Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Clothespin Monsters have invaded Fly Right Gifts!

I have just received a new shipment of goods from Idle Hands Workshop--okay, it's my cousin Alex in DesPlaines, and she came over with the stuff. It's sooo freaking cute! She made me some hand knit hemp washcloths, some funky felted knit wool coasters, some really cute cat toys stuffed with organic catnip, a sample (which I wouldn't let her take back) of a kid's pumpkin knit hat, and the Clothespin Monsters!!! They are really funny hanging bags to keep your clothespins in and you have to reach into the monster's gaping mouth to get your pins out. She's just too darn clever. She'll be making more of the pumpkin hats, as well as other warm headgear (a mohawk hat was mentioned) for the little ones.

I also got in some less exciting stuff, but it's new and cool and I'll write about it: Loofah kitchen scrubbers shaped like vegetables (eggplant, mushroom, tomato, and chili pepper) that you can use to scrub veggies or pots and pans (or your body--but don't cross-contaminate!), natural vegetarian and vegan soup mixes (but it was about 100 degrees in there today, so I put those in the back), and some great dip chillers that keep your dip cold. The loofahs are great because they resist mildew, they're all natural (even the dyes are vegetable-based), and they're gentle enough to use on non-stick cookware. They are totally biodegradable, and they last longer than a scrub sponge that you have to throw in the garbage! And they won't get stinky like a sponge.

I have also recently added locally handmade cutting boards from Berwynite Nevin Peters. Some are bamboo and some are beautifully made with hardwood remnants from his furniture design business. His craftsmanship is superb and he wholeheartedly endorsed my Howard Naturals Butcher Block conditioner to keep them in shape. I also got some funky wine bottle holders made from the same hardwood as the boards.

Local soapmaker extraordinaire, Olive Owl, has supplied me with lots of yummy soaps and lip balms, too. Many customers have recognized it from the Berwyn Open Market and snatched it up. They're really great products and the prices are VERY reasonable ($3 for a lip balm, and $3.50 for a soap)!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes (no Whistlestop Cafe, though)

I'm really getting antsy for the garden to start producing more food. I've been workin' the green onions and the herbs, but I want tomatoes! Then I remembered how much I love fried green tomatoes. Jon doesn't, so I made him some eggplant and he was happy. Once I get all the stuff ready to fry (milk, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and hot oily pan) I figured I should just fry up everything.

Our radishes are really tall, but the bulbs (?) are skinny and not good eatin'. I realized that they have gone to seed and we've sprouted radishes in our grass (also long and skinny, not bulbous)! Before I had a chance to pull them, Jon mowed, so now they've blended in. I fancy myself to be a gardener type, but I guess I still have a lot to learn. The compost is cooking away, and is almost ready to be applied. That makes me happy. We have a batch of baby rabbits that have been munching on everything, as have the squirrels. At least SOMEBODY is enjoying our garden. It looks like the Early Girl tomatoes will be red soon--I can't wait to have a BLT (with the fake bacon from Morning Star Farms)!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Attention Chicago Residents

This was brought to my attention by a fellow Depot District merchant (Lori from Serendipity Antiques). Great deals for Chicago residents, and some resources for everybody else! Green Home Experts in Oak Park also has rain barrels and compost bins (see link at the bottom of my blog).

Dear Chicago Residents,

The next couple opportunities to purchase a discounted ($40) Chicago
Rain Barrel are coming up!

City of Chicago's Environmental Resource Events
Saturday, August 9, 2008
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Northeastern Illinois University
3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL

Saturday, September 20, 2008
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
City Parking Facility
900 E. 103rd St.
Chicago, IL

Drop-off your:
- old or unused prescription & non-prescription medications
- computers, cell phones, fax machines, scanners, keyboards
- hazardous household chemicals & paints
- old gas can and/or gas-powered lawn mower

Pick-up your*:
(1) rain barrel** ($40 payable by check or money order only)
(1) compost bin** ($30 payable by check or money order only)
(1) free compact fluorescent light bulb
(1) free environmentally-friendly gas can (when you trade in an old
$100 rebate towards an electric or push mower*** (when you drop-off
your old gas-powered mower)

*AVAILABLE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST (no reservations accepted), limit 1 per
household per year.
**Available to City of Chicago residents only; bring check payable to
"City of Chicago" with current Chicago address; cash will not be
***August 9 Event ONLY.

