all I'm going to say, because I don't want to give the book plot away. But, I found it interesting that Ovarian cancer was the cancer of the character.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadliest of cancers for women, but it doesn't get the press other cancers do. Since our family has experienced first hand how horrible and devastating this cancer is, I felt it was an interesting twist of fate that Kate had invited me to her book signing. I applaud her for writing a bit about it and doing the research. And oddly enough, I felt it was my mother saying "hello, dear. When are you going to pick-up that crochet project we started?"

Of course, my mother wasn't large on endearments, "cher-bear" was one, but dear isn't one she would have used. But, I felt like being a the reading was where I was meant to be this crazy past week-end.

Kate's reading was at Reader's Books in Sonoma and The Book Passage in Marin. I missed the Reader's event, but I made it to the Marin reading. I very much enjoyed her reading, and hearing about Georgia, Darwin, Peri, Anita and the other unlikely friends in the Friday Night Knitting Club. Kate herself is a delight, and I was surprised Copperfield's Books was not on her Book Tour for FNKC. Knitterly, here in Petaluma, would have been an ideal place for her to do a reading. Perfect. Would have drawn quite a crowd.

Kate was headed for NYC, after her Marin signing and back to the publishing world to share a reading back in the Big Apple. Her favorite thing to do is write fiction in her pajamas at home in the wee hours. My kind of gal. Kate lives in Los Angeles with her husband and beloved pooch.

If you're looking for a great winter read to curl up with along with a mug of tea, you simply must pick up a copy of Friday Night Knitting Club. You will find a recipe or two in the novel to try. Speaking of which, Kate's new novel, Comfort Food will be coming out in May.

Look forward to it Kate! We hope to see you in the Spring!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crash, bang boom.... the things we endure for our customers

A woefully long tale of car bash-ups, patience, and the things we do to earn our customer's appreciation. The crafty life is not without risks,... y'all.

Happy January and a very crafty New Year! My brain knows that it's 2008, though my hand cannot seem to write this date.
I read recently that the year 2008 is supposed to be a very good year according to the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 7th. This year, 2008, eight being very important, is "Year of the Mouse." Eight is considered to be lucky and full of promise and good fortune. It's a very symmetrical number, very balanced. Balance is spoken of much throughout asian culture. You must be in balance to retain good health, prosperity and happiness. If you are out of balance in one area, the other areas will try to compensate to make up for the one imbalance, then all kinds of things can happen. If can affect your health, relationships, etc.

So, yesterday, as I was boxing up a few orders to take down to the post office, I could not shake the feeling that I should wait awhile before I went out. But I really like to ship as early as I can so people are pleasantly surprised I've exceeded their expectations. Under- promise, over-deliver usually works for me.

Do you all ever get these weird unexplainable feelings or premonitions? Being a Piscean, perhaps explains much I suppose. We get them all the time. When Pisces says, don't board that plane or invest in that stock, you should listen! And sometimes, we Pisceans should listen to our own excellent instincts. Still, I wanted to get all my errands done so I could get back to the desk and produce! My work agenda is making my desk shrink.

I've been told by those that love me that patience is not my strong suit. As I'm pretty easy going, I've always considered myself a fairly patient person. I am not always patient with myself. And with the exception of the mean spirited, I've always considered myself to be fairly patient with others. So though I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, I decided patience is a virtue I could learn to cultivate this year.

The other evening as I was frantically trying to accomplish 14 things at once, an e-mail popped into my box. It was from a lovely site asking you to pop by and randomly choose a ball. When you click on that ball, a word is revealed to you. Whatever that word is, would be the one you should meditate upon. Guess what my random ball revealed as my meditative word?


Yesterday, after running to the bank, I swung by our old Post Office on 4th street, and was in luck to find an awesome spot in front. I did a neat parallel park (I am very proud of my parallel parking skills if I do say so myself). I locked the doors, cracked the windows a bit for Georgia to have some fresh air, and dashed inside with my packages ready to ship.

