Archive for September 2014


Sep 24 2014

Sarong Saves Sanity

about sarongs and pareos / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

SG-404-AWho knew a sarong collection could save the sanity of two struggling young single moms? Liz and Melanie had taken different paths after high school, but both found themselves unexpectedly single, each raising two young children.

Liz had gone straight to college, intent on a career and independence. Marrying her college sweetie wasn’t in the plan, nor was having two children in quick succession. But that’s what happened, and when Prince Charming decided that a life of changing diapers was not for him, Liz struggled to find her way.

Melanie, meanwhile, decided to travel the world. She’d work just long enough to earn money for the next lap of her trip, and then be on the road again. Boyfriends came and went. Her focus was on seeing the world.

But in the city of Brescia in northern Italy, she met Agostino, impossibly exotic and attractive. It seemed unbelievably romantic to get married in a tiny old stone church and settle down to raise a family in Italy. But changing diapers wasn’t for Agostino, either, and cultural differences that seemed insignificant before babies were huge after.

Melanie sought refuge with her parents while she regrouped. At a Mommy and Me gathering, she met Liz. Their kids were close in age. They were struggling to be great moms while supporting their children. Liz was the first to say what they were both thinking. “Teaming up and doing this together would be so much easier.” They could each work part-time while the other watched all four kids. They could split the cooking, shopping, cleaning, and driving. They could give each other breaks so that they weren’t “on” constantly.

They could afford a roomy two-bedroom apartment with a tiny yard. It would have to do. It was more important to have time with the kids than to have a big place. Melanie had traveled enough to know that in most countries, there was no expectation that each child have his own room. Four kids in a room was not unusual. “Let’s pretend we’re in an exotic foreign country,” she suggested. And they did.

Western ways were ingrained enough that they all felt the need for a bit of privacy. That’s when Melanie remembered her sarong collection. Traveling through Asia, she had purchased a dozen beautiful sarongs in vibrant colors. These now livened up the stark white walls of their apartment and served as room dividers in both bedrooms. The kids and the adults could claim a bit of space as their own, surrounded by cheerful patterns and colors. “I need a break!” someone would proclaim, and dive behind a sarong to chill out.

“Those sarongs certainly saved our sanity,” Liz and Melanie agree.


Sep 16 2014

SARONG SAVES the RELATIONSHIP

about sarongs and pareos / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

SG-404-BI knew there were many uses for a sarong, but I never thought a sarong could save a relationship. Hearing from Louisiana customer Marina M. made me realize that I’m just beginning to understand the versatility of the sarong.

As Marina tells it, she had recently met the guy of her dreams, Jimmy. He was more laid-back than she, but that was part of his appeal. The relationship progressed so well that Jimmy wanted to introduce Marina to his parents in Los Angeles. Flying out there would have been simple—too simple. They were both captivated by the thought of a long road trip together. So they set out without, in retrospect, very much preparation.

The car had been parked in the sun all morning. Marina hopped in, let out a shriek that could be heard all around the neighborhood, and went leaping out. The seat was painfully hot. Her towel was at the bottom of her duffel bag, but her sarong was easily accessible. She tied the two corners of the short end together and looped them around the headrest. Voila! A seat cover to shield her from the hot leather.

Since it was summer, Marina and Jimmy thought they’d save money by staying at campgrounds. The first morning, a major difference in their styles became evident. Jimmy didn’t mind rolling out of bed and getting on the road again. Marina absolutely had to have a shower before venturing into the world. The campground did boast a shower, but Marina was horrified to find that it was an outdoor shower with no privacy whatsoever. It was used by people wanting to rinse sand off after a day at the river. Jimmy was much amused. Marina was not.

“Whose bright idea…” Marina was beginning to think she and Jimmy were not at all compatible when she suddenly got a bright idea herself. Using a rope tied at one end to a post and at the other to a tree, she draped her sarong along the rope, creating a makeshift shower curtain. “That was the quickest shower I ever took,” she related.

The next night promised to be much better. They were staying with friends of Jimmy’s who had a pleasant little home along their route. Indoor plumbing and a shower curtain were in place. Marina checked.

The problem began after the friends had gone to bed. Marina and Jimmy were to sleep on the sofa. They shared the living room with a beautiful—and very loud—parrot. Not used to company at night, the parrot took the opportunity to converse with its roommates in the living room, which got a lot of light from outside. It promised to be a sleepless night until Jimmy got an idea.

“Where’s your sarong?” he asked. Marina handed it to him silently. She was beginning to think about flying home. He draped it over the parrot’s cage and silence descended. Marina and Jimmy and presumably, the parrot, got a good night’s sleep. Marina recalls, “We were still speaking to each other when we got to L.A. I know it seems simple and even a little silly to say this but I doubt we would have been if not for the sarong.”


Sep 9 2014

SARONG GOES TO SCHOOL

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / Home Decor / uses for sarongs - 3 years ago -

Brown Sunflower Premioum Batik SarongSarongs in the classroom? Only in Bali? Not at all. The last school we shipped sarongs to was in Reston, Virginia.   School had just started and Connie Leontine, a brand-new teacher, was determined to excite and engage her students. The first region in her yearlong Cultures of the World curriculum was Indonesia. She chose it because she was fortunate to have twins from Bali in her class. This was a first, and she seized the opportunity.

The girl, Wayan, and the boy, Kadek, were outgoing and at ease with the other kids. They had lived in different places as they followed their diplomat parents around the world. Their mother had assured Miss Leontine that they proudly owned their cultural heritage and were very comfortable sharing information about it. Something about their demeanor did not invite teasing. It seemed to have the opposite effect. They wore their differences proudly and the other kids were fascinated.

While sarongs are worn in countries across southeast Asia and beyond, they are linked in the public’s mind with Bali. So Connie ordered enough sarongs for each student, hoping the kids would be willing to put them on and join in the Balinese dancing she planned to teach.

Whether due to beginner’s luck, a brilliant introduction, or the kids’ fascination with Wayan and Kadek, it worked. The kids were all over the package of sarongs when it arrived. Connie had been tracking the progress of the package on the class computer, and on the day it was due to arrive, she took the entire class to wait outside the office at the hour UPS normally came.

They practiced a Balinese song they were learning as they waited, and were still singing when the driver walked in. “People are often happy to see me, but I’ve never been serenaded before,” he said with a laugh, as the children jumped up and down with excitement.

Back in the classroom, the kids couldn’t wait to put on the sarongs. Boys and girls alike chose a favorite with minimal bickering and unselfconsciously put it on. They watched a brief video of Balinese dancing and then, with Wayan and Kadek in the lead, started dancing themselves.