The Tale Of The Flaming Hiatus

Let me spin you a tale:

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a Mama’s A Mess and an Odd Papa that had great aspirations of selling their wares online and writing daily blogs about wonderful things and tying both of these things together while also sharing the spotlight with others. Then the dream turned into something less desirable than they had planned and they were derailed for quite some time bound in frustration and writer’s block. It was a sad, unfortunate turn of events and then as a cherry on top of that sundae, their house caught on fire.

…little did they know that was exactly what would help them shape their plans for the future into something more desirable, more manageable, more realistic and more grounded in their true selves.

THE END       (…well, only in a manner of speaking)

Hello again! It’s been quite some time since I’ve written to the great world of the interwebz. But I swear I have a good excuse. My computer melted.

Like, all the way.

Almost nothing left but ash.

It was unpleasant.

But here I am! Back and in great spirits! This past year has been a very unique experience for Sara and I and I want to fill you in on all of the uncomfortable details, so here we go:

Leading up to Christmas of 2013, some may have noticed that almost every post on this humble little site was a ‘This Week In Preposterously Ignorant’. There was a good reason for that: Sara and I had somewhat lost interest in writing. The problem was the negative tone of the site at that point. While Preposterously posts were interesting reads, they were rooted in a negative view of the world and that was never our (Sara’s & my) intention when we first started blogging together. Yes, we did ask the person to come aboard and write these posts, but we hadn’t really thought it through to the end result. Now we know better. We may have some posts here and there moving forward that may be a rant or something not necessarily with a completely positive focus, but we will no longer have a weekly post rooted in negativity. So, to all of the TWIPI fans, I apologize, but that ship has sailed.

[door opens, footsteps leave the room, door closes, leaving two people staring awkwardly at each other]

So, Christmas came and went, New Years came and went and then tragedy hit our house:

house fire

Yep – that’s our home on fire. The same room that we kept all of our media (books, computer, external hard drive with our photos, etc.). It was a chimney fire. We had gone out for a library and store run and had the door closed on our fireplace, but there were burning embers inside and there must’ve been some creosote buildup which led to disaster. Our ball python died, but I was able to get our dog out without too much trouble. Pretty much everything throughout the rest of the house was lost due to smoke damage. This also led us into a pretty hard, but enlightening year.

We were lucky enough to find a rental house around the corner from our house and the back yards of both houses butt up against the same woods, so it was an easy 5 minute walk through the woods to get to back and forth. Unfortunately, the rental house didn’t have a garage and I had my garage filled with salvage items that I had planned on repurposing into sellable items to start an upcycling business that Spring. Needless to say, that derailed my biz plans.

We really did make the best that we could of the year, though. We decided that we would not replace many things in the house. So much of the stuff we lost were items that were just taking up space. It was a cleansing experience in many ways. We spent a lot of time together having family fun nights, enjoying dinners out, spending time with friends and family and we were even fortunate enough to work out a vacation schedule that allowed us 10 days in Florida at Disney and Universal Studios. Overall, it was a great year despite the tragic start.

I feel like one of the best aspects of being displaced was how it forced Sara and I to stop doing stuff. We had been trying to keep our hands in so many things at once, I feel like we were about to burn out. Well, I guess we did. Literally. We seem to have come to terms with the mistakes we were leading ourselves into and have newer, more pure ways to focus our future endeavors. We realize that we were drowning ourselves in trying to do something that, although it was definitely our style, it just wasn’t the right outlet for our creative needs. We have also realized our own internal desire to be more philanthropic and helpful to others that have had tragedy strike their lives. We are actually pretty fortunate to have been in a position where we didn’t completely lose everything and we realize many people aren’t as fortunate as us.

So, as we continue to dig ourselves out of the ashes, we have new goals and new changes to the way we choose to live.

