Thursday, September 30, 2010

The First Stitches: The Cost of Poverty

There was the family who lived just down the road… They were friends of friends and always smiling and waving as we walked past. Then one day the mom cut her finger at her job. It was pretty serious and she needed stitches.
They couldn’t afford that.

They borrowed some money to make a way, but then her husband had to move to the city to find some additional work to make ends meet. It’s only two hours away, but without any form of transportation, they never got to see one another. One day a group of us from our organization happened to be going to the part of town where he worked. We hired a bus and there was room for a few more… I remember the little boy fell asleep on my lap on the way to town. But he was wide-awake when he arrived; bright-eyed and excited to be seeing Daddy.

Two hours away, and poverty separated a family for months.

Or there was the family who lived in our village. A friend mentioned their story in passing… they’d had a little girl who had a heart problem. They didn’t know how to get her medical help, and they couldn’t afford her surgery. She died.

Hospitals all around, and poverty meant she didn’t have access to the care.

Fundamentally, so many of the social problems we see are rooted in poverty. I work with orphans, and over the last few years I’ve learned that one of the primary reasons children end up in orphanages is because of poverty… families driven to desperate choices by desperate situations.

We started Scarlet Threads not because we thought we could change the world… but because we thought we might be able to help a few families break the cycle and change their circumstances.  We've seen tangible signs of our impact, and we know it can only grow.

Thank you for helping make this possible.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Our good friend over at Tea and Crumpets sent us this Tasty Tuesday recipe and it looks fantastic! Here she is in her gorgeous ST Penelope apron!
Lexi borrowed this gem of a recipe from Really! For not being Martha, they sure did turn out a recipe she might use on her show or in her books.

  • 12 oz. strawberries
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C plus 1 T sugar
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 oz. (6 T) butter, cold, unsalted, and cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar for sprinkling (or regular sugar if you don’t have sanding)
First you’ll want to hull your beautiful, in season strawberries!

And don’t worry; “hulling” really just means getting rid of the green stem. I simply cut it off with a knife, not owning any fancy hulling tools. Then I diced the strawberries into 1/4 inch pieces.

In a medium bowl, I threw in the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 T of the sugar.

In another larger bowl, I whisked together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 T of sugar. Then I took my butter pieces and rubbed them into the flour mix with my fingers. I just used my hands, but a pastry cutter (also known as a pastry blender) would come in handy. I kept mixing this together until it was a crumb-like mixture. Then I added the heavy cream and stirred until it was dough-like. And then added in the strawberry mixture.

I spooned (using an ice cream scoop!) about a T of dough onto a cookie tray sprayed with some cooking spray. I think I made my cookies a bit bigger than Martha made hers as I only got about 2 dozen out of my batter (she got 3 dozen). I thought the ones I made were the perfect size, though.

Then you can sprinkle the cookies with your sanding sugar, which is basically just larger granule sugar, to make the cookies nice and pretty. I sadly couldn’t find any, so I just sprinkled the cookies with regular sugar.

Bake the cookies for about 19 minutes at 375 degrees.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The First Stitches: A Lunchtime Conversation

I came from farm country – land of big combines and even bigger fields. My father often comments that he’d love to watch what would transpire if he could just take one farmer from our village and one farmer from our hometown and have them switch places for the day. They’d both be astonished. Here the corn is harvested, shucked, stripped, and dried by hand. The work is long and arduous. Their hands are dry and cracked.

It is hard work.

I wish each person who gets a heart for Scarlet Threads could spend a day in our village. I’d show you the process for harvesting corn. I’d take you for noodles at a table next to the farmers. I’d show you their homes and the bathroom they use that’s down the street. We’d sit and have hot cups of tea in their courtyards, and I’d watch your face as it suddenly dawned on you that you have far more in common with them than you have different. I’d watch as you came to appreciate their strength and their dignity and their hard work… as you grew to understand all the things you think you’ve earned and deserved are as much a product of the environment you were born into as they are your own hard work.

One day over a bowl of noodles, I asked my friends how we could help the poorest families in our village. I said, if I knew they didn’t have enough rice… which would be better: Give them a bag of rice without them asking for it? Or wait for them to ask for help and respond to the need? (It might seem like a funny question in a western world, but in Asian cultures “face” is very important, and to cause someone to “lose face” by acknowledging that you see their problem can be very humiliating.)

