Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Honest Scrap Award

A few weeks back (about 2 or so), Bellissima over at Bellissimasblog blessed me with the Honest Scrap Award and I've been a bit slow to act on it, so tonight is the night!

First off, I'd like to thank Bellissima for honoring me in this way with this great award. You can read her post and check out her blog here.

As with all such awards, there are some requirements and responsibilities involved in accepting the Honest Scrap Award.

1) The Honoree must thank the person who gave them the award and list their blog and link to it.

2) The Honoree must then list ten (10) honest statements about themselves. Here are my revelations:
1) I'm addicted to anything that combines the flavors of peanut butter and chocolate.
2) I still miss my Mom on a daily basis, even after 14 years. (She was my best friend.)
3) If I could be a superhero, I'd be torn between Wonder Woman and Xena, Warrior Princess.
4) I love to cook for crowds but have trouble fixing a meal for just two.
5) Though I'm very artistic and creative, I cannot make a fancy cake.
6) I love to take long road trips.
7) I'm not sure what my natural hair color is these days.
8) I like to read murder mystery lite type books more than serious literary works.
9) I secretly watched The Housewives of New Jersey. (So much for the "secret" aspect!)
10) I still think James Garner is sexy - even if he is really old!!

3) The Honoree must put a copy of The Honest Scrap logo on their blog. (Please check out my sidebar! )

4) The Honoree must then select at least 7 other worthy bloggers to pass The Honest Scrap Award on to and list their links. Here are my choices:
Carole at Art Plus
Holly at hollyrocksjewelry
Yasmin at Yaslani Etc...
Tommye at I'd Rather Be Stitching
Natalie at Tins & Treasures
The Clay Muse at The Clay Muse

(If I haven't included you in this list and you'd like to participate, please jump in there and do so. Just let me know so I can provide a link to your blog, too. )

5) The Honoree must then notify the selected bloggers of the award and advise them of the acceptance requirements.

Congratulations to all of The Honest Scrap Award winners! Thank you all for providing such interesting posts and eye-catching photos and such. You are a talented bunch and have brought much joy and entertainment to your readers. I can't wait to learn those truths about each of you.

I hope all of you, Dear Readers, will also take time to visit their blogs and get to know them, too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thunder In The Valley 2009

Wow!! I slipped away for a few days and did absolutely no promotional work and came home to several sales!! What a great weekend!!

Seriously, I again missed a few posts over the weekend. (This is getting to be a habit!) I’ll try to do better next weekend. (Then again, we’ve got lots planned for the holiday so, maybe not.)

Well, Friday afternoon we headed West into the Allegheny Mountains to Johnstown, PA for Thunder in the Valley 2009. In just twelve years of existence, Thunder has become one of the largest annual motorcycle rallies East of the Mississippi. For these few days each year, the population of Johnstown more than doubles with the arrival of upwards of 250,000 bikers (not to mention those of us driving in on 4 wheels!) While the event is centered in downtown Johnstown, activities have spread out to a number of locations in the general region to include events in Richland Township, Windber and Ebensburg.

Although the main thrust of the rally is Friday through Sunday, you could pretty much do something continuously from mid-day Wednesday through 5 p.m. on Sunday. There is an array of free music performances at a number of locations all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday and in the afternoon and evening on Wednesday and Thursday. (Fifty-three bands/musical acts are listed among the official events and even more play at various clubs around town as part of their regular weekend fare. Many of those performing on the sanctioned stages perform multiple times throughout the weekend.) Numerous runs, charity rides and such take place throughout the weekend. Professional wrestling matches, stunt rider performances, vendor displays, specialty parties, etc. take place in addition to three parades. The Hot Nights/Cool Lights Night Parade on Thursday evening features all makes and models of bikes but they must be decorated with LED and/or after-market lights to participate. On Saturday, there is a Children’s parade and the Grand Thunder Parade featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales, marching groups, celebrities and custom motorcycles.

This year’s attendance has not been fully tallied but it is believed they set a record. I can attest to the fact that it was extremely crowded in town. Food and souvenir vendors sold more merchandise than ever before despite this rocky economy. Other vendors of biker paraphernalia also reported fantastic sales as did local businesses. Thunder in the Valley 2009 was another great success!!! This was our third year attending this event and we plan to return again next year.

I hope you all had a great weekend, too. (If not, maybe you should plan to come to Thunder next year!!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Decisions. Decisions. - Cleaning or Crafting ?

Decisions... Decisions...
So many choices!!!

Cleaning .... or Painting.... I just can't decide!!!

All right!! Let's get real. Of course, I want to paint. BUT...

I’m trying to get an early productive start today. My “ToDo” list seems quite long (maybe ‘cuz I didn’t accomplish a lot yesterday)! I figure it would be a good start to get my posting done and published early. (Actually, it’s preferable to starting the day vacuuming.)

I didn’t get the pictures taken for posting my new merchandise to the shop yesterday. So, of course, it got added to today’s list. I have a deadline for readying the guest room. Our boarder returns today for an indefinite stay. He’s been with us several times before and I do enjoy having him around. He’s a naturally cheerful person and tends to keep the mood light. I’m planning a nice dinner for his first evening and actually did begin the preps yesterday but ran out of some ingredients and need to finish it up this morning. I’ve got a pile of ironing to do before day is done, also. The list goes on… and on…and on.

IF I have time left over, I want to get some painting and some promo items done today, too. (What are the odds on that happening?)

Hopefully, you get a chance to get out there and be creative today!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday

Rain!?!? Again!!!!

So that big outdoor show you’re registered for, you know, the one that happens “rain or shine,” is this weekend and there is this huge blob on the weather map known as “the stationary system.” It’s definitely not an “if” concerning the rain but more of a “how much?” If only you made boats (human size) or umbrellas, you might be in good shape. So, what can you do about it?

Okay, I admit the first reaction: CRY might make you feel a little better but it won’t help the situation any. Besides, it doesn’t seem like you need more waterworks anyway.

Bear in mind, some people DO go out in the rain and they DO shop. We have actually conducted some decent transactions in the rain. One event in the Baltimore area that seemed to be plagued with heavy rain every year for at least a decade was the 3-day Hopkins Spring Fling held by Johns Hopkins University in April (traditionally a fairly wet month). One day was almost always close to a total rainout but folks trudged through it and expected to see and buy some nice crafts. There are two annual events held ocean-front in Ocean City, Maryland where horrible weather also always seems to attack for at least one of the 4 days of the event. (The Fall show has been on the fringes of an approaching hurricane several times!) There, the crafters are in large tents but the shoppers flock to them in the heavy rain by the thousands. People DO shop in the rain!! Believe me, in the 30+ years of craft shows I’ve been involved in, there are numerous monsoon stories to tell!

You need to immediately assess your booth display to see what needs to be done to make it weather worthy. (Hopefully, you have considered this issue when originally planning your displays.)

If you have a canopy or tent, be sure you have your sidewalls ready. Do you carry extra “tools” for dealing with pooling water on the top of the tent. Many folks use things like hula hoops, those foam tubes for the pool, or other items to lift and dump the puddles. Whatever your approach be sure they’re handy. In most cases, rain goes hand-in-hand with the rain. Determine what weights you will need in case of serious wind and be sure they’re packed.

