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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

The holidays in my family was odd.  My family is a first generation immigrant family, trying to adapt to this new American culture while retaining our roots and traditions.  They tried to do things like have a Xmas tree, but were decidedly vague on other Western traditions that should go along with the Xmas tree.

Since we owned our own business, and was trying to get the rest of the family over to the US, my parents worked non-stop.  One of the few holidays they allowed themselves was Xmas.  But Xmas for them wasn’t about roasting chestnuts and lovingly watching children open up gifts in front of a fire.  No, for them, Xmas was a rare chance for them to not work a 16 hour day, an opportunity to get together with friends and having fun and releasing stress.  So on Xmas eve, my parents would host a large party with all their friends.  We kids would be ushered into my room, where we would have to entertain ourselves while our parents were getting progressively more tipsy as the night wore on.  The unspoken rule was that we could tease and fight and argue as much as we want, but any of us dared to leave the room to disturb the adults – we would all (including the tattletale) be in huge trouble that would result in practicing our Chinese calligraphy for the rest of the night.  It’s amazing that through nearly 14 years of these parties, we only broke this rule once (and my brother was the tattletale.  I can’t remember what we did to him, but even at 3 years old, he learned to never tattle again).

Generally, we kids would tire ourselves out, and we would just all pass out in my room.  Half a dozen of us sleeping on top of each other like a pile of puppies on my twin bed, the rest of us curled up on the floor.

During the night, as the adults realized that they were too inebriated to drive home, they would leave behind what I now call “The Breakfast Stocking”.

Unlike most American kids who would wake up to a tree packed with gifts and Xmas stockings filled with toys, we would wake up to a large Xmas stocking filled with food.  Things like stale muffins, a jug of soy milk, oranges and rice balls (hey, we *are* Asian after all)…and a note from “Santa”, telling us that if we woke up our parents that we would be in big trouble.  However, if we eat our food quietly and don’t bother the adults until they woke up, we would be rewarded.

So instead of a loud and excited Xmas morning, we kids would all tiptoe down to the den, turn on the TV and watch whatever Xmas movie was on (generally, it was “White Christmas” which we loved, or “It’s a Wonderful Life” which we hated) and in whispers argue who got the muffins and who got the rice balls.  Usually the adults would wake up around 2pm, and stumble into the den with a raging hangover and the realization that they have forgotten to buy Xmas presents.  Feeling guilty (imagine staring into the expectant eyes of a dozen or so kids on Xmas morning), the adults would dig into their wallets and start handing out cash.

My friends and I were the only kids that would roll into school after the holidays with $300 in twenties.  That bought a *LOT* of ice cream sandwiches at lunch.  Needless to say, we were all intensely popular at school after the holidays.

It’s odd, because despite our rather weird and goofball holiday celebrations, all I remember was how much fun we had – Breakfast Stocking and all.  We never felt a lack for not getting a pile of presents on Xmas morning.  We kids had each other, our Breakfast Stocking, and the rare chance to watch TV uninterrupted with demands that we should stop wasting time and go practice our violin/piano/cello/harp.

I didn’t start giving gifts until I was in high school.  Although we still received lots of cash for Xmas, my parents were reluctant to let me go out to the mall on my own (clearly, they knew me too well and knew the kind of trouble I would happily get myself into), and as they were still working non-stop, they had limited time to take me.  So I began figuring out how to make gifts.

The most notable of which was in college.  As a poor college kid, I didn’t have that much money but definitely didn’t have the time to make a lot of handcrafted gifts.  Plus, who gives someone a hand-knitted scarf in school?  So I went over to Tick Tock (the local liquor store), bought several bottles of the cheapest vodka they had (I seem to remember it was something like $2 for a half gallon jug…basically, one step above rubbing alcohol), and decided to “infuse” my own vodka. Sans recipe (this was before the days of foodtv.com).  “How hard can it be?” I remember thinking to myself.  From the cafeteria I grabbed various fruits, cut them up and shoved them into these bottles of horrifically cheap vodka and just let them sit in the corner of my closet. After a few days, I poured them into old soda and water bottles that I had saved, tied a ribbon and gifted a bottle to each of my friends.

It was the absolute most vile thing I ever tasted…and probably the most vile thing that we would ever taste again.  However, the memory of that awful infused vodka still lives on with my friends.  Although our little college group has drifted apart as our boring yet busy adult lives has pulled us away, I will always get at least one holiday card or email from one of them, reminding me of that horrific infused vodka and the hilarity we had drinking it (tasty infused vodka recipe here).

