Friday, December 26, 2008


I am not a bitter or petty person. I am not one to call people out on the Internet for things they've done. I don't even like to post negative things on my blog. I don't like to air dirty laundry in public. With that being said, bear with me here, and feel free to skim. This is gonna be a long one.

About a month ago I joined the Nightmare Before Christmas X-mas Swap on Craftster, a swap in which we were supposed to make a package of Nightmare Before Christmas themed gifts and holiday decorations for our partners, which we would all open on Christmas day. Cute, no? I thought so and signed up. For those of you who don't know how Craftster swaps work, each swap has at least one swap organizer. Any Craftster member meeting the organizer requirements can organize a swap. After the signup period for the swap ends, it is the organizer's job to assign partners. This particular swap was organized by Craftster member pinupmommy, and she chose me as her partner. We fill out a questionnaire about ourselves and what sort of things we'd like to recieve in the swap, and those questionnaires are sent to our partners to give them a general idea of what to make. Then we have a predetermined amount of time to complete our swap packages and mail them out. In this case it was about 3 weeks. Sendouts were due on December 15th.
Each swap also has a minimum requirement for the items we send, to make sure everyone gets an equal amount of stuff. For this swap we were required to make one large, two medium, two small, and one tiny item. Craftster has guidelines set up for determining what crafts meet what size requirement. Most people measure it by hours of work. According to Craftster's rules...

large=3 or more hours
medium=2 or more hours
small=2 or less hours

We'll assume that "tiny" is less than an hour.

If you do the math this swap adds up to a minimum of about 10-11 hours' worth of work.

I set to work not long after signups were finished, and worked on and off during that time period whenever I had the chance. I made sure that everything I made met or exceeded the requirements. I labored over every piece until it was just right, sometimes tweaking and reworking things over and over until I was happy with the result. I worked for at least 10 hours, but probably more.
Then life got in the way. Between moving into the new house and juggling family stuff, I messed up. I missed the sendout date and ended up having to send the package a few days late. On the 18th I sent a message to my partner apologizing profusely for my mistake and assuring her that her package would still arrive in time for Christmas. I felt terribly guilty about sending late, as I'm usually pretty good about being on time for these things. In the same message I asked her for the delivery confirmation number (which we were required to have) for the package she sent me. I assumed that she had sent mine by the 15th and had just forgotten to let me know. Other than a couple of mass emails regarding swap updates, she had not contacted me personally since the swap had begun. To be fair, I hadn't contacted her either, which I should have done. What I got back was a short message thanking me for letting her know I was going to be late, and saying that if I had waited one more day to contact her she would have left me negative feedback (all participants receive feedback which is visible on their public profile after a swap ends). I then put the finishing touches on her swap stuff and spent a whopping $30 on shipping to make sure it arrived in Alaska by Monday, the 22nd. All was well.

The next morning I had another message from her.
"Due to the lack of communiction before hand and now i am going to leave you feedback. Craftster Rules state If someone failed to fulfill their swap obligation and refused to communicate or that they just need to have the deadline extended, then they get Negative Feedback.
I do believe I have given enough time slack for you to communicate you were going to be late but you were supposed to do that before the swap date arrived."


I wrote her back saying that I didn't understand, and that I thought the issue had been resolved. I assured her that her package was in the mail and would be there by Christmas, and I gave her the DC number. I apologized again for being late. I also asked again for the delivery confirmation number on my package.

She replied mostly repeating that I had taken too long to send, and her reason for not giving me my confirmation number.
"And no i havent sent the dc for your package beacuse i have not heard from you until your first message after you were already 4 days late I didnt think you were going to continue to be in the swap but there are no rules as to as long as someone has to wait for a response from thier partner and participants this is the first swap i have conducted and it has been pretty sucky to be honest. I have sent i have to get the recipt/dc number from my shipping account so i can prove to you i have sent...But anyway if you are still wanting to...continue to be in this swap let me know and ill just get over all this crappyness and hopefully be happy in the end let me know"

Ah. So it was my fault that she hadn't given me my DC number when she sent the package on the 15th, because she had already predicted that I would flake out on her even though at that point she hadn't known I was sending late. I see.


