Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Handmade Vs. The Wal-Mart Mentality

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016




I finished knitting up a cowl for myself, and had uploaded this picture to my facebook page, offering to make another for the low, low price of $75.  It resulted in a conversation between a couple of my knitting friends.



The timing of the conversation coincided with my train of thought while working on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I no longer depend on income gained from handmade items.  However, I do make a living selling supplies to those who earn a living selling handmade items.  I’m very familiar with both ends of the stick.

When I first went into the handcrafted soap and personal care products business 15 years ago, the running rate for a 4 ounce bar of handmade soap was approximately $4-5 a bar.  These days, the cost of raw materials has more than doubled, but I still see some of my long time customers selling bars for nearly the same price, and it breaks my heart.  I’ll never forget an old farm wife stopping at my soap booth, looking longingly at the selection I had on display.  She told me she really wanted to buy some, but if she did she would have to hide it.  When I asked her why, she told me her husband would blow a gasket over the price, when she could buy a 10 pack of ivory soap for $2.

If I had a nickel for every person who has taken a look at one of my handmade items, and said, “That’s so cool! You should really sell your ________.  If you do, I’ll be your first customer!”,  I’d be a wealthy woman.  The cold hard truth is that makers and artisans usually struggle to get a fair price for their work. I have tried to sell some of my handmade items, and guess what?  Most of the people who told me they would buy never have.  The subject of pricing among my maker and artist friends is a hot topic. It’s not a subject taken lightly, and most agonize over it.

I have a question for you.  How much do you earn for putting in a 12 hour shift at your job?  I’m going to use my fingerless mitts as an example, although they are a gift, and not for sale. They are rather complicated, and the pair will take me approximately 12 hours to complete. If I were to charge $10 an hour for my time and the cost of the yarn, the mitts should have a minimum price tag of $120! Needless to say, I’m probably never going to use this particular pattern for selling.




Food Traditions

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016


This isn’t exactly a rant.  More random musings from the garden and kitchen. Plus, I’m writing this more for the sake of journaling, than thinking anyone is going to benefit from anything I have to say.  It’s a very hot muggy day, and I’m trudging back and forth between the garden and kitchen, taking breaks to cool off while I finish planting my fall garden – peas, beets, carrots, spinach, pak choy, lettuce, cabbage.  If I don’t finish planting this week, it’s going to be too late.

It always feels a little strange to be planting at the same time I’m dealing with the glut of a late summer garden.  I’ve got a bumper crop of poblano peppers and eggplant this year.  Once it cools off this evening, I’ll fire up the grill and get the peppers charred, and will work till bedtime getting them peeled, seeded, packaged, and in the freezer. This is just the first batch. There are more left on the plants than the number I picked this morning.


Anyway, back to my musings. While I’m taking my indoor breaks from the garden, I’m going through old cookbooks and a few articles, planning a couple of new ways to preserve my red roasting peppers and eggplant.  As I’m reading about making Serbian Ajvar, I find myself comparing my new fangled American preserving to Old World  preservation. Old food traditions exert a strong pull on me.

As much as I love modern conveniences and technology, my heart thrills to explore old forgotten, labor intensive methods of food preparation.  I prefer my mortar and pestle to my food processor, my big chef’s knife to about any gadget you can name, and I never recoil from a recipe that calls for 30 minutes of slow heat and stirring, or something that requires several stages of preparation over a period of days, or even weeks.

Another aspect of old traditions that appeals to me is community.  My time spent preparing my harvest is solitary, and I know it can’t be helped, but something inside me screams that this isn’t right!  This isn’t the way it should be done.  Historically, communities have come together to harvest and prepare the fruits of their labor. Grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, passing down recipes and methods from one generation to another, sitting together talking, sharing stories and wisdom as they snap, peel, chop and grind.

I’m conflicted. Sometimes I think I’d give up this world I live in for an older way.  And I don’t mean that in a “cranky-old-lady-reminiscing-about-the-good-old-days-like-they-were-better” kind of way. I think  something’s been lost that we’ll never be able to get back.  But, this is the world I’ve been given, so I’ll just keep learning what I can about old methods, and choosing to do things the hard way.