Later on, after I graduated and entered the workforce, I got back into the habit of making gifts.  One year, I thought it would be nice if I baked little gift baskets full of treats.  Remember my inability to make infused vodka?  Now picture that cluelessness as I attempted to bake a fruit cake (I thought frozen fruit was the same as candied fruit), and muffins (the recipe called for 1 cup of sugar and 1tsp of salt…not 1 cup of salt and 1 tsp of sugar), and cookies (the less said, the better).  Still, the amount of fun I had baking treats for an entire day was equal to the hilarity that we all had when my friends bit into these “treats”.  Heh.

I’m talented in many ways, but cooking will never be one of my talents.
Just three years ago, I joined my in-laws for their Xmas Day extravaganza.  While I love my two adorable nephews dearly; they 4+ hours of watching them open up gifts and becoming increasingly frenzied is definitely not the highlight of my holiday experience. 

However, one of the gifts that my nephew received was a Jenga set.  As my mother-in-law was preparing our holiday meal, we set out to play Jenga with him.  The game was going well, and we were having a great time.  Until the youngest nephew (I believe he was 3 at the time), came rushing to the table and wanted a turn.  Before we could say a word, he wobbles and crashes into the already precarious tower of wooden blocks while roughly pulling out a block, then trots away...as we stared in amazement at the still standing tower!  I belive our screams of laughter nearly brought down the roof.  And I will never again play Jenga without picturing that moment.
As everyone is rushing around trying to pick up last minute gifts for friends and family, and getting stressed out over the mall and holiday travel, just take a step back and take a deep breath and think back to past holidays.  Inevitably, you won’t be thinking of who got what present…but of the laughter and love and fun that you had with those you care about. 

For years, I’ve been pushing to go to a gift free holiday (my parents and brother heartily agree…we have a standing pact to go out to dinner on Xmas Eve, but not to exchange any presents) – not because I’m grinchy, but because I don’t want the stress of insane holiday shopping and expectations, get in the way of the fun that I know I will have with those I love. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season with their loved ones.  And to remember that no one will remember how many gifts they got, but they will remember those moments they shared with you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt from AliciaSquared's Perspective

I can't believe I totally missed this entry (I really do read your blog AG...I really really do!) about the infamous T-Shirt Quilt project that I did with one half of AliciaSquared several months ago...from her perspective.

I'm going to say this now - AG is a lot nicer about writing about me then I would have been (seriously, I made pin for 2 hours, then caused her to bleed...and then had her sew the blanket in reverse!), and she's pretty magnificent...even if she steals my FTRs.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Winner Winner! Chicken Dinner!!!

I meant to post this up last night - but between cutting out over 130+ entries for the "Let's-Celebrate-the-Sweatshop's-New-Fantastic-Logo" contest so I could draw them out of a hat...then making said hat to draw the entries out of (because I'm also bat-shit insane at 2am)...and then rushing out the Xmas orders...I decided that no one was going to read this at 2am anyways.  Plus, at that point, I was also mildly delirious from the lack of sleep and I'm not sure anyone would have understood what I wrote anyways.  Heh.

So...the winner of a free Poker Hair Flower is...

SOOEY92!

I have just sent a message from Etsy, but if you are Sooey92, please shoot me an email (littleasiansweatshop@gmail.com) so I can get your address and mail this out to you today!  HURRAH!

Seriously Etsy...we need to talk about basic data exporting functions
I would like to say THANK YOU to everyone!  You guys have been amazingly awesome and supportive and retweeting my new logo and contest all over the place!  Evidently - the Sweatshop also got a mention on paper.il!  WOOHOO!

There will be more contests in the future...and hopefully, I'll be smart enough not to schedule them at my busiest time of the year!  Heeheehee...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dear Bed...

Dear Bed,

You have a right to be mad at me. I have been ignoring you and I feel pretty low about it.

I have no excuse except to say that the Sales Fairy won't stop visiting me. Not that I'm complaining - you know how much I love the Sales Fairy (it does keep you, my beloved bed, in high-quality 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets after all), but it was really my fault to not having pre-made more of the more popular items before-hand.

However, I hope that you will be glad to know that despite being caught a little off guard, I have been able keep with my usual turn around of 24hours (although, in the past week, I've been able to get most orders out same day...hurrah!), so everyone's holiday orders will get to them with plenty of time to spare.

Frankly, I don't know how the elves do it.  Although, from all the Rankin/Bass specials, it looks like the elves automate their process...clearly, they aren't fans of quality, handmade good. Perhaps if they were, there wouldn't be quite so many citizens in the Land of the Misfit Toys (I'm just sayin').

But I digress...

Since it's not too late for people to order in time for the holidays (sidenote to my beloved customers - I ship USPS Priority Mail, so if you order by December 19th, it should get to you by the 23rd - giving you a day to gift wrap!), I will be up until 1am for a few more nights. 

However, I plan on making it up to you!  I am clearing my schedule and will be sleeping in until 3pm on the 24th!  So fluff up the pillows and be prepared for some epic snoozing!

