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Changes

Every time I type that or even think of the changes, my mind instantly begins singing the David Bowie song. I just can’t control it.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now this blog has been stagnant for months. My new job left me wondering exactly what to do with this little place on the web. I haven’t had a ton of time to craft and what little time I did have, didn’t really allow for the documenting and writing about the few projects I have finished in the last few months. And, I admit, I’m a Type A personality. It just seemed wrong to write about things not crafty here, you know, with the whole name thing.

So, a few months back I secured another domain. It’s sat quietly while I tried to decide what to do. Now is the time to move. My life currently revolves around social media, marketing, research… all that good stuff that isn’t really crafty. So this little blog will sit here for a while, until the hosting runs out. I’m moving over to a new home on the web, where I’ll feel more comfortable writing about whatever pops into my little brain, whenever I like.

That new home on the web is www.theheathervaughn.com

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already noticed I changed my username there as well. You can still reach me, but I’m now know as @Heather_Vaughn. Simple, right? At least you know it’s me and my thoughts, however cohesive they may or may not be.

In short, if you are a social media junkie like I am, pop over to the new place and see what it’s all about. I’m still building it, slowly. You may see a few of my favorite old posts re-published there as well, who knows? If you are a crafty person, well… it’s been nice getting to know you. I currently have plans to attend BlogHer ‘11, so if we met last year, I hope to see you again. I’ll just have a new Twitter nametag this year. *wink*

This blog was everything I hoped it would be when I started it. It taught me so much, it gave me a voice. I learned a lot about hosting, Blogger, Wordpress and lots of things I NEVER would have known otherwise. It was just perfect for me, for a season. Now that season is drawing to a close. Thanks for joining me on this journey. I hope you join me in the next chapter.

- Heather

Posted in Uncategorized.


Still here… still writing

Boo! I know, I scared you, right? This blog has been deathly silent for far too long. Things have been busy and although I hate those apologetic blog posts, what are you to do when you have adoring fans? All three of you, right?

Can you guess which one is me?

To catch up, I recently participated in a panel at Show Me The Blog Conference in St. Louis. It’s a new conference on the blog conference circuit, but I think it has great potential. Much like real life, SMTB (as it was known on Twitter) encountered a few bumps in the road, but all in all, I totally would have paid the $40 early bird ticket price for all that I learned. Heck, I probably would have spent the $60 regular (full) ticket price, I really learned that much. I’m just a cheapskate at heart and mom taught me how to get the best deal. It’s hard to break that kind of training.

Show Me The Blog Conference is hoping to grow to a semi-annual event and I’m making plans to make sure I’m there next spring. If you are new to blogging, anywhere close to St. Louis and interested in attending a blog conference, this would definitely be a good “training” conference to see how you like it. Much better than trial by fire at BlogHer like I did. I met a lot of local bloggers and learned a lot of great info from the speakers and panelists.

One major announcement that was announced at SMTB was that I have moved from the ‘job’ of ‘mommy blogger’ to an in-office, 9 to 5, desk job. I recently accepted a position as Social Media Coordinator for a local company that deal with a lot of mommy bloggers. I’d say more here, but let’s just say this company’s owners were on the cutting edge of social media and have used it well to their advantage. Thankfully I’m not building a social media presence, I’m just taking over the reins. Which means, they have a few thousand “fans” on Facebook and I really don’t want to make my work more difficult by connecting too many dots and making it easier for my stalkers to find me. (Is that cryptic enough for you?)

Unfortunately, right after the blog conference, I inadvertently committed the worst blog conference sin EVER, I didn’t post anything. No blogs, nothing. But it’s not my fault, really. My poor little MacBookPro tried to commit computer suicide. Thankfully for me, it was a known issue and Mac (with their excellent customer service, thanks to a class action lawsuit) took care of it. Now my little Mac is back home and ready to serve a few more years with me.

Anyway, all that to say. I’m still here, still blogging and have some plans for fun homemade holiday crafts to share with you. So my question for you is, are you crafting for the holidays? What are you working on? What do you hope to finish before Dec. 24th?

Posted in Secret Life of a Modern Mommy, Tech Fun, Things I Like, craft, real life.


I finished my Monkey Socks!