I was pretty upset. I wrote back as calmly and politely as I was able to, which is to say, not very calmly or politely.
"Yes, I sent the package late. No, I wasn't able to contact you in a timely manner, and I apologized several times for that. I made it very clear in all of my messages that I went out of my way to make sure that this package arrives in time. I spent a lot of extra money on shipping to do that. I put hours and hours of work into making a beautiful package for you and your daughter, and you have been nothing but cold and ungrateful. I understand and appreciate the fact that this is the first swap you have organized and it is probably a stressful job, but do you think you could practice a bit of patience and understanding? It may do you some good to remember that there is a human being on the other end of this. I'm not asking for you to feel sorry for me, just to understand, and maybe try to appreciate everything I've done to correct my error. I apologize if it is my fault that your first swap has been "pretty sucky," as you put it. That was never my intention. All I ever want to do in a swap is to bring a smile to my partner's face, and you have no idea how guilty I feel about this situation. I have reviewed the negative feedback rules and as far as I can tell, negative feedback can be corrected by sending to one's partner, which is what I have done. If you still feel the need to leave it I won't argue with you, but I will take it up with the swap moderators."

(Craftster's negative feedback rules say, "We have methods in place to help people redeem their feedback if they have had trouble completing a swap . If you have past negatives and wish to begin swapping again, the swap moderators are more than happy to help you accomplish this, either by having you send to your original partner, or becoming a swap angel*.")

In return I got a message with the delivery confirmation number the next day. I immediately checked the number on the USPS website and found that there was no information posted, so two days later I checked again and found the real reason why she hadn't given me a number on the 15th.

"Your item was processed and left our (partner's home town) facility on December 21, 2008. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later."

She sent my package 2 days after I sent hers.

Two days. After. I sent hers.

I couldn't do anything but laugh hysterically, either because the hypocrisy of it all was just too much or because I had to do something to keep from crying.

On the 23rd I got a cheerful message from her saying that my package had arrived, and thanking me for everything. I'm sure those of you who have read this far (all two of you) are wondering what I made, so here it is. I apologize for the crappy picture quality.
Large: A throw pillow. I found an image of Jack Skellington online, printed it onto printable fabric in black and white, then painted and embroidered over every detail. The black stripes on the background were not part of the fabric. I painted them on myself. The back is also painted stripes.
Medium: A tote bag featuring one of her favorite characters. I spent 20 minutes staring at a picture of him I found online and trying to sketch it onto paper, and when I was confident about the result I sketched him again onto fabric with a fine point Sharpie. I cut him out and arranged him with more hand painted striped fabric, ribbon and distressed (by me, not store bought) white fabric to make an applique. That was then sewn onto a tote bag I made from beautiful black cotton with a swirly grey print. The handles are more painted stripes. Unfortunately the photos don't really do it justice. I was so pleased with it that I was tempted to keep it for myself.

Medium: A Jack and Sally painting. I don't have a good picture of this on its own, but here's a cropped one from the group shot. It's hard to see, but at the bottom it says "Simply meant to be" in silver. All hand painted with acrylics on wood, with a ribbon hanger on the back.
Small: Jack head stuffie pillow for her young daughter. This was one of the things she requested in her swap questionnaire. Admittedly not my best work. I had wanted to embroider the mouth and nostrils on, but I ran out of black floss and didn't have time to get more, so they are painted on. The eyes are felt.
Small: A movie inspired stocking. My own pattern, made with white quilter's cotton and the same swirly black fabric used for the tote bag. The cuff and hanging loop are grey felt.
Tiny: Printed fabric ornament. I found another picture I liked online, printed it onto fabric, then added a felt background and ribbon for hanging.I also sent a handmade Christmas card (not pictured). Inside was a popup monster wreath like the one in the movie. It said, "Wishing you a scary Christmas!"
Everything was wrapped in my favorite red and white houndstooth paper and carefully packed into a big cardboard box.

Christmas came and went. It was lovely. My grandmother came to visit and I found some great gifts for Autumn on Etsy. Remind me to post more about that another day.

Last night this arrived in the mail.
These were the contents.I won't bother with an item-by-item description as I think they pretty much speak for themselves, but I will point out a few things. The plastic pumpkin hot glued to a barrette fell off as soon as I touched it. What's that in the bottom right corner of the dirty used CD case? The Pacific Institute? Oh, silly me, I forgot about the part in the movie where Jack visits The Pacific Institute to deliver vampire teddy bears to all the good girls and boys. What a clever subtle reference. The tin, also used, is dented and rusty. Everything but the barrette and the marble magnet is done in puff paint.