Know that although we are apart...you are constantly on my mind...

*smooches* and sweet dreams until we can be together again...

P.S. Have you checked out the new logo and the fun little contest I'm running in honor of it? Yes, I know, just one more thing to keep me away from you, my beloved Bed, but just think of it as an awesome holiday present for one lucky fan of the Sweatshop!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NEW LOGO!!!

YAAAY!  Thanks to the amazing work by the incomparable Phil Balsman - I have a new logo and banner and all sorts of other awesome goodies!!!

To celebrate - I'm hosting a contest!  Go and "Favorite" the LittleAsianSweatshop on Etsy, for an opportunity to win a Poker Card Hair Flower!

If you've already favorited the Sweatshop - you are also eligible (yay for loyal fans!), so don't worry about having to do anything more!

I'll do the drawing on December 15th!  So GO GO GO "favorite"!  YAY!

P.S. While I'm at it - quick social media plugs...heh!
Follow me on Twitter - LittleAsianShop
Like me on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/LittleAsianSweatshop

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Throw a Kickass DIY Wedding

My BFF recently just got married in Vegas, in a wedding that was uniquely them...and arguably one of the quirkiest, funnest, and *happiest* weddings I've ever had the luck to attend!

Want to throw your own kick assed DIY wedding? Here's how to do it in 10 easy steps:

1) "Elope" to Vegas on Dia de Muertos with your entire families and 25 of your closest buddies (it helps if your parents are pretty kickassed themselves...with a great sense of humor).

2) Instead of traditional engagement photos, go for a retro/pinup themed photoshoot (courtesy of Atomic Cheesecake Studios).

Fez hat optional!
 3) Design your own wedding invitations using those awesome pics (bonus points if you make the dress code "appropriate for Vincent Price's funeral").

OK, it helps if both the bride and groom are also professional artists

4) Put together your own wedding dress by purchasing your dress from Vivien of Halloway, a corset from Louise Black (of ProjRun fame), and "jazz it up" by adding a little lace and rhinestones!

5) Have an awesome kickass Sweatshop BFF (like...me!) who will happily make 30+ hair flowers for you to use as party favors.

All of those...in one afternoon!

6) Have that self same BFF team up with your uber creative (and ex-seamstress) mom to design the perfect wedding bouquet and matching boutineers.

With our powers combined, Mrs P & I are unstoppable!

7) When the custom cake topper doesn't arrive on time (an issue I'm still fighting with the artisian on), instead of freaking out, calmly borrow the bride and groom sugar skull figurines that you had gifted to your grandmother, and have your mother paint them (bonus points if it's with glitter paint) to match your wedding outfits, and use those as your cake topper.


It was the "something borrowed"
 8) Get married by a rockin' Elvis (we're huge fans of Viva Las Vegas) with webcast so friends and family that couldn't make can watch the wedding live!

That's me on the left...let's face it, *I* was the real star!

9) Instead of a traditional (and costly) reception in a ballroom, have a fun, yet sumptuous dinner at any of Vegas' amazing restaurants (Michael Mina's Nobhill in MGM was classy, delicious and had great service).

10) Post wedding, get some extra milage out of all the work you put into your dress and bouquet by having a Trash the Dress photo shoot at the Neon Boneyard (bonus points if your maid of honor BFF gifts that to you as a wedding present...yes, I'm tooting my own horn).


 Seriously, without any exaggeration, this was one of the best weddings I've ever been to.  Everything was fun, low-stress (well, as low stress as a wedding can be), and incredibly fun to be involved in!

Art by The Art of Paigey!


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Sweatshop's Holiday Guide!

I know, I'm so behind on updating this blog - I swear I have 6 entries in the works!  In the meantime...here's the Sweatshop's Holiday Giftgiving Guide!  Cool, kooky, and most importantly – unique (yet not crazy expensive) gift ideas!  Check out some of my favorite artisans (and friends) for some great gift ideas:

The Art of Paigey – Looking for some cool, funky jewelry or accessories for that special pin-up goddess in your life?  Check out Paigey’s store!  Not only is all of the artwork original to her, but she also does commissions too!

LibbyTreats – nothing says “holidays” like yummy treats!  But if you’re like me and have famously burned boiling water, then LibbyTreats is the place to go!  I have *personally* taste tested many of her treats and believe me, if a fatty and a glutton like me (especially one who normally don’t like sugary treats) find them delicious…so will your friends and family!  I’m still in shock that some of her items are vegan!

Ghost Girl Fine Arts and Crafts - looking for something that is perfect for a Poe fan?  Someone who likes things a little dark, creepy, or spooky?  I highly recommend the amazing stuff made by Ghost Girl!  Super cute gothy stuff...that appeals to even the non-goth set (like me!)