A few minutes later, as I descended the steps of the post office on the way to the car, I was flagged down by a woman as I was opening the passenger side front door to put my bag and planner inside.

"Miss!" Miss!!" she hollered. She was double parked in middle of the street and looking really sheepish and not meeting my eyes as she made her way in my direction. I was surprised to find myself feeling vaguely annoyed with her summons, and I wondered with an odd sense of dread if she was even talking to me. I turned around to see if she could be possibly trying to summon somebody behind me. Whatever she wanted, it felt like bad news in polyester walking my way.

"Are you talking to me?" I finally asked her feeling, yes, I admit a bit impatient.

"Yes! I ran into your car!" she said somewhat out of breath as she reached my side, and with an expression I could not read in her eyes.

I was stunned. I almost didn't believe her. I didn't want to believe her. I was only in the post office a few minutes. Suddenly, I saw my whole day flash before my eyes. There would be insurance exchanges, endless phone calls, repair quotes. Just like in those old Bug's Bunny cartoons, I felt like steam was about to pour out of my ears. My productive Monday, gone. My disbelief turned back to my original and unexplained annoyance with this woman.

NO. This couldn't be happening.

I ran around to the driver's side and sure enough a large, sizeable dent. It buckled the door and I was worried the hinge was damaged and I might not be able to open the door. Then I remembered Georgia had been waiting for me in the car. I looked for our very hard to miss Great Dane, who usually manages to get her extra-large body in the front seat when she's waiting for me. At heart, Georgia wants to be the driver. She's an Aries, you know.

"But you're okay," she said insistently, matter of factly cutting in on my thoughts.

"Well, I should hope so, I wasn't the one in the car." I said a little miffed. I opened the door, (at least it still opened and checked out Georgia, she seemed shaken, a bit wary which is not like her at all, but in one piece.

Looking at the car, how in the heck did this lady manage to do this? Some mighty uh, creative parallel parking? A depth perception problem? Jeesh.

Then the lady, whom I shall refer to as "Mrs. Raviolis" because her name is so similiar to this spelling and pronunciation, apologized and said she wanted to take care of everything." "I want to do this "the right way," she said firmly.

Of course, I couldn't have agreed more.

I still didn't understand Mrs. Ravioli's explanation as to how she could have done the damage in the first place. And so forcibly. Accidents do happen, and sometimes to the best drivers with the best intentions. However, if she was parallel parking, wouldn't she have clipped a bumper instead of the entire door? It was a little fishy.

"I thought there was a space, and then I realized there wasn't .... she trailed off then waved her hand, as if by way of explanation. "Oh, I could just curse in Italian right now," she said shaking her head dramatically.

I'm usually the emotional one, but I remained very unmoved by Mrs. Ravioli's display of emotion.

Then she turned to me and looked me over. Sometimes when I'm very upset I get very quiet. "The quiet before the storm" as Himself likes to say. This was a quiet time as I was trying digest what she was telling me, and kicking myself for not having my cell phone on me for once. The day somebody rams my car, I leave my cell phone at home. Yep. I should have listened to my instincts about leaving later. I wondered if I should call the Petaluma police to get a record of the damage she had done.

"Well, at least your taking this very well," she said suddenly, shrewdly appraising me. "I'm glad you're not too upset. I just... I just don't want to get sued!"

That, my friends is when I felt like some mighty colorful language could bubble up from my tongue.

Sued? This woman with the depth perception of a bat and apparently the most curious parallel parking skills on the Western Hemisphere, missing her mark by about eleven feet, was worried she would get sued? By me? Did I look like the litigious type? I knew I didn't, but it made me wonder if the woman was hiding something, or not telling me all the details. Had she been drinking? Was she on medication that prohibited driving?

Word of advice to those who collide with others, never mention the possibility of being sued. You are as much as accusing the person you ran into that you think they will sue you. Not the best way to get things handled. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I stared at her long coral-painted fingernails with sparkly bits embedded into the ends and finally spoke. "Nobody wants to get sued, I said, but I want this taken care of. My day is already shot, I want to make sure my dog is okay. Now, I'm going to have to go home and call my insurance company - immediately. Now let's get this handled shall we?"

