Family

  • The Beauty of Earth

    Wednesday was Earth Day which  has always struck me as a rather panicked holiday, somewhat akin to Apple Watch Delivery Day.  As of 3:03 am Mr. PQ has not received his golden ticket of specific delivery date goodness.  The vixen in me so relishes the possibility of my Apple Watch arriving before his.  I’d likely just leave it unopened on the corner of my desk for several hours and watch his hair fall to the ground in chunks.

    But I digress.  I love the month of April here in Minnesota.  All things nature that slumbered through winter begin to awaken and dress in their summer clothes.  Having been battered by six months of blistering cold temperatures, some years without nature’s blanket of snow to protect them, other years oppressed by a concrete like slab of the stuff, I marvel at the tenacity of the more  fragile lifeforms that emerge for another growing season.  As a person who spends as much time in the outdoors as I possibly can, I have empathy for urban dwellers who incarcerate themselves inside steel and glass for the majority of their waking hours.  They awaken on April 22nd with an alert on their iPhone 6 reminding them it is Earth Day and a sense of panic sets upon them not unlike that feeling when you wake up the day after your mother’s birthday and realize you forgot to send a card.  “It’s Earth Day, I know it’s important, but I don’t know what to do!”  So they go to the google and find a link to buy a tree to save their Mother.

    For us land dwellers every day is Earth Day.  A celebration of the dynamic tension between the fragile and the formidable, the resilient and the restive.  We love the earth for it’s diversity and it’s splendor, for the stories that it writes across it’s sky and for the beauty it brings to our daily lives.  And of course this passion drives us in the design of products we bring to you.  The Luxury Pocket Stand for Apple Watch is one such example.  A magnificent celebration of American Cherry, American Walnut and African Mahogany. Now if only the damn Watch would arrive we could move forward with production. #firstworldproblems

    Kari

    Mrs PQ

  • When in Mexico...

    Most folks are familiar with the phrase, “when in Rome do as the Romans do.”  While on this trip to visit our friends and manufacturing partners in Leon Guanojuanto Mexico I learned a new phrase, “a donde fueras,  haz lo que vieres”.  A loose translation of this old spanish saying is, “where you go, do what you see”.  A donde fueras, haz lo que vieres in Leon means eating quesedillas under a makeshift tarpelin tent and paying scant attention to the bubbling pot from which the meat is pulled, (I’m not certain but I think I saw an eye wink at me).  Most delicious street food I’ve encountered, and a Mr. PQ favorite.  He wants me to make this comida at home, but I’m reasonably certain this feat can’t be replicated in the United States, because it’s not just the ingredients.  It’s the hot desert air and the cool shade of the tarp, it’s the seasoning of a griddle that’s achieved by thousands of quesadillas passing over it and being cleaned exclusively by a quick scrape.  It’s rumble of diesel trucks passing through the manufacturing district and banter of uniformed children walking home for a mid day meal, which happens to occur around 2, a phenomenon, to which I could grow accustomed.  An hour break in the afternoon to slow down, eat, rest, breathe, then you reconvene for dinner around 8.  I explained to Alvaro, our designer of leather iPhone wallet cases, we eat supper around 5:30 or 6.  He was mystified how we could go 12 hours sin comida (without eating).  I’ve never given it a second thought but I’d guess the practice evolved from farming life where supper, bedding down and rising up were all characterized by “early”.  Alvaro and Mr. PQ have been busy with iWatch accessory designs and we think you will enjoy what we are doing with Italian design, luxury leather and regional hardwoods.

    Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Apple Watch… it’s going to be big and I’m nervous as heck with anticipation of trying to understand and use the thing.

    A donde fueras… When in Iowa, do as the Iowans do.  This would include consumption of corn and tater tot hot dish.  It would also include working with Jason who is taking the concept of bumper case for iPhone to a resplendently natural level with beautifully crafted hardwood. Those details will be emerging soon!