For those who still do not use tents/canopies, have you figured out how to drape your display with clear plastic drop cloths? I say “clear plastic” as you want your merchandise to be visible and those large blue or green tarps will simply hide everything. They’re okay for a quick passing shower but if you are dealing with an all-day rain system, you need to figure a way for folks to see what you’ve got. ***An important consideration is also whether you can get the merchandise out from under that cover without soaking everything on the table so a potential customer can see and handle the item or to complete the sale.

I have seen successful non-canopied booth displays survive the rain but those sellers took some serious time considering how to deal with the weather. Many had some sort of frame work rigged to accommodate plastic drapes or used very large patio umbrellas. Some, who have some tall hanging walls or racks, manage to drape clear plastic over those racks and the display tables much like a child’s tent.

Are you using a large patio-style umbrella for your protection from the weather? How are you securing it (again, think “wind”)? Remember, you need to consider how you will complete the sales transaction under the umbrella. Think through the wrapping/bagging process, the transaction area (money box, credit card, etc. )

If you can’t complete sales transactions while it is raining, you may as well throw a heavy blue tarp over it all and go have a potty break or dinner or something.

If your display includes low areas close to the ground, perhaps this is the time to figure out where else to set those pieces. For that matter, you will need to work out a system for the storage area you normally have under your table as you won’t want to sit boxes and such on the ground. For, in addition to rain and wind, these days usually also involve MUD!! Lots of mud!!!

When do we pull the plug?
None of us wants to simply write off any show fee but there comes a time when we need to consider admitting defeat. This moment of reality comes differently for each of us depending on what we sell. You need to determine at what point your damages may far outweigh any benefits you might face.

As my merchandise is all fabric, this moment may come more quickly for me. My items can’t be wiped clean as with pottery or even jewelry. They also absorb the dampness very quickly and become limp and droopy. There is no practical way to show each item in plastic bags and they are difficult to show to a customer in a heavy downpour. Mud splash is the kiss of death. (Yes, they can be laundered but I have had many a situation where the mud and whatever else splashed just never came out.) All of my products are tagged with large (4”x6” tags that contain important care instructions. Printed on card stock, these tags can also become quite limp in extremely damp air and I worry about damp ink smearing and damaging the garment. Once damp, the tag must be replaced as they will never look crisp again. I also face the need to be sure all of my merchandise is dry between shows. Even one slightly damp item folded in with others in a box for a week or more can ruin an entire case of merchandise with mildew or even just a musty smell. This means all items must be taken out and hung to dry after a wet day at a show.

I have lost numerous fees along the way because the damage potential simply outweighed the potential sales.

If you decide to leave a show due to weather conditions or decide to simply not show up at all. You should contact the organizer afterwards and explain your reasoning and ask to be kept on the list for next year. (If this is a show you do wish to try again.) It is not their fault the weather did not cooperate and, after all, it was billed as a rain or shine event. Many will not hold this against you if you explain you could simply not afford the potential damages. (If for any reason, you ever do not show up for a show, you should do this. No show exhibitors hurt all involved in the show. Things do happen - illness, accident, unexpected travel, etc. but the organizers are entitled to the courtesy of a call or note.)

For those of us along the East Coast, this has been a very wet season. (The soggiest May in our weather history and June is well on its way to the same distinction!) There has been considerable rain EVERY weekend and, in our area, tons of mud involved which hinders those events held on grass and those where customers need to park in fields. We can only hope for sunnier days ahead to dry us out and get our show season back on track.

****Hey!! Did you notice the cute little rain pendants I've used as illustrations? They're available from an adorable Etsy shop called Rain Cloud Studio! You can click on the picture and get details about that item or stop in and see their entire shop. ****

Good luck all!! (If you know any special sunshine dance, it couldn’t hurt to try a few steps!)

***Display Note: I came across this Stella and Hodge blog yesterday that has some great step-by-step instructions showing how to create a necklace bust for tabletop necklace displays using heavy cardboard. It really turns out nicely. If you are still trying to come up with some reasonable displays for your jewelry, you might want to take a look!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just another Tuesday.

Here's another sneak peek at one of my new summer creations that will go into the shop tomorrow. I'm still working on naming this watermelon design. I haven't taken the shop photos yet so it's somewhat hard to see the true color here. The onesie is actually a pale green. I may also be adding another of the summer designs later in the week.

I had a huge amount of production planned for this week but you know what they say about the best laid plans. We'll be away for the weekend and I need to get our travel stuff together as well as make preps for the person who will be here at the house while we're gone. (You know, meals and such.)

It's been "one of those days" today, though. Nothing catastrophic, but a lot of mini-problems.

I meant to get up fairly early as I had a long "To Do" list. Turns out, I slept later than usual. So much for that early start. As usual, I sat down to check my e-mails and such. The computer simply didn't want to cooperate. I had trouble using IE-7 so I switched over to Firefox for access. Firefox worked at first then suddenly stopped. It took me a good while of fiddling with things before realizing the wireless connection was a little loose at the back of the computer.

Once I got it up and running smoothly, I started Twittering. I made so many typos there it looked like I was illiterate!! (There is no edit button for Twitter!) I took a break from that to draft today's blog. Since I normally don't manage to get my post done until late evening, I was really proud of myself. It was done by 11 a.m.!! Then, just as I reached for the "publish" button, it dawned on me that I had just written a Working the Shows Wednesday post on Tuesday!! Caught it just in the knick of time and kept it as a draft for tomorrow. So, here I sit, late at night, working on Tuesday's post, again. At least I can post early tomorrow!

I gave up on the computer and moved on to housework which went smoother. We have our former boarder returning this week and I need to get his room ready by Thursday. When nobody's living in there, I keep my business records, paints and blank garments in there as well as a lot of other things that really need permanent homes. My "to be ironed" pile sits on that bed most of the time. Guess I need to do the ironing tomorrow!!

As the day progressed, things were going a bit better. Housework went okay but I didn't get as much done as planned. Dinner, however, went great! We had steamed snow crab legs and fried scallops. The legs had great flavor and the scallops turned out beautifully. I finally had a sense of accomplishment for the day!

I figured I'd quit while I was ahead and simply sat back and did some competitive sodokus with The Big Guy all evening. It was fun and relaxing and I even held my own on the competition front!

Tomorrow's another day!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Daddy's Chocolate Icebox Cake

It dawned on me yesterday that I haven't shared a recipe in ages!! (At one point, I intended to make that a weekly feature.) After telling you about my Dad last night, I thought I'd share one of his favorite desserts. (No, it doesn't contain peanut butter!)


This is a great summer recipe as there's no oven involved!

This was one of the first things I learned to make as a child since it involves no real cooking and makes for a great kid’s project. I was always led to believe it was Daddy’s favorite. Since I had never seen this served anywhere other than at my Gran’s or at our house, I assumed it was invented by Mom or Gran. Until two years ago when I was looking at a cookbook put out by the D.C. Blues Society and actually found a version had been submitted by Ann Rabson, one of my favorite performers. She’s definitely not a member of the family and not from this area so maybe it wasn’t a family original !!!

*** This has to be refrigerated for several hours before serving, so plan ahead !

1 box Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1 container of Cool Whip or real whipped cream
A large tray or cookie sheet that will sit flat in the refrigerator.