Starting with the fact that Blakow! will be mine alone from now on (cue the upset groans and slamming of laptops), but don’t worry – everyone who was a fan of Sara’s writings from her Kiss The Librarian days, she’s coming back! Please be patient as we both have some restructuring to do on these blog sites, but you will be able to find her stuff >>>here<<< (and the Buffy fans rejoice!). I’m sure there will be plenty of re-blogging between us, so you will still be exposed to some of her antics on this site as well, but both blogs will be built in our own styles from here on out.

She has a new career that she has settled into well and now that we are back home, I have been able to start shifting focus toward my business goals again as well. Along with helpful tips on how to survive the insurance company disaster after surviving your house fire disaster, we will have plenty to talk about in the realms of home brewing, aquaponics, personal creativity, how to survive the new modern mixed family, how to remain positive in a world full of negativity and of course, we’re still going to share our near-middle age life in the punk rock mosh pits with you as well. Basically, all of the stuff we were writing about prior to the days of us trying too damn hard. We realize now that’s what all of us really want and we apologize for falling off track. This will be a much better experience overall. So, for everyone who enjoys my sociopolitical rants and don’t want to be bothered with the ‘girly’ stuff – this is where you’ll find it. For those of you who could give a shit about what I think about Ted Cruz or the Pope and really just want to talk about crafting and what new shows are good to watch since Buffy and Angel are gone, Sara will have you well covered in those areas, I’m sure.

We are both looking forward to expelling our brain goo for our 2 or 3 fans to read and hope to be back on track with this soon enough.

Please forgive our mess in the interim.

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” – Casablanca

Posted in About, Mama's a Mess, Odd Papa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cleveland cops caught having a snowball fight while on duty

Anyone that knows me or has any online interaction with me knows that I’m not fan of general police conduct. There are countless incidents where police have overstepped their bounds, killed family pets, beaten innocent people, killed suspects before they’ve had their day in court and have smashed cameras, confiscated cameras or arrested those filming these incidents. These are unforgivable acts and we need to publicly take control of our police and make them realize that they work for us.
With that being said, I want to introduce this video to those of you who have not seen it yet:
I’m sure that some of my readers will be outraged over this video. Officers throwing snow at each other while people could be getting robbed, stabbed, raped or shot? I mean, this is Cleveland, right? one of the more dangerous cities in America. Even if nothing is happening at that given moment, it’s unprofessional isn’t it? They shouldn’t be conducting themselves like this, should they?

I have to stop and ask – WHY THE FUCK NOT? Being a police officer in America is a hard job. They are constantly scrutinized by people like myself for their mistakes and misconduct and the truly righteous cops are unforgivably lumped into the same classification with all of the dirty cops. I don’t deny my part in this, nor do I apologise for it. When cops are out of line, they should be corrected by their peers and if that doesn’t happen, I call all of them guilty together.
In this instance, though – I simply won’t. As I already stated, being a cop in America is a hard job, but I’m sure being a cop in Cleveland can be quite a bit more taxing on the person in the uniform than being a cop in, let’s say, my current location – the Cleveland suburb of North Royalton.
So, they were out there blowing off a little steam. So what? Why is that so bad, really? Do none of us like to goof off for a few minutes here and there with co-workers? Do we not occasionally lose composure and act a little unprofessionally? Yes, we do. We all do and anyone that denies this is either lying or a rigid bastard that maybe needs to lighten up and have a snowball fight with their co-workers.
Point blank: leave these cops alone over this. They are constantly in hot water over so many other things and trust that I will be right here tomorrow calling them out on misconduct once again, but for once we get to see a video of them just being normal people. Frankly, I find it kind of refreshing. I have had personal dealings with several Cleveland police officers. Some weren’t quite so pleasant and a few were actual, fun conversations with the person – not the badge.
Honestly, I would LOVE IT if a cop would start a snowball fight with me. That kind of activity might make me think more of the person in the uniform than what the uniform has come to represent in today’s society. I say a little bit of child-like fun is a much better way to present themselves to the public than a constant image of rigid fear-mongering. I would have loved to see the days when people were on first-name terms with their local officers. There’s just not enough of that anymore and I think it fuels the fire.
So, leave them alone. Let them have their fun. Maybe one day they won’t arrest you over something that just got blown out of proportion when you were simply trying to blow off a little steam with your personal acquaintances and why? Because they won’t have to scrutinize your fun situation in the same way that we scrutinize theirs. And maybe one day we could actually get into a friendly snowball fight with a cop and not have to worry about being arrested for assault. What a beautiful world that could be. Snowballs

Posted in Community & Culture, Police | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Police brutality or bad parenting?

