Valuing the Effort

•October 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

singer-machine-smallI am not the sewer my mom was. She sewed my clothes when I was a kid and later she took advanced classes to learn to tailor suits and even to do upholstery.  When I was a kid I used my grandfather’s old Singer which had been converted from a pedal to electric and learned to backstitch by turning the fabric 180 degrees….the stitcher only went forward.

I didn’t sew for years and even gave away my newer machine (It had cams for various stitches!) to someone who wanted one after I had not used it for about 5 years. And I missed it almost immediately. Does that fit one of the natural laws of behavior?

So when I started sewing again, it was a new learning curve and while I had ideas, my ability was not able to translate the concepts as well as I wished.  After making bags for about fours years it seemed like a switch got flipped and the quality of my creations jumped up quite a bit.  I had the courage to get rid of the fiascos after storing them for another year or so.

Now, I don’t sew again as much. I have been busy with my business to preserve locally grown foods, Can-Do Real Food, and there has been no time for the sewing since June.  But the holiday craft fair is Thanksgiving weekend and I also promised a Facebook friend I would make a bag. As the canning pressure (ha ha a play on words there) has reduced, I need to clear off the sewing table in my office/workroom.sewing room

The Holiday market this Thanksgiving weekend will have 75 artists, artisans and craftspeople who will be offering their concepts of love for sale. And it is love for sale. Love of craft is what drives people DSCN4974to spend hours and hours producing something by hand that many consumers do not recognize as different from the mass produced stuff at the big box store.

Like locally raised versus cheap food, many people think a well sewn handbag is equivalent to a bag sewn in a sweat shop in VietNam. Or maybe, the average consumer does not think much at all about what it takes in time, learning curve, special tools, material costs, to assemble something they love and hope you do too.  Maybe the average person is completely unaware, even when hearing about sweatshops in Pakistan each time one collapses and kills people, that this is not a historic concept but one that is happening today.  Maybe the idea of paying the craftsman a fair price for his time and material is just not palatable but paying a worker $1 a day in a developing country is okay?DSCF6184

This holiday shopping season is only five weeks away. The ads will be bombarding you to NEED items and like sheep, many people will flock to the mall to buy something just like hundred of others they see there.shirts

A craftsperson can make you an unique gift for the very special person on your list. Many, if you catch them early enough, will even custom produce something you order specially, in the favorite colors and with all the features that loved one would enjoy.  For example, I used to sew bags I enjoyed and offered them for sale at various markets. In time I stopped and offered to make custom bags. I made fewer in all, but the recipients were THRILLED with their purchase because it was made especially for them with their choices and wants.chairKindle Fire bag Marjorie

Take the time and set aside at least 15% of your holiday budget to spend at crafts fairs. The money you spend will stay in the community, enhancing the local economy in ways spending at the big box store never can.

Be a patriotic – and loving – shopper this year. support artists




You Can Do It

•November 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The mad dash has started. One of my pet peeves this time of year is how the hyperness to December 25 is how to fill the space under the tree and we forget to pause for Thanksgiving.

So, off we go, stressed because the budget is tight but we MUST MUST MUST buy buy buy. And so, we check out Black Friday ads. Stand in line starting at 3am in order to grab that one piece of electronic gadgetry that will somehow make our personal world complete.

Stop. Think.

You Can Do It.

  • First, be realistic. Who REALLY “needs” a Christmas present from you. Make your list. Check it twice.
  • Second, consider your budget. You’re living paycheck to paycheck? Your credit cards are already maxed out? Well, start with the assumption you can’t spend a lot of money. Know that number and stick to it.
  • Third, know your gift recipient. Consider their hobbies, their interests, their needs.
  • Fourth, think broader and consider WHY the economy is strained.  While you hear spending is good for the economy, there are ways to spend that have more impact than others. When you buy something at a large store (think Wal-Mart or Best Buy or a shop at the mall that is a national or international chain) the money you spend mostly leaves your town. The employees get paid, the rent is paid, but that is it. Think instead of helping boost the local economy by shopping and spending in locally owned shops.

One of the spectacular options this time of year are the number of holiday bazaars that are held each weekend. Some are glorified flea markets. Some have high end juried crafts. Many are a mixture.

hand craftedHere in McMinnville I was persuaded/bamboozled/arm-twisted/convinced to take on the management of one such bazaar. I was not completely idiotic and one wonderful friend who has run several annual seasonal holiday shops is working with me.