Note: Financial assistance is available upon advanced request; please
contact us at 312-743-WATER (312-743-9283).

Is this date and time not convenient for you?
Don't fret! There will likely be one final Environmental Resource Event
in October. We will keep you posted. Otherwise, we encourage you to
purchase a rain barrel from one of the local retailers listed below.

Not a Chicago resident?
Cook County residents can purchase rain barrels from the Metropolitan
Water Reclamation District (MWRD), however they are currently sold out.
For more information on the MWRD Rain Barrel Program, including future
pick-up dates, locations and prices, please visit: www.mwrd.org.

Questions about rain barrels? Contact rainbarrel@cityofchicago.org or
312-743-WATER (312-743-9283).
Questions about the other opportunities at the Event? Contact (312)

Thank you for your interest in helping Chicago conserve water and
manage stormwater!

The Chicago Rain Barrel Team

Other Local Rain Barrel Retailers and Internet Sales
Greenmaker Building Supply (Available at store)
Price: $75.00 + 10% discount to folks who say "the City sent me!"
2500 N. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60639

Lake Street Landscape Supply (Phone order only)
Price: $95.00
Call 312.226.0760 to order your barrel.
1810 W. Lake Street
Chicago IL 60612

SustainDane’s RainReserve Rain Barrel Systems (Online order only)
Price: $89.99
Madison, WI

Midwest Internet Sales (Online order only)
Price: $124.95 (shipping included)

Aaron’s Rain Barrels (Online order only)
Price: $150.00 (shipping included)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cover Girl

My picture was on the cover of the Berwyn Life newspaper today! I got a few customers today who said they saw it, and a couple of people called to get more details about the store.

Cruise Night was good. Lots of good cars again, and I had some friends come by and hang out and bring their vintage cars (thanks Rick and Robbie!). I'm now saving beer cans to make a few beer can airplanes to hang around the store--thanks for the idea, Ang! They left me a few to work with.

The A/C is bad. Really bad. It's been 90 degrees or so two days in a row. Tomorrow will be the third. I'm bringing ice tomorrow and a fan to blow on it. And if I have one, a spray bottle. I'll be my own personal air conditioner! Now if only I could be a personal dehumidifier, that would rock!

Monday, July 14, 2008

This time I'll be open

for the car show (not sure why they call it "Cruise Night" since the cars just sit there). It's tomorrow night (Tuesday July 15) from 6-9pm. I'm hoping that some of my fabulous friends with fabulous vintage cars will come and hang out. There were a lot of nice rides there in June. Glad I got to walk around and see them last month, because this month I'll be open. I'm planning on making some dip from the dip mix that I sell so that A)people can try it and B)I can eat some dip! It's really delicious, and all natural. There are two kinds--one you mix with sour cream and mayonnaise (or yogurt and light mayo or any combination thereof) and one you mix with olive oil for dipping bread. I'll be choosing the potato chip friendly creamy version for the car show crowd. I need to reorder from the dip lady already! I have sold a lot of dip mix in the past two weeks (probably because I RAVE about it and it's relatively cheap. . .)

George the landlord came by on Saturday and futzed around with the ailing air conditioner. He agreed that it would be better to fix this one than to replace it with a weaker (and smaller so it won't fit in the hole right) one. It's supposed to be around 90 degrees tomorrow, so let's hope it works! If not, let's hope that I can scrounge up a big tub of ice to put in front of the fan.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A/C update (for Jill & all concerned)

Seems like the air conditioner was working yesterday. Not great, but better than before. The one from Mary's office is sitting in the office waiting for a home. I'll have to plug it in and check it out today. Then I can decide if I want to take on the task of swapping them. I think Berwyn has toxic garbage day once in awhile, so that's how I'll get rid of the broken one in the garage.

