Monthly Archives: February 2014


There are a few things you should know about me. I’m Jewish, was raised as a Reconstructionist (not many people can say this), and I believe strongly in one of its core tenants, the principle of Tikkun Olam, meaning “repair the world,” as in, one of my purposes in life is to work toward making the world a better place for everyone.

Repairing the world takes many forms.  For my family, it means a lot of volunteer work. My grandmother was a life member and volunteer for Na’Amat – her calendar was bursting with meetings and events well into her late 80s.   My mother and father were tireless volunteers for the City of Hope – every Thursday night for over 20 years my mom was busy running a bingo game, and the twice annual Lox Box projects were full family events lasting a week or more, and of course there were the casino nights we helped run.

I was a member of Camp Fire growing up and spent many hours volunteering on community service projects.  I married a man with similar beliefs who is currently the Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 67 in Northbrook.  We both volunteer for the countless needs of our synagogue community.  And of course, we’ve raised our two boys to volunteer as well.

So, it should come as no surprise to you, that when the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce needed volunteers to help with the annual silent auction and other projects, I stepped up to help.  It was just one more thing to give back to those who have helped me, no big deal. However, this year they’ve decided to present me with the Volunteer of the Year award – I am being presented with this on Monday the 3rd – and I am moderately terrified.   Getting into the trenches and doing the work – definitely my skill set.  Standing up in front of 200 people I don’t know – not so much.     Wish me luck!



Several years ago, pre-Katrina, Sandi and I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans in the weeks before Mardi Gras.  We stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, visited a float factory (who knew?), wandered around the French Quarter and took part of much of what New Orleans had to offer.

This year, I have created a Mardi Gras basket, hearkening back to that trip.  It has beignet mix and chicory coffee from Cafe du Monde, Hurricane mix and jambalaya mix.  We pair that with a wide assortment of celebration worthy snacks for a festive off season gift.  This is a great way to send that thank you gift that you may have overlooked during the holiday season.    Mardi Gras is Tuesday March 5th this year, so don’t delay!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!




packing peanuts

Packing peanuts hanging from the rafters!


Did you know that BasketWorks is green?  Not with envy (although watching folks’ exotic vacations on FB does cause some of that) but rather ecologically green.  Really!

  • Tissue paper – all of our tissue paper is made in the United States from 100% post industrial recycled fibers,
  • Packing peanuts – We have been using packing peanuts in the bases of our baskets for 17 years – since the day we opened our doors.   We have never, in 17 years, purchased a single packing peanut.  EVERY packing peanut we use is recycled, either from incoming shipments or from community members who don’t want to just toss them out.  We verify that they are clean and then happily use them.
  • Cellophane – Our cellophane is made in the United States of 100% Polypropolene.  It is entirely BPA free, contains no heavy metals or environmentally hazardous substances.   It is not biodegradable but is completely recyclable as code 5.  Additionally, we use our scrap cellophane in the bottom of our gift baskets to supplement our packing peanuts.
  • Boxes – All of our incoming boxes are either reused (we give the larger ones away to folks who are moving or storing things.  Need some?   Just let us know!) or recycled with our friends at Shred Spot.    We do use new boxes for shipping our packages out – but they are at least 40% recycled material – the national average is 35%.
  • Wrapping paper tubes – Tubes are regularly given away to preschools, art teachers, scout leaders – virtually anyone who would like them.    Wrapping paper tubes are great for art projects of all sorts (some of our favorites are here at the Crafty Crow).   Around here, they become swords and light sabers!  Ask and ye shall receive.
  • Ribbon Rolls – Empty ribbon rolls are useful for creating Rube Goldberg machines, racing vehicles, or simply storing ribbon or yarn lengths.  Also available for the asking!
  • Styrofoam sheets – We use Styrofoam sheets for centerpiece bases, to stabilize large designs, and for vertical structure.   Almost all of our sheets are cut from Styrofoam coolers.
  • Ribbon scraps – This is perhaps the oddest recycling we do.  We have lots of ribbon scraps – sizes from a half inch  to several feet long.  Tulle, the occasional silk flower.  All get tossed into our scrap box.  Like the tubes and rolls, these are favorites for anyone doing craft projects – especially mosaic type projects.