??????????The Holiday Bazaar at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds is attracting a wide array of artists, artisans and crafters.  Items for sale will include jewelry,rings trivet lasagnawood products, sewn items, food items and so much more.???????????????????????????????wreath2 Price range of items offered run the spectrum from 50 cents to $500.00.image (7)

What a bazaar like this offers is for you to take some time, slow down, understand the handcrafted nature of the items being presented. The skill and time that went into producing each piece. The uniqueness of the items.

beltsWhen you purchase from individuals who take the time to share a talent, you are not only truly supporting your neighbor, but you are lovingly considering each of your gift recipients, their individual needs and wants, and then presenting them with something that is unique and lovingly made, not mass produced in a sweat shop in the Far East.

Take the time to use your heart, not just your wallet, this season. You Can Do It.

What a Great Idea!!!

•October 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

wine and cheese party

I bet you have been to a party where you were handed a glass of wine and then started to gather some yummies on a plate at the buffet. And then you looked for a place to sit down so you could enjoy the treats.  That’s when you discovered your hosts’ aunts were enjoying the sofa or simply, seating was not provided.

How, oh how could you enjoy your wine and food?How could you, with both hands full, greet friends with a handshake or a hug?

spilled wine

To avoid spills, consider using one of the wine and cheese party trays available now?  Graham has designed this to be lightweight but strong, and well supported by one hand. The wine glass slips into its slot via an L-shaped groove that will eliminate accidental spills.

wine and cheese traya

People can have their wine and eat easily.  Your guests can mingle easily, shaking hands or hugging, depending on the friendliness of your and cheese tray

Do you entertain when you have more people than places to sit at a table?  These wine and cheese party platters would be an ideal answer. Food safe and easy to clean by hand washing, you do not need a plate.

How about as a holiday gift for someone you know who enjoys throwing parties? Perfect, easy to ship if out of the area.

stain choicesChoice of stains. $15 a piece or $12 each for 6 or 7 trays. After that $10 each up to 20. If you want more than 20 trays, Graham can give you a special price. He has made many for several venues in the area that hold regular gatherings as well as shipping holiday orders to friends in other states.

Email or call Graham at 304-634-1532. It takes about two weeks to produce, so order with plenty of time!


Simple Enough…..Grows

•August 12, 2014 • 1 Comment

It started simply enough. I met a woman at my acupuncturist office where she was bringing a wooden pegged rack for them to install in the massage room. While she took care of giving them that gift I chatted with her husband who was the wood worker.

Always happy to connect Graham with someone with a similar interest, when she and I started talking and she heard I sew custom bags, it was only a matter of time until I invited her over to look through my fabrics.fabric totes

I have recently, in my attempt to de-catify the room, straightened my work room and even sorted my fabrics into tubs by color. This made is easy for her to sort through the fabric and her gasps of delight was fun to hear.

Her pile of desired fabrics started to grow pretty impressively and finally she came up for air.fabrics

We then designed what she hoped for: a large hand carried tote that would hold her electronic notebook and a purse.  She had brought all the items she needed to carry in her purse so I could understand her need for pockets, pen slides, and other aspects of design that will make this custom bag hers.notebook case iinterior with pocket

Today I had some time to grab to start sewing and finished the notebook bag. It is well padded to provide some added protection, with pockets in and out for some papers and other small items.  Velcro tabs to keep it all in place.

notebook case finished


This notebook bag will fit into one of the interior pockets of the tote. A purse will fit into the other.

How can I help you design something custom that fits your needs?

Something to Wear

•May 21, 2014 • 5 Comments

My daughter Lisa is at a point in her life when she is pushing boundaries. Possibly one reason it doesn’t bother me is that she is 28-years-old and an adult. The other is that I am a bit envious, wishing I had been that adventurous at her age.