    When at Old Mexico do as the Old Mexicans do, but we covered that in the first paragraph.  What we can’t wait to uncover is what Alex has been up to in designing a new line of leather and wax canvas bags, backpacks and accessories, can’t divulge too much more but suffice to say it will be a 'Triumph' of bag goodness.

    When in St. Paul… you stop in at the greasy, hole-the-wall, rail car diner, Chris and Rob’s and have hot dogs that are stadium good, to die for, dogs.  No one should watch how sausage is made, but it is pretty fascinating to watch our bookbindery staff craft our moleskin journal iPad, iPhone and Macbook Air cases.  Tom and Mr. PQ are designing a fairly well indestructible case that will release later this year as well.

    Now I'm off to ask Mr PQ what the over/under is that I will be unable to figure out my Apple Watch in the first week of having in on my wrist.

    Mrs PQ

    Kari

  • Dickens, Whiskey and friends

    An old proverbial saying admonishes “do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly”.   I’m guessing ole King Solomon with all his wisdom, did not intend for that to apply to an evening out with Dennis.  Dennis is a rare gem of a man whose townhouse is a veritable reliquary of theatrical and literary lore.  Included among his bookshelves are first editions of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, and original correspondence between members of the Pickwick Club.  A Dickens aficionado, Dennis brought A Christmas Carol to theatres across the country and was thereby invited to an audience at Buckingham Palace to meet Her Majesty the Queen of England.  Additionally, he is a close, personal friend to Cedric Charles Dickens, the great, grandson to the great, literary giant.  Crazy, the people you acquaint with over curry and conversation in an inconsequential cove in the middle of pretty much nowhere.  Pressing into hour three of a four-hour dinner, Dennis pulled our Anna Kendrick look a like waitress aside and whispered in her ear.  Moments later, she appeared with four tumblers of 18 and 20 year old McClellan Scotch Whiskey and a glass of room temperature water.  Distributing the tumblers amongst the table, he broke into the following narrative:

    Several years ago, while savoring a post-production nightcap with Cedric Dickens, who had availed himself for a personal appearance to the audience of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Cedric broke out in critique.  “When it comes to drinking whiskey, you yanks have it all wrong, pouring it over ice or dumping cold water into it, allow me to show you how it is properly done.”

    I’m typing in a refined British accent now, so follow along…

    First, you hold glass to the light, observe the amber and caramel tones, swirl the scotch gently in your glass and relish the beauty of color and hue.  

    Next, raise the glass to your nose and allow the heady bouquet to infiltrate your nostrils, prepping your palate for the fete of taste upon which you are about to embark.

    Now, allow yourself one small sip, a mere aperitif, to acquaint yourself with the character of the blend.  While this spot resonates amongst your taste buds, we shall drop 2-3 drops of room temperature water into the glass and give it a brief whorl. Now, it is time to savor.

    Not being a scotch drinker myself, I was a bit dubitable to the process at first.  However, the artisan in me fully appreciated lingering over the complexity of the ritual.  Whiskeys have an amazing array of colors, textures and bouquets that I’d never paused to appreciate.  With that first sip, I was nonplussed; yes this is what scotch tastes like and why I don’t gravitate towards it as a beverage of choice.  However, my mind was veritably blown away upon the second sip as layer upon layer of flavor and character unfolded in my mouth; this from one room-temperature drop of water?  I came to understand a new concept in spirits that evening.  Dare I say, the spirit of whisky past: a suitable mixer for Coke.  The spirit of whiskey present: a beverage Mr. PQ enjoys with a fine cigar by the fire.  The spirit of whiskey future:  when placed in the proper context, when presented in the manner which centuries old tradition demands, when seen through the eyes of the craftsman, Whiskey can be a wholly beautiful thing.