*Holding a wafer in one hand, spread the whipped cream and put a layer on one side of the wafer. In deciding how much to use, remember you want to use enough to have an eighth to a quarter-inch layer between the wafers, plus enough at the end to cover the whole thing. Place a new wafer on the iced side of the last one and ice the other side. Sit this “wafer sandwich” flat on the tray and work on that surface from then on. Repeat icing wafers and stacking them next to the previous wafer, until you run out of wafers. It will sort of resemble a train.

*Cover the entire train of wafers with the whipped cream just as if you were icing a long, rectangular cake. You can sprinkle the top with chocolate or colored jimmies or add a maraschino cherry or two for decoration.

*Cover the cake and put it into the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. (The cookies soften while it chills.)

*To serve, take it out and cut into slices. Gran used to slice this on a diagonal so that each slice had pretty stripes. Mom used to just slice across most times (which is MUCH easier!)

This is VERY sweet, so small slices work best !

*** Ann Rabson’s version differed in that she calls hers a Crawling King Caterpillar and arranges it with a curve or two, like a caterpillar. She grates a little bitter chocolate over it and adds walnuts to the finished product.

Not long after discovering Ann's version, I also heard of someone else again making a similar dessert! A Martha Stewart Show viewer sent photos of a Radiator Cake from the ‘50s. They made it with whipped cream and graham crackers instead of chocolate wafers. As a variation, they suggested adding chocolate syrup to the whipped cream! An audience member stated the Radiator Cake she recalled from childhood was made with chocolate pudding between the crackers and iced in whipped cream.

I did a little research and found that Nabisco actually printed the original recipe on the cookie wrapper in the 1930s. I have also found pictures of the same idea made in a round cake pan, stacking the cookies with layers of whipped cream between them and drizzling the top with chocolate syrup. Pictures of that version can be found here along with a variety of other variations, including mixing a little Bailey's Irish Creme into the whipped cream for an adult flavor!

And to think, all these years, I believed this was a family original !

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Memories of Dad

I played with the idea of just what to write on this Father's Day. My Dad passed away almost 34 years ago but the memories (and lessons learned) are still very real. In the end, I simply decided to reprint something I wrote about my memories of him a while back. I published a family cookbook that featured essays and comments by various family members about those who are no longer with us, calling that chapter "Our Family Legacy." Because it was a cookbook, we geared those comments and memories to food related themes. My Dad always loved a good meal and thoroughly enjoyed all sorts of food. I have edited this essay and eliminated the pictures to protect the privacy of the rest of the family but I hope you will enjoy the tales and will take time to think about your special experiences with your Dads and Grandfathers. Be sure to wish them a Happy Father's Day. They deserve it.

Reprinted from Cooking With Family:

Like many men of his generation, Dad was never known for his cooking. For the most part, I’d simply say, he DIDN”T cook. He always made sure we were fed if Mom wasn’t around - but he usually didn’t cook it.

When I was little, Mom was involved several days a month helping to prepare church dinners and the monthly dinners for the Kiwanis Club that met at our church. Before she returned to working full time, she would spend the better part of the day at church on those preparations. When she had gone back to work at the school (practically next door to the church), she would head over there on those days as soon as she got off work to help get the meal ready. She would then be there to help serve and return home in the early evening. On those days, it was Dad’s responsibility to see that my brother and I were fed. (I don’t remember my sister being at the house at that time. I guess she was either already married or out working by then.)

I now believe it was done mostly for my entertainment, but I remember him sitting at the kitchen table looking around the room where he had, literally, opened all of the cupboard doors and pretending to search out the appropriate pot, pan and/or dishes needed for an elaborate meal like boiled hotdogs and beans or frozen fries. (Mom had left a simple plan for him.) He’d make a big production out of that meal preparation. OR…, more often than not, dinner turned into take-out pizza or subs. (In those days, these were very special treats.) Sometimes, he’d simply take us out to eat at a restaurant.

When I was growing up, we always owned a boat that was kept at the marina where there was a clubhouse and bar. Mom used to make Dad take me along when he was going to the boat under the theory of how much trouble could he get into with a little kid tagging along. It didn’t always work as well as she’d hoped but he did make sure I was fed.

I can remember Dad and my Godfather sitting me up on the back end of the bar there and providing me with a nice fruit platter. (Oh wait, that was the cocktail garnish tray!) Well, aren’t orange slices and maraschino cherries fruit?

When I was a young teen, I’d often spend the weekend on the boat with Dad. It was basically a floating hotel tied to the pier. Mom would frequently choose to stay home with my grandmother who lived with us or tend to other matters on the home front. The galley on the boat was usually fairly well stocked with things like peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise, Spam, chips, etc. We’d usually carry bread, lunchmeat and such with us. Dad made sure I was fed - but not necessarily from the on-board stock. The clubhouse at the marina had one of those (then) “new-fangled” microwave ovens and prepackaged refrigerated sandwiches and individual pizzas. These fascinated Dad and he considered them appropriate for any meal. See, he DID cook in his own way!

Dad was big on late night snacks. We’d run out to get pizza just before the pizza shop closed at night. (Back then, it was probably 9 p.m. - you know, just before they rolled the sidewalks up.) (At that point in time, we’d never even imagined home delivery of pizzas!)

He got on one jag when he decided Chef Boy-R-Dee boxed pizza mixes were tasty. It is one of the few things I do remember him making himself. I think Mom thought it better to simply steer clear while “the Chef” was at work and hose the kitchen down later! Luckily, that phase passed. It took me thirty years to grow out of wanting a late night snack!

Among many other lessons, Dad taught me to have fun, enjoy a good restaurant and the company of friends, and - instilled in me, a deep, deep love of peanut butter.

Mom said peanut butter flowed in our blood. I’m sure if they ever did a DNA assessment, Skippy or Peter Pan might show up! Peanut butter was Dad’s answer to everything. It was appropriate for any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner (and snacks). You can put it on most anything. If all else fails, just eat it by the spoonful! I remember Dad finishing dinner before the rest of us and asking what was for dessert. Often it was fruit or brownies. He’d shrug and just go with a PB&J (usually grape jelly but apple would do in a pinch). If there was an interesting dessert, he might just fill in with half a PB&J while waiting for the rest of us to finish the meal.

We ate many a late night peanut butter sandwich. Sometimes, he got creative and made “chocolate peanut butter”. If the jar was real low, he was known to add a bit of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and stir it together. This went well on bread, graham crackers and even plain saltines. He encouraged Mom to make grilled ham and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch sometimes. And then there was the ultimate - the peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich! White bread, peanut butter and chocolate chips! (Believe it or not, I did finally find someone else - not related to us - who ate these as a child. Of course, they did grow up on the same river where we kept our boat so Dad may have had some influence over them, too!)

Thank you for indulging me, Dear Readers. If my Dad were here today, he'd be about to turn 89 and I'm sure he'd still be eating peanut butter every which way he could !

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Busy, busy, busy - Fun, fun, fun!!!

As usual, we had another full weekend planned. As seems to have become the norm for me (at least in the last few weeks) the camera was home on the charging station, again!

Friday, we did our regular routine of picnicing (I may have just made up that word!) in the park before the free concert of the week. It was an absolute picture perfect evening. Of course, I didn't have my camera! The Big Guy suggested I use the pics from all the other picnics in this park. So, I did cheat. Here are a few shots from last September. (Notice the leaves on the grass.) He's right. It looks the same (minus the leaves).

