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October 2008
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December 2008


A busy couple days here at the store.  "Black Friday" isn't quite so dramatic for us - no lines of people camping out overnight, but people were definitely out shopping.  Many people are just making their lists and checking things out right now but we were definitely getting a very positive response, and introducing ourselves to some new shoppers.  This weekend is always fun because people come back to town to visit family and I get to see alum from high school and Little Luxuries days.  Now everyone from high school knows where to find me, thanks to our reunion website, but it is nice to be able to say "this is our store..." 

Today was the downtown Madison holiday open house.  Lots of businesses had hot cocoa and various activities.  So many families came out.  It was very fun and lively.  The trolley is always a big hit.  We kicked off our holiday crafting with the gift tags.  Thankfully our mom came in to help out - she directed people at the craft table, and it was full almost all day long.  The button machine was also a big hit and I think Sachi and I both have slightly sore wrists from all the button-making.  We ended up with one scheduled interview with Channel 3 and another with Channel 15, plus a Cap Times reporter came in to ask questions.  I suppose everyone is curious about how businesses are doing in this economy.  But we really feel good - people are responding so positively on several different fronts: local artists, local business, crafty projects, recycled elements, many items under $20.  There's really no place I'd rather be so that helps too.  Not just geographically, but in my life, too.

Tonight it's home to Thanksgiving leftovers (yummy!) and magnet picture frames.  I pinned the knitter's pockets this morning before work so they are ready to sew.  Perhaps Sunday night will be a night of sewing, as well as Monday afternoon.  There, that should make up for some of my blurb distraction.  But, seriously, if you haven't checked out blurb for yourself yet, you really ought to.  It's getting a little late for Christmas presents, but think about birthdays, weddings, artist books... SO FUN!  I didn't say I wasn't going to talk about blurb, did I?  just that I wasn't going to work on my book anymore.

P.S.  Sorry that I've been a slacker about including pictures in my posts. I  really like posts better when they have pictures... maybe I am too preoccupied with blurb photos?  It's a possibility.

four hours later...

A slightly calmer "eek."  I went straight to the sewing machine after work and put in a couple of hours.  Only got sidetracked once and that was to finish my 2x2 book for the Bone Folders' Guild holiday party book trade, coming up in two weeks.  Then, back to the grindstone.  I hemmed aprons a little bit but got bored pretty quickly.  I'll have to think of a better system for the next batch.  They aren't cheap, but the price still isn't worth the time it takes to make them.  I like it when people see them at the store and say, "oh, I can make that."  Because it is true - the construction is quite simple - and that is what I said, after all...  Be my guest.  Actually one of my general complaints with the world is that not enough people try to make the things they think are so easy to make.  Usually once you try, you find there are hidden tricks and time-eaters that make the thing more difficult than it first seems, thus adding to one's appreciation of other people's efforts.  So, as I said, go for it!

Anyway, after a little hemming and a little hawing, I kept at it and went on to the knitter's pockets.  They are all ready for the next step - measuring and pinning the pockets.  This means after work tomorrow I can just go home to pin and measure and watch my Netflix movie.  Yeah yeah, and work on magnet picture frames.  Looks like the aprons will be Monday's task but at least I accomplished something tonight.


I have GOT to get to work!  No more of this playing around, I mean it!  Aside from the store, Craftacular is coming up and it would be nice to have some of my things at our table.  At least I finished the buttons for the swag bags that Naomi is assembling.  They are retro 70s men and women with text like "dig those crafty chicks" "crafty girls have more fun" and my current fav: "crafty like a fox."  I made extras so we have some for the store as well.

The bottom line is that after spending the last 10 years making stuff to stock the store, some things have sold out in 8 months!  I will have to really buckle down on the restocking because it really can't take another 10 years.  I feel as close to hyperventilating as I ever get (partly panic, partly excitement and happiness).  I know, I know, this is what I wanted, this is what I wished for.  I need to do another epoxy batch, including some stone angels and some more Paris photos.  Finish Madison photo cubes.  Glue button bracelets.  Assemble gift tag packs. Origami ornaments.  Envelope journals.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving day off -- mostly scanning pictures for my blurb book and thinking up another blurb book.  I'm dreaming up a different version of the French travel journal that I can produce in multiples.  Feasting at Pamela's, working on a puzzle.  Making new xmas mixes for the ipod (don't worry, it's not all xmas, but I like to have a shuffle of xmas and regular music).  Despite all the good intentions, I did no sewing at all. There are knitter's pockets and headbands lurking upstairs in the sewing room.

