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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cutting Boards Make Their Way Into Our Shop

"Cutting boards, " said my husband.  "I think we should engrave and sell them."

I was not so optimistic.  I don't say it to his face, but all of his ideas are not the greatest. Some catch on and sell, others aren't as popular as he originally thought they would be.

But cutting boards weren't a huge investment, so I went along.

A few sold at our Etsy and Amazon shops, and a few more on eBay, and then, more orders came in. 

Customers liked Walter White's face a lot and so we created two variations.

Then one morning, our supply was getting low; we didn't have any boards to fulfill orders.  We wondered why our supplier couldn't keep up with our needs.  Finally, when cutting boards were available, we bought loads.  Since then we have bought them by the dozens, so as to never run out.

Our sales are constant, and especially heavy at Christmas.

You never know when and how an idea might take off and make you glad your husband suggested it!

In fact, now we have a section of our shop on Etsy that is devoted to cutting boards.  Customers can even come up with their own design. Our newest board makes a fun and practical Mother's Day gift and can be personalized.

And just for reading this blog post, I am offering a 14% discount on any cutting board from now until May 14th (Mother's Day).  Use this code for 14% off when you shop at our shop: MOM14.  (Coupon code only good for cutting board purchases.)

Carved By Heart Cutting Boards make great gifts for weddings, birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Every Life Needs a Little Pie

Chocolate Fudge pie.  That's right.  I know I could write on a heavier topic (pun intended), but not today.  Today needs a slice of pie. So by-pass the memoir I'm writing, the items that need to be engraved in our wood working shop, all the things that are still unresolved, and let me focus on something that adds an instant smile.

This pie is super easy to make!  Give it a try!

Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Chocolate Fudge Pie
From the kitchen of Alice Wisler

Bake a 9-inch pie shell at 375 F. for 10 minutes.  Remove pie shell and reduce heat to 325 F. 

While the pie shell is baking, make the filling. In a sauce pan, over low heat, melt ¼ cup butter or margarine and 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir well and then add 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk.  Remove from heat.

Mix together: ½ cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt.  Beat in 2 eggs.  Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture.  Stir until smooth.  Add 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans).

Pour the batter into the pie shell.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 325 F.  Cool.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Twenty Years of Keeping On

When Daniel died in 1997, my pain was bigger than God.  People would tell me that with time it would ease, or that they knew how I felt because they had a cat die and how awful that was.

One woman called me every other day to tell me that God needed Daniel.

"Just think," she said as I clutched the receiver, "God needed another flower in his garden and he picked Daniel."

After a few days, when the phone rang and her voice came on the answering machine, I didn’t pick up.

I washed dishes, fed Benjamin apples and bananas, read him stories, and when he was watching Sesame Street, I'd sneak upstairs into Daniel’s room.  I’d breathe in the familiar smells it had accumulated: hospital soap, bandages, iodine.  But the strongest scent of all was my hollow loneliness. It grabbed me in the gut and pulled me to the floor.  Often I would let myself cry.

And that woman would keep calling to offer her words.

But I didn’t return her calls.  I felt that since my pain was so large and consuming and I was six months pregnant that she would understand that I didn’t have the energy to call her back.

Eventually she stopped calling me.

And I became grateful for answering machines because they were like secretaries, weeding out the calls I was unable to take.  Sometimes friends would call and I would stand by the phone and not answer.  I let their voices be recorded and that made me feel that I had some control of my vacant life.  I had a choice—to answer or not to answer. I grew more fond of the not to answer.

There were times I thought I was ready for Butner, the psychiatric facility off of I-85.  I could walk outside and almost smell the sheets.

I went to support group meetings with other people who would just break into tears, unable to finish sentences, people with ragged photos of their children that they shared so that the rest of us could say, "She is beautiful," even though the child had ears that protruded and was cross-eyed and her dress was too short or too long or too pink. It didn’t matter because eventually I knew I belonged with these people.

I belonged to these parents, who introduced me to words I had never been allowed to say.  Angry adults who taught me you can say damn, shit and hell in the same sentence and not be struck down or turned into a pillar of salt.  We sat around tables that were much too small to hold our grief and took turns saying our dead child’s name.

