Friday, March 6, 2009

Making friends and napkins - Supporting the Village Cafe

Right after the Village Cafe opened last November, their cloth napkins went poof! The best guess is that the napkins were all placed in a garbage bag to take home for washing when someone mistakenly tossed them. Oops! They've since offered paper napkins made out of recycled materials, at least until they could splurge for another round of cloth napkins (those things can be pricey!). 

Being a cloth napkin kinda girl, I just did what I do when I go to any restaurant - I bring my own. But then in occurred to me: maybe there is something I can do to help! I mean, Kylie, the Village Cafe's owner (and one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet) is a huge supporter of both the farmers' market and the local food movement, she always takes really good care of me at the cafe (sometimes I even get stuff off the menu - shhhh!), and the woman makes a mighty fine meal. There must be something I can do to return her kindnesses and support. 

So, 2 months ago I went on a mission to solve the napkin crisis (cue Mission Impossible theme music). I tried several thrift stores (nobody carries them) and kept my eye on all the clearance isles (still too expensive per piece - good gravy!) until I had all but given up. It was then that I realized I had some extra fabric sitting around. Now, I don't sew or anything, but the wheels started cranking. The next thing I knew, one very unsuspecting vendor at the farmers' market offered me a cloth cover for my info booth. "You sew?" I inquired. The rest was history.

Helen, who sells eggs and seasonal veggies with her husband at our farmers' market, lugged her 1930's sewing machine, supplies, and yard after yard of fabric and settled at my kitchen table for a sewing party - not once, but twice! Not having touched a machine since 1987 (oh, my!), I did the cutting while Helen manned the machine.

The first night of sewing, I made brownies (to keep our strength up, of course); the second I made homemade pizza and chocolate cake. We laughed, shared stories, exchanged ideas for making the market even better, and made the best gosh-darn cloth napkins ever! We put in quite a few hours of work (especially Helen - that's a lot of sewing!), but in the end, we have been able to provide the Village Cafe with about 175 cloth napkins (and in the process, I made a dear friend). Oh, and the leftover fabric scraps? They'll go to one of the market vendors who'll use them to make the most beautiful dolls and journals I've even seen (you might remember, I bought some of the dolls a couple weeks ago). 

Well, I do believe that about does it! Mission Accomplished!

19 comments:

megan said...

That is so great! I really need to read/hear stories like this more often to counterbalance all the crappy news thrown at us day in and day out.

Lisa said...

What a fabulous idea and so thoughtful of you to do!! I agree with megan that we need more stories like this to keep us all emotionally afloat.

blondeoverboard said...

see, that's one of the things i like about you and your blog.. you don't just talk about doing things in and around your community.. you do it. i was thinking about this the other day, it's been really enjoyable reading along as you become a more active in your community

Holly said...

that was super nice of you and i'm sure village cafe appreciates it also. what a way to reuse and recycle. that helen is one remarkable woman. always wanting to help others. she's resourceful, for sure.

Glenda said...

Oh, what a neat thing for you and Helen to do, to actually solve the problem in as green of a way as possible. Super cool :).

Heather @ SGF said...

Megan - It was a lot of fun too!

Lisa - I really think this kind of thing is what community is all about. If we did these things more for each other, our world would be a very different place.

BlondeOverboard - Thanks! It's a bit crazy at times and unfortunately, I have to say "no" to some projects, but I love what I'm doing. It makes an amazing difference to actually enjoy what I do.

Holly - And you're not biased are you? :) No, you're right. Helen is AWESOME!!!!

Glenda - Thanks! We're working on other cool projects too. Stay tuned...

Kori~Q~ said...

I'll actually be in B/CS on April 25th (one of my twins will be competing in the state Science Olympiad meet at A&M) so I am trying to plan it so I can get up there early enough to check out the farmer's market. I'm also planning on lunch at Village Cafe... which will be a nice balance because her sister is insisting on Tijuana Fries and a shake at the Chicken. So much B/CS to cram into one day! It's going to be good to be back on my old stomping ground :-)

Theresa said...

What a fantastic idea and story! And those napkins are so cheerful, the good will sewn into them will surely make the meals even more tasty. :) What a nice feelgood story - thanks!!

Heather @ SGF said...

Kori - You'll have to swing by the Farmers' Market and say hi!

Theresa - I was in the Village Cafe earlier this week. We had already given her some of the napkins and I'll tell you. It was really awesome seeing people using the napkins and thinking about each pattern as I saw them (Oh, I remember that one...) Definitely an awesome moment.

We did good, Helen... we did good :)

Lisa Sharp said...

That is so awesome!! You are such a sweet person. :)

organicneedle said...

Excellent work, Heather! Very inspiring.

Green Bean said...

That is one of the loveliest, most inspiring stories I've read in quite a while. I'm a firm believer in building community while building a better planet.

ttammylynn said...

Awesome napkins, Heather. I couldn't make it to Market, I had a terrible week. I didn't get product to deliver until Thursday evening so I tried to cram nearly a week's worth of deliveries into two days--Friday and Saturday. Owning a business can be very stressful sometimes. Oh, and Village Foods overall sales seem to be up...people must be liking the new things.
Have a good week!

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa - All I know it is felt good to do something nice for someone and I totally made a great friend in the process.

Organic Needle - Thanks! I still think your tea bag are the coolest things ever :)

Green Bean - This is something that No Impact Man talks about a lot - how when we do the right thing for each other, for our communities, it turns out the right thing for the planet as well. We're all interconnected. I love that message.

Tammy - Dave and I were just talking about you. We missed you this morning. Twenty vendors! Can you believe that? It was awesome. Sorry you had such a crummy week. If you have a chance, we're having a special market at Village Foods on Wednesday from 4-7PM.

Beany said...

Such a pleasant story. I'm so glad how well your community is coming together.

In fact I've been thinking of sewing alot since I have constant trouble finding clothes I like, and I think for test batches to test my skills, I'm going to make some cloth napkins.

Amy said...

I am SO impressed. I plan on making my own napkins very soon. You have inspired me.
Best,
Amy
www.freetobefrugal.wordpress.com

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - I think it would be awesome to be able to sew my own clothes. I'm kinda picky too and I don't care if they all look the same so long as they are comfy (I could probably get by on just a few patterns :)

Amy - Awesome! I'd tell you they were super easy, but all I did was the cutting part. It looked easy though. Thanks for your blog address. I'll check it out!

sabakose said...

Heather - you rock!! So nice of you two ladies!! :-) I was curious .. is there a certain fabric that works best for napkins?

Thanks for sharing your story.
Sandra :-D

Heather @ SGF said...

Sandra - actually, we used a little bit of everything (old linens, as well as regular fabric you'd buy at the store). The report from the cafe is that they love them!