Where Did I Put My Instruction Book?

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, Etsy, organicneedle, organicneedle bags

Ahhh…back after a lovely little vacation…and back to my 1/3 life crisis. Here is the poop. I’m not sure what to do with the Organic Needle…or anything else for that matter. I had/have some ideas for bags that I really liked…still like. Cool little ways to create something meaningful and sustainable. Started blogging about it and various other stuff floating about in my head… and a year and a half later…here I am. Now what?

I love designing new bags and bringing them from brain…to paper…to organic cloth. Seeing something wasteful and figuring out how to make it sustainable through a reusable item gives me goose bumps…little nerdy goose bumps. It feels a little like birthing something…only with a lot fewer F bombs…okay… slightly fewer F bombs. The fact that other people like them too has been really cool.

And I love writing. It clears my little head…organizes my thoughts witch tend to be like popcorn kernels coming out of an air popper if left unattended. Plus…I love connecting with other people who have similar interests if not zip codes. So the blog part of Organic Needle has really been a terrific added bonus…for me…maybe not so much for the poor people who read me.

But…here is the major poop in the road. In order for Organic Needle to become the next THING…I would need to hire sewers, contract out to a small scale manufacturer, advertise, travel, become incorporated…etc. etc. etc. And that part brings me no joy. Not an ounce. And frankly…I am a tad bit of a control freak..just a smidge… and the bigger a business gets…the less control you really have over the end product. So where do I go from here? You might say…well Needle …why not just leave it as it is? I could. But deep down in my little soul…I am a bit of a Lisa Simpson. I function better with a plan…a very detailed…moving forward…very type A plan. The idea of having a business that isn’t on a path to the next stage bothers me. This indecision is combined with having to decide on a pile of other paths surrounding me. Will I go back to PS teaching? Move on to college level teaching? Finish my PHD? Move into real estate…(don’t ask)? Freelance? Become a professional speed bump? I still have 2 more years home with my little guy…so I have time…time to freak myself out about having no plan. And…yes…I am grateful to have the problem of too many enjoyable options in my future…I am too well aware of what a gift of a problem it is. But the not knowing what my next step and the 20 after that are bugs the bajeebies out of me and makes me restless…which makes me not enjoy the present as much as I should. And I am all about me enjoying me. So I either need some serious Valium, a personality transplant, or to do some soul searching and figure out what exactly I plan to do…which path to ungracefully charge down.

So…if I am not here as often as I should be I am just off looking for my map. Or I have accidentally sewn myself into something and you should be calling for help.



Let’s Talk About STUFF

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic

Let’s talk about stuff baby.  .

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the good things

and the bad things that could be…

Let’s talk abooooooouuuut stuff.

I have been reading many a blog post reflecting on this years Blogher convention…yeah I’m a little behind these days….and the concern over the focus on STUFF.  Since mass consumerism and carbon reduction aren’t exactly best friends, I can understand the irritation.

But……we can’t just stick our heads in the sand and ignore stuff.  Why?  Because sometimes new stuff is actually better stuff.  Like cotton shopping bags and produce bags verses plastic disposable bags.   When I first started Organic Needle, one of my little projects was to count the actual number of plastic bags saved by using the cloth ones.  It was hundreds before even a few months went by. To me the new stuff…the cotton bags…even if it they are  made out of completely new materials…are BETTER.  I now see people designing and marketing all types of shopping bags made from all kinds of “alternative” materials…organic cotton, recycled bottles, hemp, even old movie signs and  think it is fantastic.  To say no to all new stuff, free or paid for,  is to also say no to innovation.

Now, I’m just a teeny weeny business woman who does my best to design responsibly, but do not exactly have an enormous  impact on the consumer/environmental balance in the  world.  The truth is if we want to to make BIG changes…we sometimes even need to invite the big evil kids to play because even if we ignore them…they aren’t going away…nor is their stuff and their stuff making capabilities.  Life would be better if we get them to play the games we want them to play. For example, here in NYC so many people now carry cloth bags BECAUSE so many of the chain stores have gotten on board and offer them at a price and an abundance us little guys can’t compete with, making them now the norm. (Yes…I know there are issues with those store bags made from recycled plastic, but I still lean towards it is batter then new virgin plastic each week.) So while supporting small and local is certainly a very good thing, we can’t just ignore the stuff-making giants, nor ignore the potential positive impact they could have if properly guided.

