Monday, November 30, 2009

Home again, home again

We had a safe, fun trip to and from Louisiana this weekend. It was both low-key and exhausting, just as a good family weekend should be. I'll get back to my regular posting tomorrow, but today I just wanted to share three things:
  1. The main difference between school craft shows in Oklahoma and Louisiana is the insane number of women selling jalapeno jelly in the latter. (Yum, by the way.)
  2. My cranky, anti-consumerism post is now up on Tasha Does Tulsa's blog.
  3. I was lucky enough to be included in my love's family photo, even though I'm still just an accessory. Doesn't he come from beautiful stock?

I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shopping ethically

I warn you -- this is as much educational as it is a rant. I don't mean to offend anyone who shops at the big box stores, but I needed to get this off my chest.

In light of this weekend's Black Friday shopping craziness, I've been reading lots of opinions that people have a duty to get out there and shop for the holidays. One even went so far as to say that not consuming means you are injuring the local economy. This opinion really ruffled my feathers. Though my feathers are fairly easily ruffled, I just found this statement to be biased and unfounded by research. So I decided to combat it by writing this post. :)

Blind consumerism is not good for anyone. Sure, every purchase made at a store sends some money back into the local economy, but there are limits. The 3/50 Project has some good information that I will poach for my purposes: "For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home." Of course, it depends on what you buy in a local store. If you pick up a Tulsa-made item in a Tulsa-operated store, more of your dough will stay in Tulsa. If you buy a trinket from a local store that is manufactured in a Salvadoran sweatshop, then more of your money will go elsewhere. (I would also argue that there is one exception to the online bit: if you shop locally on Etsy, some money does come back to the community. You can find Oklahoma sellers by searching OKEtsy Team.)

If you buy all your holiday presents from local stores, then yes, you are doing a great deal for the community. You are supporting mom-and-pop businesses and putting a good chunk of change back into the local economy. I would commend you for that. But how many of us will actually do this? How many will hit up Target or (gasp!) Walmart for 50% or more of our purchases? Yes, it's convenient and cheap, but at what human cost? There are countless articles online detailing the unfair labor practices of the big box stores -- just hit up Google. (That doesn't even include the horrible treatment of the sweatshop employees in third world countries who produce most of the goods we consume. Do some research. It'll break your heart.) There is also a ton of information about the adverse environmental impact of major corporations. Those are not gifts I want to give on Christmas Day.

To insinuate that it is my American duty to consume like there's no tomorrow is just insulting. I pay sales taxes pretty much every day. I eat out more than I should, I buy ridiculous amounts of craft supplies, and I get 99% of my groceries from the overpriced Whole Foods. The State of Oklahoma receives plenty of money from me and my meager income. None of us should feel guilted into overspending at the holidays. It will only lead to feelings of guilt and debt. Seriously. How many times have we spent far more money than we could afford because we believed that's what we're supposed to do? That's not what the holidays are supposed to be about. The consumerist spirit, I believe, is dangerous. It encourages us to buy more than we should. All those products must come from somewhere, bringing with them jobs, yes, but also hideous working conditions and a growing hole in the ozone layer. Consumerism also teaches our children that they should want things when there is so much more to life than having the biggest pile of Barbies.

To insinuate, too, that I should shop for gifts instead of making them really makes my blood boil. I buy the vast majority of my craft supplies locally, many from independent shops (The Bead Merchant and Loops, just to name two). So in essence, the items I make are purchased locally. I just don't need to spend a bunch of money on questionably manufactured items to get great gifts. Plus, I get the satisfaction of a job well done, and the recipients know that each thing they receive from me was lovingly made just for them. You can't put a price on that.

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Of course, most people aren't as crazy as me apt to handmake most of their gifts. That's totally fine. It's fun for me, but I'm not like most people. What you can do is support independently produced and ethically traded goods. It's not as hard as it sounds! Every time you buy handmade items from people in your community, you are paying sales tax as well as giving money directly to the artist, who in turn puts his or her earnings back into the community. You are also taking a stand against items mass-produced potentially under horrible conditions and questionable morals. You can also give items from any of the many locally owned businesses. If you live in Tulsa and don't know where to start, let me know. They are every where, and they are the soul of this city.