A Cautionary Tale

Sunday, June 19th, 2016



It’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing. Life is messy, and sometimes blogging falls by the wayside.  This morning I feel like writing, because the house is quite, I have no one to talk to, and I just scared the crap out of myself.

My husband, Bart, was out till the wee hours of the morning bowfishing with our son, Kuyler, who came home to spend some time with his dad on Father’s Day.  They will be sleeping in quite late today.

I was up bright and early with the sun, and went out to do my morning chores in the barn. While I was feeding chicks and changing water in the brooder, I pulled the door closed behind me, so no chicks would get out. I stood there looking at the door feeling stunned.

I never pull the brooder door completely shut, because there’s a latch on the outside. It’s a very sturdily built cage about 4’x10′, about 6′ tall, enclosed with 1/2″ hardware cloth.  I was locked inside with 25 baby chickens!

I had no idea when the guys would be waking up. And even when they did wake up, they weren’t going to be looking for me, because I’m always off doing my own thing.  I don’t carry my cell phone around the farm with me, so it was in its usual place on my desk in my office.

I stood there in my cage, contemplating several hours keeping company with the chickens. I’m not sure I can describe those first few minutes while I was still absorbing my situation, before my head started working out possible solutions.




I wasn’t too keen on the idea of trying to kick out the hardware cloth. When Bart builds something, it doesn’t come apart easily, and the hardware cloth wasn’t simply stapled in place, but fastened with heavy-duty U nails.  Then I noticed the piece of wire I use to hold a gate shut (pictured on the right hand side of the cage).  The wire is threaded through the hardware cloth, and then wrapped around the wire of the gate. I have the gate in place to prevent the hens from trying to nest in that corner.

It took me about 10 minutes, but I was able to pull the wire through, and then use it to jimmy the outside latch.  For a while, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull it off.

The moral of this story?  I’m still thinking about it.  I have looped a piece of wire through the latch, and run it inside the cage for now.



Seriously… Don’t Buy Me Another Kitchen Gadget!

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

tart cherries

I needed a short break, so I’m writing this post before going back to my task.  My husband and I went to a neighbor’s this afternoon and picked about 10 pounds of tart cherries, so you know what I’ve been doing today.  Yep, that’s right … pitting cherries.  Which reminded me of how much I’ve come to loath kitchen gadgets.

One year I found this in my Christmas stocking.  I’m sure my mom will forgive me for the public disclosure.  I never used it, and finally gave it to Goodwill.

pineapple cutter

Another year I got these very cool looking herb scissors.  Again, I’ll need forgiveness from another family member. They’re in a drawer in my spare bedroom, still in the original packaging.

herb scissors

Years ago, in a moment of insanity at one of those home parties, I bought something that looked like this.  Talk about a useless piece of crap! Too many parts to clean, and the “blade” dulled in about 15 seconds.

food chopper

Most of the kitchen gadgets that I’ve gotten rid of over the years, have lost their place in my kitchen thanks to this bad baby, my Wusthof Ikon chef knife with a blackwood handle. It’s heavy, perfectly balanced, alarmingly sharp, and can chop and dice just about anything I throw at it.


So, guess who is not using a cherry pitter?  Yup, this girl….. er, I guess I haven’t been a girl for a while now.  Instead, I’m using my smallest stainless steel funnel.  Just shove the tip of the funnel into the stem end, give it a little push, and viola!  Pit pops out the other side.  I love multifunctional basics.  My break’s over now, so back to the pits. I’ll let you know what becomes of the cherries at another time.

cherry pitter


Hard Lessons & A Free Lotion Recipe

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

This is one of my rare posts relating to work, and a past business relationship that bit me in the butt.  Remember when we were kids, and were told to be careful about the friends we kept?  Well, that applies to business relationships, as well as personal relationships.  Several years ago, I maintained a business relationship in which the boundaries between business and friendship became very blurred.  Long story short – the association was doing damage to my business and my reputation in a very small niche industry with a long memory.  It took me quite some time to recognize what was going on, and when I finally did, I realized I was going to have to extricate myself from the situation.  It’s been more than 5 years, and occasionally I’ll run across a current online conversation mentioning the old association. Lessons learned 1) Try to choose your friends and associations wisely. 2) Always get it in writing.