As far as swag and other give aways go….follow the same rules you follow for shopping…
1. Only take things that meet YOUR personal standards in terms of materials, production ethics, etc.
2. Only take things you REALLY think you will actually use.
3. Only accept things that will potentially reduce your impact. For example…is it a long term item that will replace a disposable one? Is it made from more sustainable resources than your current brand of whatever? Is it more local? Yadda yadda yadda.

(I saw the soap nuts were part of the swag. I totally would have been all over those.)

My point is that complete anti-consumerism isn’t the answer.   Responsible consumerism that encourages the innovation in goods we desire may take a lot more thought…but will in the end by the solution. So…yes…you should look the stuff gift horse in the mouth and have a good ol’ looksy around for potential evil…but do have a look.    Just make sure you’re looking in the right end.



Eco Confessions: Green Moms Carnival

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, CSA/ Local Food

This month’s Green Moms Carnival topic of eco confessions wasn’t too much of a struggle for ol’ Needle. I could write enormous volumes on the ungreeness that lurks in my home & life in general.  Some things aren’t the greenest because I don’t know how to find a better solution but am working on them…like some cleaning projects.  Some things are due to the needs/wants of other members of the family…like my husband’s insistence on Total toothpaste.  Some are due to lack of resources…like a lawn to grow my own food.  The list goes on.

But some… I just gotta own.

Hi.  My name is Needle and I am a French wine & cheese whore.   Now don’t get me wrong…I am not quite a lush…yet.  (A few more rainy days trapped in the house with my brood and we will see what happens.)  But if I am going to drink wine…it needs to not taste like Kool-Aid. And if I’m going to indulge in the fat and calories of cheese, it damn well ain’t gonna be for Velveeta.  I can’t really put a green spin on any of it.    Many resources are involved in its creation, packaging and travel.  I could find similar products more locally; Americans make wine & cheese too…but…well…it just isn’t the same. And no one has yet to die from brie or Sancerre withdrawal…that we know of.   So…no excuse…just pure selfishness…delicious…. delicious selfishness.

Perhaps being a vegan, tea-totaling, locovore would, in fact, be much greener…but so would being dead.   And perhaps there is some sort of Dante’s  Infernoesq punitive afterlife for lack of greenness.   I’ll take my chances… fully accepting that my personal hell will be filled with nothing but cans of Cheez Whiz and Fetzer chardoney.



Happy New Year:On to the New Resolutions

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic

Here to help you ring in the New Year is our beloved Beaker:

And now that the fun part of the post is over…on to my 2009 resolutions.

As a World Member...Buy less and used more often. Plain and simple. The month of No Buy did actually teach me a little something; we often buy too quickly. We’ve never been huge shoppers…but tend to just get what we think we need as quickly as we think we need it. Turns out…a lot of what we thought we needed was eventually found in a closet, or turned out to be not necessary at all in the long run. The fact that this may leave a little extra money in the travel budget is definitely an added plus.

As a Community Member…Do more charity work…especially where I can drag the kids along. My husband and I have run a charity drive, and always donate what we can to whatever anyone else is doing, and donate money to several groups we believe are doing a good job, but our actual physical charity work has been sparse. The reason being that we don’t want to sacrifice family time on the weekends. If we could incorporate family time into the giving, that would be perfect. One of the reasons Operation Santa is so special for our family is our kids get to be involved. They get to go shopping with me and pick out whatever is on the list. It has been amazing watching my 5 year old discover real empathy for people he has never even met. Those letters from shelters are a real glimpse into the work to be done in the world.

As Mama…As always…try to raise kids that are well loved and love the world. Hopefully the added charity work and travel will help in these efforts. I also plan to work on that desperately needed patience required when one has a house full of very energized and creative little men…even when one little man is screeching that the other little man is looking at his toes funny. Patience. Patience. Patience. This one may take me a few decades…but I’ll do my best. Or start shooting myself with tranquilizer darts.

As the Organic Needleget stocked up and better organized. There are several opportunities I could take advantage of…like local health food stores that would be open to my produce bags…if I could only produce enough to provide them a steady supply. Plus craft fairs…whole other ball of yarn. My wee one will be in nursery for a whopping 2 hours…so I’m, hoping with some sort of discipline and scheduling I can accomplish this. Not sure exactly where I put my discipline and organization, but I’m pretty sure it is one of the piles near my sewing machine.

So…that is it for me. I’m sure there are a few more things I could improve but why go for perfect…it would just make everyone else feel bad. Better to keep it nice and mediocre. Thanks everyone for helping me throughout this past year with my design ides, greenery, and just keeping sane. I look forward to another great year with my Needle. Happy New Year Everyone!