I think she could hear the sudden ice in my voice, because Mrs. Raviolis quickly whipped herself into action, and asked me what I needed from her.

What did I need? My brain was suddenly confused. Insurance policy, phone number.... license plate... what else? This doesn't happen to me everyday, ya know, so suddenly the details of what I needed to do were a bit foggy. Was I protecting myself enough by getting all the necessary info from this woman.

"Now, you call my insurance agent at AllState." she said.

Why would I call her insurance agent? Good lord. My insurance agent would handle all that. I would only need to talk with her agent in the need of a statement.

We walked over and examined her car, which had a minor paint scrape on the back right bumper. No dents. She whipped out her cell phone and began taking photos of her car and mine. I kicked myself once again for not having my cell phone on me.

"Not too bad, she said, maybe about 300 dollars?" she asked me.

How in the heck would I know? I don't exactly look like your average body and fender kind of gal. Not by a long shot. But I did know, possibly the entire door would need replacing judging by the dent and the buckle in the support areas. Three hundred dollars might cover the paint job, if she was lucky. And we all know about the price of labor. Ack!

Later, safely at home, I phoned my agent. She got it handled so smoothly. It took minutes, and she waived my deductible and gave me a o% fault, as she rightly should. Then she set up my rental car. God bless Triple A and their personable and professional folks.

I went to get estimates for the repair work, which is considerably more as I predicted. Mrs. Ravioli's estimate was way under the ball park.

I'm bummed. I will miss my old reliable "Georgia mobile," as we call it while it's in the shop getting it's injuries repaired. It's been reliable for an American made jalopy. I've dodged two tornados in Georgia with it, out-ran a fierce rain and lightening storm in Wyoming. I bought it in Georgia, and it's been across the country with me. Best of all, it's paid for and it's never let me down. One of these days, I will have to replace this jalopy. That will be a sad day. It doesn't deserve to have it's doors crashed into to by Mrs. Ravioli's new black and shiny SUV. I will drive this thing until the wheels fall off if it keeps running this strong. Though, Himself has been investigating a hybrid due out next spring that gets 300 mpg. Wish somebody would have invented this car years ago.

We hope to get the Georgia mobile back as good as new. If not, you'll hear about it from Mrs. Aronson, loud and clear.

On that note, anyone have some particularly good luck with auto body repair shops here in Petaluma? Any referrals? Or any suggestions as to ones we should steer clear of? I think we've made our choice, but I like to get as many referrals as possible.

Poor Mrs. Raviolis. I'm sure she didn't intend to crunch my car, or try to maim my dog, and it probably ruined her day too. And I suppose, as I was not in the car when she mangled it, I should count myself lucky she didn't pull a hit and run.

Then again, the post office is mighty busy. Somebody would have certainly witnessed her collision with my car. In fact, there was a woman parked in back of me watching the whole scene. So, she might have witnessed it. Not that Mrs. Raviolis necessarily has the character of a "hit and run" type, but as a body repair estimator said, "We see it all the time, people saying they will take responsibility for their actions, then they don't."

Look on the bright side, I only went to the Post Office at that particular time because I wanted to be sure to get my packages shipped early to my customers. What I won't do, for you my wonderful customers. Sighh. :)

So, January has arrived with a bang weather-wise with all of these storms knocking out our hot water heater and knocking out power to over a million people in NoCal. The old jalopy, (who's birthday is in January, btw), got a bit of a crash-bang up too.

But hey, I'm sure my customers received their packages in a timely manner.

Which is a good subject for another blog, what won't you do to please customers? What will you endure and where are the limits? For me , it a lack of ethics and rudeness. I know some people will put up with this for a very well-paying client. I will not. We have our limits.

Happy New Year, and happy birthday to all my fabulous "Cappies" out there!