If I swap them, I'll put the other one on Freecycle. It's better than nothing, and might be good for a smaller room. My handy hubby said that the existing one is WAY more powerful than the newer one (if it's working to its optimum capability). I talked to the HVAC guy in the neighborhood. He said that nobody works on window air conditioners anymore. So there's a career idea for anybody interested in such things. My dad told me that they should last forever. This one is from 1985, so that's darn near forever--especially when you consider that it wasn't maintained particularly well. The instruction manual said to clean the filter weekly, not once a decade. . .

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How do I get rid of. . .

For those of you who have been to the store, you may have noticed that the air conditioning is not up to par. Perhaps you credited me with being frugal and energy efficient, but no, it's just a crappy a/c unit.

Jon and I are having terrible luck with semi-major appliances lately. We've killed two air conditioners and a television. They are safely stored in our garage for now, but we are trying to find a way to get rid of them safely. I found a website which will tell you where to dispose of items that you shouldn't put in the regular garbage or recycling bins.


I didn't realize that so many retail stores are taking in old batteries and stuff. Still haven't found where to "dump" my air conditioners, but thought I'd share that website with you all. We actually tried to deep clean the a/c at the store tonight. Years of hairspray seem to have taken their toll on the poor thing. Hopefully tomorrow it will be good as new. If not, my friend Mary, who was at the overheated store last night, called me today to say that her workplace was replacing their window units (which still work) so she grabbed one for me. We'll see if I need it at the store. . .if not, we've got a shortage at home. I'm still very proud of the fact that I have not bought anything new for the store except products and a piece of paneling to cover a hideous wall. And technically, the landlord bought that.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why Natural Cleaning Products?

Now that we're open, I will move on to greener pastures (or topics, as it may be).

I currently carry two lines of natural cleaning products. Mrs. Meyer's and Howard Naturals. Between them, you can clean everything in your home! (unless your home is made from cornstarch or some other material that would disintegrate if it got wet.)

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day makes aromatherapeutic cleaners for your kitchen and bathroom. Most come in four fragrances: Basil, Lavender, Geranium, and Lemon Verbena. I have been using these products for almost a year and I love them, which is why I decided to sell them. I carry their full line of regular cleaning stuff--powdered cleanser, counter top spray, concentrated cleaner, dish washing liquid, and window spray. I also have Lemon Verbena automatic dishwasher liquid, chamomile cat litter freshener and Basil laundry soap.

I had been thinking (and reading) a lot about chemicals in the home and it really started to sink in how important it is to get rid of them. The a-ha moment for me was when I was spraying the bathroom mirror with something bright blue (which will remain nameless) and I saw the mist floating gracefully down onto my toothbrush in its cute little chrome holder. Ugh! Then I noticed that when I'd spray my counter in the kitchen, the spray was getting on the wire basket of vegetables and bowl of fruit on there. I wash or peel them before I eat them, but it still really bugged me. Why use something made by Dow or Chlorox when I could use something made by Mother Nature? Or at least Mrs. Meyer with some help from Her. I still try to avoid getting the cleaners on my food and dental tools, but if it does, I'm pretty sure it won't make me grow a third arm or something. My mom pointed out that they now have "green" cleaners at her local grocery store, but they are made by the big chemical companies. I'd rather have my money go to someone who never created the problem in the first place! Most of the Mrs. Meyer's stuff is $4.99. The concentrated cleaner is $7.99, as is the automatic dishwasher liquid. The laundry soap is $11.99. Fairly comparable to the "regular" brands.