In my blind loyalty, I agreed to allow some of the business’ intellectual property, in the form of original formulations, to be included on a CD.  It was a verbal agreement, nothing in writing.  Yesterday, when perusing traffic statistics for the website, I discovered an entry link with a familiar title.  What I discovered was a link to a full e-book for sale, which included my material, as well as material of a few other business associates.  Upon contacting one of these other businesses,  I found they had not made agreements for an e-book either.

After discussing it with The Essential Herbal Magazine  and Lancaster County Soapworks, we have decided to respond by making the formulas and recipes we contributed publicly available in a series of blog posts.  About 1/2 of the recipes in the e-book were contributed by theses two businesses. A lot of the other material contained in the book is public domain, easily found with a bit of searching on the internet. My personal opinion is that it’s not worth the $27 price tag, especially since we are going to give you 1/2 the recipes for free.

The following formula is one I created several years ago, submitted for use in the original CD, and now appears, without permission, in the e-book.   Over the last few years, some of the ingredients have been discontinued from my website, The Original Soap Dish.  I have plans to reformulate it with more readily available, and less expensive ingredients.  Once reformulated, it will be added to the formulary of free recipes offered on my website.

-Here is  The Essential Herbal’s first installment with a free recipe
-Maryanne of Lancaster County Soapworks writes, “If You Are Going to Steal My Recipes, At Least Get Them Right!”
-The second installment from Tina at The Essential Herbal blog, “handcrafted recipes -#2 Whipped Body Butter
-Number three from Tina,  Handcrafted Recipe #3 – Incense Cones
-Another from Maryanne, who also owns Torchsong Studio,  More Purloined Recipes
-Another from Tina,  Handcrafted Recipe #4 – Melt & Pour Remedy Soap


Multi-Performance Hydrating Cream – From The Original Soap Dish
Gentle enough for under eye use. Makes a good overnight cream. Can also be used like cold cream to remove makeup. cream

Part A
Behenyl Alcohol 1%
Emulsifying Wax 5%
Olive Butter 20.5%
Avocado Butter 20.5%
Evening Primrose Oil 8%
AquaEm 4%
PEG-7 Olivate 5%
T-50 Tocopherol 1%
Phenonip .5%

Part B
Water 29%
Phenonip .5%
Antioxidant Compound 4%
Fragrance 1%

Melt Behenyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Olive Butter, and Avocado Butter together. Cool to around 150 degrees. Add remaining Part A ingredients. Mix well.

Heat water to approximately 150 degrees, and add phenonip. Blend thoroughly with stick blender. Add Antioxidant Compound and fragrance. Mix well. Add Part B to Part A with mixing. Alternate cooling, and mixing with stick blender until mixture reaches around 110 degrees. Pour into jars and allow to cool completely.

Old Fart Ranting: A Note To My Kids

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

I’m so tired of seeing this particular snippet circulate around Facebook, taken out of its original context, and used to bash today’s youth over its collective head.

Teenagers - words for

It originally appeared in the South Bend Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1959, written by Judge Philip B. Gilliam.   Here is Judge Gilliam’s piece in it’s entirely, however, I encourage you to visit this link and learn the details that put the piece into context.

“Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do? … Where can we go?

The answer is GO HOME!

Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.

Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through — and not too tired — read a book.

Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational activities.

The world does not owe you a living… You owe the world something.

You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.

Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.

You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.

They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.

But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.

In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!”


I’m going to have some things to say, but first, I’d also like to bring attention to another one that circulates Facebook, entitled “To All The Kids Who Survived the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, And 70’s”. This one drives me nuts too.

Teenagers - survived

What I’d like to say to the young people in my life,  — my sons, Kelie and Kuyler, their friends, Max, Sam, Harry, Drew, Kelsey, Seth, Natalie, and Britni – I see the value in your growing up experience.  It may have been different from mine, but it has value, and I will not devalue it by telling you how much better mine was, that you missed out, that yours would have been better if it was like mine, or any other such nonsense.  The world is a constantly changing place, and the experience of your youth reflects those changes.