And now there are aprons since today I sold THREE of my ruffled cupcake aprons!  Now, you might not remember this, but I had sold three in six months and had 5 in stock so I figured I didn't need to finish any more before Christmas.  I moved that task lower on the list.  After I figured that out, we sold two in two weeks (according to Janice math, that meant I should have at least 10 in stock) and then I had to move the task back up toward the top of the list.  I finished some but now I'm actually almost out of aprons at home in the studio (there was a huge pile that just needed hemming but when I reach the bottom of that pile I'm going to have to start from scratch).  I think there are four more left so for sure I have to finish those in the next week.  Right now, my "salary" is my commission check and "the more you make, the more you sell" so I really ought to make more for the next 25 days.  Double eek!  What is that saying?  you can sleep when you're dead?!  Well, that won't really work, but there will be time to rest in January and February so I'd really better get to work.

And then there are magnet picture frames.  I'm at the next stage with a batch so I need to drill holes, set eyelets and make magnets.  Monday is definitely a day for production and you have permission to virtually hit me if I breathe another word about blurb until after Christmas.

i meant to do my work today but a little blurb took me away

Well, at least things change and time flies.  Ten years ago, I was grading undergraduate papers about Picnic Point during Thanksgiving.  Thank goodness THAT isn't one of my jobs anymore!  Still, the list is long and I was going to be good on this day.  The apple pie is in the oven at least.  Dinner is at 3 pm and I am looking forward to the party at Pamela's house, especially since Tom and Sachi got roped into joining us too.  Yay!  I get to see that adorable girl.  There is still time... so perhaps I will yet get to those knitter's pockets that I was going to work on today.  Or those magnet picture frames.  But so far I've been taking pictures for my blurb book, scanning pictures for my blurb book, coming up with ideas for new blurb books... play play play, as my mother always used to say.

I do love this time of year.  Old friends come back to town to visit family and I get to try and grab a little time.  After the Thanksgiving pie service at church last night, I met Holly to catch up on LL alum gossip.  Always so nice to see people in person!  Hopefully I'll manage to catch Shelly and her family sometime this weekend, but there's always much to do.  I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving holiday!

newsletter. holiday 2008.

For the record, here's the newsletter we just sent out via email.

We’re really excited about our first holiday season at Anthology!

We are so thankful for our wonderful customers, talented artists, kind
landlords, generous parents, and tireless friends who’ve all made our dream come

These are just a few of our new favorite things: elaborate paper ornaments by
local artist Jane Fasse (a cluster of them looks like a Chihuly sculpture!);
tile coasters featuring vintage Christmas cards, adorable hair clips made of
vintage fabrics, delicate hand-stamped ceramic pendants, and button picture
frames with images of Rudolph, the Grinch, and Paris, France.

Did you see our first ad in Isthmus? We are participating in the Holiday Open
House this Saturday, November 29th. Hop on the free trolley, pop into our shop,
have a seat at our craft table and join in our “Gift Tag-o-rama”: stamp, punch,
paint & collage tags for holiday giving ($1 for 3 tags).

Holiday Gift Tags will continue as a drop-in workshop through Christmas Eve; you
can also make holiday bows ($1 each) and holiday cards in December ($5 for 3).

Saturday, December 6th: Laura and Pamela will run the shop while Sachi is two
blocks away at the Holiday Craftacular. Check out the new location!

Fourth Annual Holiday Craftacular
The Madison Masonic Center
301 Wisconsin Avenue (corner of East Johnson)

Here’s a fun idea for how to spend the holidays after you’ve opened the presents
and savored a delicious meal: gather ‘round that old shoebox of unsorted family
photos and create a photo snippet collage using one of our squeeze punches! Come
in and see what we’ve done with our favorite travel photos. One customer created
two beautiful wedding snippet collages for friends; a young gentleman made a
photo collage of favorite dates as a 3-month anniversary gift for his girlfriend
(so romantic!).

Stop in and say hi--we’d love to help you pick out the perfect gift.

Laura & Sachi

giving thanks. a different sort of list.

Yeah, for now I will spare you the list of things to do because it is only getting longer.  But of course this time of year is really about making the list of things to be thankful for.  So many things!  At the Thanksgiving table, Mom always makes us go around and say what we are thankful for.  Hmm.  Where to begin?

1. change
I know I've written this before, but I can hardly believe where I am now and where I was a year ago.  I am very thankful for all the changes in my level of stress (down) and happiness (up).  Being in business for oneself is, of course, hard work, and not without stress, but there is some level of mental anguish that is not in my life anymore. Thank goodness!

overheard from customers:
2. "You guys just make stuff all day?  That's pretty awesome."
3. "You guys have a great shop.  It gets me creative again."
4. "You can come here and make crafts.  It's the cutest thing ever."
5. "You are so clever. It's like living your dream, isn't it?"
6. "Oh. my. god.  This is like crack."
7. "This is just what I needed. With my new job, I forgot."

Well, I bore you with the whole book, but every one is one to be thankful for.