In sum, consumerism is not going to save the world. Any flow of local sales tax is a short-term asset, but don't let anyone else guilt you into overspending this holiday season to express your love. Buy from independent makers or independent stores if you aren't inclined to make something yourself. Show loved ones your affection by quality, not quantity. Save your pocketbook and your sanity. Remember: just because you have plenty doesn't mean you have to give thanks by tossing it at every Black Friday sale. If you live in Oklahoma and would like to hit up some great, super-ethical Black Friday sales, check out the list here.

Thankful Thursday, Thanksgiving-style

I'm sending another Thankful Thursday your way ... FROM THE FUTURE! Yeah yeah, I guess it's actually from the past since I wrote this before the day you'll actually read it, but FROM THE FUTURE! sounds so much cooler than FROM THE PAST. Anyway, here is what I"m thankful for this Thanksgiving Day:

1. Time with someone else's family. Is that bad? Thanksgiving has always been a stressor in my life due in part to having divorced parents and then attending college far, far away. I'm enjoying spending time with my taller half's loved ones this year.

2. Long weekends. I'm enjoying three days of vacation thanks to the holiday and one day of annual leave. Did the printed materials I ordered for work arrive safely yesterday? I don't care! I'm on vacation!

3. Having someone to share all my holidays with. I love you, baby, and I'm always thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the road yet again

My love and I are making the drive today to visit his family in one of Louisiana's bustling metropolises. No, not that one. Not that one either. Oh OK, so it's not exactly a great big city, but I just got back from Durant, Oklahoma, so this will feel like a major metropolitan area. ;)

I can't wait to see his family and celebrate Thanksgiving at his parents' home. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful holiday. I'll write about our trip when I get home. Look for a couple of scheduled posts from me over the long weekend. Happy Tofurkey Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jingle Bash Recap #1

Mom and I had a wonderful time at Jingle Bash. It was unbelievably crowded when we arrived at straight-up 1:00 that we decided to grab lunch before heading in. Neither of us know Dallas well, but we soon determined that the area surrounding the show -- Deep Ellum -- had lots of food offerings. We selected Lemongrass. The food was tasty, but the service was iffy. We ended up waiting more than 15 minutes to order because the waiter struck up a conversation with one of the three other tables there for 10 minutes or more. Not cool, dude.

Anyway, after we finished eating, we made the short drive back to the Sons of Hermann Hall. The place was packed! We each did our part to support handmade this year by buying a few gifts for others and plenty for ourselves, too. I'm going to unleash it on you in small doses. First up is my new purse from the wonderful Rachel Elise. Have I mentioned I'm really into trees lately?


Check out the lovely lining (and proof that I've already put it to use).

Seriously, the tree is just precious.

Next up is my new headband from Enju.


She explained that the embellishment is all-natural, Texas-grown cotton that she hand-dyed. Neat, huh? Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without a silly picture of me modeling the headband, now would it?


And now we have my cute new cardigan embellished by Midnight Snack.

It's partly sunny on my chest today! Wait, does that sound weird? Probably not as weird as I actually am.

I'll send some more your way after I return from Louisiana!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whimsical rings at The Felt Bird!

I'm finally sending some more whimsical rings to The Felt Bird today. They've only been requested for about a month now. Way to be on the ball, Brigid! Anyway, hopefully by Black Friday, you'll be able to purchase more Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz goodies in Enid. Can you spot some of your favorites?
I'm sending 20 designs this time, including plenty of Alice herself:

And some adorable Dorothies, too:

Avoid Black Friday craziness by shopping The Felt Bird. They open at 11:00, and I read that there might be some tasty treats, too.

Poll -- new scrub fragrance

I'm making a new body scrub fragrance, and I need your help! Please respond to the poll posted in the upper right of my blog. You can select multiple answers, and please feel free to leave me a comment on this or any subsequent post with your "other" choice. I'm going for variety so that everyone can have a favorite.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Jingle Jangle Weekend

I'm headed down to the exciting, bustling metropolis of Durant, Oklahoma this weekend to visit my mother. While there, we are going to the EtsyDallas Jingle Bash. I'm really excited to get my crafty shopping on. Mom and I had planned to do so at The Girlie Show, but dual migraines kept us in T-Town. This will be our make-up shopping session.


If any of you are already fans of Harrilu (I sure am!), then check out today's post. Wear any Harrilu shirt, dress, skirt or tunic to the show to receive up to 20% off your purchase! I guess I'll be rethinking my Jingle Bash attire to save a little green.