So How Did We do With Last Year’s Resolutions….

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic

I was able to dig up my resolutions for 2008…another little blast from my blogger past. I added a little self-critique in bold so I can claim it is a new post. How did you do with your 2008 resolutions? Be honest. (I will know if you lie…one of my many little evil powers.)

Resolutions 2008

OK. we all make them. So here are(were) mine….
Personally– I am going to work on listening more, talking less and trying to find the good in everyone… yes, everyone, well….maybe not Bush. Hell, even him. I bet he can do something right- like make a mean bean dip. I never did find the good in Bush…but I did try…with a few failures…to find it in everyone else. This one might need another year of work.

Financially– Before years end both businesses will be in as much full swing as they can be. Happy to say that this in fact did happen!!! My husband and I created, mainly him, a fantasy sport game designed to teach math to middle schoolers. It has been completed, incorporated, and used by a a school for their summer math program. And of course… Organic Needle has taken on a happy little life of its own. Hopefully the new year will bring new adventures for both.

Try to always remember that my main goal in everything is to raise two boys
who feel loved and who easily love – people and life in general. I have tried my best…but can this ever really be taken off the to-do list? It is a life’s work.

GloballyDecrease the impact. My biggest obstacle in trying to make our home a little green is clothing. Gladly take any suggestions from the …audience? I find buying organic cotton or renewable resource clothing almost impossible for a family. My husband dresses for work- not even on the radar in anything
remotely environmentally friendly. My kids outgrow clothes before I get them home from the store. Who can afford that all in organic. Plus, with two toddlers, my clothes are pretty much disposable. This will definitely be my biggest challenge. Mixed bag here. We cut way back on buying. Kids lived almost entirely in hand-me-downs. As for me…let’s just say you’ll see something about this on this year’s list too.

Set the bar nice and low for myself…and still can’t say I cleared it. I’m just happy I didn’t make any foolish promises to get in shape. 2008



Year in Review

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, organicneedle, organicneedle bags

It is about this time last year that I began an attempt to focus my energy and creativity on projects outside the box of mommydom. To track my new efforts I decided to start a little blog…not thinking it would amount to too much, just a little outlet to keep from becoming the woman who shows up at school with lipstick on her forehead. But then things happened…with a little help. Well… here it is…where I was a year ago…the beginnings of the organicneedle…the seedling stage.

December 28, 2007
Starting A Blog
This blog is one of hopefully many steps I will be taking to regain, or at least incorporate a little, an adult existence. I have spent the past 41/2 years home, raising my two boys. I don’t feel the need at the moment to go on and on about the endless joys of motherhood -which there are many. My focus here is on finding a life beyond- perhaps regaining some of the old and definitely adding some new. Pre-babies I was a NYC teacher. Although I loved teaching, my youngest is only 18 months and I have no desire to ship him off to daycare yet. So going back to my old life, old identity, even many of my old friends, isn’t fully possible. But there still has to be something that fits, that uses an adult brain without sacrificing the priority of child raising. I find my lack of intellectual stimulation is causing me to be bored with many things I previously enjoyed. I feel myself less interested in the same old mom conversations. Less sure of who I am and what I want to say or do in life. I have always been a rather focussed, success driven person. After being home for a few years I find myself sitting on several side projects, two of which are small businesses well into the planning phases, without the motivation to complete anything. I feel like I have been mentally sidelined and I’m not quite sure how exactly to get back into the game- or which game I even want to play. I know I am not the first woman to feel herself slipping away into the cloak of motherhood, nor will I be the last. It gets even the best of us. My hope that is if I have a place to report to, bounce ideas off of, I will keep my quest to remain a whole person a priority and not let it slip down the list of things to do below the laundry.
Posted by organicneedle at 8:00 PM

Here’s one of the key things that happened that I must share with you…a little lesson in encouragement. It was Burbanmom who found my little pee-on of a blog and encouraged me every step of the way to keep going…my own needle-wielding cheerleader. If I had gone unheard would I have persevered? I’m not sure I would have. See, in the beginning, I didn’t tell anyone of my bizarre ideas about sewing…and bags. Just not what my crew does…a little too homespun…unsafe…weird. But she heard and took the time to respond, really respond,…and I will always be in her debt. An encouraging word is sometimes all someone needs to make a really important step…or stitch. So in the incoming year remember not to be stingy with those positive words…they are much more powerful than you can imagine.