8. money
Not to ignore the state of the economy but there are little treats: gas that's not as expensive, dinner at my parents' house...  I don't have to think about retirement for a little while (I'm not even looking at my IRA), and while a year without a salary has been a great challenge, I'm managing to get by.  And not only that, I have sold more of my own creations than I ever have in the past - it makes the money much more meaningful in some respects.  I have spent over 15 years making things that have ended up in this store, and some of those things have sold out in the space of 8 months.  Whew!

9. other people have it worse. a lot worse.
This is not that German word that means delight at the misfortune of others -- it is definitely not delight that I am feeling, but the reality is that there are always people who have it worse.  There are wildfires, hurricanes, tidal waves, poverty like no one I know has ever lived, mental and physical ailments...  I'm feeling this very keenly right now because in the space of a week I have learned of three (friends/family of friends/family) - in the hospital with pneumonia, beginning treatment for leukemia, and mourning the loss of triplets.  Well, I don't mean to make you sad or depressed but it had to be said.  There is much sorrow in the world but there are many ways that life is full of beauty and wonder and joy. 

10. My adorable niece Lily loves me and has so far tolerated the fairy dress-up and book reading.  She makes me happy every single day even when she doesn't feel like taking a nap.

11.  Business is good.  Maybe "fine" is better to say?  We don't have any sales history for comparison, but we are paying our rent.  I get along with my sister and we work well together.  People are enthusiastic about our store and coming in to create and support other artists in their creative endeavors.


I think that about covers it.  May you and yours have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving and enjoy whatever it is that you are thankful for.

first snow!

DSC03201 Not really, there were some flurries earlier in the month, but this is the first perfect snow -  waking up in the morning to a brighter light filtering through the shades, and then the trees! all those branches prettily frosted!  It helps to know that it is supposed to be 40 by Thursday so this isn't really going to stick, but I'd much rather have cold weather with fresh snow than cold weather without snow.  (Unlike my California friends and relatives, some of whom were complaining about turning on the AC last week,  I know there's no choice about the cold part).  Isn't it lovely?!

folding, folding...

Not clothes, those can wait.  But paper.  I know I already mentioned the paper cranes but as I am here folding them, I couldn't help thinking how strange life is sometimes.  Do you ever find yourself doing something and realizing that you've come full circle?  or at least been circling around?

When I was in fifth grade, Jenny Carmen taught me to fold paper cranes.  The way I learned it was different from the steps that I now follow but the results were the same.  I know it seems funny - here I am, half Japanese and yet it wasn't a family member who taught me.  My grandmother on my dad's side certainly knew how, she was a crafter extraordinaire, but by the time I was aware of paper crafts, she had died, and all we had was a tiny little box of intricately folded pieces.  And, oh yes, I tried to figure them out but unfolding and then trying to refold isn't exactly a successful approach, especially when you aren't even 10 years old.  Luckily, hopefully? my mom caught me before I did damage to all of them.  I think there are still a few somewhere in the attic.  ANYWAY, so there I was, at the age of 10, folding paper cranes like crazy.  Around that same time, my dad got me my all-time favorite crafter tool: a paper cutter.  I went around cutting up pieces of wrapping paper, cutting origami paper into smaller squares, etc. etc.  I folded cranes in middle school, high school.  I stopped counting when I reached 1000 so I unfortunately have no idea how many I've folded so far but since I hit 1000 pretty early on, it could easily be over 2000.  In fact, folding paper cranes might have saved my sanity when I spent 2 months through AFS in Paraguay, living with a family who spoke no English (I spoke no Spanish).  It was a very silent 2 months.  Well, that's a whole 'nother story, but the pertinent thing is that I had a lot of paper cranes, folded from two-inch squares of paper.  After seeing shrines in Japan festooned with garlands of cranes, I decided to string them together into similar ornaments.  Everyone who knew me back then got a string of cranes as a present.  And then I had a box of them that I carried to college, carried back from college, stored in my parents' attic...   Apparently I was waiting to stock a store.

So when we opened Anthology and had things hanging from branches, it occurred to me that those cranes would be a nice and colorful addition.  I got them out of their box, dusted them off and restrung them.  But now those are all gone.  I sold the last 6 to someone who was giving them as opening night presents to people in Madame Butterfly.  So, here I am, over 20?! years later, folding paper cranes for our store.  I mean, really, all those different career plans, and here I am doing what I was doing in fifth grade. 


Can I whine a little or is that not allowed since I've made the choice to live here in Wisconsin?  It's cold!  The store gets a little warm but I need to dress in layers because it was uncomfortable waiting for the bus this morning.