Christy Sawyer - her super famous (and most sought after) cupcake eating Batman (and assorted snack eating crew) is again available on her Etsy site!  But you better hurry because it looks like she’s having a sale on her necklaces – and her stuff sells out quick!

Maria Danalakis Art and Design - craaaaazy adorable prints and cards!  What makes it better?  There’s currently a 25% off coupon code – just check out her page heading!

Atomic Cheesecake – Trying to find something for your special girl…that’s also a gift for you?  Get her a GC for a pinup photo shoot with Atomic Cheesecake!  They will provide the outfits, makeup  and hair…she just needs to show up and look pretty!  It doesn’t matter if she’s never modeled, Stacy (owner and photographer) will have her giggling like a little school girl and giving her posing tips!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Silent Auction for TC Williams Marching Titans

Want to buy a playing card hair flower while supporting a local school?  Head down to TC Williams this Sunday (Nov 13th) at 5pm for their "Spaghetti Dinner & Silent Auction" to raise money to buy new band uniforms!  $10 a ticket, or $20 for the family - you can purchase tickets at the door or at the Alexandria Choral Society.

The Sweatshop has 2 hair flowers available for bid at the Silent Auction...and there are tons of awesome other items as well!

So go support the arts, a local school, and pick yourself up a lovely hairflower from the Sweatshop...all in one night!

More details here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Retailers and Line Sheets!

Are you a store or retailer and interested in selling Sweatshop at your shop?  I've got great news - I am finally set up to take wholesale orders!  YAY!

Please email me at littleasiansweatshop@gmail.com if you would like a linesheet with my products, and information about my wholesale policy (it's simple and painless, I swear!).

Thank you thank you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My schizophrenic Muse


While I love talking about the Sweatshop, my products, and my process, I become completely flustered when people ask “how did you come up with that idea?”

Creativity is such a weird and meandering path.  The leap that took me from watching “Barbarella” (for the 398th time) to making a Japanese Flag circle bag is hard to explain.  It would involve a long story about how much I love Barbarella, the Xmen Morlock storyline that was completely based on Barbarella (seriously – watch the movie, then read issues 169 - 170 and you tell me!), which then lead me to think about the whole Wolverine/Mariko story line (which was so silly), and…voila!  My brain gave birth to the Japanese Flag bag. 

And the story behind how I came up with the monsters hat is just as convoluted (and involves a blizzard!).

So by the time I’m done explaining how I came up with my idea, the questioner has a confused yet blank stare in their eyes, as they try to follow my “logic”.

But I guess, creativity doesn’t really follow logic.  If it did, it wouldn’t be so elusive and magical and rare.

The thing that drives me the craziest is that my inspiration comes from all over the place.  Various materials, styles, and methods.  I’m so envious of those who have a set medium and style and can stay with it consistently.  It’s aggravating to come up with a retro Rat-Pack Vegas inspired hair piece while working on a soft romantic feathered birdcage fascinator for a client.  It’s not enough that my muse is fickle…but she also has to be schizophrenic to boot. 

Which is why the Sweatshop is filled with boxes upon boxes of various materials.  Since I never know what will inspire me next – the workroom is filled with all sorts of odds and ends, waiting to be made into something different.  It’s like the Land of Misfit Toys, only they are all wanted…just not right now.  Of course, I complain, but I’m really thrilled that I am fortunate enough to give voice to my creativity – and to have fans of my work!  It’s always wonderful – and humbling – to hear the exclamations of amazement and delight.

I wonder if I bribed my Muse with Chipotle burritos, would she be more cooperative?


How about you?  How to you rein in your muse?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not dead yet...

I know it's been a month since I updated and even my twitter feed (follow me #shamelessplug) has been eerily quiet, but I swear that I'm still alive...just insanely busy.

I know, I know..."I've been busy" is the worst excuse in the world, but this has really been beyond madness!

In just the past month, I've started a new day job (YAY day job!) so that's been taking up a lot of my brain time.

Then I had the awesome opportunity to go see "Sleep No More", which is this amazing immersive play based on Macbeth.  It's basically Hitchcock and MacBeth had a love child...it would be this experience. If you haven't been, and you were thinking about visiting NYC in the next month or so...definitely make the time to go see it.  It's worth the $100.  It's like being trapped in a dream or a video game.  Only without having to worry about dying or monsters killing you.  Insanely surreal and utterly amazing!

The Plague Doctor (skull duck) mask that you wear during Sleep No More!


Then my inlaws came up to visit for a few days.  While I adore them and love hosting them, right when they visited, was right when my Etsy store decided to go crazy with orders!  So I had to juggle being a gracious hostess, with the madness of family get-togethers, with fullfilling orders as fast as my little Sweatshop fingers could go (PSA - glue guns are capable of inflicting 2nd degree burns...be careful kids!).