Drinking for the Cause…Yeah…Sure…That Is Why

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, energy, recycling

The holidays are certainly a time to spend extra time with loved ones…and if your family is like mine…a time to drink heavily. This means a few more bottles of wine in the ol’ recycle bin and a few more corks in the trash, no? Not so fast there Drunkie. corkThe bottles can always be saved, sterilized, and used for next years home made vinegar creations. And what about the cork? (Which is a real cork of course because I already told you months ago about the importance of that little issue in the bottle post.) Allie gave some great suggestions in her recycling tips section about what to do with your hole plugs. Me… I’ve got enough projects I can’t get done…so the one that caught my eye lets some other poor schlub do the designing and making. Yes…I will be ringing in the new year with yet another collection of “trash” to drive my poor husband insane. I’ll be saving and shipping my corks here: Yemm & Hart, who are up to their corks in experimentation and creating some nifty looking tiles. So hallelujah…a Christmas miracle…a valid reason to say screw the wine budget. Someone out there needs my corks…and who am I to stand in the way of eco-innovation.



Shop Eco Etsy for Amazing Unique Gifts that Satisfy Your Ecodorkitude

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, handmade holidays

Today I will be featuring some of my favorite creators from a group I recently joined over on Etsy called Eco Etsy.

I love these little trees made out of recycled paper. Wouldn’t these be perfect for handing out at the office? A hostess gift? Teacher gift? Sjezierrski is even giving a tree to a children’s hospital for each tree you buy! What could be more perfect as an expression of the season?


Looking for some textured art? Check out Greenworks recycled seat belt pieces! These would definately add some interest to any wall.

What kind of girl would I be if I left out jewelry? Check out Polarity’s upcycled lockets. She has over 100 amazing designs…something for everyone on your list. This one spoke to me for some odd reason.

None of these things appeal to you? Don’t give up. There is definately something for everyone on your list. So stop hanging around here and go shopping.

(I’m not completely linked in to Eco Etsy team yet…so if you want any of MY goods you will have to work for it and go straight to organicneedle.)



Walmart Need Not Apply: Calling All Artists and Craftsmen

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, Etsy, organicneedle, product review

I will be off the computer for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…but I will still be using my brain. I will pause and allow time for snickering. Done now? Let’s face it people… if you haven’t started MAKING gifts yet, you ain’t going homemade this year…at least not from your home. Time to start thinking of other ways to check off your list without selling your soul to Walmart. I’ve told you about cyber gifts, but maybe those just won’t work for all you need to please. So besides stuffing myself with manateeesq portions at my ma’s this week, I will be preparing a little series all about what alternatives there are for purchasing gifts this year of the artistic nature. As usual, I don’t want to do all the work myself. So…if you have a favorite painter, seamstress, potter, quilter, soap maker, cheese sculptor, creator of any kind drop me a line in the comments and I will include them in the series. Trust me…they will appreciate your efforts. (Yes…it is okay if YOU are your favorite creator. I won’t tell…you little self-promoter you.)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!



Ho Ho Hold onto That Packaging and Have Yourself a Merry Green Indoor Yardsale

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, handmade holidays


Sitting on a pile of goods? Need to make space for the yule tide o’crap about to hit your home?

Selling on Ebay is definately one green way of clearing your clutter before the holidays. Your items will get a second life & are saved from a landfill. A new thing is prevented from having to be born and over packaged. Not to mention all those organic gingerbread men you can buy from your local bakery with the money you make and someone else saves!

Make the sale a little greener by reusing all that extra packaging that is bombarding your door this month. Hell, steal your neighbor’s scraps too while you are at it. I was able to make about a dozen Ebay shipments without using any new packaging except tape. Bubble envelopes and boxes are so easy to reuse. For smaller items I even cut a larger pre-used bubble envelope in half and tape up the edges. Since letting the boxes and packaging materials sit around will just lead to clutter, start preparing your sale now.

P.S. Did I mention buying on ebay also gives you a little green credit. Used over new. Just include a note to the seller that you don’t mind used packaging, in fact, you prefer it. Most will be happy to oblige you, I’m sure. I, for one ,will be using my little Paypal kitty to track down a few things for my boys in an effort to create a little less waste this year. 2nd hand Geo choo-choos and Batman figures all around.

Remember the classic saying: One gal’s junk is another’s cheap stocking stuffer. YOU may be over your MC Hammer obsession, but somewhere out there, in some home, some young man has just purchased his very first pair of ridiculously over sized gold lame genie pants. And in that same home is a mother desperate for two things: the world’s stiffest eggnog to suppress the shame & your old copy of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’em.