The park sits above a marina located where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay. It is so beautiful and relaxing sitting up on that hill. A huge crowd turned out on this splendid evening and the band, The Mojo Daddies, showed their appreciation by playing at least an additional half hour beyond the normal end time.

On Saturday, we set off for an outdoor event in weather that can best be described as monsoon-like. We had checked the radar and it looked like there was a less than 50% chance of clearing between several lines of thunderstorms. We took our chances. (Nobody ever called us "brilliant!") We did plan ahead and take the minivan that we have actually off-roaded in before (Not a suggested use if you ask Ford and I never said that was pre-planned either.)

Okay, so we printed out the Mapquest directions and set off for Harrisburg, PA. Several times in that 2 hour trip we thought about turning around and calling it all off. But that was only when it was pouring so hard you couldn't see the road lines. We were heading off to something called "The Lost, Found and Dearly Departed." We weren't totally sure what we were getting into and we weren't sure the weather was going to let us find out.

It was a huge party featuring six bands - one from Baltimore, one from Chicago and several from the Greater Harrisburg area. There was an admission charge that also covered an all-you-can-eat spread of unbelievable proportions and awesome flavor. Beverages were on a BYOB basis. We are so glad we went. It was FANTASTIC!!

Turns out the field where we parked was passable despite inches of rain in the last day or two and there was a large pavilion to house the bands, food and all of us party-goers. There were a few heavy downpours throughout the day with sunny spots in between, lots of mud, lots of fun and laughter.

This shindig was begun in 2003 by a guy who had experienced the sudden losses of his father and several friends in a very short period of time. Those losses brought home the realization of how fragile life is and the need to touch base and keep track of those we love. He organized a reunion of his old gang (the Lost and the Found) and they honored those who were no longer with them (the Dearly Departed). They made an annual event of it and it has grown into it's present state. What a party!! It began at noon and was scheduled to roll on till 11 p.m. We scooted out about 8:15 as we had a long drive home ahead of us.

We've already noted our calendar for next year.

***One irony is the name of the location they used. (Background info: I come from a Post Office family. Both retired and current employees in the family have held all positions from carrier right up to regional postmaster for the Baltimore area. We tell postal jokes in this family and "going postal" is a term we often use.) I did get a kick out of the grounds being the "Postal Employees Gun Club." Does this mean they practice before going postal these days?

We had a plan for today but, after such a long day yesterday (and a lot of muddy parking areas) we switched gears this morning and went to the casino for a few hours, did a little shopping at the Farmer's Market, had pizza for dinner and were home by 6 for The Big Guy's weekly pinochle game this evening.

Kind of makes you glad to have Monday, and a chance to relax, roll around!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In my mind it's still Friday night!!

You guessed it, I stayed too long at the park listening to music again! So, just some eye candy for you - an array of the onesies I have available in the shop at this time. Want more details about any of them, just click on the pic. Please, tell your friends about them!!!

I promise to get back to you and tell you about the music later!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More bits and pieces...

New in the Shop:

Okay, I promised a pic of one of my newest creations. Check out this red, white and blue sailor-style onesie for your patriotic babes! I think it would be absolutely great for the 4th of July picnic!!

It is now available in my shop.

By the way, there are even stars on the backside, too!!

And now, for the Bits'n'Pieces from the worldwide news that have caught my eye lately:

Chocolate covered bacon?!?!?

I couldn’t believe my eyes! I thought I’d tried dipping everything possible in chocolate but this was a new concept to me. But I am salivating at the idea of that crisp, salty bacon dipped in rich dark chocolate -- yummy!!! (At least I think it will be.) Want to check it out? Visit Luca Chocolate's site and check out their box set of chocolate bacon items that includes bacon caramels and bourbon and black pepper truffles along with the dipped bacon.


I’m all for the safety and love of pets but I do believe PETA has gone way too far in their complaints about President Obama killing that pesky fly. At first, I thought the new story was simply a spoof but they really are outraged that he took that’s fly’s life so lightly! Come on now, flies are one of the biggest carriers of disease and bacteria and, to the best of my knowledge, are more a health hazard than a help of any sort. In case they’re looking for more battles, I also kill ants and roaches. (Oh, and I eat meat, too!)


While we’re on the subject of ridiculous, can you believe that young girl who “woke up” with too many stars tattooed to her face? Get real!! I don’t have any tats, but I have stuck myself with literally thousands of needles in my many years of sewing. There is no way, she could have slept through that procedure unless she was totally drugged - like almost to a comatose state!!! I believe it was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time and didn’t come out the way she pictured it in her mind. I actually feel sorry for the tattoo artist that’s getting all the blame. He had a reputable business and I doubt he would have risked it for this particular bit of publicity.


And then there’s the guy who has been dressing as a woman to impersonate his dead mother for six years, just to cash her Social Security checks!!

Who needs to read novels for entertainment? Just pick up a newspaper!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday

Wow! I really need to go to a good craft show or two to browse soon. I’ve always enjoyed the craft sections of various food and music festivals as well as community street fairs, but so far this season, it’s been pretty slim pickin’s at those events.


This past Saturday, I did not expect a huge selection of crafts as we were attending a music event at a fairly small venue and the crafts were simply supplementary. The audience was limited (no more than 1500 paid attendees) and the same people would be spending the entire day at the event. In past years, there were only 6-8 crafters but they were usually of decent quality and, while they didn’t set the world on fire, they did make some money. From the participants’ point of view, the space fee was very reasonable, they were set up inside a building which was open on one end for high visibility, located right in the center of the event and, an added plus, the beer stand was also located in the corner of that building creating fairly heavy traffic in and out all day, right up to closing. (This is an annual family-oriented event, with security and rowdy drunks are not a factor.)

I was surprised to find only one “craft” display this year and, to be honest, I question whether the product was actually handcrafted. This was an extremely large display of tie-dyed shirts, dresses, scarves and do-rags. Also in the craft area was an Avon display and a booth promoting the services of a local bank. The “crafter” did sell quite a bit as he was the only game in town and folks do go there expecting to buy something.


On Sunday, we attended a food and music festival which advertised an arts and crafts section. Well, there was an aisle for those booths but, again, I had trouble locating true crafts. There were six jewelry booths but only two featured actual handmade merchandise. The others were commercially made buy/sell items. There was also a small display of wooden boxes and trays. Accompanying those sellers were a booth featuring hats of all types, a make your own sand art stand, a local newspaper subscription promotion, one Pampered Chef exhibit and someone selling incense of all shapes and sizes as well as small brass and bamboo trinkets (obviously commercially made.) At the end of that aisle was a large booth where the sponsors were offering children’s activities and make and take crafts for the little ones. I did, however, see a few clever display methods. (More on those later.)

A few jewelry rants:

There seems to be a huge amount of commercially made, buy/sell jewelry being exhibited at “craft” shows lately. They’re even turning up at some of the nicer juried shows. When I noticed this and felt it was somewhat blatant at a show run by a promoter that I’ve known for quite some time and respected for the excellent shows she has delivered over the years, I asked her why she was allowing these sellers at her shows.

This promoter stated it was her belief that allowing them to display their “nice” buy/sell merchandise in an attractive manner (Their booth display was eye-catching and well done.) was better than having empty spaces. She felt customers would balk at paying for admission to a craft show that was not full but would not object to the presence of these exhibitors. She actually indicated she did not feel the average customer would notice. Because they were comparatively priced with those who were creating their own merchandise, it was her belief, their participation would not hurt the true jeweler’s sales. She claims her true crafters have not objected.