No, not socks for my monkey. I don’t own a monkey. My children have sock monkeys, but that’s a whole other thing.

Monkey is a pretty famous knit sock pattern in the online knitting community. It arrived a four years ago on Knitty.com, an online magazine.

It took me months to finish my monkey socks. I can’t recall when I actually cast them on, but my first photos of them being knit are from February 2010! I had a serious case of second sock syndrome in the middle of the project, but decided to cast on sock #2 days before BlogHer. I’d hoped to get further during my flights, but didn’t get as much knitting done as I’d hoped.

At any rate, they are finished!

They are completely finished, including a gentle washing. I was thrilled last Monday when it was chilly enough (like 30 degrees Fahrenheit) one morning to justify me wearing them (inside a pair of loafers to show them off) to work.

The yarn was ONline Supersocke 100 Holiday in colorway #1000. I picked it up at She’s Crafty in Springfield, Mo. She’s Crafty is an amazingly cute little store in Springfield filled with all sorts of crafting goodness like Sublime Stitching patterns, fabrics, boutique style patterns, fancy yarns, books and a great room for classes. If you ever are in Springfield, Mo. you should definitely invest the time in finding it.

The yarn was a joy to knit with. Soft and sturdy despite it’s fine gauge. My fingers never got tired, sore or rough because of this yarn. It stripes beautifully, making the finished product look much more complicated than it actually is. I would definitely purchase this yarn again, probably in a different colorway, if I ran across it again. One skein knit two socks (for my size 10 feet) with plenty to spare for matching stripes and extra to stash in case they ever need repair.

I don’t knit much for myself. Socks are a real time investment, but I can’t wait to pick another beautiful yarn and fun pattern to try for another pair of socks by the end of this winter. Who knows, maybe I’ll attempt at two-at-a-time method to avoid that nasty second sock syndrome.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Mastermind Game Giveaway Winners

It was a good night for the name Kelly on Random.org

Strange but true, all our winners are named Kelly!

Congratulations to:

Kelly said: “I follow @mastermindgame on Twitter” September 18, 2010, 11:23 p.m.

Kelly Ann T. says “I follow Follow @mastermindgame on Twitter as @cstironkat” September 10, 2010, 4:02 p.m.

Kelly B says “Daily Tweet  http://twitter.com/kellyblackwell/status/24613237833 kalea_kane(at)yahoo(dot)com” September 15,2010 6:31 p.m.

Winners have been notified by e-mail. Thanks to all who played along.

Posted in Giveaways, Things I Like, reviews.

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New Knits: Cabled Camera Cozy

Weather is cooling off, even if only slightly, which gives us a hint of fall. If you are a yarn crafter like me, that means your thoughts are turning to more lovely knits.

It seems so difficult to knit in the summer. Many knitters have to choose their projects carefully with lightweight yarns or smaller projects. This was one such project for me:

I knit up this lovely little camera cozy to coordinate with my new Kodak M580. (Remember the BlogHer swag?)

I’ve used the Cabled DS Lite Case pattern by CashmereBlend before. My first attempt was for an actual Nintendo DSi cozy, and I used the suggested drawstring closure.

For this project, I used I Love This Cotton yarn (HobbyLobby) in the Amythest colorway. It happened to be lying around in my yarn armoire and it coordinated well with the camera. This yarn is pretty nice actually. Not sure I’d go as far as the name suggests, but it’s smooth and has a nice sheen to it.

This time I decided after knitting the main portion, I picked up stitches and guessed my way to creating a flap. I used a beautiful brass button left over from one of my ChristyNelson.net monthly craft challenge kits. I love how the traditional button playfully contrasts with the more modern color.

I really love this pattern, I love the simple repeats. I think it’s a great introduction to cables if you want to add a new knitting skill. The project works up quickly and with the pattern repeats, it’s fairly easy to adjust to the size of your device. This pattern would work well as a cozy for cameras, handheld video games or maybe even a phone.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Rainy Day Giveaway: Mastermind Board Game

It’s a rainy day here in St. Louis and that means a day for board games.

It’s truly amazing how many board games are available now, but I always find myself gravitating towards the ones I loved as a child. I want to share them with my own children. About a year ago, while visiting my parents, I introduced my oldest son to one of my favorite games as a child, Mastermind.

