Category Archives: Life Outside the Office

Hurricane Sandy: We’re Among the Lucky

Here at Sprigs, we were lucky. The worst that happened to any of us is one person lost power. She got it back before the end of the week; much quicker than many people in Long Island, Staten Island, and New Jersey, some of whom still do not have electricity, heat and running water. And let’s not ignore the people who lost loved ones. So, yeah, we were among the fortunate; very fortunate.

Sprigs donates products to victims of Sandy & the workers helping restore life

Laurie Naughton & Sprigs founder & CEO Val Viera load donated product

We are fortunate in another way as well. Many small businesses want to help with the restoration efforts in the region, but feel they cannot. Small businesses often work on a shoestring budget and do not have money to support such efforts. While we are not so fortunate that we have an unlimited supply of cash, we are fortunate to be a manufacturer of goods in high demand.

We chose to donate through a grass-roots organization helping the residents of Long Beach, New York – one of the hardest hit regions. We opted to work with a grass roots organization because they could get mittens on the hands of people needing them the very same day we made our donation. We chose Long Beach because as a company that started in New York, it holds a dear place in our hearts, but also because of a more pragmatic reason – we could get mittens on the hands of people rebuilding Long Beach the very same day we donated them.

To date we have donated:

Now that things have settled down a bit, it has become clear what we were able to do is just a drop in the bucket. People still desperately need blankets. If you are a blanket manufacturer, we call upon you to donate as much product as you reasonably can. If you manufacture fleece clothing and have excess fabric, cut it into 80″x90″ blankets and donate them. Finally, if you are with a grass roots organization in one of the effected areas and need gloves, mittens, hats or Earbags, contact us. Our ability to donate is not unlimited so we cannot make any promises, but we want to help as much as we can.

Inspired by #StoryBehindMyScar

As I write this, #StoryBehindMyScar is a tending topic on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/search/?q=%23StoryBehindMyScar&src=tren). I have a few scars and was struggling on deciding which scar-story to share. A few of my scars are just dumb-luck (or dumb-bad-luck if you will) while others are just dumb young Andreas. I finally decided to share the story of my first scars, the “pin-holes” on my left shin:

When I was 13, I was hit by a car. Before then, I had been relatively unscathed and unscared. But this changed everything. I woke up in ICU with two broken legs. The fracture in my left femur had dislocated so they had to put that leg in traction. In case you don’t know, this involved drilling a bar through my left tibia (aka shin-bone.) The scars from this should be pretty minor and one is, but one is not. This is where the story comes in.

I was in traction for a week as they tried to relocate my femur and get it to set (ultimately it did not so I had surgery to screw my femur together.) A few days into that week was “student nurse day” at the hospital. About a dozen nursing students and one teacher spent the day on my floor getting some practical experience. When they got to me during their first round the teacher said “Oh goodie! Traction. You haven’t seen this before. Let me show you how to clean it.”

The teacher proceeded to get out a small wooden splint and some alcohol. Now, like the students, I was unfamiliar with how to clean traction because no one had done so before this. And that became obvious to the teacher as well – and this pissed her off. “I can’t believe these girls. I thought them better than this. I can’t believe they haven’t been cleaning this,” she grunted as she forcefully stabbed the splint between the metal bar and my skin and violently ripped the two apart. Despite being on some serious pain killers, I felt every move.

“Now it’s your turn. You do the other side,” the teacher instructed one of her other students.

“Oh no!” I thought. “If the TEACHER was that bad, what will the student be like?”

And this is why the scars are mismatched. The student was fantastic. She was soft and gentle. She slowly slid the splint between the bar and my flesh with what felt like genuine concern for me. She ever-so-carefully moved the splint away from the bar. So this is why the scars are mismatched. The scar on the student-done-side of my leg is so small, I can’t find it without first finding the teacher-done-side as a landmark.

Did you Tweet your scar story? If so, post a link in the comments. Didn’t get Tweet it? Post your story our link to your blog post in our comments.

 

Green Sauce Recipe

Last week I was on vacation, but due to my son coming down with a highly contagious strain of the Coxsackie virus, it became a staycation. The upside is I got more time than usually to cook. On one trip to Whole Foods I saw some gorgeous bone-in pork chops on sale. I was in the mood to try something new so I asked the butcher if he had any recommendations. He quickly and enthusiastically offered up the following:

  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 whole red onion, peeled
  • 1 whole green pepper, cored
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I love garlic so I used 3 cloves)
  • half a tomato

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a fairly smooth sauce – not quite liquid.

My new-friend suggested putting a bit of oil in a hot pan, then a bit of sauce and then the pork chops. He also suggested four minutes per side, but the chops were rather thick so I finished them in the oven.

Once the chops were done, I didn’t love the color of the sauce. Don’t get me wrong, the cooked sauce looked OK, but the raw sauce was so beautiful! I wiped the excess sauce from the chops and spread some raw sauce on top when I plated. Unfortunately I neglected to take pictures because it really was a lovely shade of bright green and just looked fresh and beautiful.

So, how did it taste and how was it received? GREAT! My wife was so surprised by the beautiful plate I put in front of her and it was delicious. The flavor was very “fresh” with a little bit of a kick from the onion and garlic.