I, as a customer, do object to their presence at a craft show and I told her this. I would actually rather see a smaller show than see the same merchandise I can find at my local K-Mart and such. I also pointed out that, if she is doing this at all of her shows, it may be why she is unable to fill the space she has allotted for jewelry with actual crafters.

I also find it hard to believe the true jewelers involved do not object. I believe they are simply remaining quiet as the shows are generally well advertised and attended and sales are healthy (even this year). It’s time these folks, both sellers and customers, voiced their objections. Make a point of complaining to the show organizers, committees, sponsors and/or directors about the presence of buy/sell. If these groups still want to allow these vendors to take part in the event, let’s not call it a “craft show“. Simply refer to it as a “market” or a “fair.”

My second jewelry complaint concerns the proliferation of “jewelers” who are simply stringing beads together to form a single strand necklace or bracelet and filling an entire booth with this sort of production. Some have actually learned the art of attaching a clasp to the string but there are a number of sellers simply using elastic cording and tying it off, similar to the second-graders’ Mother’s Day project! Technically, these pieces are handmade and, since they chose the type and color of the beads to put in whatever order, I suppose you could stretch that into claiming they “designed” it, too. Again, as a shopper I am very disappointed when I come across these booths.

What’s really sad to say, is that all of these vendors are selling and making a profit at craft shows!

An interesting display method -

I recently saw an interesting jewelry display using birdcages of all things! Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me. This lady had a six foot table display with a black tablecloth. She had created several display levels using boxes covered in the same cloth and situated three large, different shaped birdcages, all painted black, around the table on these varying heights. She had draped some plain, green silk ivy vines around the table surface and over the cages. There were some short pieces of 1“-2” thick tree branches also set about the tabletop. At both ends of the table stood a single large free-standing birdcage (the type that stands on a pole-type base). Again, both were painted black. She had her earrings mounted on bright pink cards and hung those cards on the two high birdcages and on one of the smaller tabletop cages. Her necklaces and bracelets were draped over various parts of the tabletop cages. She had propped a few short tree limbs inside the cages on the table and had some items draped over those branches, too. Some bracelets and necklaces were simply laying on the table cloth or draped on the ivy and pieces of tree branches. There was a large plush parrot in various shades of pink perched on top of one of the tall cages. The parrot is what caught my eye from a distance and drew me over to the display from across the room. This was one attractive display and made you really want to find something to buy from the booth.

The earring cards measured 2 ½“x 3” and simply featured the business name in black letters in the lower left corner. The price was handwritten on the back of the card and contact information was stamped there also. Matching pink business cards were attached to the necklaces and bracelets with prices written on the back.

***The only drawbacks to this display I could see was the fact that the birdcages take up a lot of transport room requiring a fairly large vehicle and the time it must have taken to unpack and pack the jewelry as the display pieces could not simply be packed complete with jewelry.


I have some other displays to tell you about, but they'll have to wait for another Wednesday when I again Work the Shows with and for you.

In the meantime, go out there and sell some crafts!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steering folks to your business...

Okay, so for most of us that are out there selling our handmade products, sales are down. Even if you don’t frequent places like the Etsy forums, Twitter or Facebook, you probably know that based on personal experience. If you’ve had a great selling season and don‘t feel this post will apply to you, “Congratulations!” Now, please tell us what you are doing to make those sales?

We’ve all heard the economy is down, money is tight, folks are not buying the “extras.” BUT, and that’s a big “but“, folks still do need things for everyday living. They still give birthday gifts, wedding gifts, shower gifts, graduation gifts, etc. Their children are still outgrowing their old clothes and toys and need new ones. I haven’t noticed any ladies give up wearing earrings, necklaces or rings because the economy is “tight.” The problem simply seems to be steering
these folks to our businesses.

So, what are you doing about that?

If you frequent the Etsy forums, you’ve heard tons of whining about the almost nonexistent views or the very limited time an item appears at the front of new listings. The fact remains, there are millions of online shoppers who have never heard of Etsy and can’t take a look unless they realize it’s there. The bad economy has actually created a huge number of new sellers on Etsy as folks look for a reasonable means of supplementing their family incomes. Etsy remains one of the least expensive means of selling your work.

This translates into, literally, thousands more listings on a daily basis. Traffic is heavy and items zoom along the new listings pages at an unbelievable pace. I recently watched one of my own new listings appear almost instantaneously on the first page and found it on page 17, less than 9 minutes later!! There is no easy solution to that. If there were a specific viewing time period on that first page for each item, new views would be running days, if not weeks, behind. As it is, folks complain if it takes 15 minutes or so for their new listing to appear.

Whether you have an independent website, an Etsy account, are on 1000 Markets, Artfire, or any of the other hundred or so craft marketing sites, you need to get your customers to the site, in general, and to your personal shop where they can eagerly hand over their cash to you.

You need to step away from that site itself and venture into new sites, meet new friends and tell them about your business and what you’re selling. Invite them in to take a look. Be sure they know where to find you.

If you are not using Twitter, Facebook, My Space, and other social networks, you may actually be hindering your own sales. If you are using those social networking sites, please use them responsibly. They are called “social” and not marketing for a reason.

Don’t jam your business down everyone’s throats 24 hours a day! I, personally, have blocked a number of so called “friends” or “followers” who did nothing but push their product. Many were using automatic posting devices to spam the networks every so many minutes.

We’ve all had acquaintances in the real world that drove us nuts because every sentence they said was a statement promoting themselves. They didn’t want to waste time finding out how your family was, how your day had gone or what you were up to. Haven’t you also dealt with “friends” who began selling products like Tupperware, Amway, Avon, etc. (Don’t get me wrong, these companies all offer excellent products!) and we purposely tried to duck them on regular basis as we didn’t want a sales pitch? Wasn’t the sole purpose behind the Government’s Do Not Call List to stop unsolicited sales pitches?

A rule I follow myself, is that less than 20% of my posts on any of those sites can be business or product related. Know what? Even limiting the self-promotion angle, they are helping get people to my business. BUT, another big “but”, I’m not just counting on my computer to get me customers.

Here's what I'm doing about it:

I’m also doing offline promoting. I’m handing out bookmarks, business cards, free gifts, participating in charity auctions, swag bag opportunities, posting fliers and brochures and working the conversation around to mentioning my business at some point when we are in crowds. (The latter has been coming up naturally lately. Make sure you hang with a few friends who love to rave over your work.)

I have many sales that do not go through my Etsy shop as I do various craft shows, parties and other personal sales. My friends are aware of my ability to customize gifts specifically to their needs and they come to me with such requests.

Again, I'm asking, what are YOU doing about the situation?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday - another fresh start !

It's Monday and the dawning of a new week. (Okay, I admit dawn was about 18 hours ago.) In any case, it's again time for a fresh start.

Last week was a busy one and there were a few big issues to be dealt with in my life, but, I survived in a fairly undamaged state. All is not resolved but I have wrapped my mind around those issues and have begun to accept them. I keep reminding myself to be "flexible."