Just came across this video in my Facebook news feed and just wanted to share my thoughts on this. You can find the video and article I’m, referring to >>>here<<<
Now, I normally agree with the sentiment behind this kind of article, but on this one, not so much. All of the commentors claiming racism are simply mistaken. This cop was just trying to issue a speeding ticket and the mother was being irrational. With her kids in the car, she should’ve just taken the ticket and then argued it in court. That is how the system works. She was being argumentative and the 14yr old escalated the situation by getting out of the car. This wasn’t a case of out of control police, this was a case of an irrational person endangering her children. Maybe the cop who shot did so prematurely, without knowing the full scope of the situation, but it should have never even come to that and wouldn’t have if the woman had just taken care of the ticket by the proper mechanisms of our well-established court system.

Posted in Community & Culture, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgotten Father

A few days ago, I picked up an old Sum 41 CD that I’d never heard from the library, ripped it and loaded it into the iPod. Since I was working late tonight, a few of those songs shuffled through and just as I expected, I really didn’t like alot of it, but there were a few decent ones that will stay in rotation the next time I delete stuff. There was one song in particular, though that grabbed my attention a bit more than the others. It was called Dear Father. It’s a song about an absentee father and it stopped me for a second. I kinda had a moment of “Oh yeah, I used to have one of those”, but not like the song explains. He wasn’t an absentee father, being that we lived with him, but I guess since he spent the majority of his time at the bar, he was a bit absentee. Anyway, that’s not really the point of this.

It was just sort of strange the way it hit me – as if it was some vague, surreal dream of something that almost applied to my life once upon a time. Even though the premise of the song didn’t really apply, just the fact that it reminded me of this long forgotten individual stopped my focus. It kind of made me happy the way this all played out in my head because it made me feel as if I’m in such a better place now and can be so happy with my life now, that the residue of this horrible man doesn’t even taint my daily thoughts anymore.

You see, I used to get so angry about so many things that I didn’t know about. I used to blame him for so many mistakes I would make because I never learned from him not to do them. A father is supposed to guide his children and teach them about life and how manage your way through it., but he didn’t. He abused us and got drunk and I held him accountable for it for many years.

But my life is so different and wonderful now that the darkness of him seems unreal. I wonder what he would think to know that I had a moment like this. A moment when his very own son stopped and realized how long I had forgotten that I even had a father. That he even exists. Who knows, maybe it would make him feel better to think that he is so distant from my mind that I barely remember what his face looked like when he would beat my mother and my sister. That I can’t even recall the lowest feelings I had when I would wonder why he wouldn’t leave them alone and just take it out on me instead. I wonder if he might come across this blog post and cry in solitude as he reads about how he will never meet my children or my wife and that my kids will never even hear his name enough to remember it.

Again, he might feel sanctified in a way, knowing that his atrocities have actually made me a better man. I have not and will not ever call my wife a bitch. I have not and will never beat her or my kids. I have learned how to be a man through trial and error and come out on top with good morals and anger control. So, if you are reading this, sleep well knowing that you actually did teach me things and you taught them well.

You taught me exactly what kind of man not to become. you taught me that focusing on negative memories is a waste of my time, so you have, in turn, taught me how to erase you from existence.

Maybe one day, I’ll happen past a grave stone and recognize a long forgotten name on it. If that happens, I will place my hands on the shoulders of my sons knowing that they are learning to be a man in a better way. I will know that I won’t be just a memory to them until I’m dead and that they will never forget me while I’m still alive.