    I look forward to many more meals with Dennis and his lovely wife Anne, and attending the plays he is currently producing:  the outrageously funny Triple Espresso, the wonderfully quirky That Wonder Boy and the debut of To Begin With based on Charles Dickens, “The Life of Our Lord”

    I trust you will be tempted to imbibe in one of the many whiskey leather offerings available in the Pad and Quill online holiday store.

    Kari

     

  • He's a Lumbersexual

    I found myself out of town essentially every weekend in September and October largely due to travel with the high school coed mountain bike team and travel to Superior Hiking Trail Association trail clearing weekends.  I'd return Sunday evenings, worn but refreshed from days spent in the fall sunshine, trampling through the woods to cheer or chop, Sherpa or shovel, replete with stories of new acquaintances made and old friendships rekindled.

    At first, Mr PQ held down the home front with the usual grace he affords my little weekend outings, generally teachings the boys to be manly men with hot wing challenges and late night video game duals. But, by about the third week of September, I noticed a subtle change. At first it was things, like a shipment of pine scented beard oil landing on our front door step from CanYouHandleBar. What? He said it was a market research product from a company with which we are loosely affiliated. Then, a parcel from Duluth Trading Company arrived holding a snuggle worthy flannel shirt. No complaints here, but Mr PQ is generally more a Banana Republic guy. Weekend after weekend passed and a subtle suspicion began to creep into the back of my mind. More parcels from Duluth Trading, more beard-care products. Mr PQ whistling off to work, his Red Wing leather boots tromping off into the frost covered world, most assuredly up to something. Twenty five years of faithfulness and respect toward our marriage had me assured that it wasn't another woman, but clearly something was going on in the recesses of that man's brain.

    Whoever said "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" forgot to mention that it also makes the "id" go crazy. I was beginning to fear that with no Mrs PQ around during the non-work weekend hours Mr PQ was slipping into a plaid shirt induced psychosis. It was time for a confrontation. I awoke Sunday morning, a fire crackling in the stove, Mr PQ pipe in hand, reading on the sofa, ultimately confirming my worse fears. It was the matching plaid shirt on top of another plaid shirt that gave him away.

    What screamed through my mind came out as a mere whisper of accusation.

    You...Your're a, a LUMBERSEXUAL??!?!

    IMG_0042

    (I wrote that in all caps and exclamation points for the benefit of my FB and texting friends who presume that this is the only method for conveying emotional angst and vigor)

    But back to Mr PQ. Yes, the man has turned into a complete Lumbersexual. Including his own Instagram account he just started.  If you don't believe me, read some of the rules he's devised, and try to dispute the facts. Here are a few of his new 'Rules of a Lumbersexual'.

    1. You oil the beard, never moisturize the face.

    2. Flannel is not merely acceptable, it's expected

    3. The only time plaid is not worn is when wearing a suit, tie and cafe racer motorcycle #gentlemansride

    4. Metrosexuals build clothing collections, Lumbersexuals build wood dressers...for their ladies.

    5. Wearing flannel is great, but flannel on flannel is exceptional.

     

    Personally, I don't mind, I've always liked a man who could swing a big axe.

    Mrs PQ

    Kari

  • The wait is worth it.

    There are days when writing a blog post are easy, and then there are days you wake up wanting to spend the day in baggy sweats listening to John Denver on Spotify and crying because all your children are leaving home and Mr. PQ told you last night’s roast was a little dry.  You’d be dry too if you’d spent two days cooking in a crockpot.  Whoever is squelching the patent on the cure for PMS should really spend eternity in Dante’s fourth ring of hell.  Seriously, if we can engineer a smart phone that slides the screen content up and down with a subtle tap on the home button, (Yea iPhone 6, my fun size fingers thank you!) I’d think we could come up with a countermeasure aimed at reducing the monthly pseudo psychosis and histrionics of half the world’s population.