I hope to see some of you there!

Me on OklaVision

Me and my mug will be on OklaVision today shortly after the clock strikes noon to promote the Fresh Blend Handmade Gift Boutique and all the fun craft demos we'll be doing between now and Christmas. Click here to watch live beginning at noon Central time or wait until after 1:00 to see the archived show throughout the weekend.

Happy viewing (and shopping)!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crafty Vegan Food Adventures #1

Here is my yesterday in food.
I usually have oatmeal with pecans, cinnamon and maple syrup for breakfast, but after about two solid months of it, I decided to make a change. I didn't want anything sweet, so somehow I decided on an English muffin spread with refried black beans and salsa. Yes, that's really what I've been eating shortly before 8:00 in the morning. With orange juice, of course. My camera had a foggy lens apparently, so it's hard to see. Behold the close-up:


It's a weird breakfast, but it's ridiculously filling and delicious! The English muffins are Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain brand -- hearty and tasty. The beans are 365 (Whole Foods) spicy refried black beans (fat-free and vegetarian), and the salsa was made by love's incredibly talented coworker. The orange, as always, is Tropicana Homestyle (some pulp).

At work, I had a mug of my favorite tea ever:
It's Harney & Sons' White Christmas Tea. I served it in my gorgeous mug from Forever Tuesday.
This was my raw lunch. Feast your eyes upon half a head of endive, cherry tomatoes, raw sunflower seeds and tahini sauce. The sauce was a variation on this recipe. It should also have included avocado chunks, but sadly I cut into the little bugger only to find brown spots throughout. This salad was still surprisingly filling, and man that sauce is good. I followed it up with a not-so-raw one of these:
These soft chocolate chip cookies are once again from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I'll post the recipe if anyone is interested.

I was going to eat an apple for a snack, but lunch kept me surprisingly full. I did manage to chug down about 64 ounces of water throughout the work day, too. So here's dinner:
These are leftover baked falafel from the night before covered in -- yep -- more tahini sauce (not gravy, as the picture seems to indicate). I got the recipe here. I think I messed up the spice ratios because the falafel itself was terribly bland, but coated in the garlic-heavy sauce, it was tasty and filling.

I had more orange juice and another cookie (OK, too) for dessert. All in all, my diet wasn't as produce-heavy as I would have liked (damn you, avocado!), but it was still a fairly good eating day. I definitely got my fiber, thanks to Loops.

Tee hee, I got plenty of dietary fiber, too.

So that's my Wednesday in food. I hope you enjoyed! I plan to do another post next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trading for crafty holiday goods

We all love to give beautiful, unique, handmade goods for the holidays whenever we can. However, it's hard to find the time and energy to make 50 knit sweaters -- plus, does everyone in your family really want a variation on the same item? That's where the amazing, gorgeous gal that is my dear friend Holly of HollyRocks steps in this year with her 2009 Hollyday Tradeoff. Do you want to trade with other crafters for amazing gifts this year? Then head over to her blog post and fill out the requested information. If you want to trade with me, you can comment here or convo me on Etsy.

Let's get trading!

Crafty Vegan Food Adventures

I read a lot of vegan food blogs mostly because I think almost constantly of food. A lot of my favorites, including The Voracious Vegan, do regular posts of everything they've eaten that day (called Everyday Nums on her blog). I think it's interesting, so I have decided to do the same thing on my little writing corner. My plan is to do this weekly, but I am committing to nothing at this point. Tomorrow I will feature all of today's yumminess. For the moment, though, I wanted to share my new favorite quick, easy, delicious dinner: cornbread with chile beans.

I will be the first to admit that dried beans taste a lot better than canned ones. They're also a lot more work and require planning, so I always keep some canned beans around just in case. We'd had a thing of Whole Foods brand seasoned chile beans for, well, I have no idea how long. I was cold and cranky and tired Monday night, but seeing them in the pantry gave me a little (read: very, very small amount) of cooking energy. The result:

The cornbread is one of my favorite vegan baked goods. It takes minutes to prepare, and it is every bit as good as dairy-filled recipes I've made. Borrowed lovingly from The Joy of Vegan Baking, here it is:
Ingredients
1.5 cups non-dairy milk (I used rice)
1.5 Tbsp white vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp canola oil
.5 to 1 cup whole corn kernels (optional -- I skipped them this time)

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
2. Combine milk and vinegar in a bowl, set aside.
3. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the milk mixture and oil (and corn, if using), stirring until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes. Makes 9 servings.