Yeah, I drank water from the hose, but that was before my generation polluted so heavily that it was no longer safe to drink from the hose.

I get a kick out of this one…. “We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever.”  Honestly guys, I never ate worms, and my husband is blind in one eye thanks to a BB gun accident in the woods. Some of the stuff we did was dangerous and stupid.

And, while this one is true, “This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever”, every generation in history has been able to boast the same, including your own.  My generation doesn’t have a corner on the intelligence market.

In fact, my generation has been pretty stupid.  Many, if not most, of the things my generation complains about in your generation are problems of our own making.  I’m not proud to acknowledge that we’ve screwed up your world, and then proceeded to place the blame on everyone but ourselves.  We’ve left you with a mess to clean up, and constant criticism won’t help.

I know I’m over simplifying the issues. I know I’m probably going to get some flak from a few of my own generation (and maybe even my own father).  I know we’re not perfect, so why should we expect you to be perfect?  We made mistakes, just as our own parents made mistakes, just as you will make mistakes.  Some day you’ll be the cranky old dude reminiscing about the good old days, and complaining about “the young people these days”.

You know what’s really ironic?  The very Facebook given to us by the generation we like to complain about, is the vehicle we use to voice our condemnation.  I thoroughly enjoy Facebook, and the privilege  of being allowed into a small part of your world.  I promise not post or “like” anything disparaging about you.  If I inadvertently stumble, saying something insensitive, I would hope you’d call me out.

What I’d like to tell you is that I think you’re intelligent, curious, and energetic.  My experience is that you ask the tough questions, and you challenge me. You keep me young. You make me laugh. You make me cry. You make my life interesting.  I love you.  I value you. I want the best for you.


Musings about Art, Artists, and the Common Man

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

This may bore the heck out of a lot of you, but it stems from conversations I’ve been having with my brother in law, Bret Bailey. I should warn you this is probably going to wander all over the place, and may seem a bit disjointed. That’s what happens when I try to organize my thoughts into something cohesive.

First, I’d like to establish that I’ve had a lot of exposure to people who fit the traditional idea of what constitutes an artist. I don’t consider myself an artist in the traditional sense, but I do consider myself creative. I studied music and piano in college, as well as dabbling in a few art classes.  I have a green thumb, and I’m not shabby in the kitchen. I realize these things may not be considered art, but they do require tapping into creativity. I’m a little hedonistic and love things that appeal to my senses…. taste, sound, shapes, colors, balance, tactile pleasure, etc.

Let me tell you a little about some of the artists in my life. Also, there is something unique about most of them…. they have managed to feed their families pursuing careers in art. Let me assure you, this is a rather difficult accomplishment in the art world. We’ve all heard the term “starving artist”.

Bret, my husband’s identical twin,  is an artist and an art educator. He is very dedicated to helping people explore art, and experience their own creativity.  He was awarded  the Outstanding Art Educator of the Year Award in 2009.  He is a certified Teacher Mentor for Indiana, has an after-school art club,  serves as District 2 representative for AEAI, and is a member of the Lakeland Art Association. This picture is a self portrait he did when he was much younger. I think it makes him look creepy, and I tell him so quite often since he uses it as his Facebook profile picture.

My grandpa, Paul Hubartt, is an artist. He was an illustrator, advertiser, Fluegel cachet artist, and water colorist. My grandpa was trained old school and did a lot of things current day artists don’t seem to pursue much. He was always great at calligraphy and the almost lost art of illumination. When he retired he took up wood carving. What’s really amazing is that he’s in his 90’s and still has a steady hand. Almost all of his peers, friends and family have died, and he’s still able to paint and carve! I should also mention that my grandpa is an author (so is my dad). My grandpa was diagnosed with bone cancer a few weeks ago, and is undergoing chemo. Facing his mortality, he has begun relating a lot of stories about his life. Oh the things I’m learning about Grandpa! The picture below is one I took of my grandpa earlier this summer.