    I’m not holding my breath, because while the aforementioned iPhone doesn’t bend, it does consistently send out random voice texts to people on my contact list.  Mr. PQ would suggest this might be due to the fact that I’ve stuffed 17 credit cards and ID’s into my Luxury Pocketbook, so it bulges like an African hippopotamus, and I seemingly forget to reengage the auto-lock after streaming a favorite radio program, so my iPhone is always “on”, ready to text. I disagree, and today, since I am working from the home office, wearing baggy sweats and listening to John Denver music, Mr. PQ knows I am right.

    I don’t mean to incite fits of jealousy in all of you awaiting delivery of your new Bella Fino, Luxury Pocket Book or Little Pocket Book (which is a serious misnomer, there is nothing little about iPhone 6 plus) but as a product tester, I am now on my third PQ iPhone 6 case.    Let me assure you, I’ve stuffed them, dropped them,sat on them and shoved them into the strap of my sports bra while I worked out; these beautiful works of  art are impervious to the rigors of an active life.  Our craftsmen and women are working tenaciously; so let the two-week countdown begin!

    Kari

  • iPhone 6 and a birthday

    Mr. PQ begins the slide down the backside of 40 this week and he has the dubious distinction of sharing a birthday with either Labor Day (yea, party) or the first day of school (birthday, what birthday?)  This year he has a few days of buffer between the first day of school and the Great Unveiling of ’14. In case you missed the announcement announcing the announcement of the official announcement, Apple is releasing a new something they won’t say. It’s an iPhone.

     

    So, in addition to thinking about school supplies and Tandoori Chicken (birthday dinner; why do I insist on making things I have no business replicating?) I am awash in iPhone 6 anticipation.  Will it organize my wardrobe?  I was told baggy sweats are not appropriate attire for our weekly staff meeting. (Even when said staff meeting is held on a surprisingly cold and rainy day and I foolishly wore uniform shorts to meet my morning training clients, and baggy sweats were the only warm thing I had in my car and it’s cold in our warehouse.).  Will it tell me if I drank enough water?  Will iPhone 6 know I drank 4 cups of coffee to offset the all-nighter I pulled, meticulously labeling school supplies, packing vegan-organic-bpa free-gluten free-nut free-taste free meals for the Quills?  (Ok, I admit, I got sucked into season 3 of Breaking Bad and they had Cheetos and pbj for lunch).  But we come from a simpler time when school supplies were limited to 4 Pee Chee All Sport Portfolios (quick: name the 3 sports depicted on the back cover? (No googling allowed) Three #2 pencils and a handful of spiral notebooks that even space age technology couldn’t prevent from unraveling.  Today, the supply list includes a stylus, an iCloud account and a Pad & Quill iPad case (we recommend the Contega self-propping case or if you have a kid with an artistic bent, the Graduate Edition for iPad which includes a marvelously blank canvas for your budding artist to personalize.)  Pad & Quill cases can be wonderfully theft deterring as we’ve learned over the years, because for better or worse, the thug who would knock a 10 year old to the ground to steal his iPad 3 is not likely to mug said kid for his diary.

     

    But back to iPhone 6.  As an allied health professional, I am keenly interested in the biometric data that may and might one day be available from the new iPhone and iWatch.  From a small business owner standpoint, the iPhone 6 offers a wonderfully blank canvas on which to create a whole new line of covers and cases.  So, sweats notwithstanding, we are seriously excited to introduce what our craftsmen have been up to in anticipation of this amazing new technology.

     

    So, I’ve packed up my sleeping bag and thermos of coffee, ready to plop myself down on the chewing gum riddled sidewalk alongside our fellow Apple geeks, to await the Great Release.  Happy queuing everyone and Happy Birthday to Mr. PQ!

  • Sexy should not be in your resume

    We are currently hiring to fill various positions in the Pad & Quill workshops.  After reviewing a few hundred e-applications I have the following advice to offer young applicants:

    Dear Job Applicants,

    Please refrain from sending me cover emails that begin with "yo, I'd like this job", or "Hey, call me about this position" etc. Please create an email for yourself that includes your first and last name and not your social media "handle" or email such as "mr.sexypants.mpls@seriously?.com" and please, for the love of god, consult with a resume writer so that you don't include lines such as, "I was a line cook and stuff like that" under employment history.