To make the chile beans, open the can and pour into a saucepan. Heat them. Add spices if you'd like. Yep, that's all I did. I put cayenne, black pepper and some chile powder on them. They were fine by themselves, but served on top of the cornbread, they were amazing. Divine convergence.

Look for more food from me tomorrow!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fresh Blend Boutique and classes

Thanks to everyone who came out to Fresh Blend on Saturday! We had a blast and met lots of interesting people. I'll post some pictures another day this week.

Today marks the beginning of the ongoing Fresh Blend Handmade Gift Boutique at Fresh Roast. Any time between now and Christmas, drop by to purchase great handmade items by the Tulsa Craft Mafia and friends.

Tomorrow will be the first of our three-part series of crafty classes as well. For only $3, you will receive materials and instruction on making your own totally unique holiday cards. Andrea of Paper Lotus Design Group provides assistance. This is a great activity for all ages, so don't miss it! While not required, RSVPing to enroll@maketulsa.com is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fresh Blend in the news

Fresh Blend starts in just a few hours! An article by Jason Ashley Wright ran in the Tulsa World today highlighting our sure-to-be-spectacular sale. Read it here. Don't forget to come see us at Fresh Roast Coffee House between 2 and 7 today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tomorrow is Fresh Blend!

Don't forget to come out to Fresh Roast Coffee House at 81st and Harvard tomorrow to shop handmade goods from the Tulsa Craft Mafia and friends!

And then starting on Monday, join us for the Fresh Blend Boutique. Throughout the next month, we will feature classes and events. Check out our flyer:


I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What love is

Roses, candy, unexpected gifts, and kisses are good ways to show you love someone.

Want to know an even better way? Take a day off from work to help your significant other fight soap scum, organize DVDs, vacuum, scour, mop, sweep, and eventually pass out from the lower back pain.

That, my friends, is true love.

Thank you, baby!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I don't think I mentioned that a month or two ago, I switched to a mostly vegan diet. I try to eat totally dairy-free Sunday-Friday and then splurge on Saturdays. The result has been a 9-pound weight loss, fewer migraines and more energy. A lot of people picture this diet as being pretty much all lettuce, but I promise that isn't true. I still eat plenty of tasty treats and hearty meals. I'm going to start featuring more recipes and such on my blog and hopefully, starting next week, I'll participate in Choosing Raw's raw Wednesday challenge.

Sunday I decided I had to make something sweet and vegan to munch on this week. I found an easy recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking, so I grabbed all the necessary ingredients from the store on our weekly run. The result is a sweet, delicious, peanut buttery dish of awesome.
I had some requests on Twitter for the recipe I used to make some vegan no-bake treats. (The requests were probably due to my incessant bragging over how good they are.) Here you go:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
2 cups crispy rice cereal, crushed (or not, if you're lazy)
1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter (Smucker's creamy is the best)
1.5 cups confectioners' sugar (recipe calls for 2)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Earth Balance, melted, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup (or more) vegan chocolate chips

1. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cereal, peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup Earth Balance, and vanilla. Spread the mixture into the baking dish.
3. Melt together the chocolate chips and remaining 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance in a small saucepan, double broiler, or the microwave. Stir constantly. When all is melted, spread the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture. Use a rubber spatula to even it out.
4. Let sit 1 to 2 hours. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Makes 12 to 18 squares depending on how you cut them.

The pictures don't do them justice (mostly because they were taken with my cell phone). They are rich and tasty. The chocolate is an accent to the peanut butter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Recap

A migraine kept me away from The Girlie Show this weekend. I cannot adequately express my disappointment. Mom and I had big plans to knock out some holiday shopping, but it was not meant to be since we were both afflicted by the same head pain. We did venture out to the Garden Deva Open Studio Tour on Friday evening for a bit, where I bought some lovelies (pictures to come).