This weekend, my BFF is coming down, and bringing me some minions so that we can whip out 40+ hair flowers as party favors for her wedding...and also making a very special wedding bouquet! 

Basically every weekend has been madness.  So my normally pristine house and Sweatshop looks like a tornado blew through it...and I haven't had time to clean (I've barely had time to do laundry)!

And despite how busy I am, I'm just so grateful that I get to be so joyously busy.  Yes, I'm tired, yes I just want a weekend to curl up and sleep and veg out...but I'm glad that this kind of busy is the fun kind of busy - the kind of busy that is really tons of fun and better then the alternative.  I just wish it wasn't happening all at once! 

So...long story short...not dead yet!  I'm here and pushing out products with as little sleep as I can get away with!  I promise, lots of fun bloggy updates coming soon.  In the meantime...GO SEE "SLEEP NO MORE".  It was seriously worth the angst of having to work double time to make up for the loss of a weekend of fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Failed plans, tantrums, and rhinestone madness

I had planned a trip to NYC to see Sleep No More with my BFF.  I had bought tickets months in advance and the two of us spent weeks planning our outfits (something fun and outrageous, yet comfortable and easy to run up and down 5 flights of stairs in).  Then that week…we started getting storm warnings for Hurricane Irene.  As Irene moved closer, we started to get nervous.  Not because we are actually scared of the hurricane (I grew up on a monsoon and typhoon prone tropical island…anything less than a Cat 3 doesn’t even warrant buying extra food and batteries), but because we were afraid that the hurricane would mean rain…which would impact our outfits.  Yes, we’re hilarious that way.
Still, to be sure that we would be able to go see this show, I cancelled my bus plans and instead made the decision to drive.  If I had to drive through PA and into OH to get to NYC…I would.  That’s how badly I wanted to see Sleep No More. 

Then Mayor Bloomberg shut down the city.  I’m not going to lie…at that point, if I saw Mayor B crossing the street, I may have “accidently” hit the gas pedal instead of the breaks.  My BFF wasn’t too far off.  She and I spent most of Friday afternoon on the phone with each other, trying to console each other, only to get all worked up again.  It was a crazy cycle of frustration, tears and disappointment.

Clearly, I wasn’t going to the city…and I wasn’t going to see Sleep No More.

So I did the only thing that would keep me from being a whiny, tantrum throwing mess.  I went to the craft store and loaded up on supplies.  Not just any supplies…but rhinestones.

For a while, I had wanted to start enhancing some of my hair flowers with feathers or rhinestones to make them fancier for special occasions.  However, being so busy with orders and just everything else, I hadn’t had any free time to devote to this.  Well, with this unexpected free weekend, I had nothing but time.
Better then I envisioned!

Friday night, after dinner, as my husband was trying very hard to stay out of my way (he really deserves a medal), I started to play with the rhinestones on the flowers.  At first, my heart was still filled with rage over missing Sleep No More and the wonderful weekend we had planned.  A few times, my eyes started to tear up (I *really* wanted to see this show), but I doggedly applied rhinestones, one by one.

Perhaps it was the repetitive nature of applying the stones, or perhaps I was so emotionally exhausted from throwing tantrums all day long, but before long, I was in a zone.  My mind shut off and I was almost in a trance-like state.  All I could see were the sparkliness of the stones, as I placed them, methodically, one after another.  Each time I came to the end of applying rhinestones to a petal, I got a little thrill of exhilaration.  Before I knew it, it was past midnight and I hadn’t snapped at my husband once in the past few hours!

The wine may have contributed to my ultra calm state...heehee!
 The next morning, instead of sulking, I got up bright and early to rush to the store the moment it opened…and bought 1200 more stones.  It sounds like a lot, but they go quickly!  I spent the majority of the day, alternately glaring at the bright sunny day, and going back into my craft and rhinestone induced state of serene euphoria. 

By dinner (when we would have been on our way to see Sleep No More), I was fully relaxed.  Still a little miffed about missing the show (we were able to reschedule our tickets for a later weekend), but alternatively excited by how much I accomplished and how I finally perfected my rhinestone method.

Again, craft therapy is the best therapy.  Although, the glue fumes may have something to do with that as well.  Heh.

Now available on my Etsy store!
UPDATE: Rhinestoned hair flowers and fascinators are now available on my Etsy store!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thank you BCC 2011!

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A HUGE thank you to everyone for being so incredibly awesome!  We had such a great reception and so many great people stop by that I just don't even know where to being...so I'm going to just say...WOW!!!

