The one thing all Wisteria employees have in common is their piles. Call those piles a source of creativity, research resources, or future purchases, they are everywhere. Walking from office to office, you might discover anything from stacks of books to a stockpile of toys. But it’s always amazing to see a pile start as a source of inspiration and turn into a Wisteria product.
We view our artisans as partners and look for like-minded organizations that are just as committed to their employees, community, and the environment as they are dedicated to great quality and interesting design. The company below lives up to our expectations and makes some of our favorite felt items including the Raggamuffin House, the Felt Animal Set, and the Egg Cups and Covers.
Located in Jaipur, India, this company’s vision was born from the desire to strengthen the artisan community in India by promoting traditional crafts, particularly the art of making felt. Only a few communities in rural India still practice this ancient tradition and the craft was on the verge of becoming obsolete. This company employees more than 150 women felt makers or “pinjaras”. Because they have families to care for, most of the women would not be able to work outside their homes. In collaboration with a UNICEF supported program, this vendor provides skill-building jobs and allows the artisans to care for their children and households while working in their homes. The opening, dyeing, cutting, and stitching of wool is done by these talented women.
Did you know? Jaipur was planned according to principles of Hindu architectural theory. It is one of the best-organized cities in Asia. When the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur in 1853, the whole city was painted pink. It is known as the Pink City because of its distinctive look and the fact that many streets, parks, and buildings are still painted pink today.
One of the most bizarre and wonderful things about what we do is the constant juggling of current catalogs and upcoming catalogs. On the one hand, most of us are constantly confused about what month we’re actually in. But on the other hand, we’re always looking forward to something new. You might receive the April catalog, and we’re already in the preplanning stages of our holiday catalog.
We just finished photographing our August and September catalogs, so we thought we’d share a glimpse into our crazy, ever-changing world. Behind every photo is a story; here’s a bit of our story.
Each year Southern Living features beautiful homes and interior design through its Idea Houses. In 2008, they featured several pieces of furniture and accessories from Wisteria in the Fort Worth Idea House (in Fort Worth, Texas). Since the house was within driving distance for us, many of the Wisteria employees were able to visit the house and see our products featured in a completely new environment. That relationship with Southern Living worked out so well that they decided to feature us in both of their Idea Houses this year! It’s so great to know others appreciate our products, and we love seeing their ideas for using them. Below are some pictures from the Southern Living Idea House in Mustang Island, Texas. You can see our products in the Dahlonega, Georgia Idea House as well the Mustang Island one. We always enjoying seeing our products styled in a fresh way, and we’d love to see your ideas. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with images of Wisteria products in your home. We’ll feature some of the pictures in an upcoming blog post.
The Fisher House program is a private-public partnership that supports America’s military families in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House Foundation builds and donates “comfort homes,” on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times, during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.
At least one Fisher House is located at every major military medical center and at many VA medical centers to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. Annually, the Fisher House program serves about 10,000 families, and has made available nearly 3 million days of lodging to family members since the program originated in 1990. No family pays to stay at any Fisher House.
In addition to constructing new houses, Fisher House Foundation continues to support existing Fisher Houses and help individual military families in need. By contributing to Fisher House Foundation or any individual Fisher House facility, you can make a difference in the lives of America’s service members, retirees, veterans and their families when they need help the most.
For more information, go to www.fisherhouse.org.
Remember when summers were filled with simple pleasures? Days were long and languid, filled with treats made by your grandmother. The only relief from the heat in the kitchen was to go outside and stand under the hose. We drank real cokes from glass bottles and chased lightning bugs through the yard. We ate popsicles on the porch and laughed when our tongues turned bright orange and purple. Those are the kind of summers we want to hold onto to or at least try to recreate ourselves. So this summer we will spend more time at home, creating memories, sharing recipes (making an apple pie from scratch), and letting time slip slowly by. What are some of your favorite and simple ways to enjoy summer at home?
This time of year is filled with celebration. Or at least that’s how we think of it: school’s out for the summer and we celebrate our mothers, graduates, and our nation’s fallen heroes. May, specifically, is also a time of celebration for our artisans in China. They shared with us some pictures and stories from their recent Dragon Boat Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival is a Chinese lunar celebration that occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is one of China’s longest celebrated traditions. At the center of the festival are the dragon boat races, where boats decorated like dragons race to a drumbeat. Historically, the race and the drumbeat were attempts to rescue a patriotic poet, Chu Yaun, from being eaten by the river dragons. Yaun drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Today, Chinese citizens throw Tzung Tzu, bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice, into the Mi Low River so that fish can eat the rice instead of the heroic Yaun. Eating these dumplings has also become a tradition during the Dragon Boat Festival. The celebration is a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. When the festival ends, it marks the beginning of good luck, good health, and summertime. We wanted to share with you what our friends around the world are doing. This festival reminds us of the Dragon Planter, a product made by the very artisan who told us about the festival. And here’s the recipe for Tzung Tzu, in case you want to make some for yourself!
How to make Tzung Tzu: Makes 20 dumplings Ingredients: 40 large bamboo leaves (2 for each zongzi), 20 long strings (for binding leaves), 1 kg (2.2 Ib) uncooked glutinous rice, 2 kg (4.4 Ib) fatty pork, sliced into 3 cm (1″) cubes, 10 salted duck’s egg yolk, shelled, cut into halves, 40 small dried shittake (black) mushrooms, 20 dried chestnuts, 10 stalks of scallions, cut up into 1 cm (1/2″) lengths, 500 g (18 oz) dried radish diced very finely, 100 g (3.5 oz) very small dried shrimp, 200 g (7 oz) raw peanuts (shelled, with skins), 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup rice wine, Vegetable oil, 5 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 2 pieces star anise. Directions:1. Soak rice in water for three hours. Drain. 2. Stew pork and chestnuts for 1 hour in soy sauce, rice wine, ground pepper, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and star anise. Set aside pork and chestnuts in bowl. 3. Boil peanuts until tender (30 minutes to 1 hour). 4. Soak mushrooms until soft. Clean and cut off stalks. Stir-fry with a little liquid from stew. 5. Set aside in bowl. 6. Shell and halve duck eggs. Set aside in bowl. 7. Chop up dried radish finely and stir-fry with some 1/2 teaspoon sugar and garlic. 8. Stir-fry spring onions until fragrant. 9. Stir-fry shrimp very quickly. 10. In a large wok or bowl, add rice, then add spring onions, radish, shrimp, peanuts. Mix together well. Wrapping Tzung Tzu 1. Rinse bamboo leaves in hot water to tenderize, before washing thoroughly in cold water. Wet strings to make them more pliable. 2. Take 2 leaves and overlap them. About two-thirds of way along the length of the leaves, place one hand underneath, make a cup shape with the leaves. 3. Add a small amount of rice mixture, then add 1 piece of pork to the center of the rice. Add more rice on top, compressing slightly. 4. Now repeat this process, in turn adding 1 each: chestnut, mushroom, half a duck egg, followed by a layer of rice until you have a full rice ball in your hand. 5. Wrap leaves tightly around the ball of rice. 6. Dumplings should be pyramid shaped with sharp edges and pointed ends. It takes some practice to make nice looking ones. 7. Tzung Tzu are tied up just like shoes laces with a double knot which makes them easy to open. 8. Steam for 1 hour, unwrap, and serve.
Books for Life shares the joy of reading and learning with people in developing countries. We do this through a people-to-people movement that helps to establish libraries and learning centers, provide books, and develop educational materials. Books for Life has helped spread education and hope in India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Books for Life is an educational branch of the nonprofit movement Trees for Life. The Trees for Life organization believes when a few dedicated people work toward one common goal, something extraordinary happens. The combination of their diverse skills creates a force that can move mountains. They use that force to empower people in developing countries.
You can give a child a book, provide educational materials, or even help establish a library at our website: http://www.booksforlife.org/. Just click on “Gifts from the heart.”
Children embody our richest aspirations, yet they are also our poorest, most vulnerable minority, defenseless in the face of abuse, neglect, homelessness and poverty. The Association to Benefit Children (ABC) was created to amplify the voices of defenseless children by combating the debilitating effects of poverty and championing the right of every child to a joyful and nurturing childhood.
ABC’s programs are located in New York City and include early childhood education for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, educational advocacy, housing assistance, permanent supportive housing for families with HIV/AIDS, mental health services, family support and preservation, crisis intervention, a therapeutic afterschool program, youth leadership development and mentoring, and a Saturday program for families in the community of East Harlem.
By creating replicable, cost-effective and humane model programs that influence public policy, by speaking out in public forums, by widely circulating its special reports and by bringing class action lawsuits on behalf of children in need, ABC has achieved the following essential reforms:
- ensuring inclusionary education for disabled preschoolers
- securing HIV counseling, testing, and treatment for all children including those in foster care
- diagnosis and treatment for homeless children with asthma
- eliminating the cruel and expensive practice of “boarding” babies.
In so doing these things, ABC has permanently altered the public debate, improving the lives of children who, otherwise, might have waited unnoticed, vulnerable and suffering, with no advocate to witness their pain and give voice to their needs. http://www.a-b-c.org/
East Dallas Community School is an early childhood learning center with programs to meet the needs of children from birth to age nine. It is the school’s policy that more than 60 percent of the students come from families living at or below the poverty level at the time of their enrollment.
Operating in old East Dallas since 1978, East Dallas Community School (EDCS) is proof that all children, regardless of race or income, can succeed in school when the children start young and the parents are involved. This two-pronged strategy has yielded outstanding results among the population most at risk of failure in school, primarily low-income families, many learning English as a second language. Although EDCS does not screen children for enrollment based on their academic abilities, the average scores of EDCS third graders consistently are in the top 36% on national standardized tests. In a neighborhood where less than half the entering freshman graduate as seniors in high school, 94% of EDCS third-grade alumni have graduated from high school, and nearly 88% continue on to college.
East Dallas Community School’s mission also includes a commitment to replicate its successes by opening a cluster of publicly funded schools under the charter school provision of the Texas Education Code. In August 1999, EDCS opened a second campus, a public charter school that replicates the academic programs and success of the privately funded model. Today both schools provide an outstanding education to children most at risk of failure in school.