The problem when I was growing up was that I loved it more than my sisters, and it’s definitely a two player game. I think they never wanted to play with me because I was so awesome at it. At least that’s what I tell myself. <wink>

I was really excited that my son seemed to love it as much as I did. I was sad that even though it was during the holiday season last year, I couldn’t find it in a store. Thankfully Amazon came to the rescue. Amazon really needs to incorporate a super hero cape into their logo, I find nearly everything I need there when I can’t find it elsewhere!

Mastermind classic version

We promptly purchased the classic version of Mastermind, stashed it for a Christmas gift and forgot about it… for MONTHS! It resurfaced, we decided we’d save it for his birthday and again, we forgot about it for months! Earlier this summer I discovered @MastermindGame on twitter, and went searching the house for our game.

Photo from Forrestinavintage.blogspot.com

Unlike the old version at my parent’s house that has a brown base and primary colored pegs, the new version is vibrant and inviting to children (and adults). The current version also a includes covered pocket to hold the pegs that are not in use. I cheered when I saw this because I remembered the mess we used to make as children with the pegs just rolling around in the box.

I was really excited when @MastermindGame offered me the opportunity to review some of their new versions on Twitter. I really, truly love the game and encounter many people who have never heard of it before. They sent me a free Mastermind Attache to review.

The game is pretty simple to understand. One player creates a four peg “code” with the included large pegs, the other player has to guess the code by the time they reach the end of the board. The tricky part of the game is learning to “score” your opponents guesses. This part seems to trip a lot of people up, but it’s not too difficult. Included in the game are smaller white and pink pegs. The instructions tell you to place one white peg in the scoring side of the board for each correct color peg that is in the incorrect position and one pink peg for each peg that is the correct color in the correct position.

The thing I really like about Mastermind is that it allows creativity and adaptation for players of any age. You can make it as difficult or as easy as you like with house rules or different rules each round. For younger children, you can limit the colors used. If your child is learning about patterns at school, you can say “This round you must create a code with an ABAB pattern” to reinforce the lesson. Really the options are only limited by your imagination. This does mean that each game’s difficulty can vary greatly depending on your opponent. (I haven’t played with my husband yet, which is probably a good thing.)

For the Attache Edition, I should make note that this is NOT a travel edition, that’s a different version. I learned this quickly when I tried to close the case mid-game. The pegs do not stay in place. While this may be a deterrent if you are looking for a travel game, it really creates a quick way to clear the board to start a new game. For that reason, I’d recommend the attache version for elementary age children over the classic version. The attache is also great if you want to take the game with you. It’s perfect for a game night, sleepover, or if the kids just want to take it to a friend’s house to share. The zippered case also means it won’t make a huge mess if someone accidentally knocks it off the game shelf.

Pros:

* Zippered case
* Easy to clear board after round
* Bright pegs
* Closed storage for unused pegs
* Adaptable for many ages

Cons:

* Not a travel game
* Can be difficult to score
* Game difficulty depends on opponent

Interested in trying Mastermind for your family? Pressman Toys has generously offered to giveaway Mastermind games to THREE of my readers! Isn’t that amazing? I hope you all love it as much as I do!

For your first entry:

Visit Pressman Toys to check out all of their games, return here and leave a comment to tell me which other game you like. Please remember though, this giveaway is only for Mastermind.

For additional entries:

For one extra entry each:

Please come back here and leave a separate comment for each entry.

For one extra entry each day, you can tweet about the giveaway. Tweet must include @wistfulwrists and a direct link to this post.

Feel free to use this example tweet:

I entered to win @MastermindGame from @WistfulWrists. You can too: http://bit.ly/aQCsr4

Rules: Only one of each entry method listed per person, family or household. Use of multiple accounts or identities are not allowed. Contest ends Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner will be chosen via random number generator on Monday, September 20 and notified by e-mail. Any violation of these rules will result in disqualification from this and future giveaways on this blog.

Disclosure: I was provided a free Mastermind Attache version game for review. The classic version was my own purchase and all opinions are my own.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Follow Up: P&G Responds to PUR Water Post

I was pleasantly surprised to find an e-mail in my inbox a few days after I posted Ding, Dong, PUR Water Calling. It was from Nikki Oliver, Proctor and Gamble’s (P&G’s) GIVE Program Community Manager. She addressed and answered some of my concerns mentioned in the post, and I would like to share them with you.