Generally a weekend full of migraine pain is a pretty miserable one. However, my taller half and I made do with what we had. Our disc that allows us to stream Netflix "watch instantly" movies through our PlayStation 3 arrived, so we tore through a few things to test it out. We watched the first season of the British The Office and Frozen River. We also enjoyed Sunshine Cleaning on disc. I also knitted. Oh, did I knit. I am almost finished with a scarf for my sister and a hat for my, well, someone else. (I have yet to decide whose head is worthy of such a lovely hat.) I also made a fleece scarf, which I hope to show you all later this week.

On Sunday, I met with the gals of the Tulsa Craft Mafia about our show on Saturday. What show, you ask? This one:

Come out and see us!

What did you do this warm weekend?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Thankful" Thursday

I am having a hideous, rotten, no good, very bad week. It's the kind of week where everything goes wrong and everyone seems to think it's your fault. There's been yelling, stomping, accusing, and passive agression. The Rilo Kiley lyric fits me so well right now: "There's blood in my mouth 'cause I've been biting my tongue all week." It's hard to feel thankful when the 40-hour grind is this, well, grinding, but I'm trying to keep myself out of a funk. So here's my less-than-enthusiastic list of what I'm thankful for this week:

1. My little purple Nano, once again. It has helped me drown out the sounds of angry and crazy this week.

2. My boyfriend. He makes me feel better when I'm ready to kill somebody or dissolve into a puddle.

3. My Taylor Swift albums. I know no 25-year-old, indie-rock lovin' lady should enjoy her teenybopper music as much as I do, but oh well. It makes me sing along, which always improves my mood. (Before anyone says anything, ask yourself, "Did I read and enjoy Twilight? If so, you don't get to make fun of me! :P)

So go ahead, tell me something that will make me smile.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mostly finished hat

I showed pictures last week of a hat I was working on. I am 95% finished with it, so I had to share. Ta da!
Here it is on my head. I probably should have made it a little longer, but this works, too.

The incomplete 5% is the little hole at the top. I'm not sure the "right" way to sew it up, so I need to investigate.


It's soft, colorful and my new best friend. I'm already working on another one to give away as a Christmas gift. Hurray!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween fun!

We did things a little backward this Halloween. We dressed up and went out Friday night and then stayed in on Saturday. We're just a couple of laid back fools, so our low-key approach suited us well. Friday night, we suited up after work and headed to Gardner's Used Books for a Vincent Price movie night with some fellow non-partiers. The first film was The Last Man on Earth, which was accidentally silly. We were both too tired to stay for the second, which was the much better The House on Haunted Hill. In between movies, they gave out prizes for the costume contest. Though I thought we were the cutest and cleverest, we did not win.

Oh yes, the costumes. We both have a strong policy against anything slutty or obvious, so we decided to go as Audrey Horne and Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. Did anyone recognize us? No, but we had a blast. Here's the pair in question, for reference.


Here's me in my full Audrey get-up. (I apologize in advance for the cell phone pictures. I left my good camera at work.)


My sweater, skirt and shoes all came from Goodwill. I think the total was about $15. I am wearing the top again today! I was going for authenticity, so I curled up my hair and drew on my mole.


My love was a truly dapper Agent Cooper. His blazer and white shirt were also Goodwill steals for $18 total. Everything else was his already.


He carried a coffee mug, which he then used at Gardner's.


Here we are happily in love before the first movie started.


The people in front of us said we looked great. When we told them who we were, the woman said, "You're not old enough to remember that show!" I replied, "I'm not, but he is," which incited much giggling. Our choice of characters may have been a self-depricating reference to our age difference. After we left, I declared that I needed a snack, which led us to IHOP. I proceeded to eat a "snack" of two pumpkin pancakes, two scrambled eggs, and a mountain of hashbrowns. Then I felt wistful.


The following day, actual Halloween, was mostly spent celebrating my baby sister's 11th birthday at my dad's new house. I can't believe little Sarah is 11! Here I am with the birthday girl -- nay, young lady.

Afterward, we spent the evening gorging on chocolate (not a single trick-or-treater came) and watching The Wicker Man and Peeping Tom (during which I may have fallen asleep). I hope your Halloween celebrations were as fun and wholesome as ours!

About Me

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Tulsa, OK, United States
Hello! Welcome to my blog, which I run in conjunction with my Etsy shop, greyeyedesigns.etsy.com. Here, I'll track things I'm working on, do reviews and interviews, and offer advice and information. Thanks for stopping by!

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