In addition to the flexibility I discussed earlier in the week, I'm also playing around with a new concept - "aggressive happiness." I discovered the term in a light hearted novel I'm reading (The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee). One of the more intriguing characters claims to live his life with "aggressive happiness" as his lifestyle. That stuck in my mind and I began rolling it around in my head, trying to define exactly what I think aggressive happiness really would be and how it could apply to my life. It's a thought in progress at the moment. I'll keep you posted as it develops.
Incidentally, the book makes for a great summer read. It's a fun, bouncy and hysterical tale, told through short to-the-point chapters about the shallow, appearance is everything, lifestyle of a "perfect" socialite in a cute little fictional town on the outskirts of San Antonio. She sees herself as the essence of propriety and the backbone of the prestigious Junior League. Her world is flipped upside down by a cheating husband and the unthinkable "improper" feelings and urges she finds within herself when she meets a new acquaintance from the wrong side of town. Check it out - The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee.

I did actually get some painting done today (between chapters) and I hope to show you some new merchandise later in the week.

Well, that's all for tonight. I'm off to pursue some aggressive happiness by trying to finish the book before bed!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another busy weekend!

Well, I’ve been working on that old “flexibility” again this weekend! On the downside, I didn’t get to post either Friday or Saturday. The good news? I was enjoying my weekend and wasn’t able to find the time. This week, I was able to simply shrug and say, “Oh. well.” (Actually, my shoulders are getting a little tired from all that shrugging.)

Friday was a very busy day culminating with the first free concert in the park of the season. It was beautiful sitting on the hill overlooking the water. I had intended to take some great pics to share with you but, alas, I left the camera home on the charger. (Flex, gal, flex!) I came home happy and content and promptly fell asleep in my chair! So much for posting that night!

Saturday was a fun day all around. I started out in the afternoon attending a baby shower for a close friend’s daughter. The Big Guy met me there afterwards and we traveled on across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Centreville on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the Bay Music Festival, an annual event held by the Queen Anne’s County Lion’s Club. We missed the first two bands but managed to arrive just as the third group took the stage. Next came the featured entertainer, Bill Kirchen (Think Commander Cody and the Hot Rod Lincoln), a man we’ve seen several times along the way. Bill always gives a great high energy performance and gets the crowd worked up. The last group, a rock band, was still rocking the world when we left shortly after 11 p.m. (We did have a long trip home ahead of us.)

**The camera was still home on the charger! (Flex, again.)

It was after 1 a.m. by the time we got back across the bay, picked my car up and walked into the house. Again, I was happy but way too tired to post and went to bed.

Since we’d paid a sizeable entrance fee on Saturday, I tried to even things out with a freebie today. We chose to go to the Beltway BBQ Showdown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland about an hour and half away in Southern Maryland. There were two good blues bands scheduled. We intended to simply sit back and enjoy and maybe eat a little BBQ. Since we were up late Saturday night we didn’t rush this morning and got a later start than usual.

Now, as many of you know, The Big Guy and I are Certified BBQ judges for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Most (90-95%) of the KCBS contests around the country are Friday-Saturday events. Very few take place on Sunday and most of those are still judged on Saturday with some entertainment happening on the Sunday schedule. I did not sign us up to judge this event as I knew I would not be available on Saturday. Had I read the listing carefully, I would have realized this was a Sunday judging event and registered. (A little background info - Once the awards have been handed out at a competition, the cooking teams can rival the best fire department‘s time in getting packed up and out of there. For the most part, they’re tired, hot and drained and just want to get home at that point.)

We were surprised to see all of the cooking teams still set up when we arrived today. The Big Guy went over and asked a competitor why they were all hanging around and learned this was a Sunday judging. Judging had begun about 15 minutes before we arrived but we walked over to the judge’s tent to say hello and see if they needed any additional help in processing the entries. (Note: If you are not a CBJ, never approach the judging tent during judging. Distractions are not welcome.) For those unfamiliar with the judging process, it takes an amazing number of people to pull these events off and there is often a shortage of help. Turns out they were extremely short-handed and we were greeted with open arms. (Again with the flexibility!!)

The Big Guy quickly slid into a role of accepting and numbering contest entries from competitors and, in his spare moments, helping put together what those of us familiar with the procedure refer to as “the grazing table“.

I was asked to assist a new, inexperienced Table Captain who had been pressed into emergency service due to the lack of help. I also picked up a few other chores here and there during the judging period. Judging is, at a minimum, a 2-hour period of non-stop activity. We spent the next two hours working under the judging tent and then spent a little more time sitting there chatting afterwards. We did have a good day and both of us took on some roles there that we had never done before in our judging experiences.

**Oh, I did remember the camera today but didn't take any pictures!

So, I’m sorry I fell off on the postings, but, all in all, I’ve had a great weekend. How was your weekend?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"People IS strange!!!" and other quirky observations!

When I was a young teen, I worked part-time in a little Mom and Pop gift and novelty shop located in an old-style Main Street type shopping district. We sold “classy” items such as gaudy, glittery and flashy costume jewelry, scented silk flower arrangements, rhinestone encrusted hair ornaments, lots of fake fur home décor items and, the true hot-sellers: large plaster animals like tigers, elephants and owls! Many of the latter were painted in wild colors never to be seen in the natural jungle or wilderness.

Now, one thing we had going for us was the fact that we were located right next door to a local watering hole that featured a rather popular Happy Hour. Many a man who “stayed too long at the bar” wandered in our doors in search of a peace offering for “the little woman” he knew would be in a bit of a tizz by the time he arrived home. Many of those ladies received a shiny silver or gold Plaster of Paris cougar as a make-up gift. By the way, it was probably 3 feet tall or larger! (I may have discovered why the divorce rates in this country skyrocketed in the late 60s and early 70s!)

My boss, Miss Liz, would turn on the charm to sell these atrocious creatures to the poor unsuspecting drunks. She’d even throw in a free gift bow as they walked out the door lugging the eye-sore. As they moseyed down the street carrying their gift, she’d stand and shake her head and declare, “People IS strange!

Over the years, I’ve expanded that statement, adding, “and strange people do some pretty odd things!” A related axiom also seems to be “Some very strange things often happen to very innocent, unsuspecting folks.

Which brings us to today’s observations, thoughts and comments…

One of those “strange people” apparently resides in or near Columbia, South Carolina. Wednesday night, a number of “witnesses” called 911, reporting they saw a man jump from the I-26 bridge over the Saluda River. All assumed this was a suicide attempt and police, firefighters, paramedics, rescue boats and others swarmed the area. The police finally traced the tags on the vehicle he had left on the road and found the man at home. He had run out of gas and called a friend who picked him up by boat from the river below. After speaking with the police, he did obtain some gas, returned to the vehicle and drove off on his merry way.

Strange situations” do happen to innocent, intelligent Moms:

Surfacing on the internet news sites today was a story about Danielle Smith of Missouri, an average married mother of two, who writes a mommy blog and often posts photos of her family and children and comments on their life in general. Danielle’s blog, like most of ours, is publicly accessible and, until recently, she assumed her average readers were other young mom’s dealing with the adventures of raising children in this world. Danielle also recently established a Facebook account, which, incidentally, is not publicly accessible. Through Facebook, she re-established some old friendships and has been in contact with folks she had not spoken with in years. Photos were exchanged.

One of those friends happens to reside in Prague and while riding down the street recently saw a super-sized version of a photo shared by Danielle with him on Facebook and with the world on her blog. The huge copy of the photo was being used as an advertisement for home food delivery by a small grocery store in his neighborhood. (Remember, he lives in Prague!) he took a photo of the ad which was filling the window of the grocer and sent it to Danielle who was utterly shocked!