One of my biggest concerns regarding what we had been presented at BlogHer was that the presentation focused on the organizations that encourage local African women to sell the PUR packets to their communities. This was Ms. Oliver’s response:

The vast majority of PUR packets are distributed free of charge by CSDW’s safe drinking water partners in emergency relief efforts as well as ongoing community health program efforts in developing countries, especially in areas in which there is a critical need for clean water. (For example, last week we committed with our safe drinking water partners, to provide at least 50 million liters of clean drinking water to help flood victims in Pakistan. Over 5 million packets will be distributed free of charge by humanitarian relief organizations like World Vision, Oxfam, IFRC, Save the Children, & others.

A smaller portion of the packets are distributed through our not-for-profit social marketing partners (like PSI and CARE) who work with local women to sell health related products, as part of an effort to help establish local micro-economies and to empower women in impoverished countries to become more economically self-sufficient. In the developing world, products that are given for free are often seen as having little to no value and not worth making a behavior change. That’s why a key component of CSDW is education about the importance of safe drinking water to reduce illness and death which our partners provide through school, health clinic and community programs to bring about behavior change. We work closely with more than 100 partners around the world to ensure users are provided with the support, training and resources they need to use PUR packets effectively.

I found the statement about products that are given for free are seen as having little or no value quite interesting. I asked my circle of friends. While my husband did not encounter this culture when he traveled to South Africa, some of my other friends who have visited other countries on the African continent and have served in other humanitarian relief works in other countries, have experienced this in some cultures.

It does seem that the majority of the organizations that work with CDSW do give out the PUR packets for free.

I also believe in accountability, so I asked how those who blogged and voted will be able to see their clicks put to work. Ms. Oliver kindly pointed me to the website to allow us all to follow along with the project:

The water provided through the Give Health Clean Water Blogivation will be distributed through a variety of our current programs, including the ongoing Pakistan flood response we are working on with partners like World Vision, Save the Children, Read Foundation, HOPE and others. Other examples might include our work in Kenya with our partners at the Safe Water Aids Program (SWAP; www.swapkenya.org), or with Population Services International (PSI; http://www.psi.org/) in Sudan and many other countries.

We will showcase the results of the Clean Water Blogivation so readers and participants can see the impact of their clicks. You can follow the winning blogger on her trip to Kenya this fall with Dr. Greg Allgood on the http://givehealth.changents.com/ portal. You can also see the ongoing stories and pictures of impact on Dr. Allgood’s blog here: http://childrensafedrinkingwater.typepad.com/pgsafewater/.

While I personally prefer sustainable ventures for clean water (i.e. providing wells), I do believe the PUR packets have a purpose. I understand they can be especially helpful in disaster relief situations where they provide clean water almost immediately, as Ms. Oliver mentioned the Pakistan flood response. I appreciate the open dialog with P&G through Nikki Oliver. I do wish that there had been more emphasis at BlogHer on the organizations who give PUR packets away, or at least a more balanced presentation that better represented the true nature of the program.

The GIVEHealth Blogivation campaign provided 21,099 days of clean water for people around the world, according to the website. Thank you for being a part of that.

Thank you for all who read, commented, tweeted and dialogued with me your own thoughts and feelings about the PUR packets and Clean Water Blogivation program. I think the best things in life come out of open communication of our beliefs, values and challenges. Thanks for sharing with me how you would make the world better for our children and generations to come.

Posted in Uncategorized.


BlogHer: Martha Stewart Bloggers Night Out

As promised, I’m back with more details about the BlogHer fun.

As a new(er) blogger with a small(er) readership, I was doubtful whether I should make the personal investment to attend BlogHer. Truthfully, I was considering selling my ticket until a wonderful e-mail arrived in my inbox. Forget Willy Wonka, for a crafter like me, it was the ultimate Golden Ticket, an invitation to a party at the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offices.

Seriously, I nearly fell out of my chair when I read it. Do you know how hard it is to type your e-mail address when your hands are shaking that hard? I have no idea how I was blessed to be in the first round of invitations, but truly “It was an honor just to be nominated.” It was a turning point for me. A few hours later, I’d booked my flight to New York.