    Regards,

    Mrs. PQ

    If your professional correspondence contains the word “sexy” in any capacity, you are probably not a candidate to purchase our new Valet Luxury Sleeve for MacBook.

    If you believe Zumbaz and your favorite 80’s concert t-shirt is perfectly acceptable attire for “casual Friday”, there’s a chance you will not fully appreciate the supple, full grain leather of the Oxford Luxury Case for iPad Air.

    If you still own and readily admit that you possess a “snakeskin” jacket, the hand-hammered copper rivets on our new Attache leather bag might be lost on you.

    If Boonehill wine is still your go to on a date night, there’s a chance you won’t be impressed by our parachute grade thread that stitches our Valet Luxury Sleeve together.

    Having blown past your 25th high school reunion, you might be impressed that our Attache, Oxford, and Valet luxury leather, executive collection will be with you at your 50th reunion; we know we are  (long live the Oxford Comma).

    Mrs. PQ

    Kari

  • Important things

    I popped into my “other” job at the YMCA Tuesday, only to be met by a coworker informing me that “Crazy” Patrick had died.  While his demise is sad, sadder still in my mind is that he died alone in his house only to be discovered by his sister, his body already beginning to seep into the threads of a battered easy chair.  I suppose Patrick suffered the euphemism “crazy” attached to his name because he was quite possibly the only person I know who owned a different monochromatic outfit for every day of the week.  From headband down to matching sneakers it might be a blue day or a red day for Patrick, as he’d corner you into a conversation littered with adventurous tales which, when strung together, wove a story to rival that of Forrest Gump.

     

    Waiting eagerly for iPhone 6 to release, Mr. PQ and I have traveled to the north shore to work on a new project aimed at introducing a notable piece of the north woods to our product line.  Anyone who believes American manufacturing has gone the way of the clam shell phone, only need travel the side roads and byways where you’ll discover the heart of the country in the small businesses where employees cut, stitch and rivet each product by hand.  Our new bags for your Macbook, Air and other tech gadgets are going to be phenomenal!

     

    It’s essential for us to tour our vendor’s factories, meet the people and understand each craftsman's process.  The sheer volume of this factory lead me to think that heavy mechanization was being utilized, so it was rather mesmerizing to to hear the cacophony of sewing machines, the ring of hand hammered rivets and the rasping of shears as each piece is individually cut by hand. The integrity of the entire bag is ensured by the passion of each craftsman.  Guaranteed for life.

     

    Even when life takes a precarious turn.  Nothing underscored the vibe of these past days quite like the story relayed to us as we chatted with customer service.  A bag had been returned for repair to a zipper.  The CS rep noted a small hole in the bag and called the customer to ask whether he’d like the hole repaired as well.  The hole was created by a bullet, in Iraq.  The hole stayed.

     

    Nothing like the resonant brush of death to create a little sober thinking.   Nothing is certain, so I  value the ability to influence the adjectives attached to my name, hopeful that my actions evoke trust, integrity, passion, love.  Guaranteed for life.

    Kari

    Mrs PQ

  • Baby shipping

    Sometimes I find when I’ve retold a story a number of times, I lose the writing narrative of that story and it can take change of venue or thought process for it to return.  So, while I was fully prepared to regale our customers with wonderful adventures of the oldest kid and I in the vast wilderness boundary between the United States and Canada, I’m stuck.  Mr. PQ and I are heading back up north this weekend to cheer on Grandma’s Marathon participants, so perhaps by returning to the scene of the crime, I’ll get my mojo back.

    I desperately need my mojo back, we are busy preparing for the release of iPhone 6 and I am having the damnedest time stringing my thoughts together.  Perhaps I just need the World Cup #ibelievethatwewillwinit to conclude.