It has been a good and busy week.  I'm completely obsessed with my blurb projects -- why is it so much more fun to start new projects than it is to finish all the others that I've begun?  I can't go into a lot of detail because Christmas presents are involved.. and if there was more time, more Christmas presents would be involved.  If only I had figured all this out at the beginning of the year.  Oh well, there's always next year.  I've been getting up really early and coming in to work though, as well as staying extra late.  It's all going to be so cool!  I'm also working on the book that I've always intended to make: ideas and inspirations and creations, sort of a artist journal/how-to/artistic autobiography... It is not going to be completed until next year but I couldn't wait to get started.  I had to start gathering photos, projects, text.  Actually, I decided not to tempt the copyright gods so I am not using the collection of quotations that I have gathered over the years.  Everyone will just have to be stuck with my own writing.  I'll try to edit more than I do here.  I have added a lot of pictures but there are many projects that I need to take pictures of.  What I really need to do is sift through all my old photographs and scan them.  I only just went digital so all my travel pics are prints that I need to convert.  Then there's that problem of taking pictures out of albums and being lazy about putting them back in.  Maybe I should just do one album at a time to lessen the confusion.  Oh, and then there was that phase of taking only slide pictures (back when I was going to be a college professor and everyone always took slide pics for their eventual lectures... another lifetime ago).  It's a good thing that blurb has 16-photo layouts -- it just wouldn't be a book by me if I didn't cram a lot in!  So fun!  Even seeing my own pictures up on the computer screen in book format is a thrill.

I did sew a little more on the knitter's pockets and made some magnet picture frames so, don't worry, I have been working on the list.  I've sold out of my origami crane ornaments and would really like to have those in the store for the holidays so I need to add them to the list.  I folded one today with the two-inch paper that I used to use and I think I am too old to do that anymore so I am going to the three-inch size.  I think they will still work though I really should finish the prototype this afternoon before I go much further. 

What I really should do is revisit that list and get a little focus back.  I'm just so wrapped up in this book project.  I think it would be totally cool to make one book every single year as a document of the year.  At blurb prices, it's probably cheaper than scrapbooking.  Seriously.  You can just have one book printed for under $20 - how amazing would that be to have such a document of one's life and creations?  Well, I'm just trying to pack the last thirtysomething years into the one book (but I called it "volume one" so I left room for a sequel).  Are you bored yet or should I talk about blurb some more?

I'll try to change the topic.  Today has been a good busy day (though I can always tell we hit a certain dollar amount because I'm feeling tired).  Mom and an old family friend came in this morning to help with dusting the store.  It was so nice to have help, though dusting is always a challenge because you have to move everything and you need a place to move it to.  I decided at the spur of the moment to do the big store rearranging (that was scheduled for next week) while they were dusting so it was a chaotic morning.  I moved Christmas towards the middle of the store, expanded Naomi's tile coaster space.  Hmm... I think those were the only two reasons for starting the project and yet, by the end, just about everything in the store has been moved around.  At least I got it all more or less in place by the time the store opened.  The holiday art fair is across the street at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  We're getting a fair number of people who have never been in the store - lots of "when did this store open?"  There's still some puzzlement about where Little Luxuries is, and what happened to the candy store, but, on the whole, everyone has been really enthusiastic. 

Not to exaggerate the challenging experiences of last year, but now that Thanksgiving is almost here (the year anniversary of my decision to start this venture), I feel so thankful to be here in this store and in this year and not where I was last year.  I've come a long way, baby!

a slightly off-kilter day

Well, see how the rest of the day goes.  I woke super early this morning because my mind is racing with the latest project.  I know, I know, it's not on the list and I was going to stick to the list.  But this is Christmas present stuff.  Anyone been to blurb?  You can load your own photos and make a book!  How cool is that!?  How lucky I am to be here in this time -- I get to self-publish.  I am trying to focus on the more pressing matter, which is Christmas presents as I mentioned, but I am also starting to think about a project for next year.  I've always wanted to create a book of ideas & inspirations & creations and now I actually get to do it.  So now I just have to take pictures of things, perhaps call back a few creations, hopefully not regret all those other things that I made and never took pictures of.  Not that there isn't plenty to fill a book.  And then there's the matter of text as well.  Oh my goodness... it's no wonder I couldn't sleep in.  Anyway, what is really making me off-kilter is that someone gave me a pair of earth shoes that they purchased but didn't care to wear... you know the brand; they have this funky design that is supposed to be better for your back.  My legs feel kind of funny and everything is tipped at a different angle.  We'll see how the day goes.  Compounding that is the fact that I woke early, eager to get to work on my blurb project, when suddenly I realized that I might have rescheduled a studio cleaning to this morning and not written it in my calendar.  Sigh.  So, a quick trip to my parents' house to check the computer -- sure enough, 9 a.m.  So, no blurb this morning, but there are plenty of projects to do before the studio cleaning.  Really, I should go upstairs and sew the knitter's pockets.  They are one step closer to done.  But instead I'll probably start looking at text for my blurb book.  Shh, don't tell anyone that I'm deviating from the list.