Two of the great things about this sauce is the quantity the above recipe yields and its versatility. I made the above dish on Wednesday. On Friday I quickly sautéed shrimp and then served it with a bit of the left over sauce. Last night (Tuesday) I used more to repeat the pork chop dinner. And there is sill enough left over for another meal.

While I found the sauce delicious, I’m going to experiment a bit and try swapping out half of the celery for half a peeled cucumber and add some cilantro. Any other ideas for variations on the sauce?

Freshness & Innovation

This past weekend my family and I went to visit my parents and in-laws in northwestern Connecticut. I took my older son (aged 3.5 yrs) “Berry hunting.” We walked along the driveway and brush between the lawn and woods looking for ripe raspberries. Here he is showing off two of the wild Black Raspberries he found (and promptly ate):

Image

Later that afternoon, we went to a party at a friend’s home where they had a large, cultivated raspberry bush. My son was in heaven! As was I. For me, nothing tastes more like summer than sun-warmed raspberries fresh off the vine.

Fortunately, I left room for dinner because the hostess served a salad using lettuce from her garden. Typically I feel fortunate to live in New York City, but when I taste fresh lettuce, just minutes from the garden (versus days for the lettuce at Whole Foods or hours (if I’m lucky) at the farmers’ market) I’m blown away. It actually has TASTE! And you can taste the difference between varieties of lettuce!!

So how does this tie in with Sprigsville and innovation? While I live in Manhattan, the Sprigs offices are upstate, closer in proximity (and environment) to northwestern Connecticut than NYC. I’ve noticed that we do some of our best work during the spring and summer. I attribute some of that to longer days filled with more sunshine and weather more conducive to the outdoor activities for which we make products, but I also attribute it to the foods we eat. After all, what goes in is what comes out – and if fresh foods go in, fresh ideas are bound to come out.

Of course, I could still be under the influence of fresh raspberries and lettuce, but I don’t think that’s it. What do you think? Leave a comment telling me I’m off-base or tell me your story and why you think I’m right.

In praise of small batches

I was making Swedish meatballs last night and I was inspired to post about our organic yoga clothing and accessories, more specifically our Organic Infinity Scarf. Odd connection right? Well, let me give a little back-story to explain how I got there.

I have a three-year-old son. Unfortunately he became a picky eater just after his second birthday, but one of the foods he will eat is Swedish meatballs (I think it’s the lingonberry jam aka “meatball-jam” in my house.) We discovered this while visiting my mother, who happens to be Swedish, and makes meatballs people rave about.

I was thrilled to have another protein to add to my son’s menu, so on the way home we stopped at Ikea and bought a bag of frozen meatballs. Later in the week I heated a few for my son and he gobbled them down. Over the next few months we went through the bag of meatballs. At some point my wife pointed out, Ikea probably does not use antibiotic-free meats like we purchase for everything else my son is potentially going to eat.

So I stopped buying the big bag of frozen, factory-made meatballs and emailed my mother for her recipe. I’ve made three or four batches now and, not to toot my own horn, the are GREAT! The flavor is better than the Ikea meatballs, but where they really stand-out is the texture.  So this got me thinking about the difference in quality between things mass-produced and those made in small batches. Then I started thinking about our products and our Organic Infinity Scarf.

Our Infinity Scarves are beautiful and people love them. The Organic Infinity Scarf is truly something wonderful this time of year. And it is one of those things that fit into the “small batches” category. The raw materials are grown within a few miles of the mill where they are spun into yarn, woven, cut and dyed. Because of this we can make, at most, only a few hundred at a time.

So that’s how I got from meatballs to organic clothing and accessories. I had fun writing this cerebral journey. I hope you had fun reading it.

So two questions:

  1. Who wants the recipe for the meatballs?
  2. What do you do in small batches that are better than mass-produced?

Worlds Colliding

So….there I was, having made it through a parent-teacher conference without either happy or worried tears, any kind of cliche mommy bragging, or fishing for praise of my child. I thought I was out of the woods of too-much-self-exposure. It was a new teacher we were meeting with, and the slate was blank. Perfect!
All went well, smiles and thank you’s, and then it happened.
The business card came out.
“Here’s my card, call me or email me anytime you want!”
Not thinking for even a second, I pulled up my arm sleeve, opened my Banjees wrist wallet, and put the card in.
“That is soo cool!!! What is that? Where did you get it??” the wide-eyed, awed and God-bless-her-enthusiastic-learning- nature teacher exclaimed.
“Oh it’s a wrist wallet. If I don’t put your card in here, I’ll lose it,” I responded calmly. No sales promo here. No URL-giving. Not gonna go there. I am a Mommy, not a Banjees promoter, here.
“Oh my gosh I need one of those! That is so awesome! Where did you get it?”
Oh, this poor woman. I can tell she really, really does need to know.
(Silent sigh inside).
“Here’s the website, and I wrote it down. Take a look and if there’s one you like I will bring you one.”
Super happy smile, happy teacher.
Is it true what they say, happy teacher, happy kids?
Well, I guess I did my part. Some Moms bring in cookies, some Moms volunteer on soup day. I bring in Banjees.
I am pegging her as a black paisley regular Banjees wearer.
It’s hard to separate work from life when you do what you love, and you love what you do. I accept this and even embrace it most times.
And I will accept my role as the Mommy with cool stuff and the Mommy who talks to the class on invention day.
It’s all good. It’s all very, very good.