My friends thought for a moment and responded… For the most part, you can’t give them a bag of rice without them asking for it, because then they’d be mortified that you think they are poor (loss of face). And, they’ll never actually ask you for a bag of rice, because that would also cause them to loose face, so you can’t exactly wait, either.

So what do you do?

Give them a job, they said. Give them work to do that can help them earn an income so they can buy their own rice. Pay them fairly. Treat them well. Help them help themselves.

It’s something that we’ve all heard; but mostly in a theoretical sense. When you’re sitting at a table eating a bowl of noodles in a village where you know there are people who probably need rice, it suddenly has a lot more traction.

It was one of the first stitches that started Scarlet Threads…

Friday, September 24, 2010

The First Stitches: The Story of Scarlet Threads

A year ago, Scarlet Threads was just a random idea… it started with a trip to the fabric market, where my friend Caroline and I caught a creativity bug and wanted a legitimate excuse to design more things. (Bringing them home for our own use wasn’t really a legitimate excuse. My dear husband keeps my clutter-building tendencies firmly at bay.)

It also started with several conversations with Chinese friends… on how to help our poor community in dignified ways, on the cost of poverty, on what was really needed. And it started with a brand-new pair of shorts that I cut a hole in when taking a tag off.

It was a lot of random threads, and here we are… a year later; with a fledgling little company definitely going through some growing pains but a lot of potential

I want to take some time over the next few weeks to share the Scarlet Threads story in bits and pieces until I manage to get the whole thing out. It astonishes me that what was just a random idea now has an actual following. I want to make sure that you know our heart and why we’re doing what we’re doing. I can assure you, it’s more than aprons that keeps me and the others who make up Scarlet Threads plugging away.


If you are new to Scarlet Threads and want to know more about our life in China, you can visit my personal blog, Signs of Hope.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wedding Bells

Scarlet Threads' bags were featured in the Fall issue of Eco-Beautiful Weddings!  Just scroll to page 18 to see our Sadie bag gracing their pages.  We think our products make great bridesmaid gifts, and Eco-Beautiful Weddings would agree!

I'm not sure if any of you are planning weddings, but they have some beautiful ideas... so enjoy scrolling through the pages.  I love weddings... the flowers, the cake, the invitations and programs.  Just a few months ago, Jacob's little brother Aaron married an amazing gal named Eileen... who you already know because she works tirelessly on behalf of ST.

She'd never share this picture on here for fear of seeming narcissistic... but I can. Isn't she gorgeous? 

And in case you are wondering, she did give Scarlet Threads products to her bridesmaids as gifts.  :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Update: 7Hopes and The Little Italy Mercato

Scarlet Threads and Seven Hopes United have continued to collaborate over the past few months. Ashley, the co-dreamer (co-founder) of 7Hopes, is a gem and we are continually trading ideas for spreading the message of dignity!

Recently, Seven Hopes United became a fixture at San Diego's
Little Italy Mercato and they decided to bring Scarlet Threads aprons along for the ride. And, after their success, we are looking into farmers markets as an outlet for our products.

Since 7Hopes has been kind enough to share our products with all of San Diego, we would love to return the favor and share a part of their story with you. I find their business inspirational and a soul sister to Scarlet Threads - I think you'll see why.
Ashley eloquently stated their purpose on the 7Hopes facebook page, ‎"We exist & believe fully in the impact that's made when people are valued, appreciated, and paid fairly for their time & talent." As consumers, their company wants to help us recognize "how our purchases affect people of the world." By shopping at 7Hopes and other companies dedicated to dignity and fair trade, we are helping artisans around the world provide basic needs for their families. Essentially, like Scarlet Threads, they are dedicated to providing a pathway out of poverty through dignified employment.

Go ahead, check out 7 Hopes. If you are in the San Diego area, stop by and meet them at the Little Italy Mercato. Fan them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter (@7hopesunited). Or, just stay tuned to Scarlet Threads - Seven Hopes United tends to make frequent appearances on the blog and Facebook Fan Page.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Fish Oreganata

You all remember Aggie, right? She was our first gracious Apron Party Hostess. If you haven't followed her blog or fanned her on Facebook, I'm disappointed. You need to, she's great, her blog is great, and her recipes are stellar. Lucky for you, she has allowed us to share some of her favorite recipes with our Scarlet Threads readers. But, if you are looking for amazing dishes to share with your family, look at Aggie's Kitchen - it is an endless source of inspiration!