After all the fun on the Kodak Bus Tour, I went back to my hotel room and spiffied myself up, just in case I got to meet Ms. Stewart herself. My first thrill of the evening came when Jenny of Craft Test Dummies sent out a tweet looking for people to share a cab to the party. Giddy with the thought, I responded. Jenny was amazing to meet; a perfect mix of fun, friendly, crafty and a wealth of savvy business knowledge. It was a near perfect start to the evening.

Unfortunately, a crazy cab ride, security procedures and a crowded hallway caused me to just barely miss Ms. Stewart’s address to the bloggers at the beginning of the party. *sniff, sniff* Thankfully, Sarah from Craft Critique captured a video and you all can watch it on YouTube (just like I did).

I quickly overcame my disappointment as I indulged in the feast, both visual and literal, set before us. It was amazing to see how many different areas the Martha Stewart empire covers. The party had been moved inside due to high winds, so it was a little cozy. Each department of the MS organziation had a table set up to share their area of expertise and a few demonstrations.

I found it quite appropriate that Martha Stewart Weddings was the first department we encountered as we entered the party area. I’m sure for many women, the wedding magazine was our first true introduction to the organization. I don’t know of a single bride who didn’t own at least one copy of that magazine as she planned her wedding. I enjoyed the contrast of having Wendy, The Pipe Cleaner Lady, making rose ring favors beside Mara from Neither Snow with her beautiful calligraphy skills. New, whimsical, everyday crafting next to classic, formal, enduring skills; what more could I ask for?

Calligraphy

Wendy, the pipe cleaner lady even demonstrated how to make a pipe cleaner ring. I recorded a video, but the background noise was too much. Never fear, you can see Wendy’s demonstration from her own YouTube video:

Once inside the main area, each division of the Martha Stewart empire had a table displaying their area of expertise. My first stop, of course, was the Crafts Department. These women have amazing ideas and it was great to meet them in person. If you don’t already, you should definitely follow @CraftsDept on Twitter for great craft inspiration.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Bloggers' Night Out

Another great stop I made was at the product display table for Martha Stewart’s line of craft supplies. I have to admit, prior to the event, I’d always just walked past the MS section in my local Michaels store. I’m just not a paper crafter. Scissors and I don’t get along. While gazing at the beautiful paper and glitter projects, Hannah Milman, Editorial Director for Crafts, encouraged me to make a paper project. The pressure was on. Me, the non-paper crafter, at the MS offices, daring a paper project. It could have been a nightmare, but thankfully Hannah is a fantastic instructor, very patient and very supportive.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Bloggers' Night Out

She even persuaded me to use <gasp> jewel stickers!

Seriously people, this was a breakthough. By the time I walked away from Hannah’s table, I was actually considering buying glitter. Someone really should stop me.

I think that’s really the point behind what Ms. Stewart does though, it’s to empower people to realize they can do things themselves, to improve their life, their home, and the lives of those around them. Say what you will about the size and history of the organization, I met the people behind the scenes. They are incredibly passionate about what they do and equally passionate about sharing their discoveries with others.

Another of my favorite tables was the recently re-branded Whole Living department. Because much of my crafting adventures also cross the line into sustainable, green living, I was really excited to see the emphasis on this area. Their display included a bicycle powered blender, which blended some very tasty blueberry slushies.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Bloggers' Night Out

It was a truly amazing night. I met some awesome people, like Annie Modesitt and Jeff Blumenkrantz. Ms. Modesitt was incredibly warm and friendly despite my gushing about how much I enjoyed her patterns and combination knitting. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share my story of knitting her Fiesta Tea Set for my 4 year old daughter. Mr. Blumenkrantz was funny and intriguing, as well as inspiring to a new blogger as myself. He totally busted me as a non-foodie when he asked what type of filling was in one of the yummy desserts. As a mom of four that frequently eats on the run, I had to laugh at myself as I tried to sound semi-intelligent in describing it to him. He was quite gracious about the whole thing.