Baltimore Comic Con (BCC) was held up in Charm City this past weekend, August 20 - 21, and I don't think I've ever gotten such a warm fuzzy glow from so many perfect strangers...that didn't quite seem like strangers by the time they left our table.  It's odd...I'm an old pro at conventions (oh cosplay), but the overwhelming welcome that we received from everyone this past weekend far outdoes any convention experience I've ever had.  I'm just so excited that everyone was so excited by our stuff (yes, that's a lot of excitement going on!)!

My BFF Paigey, was kind enough to share some of her table space in Artist Alley with me, so that I could sell my hair flowers.  Since the great reception from Psychobilly Luau, I was hopeful...but not really expecting too much.

Paigey also made the signage...heh...I <3 her so!

Saturday morning, I was running a little behind and arrived at Paigey's table at 11:15.  By 11:20, I had already sold two flowers!  Then all day long and for the rest of the weekend, people were walking past my table saying "WOW!  Look at those flowers!"!  All the positive vibes and compliments had my head spinning!

And it wasn't just my flowers!  Paigey's table was also going bonkers!  Heeheehee...although this was a comic book convention (which is dominated by guys), we definitely had the advantage over all the other artists and booths by having the "WAGs" (Wives And Girlfriends) table full of sparkly girly (yet comic and pin-up art related) stuff.  It seemed that every girl at the convention must have stopped by our table at least once...a few of them several times!  

The colors! The sparkly!  The cute!
I especially loved the one girl who came and bought one of Aniline's (another friend whom Paigey was vending for) "Cupcake Eating Batman"...then dragged her boyfriend back to our table ten minutes later so that he could buy her the matching bracelet.  

We may have publicly shamed a few boyfriends into buying prezzies for their uber cute girlfriends...
Surprisingly (at least, to me!), all my manga and comic book hair flowers sold out halfway through Saturday!  So instead of hanging out and grabbing dinner with Paigey after Saturday's show...I rushed home (an hour away from the convention site), to earn my Sweatshop moniker by staying up and whipping out more flowers.  And those also sold out halfway through Sunday!  Lesson learned for next year...make a metric butt-load of comic book and manga hair flowers for the convention!  Holy schmoolies!


I originally wanted to do a quick shout out and super thanks to all the wonderful friends who came by to say hi...but the weekend has quickly turned into a blur and I don't want to forget anyone.  So instead, I'm going to just give a big, huge, loud THANK YOU to *everyone*...friends and fans, old and new.  Thank you for being so supportive and so wonderful.  Just...thank you!

See you next year BCC!!!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thank you Paigey!

In case it was ever in doubt...I love my BFF (and fellow crafter) Paigey.  I mean, I hate her for being so talented, and gorgeous and funny and fabulous, but she's always been infinitely patient with my crazy butt and she always happily drags me in her wake of awesimitude!


Take for example, the Psychobilly Luau.  This annual three day event, held in Brooklyn, is the premier gathering spot on the East for a melding of punk and rockabilly and all things cool.  Paigey was slated to vend at this event, and she very kindly offered to sell some of my hand made hair flowers


Luck Be a Lady tonight!
I quickly packaged up all the flowers I had in my Sweatshop and Priority mailed them to her, feeling a little guilty that I was adding to her already heavy load of stuff that she would need to transport to and from the event. 


Not only did she lug my box of flowers to and from the event...but she also prominately displayed them...and proceeded to text me all through the weekend with updates on the (considerable) sales that she made for me! 


On top of that...she then proceeds to give me major shout out on her blog!


Quite honestly, she constantly blows me away by her unfailing generosity...but also for her bloodhound nose for cool.  Heh.


So in short - I love my BFF.  And I'm so lucky to have her as my best friend.  She's awesome, talented, and just fun to be around!  If you haven't already - go check out her Etsy store and her blog!


The Art of the Ever Fabulous Paigey!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Craft Therapy (I need it!)


It was a fairly usual Wednesday morning. Like every Wednesday, I grabbed a cup of coffee on my way into the team staff meeting. Also as usual, we argued over the most ridiculous things - why documents need to be proof-read before being send, why we're changing direction on a project...for the fifth time. Upon leaving the meeting, still flush with the glow of victory (we *weren't* going to change directions on the project), we get a notice that we had a meeting with our VP in 20 minutes.

Now, for those of you who are not in the corporate world, whenever your VP wants to meet with you or your entire team with less then an hour's notice...and no reason is given...it's never good news. I half jokingly hopped onto my company's intranet site to look up the severage package policy. As we entered the room, I noticed that standing next to our VP were HR staff members. Again, not a good sign. Within moments, we were told that all of our positions had been eliminated and the entire department was laidoff...with the exception of four, who would be asked to continue to work eight additional weeks.

I was told that I was one of the four that they wanted to keep for the eight additional weeks.