Posted in Relationship & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frauds & Favorites: Multi-Strand Leather Charm Bracelets

FFbannerWelcome to the first edition of Frauds & Favorites, our attempt to help clean-up the Etsy marketplace.  Each week we’ll post a list of Etsy shops that we believe to be frauds – sellers who are misrepresenting their items as handmade – and encourage all our visitors to report these shops to Etsy.  At the same time, we’ll feature one shop who we believe is doing it right – an Etsy favorite.

Be sure to visit our Frauds & Favorites Etsy Team to join the effort and share your own frauds and favorites.

(For the full introduction, click here.)

This week we took a specific look at the popular leather charm bracelet.
(Please note:  We won’t link directly to the fraud shop sites to keep from feeding the googlebots, etc.  To find them, go to and search for the shop name.)

First, let’s look at someone who’s doing it right:


Etsy Profile:  I am a graduate of Goldsmith’s craft and design college here in Israel and I have been designing and crafting jewelry and gifts for the last 13 years. I love to work with metal and leather, trying to bring my concept to the accessories that you see in my shop.

We agree that her background and combinations make for beautiful pieces that are trendy yet still unique.

Now, let’s see this week’s frauds:

jewleryofhome_201308021.  Shop Name:  Jewelryofhome
Shop Owner:  Mary Chen
Opened:  December 9, 2012
Sales to Date:  1,410
2Style_20130802 2.  Shop Name:  2Style
Shop Owner:  Brook Flyingbird
Opened:  March 25, 2013
Sales to Date:  421


3.  Shop Name:  fabuloustime
Shop Owner: tracy
Opened:  April 18, 2012
Sales to Date:  10, 312


4.  Shop Name:  fashionhealthylife
Shop Owner:  fashionhealthylife
Opened:  June 18, 2012
Sales to Date:  1,083

Gunrose_201308025.  Shop Name:  Gunrose
Shop Owner:  Taylor Spring
Opened:  March 25, 2012
Sales to Date: 2,109

Here’s a link to a simple search that you can include in your report to help support the abuse claim.

Now…get reporting!  And thanks for your help!!

(Have suggestions or comments?  More shops to report?  Let us know in the comments section below!)

Posted in Crafts & Style | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beginning of the end for Etsy?

I joined the Etsy community back in 2008.  Even at that time I felt like I was a little late to the party.  It’s hard for me to believe that my shop has been around for five years now and how much the marketplace has changed over the years

(take action to protect the Etsy community!  Scroll to the bottom and jump right to the point!)

Business ebbs and flows, mostly depending on how much attention I pay to it.  I exist in a niche and focus on making items that I would want to wear or have in my house myself.  My own geekgirl/fangirl tendencies have made me an eclectic seller with a unique supernatural defense line featuring vervain and wolfsbane jewelry.  So I go with it and seek out new options for monster and creature related pieces.  I make people happy by providing them subtle ways to express their inner geek – a way to be true to themselves throughout the day when they may be chained to a desk or cubicle or stuck behind a register.  (That’s why I wear a lot of the same pieces myself, after all.)

So why am I suddenly stopping to question the vitality of the Etsy marketplace?

On one hand, Etsy still appears to be going strong.  In April there were over 4 million items sold and almost 1 million new members signed up!  That’s an insane amount of volume and even though sales seem to be up and down from month to month the trend is steady.  From this perspective, Etsy isn’t going anywhere.

From a seller perspective, though, things feel different. 

Operating in a small niche like I do it’s sometimes difficult to break through the noise of such a huge marketplace.  Etsy’s roll-out of new features over the years, obviously built to capitalize on the social media obsession, has started to push the community more towards sharing (ala Pinterest) than buying.  Circles, now followers, and favorites have filled up my activity stream but severely reduced my close ratios.  Combine that with changes to the search functions over the years (a switch from most recently listed to most popular) and all this favorite and treasury activity makes it really difficult to show up in a search that ISN’T extremely targeted.  To combat this I’m trying to build up my base, come up with new items, and promote where/when I can.