When all was said and done, it was established that the grocer had simply lifted the photo from the blog and used it in his ad to show a happy, satisfied family, inferring their grocery delivery service pleased these folks. He had not asked anyone’s permission, neither Danielle’s nor the photographer’s. Perhaps he did it innocently. Perhaps Danielle, an educated, intelligent lady with media experience, was naïve. She definitely was aware that people all over the world might read her blog and see her family’s photos. She was simply surprised that they could, or would, copy and use her personal photos. In this incident, no one was harmed. The grocer has taken steps to stop using the photo. I have no idea whether she intends to pursue any other sort of compensation but Danielle has learned something from the experience. She says she will use a poorer resolution or watermark future photos she publishes on the blog or on any social media.

All of us bloggers need to note that the world does read our rambling thoughts. Most of us want that. We like reaching so many so far away. It is important, however, to be fully aware that what we say or show on these worldwide systems can be used in ways we never intended. There are ways to protect our photos - play with the resolution so that a good copy cannot be taken, use watermarks or use security systems that prevent copies at all. Never reveal personal information that specifically identifies your home address. Many bloggers never refer to their children by their real names to protect their anonymity. Never state on any social media that you and your entire family will be away from home for a specific period of time, it will merely tell the burglars what time period they have to work with.

Think and consider before clicking that publish button.


In a totally unrelated article, it seems a group of people have been petitioning “the powers that be” (I don’t recall the name of the government group - some sort of meteorological organization) to add a new type of cloud to the list of established cloud formations. That particular story was somewhat run-of-the-mill but what caught my eye (and thoughts) was the fact that there is actually a Cloud Appreciation Society. I’ve heard of some pretty frivolous organizations and activities but this piqued my curiosity. The group was founded in the belief that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them. Wow, I’d never given that concept much thought!!

I immediately attempted to check out their website which supposedly was named as “the most weird and wonderful find on the internet for 2005.” I don’t know who gave them that honor as I could not access the site due to heavy user traffic! I may try later, but probably not, I wasn’t that interested.

I know. I know. I am easily distracted and I should have been busy working on my orders and new merchandise. I’ll go do that now.

So, what caught your attention today?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Be a good neighbor.

Okay, so you’ve arrived at a show, found your spot and begun to unload. NOW is the time to start being a good neighbor. Whether the show lasts one day or two, this is your new home for so many hours and the folks on either side of you are your neighbors . They can make and break you, so be nice!

Since space is usually tight when unloading for your show, it is important that you remain aware that you are not the only person trying to get in and get set up at that moment. Time is just as important to your neighbors as it is to you.

If you are unloading for an indoor show, be sure to locate your space before unloading. Try to unload at the entrance closest to your space. As many people will need to unload at that same door, unload all of your display, merchandise and equipment and MOVE your vehicle BEFORE beginning to set your display up. No one wants to park six vehicles deep while you are leisurely opening and covering your tables and your car blocks the unloading zone.

When unloading for an outdoor show, attempt to park in a manner that blocks as little of any driving lane as possible. Try not to park in someone else’s space while unloading. Should they arrive while you are parked in their assigned spot, they have nowhere to unload and will not only lose precious time themselves but will also be blocking yet other sellers from getting to their assigned spots. Again, DUMP and MOVE. Do not take time to set up tables and such before moving your vehicle.

If there is a staggered set up schedule, it is done so to allow the smoothest transition for all. I have done many outdoor shows that had all folks in “Aisle A” enter the show area at a specific time, say 8 a.m. and all the folks in “Aisle B” enter at 8:30. This is done as there is very limited drive through space and this allows all “A” folks to get their cars in and out and then all “B” folks have time to come in. If you are an “A” but don’t need much time, you MUST still arrive at your assigned time. I have seen shows that made those stragglers walk their things in if they arrived late as the set up was staged that way as there would not be room for vehicle traffic once both sides of the street were set up. They’ve probably developed this system over many years of experience and I actually find these are some of the best organized and smoothest flowing shows around.

As you unload, do not stack your boxes, tables, etc. in someone else’s space or block an entire aisle with your things. Do not leave small objects laying in the center of a walkway where someone can fall over it. Do not shout at your help. If your spouse, partner or child is assisting you, speak in normal tones. Do not yell across the 10’ space and do not use vulgar or inappropriate language while setting up. Everyone is working in close quarters. We are all on tight schedules and we all have trials and tribulations while setting up. No one wants to listen to you scream maniacally at your help. It is distracting and obnoxious, not to mention unprofessional.

This is also not the time to stand and chat with your neighbor. It’s okay to say “Hi! I’m so and so, looks like we’ll be neighbors today.” This is not the time to tell them your life story or complain about the traffic this morning or anything else. Everyone is rushing to get their booth set up. The clock is ticking at this point. Chat later during slow times. (Incidentally, they probably have no real interest in your life story or your complaints anyway - even later, unless it gets really slow!!)

Do not expect your neighbor to help you put up your tent or canopy. As I’ve said before, you MUST be able to get your booth set up by yourself or with the help you bring with you. You cannot count on the kindness of strangers. They have their own booths to set up in the same amount of time that you have. They, too, have timed their set up. They have not timed setting up their booth and yours in the given amount of time.

The most common complaint I hear about neighboring crafters is about the crafter who simply doesn’t understand the concept of the size of his or her space. If your space is 10’ x 10’, that is exactly how much room you have. You must be able to contain your booth display, your merchandise and yourself (and kids) in that space. Most shows do not allow buffer zones between spaces. Where your 10’ ends, your neighbor’s 10’ begins.

You must remember to leave access space within your space for you to get in and out. In many instances, you will have booths on either side and at your back. In other words, if you use a 10’ table across the front of your 10’ space, you best be prepared to crawl under if you need to get out! (Again, a bit unprofessional.) Most shows prohibit having any portion of your display protrude into the general walkway. Practice your set up until it fits within the assigned amount of space. Remember, your neighbor has every right to put solid walls up along the sides of their booth. They have no obligation to leave that space open for your convenience.

While most show people do chat with their neighbors, offer to keep an eye on your booth while you make a restroom run and may offer to assist you with that tent, you cannot expect them to do so. You must plan to be self-sufficient. Some shows do provide “booth sitters” who can relieve you for a few moments once or twice during the day. If you will need such assistance, you should discuss this with the show organizer when registering to do the show. Again, I find the “booth sitter” system to be a little iffy and try not to depend too strongly on such an arrangement.

Other complaints include neighbors who play loud boom boxes for their customers’ enjoyment (and their neighbors’ stress). All folks do not enjoy the same music you do. If you insist on playing music in your booth, keep it at a volume only heard within your 10’ of space. The same statements apply to incense and other strong smells. What you find soothing many find offensive and some may even have allergy problems with such strong scents. (Many shows also prohibit any lit object on display such as candles and incense as obvious fire hazards. )If your children are with you, they should be fairly quiet and orderly when sitting with you. They should not be rough housing or running and screaming in close proximity with the booths.