At first I was elated. I mean, clearly, this was the best possible situation, right? I would still draw a steady paycheck for the next two months as I look for a new job, with the severance package as a cushion in the event that my job hunt took longer then the 2 months I would be still gainfully employed. Also, I secretly thought, if the job hunt took a little longer, it meant that I would be home all day...sewing and crafting away in the Sweatshop.

At least...that was my reaction that first day.

I'm a bit of a control freak, and I like to know where everything is - not just physically but emotionally, financially. Basically every part of my life has a little compartment. And now the compartment that was labeled "good little corporate cube-farmer" was all out of wack. This in turn made the compartment labeled "climbing the corporate ladder" go all out of wack, which in turn made the compartment labeled "20 year financial plan" go all gray and fuzzy, which in turn...you get the idea.

So it should be no surprise to anyone (except me), that as the days went by, I became a hot jittery mess.

Or I should say, I quickly spiralled into a hot crazy mess for about two days...until I (OK, J) couldn't stand it anymore, and started to focus all of that nervous crazy energy on sewing and crafting.

And suddenly, everything made sense again.

Oh, I was still nervous that all these compartments were teetering and wobbling around in my head, but rather then obsessively chew my nails off as I checked my email for the 12937465th time in ten minutes to see if any job leads have come in, I was at least productive and burning off all the energy that was making poor J go bonkers.

Somehow, not only did survive the last seven weeks, but that I got an offer from a company that I've been dying to work with for the last two years. As a side-effect of using my sewing and crafting to get through this tumuluious time...I have a *TON* of new products in the pipeline!

Sneaky peeky - red turtleshell backpack
Sneaky peeky - Japanese flag messanger shoulder bag

Sneaky peeky - A-line halter wrap dress
Sneaky peeky - Halter wrap circle dress

HA! Who needs valium or a therapist? My beloved Kenmore, Swinger and White sewing machines (yes, I have three - please don't judge) are all the therapy this little Sweatshop needs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview by Stitch Silly

Oooh!  The interview from last week that Stitch Silly was kind enough to do with me is now up!!!  I'm so excited!  Not just because I'm flattered (although I am extremely flattered that she thought that my stuff was cute...because I think her stuff is even cuter!) and had so much fun doing the interview, but because her store is completely adorable to boot (as previously stated)! 


Check it out: Stitch Silly: Talk to me Tuesdays! - Little Asian Sweatshop

Friday, July 22, 2011

Psychobilly Luau (Brooklyn)

My awesome artist (and fellow artisan) BFF Paigey is vending this weekend at the 5th Annual Psychobilly Luau in Brooklyn...and she's been kind enough to also sell my poker flowers and other hair accessories at her table!


Be sure to stop on by, say hi and check out her fantastic artwork on adorable necklaces, bracelets, magnets and, of course, my hair flowers!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Apology to My 10th Grade Geometry Teacher

Dear Mr. D,


Remember me? I was in your 10th grade Geometry class  20-odd  a very long time ago. I was the snarky little Asian girl, second row from the back, who would sigh dramatically and saying things like: "but when will I ever need to know how to the figure out the diameter of a circle? I can just use a ruler and measure!" or "ugh, WHY would I never need to know how to make a perfect pentagon?!".


Although you kindly gave me an A (OK, I begged and pleaded my way into that A), I really never learned nor remembered the concepts...and now, years later...

You were right.  I do need to know this stuff.  I use it every day in the Sweatshop.  Or, I should say, I need to use it every day, but due to sleeping through your class, I have not a clue what I'm doing when it comes to figuring out the circumference of the design of the new messenger bag so I can be sure to buy enough trim.


If it wasn't for the kindness of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, I would still be trying to figure out how much to cut out to make the waist for a circle skirt.

And that whole debacle with making a perfect pentagon? Thank you YouTube!



In that overly warm, right after lunch, spring semester class, you stared me down and told me that one day, I would indeed need to know this information. At the time I scoffed, but you were right. I did need to learn this. 



So, I am taking this opportunity to apologize for ever doubting you. I eat my words every time I run into a problem that requires something that you tried to teach me. I wish I paid closer attention. Saying that I regret not being a better student doesn't really cover it.  Especially as I sit here, trying to remember how to figure out the angle of this corner without a compass or a protractor.


With every fiber of my, now wiser, heart, I apologize.


Sincerely,


~LittleAsianSweatshop


P.S. Do you offer remedial geometry classes for those of us who somehow passed college level Calculus, but still can't figure out how many yards fabric I will need to make an ottoman with a diameter of 18" and a depth of 14"?

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Monday Shout-out by "All Things LuciRae"

It was another blah Monday, when I get a message from LuciRae, a fellow Etsy seller with a fantastic vintage collection (and is just as obsessed with rosettes as I am), that she has featured my Bodice Ripping Romantic Novel Hair Clip on her blog today!  What a great little boost!  If only all Mondays could be so awesome!