A few months ago she started collecting ties. Yes,  men’s ties. She had an idea and this week, even though I had to put in a zipper,  we made it a reality.Lisa skirtb

Trusting My Instincts

•March 21, 2014 • 4 Comments

I don’t consider myself an artist. Oh, I can take halfway decent photos that look better after a bit of editing, but I am not in the same game as many other people. Cr069I sew my bags and other fabric creations but there are many whose finished products are more finely made.Kindle Fire bag Marjorie

I started picking up small furniture pieces that can use some refinishing and should be socially acceptable, but others do a much neater job.sun table

photo 2 (17)

And now, I have played with fused glass.  Lisa picked up a groupon coupon for a fused glass place, MorArt, in Lincoln City. Located on the coast, it is an hour west of where I live. I certainly had no clear cut concept of what I wanted to make when we got there but I knew my limitations. I knew I could not produce a “realistic” picture using the glass so I stuck to some geometrics while Lisa has a bit of help to produce her masterpiece.

I did know, however, that I might be able to produce a lovely Seder Plate if I designed it within my capabilities. I searched on line for plates for sale and saw many that were absolutely gorgeous, and correspondingly, beyond the scope of what I felt I could produce.

photo 1DSCF5785I knew my size limitations for the piece I would be making; it needed to hold the symbolic foods served at the Seder.  And since those cups are a turquoise, the colors of the plate would need to complement them.

Together with the able help of Maurice and Danny at MorArt I managed to produce a Seder plate that will hopefully grace my table for years to

Safe and Secure

•January 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

When my youngest son headed off to college this fall we sent him with his desktop computer and a notebook, something he assured us would more than suffice. Well, something happened to the desktop as we drove to the campus and he reported to me within days of setting up his room that it was broken. His notebook was not, as he had hoped, up to the task to take care of all his computing needs.

So a new laptop was on Santa’s list for Christmas. And I got busy to provide a safe and secure bag for carrying it.

First and foremost, a laptop bag must protect that expensive piece of electronic hardware. I first made a well padded slip case with outer pockets for the cord and anything else he might want, like a mouse.Sam slip bag inside

Then I made the outer bag with sturdy seams and in a fabric he would feel happy toting.Sam laptop insideSam laptop bag

We put the laptop into its two bags and then back into the box and wrapped it merrily. He was thrilled with the laptop but also extremely pleased with his new messenger bag aka laptop case.laptop 2013

If you have a laptop and need a bag, let me know. I can easily make you a custom bag with your choice of fabrics. I will need the measurements of the computer itself and the drop length of the strap. Contact me at


•November 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

credit cards

Every year at this time we see a public frenzy begin. People who complain they are broke spend way too much money on credit. People who sigh that Christmas has become a commercial season join in the mad dash to accumulate all those items that the advertisers on TV tell you that you need.

Stop. Think.

What is the message of this season? Why do we sing Peace on Earth? Why do we encourage Good Will to All?peace

Slow down. Plan the family gathering but aim for something different.

Slow down. Feel the peacefulness that this special time of year can bring.

Slow down. Come downtown and enjoy walking NE Third Street, visiting the shops and thoughtfully browsing.

Slow down. Stop at one of the downtown eateries for something warm.2009-12-10-hotchocolate1

Our shops in downtown McMinnville are locally owned boutiques with unique items.  We have toys, books, clothes, art, wine and so much more.

Instead of rushing to the big box stores in the hopes of the “deal of the hour”, slow down. Make a list. Thoughtfully consider each person you want to gift something special. What are their interests?

Photography? Got it in McMinnville’s downtown.

Clothes? Got it in McMinnville’s downtown.

Wine? Got it in McMinnville’s downtown.

Books on a kazillion topics? Got it in McMinnville’s downtown.

Art? One of a kind pieces? Got it in McMinnville’s downtown.

And the list goes on and

You are sucked in by the ads to shop online. You are pulled by the magnets of big dollars spent advertising at the stores. You are teased and tempted and assumed to be mindless to shop until you drop?

Are you falling for it? Or do you understand that the reason for the season is the joy? The gift giving is token of sharing that joy and love. It need not require big bucks.

Spread it around. When you make your thoughtful purchases from our small boutiques, the money stays in teh community, boosting our local economy. Win! Win!!

Travel for YOU

•November 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

How do you take a vacation? There seems basically to be five types of people:

staycation1-STAY AT HOME: I never travel. I hate sleeping on a strange bed and figuring out where to eat and what to do. I just hang out at home.