My brother is an artist.  His name is Paul Hubartt too…. named after our grandpa.  He is a pipe carver living in England, and his work is in demand. Outside of pipe carving I’ve seen him experiment with other mediums, and I bet he could easily change direction if he got bored with pipe carving.   Study in Self Reliance is a 7 page article published about my brother as the cover story for the spring 2010 issue of Pipes and Tobacco magazine.  I’m so very proud of my brother.  He has another hidden talent. He can write! I love reading anything he has written. He’s able to bring pictures and ideas alive in my mind, and his writing always leaves me with such an indescribable feeling. Here is what’s really funny about my brother … he doesn’t think of himself as an artist, and he won’t admit he has a talent for writing. I’m still trying to decide if it’s false humility, or if he’s really that oblivious to his own talents. The picture below is my brother with my nephew. I have other pictures  I’d love to show you, but I’m quite sure he’s going to kill me for writing about him, as it is.

I also have two cousins (brothers) who are artists. Our common grandpa is the one I just told you about. Daniel and Andy are new school.

Daniel VonSeggen is a free lance artist, with a degree in Commercial Art and Advertising design as well as Nanotechnology. Nothing like being an over achiever, huh Cuz? Daniel has a collection of his work available for public viewing on his website at  I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me for ripping this picture from Facebook and putting it out there for the world to see.  I love this one because it’s you all grown up, but looking like the little kid that’s forever stuck in my mind.

Andy VonSeggen is an illustrator working for Play, Learn, Think & Feel. Andy describes his specialties as typography, conceptual sketching & brainstorming, pen & ink, digital shop drawings, specification writing, bicycle mechanics & shooting the breeze.  Yeah, I ripped off this picture too.  What are you going to do, disown me? Both of my cousins share my love of good beer, and are avid homebrewers. We grew up in different parts of the country, so there is still a lot I’m learning about these guys.  I heard through the family grapevine that they’re also musicians.

OK, so after all that carrying on about the artists in my family, you get this little teeny tiny rant.  The conversation I had last night with Bret was a rant about how some artists become so esoteric, that the common man can’t relate to them or their art. It drives me flippin’ nuts! I don’t think art is an exclusive club. Isn’t art supposed to be about expression, perception … conveying concepts, ideas, beliefs, what an artist thinks about the world, the human condition, beauty, evil, God? Isn’t art about all of us, taking on innumerable forms, using a world of mediums? Yes, I understand there  is a quality to art that may make it difficult to understand from time to time. But seriously, if an artist goes so far out that he/she completely alienates “normal” people, what’s the point? It’s no wonder some artists starve.

Yes, I know this is a powder keg. I’m probably going to receive a few nasty emails.  I’m OK with receiving nasty email. After all, it is a form of expression. If I can understand it or relate to it, then the author achieved some level of artistry.

Testosterone & High Heels

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Today was my day off  work, and instead of doing fun stuff like picking mulberries, I went shopping instead.  I bought a new pair of shoes. If you’re wondering why on earth I’m showing you my new shoes, there are a couple of things you need to understand about my life.

First, my household consists of myself, my husband, and our two sons.  Don’t forget to add my husband’s identical twin and all the other boys hanging out at my house.  There is so much testosterone flying around this place, I’m surprised I’m not growing hair on my chest.

The other thing you need to know about me is that I absolutely hate to shop.  I hate to shop for anything, but I especially hate to shop for clothes.  I consider clothes shopping a torturous experience, and I avoid it whenever possible.

I tried to show my new shoes to my guys but they looked at me like I had lost my mind, rolled their eyes, and made a few grunting noises.

See my new shoes! Aren’t they pretty? Just in case your taste doesn’t run along the same lines as mine, you don’t have to answer that.

You want to know what’s really funny? Out of 365 days of the year I probably wear shoes MAYBE 60 days out of the year.  Most of that 60 days involves walking in tennis shoes trying to do something about the love affair food has with my hips and thighs.  The rest of the time I’m running around in my bare feet.  Even at work. Even in winter.  Remind me again why I bought a pair of designer slingbacks.