Howard Naturals covers all the categories that Mrs. Meyer's doesn't. Like wood, stainless steel, marble and granite, and upholstery. Their wood stuff is amazing! I don't have stainless or marble/granite in my house, so I've asked my customers who do to let me know how they like those cleaners. Their products also smell great. It's amazing what a clean uplifting (and non-chemical) fragrance can do to boost (or calm) your spirits while you're doing your chores!

I'm very sorry that I didn't take before and after pictures of my mom's butcher block table that I reconditioned for her on Mother's Day. I also failed to take any of the oak chair I have in the store that was a little dried out and tired looking before I used the furniture conditioner on it. Jose (fellow business owner in the neighborhood) came by the next day and asked me if I had refinished the chair! He bought the furniture conditioner the first day I was open. I also used it on the wood "floor" of the front window instead of staining and varnishing it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Almost Famous

Click on the title of this post to see some of the pictures from Wednesday's photo shoot with Andrew Westel from the Berwyn newspaper. I guess I didn't really need to wear pants after all. The article by Cari Brokamp is scheduled to run in next Wednesday's paper. Have a lovely holiday!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big Thanks!

THANK YOU to all of you friends (old and new) who have come by the store to shop and wish me well. I'm so glad that Berwynites are a friendly bunch! It's been great--people are coming in with their kids and dogs (I love them both, just not responsible enough to have any of my own!). As I mentioned before, we'll be closed tomorrow (7/4) but back on Saturday afternoon 12-5. Then I'll resume my Tuesday - Friday regular hours.

I've sold quite a bit of stuff these past few days. It seems like a good mix of stuff is going, so that makes me feel relieved about my initial ordering abilities. There is a Depot District sidewalk sale in the works for sometime in August. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Store Hours

Today is my first day of normal store hours. No more late nights at Fly Right (for now, anyway)! Tentative hours will be:

Tuesday-Friday 11-7
Saturday 12-5

This is how I'm starting out. As I go, I will decide if it's working. I'll be closed July 4 to celebrate Independence Day. I figured if even the ice cream parlor will be closed, there's really no point in my being open. I will be open later (9ish) July 15 and August 19 for the car shows, though.

Today the photographer from the Suburban Life newspaper is coming. Cari Brokamp called the store and interviewed me yesterday. I'm sure I'll come across as an idiot. I prefer to write my own stories so I can edit out the dumb thoughts and comments. I'm sure many of you would say I don't, though. *fighting the urge to put a smiley emoticon here* I guess I'll just try to find a shirt without paint or stains on it to wear for my picture. . . And probably pants or a skirt. I can't Porky Pig it in the newspaper!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I'm Open!

Today, as I was waiting for the fire inspector to come, one of Berwyn's alderpersons, Michele Skryd, called me. She had read my blog and was upset that I was being lost in the shuffle. She said she'd make a phone call and that I should call her if an inspector didn't come by 1pm. Well, shortly thereafter, a fire inspector showed up and completed my paperwork. He gave me permission to open that minute (since he had the final piece of paper that would make it so). Or maybe it was because he wanted to be my first customer. The neighbors came in so that THEY could be my first customer, but they were all too late--a nice lady had walked in off the street and selected a vegetable and grain bag to purchase, and she was at the register with her money out. So Mike, the fire inspector was my second customer (and a nice one at that--he bought an organic chocolate bar which he gave me a piece of so I can now recommend it based on experience). Then Regina from next door bought some stuff and gave me my first $1 (which she signed and I put on the bulletin board). I am really open. I went to City Hall a little later to get the official piece of paper. So much paper they're wasting on little old me. . . I hope they recycle down at City Hall!

Michele Skryd is Berwyn's "Green" alderman (I put a link to her blog at the bottom of this page). I had met her at one of the BDC (Berwyn Development Corp.) after hours events in March or April. She had come by the store last weekend--thank God. Yesterday I said I wished I "knew a guy". Well, she's my "guy". Thanks, Michele, (and thanks to blogger.com too)!