2-SPONTANEOUS: I hit the road and see where it takes me. I don’t bother to plan ahead.  I just see what interests me where I am.back-page-travel-as-you-go-quebec-car-cockpit-full

3- YEARLY ROUTINE: I started going to the mountains/lake/coast/shore/beach/city when I was young and I continue to go there every year. I stay in the same place and hang out with the same people.  I know it well, and although at times I wish there was something new to see, it is not worth changing.o-VACATION-TRENDS-570

4-PLANNER: I spend hours and hours and hours and hours on the Internet and searching for the best deal.  Part of the excitement of the trip is in the planning.InternetCorbis

5-DO IT FOR ME: I walk into a travel agent and plop down my money. I go on tours with lots and lots of people and see lots of stuff. I can cruise or grab a bus tour or any number of choices they offer me.  Of course I go and see what they tell me, but I don’t have to plan so it’s okay.hawaii-volcanonp

Each of those prior options are enjoyed by millions, but some of them have a bit of an itch for something better. There IS a sixth option. Similar to the 5th one, it involves discussing your options with a travel professional, but unlike agents who sell you a huge tour designed for mega groups of people, a travel planner finds out what YOU enjoy, what YOUR interests are and then, and only then, takes the time to custom design your vacation.  They don’t sell travel; they help you to make good decisions to perfectly match your travel desires!renaissance_travel_events

lyn fror NRLynda Phillippi of Renaissance Travel is one of these specialists. Together with her associates, they have extensive experience around the globe to help you on your way to a trip of a lifetime.

And the best part? It is affordable!!!travel richer

Surprisingly, the “deals” found by you and me and the guy next door on the Internet are NOT the best deals. Travel professionals have access to programs that are not advertised to the general public. And because of the way Lynda and her associates work for you, you end up flying for less, staying in lodging for less, and enjoy DOING more on your budget because the big ticket items are more affordable.

kayakRock in Greece

06couple-300x232Lynda reports that destination weddings are requested more and more often. Instead of inviting 300 of your not so nearest and dearest just because they would be insulted and make life miserable for you if the wedding is held in your town, take that wedding budget and fly away to a dream destination. There, all the arrangements will be made and you and your closest friends and family will enjoy a dream event. And you and your beloved can stay on to enjoy a wonderful honeymoon. It surprised me how affordable this option is!hawaii

Renaissance Travel & Events can be your travel planner, no matter where you live. Located in McMinnville, Oregon, one of Lynda’s strengths is communication and she will talk with you and get to know what YOU want.  It’s time you learn that a vacation can be a treasured experience to remember for a long long time!genie

Getting Ready for Art Walk

•November 12, 2013 • 1 Comment

Graham and I are pretty excited. This Saturday will be our first time to participate in the Art and Wine Walk in McMinnville, Oregon. The event is enhanced with free wine for the shoppers and, as you can imagine, there is usually an active crowd.

DSC_0248When we visited Oregon in July to locate our rental housing for when we moved here we visited an Art and Wine Walk in Springfield, a city about 80 miles south close to where my eldest son Dan lives in Eugene. At that time we noticed some differences from what we had experienced in Huntington, West Virginia.   The past two months we have made sure to visit all the shops participating in Art and Wine Walk in McMinnville and noticed that it has a similar pattern to what we saw in the summer in Springfield with some additions.

You can see Art Walk in McMinnville is much more than art and wine.

You can see Art Walk in McMinnville is much more than art and wine.

Basically, lots of people happy to have a taste of wine and eat the snacks provided. Very few artists or craftspeople.DSC_0004

We met a very nice shopkeeper in July and asked then if we could set up at her shop. Nancy and John own Found Objects which offers a wonderful eclectic mixture of things to brighten up your home or workspace, bling for yourself, holiday decor for festivities, and so much more. They have a table for us to be inside.FoundObjects_page smaller

Graham has been making a lot of his corkboard trivets,trivet lasagna cheese trays cheese boardaand even ornaments made out of corks.ornamentsa

Lisa has tons of ideas for bags and I am sewing like crazy to keep up with what she starts. xmas treeShe and I also are refinishing a small piece of furniture to test the waters in that area. No photo at this time, but it will be ready for Saturday! Bags are small, medium and large and include upcycled fabrics, purses, shopping totes, and more. There are aprons and rice bags also available.

The McMinnville Art and Wine Walk will be Saturday, November 16 from 4 to 8, but we will be set up before noon to catch the lunchtime shoppers as well! Thanks Nancy and John!! Found Objects is located at 512 NE Third Street.