Seriously? This is ten hours of work? I would be shocked if this took her ten minutes. And no, I don't think that the time it takes for puff paint to dry counts as hours of work.

This is some bullshit right here. If I received a few low quality items in a swap but I could tell that my partner had tried her best, I would at least appreciate the time and effort they put into it. But this? She didn't even try. I know there are two sides to every story, but here is the conclusion I've come to.
She chose me as a partner because she has seen my past work and knew she'd be getting something good, which is fine. I'm flattered, really.
She then got upset when she found out I was late because she wanted her loot and she wanted it now.
As soon as I sent her the DC number and she knew for sure that she would be getting a package, she hastily grabbed some puff paint and random junk lying around her house and slapped together the hot mess pictured above.
I received the aforementioned hot mess and died a little inside.

Might I remind the one person still reading this (hi Mom!) that these are meant to be Christmas gifts. You know, gifts. For Christmas.

I am not pleased.
Oh no, I am not pleased at all.

I don't regret the way I handled the situation. I'm proud of the work I've done. I'm just sad that it was wasted on such a selfish and ungrateful human being. I was really hoping to get some cool stuff for myself and especially Autumn, who is a Nightmare fanatic.

So what do I do now? There is no Craftster rule against being a jerk, but at the very least she did not meet her own swap requirements. Would it be worth contacting the swap moderators and seeing if anything can be done about it? Lord knows she'll be leaving herself positive feedback and possibly doing this to someone else in the future if nothing is done. I think I already know the answer to my own question. I'm just dreading the possible outcome.

More importantly, what should I do with all the junk I received? I've set up a poll on the sidebar over yonder ----------------------------------------------->
so you all can help me decide.

The best part of this whole thing was the Christmas card she sent with the package which contained the sentiment, "Wishing you a holiday that's full of surprises!"
This was a surprise indeed. Thanks pinupmommy.

*Sometimes people really do flake out in swaps. A request for a swap angel is then posted by that swap's organizer, and any qualified Craftster member can volunteer to make a package for the flakee in exchange for nothing but good craft karma.

DISCLAIMER: I have posted my partner's Craftster username solely because I want to warn other members who may swap with her in the future. Please do not flame or harass her in any way.

merry christmas!

We're (almost) all settled into the new house. Hopefully I'll be blogging regularly again soon. Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2008

year of the rats

Introducing the two newest members of our little family...
Penelope (left) and Victoria (right)!
We adopted these two precious furbabies after their previous owner could no longer care for them, and they've already made themselves at home. They're about a year old and incredibly smart and friendly. They like to eat fresh veggies out of my hand and ride on my shoulders while I putz around the craft room.
They normally sleep during the day but today they were awake for a while so I took them out of their cage for an impromptu photo shoot. Do you know how hard it is to photograph two very curious, wiggly rodents? They kept trying to climb onto my head and stick their little snuffly snoots into the camera lens.

I've never had such tiny furbabies before. I had a cat when I was a kid but that's about it, other than the occasional fish. These ladies are so itty bitty that I'm always terrified of hurting or losing them. They seem content, though. Their previous owner must have treated them very well because every time I open their cage they dash to the top level to be held and petted and snuggled. They're such sweet little girls and I really hope that they'll be happy with us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a nice village, a not-so-nice dog

Okay, I disappeared again, but this time I have a better excuse.
We're moving!

Yes, we're saying goodbye to Ugly Suburban Townhouse and moving to a lovely detached house in a quaint little town we now refer to as the Nice Village. Why? It was what Autumn called it the first time we went to look at the house. "Wow you guys,"--do other kids call their parents "you guys"?--"this is a really nice village!"

We thought so too, and decided to rent the house as soon as we finished the walk-through. It's a clean, sunny two-story with a finished basement, a fireplace and a gigantic yard in a sweet, quiet neighborhood. Yesterday we picked up the keys. Our lease here isn't up until the end of the year so for a while we'll have two places, but that just gives us plenty of time to pack, move, organize and clean. Stress free moving. I dig that.