I seemed to go on and on with all the medical procedures about how Daniel had been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his neck and how he’d been through chemo and surgeries and radiation and how a staph infection entered his body.  I had had little medical jargon in my vocabulary prior to his diagnosis and death and at these meetings I was using all I had learned.  I had no idea how long or short my turn was supposed to be I just knew that I had to tell my story.  I had to get it out.

Part of me hoped that as I talked, one of the bereaved parents would stop me and see that I had talked my way out of this horrible story and say, "Oh, no, he couldn’t have died from that, that isn’t medically possible.  Go home, your son is surely still alive.  Go home now."

And I’d leave the claustrophobic church basement and drive the 40 minutes down Glenwood Avenue to my home and sure enough, there Daniel would be sitting in front of TV watching The Three Stooges with David. And I’d be so excited and happy that I wouldn’t complain that it was 10 o’clock and that David should have already put Daniel to bed.

But even though I attended those meetings twice a month for two years, Daniel never came back.  No loop hole in his death was discovered. And pretty soon my heart knew what my head did, my son was gone from this earth and I was going to have to live the rest of my life without ever holding his hand again.  

And I would never know why.

I would write poems at the graveside and lift balloons into the air. I'd cry with other parents, speak at conferences, and raise my three other children and never know why Daniel didn’t get to be a hero and pull through the whole ordeal.

And I was going to have to adapt and adjust just like countless parents before me and just like thousands of parents would have to learn to do after me.

I was in this club that no one wanted to be part of, a club with rituals that no one understood except for the people in it, and a club that had no membership expiration date.  Until you die.   I would be thirty-seven, thirty-eight, forty, fifty, fifty-nine, gray, old, still showing dampened photos of a little boy who never grew up.

Sometimes when I’d be driving to the meetings, I’d think, what if I just rammed into the Mayflower truck in the lane ahead of me or just gunned the engine and took a leap off a cliff and died.  What if . . . ?  But then I knew I couldn’t do that to my kids, especially not to the baby because she was brand new and Daniel had told me when she was still in the womb the size of a raisin, and then even larger than that, giving me heartburn and kicking, that I was to take care of her.

So I’d follow the speed limit and take my eyes away from the Mayflower truck and keep going on.

For twenty years I've been keeping on.  Truth be told, it is either to keep going on or to roll up and die.

I choose life.  And I'm glad I did, and glad I do.

"Will I ever want to laugh again?" a young newly-bereaved mom asked me at a conference where I gave a writing workshop.

"Yes," I replied.  "You will be able to laugh again.  Trust me. And keep on.  You can do it. Where there is breath, this is hope."

"My friends don't understand," she said as she blew her nose into a tissue. "One calls me every week to tell me to get on with life."

"Do you have an answering machine?" I asked and then realized that we are in the twenty-first century. Quickly, I said," You don't have to answer your cell phone every time it rings, you know."

She nodded.  "I think I can do that."

But she's doubtful, I can tell by the hollowness in her eyes. I tell her I was there once, just as she is. Wondering, aching, unsure if I wanted to live or ram into the Mayflower truck.

She hugs me and we wipe our eyes.

I think she'll make it.

Many of us have.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Breaking Bad, Walter White, and Why our Cutting Boards are so Popular

So although I wasn't born yesterday, I do come slow to life sometimes.  My children had talked about the series Breaking Bad and watched it when it was on TV years ago.  Carl and I had not seen the show nor had any real desire to.  Until . . .

After almost a year of offering Breaking Bad Let's Cook bamboo cutting boards at our Carved By Heart shop, we were surprised.  People were buying them.  Not just a few sales here and there, but lots of sales. So last month we decided perhaps we should get to know the TV show behind the engraved face and words on the cutting boards we sell. After all, we got a review at one of our online stores that reads: I love Walter White!

And we had little idea who he was.

And now we are so engrossed in the show that we're binging.  We look forward to the day's end ---after we've crafted and mailed out products to customers----when we can watch the next episode. Or two.  The acting is so good, the story line, the tension, wow, Vince Gilligan has created an epidemic!

Our Let's Cook Cutting Boards come in two sizes---small (9 by 12") and large (11 by 15").  You can read more about them at our shop on Etsy.  And if you've taken the time to read this blog post, you deserve a discount, so save 10% by using the SHOPSMALL coupon code when you order any size cutting board.