It was through these efforts to find some new, cool things that I stumbled across the most disheartening aspect of the bubble that has become the Etsy marketplace.  The handmade marketplace that we knew and loved has had a HUGE influx of overseas wholesalers passing off cheap mass-produced items as “hand-crafted”.  What’s worse, is how easy they are to find and how frequently I’m seeing them pop up!


Type in “harry potter bracelet” for example.  In the first page of search results there are 20+ Etsy shops all listing the same bracelet with only minor variation.  Do the same search on and you’ll find…..the same bracelet with only minor variation.  I’ll guarantee you all of those sellers’ profiles have them listed from China or Hong Kong and each and everyone will mention their “handcrafts” in their shop description.


When I discovered my first fraud I was beside myself.  They were selling huge, fashionable statement necklaces at an average cost of $20-$30.  The shop had over 2,000 followers, and I think 20,000+ sales.  At an average per item price of $35 they were bringing in enough revenue to replace one of my household incomes.  There were pieces designed to look like they were a collection of vintage brooches – but they had 10 for sale at a time!  Any handcraft jewelry designer would know that it would be next to impossible to create 10 of those same “unique” vintage pieces.  What’s worse?  They had been open for at least two years! 

I did what I was supposed to and I reported the shop.  I added links back to aliexpress with samples of the matching jewelry.  I actually took it a step further and contact Etsy directly to say, “HEY!  Are you monitoring this?!  Because if not, I’d love to help you do it!” and I got an obligatory reply saying thanks for supporting the community, just keep doing what you’re doing, blah, blah, blah.   They claim that they monitor their sellers but they must not spend much time on it.  This first shop had been open for years, had a ton of traffic and was showing up in the favorite feeds of people I follow regularly.

Since then I’ve been watching.  Each time I get to spend some time I’m Etsy browsing or looking through my activity stream I seem to come across at least 5 fraud shops.  It honestly takes less than 10 minutes.  And each time I find them I start reporting them.

The good news?  It worked.  The first shop I reported appears to have been removed (or at least suspended).  Yay, Etsy!

The bad news?  I can’t even begin to quantify how many are out there and how many more open each day.

What can I do?  I’m going to keep finding them, tracking them and reporting them.  On top of that, I’m reaching out to the rest of the Etsy community, sellers and users alike, to start doing the same.  I don’t want to watch Etsy turn into the next eBay.


Once a week I’ll be posting a list of “Etsy Frauds” here on the blog.  All I’m asking is for Etsy users and sellers to take a few minutes to report the shops and spread the word.  Since I don’t want to ONLY focus on the negative, I’m going to try to find new favorite sellers, too- shops that still feel true to what built Etsy.

On top of that I’ve created a team on Etsy for interested sellers to join to promote their favorites shops (including their own!) and help report abuse to Etsy.  To join the team, click here.  Then watch for the first frauds & favorites post later today!

Posted in Business, Community & Culture, Crafts & Style, Mama's a Mess, Odd Papa | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Treasured: While Going to the Dogs…

We were recently included in this GREAT, dark treasury on Etsy, created by Paula Mattson.   Paula is a unique mixed-media/watercolor artist from Chicago who must have a great eye to the darker side of life.

‘While Going to the Dogs Here in Dogtown’ by paulamattson

Inspiration is Harry Chapin’s song,” Dogtown” off the Heads and Tails album. My first Dark Beauty.” We had ten days together before he left my side…Farewell. my darling, I’m gonna leave you with my dog.”

large antique mourning photo…


Fragment: Winter Walk III


Shipwrecks on the Isle of Mu…


5×7 Photograph – “Go Ah…


Abstract Fine Art Photograph…


Cemetery Photograph Black an…


Spells and Bindings 2 – 8 X …




Set of Three 8×10 Black & Wh…


Tintype Photo Girl Mourning …


Photography — Shipwrecked


Landscape Photography: Sunbe…


Ladies Mourning jacket and b…


Piercing the Darkness


12″ x 12″ original…


Sponsored by send bulk email from excel.

Posted in Crafts & Style, Mama's a Mess, Shop, Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment