How Do You Improve the Clothespin?

clothesline_Cass
If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon,
or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour,
tho’ he build his house in the woods,

the world will make a beaten path to his door.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I love when people look at things that have been good enough (yet not perfect) for forever, and figure out a way to think outside the box and improve on the design. I mean, a clothespin is a clothespin, right?

WRONG. As a line dryer I know that if you sling something over the line you get a fold mark and it takes forever to dry. If you use clothespins on delicate fabrics you get pin marks. My solution is to use hangers for tops & dresses, but if I’m dealing with a heavy or delicate fabric I get the fold line issue again (only now it’s a hanger line).

Scott Boocock came up with a simple solution, but that’s not the only awesome part of this story (reprinted with permission). Check it out:

heg

A Qantas jet is flying 16,986 bags of Hegs clothespins directly from South Australia to Toronto tonight for distribution across Canada, the United States and Central America.

“I wish I was getting frequent flyer points for it,” says Scott Boocock, creator of the Heg clothespin.

It was a sixty-second idea, Boocock says. The innovation – putting a hook on each end of a clothespin – came about when he was trying to hang up his wife’s black dress on a sunny day.

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“It had two straps on it. I thought, how am I gonna hang this up without any line marks, peg marks or sun marks. I worked out if I put a hook on it and market that worldwide, I’ve got it.”

The Heg has been thrust in to the spotlight after winning a Good Design Award last year, being featured on Shark Tank and being named one of the top ten products at a recent Housewares Show in Chicago.

“That’s why we’re shipping in to America now. It was a top ten product – that’s out of thousands of exhibitors with hundreds of products each. Our distributor in Chicago said they wanted them,” Boocock explains.

“We said great. We’ll send them by ship, 45 days. They said no, we can’t wait. They asked us to make them and fly them over as soon as possible. That’s thousands of bags containing hundreds of thousands of Hegs.”

North America is not the only country interested in Hegs.

Boocock also has distribution deals with Aldi that cover the entirety of the United Kingdom, an Australia-wide distribution deal with Woolworths, a container heading to Africa, as well as distribution in place for the Middle East, Singapore, Phillipines, Thailand and Malaysia.

“The power of ‘Australian-built’ or ‘Australian-made’ overseas is incredible.”

The Heg was originally manufactured in China, but in the interests of quality control and helping local industry, the process now entirely takes place in South Australia.

“When we started, we wanted to make it in Australia. No questions. After a while, it became apparent that I couldn’t for price reasons. But I kept thinking there had to be a way.”

Boocock, who brands himself as the ‘Aussie Innovator’, spent twelve months working to return production to the country. By working on each individual element of the Heg rather than the final package, he managed to do it.

“I talked to Technoplas about making the Heg, Multi Slide about making the spring, someone about making the bag, the box, the whole process. Before I knew it, I could do it cheaper here than in China.”

There are many advantages to Australian production. Quicker shipping times and excellent quality control are the biggest, Boocock says.

“We know what quality we’re getting here on a constant basis. They have ASO standards. With China, you just don’t know. You hope it’s the right product. But we can’t afford for that hinge to break. We can’t afford for there to be a bad quality on a batch of hooks and they break.

“When you get a batch, we’re talking about a million Hegs. A million. You don’t get a second chance at that. The other benefit is we can walk down and show the kids that it’s actually manufactured here.”

Hegs has also partnered with disability service provider Orana. Every Heg is assembled by their team of people.

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“They’re great. It’s a great team there, a big part of our corporate social responsibility. They’re at different skill levels and that’s the best part. You can’t tell them to churn out one every second – it’s exciting to walk in there and see one person do it slower, another does it faster and another does it differently,” Boocock says.

“They’re meticulous. At the end of the day there has to be quality control, whoever you use. And we’ve got it with them. I would suggest any manufacturer use them.”

The Heg is patented in 44 countries worldwide. Hegs currently produces around 80,000 clothespins a day, more than 4,000 bags a day. The company is looking at producing up to 50 million Hegs in the next year.

“It’s an amazing story. It’s worldwide. In two hundred years the peg hasn’t been innovated. It’s gone from wood to plastic but not anything else. People are talking about it. I don’t think there’s been any clothespin in history that people have talked about,” Boocock says.

“It’s been a good journey.”

 

Love this story? Tell me why in the comments.

 

You’re Living With Your Best Teacher: Parenting with Presence

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What really knocks me out is a book that,
when you’re all done reading it,

you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours
and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.

That doesn’t happen much, though.

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

There’s a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh about washing dishes that’s a bit long to quote here. Basically, he says that if you’re thinking about your tea while you’re washing dishes, we’re missing out on the miracle and the meditative act of dishwashing. We’re living in the future, and odds are we’ll do the same when we get our tea. We’re not spending our time, fully, in our moments, and that’s not living at all.

Don’t do any task in order to get it over with.
Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention.
Enjoy and be one with your work.

―Thich Nhat Hanh,
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done this with parenting…

  • I just want this meal to be over so I can clean the kitchen and sit down for a minute.
  • I want this day to be over so I can sleep, this week to be over so I can enjoy the weekend.
  • I can’t wait for my kids to grow out of the teething stage, the whining stage, the “it’s not fair” stage, the rebellious stage.

Guess what? They do grow out of those stages, and then the panic hits because soon they’ll be leaving the nest. My kids are 10, 14 and 17… and while I did try to be really present for them and with them for stretches at a time, I wish I’d done so a lot more. Not let depression, work, and anxiety about money and other things I had little control over get in the way.

Parenting is hard— and I have news, friends: it doesn’t get any easier when they’re older, it’s just hard in a different, and differently fulfilling, way. You begin to get a real hint of what those kids are going to be like as adults; infuriatingly, sometimes frighteningly, they’re a lot like you.

For better or for worse, there is nothing quite like hearing words you remember speaking when you were young being echoed by your teenager. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to finally work through the baggage you’ve been carrying since those days. Children make adults of us all.

fatherandson

 

I was recently sent a copy of Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids. That’s my copy pictured at top; usually, I read books with a notebook and pen, but there were so many things I wanted to be able to refer back to that I started dogearing. (Some pages are dogeared top & bottom because there were nuggets of wisdom on both sides of the page!) It would take me all day to list them all, so here are some I’ve randomly chosen, followed by an excerpt provided by the author.

I’m of the opinion that all self-help books of this kind are beneficial, in that they force you to slow down and really examine what’s gone awry in your life, and make an effort to fix them. Simply looking at what works and what doesn’t does wonders. Within this book is a treasure trove of advice, questions, and methods for improving not only your relationship with your children, but with your past and with the loved adults in your life. It’s more than a parenting primer; it’s a handbook for life. You should really check it out.

As frustrating as it is when our child doesn’t match up to who we would like him to be, we don’t lose our cool because he is annoying or uncooperative. We lose it because we think he shouldn’t be annoying or uncooperative. In other words, our difficulty in being fully present with whatever is going on with our children is fueled by the mismatch between our Snapshot Child—who exists only in our imagination—and the real flesh-and-blood one in front of us.

———-

It is in the challenging moments that we get to move through resistance and strengthen our dedication to parenting with presence. Remember, muscle building cannot take place without tearing down muscle fibers—this is called hypertrophy. These microtears are what it takes to build muscle bulk. We grow ourselves up each time we listen without reacting when our child shares something that fills us with dread, teaching her that she does not have to hide the truth from us.

———-

When most parents are asked what they want most for their children in preparation for their adulthood, they begin by saying, “I just want them to be happy.” And here is where things get interesting. While there are many qualities that we can and should nurture in our children, there is one without which all other attributes become significantly less important: we need to raise our children to know they are inherently worthy of love and happiness so that they will be able to absorb all the good that comes their way.

———-

Enjoying our own company, disengaged from external stimulation, is essential to our happiness. If we fail to help our children lean how to be alone, they will always be lonely. It is only when we can be truly comfortable in our own skin that we can attract and sustain healthy relationships.

———-

It is said that we think about sixty thousand thoughts each day. It is also said that about 80 percent of them are negative. And it is believed that about 95 percent of the thoughts we think today are more or less the same ones that we thought yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. This means if we don’t change our habitual way of thinking, we will be drenched in about forty five thousand negative thoughts each and every day.

 

parenting with presence

 

You’re Living With Your Best Teacher
An Excerpt from Parenting with Presence by Susan Stiffelman

In India they’re called householder yogis — women and men with an unshakable commitment to their spiritual path who have decided to have a family rather than to live in a cave or an ashram. They choose to grow and evolve through their experiences at home and in the workplace, embracing the challenges of everyday life as the means to their transformation.

Many of us subscribe to the belief that spiritual growth happens as a result of daily meditation, mindfulness retreats, and inspiration from wise luminaries. But one of the greatest teachers you could ever hope to learn from is living right under your roof, even if (especially if) he or she pushes your buttons or challenges your limitations.

In parenting, things get very real, very fast. Figuring out how to cope when your child spills juice on the new sofa or managing your reactions when your kids tease each other nonstop on the long ride to Grandma’s is the equivalent of an advanced course in personal growth. Do you fall apart, or are you able to stay present, deepening your ability to be with “what is,” responding rather than reacting?

True spirituality doesn’t happen in a cave at the top of a mountain. It’s down here, wiping a runny nose, playing yet another round of Candyland, or rocking a colicky baby at two in the morning. The Buddha is crying in the next room. How you handle that is as evolved and as spiritual as it gets.

What is a teacher?

Many of us are charmed by the image of our sons and daughters as divinely appointed teachers who can help us transform our hearts and souls. But while the idea of seeing our child as one of our teachers has a lyrical, enlightened ring to it, there’s a difference between accepting the idea of something and embracing the reality of it.

Our children may indeed catalyze a love within us that we could not have imagined possible. But they can also elicit powerful elements of our shadow selves, calling forth aspects of our nature, such as impatience and intolerance, that leave us ashamed and overwhelmed.

Maintaining equilibrium is key to living in the moment, but nothing tests our ability to stay centered like parenting. Raising kids can be anything but peaceful, with sibling squabbles, homework meltdowns, and arguments over video games all-too-familiar features of the landscape of family life. It’s easy for soulful principles to collide with the realities of day-to-day life with children underfoot. Even the most seasoned meditator or yogini may find herself shouting, threatening, bribing, or punishing, despite having set intentions to remain loving and calm no matter what.

There is a saying, When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I have long found it to be true that when I am ready to expand my horizons intellectually, psychologically, or spiritually, an opportunity presents itself that seems divinely orchestrated to allow me to stretch, grow, and learn. That said, I don’t always want to stretch, grow, and learn! Instead, I may feel as if I’ve been involuntarily enrolled in a class I had no desire to take!

When it comes to parenting, it seems that although we may not have knowingly signed up for the “course” our children offer, we nonetheless find ourselves forced (“invited?” “given the opportunity?”) to profoundly grow, and grow up. In this respect, I believe our children can become our greatest teachers. While we may not deliberately choose to have a baby so that we can heal wounds from our childhood or become a better version of ourselves, in fact, those opportunities — and thousands more — are birthed right along with our children.

 

Susan Stiffelman, mft is the bestselling author of Parenting with Presence and Parenting without Power Struggles. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a credentialed teacher, and the Huffington Post’s weekly “Parent Coach” advice columnist. She lives in Malibu, California where she is an aspiring banjo player, a determined tap-dancer, and an optimistic gardener. Visit her online at http://www.ParentingwithPresence.com

Excerpted from the book Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids ©2015 by Susan Stiffelman. Printed with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com 

 

Belli Skincare: Safe Even for Moms-to-Be

belli skincare

You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.

But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul’s own doing.

-Marie Stopes

A beautiful soul makes for a beautiful visage… but a good sunblock also helps, right?

My father had a brush with melanoma when I was young. The tumor was small and cut away, and as far as I know that was that. He was always careful to stay covered up in the sun afterwards, which I’m just not capable of doing— I feel smothered in anything but the lightest, barest clothes during the warmer months. So I go with the next best thing: sunscreen.

HOWEVER, sunscreens have been tied to a number of possible health risks, including, ironically, skin cancer. That’s why I’m pretty pleased to have learned about Belli Skincare.

The founders of Belli are a husband and wife team, a medical doctor and a beauty expert. And when they were expecting their first child, they married those two areas of expertise to develop a skincare line with the needs of moms and moms-to-be in mind.

Belli products are teratology screened to avoid ingredients with even remote links to birth defects or miscarriage in published medical studies, and Lactmed screened to avoid any ingredients that could be harmful if passed through breast milk. They’re “Picky with a Purpose.”

  • Allergy tested.
  • Paraben and phthalate free.
  • No artificial dyes or fragrances.
  • OB/GYN & Dermatologist recommended.
  • Ingredients are selected based upon an extensive review of published medical studies.

But how do they work? Belli sent me their Belli Pure Radiance Facial Sunscreen to try, along with their Anti-Blemish Facial Wash. The sunscreen is a broad spectrum, physical barrier— not chemicals whose efficacy depends on causing chemical responses in your skin. It’s a mineral SPF 25 with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, oil-free and lightly tinted for use on most skin types.

I was a little worried about how the tint was going to show on my ethnic skin, but it’s great: evens out without being obvious. I wore it through a CrossFit workout and to a soccer game in the bright sun afterwards, without any eye stinging or raccoon eyes from my sunglasses (I tan easily, so this is a huge concern for me). It’s very light in scent and feel.

Everybody should wear sunscreen, but expecting moms need to be especially vigilant. Heads up: hormonal changes can cause skin to react differently to sun exposure, causing discoloration and uneven skin tone. Up to 70% of expecting moms can develop melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy. Fun, right?

Guess what, pregnancy hormones can also wreak havoc on your skin in other ways. (I never had any acne issues until I was pregnant.) Belli Skincare’s Anti-Blemish Facial Wash is safe for pregnant women and other sensitive skin, and includes:

  • Lactic acid (which is found naturally in the body) for cleansing and exfoliating
  • Lemon peel oil as a natural anti-bacterial and skin brightener
  • Antioxidant rich green tea extract and cucumber
  • NO salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide

I am soooooo picky about face cleansers. I have combination skin that’s easily irritated, and I am in love with this stuff. It smells great, a little goes a long way, and my oily face is clean (that’s a big deal after a sweaty CrossFit workout in this humidity) but my skin isn’t tight and my dry patches aren’t dried out, so I don’t feel a need to moisturize (which sets up a cycle of oilness and overcleansing). This facewash is in my top 3 all-time favorites.

Check out Belli products as an awesome present for new moms or moms-to-be, or any mom who really cares about the ingredients in their skincare products. They’re summer must-haves, along with a good book (right now I’m reading Yours Ever, about the art of letter writing and intriguing letter writers throughout history), a pair of good sunglasses (this summer I’m rocking aviators, as a tribute to my dad who always wore them) and a camera to document all those sun-drenched moments.

Remember, your skin is your biggest organ! Treat it well!

For the entire month of May, Belli is celebrating Moms with daily giveaways (entry found at the top of their page) culminating in a Grand Prize sweepstakes and a Facebook contest. You could win items from Belli Skincare or partners Belly Bandit, milkmakers, Preggers, BabyBjorn, For Two Fitness, bebe au lait, Pretty Pushers, Belabumbum, Kitchen Curry Master, Pregnancy & Newborn, Happy Family, Guava Family, Posh Play, Timi & Leslie, Psi Bands, B Natal, Cake Maternity, Kiinde, Green Cupboards, evozbaby, Healthy Mama, Ovuline, bodyafterbaby, Three Lollies, Green Toys, ecomom, mommy water, snuza and 9 months.

And on the last day of May, you can register for the Grand Prize: a prize from every single sponsor brand, valued at more than $1,500! How fantastic of a baby shower gift would that be?

Throughout the month, you can also compete for a matching Grand Prize package by entering a special contest on Belli’s Facebook page. Post a comment or upload a photo or video of mom; the post with the most likes receives the same Grand Prize of 29 gifts as the sweepstakes winner.

The giveaways are open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. No purchase is necessary to win. Limit 1 entry per day per person.

 

How was your skin while pregnant (and the months following)?

Are you good about wearing your sunscreen?