Martha's Swag Bag

I stayed until the end, one of the very last to leave the party. Which was great, because I was allowed to peek inside a test kitchen, which was AH. MAZ. ING. It was also a little bittersweet, because I missed out on the beautiful blue gift bag. Oh well, a small price to pay for the fun that was had. So if you want to know what was inside, you’ll have to read one of the other great accounts of the party. A few of my favorites are Craft Test Dummies, TomKat Studio, The Crafts Dept., Blonde Mom, or can just peruse the Flickr group full of photos from the evening.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Ding Dong; PUR Water Calling

(Per official rules: I have signed up to participate in the Clean Water Blogivation campaign. If my blog receives the most votes, I will win an opportunity to join Dr. Greg Allgood on a clean water expedition to Africa and a $15,000 donation to my favorite charity tackling water issues.)

Two and a half weeks after BlogHer, I still can’t shake the uneasy feeling in my stomach I acquired while inside P&G’s “Home Away From Home” in the expo hall. In the living room of the P&G house bloggers were educated about PUR water packets and how they were being used to give people across the world access to clean water. Immediately, I thought it odd the display about clean water, which is essential to life and health, was placed in the living room of their display, but as I listened carefully to the presentation, it became quite clear.

First we were introduced to what PUR water purification packet was. From the Children’s Safe Drinking Water website:

“The PUR packet is an amazing innovation that quickly turns 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean and drinkable water. And, because it is much smaller and easier to ship than plastic water bottles, anyone anywhere in the world can easily use it.”

Briefly, it’s a 3 step process that takes 30 minutes to complete, before the water is drinkable. As mom to four small children who have almost no concept of time, I was rather surprised. I wonder what happens if you don’t let it sit for the proper amount of time? Is it still effective? I couldn’t help but laugh when I watched the PUR packet video and listened to the comments of the assisting children about time. Dr. Allgood addressed another of my concerns late in this video. He mentions that when they took the PUR packets to Haiti, the people did not have watches, so how could they know when the 20 minutes was up? Thankfully, someone noticed that it took 20 minutes for the mothers to cook the green bananas that is a staple of their diet, so they could use this to mark the appropriate time for this community. It makes me wonder though, as they introduce this in other countries and areas, how do they teach those people to wait the required amount of time?

While I think the PUR packets are wonderful technology, it certainly requires on-site training specific to each community’s needs and resources to make sure they are used properly so that they will achieve the intended results.

The second part of the pitch was what left me nauseated. We were told that not only do they supply these PUR packets to communities, but they created a system for the women of the communities to sell the packets and therefore earn income for their families. I did a mental double take.

I couldn’t shake the mental image of Peg Boggs from the opening of Edward Scissorhands as she rang doorbell after doorbell in her pristine pastel neighborhood peddling her cosmetics. ‘Ding, dong. Avon calling? No, it’s PUR water. No astringent here, but this little packet will help prevent infection.’

Are we forcing our American consumerism onto these people by showing them their great need and then making them pay for it? How are they expected to get the income to pay for the packets in the first place? I’m no economics expert, but this seems like creating a demand to drive supply. It still isn’t clear to me who created, organized or implements this system. I’m not sure if it is P&G directly, a branch of P&G or another organization altogether.

Maybe my mental image is extreme and far from the truth, but I did quite a bit of research. While there is a great deal of information out there about the PUR packets, I found it difficult to find much information about the distribution system. A few blogs buried deep within the Children’s Safe Drinking Water website shed enough light so that I knew I wasn’t dreaming up what I heard at BlogHer.

Halfway down this article, you’ll find a photo of women wearing burgundy blazers with the following explanation:

“These women help support themselves and their families by selling safe water products like PUR, as well as Pampers and Always. They staff a kiosk in a local market as well as sell door to door in their “territory” of neighbors.”

CDSW.org also has a list of partners that use the PUR product. I’m sure you’ll recognize several of the organizations as I did. I was relieved to find another blog post about World Vision’s use of the PUR packets. It shares the story of Margaret and how she was taught to use the packets to purify her drinking water. I found hope in the following paragraph:

“Margaret is very engaged as I show her how to use PUR.  We use her buckets and spoon to make the PUR-treated water and leave her with her first allotment of PUR.  She’ll be resupplied at the local clinic.”

It appears that these humanitarian and relief agencies are able to purchase the PUR packets and then distribute them in whatever way they deem best, which hopefully includes GIVING them away for free. Who are we to say who deserves clean water? Only those who can afford it? Only those able to commit to sharing/selling it to their neighbors? What about those families who are already so stricken by disease that they physically can’t sell door to door, no matter how much they want to improve their family’s condition?