Without further ado, here is Aggie and her Fish Oreganata:

Hello Scarlet Thread readers! I’m Aggie...a Scarlet Thread fan and food blog writer. I write Aggie’s Kitchen which is full of recipes that I’m cooking in my home for my family. I try to keep things healthy and simple...I love flavor, and I love to eat well.
I am sharing with you today a super easy fish recipe that anyone can make! I love love love fish, and I have talked to many people who love fish too, but are afraid to make it at home. I used to feel that way, but seriously, the more you make it, the sooner you’ll get over that feeling. And it’s so worth it. This fish dish originated from a Weight Watchers recipe that I found on a friend’s site...I made it a complete meal alongside some roasted broccoli. Hope you’ll try it and enjoy!

Fish Oreganata

adapted from Weight Watchers Make it in Minutes, discovered on Family, Friends and Food blog

(Printable Recipe)

  • 1 lb mild white fish (I used haddock, but flounder, tilapia or any other white fish can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup panko (Italian seasoned breadcrumbs will also work)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • zest from one large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and then spray with non-stick spray.

Place the fillets on the baking sheet. Combine remaining ingredients (EVOO through oregano) in a bowl. Press the bread crumb mixture into the fish fillets making sure they are covered.

Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Update: Savannah No More

We are proud to announce, though with some sadness, that Savannah and her pint-sized counterpart (Xiao Savannah) are no longer available in our shop. We knew her gorgeous floral print and scarlet trim wouldn't last long, she was long gone as soon as she was discovered.

As we announced on Facebook this week, the all remaining Savannahs are making the trip to the Union Station store (opening this week) of GoodTrueBeautiful, Inc.. This business is our latest partnership with a likeminded organization and we hope that it will be longlasting and mutually beneficial. Their story is inspirational, and began with a truly good event: the adoption of a beautiful girl from China.

Visit the site to learn more.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Fruit Pizza

Before it gets too cool, Heather (a virtual volunteer) wanted to share this delectable recipe for a summery fruit pizza! Enjoy, friends! :) Look at her sporting her Olivia apron, doesn't it compliment the fruit pizza nicely?


1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slice cookie dough and arrange on greased pizza pan, overlapping edges. Press dough flat into pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, soften cream cheese, then fold in the whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. You can chill for a while at this point, or continue by arranging the fruit.
  3. Begin with strawberries, sliced in half. Arrange in a circle around the outside edge. Continue with fruit of your choice, working towards the middle. If bananas are used, dip them in lemon juice so they don't darken. Then make a sauce to spoon over fruit.
  4. In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Apron Party in Aggie's Kitchen

Some of you might remember that Aggie from Aggie's Kitchenhosted an Apron Party a couple of weeks ago. It turns out that it was an absolute success! Who wouldn't have a fantastic time when Aggie is cooking? Have you seen her recipes? Let me just say that every day when Isee a new recipe pop up from her blog, I sit at my office desk wishing thatI could quit my job, run to the grocery store, and commence cooking a masterpiece.

Back to the apron party. Aggie wanted to share these pictures with our Scarlet Threads audience in hopes that others would be inspired to become our next hostess. Aggie will be sharing several of her recipes for Tasty Tuesdays in the future, but I just wanted to give you a peak at her Apron Party menu: rolo pretzel turtles, Lemony Garlic Hummus, Sweet n' Salty Honey Cheese Spread, Hot and Spicy Artichoke Dip and more. When I saw the spread, I'm not going to lie, I was a little jealous of the guests. I mean, why wasn't I invited? Maybe my invitation got lost in the mail? Luckily, Aggie posted all of the recipes in her Apron Party post and we can all try them at home.

We just mailed an Apron Party Kit to our newest hostess, whose party is coming up on the 28th of September!

Send me an email if you want your party to be next! Hosts earn great rewards (ST products, of course!).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Labor Day Dress Sale

Instead of giving you a recipe, I'd love to share something else! Scarlet Threads is having its first Labor Day Sale. We would love every little girl in America to own a beautiful ST dress, and so we've lowered our prices for this week only.

Our adorable Summer Joy pillowcase dress is now only $14.00 (originally $20)! All I can say is that I wish it was big enough for me. Give a belt and some boots, and I will sport that cutie patootie all over town!

Desiree, our gorgeous summer play dress is now $15.00 (originally $22)! With a cinchable sash, your own cutie patootie can wear this dress for two seasons. Personally, I love love love its sophistication and playfulness. Dichotomy? I think not. It's perfect.

These prices end this week, Hurry! Shop now to change a village!