Monday, December 29, 2008

Link chasing

Back to work today...
I'm still trying to get all the listings, all the photos and all the copy correct for the upcoming Folk School in March. It's almost all there, and all correct. Now if the web gremlins will just stay away.

Take a look and see if there are any classes you want to take this year. If you see any typos, or have any questions, holler. I really, really, really want to take the Cold Mountain class with Sara Grey, but I'm purty shure I'm gonna be way to busy facilitating to get to take a class... this year.

I had some great conversations with several crafters who are interested in joining our craft community at the Ozark Folk Center. We have several shops available for rent for the 2009 season and I've put out adds in many places. One of the people I emailed our "crafter's wanted" ad to called me to make sure it was ok if she changed the word "crafter" in the ad to crafts person or craft people. She said the word crafter is a slur in her part of the country. I responded that she was welcome to change it to craft people, or artisan if that would go over better. She laughed and said that people get artisan and artesian confused to easily and who knows what either one is, anyway!

When looking for calendars to list our Folk School and places to put our crafter ad, I found many place where we should be listed and aren't - I fixed that. I also found many, many places that had terribly old information about the Ozark Folk Center. That's not so easy to fix. And then I found information for fixing the sock knitting machine that we have in the spinning and weaving shop. (Do you know what a fork weight is?) and a good recipe and layout for my cheese making class (and mozarella kits are on sale through the 31st) and did you know that chainsaws were invented in the 1830's and the early 1900 ones were so big they had wheels and... I can justify every last bit of that diversion as work.

I do so love my job!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sweet cream butter

Nobody in the family has felt much like cooking since the electric stove went out. It seems to be a lot of trouble to either cook on the wood stove or dig out the electric skillet or the roasting pan.

But, that's really not a problem, because thanks to the sweet little Dexter cow in the picture, we have lots of butter! Buttered potatoes, buttered sweet potatoes, buttered vegetables... mmm, yumm!

On our farm, we each have the type of milk we prefer for cereal, coffee, hot cocoa, yogurt, pudding and cheese. In fact, our fridge is often about half-full of milk. When someone asked if we milked our sheep and I said that it wasn't worth the trouble, she must have thought I was nuts. I really should have explained that we already milk one cow and four goats. And it is hard enough keeping those two types of milk straight.

Lena's been out of town for a few days, so I've been milking everybody. It's not really that hard to keep track of - the cow gets milked into a plastic ice cream pail (I know plastic is not good, but Sweetie (the cow) hates the sound of milk squirting into metal) and the goats get milked into a proper stainless steel milk pail.

When the milk comes into the house, it gets strained and goes into containers to cool. The goat's milk is all mine, so it goes into plastic pitchers. The cow's milk goes into glass jars, which are easy to scoop cream out of. Lots of cream, sweet cream.

And about every three days Lena makes a batch of sweet, creamy butter. Life is good!

Hmm, this post started out to be about the irony of raising our own milk, making our own butter by hand and yet cooking all of our food in the microwave... that thread got lost somewhere, didn't it?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to life, back to Ebay

When I started my job at the Ozark Folk Center
I closed our ebay store and sold or gave away many parts of our business. There were many reasons, a big one was that I needed to focus on my new direction.

But lately, Lena and I have been talking about getting the Common Threads ebay store going again. She already does all the shipping for Shawn's Laffing Horse Crafts and our farm. And she is dyeing lots of wool and spinning beautiful yarns. I am still weaving some rugs and shawls and making Spirit Bells, along with the occasional hat and scarf. And Shawn still makes trilooms, ties brooms and carves even more incredible than ever crochet hooks. He sells most of his at his shop at the Folk Center and online at his own store, but he could let Lena sell a few.

So, this week, while I had five glorious days off from work, I sat back down to ebay. Lena's going to do most of the work and eventually take over the store, but I wanted to get it restarted.
It felt good to take the pictures, do the edits and write listings. I am writing much clearer and simpler than I used to. Just the facts. But it was comfortable and good to be back in the listing groove.

Some things have changed. Ebay now only allow you to accept Paypal, you can't take checks or money orders any more and they'll pull your listings if you say you do. I have a few auctions that may disappear because I didn't know that.
You get higher search rankings for free shipping, so of course we now need to figure shipping into our costs.
And the fees that you pay when your item sells have gone way up - 12% on our items - up from 8% when I closed the store in March. Ouch!
So you'll find our prices are a bit higher than they used to be. Lena's better than I am at making sure things are priced fairly, for us and for the customer. I tend to give things away and then wonder why we can't afford supplies.

It was good to be back at it. And I haven't even advertised on any of the lists yet that we are back (I thought I'd wait until Lena gets the hang of listing things) but already we are selling spindles and Spirit Bells.

Funny, I told the kids for years that online relationships are not real and online communities are no substitute for actually doing things with people, but, it sure feels good to be back on the computer, here at my blog, checking email more than monthly and now listing on ebay. Computers are not a substitute for anything, but they can be a real part of a real life.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter forest treasures

We took advantage of the beautiful weather on Christmas eve to hike up the creek. This senntinel with his rather droopy face is not too far up the Bear Pen (creek) from the house. We tried introducing ourselves, but I guess he's kinda hibernating.

It it fascinating to look a the woods in its pared-down winter visage. Things that you don't even catch a glimpse of when the leaves are out and the trees are in their full glory stand out and catch your attention. I know I've touched this tree before, but I've never seen his face before.

This rock was another treasure. The colors were at least this bright. This is not photoshop - except as mother nature plays it.

Winter is certainly not dull or drab here in the Ozarks. The intense greens of these mosses and ferns shines out like jewels against the dead leaves.

Where ever you are today, get outside and take a look at your world with a new perspective. Find those beautiful and unique pieces that you haven't seen before.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Elves and other presents

A friend came to me a few weeks ago with a request. Seems he had a copy of his granddaughter's letter to Santa and he wanted to help the old guy out.
The little apple of his eye wanted one thing for Christmas, a simple, wee, little thing.

"Dear Santa," she had written. "I only want on thing for Christmas. I want a baby elf. I want one with round ears, not pointy ears. Pointy ears are scary.
I promise I will feed it and care for it and love it very, very much."

Well, it was obvious that a baby elf needed to be found. It was the only thing in the whole world that this little girl wanted. But her grandpa was on exactly the right track.

"Do you have any baby angora rabbits?" he wanted to know. "I thought about it a long time, and it was the round ears that gave it away. She needs a wee bitty fluffy baby rabbit!"

I totally agreed with him. It was obvious. But I didn't have any baby rabbits. However, I knew someone who did have some. I gave him their phone number and we said our goodbyes and happy holidays.

All day today, I've wanted to give him a call and find out how the baby elf is doing. I guess I'll just have to wait until after the holiday season to find out.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope all your wishes were granted.