Wow, I have just had another long blog break. Couldn’t keep the momentum going after Christmas. This time of year when the days are short and grey, I have to use all of my positive life force to stay on top of it. It is amazing how weather can effect your whole being, and I feel really effected by the cold short days. After a few months of the frigid, grey, barren landscape I start to yearn for another life. Which is kind of silly you know, because I have a good life, right here, right now.
To combat the winter blues what is one to do? Eat well, exercise, visit with friends, go to art galleries and when things get really blue, well one must go shopping! Given we live 16 miles from one of the best shopping metropolis in the world, this thought comes to mind pretty quickly. The truth of the matter though, is that I am not a carefree shopper anymore. I am plagued with a consumer conscious. I try and tread lightly when it comes to purchases, and shopping for no reason (other than I can and want to) does not sit well with me. Yes, alright, I know, shopping can be fun, and it is thrilling to buy pretty new things, and part of me wishes I could be in that ignorant place, and be in denial about my role on earth…but I just can’t. I know it all counts…every little bit. So better I feel proud of the things I DON’T own and be able to say, I am really trying not to shop, and I chose not to buy that.
BUT – trying not to shop does not stop me. One of the ways I talk myself around this is that I am allowed to purchase art and craft supplies and handmade art and craft of others. Art and craft after all has lasted and evolved through the ages. It is known to increase moral, reduce stress and keep people occupied. People find peace, contentment, and reward in arts and crafts. The arts and crafts foster skills, and savors time. Enough said.
I allow myself the pleasure of shopping for supplies, and then I also have the pleasure of creating and the reward of making. This elongates the whole process of acquiring an object. It gives my possessions a greater journey and it eliminates some of the guilt I feel about suppressing others into factory work on my behalf. If you are in any doubt about what I am talking about, then you must, please watch this film. Cam and I have watched a few films lately, across various genres and topics, and a common thread I found in them is that they all portrayed richer more powerful people suppressing others into undesirable positions, intentionally, or inadvertently. I hate seeing a life led into an unpleasant existence because they feel they do not have any other choice – or because it is all too easy. Can you imagine being in the position of “I need money, I need a job, there is nothing else available, so I will work in the factory down the road gutting a pig”. Because people eat a lot of bacon, pork, pig, and they always need workers. I have this Utopian view, that If I do not want the things that are made in dismal soul destroying factories, then the jobs wont be available, and as is human nature to survive, the people would find something else to do. Hopefully. There is supply and demand and there is demand and supply. If people stop buying the item, then eventually, factories stop production of the item, and people do something else with their life. But what? What ever the demand calls for…and so join me friends, please make ethical demands. Demand things that come from a good place. Demand that workers be treated well. Demand that we have good options. There have always been poor people throughout civilization, and some of mankinds most remarkable achievments have been created by the poor, or slaves. I just wish that today, in this era, that more people were working towards something that at the end of the day, made them, feel good.
Anyway, with lifted spirits, and the notion of working towards somthing, that at the end of the day made me feel good… off I went to Manhattan for an art and craft supply forage. I had two places on my list to visit, Pearl Paint and Purl Soho, and by co-incidence located a few blocks from one another in lower Manhattan.
First stop was Pearl Paint, a famous art store that occupies all of the floors of two multi floor buildings. It is on Canal street, and is easy to spot for the uniquely painted white and red facade. I was looking to buy specific paper, and Maya wanted an orange pencil. We are collecting Caran d’ache Pablo coloured pencils and Maya wanted a dark orange. We buy a few now and then, and over time, have a gorgeous collection. What we like about them is that they are soft and sharpen well without the core snapping. Best of all though, is that they colour beautifully. We colour and sharpen, and colour and sharpen them down to a stubby pinch. These pencils are an investment to us, the children know that they are good quality, and look after them accordingly.
While at Pearl Paint I intended to buy some artist quality paper. I had it in mind to purchase some small sheets of cold pressed paper with a four sided deckle edge. I did not find what I was looking for, but in my pursuit of this I ended up having a highbrow ethical conversation with the arty dude behind the counter (not started by me, which was a first) about supply, quality and the mighty $. It was one of those art store moments, that makes shopping in an art store so much fun.
Next stop was Purl Soho, the most divine craft store in Manhattan. Totally a dream to visit and I know lots of you out there would agree! This was my first time going to Purl Soho, and I was surprised at just how busy it was. It is a colourful textural creative mecca. There must have been 20 people inside the store. With yarns, fabric, and notions across the colour spectrum I was in rainbow heaven, but more impressive was the quality of everything I touched. It was inspiration bonanza.
What makes Purl Soho so special is that they select the best and present it in such a pleasing way. All over the shop are exquisite hand made items, that make you want to make! Elle found a bunch of wool felt animals that she happily played with while I decided what to buy. Elle also found the yarn ball winding process very fascinating. This is a service Purl offers their customers – so handy to have skeins made into balls, and so cool to watch! This is reason enough for me to make the trip to the city to by yarn from Purl Soho (when I decide to start knitting that is!).
We left the store with a few items. I bought some neon embroidery floss, which sadly I do not recommend as It is a polyester viscose blend that frays and does not knot well. I was a bit disappointed to discover this. I purchased the packet of neon thread, sealed in a box and so actually did not handle it until I got home. Given that everything else I laid my hands on in the shop was natural fibers, I just assumed it would be cotton and did not stop to read the fiber content…my mistake. I also bought some pom pom trim and some cotton bias. I was very restrained with set intentions for what I bought, but more honestly, I think I was hungry.
After Pearl and Purl, Elle and I had enough shopping. My body burns through food at a crazy rate and I had worked up an appetite. While in Soho I like to go into Dean & Deluca. I love popping in to this gourmet market, even if I do not buy anything, it is a beautiful place. When we first moved to Manhattan and lived on the Lower East Side, Maya and I would walk there once a week for bread and the occasional specialty grocery. They sell some really yummy things. Sadly though, Dean & Deluca do not use, or offer organic milk in their hot beverages, so no hot chocolate or latte for me. I opted for some delicious mushroom empanade. One for me, one for Elle and one for Cam to to eat on the drive home.
Cam and I drive into the city now and then instead of taking the train, and each time we do, we marvel at the fact that from our front door to Manhattan takes as little as 25 minutes (if we leave after 10am). We breeze right in and it makes me wonder why we don’t do this every week? Cam had a date with The New Potato Girls, and it worked out perfectly for him to have a business meeting, and Elle and I to go craft shopping, and for us to drive home in time to collect Maya from school. All in all it was a great city outing. We don’t plan on living near New York City forever, but while we do, excuse my cheesy play on words, I am Soho grateful for these little opportunities, and for this life.