So if you have a moment - please stop by her blog, wish her mom a happy birthday, and check out what's making me grin on an otherwise very Monday-ish Monday!

Check it out: All Things LuciRae

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sweatshop Gives a "Friends" Themed Party



My sister-in-law was turning 40, and my mother-in-law and brother-in-law (her husband) asked me to throw a surprise birthday party for her.

Normally, I adore throwing parties, especially for big milestones, however, I wasn't expecting to be tasked with this so I hadn't budgeted for a big bash. However, determined to live up to my party-planning reputation, I dug deep within myself to come up with a way to throw a shindig on a shoestring budget.

While thinking about my sister in law's interests to get ideas for a "theme", I recalled that she is a *huge* fan of the old 90's show "Friends". In that single moment, everything clicked into place.


As the show has been off the air for quite a while, I knew that I would have a tough time finding "Friends" themed party gear (plates, cups, etc). Besides, I generally dislike (read: desperately hate) preprinted licensed stuff. It makes a gathering feel so commercial and less organic and thoughtful. I knew I would have to rely upon my creativity to set the tone.

You know you won't be able to get the theme song out of your head now...

Taking inspiration from one of my favorite episodes, the one where Monica dismissively assigned Phoebe the job of "cups and ice" and Phoebe vows that "Monica is gonna rue the day that she put me in charge of cups and ice", I bought a stack of the ubiquitous red plastic cups (which I needed for the party anyway), and embellished them with left over trim from the Sweatshop. I also found an old floral leis that I kept because I liked the colors, and tore up for this project. Using simple thin elastic strings (can be found in any craft or fabric store), I punched a hole in the sides of the cups and tied off the elastic string to create the straps to hold them on people's heads. (Cost: cups: $5.99 for 100; elastic string $2.99 per 3 yards, I needed around 9 yards, so $9.97; trims, flowers and glue: free)

Every good party needs party hats
Because my husband was such a good sport about how this "hat" making project had taken over our living room (random flowers and trim were oddly attracted to his socks), I made a special one, just for him.

Made the fez tassel by rolling together left over fringe
Funny husband!

Since food featured heavily on the show (between Joey's mania for sandwiches and Monica being a chef), I started off by listing foods that I remember seeing on the show. Like the aforementioned sandwiches. But then I started to remember more of the show, such as the (in)famous birthday flan! And Phoebe's grandmother's famous "Toulouse" cookies. And Rachel's "English Trifle" that was half trifle and half shepherd's pie. As I laughingly jotted these ideas down, my husband also started to remember things from the show (the episode where Monica bakes a dozen lasagnas...the "Joey Special" which is two pizzas, etc). By the time we were done, we had a menu that was several pages long, but incredibly simple (and inexpensive) to pull together! To make the theme of the menu easier to understand (there was a weird mix of foods), with the help of the interwebz, I made little tent cards with lines from the show about that dish. Then, to keep the "ice and cups" inspiration running, I cut little slits at the top of a few red plastic cups (I had a ton after all!) to create card holders for the tent cards. (Cost: around $175 for all the various dishes).

3 foot long sub - it would make Joey proud!
Look honey, I baked!

 
Made a quick trifle using whipped cream, strawberries, pudding and Nilla wafers.  No meat!

As my sister-in-law is a huge scrapbooker, I wanted a few mementos that she could use to create a scrapbook of her party. Taking a piece of black foam board and colored pencils, I created an inexpensive replica of the "Central Perk" daily specials for guests to "sign in" as a guest book. Although I thought this was a little corny (even for me), it turned out to be wildly popular! (Cost: $4.99 for the foam board; the colored pencils were free).
  
The colored pencils gave a "chalk" feel to the logo

 As I didn't have DVDs of the show, and I couldn't seem to find it on Netflix (yet, I can find weird screwball bad 80's movies like "Apple"...I love Netflix!), I took to the interwebz and was able to find mp3 and wav files of Phoebe's singing (including 5 different renditions of "Smelly Cat"). Embarrassingly, I also had a copy of the "Friends" album on CD...which was so old that it took iTunes nearly 45 minutes to read the disk. I put all of this on my iPod and plugged it to our stereo as music for the party. (Cost: free...unless you count the embarrassment of realizing that I had once bought the "Friends" album).

Final review - the party was hugely successful. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law were happy with the party (or at least, that's what they told me...haha), and my sister-in-law and all the guests had a great time. Although I was pretty stressed out trying to deal with all the last minute details by myself, I had a ton of fun making the hats if nothing else. Best part? I was able to throw a party for 30, for a little under $200 total!

And that is how the Sweatshop throws a party!