And as if a new house wasn't enough of a change, Adam's mom will be coming with us! For various reasons we decided that it would be best if she moved in with us, at least for a few years, to make life a little easier for everybody. It's going to be a big adjustment (and probably not an easy one) but I'm hoping we can make it work. Don't get me wrong--Michele is great and I love her. We're just very different people. It will take some adapting on everyone's part. But I really don't mind his mother moving in with us as much as I mind this...
Seamus, a.k.a. Satan's Lap Dog, a.k.a. the bane of my existence. I love animals, I really do, so when I say I hate a dog you know it's bad. This dog is pure EVIL. If he hasn't chewed up everything I own by this time next year it will be a miracle. He eats EVERYTHING, and I mean everything. Nothing is safe from his deceptively mighty jaws.

One thing he loves to nibble on is feet. Everyone thinks it's cute. He'll playfully lick everyone else's feet, but if I am in the room he comes straight to me and CHOMPS DOWN on my toes like they're kibble. He especially loves to do this when I'm sitting at the table and trying to enjoy my dinner. Michele seems to think it's because he likes me, but I think it's because he has a personal vendetta against me and he's hoping if he gnaws hard enough I'll slowly bleed to death. Can dogs sense when you don't like them? That must be it. I don't fawn over his sickening cuteness like the rest of the family, and therefore I must bow down or be eliminated.

Dealing with him when we visited Adam's mom was bad enough, but now we'll be sharing a home. Hopefully I'll at least find relief by hiding in my no-demon-possessed-dogs-allowed craft room. I may have to wear my boots at all times to keep my toes from being turned into hamburger meat. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

thank you.

Thank you for standing up for change.

Thank you for sharing the vision of a better, stronger, more united nation.

Thank you for realizing that our country needs to be healed, and for doing something about it.

Thank you for finally making me proud to call myself a citizen of the United States of America.

I voted for the first time yesterday, and when I walked out of that elementary school gym, beaming from ear to ear with tears in my eyes, I felt restored. I felt a sense of peace, a calm that whispered in my ear and I knew everything was going to be alright.
But when I woke up this morning, and it really hit me, that's when I cried. This is the beginning of something big, something better. The beginning of a brighter future for ourselves and our children and our children's children. For my daughter. For my sister. For the whole world. This is history in the making.

Thank you, America.

Thank you for not screwing this up.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

i voted.

Today I feel like an American.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

happy halloween!

Autumn changed her mind about her Halloween costume several times this year (pirate, Spiderman, Hannah Montana...) but finally settled on her favorite insect, a honey bee. I showed her an example of a cute bee dress, but she insisted on looking like a real bee with six legs, a thorax and abdomen, and a ball of pollen on her leg. I found the perfect fabric on sale and a styrofoam ball for the pollen, and everything else came from my stash. Making it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, though of course in my signature style I was putting on the finishing touches at the last minute.

Autumn decided to get crafty herself, and made this paper bee costume for Rosie. She rode along in Autumn's pumpkin pail and kept watch over all the candy.We met up with Adam's sister and her four kiddos (a ninja, a football player, and two princesses) and collected several blocks' worth of candy, then headed back home to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and sort through all that loot. She set most of it aside for the Halloween Fairy, who came in the night and left her just what she had asked for, a sparkly witch hat.I think that surly expression is supposed to be her "witch face." She's running around the house right now with a wand and a toy broom, turning things into koalas.

Monday, October 27, 2008

at the patch

We got to the farm late this year so the pickings were slim, but we managed to come home with a few decent pumpkins. I was just looking at pictures from our trip here last year, and I couldn't believe how small Autumn looked! She has grown so much.
She really needs to cut that out.
Look at that. Who does she think she is, getting all huge and stuff? Does she think she can just keep growing until she's not my baby anymore? The nerve of that kid, I swear.

Who am I kidding? She'll always be my baby girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008

time out

I kinda fell of the face of the earth for a while there, huh? I haven't blogged in almost three weeks, haven't updated my Etsy shop in about a zillion years, and just forget about my self portraits. I'm all kinds of behind on those. Maybe I'll start taking more than one a day now until I'm caught up. Cheating? Totally. But hey, I really want to have 365 portraits when the year is up. Screw rules. And don't even ask me when I last checked my personal email.

I could say that I've been busy, but I haven't, at least not more than usual.
I could say I needed more time for my family and personal commitments, but I already have plenty of time.

Really, I just wanted to take a break, spend a little time


and breathing. I feel better now.