If you can use some of the items we have, drop me an email.  I am happy to get these items to folks who can use them!



Books, books, books

I am a serious book geek.   If you have ever met me, that is probably not news.  I read probably 3-4 books a month – sometimes more. And I am all over the map in what I read- science fiction, general business, history, mystery, teen lit, marketing, literature….pretty wide variety.  I love a good chat about a book – and if you have read something esoteric that I have enjoyed, I am tickled beyond belief.

I do both Kindle and paper books.  For years I was a paper book purist, until I found that having 2-3 books on my all the time had some serious benefits (sitting in waiting rooms on short notice….oy!)  So one of the sites I am sharing is print based and one is Kindle based.

l admit to being terrible about getting to the library, as much as I love it.  I find that my universe happens and I am paying large fines for late books.   I am also always looking for recommendations for good books.  So to keep the stream of books and reviews flowing without breaking the bank, I have had to cast a wide net.  I have found some amazing websites that help me with that.   Here are two of my current favorites.

My favorite book site is   I’ve been a bookcrosser for years, at various levels of activity.  The website encourages people to Read, Register and Release books “into the wild” and then track where they go.  I have mailed books across the country and I have left books in assorted public places and had them found and shared by other book lovers.   I keep a wishlist that includes out of print books – and I have had folks send me some of those books.  It is a true community of book lovers.

A new site that I have recently found is  I am a new comer to this site, but have found an assortment of free kindle books on this site that I have downloaded and enjoyed a great deal.  I am reading things outside of my usual choices, and having current options dropped into my email box daily is a pleasure.

Going forward, I’ll probably share some of my favorite books as well as book websites – hope that is useful to you!



Get Human….

So I know I said I wasn’t going to be publishing daily, and honestly, I’m not, but something happened in one of my networking meetings this morning and I needed to share.

We were discussing auto-phone attendants, and folks general dislike of them.  Comments were made about how frustrating it is to go through a never-ending menu, or to enter all of your account information just to be asked for that same information again when you actually got through to a person.  I mentioned in an off-hand sort of way, assuming everyone in the room was aware of the site.  Apparently not.

So GetHuman is a fabulous site that helps you to navigate through automated phone systems to actually get to a real person.  There is information on what to press at each prompt, how to get a call back, average wait times.  Fabulous site, enormous time saver!

Just for the record, when you call BasketWorks you will either:

  1. Get a live human (that would be me)
  2. Get asked for your name and then put through to a live human (again, me) or
  3. Reach our voice mail – which apologizes that you didn’t reach a live human.  I’ll call you back as soon as possible.  🙂

Hope this is useful!  Have a lovely, folks!


Hello World!

Greetings, salutations, welcome, and – most appropriate for me – good morning!

Welcome to the very first ever BasketWorks blog.  I am endeavoring to write here several times a week, although I am sure there will be weeks where I am far chattier as well as weeks where I am quieter than seems normal.  Such is life.

I plan  to share with you (and I hope there is a ‘you’ out there reading this…..) upcoming events that I think folks may be interested in, new designs we create, assorted useful tidbits of information on gift giving and/or small business, and (in all likelihood) vaguely random musings.  I am hoping that this blog will become a conversation between you and I, and that you will give me feedback on what you like, what you don’t like and what you would like to see more of.

Given that writing about nothing is not my skill set, I am signing off now, with the expectation that I will write about something in the next day or two.


PS – for those who may not know, I always answer my phone “Good morning”.   10 am, 2 pm, midnight – it is always “good morning”.  It’s always morning somewhere.