The final blow for me at BlogHer was the pushy man in the “living room” who wanted me to sign up for a free e-mail reminder so I could blog about their program and possibly win a free trip to Africa to see their product in action. I could barely sort out my own thoughts on what I’d just heard before he was using the magic blogger marketing words “Win. Free. Trip.” Let’s be real, that’s code for “Give. Free. PR.” I politely declined signing up for his list.

Despite that, this morning I received a lovely e-mail in my inbox politely reminding me there are only a few days left to participate in the Give Health Clean Water Blogivation promotion. I took the time to read the Official Rules carefully. Did any of you notice this line?

“Bloggers who promote their blog post on Twitter must include the hashtag “#paid ad”.”

See what I mean about free PR? I have to wonder, exactly how are we getting “paid” unless we are the winner of the contest?

In doing my research for this article, I also stumbled upon this little bit of information. If you visit the CDSW.org website and click on “Get a Kit”, a list of retailers opens up. I clicked on Walmart.com and found this in the customer review section for this item:

Wait to buy this product, 09/14/2009

by LewA, Columbia, MD
I just purchased this product for inclusion in a disaster readiness kit. The chemical packets that come with the kit have a shelf life of three years. The current stock has less than 1 year left on that shelf life (Aug 2010). I contacted the company in an attempt to get replacement packets. The kits are not manufactured continually. It appears they only make them when the current stock expires. If you want to buy this kit for emergency preparedness, wait until September 2010 before buying it. At that time, P&G will have replaced the current stock on hand with new product that will have the expected 3 year shelf life.

If you plan to use this product immediately (or in the near future) then my criticism does not apply.

I have no idea how valid this statement is. If it is true, it certainly raises many more questions about how the product is distributed in other countries, how well it works past expiration, how people are educated and keep track of the expiration and how the expired product is dealt with in those areas.

Here’s the bottom line:

* I love that scientists worked hard to develop the PUR water packets to make clean water accessible virtually anywhere. Sure it has a few kinks with time requirements, but nothing that can’t be overcome with dedicated people who are willing to give the education necessary to make it work.

* My concern lies with the concept of selling this door to door. We as Americans and Canadians (let’s not forget our blogging sisters to the north) are living in the most affluent countries. Why should we use our blogs to promote this behavior? No one should ever be educated about their condition and then forced by lack of resources to make a hard decision like that. We all know as moms we do everything we can to give our children the best we can. Why would I dare to promote something that could cause a mother in another country the potential for that emotional heartache?

If I’m wrong about how this is happening, I’d love for someone to enlighten me. I’m open minded, I love a good discussion. I’d love for someone to prove to me that we aren’t forcing our western ideas of commerce on other communities. Let’s talk about real strategy for a sustainable global community that thrives. People are people. No one is any better or more worthy of clean water than any other.

* Look carefully at the charities and organizations you align yourself with. Make sure they conduct business the way you would. If I had $15,000 to donate, you better believe I’d chose an organization that will distribute freely the opportunity for clean water.

One of the main themes of BlogHer this year was how powerful our voices are as bloggers. I believe in the power of one person, the power of words, and the power of women, so I chose to submit my thoughts to the Blogivation campaign. I want to be heard. If you agree with me, I’d love your vote. By agreeing with me and voting for my post you can provide one day of drinking water.

No one should die because the only water they have to drink is dangerous. No one should die of an incurable case of diarrhea. I want EVERYONE to have the ability to drink clean water, EVERYONE. It’s plain and simple: GIVE WATER.

Editor’s note: I received a message from P&G in response to several of the issues raised in this article. A follow up will be written shortly to share this information with you.

Posted in Uncategorized.


BlogHer ‘10: Kodak Bus Tour

There was so much to learn, see, do and consider thoughtfully at BlogHer ‘10 in New York City, it seems unfair to give it only one post. For the next few days, I’ll share with you the highlights from my own unique perspective. Maybe you are considering BlogHer ‘11 in San Diego, maybe you weren’t able to attend and just want to enjoy, or maybe you are like I was, and wondering how a craft blogger could benefit from BlogHer.

I flew into New York City with some local friends on Wednesday. Wednesday was designated “travel day” in my book, I highly recommend it. I encountered many bloggers that traveled on the day they had parties and appointments booked. Boy, did they look stressed! Flights don’t always connect the way they are supposed to, things happen, it’s just less stress to have a dedicated travel day if at all possible.

While most of my Wednesday was filled with security, waiting, flying, a nauseating taxi ride (anyone recall the video game Crazy Taxi?), and recovery from said ride, we did have a great time walking around the area, including Times Square, at our own pace.

We stopped in at the Anthropologie store so one of my roommates could do some shopping. As a very visual, crafty, colorful person, I fell in love. One of the great things that NYC has that we lack here in STL is an appreciation of window displays. Anthropologie was beautiful inside and out. My favorite area was in the home furnishings area. I could do some serious damage to my checking account with drawer pulls alone. I found this beauty near the dressing rooms on the lower level:

I’m no art expert, but I loved the way it appears the yarn (or whatever it was) is embroidered through the painting. I’d love to recreate this idea on a smaller scale in my home.

We traveled on, enjoying lots of interesting fashion and displays elsewhere along the way, including a very large paper mache homage to Saturday Night Live. Times Square was fun, although slightly reminiscent of the county fair in terms of people and product. Did you know Spiderman plays the saxophone? Really! We shopped in a 3 story Forever 21 in Times Square until about midnight. (By the way, shopping until midnight is a quite the luxury when you are from Missouri.) Afterwards, we took our very tired tootsies back to the Hilton.

Thursday morning my roommates had to “work” by attending BlogHer Business. After a few hiccups I used my trusty iPhone to map my way solo to Bouchon Bakery in Columbus Circle to meet up with other bloggers for breakfast. I had a lovely chocolate brioche and coffee while chatting with Kate, Amythest, and Tonya.

Next up on my agenda was the Kodak Bus Tour. Now would be the time to point out that nifty little iPhone app that I fell in love with completely failed me. A group of bloggers met in the lobby of the Hilton and started our trek to Caroline’s to meet the busses for the Kodak Tour. I’m not sure how it happened, but people relied on me and my little blue dot as we set the pace to walk what was supposed to be a few short blocks. Sadly, the little blue dot abandoned me somewhere along the way. Blue dot told me I was standing in the middle of Central Park, when even this girl from Missouri could tell I was clearly not. Sorry to Robyn, Tamara and all the others I led astray!

Thankfully despite my tiff with Blue Dot, we arrived to Caroline’s only five minutes late and enjoyed a nice lunch while the lovely ladies from Kodak gave us a quick overview of the Share Button, the key feature of the lovely little M580 cameras that had arrived at our houses a week earlier. (Disclosure here: If you can’t read between the lines, Kodak gifted each Bus Tour attendee with a Kodak M580 camera and a 1GB card to use on the tour.)

We filled two busses full of bloggers and set off for a three hour tour of New York City. We saw lots of amazing things and obviously, took lots of photos. You can see all the blogger’s favorite photos of the tour at Kodak Moments.

One of the best tips from the Kodak session was when Jenny (Kodak’s Chief Blogger) shared with us that one of her most important ‘missions’ is to get moms in front of the camera. Too many times, we as moms are clicking away behind the camera. We are creating great memories, but leaving ourselves out of the picture. Jenny encouraged us to remember to turn the cameras on ourselves every once in a while. When I did as instructed, I captured this treasure:

I love the reflection of the skyline in the lenses of my sunglasses and I choose to ignore all my imperfections in this photo. Never mind that it was 90+ degrees out and we were riding on an open top bus through Manhattan. No one looks their best in those circumstances! I’m really glad Jenny encouraged us to do this, and will do my best to remember it in the future.

I returned to the hotel exhausted, but thrilled. Throughout the day I met several bloggers I followed and many more new ones as well. Sadly, being new to the whole BlogHer gig, I was not as adept at the whole business card swap thing as I should have been, so some of the great ladies I met that first day I have yet to rediscover. Oops! You live, you learn.

Thursday’s fun wasn’t over, I still had two events to attend including the much anticipated Martha Stewart Blogger’s Night Out. More on that fun tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized.




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