    Here’s how I know I’m losing my mind:  Brian texted the other day to inform me that a major online magazine wants to feature our packaging in an article.  I had to think for awhile about why on earth someone thinks Fedex and USPS mailing envelopes are interesting.  Then it hit me, “Oh, he means the brown parcel paper and wax stamps we wrap each iPhone and iPad case in prior to shipping”.   Yes, this would be the packaging we spent a lion’s share of 2013 designing.  Good lord, how do I forget these things?

    Then I was busy adding some items into our accounting inventory, among which were the nifty little Japanese mini pens we include with every Odyssey Wallet.  A rather handy and completely gorgeous wallet to take on your travels, the pen being our subtle amuse-bouche to the full entree of detail we impart to each product design.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of this wallet.  So, I dialed up Pad & Quill on my phone, hit the home page and found Odyssey, the name I was seeking.  The full context of this being, I’m the one tasked with contriving names that will amply convey the emotive feel and functionality of each bag, case or book we design.  I think I’ll blame alien abduction for this one.

    However, I did notice on our mobile site that wallets are not included in the scroll view, and that seems an oversight on our part.   If I don’t even know that wallets we carry, how do we expect the average shopper to discover them?  Proof that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.  Even a squirrel suffering from premenopausal disorder, or alien derangement syndrome.

    That’s how I’d also explain this nifty little piece of history as well. Baby shipping. My apologies in advance if you open your mailbox to find a little baby quill wrapped in parcel paper?!

    Uniformed_Letter_Carrier_with_Child_in_Mailbag Baby shipping used to be a thing?!!

    Kari

    Mrs PQ

  • I'm what you might call, 'In-Doorsy'

    So Mrs PQ just took are eldest daughter and headed off into the wilderness of the Great Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. Canoes and tents are the only items allowed in this area as all motorized vehicles, boats ect. are banned. Truly a ‘leave it as you found it’ vast preserve.

    Mrs. PQ hinted to our differences in her last post and I’ll offer another one right here.  When it comes to the great outdoors, I’m what comedian Jim Gaffigan might say, ‘In-doorsy’.  Never really understood why you take all the indoor stuff and bring it outdoors under nylon material that’s about as thin as my columbia shorts.

    Anyhow she’s been gone for about 4 days and that means one thing: To the dread of the other 3 quills, I’m the official meal planner. I’m actually fairly mean with a good frypan, organic eggs, spinach and some cheddar cheese.  My achilles heal might be around dinner time though. So let’s see what we did the last 4 days.

    Sunday night -Five Guys Burgers

    Monday night - Frozen Pizzas

    Tuesday night - Spaghetti (Due to the fact the rice cooker actually blew up, another story)

    Wednesday night - Store bought rotisserie chicken and instant mashed potatoes.

    The good news is I did manage to buy lots of salad supplies and pushed it on the kiddos without too much complaint.

    Back to camping. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind camping occasionally and I really love getting out in the natural forests.  Wether that be the redwoods north of San Francisco or local parks in Minneapolis.  I visit them and then retreat to what I call ‘protected domiciles’.  Another way to put it, somewhere with AC and a soft bed.

    My appreciation for the beauty of the woods extends to the beauty of lumber. As a former painter, I loved finishing gorgeous exotic wood species. The depth of the shimmer in these finished materials always provided a spectacular opportunity to worship.  So imagine my excitement when I get to do this again for iPhones and eventually other products at Pad & Quill. This week we introduced the Timer Case for iPhone 5/5S, a beautiful choice of either Cherry or Walnut Veneer that adheres to the back and/or front of the iPhone. Laser cut and then hand rubbed with preservative oil right here in our workshop in Minneapolis. A wonderful addition to our other wood iPhone cases and something Kari and I truly appreciate together!

    Brian

    Mr PQ

     

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