Remember, your craft show booth is a place of business and you should behave accordingly within that space.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I’ve been working on my flexibility this week. Not my physical agility (though that could certainly use some “work“, too) , but mental and emotional flexibility. Lifestyle flexibility goes along with that. My “planning” and scheduling have been challenged for the last few days and I’ve had to accept last minute changes and a few unexpected long-term changes. (I guess missing a blog post now and then goes along with that flexibility.)
I decided that, beginning June 1st, I was going to reclaim my old self - the easy going ready to roll person I used to be. That was a great time to start that, too. Our weekend plans definitely went differently from the original plan and, you know what? It was still a nice, relaxing weekend - nothing exciting, but enjoyable.
Our Monday went quite differently than my original thoughts had indicated. First, we had last minute houseguests coming for the night. Not a big problem. Then, about noon, The Big Guy called home and announced a major decision as to a major change in our way of life. (I’ll discuss that change at a later date.) Ultimately, it should be a good change but there was an element of surprise on my part. It will definitely change our day-to-day lifestyle and will take some adjusting for all involved. I’ve been assimilating that information for the last 36 hours or so. (I’ve reminded myself about that flexibility thing a number of times .)

Today, our plans were designed around a fun day for the two of us. We made these plans mid-week last week and had a fairly good idea as to how the day would go. Rain was not a part of that formula - lots of rain, to be exact. We flexed a bit, watched the weather and decided to give it a go as it looked like it would be clearing in a few hours. (A decision we made at 6:30 a.m.) The few hours turned into more like 6-7 hours but we rolled with it. Let’s just say, our arrival on any New Jersey beach this Spring has not been met with sunshine!! All of the pictures here today were taken on the Atlantic City boardwalk in front of Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino after it stopped raining. We flexed (a lot) today and had a good time anyway

Hope y’all had a good one, too.

**Don’t forget Working the Shows Wednesday tomorrow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The weekend that wasn't.

Well, it's been a somewhat relaxing weekend. We really didn't do much. We did have big plans but you know what they say about well laid plans.

Friday we had tough choices to make. There were three local free outdoor concerts in the evening and one, featuring one of our favorite bands, for only a few bucks. Well, it started out a rainy morning. They kept predicting it would stop "late in the day." That must be a relative term. In this case, it didn't stop until about 5 a.m. Saturday. So, about 5 p.m. we did make a decision. We threw a pizza in the oven and stayed put.

Saturday also had a number of choices as there were quite a few events happening within a reasonable distance. We set a few guidelines like we had to have something with solid parking as any fields in the area were definitely saturated and we don't off-road well in our mini van. We also needed to stay fairly close as we had plans for later that evening, so we chose a blues festival in a city park in one of Maryland's Washington, D.C. suburbs. We printed out the performance schedule and directions to the park and headed out. Sixty miles later we got a little lost but eventually found the park. We didn't however, find the festival.

I had gotten the listing off of the State's calendar of events which linked to the festival's website where I had printed out the band schedule and the directions. After riding around the park area for a bit, we carefully examined the paperwork and realized it was a schedule for "Saturday, June 7th." This Saturday was the 6th! There were signs up for an art affair of some kind in the park on Sunday (which did happen to be the 7th.)

I felt terrible about the wasted trip but The Big Guy was a good sport and we simply went to a restaurant in a mall near there for a great lunch. The Big Guy used to participate in craft shows in that mall over 25 years ago and had a favorite menu item there. We were just stunned to realize the place was still there! They even still had that item on the menu and it was as good as he remembered! On the upside, we had time to come home and relax before heading out for the evening. I even had time to fix up a tray of goodies to take with us. (Nobody ever complains when you show up with chocolate covered strawberries.) This plan actually went as expected and we had a great get-together for our little gang at a friend's house. The Big Guy worked all day Sunday so my big activity consisted of grocery shopping!

Sometimes we just seem to lead the most exciting life!!

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays... I mean Fridays!!!

It's raining. AGAIN !!!

You know, we live near the water so you can't go more than a block or two around here without seeing a boat or Sea-Doodle or other personal watercraft in someone's yard. This time of year, many folks in these parts just keep their boats in the water instead of trailering them back and forth but, I think, with all the rain this year, they're keeping them in their yards in case they need to float out!!!

From time to time over the years, you come across somebody who is actually building a boat in their yard. I was surprised to see the local Home Depot offering measurement instruments that actually show "cubits" but more shocked when I passed a house with a sign in the front yard looking for "mating pairs of any type of animals" . A neighbor says they're having trouble finding a pair of pandas and have had absolutely no leads on unicorns!

Seriously, I ran out to do some errands earlier today and it was raining so hard I decided to leave a few for another time and turned around and headed home. I decided to stop at Burger King for a take out lunch. (Something I only do every couple of weeks since I am no longer working.) I went swiftly through the drive-through and I headed home with my lunch only to find the low-lying underpass was flooding and I needed to detour. So much for warm fries!!

Later, when the rain let up a bit, I ventured out to Walmart. I have long held the belief that everyone who is certifiably crazy (and those that could be certified) go out for a drive on Fridays. On rainy, yucky Fridays, they take other crazy folks with them as passengers. Of course, to chat with said passengers, those drivers must use their hands and feel rude if they don't look directly at the person they are speaking with. So now, we have dozens of crazy people out there driving without holding the wheel and not looking where they are going and we wonder why traffic seems to crawl on these days!!

Oh, and EVERYONE, crazy or not, decided to shop at Walmart this afternoon! I know, because I saw them there. The first one I came across was trawling the parking lot for a"good" parking space. She reminded me of the woman in the commercial where the guy gets on the elevator and she won't let him push the button for his floor. She was driving up the middle of the aisle and when she would see someone either sitting in a car or walking toward a car, she would hesitate, start to pull to the side to wait for them and then seemed to change her mind and pull back out toward the center, making sure no one could pass her. After all, there might be a space closer to the store and we could get to it before her!

Once I got past her, I found a semi-decent spot in another lane only a short hike from the store. I did, however, have to laugh when the girl who pulled out of that spot before me proceeded to back all the way down the lane (a long way) to avoid driving around the loop to exit the lot. Some folks just have to complicate their lives!

I trotted in, got what I went for and zoomed out through the speed checkout. When I got back to my car, I was stunned to see a bus parked in the space next to mine. Now, we're not talking over-sized van or mini-bus, we're talking a regular size bus like a school bus! Only it was white. If you're thinking, "Wow, they must have big spaces," we don't. In fact, I not only couldn't get my door open to get in, I couldn't even walk between the two vehicles. I really was not in the mood to climb across from the passenger side but I had no choice. This body is a bit too old and decrepit to easily slide over a console and get comfy that way! It was also a little scary backing out with absolutely no sight line. The bus stuck out more than halfway across the aisle. One has to wonder why the driver did not feel this could be a dangerous situation. I was not in a good mood as I pulled out of there.

There I was, in a more than grumpy mood, when I stopped at a light and glanced into the police car next to me. There was this big gruff-looking deputy, happily licking away at what appeared to be an all-day sucker, complete with colorful stripes!! I had to smile. He turned and gave me a grin that could only be likened to that of a happy 3-year-old. Something told me, his rainy day had probably not gone any better than mine but he was making the best of it! I went home with a smile on my face.

When I got home, I was ecstatic to find I had a sale while I was gone! Surprisingly, it was a regular sale not one based on the special I'm running.

Which brings me to the special sale again...

My FREE shorts with the purchase of any onesie sized 12 months or smaller goes on through midnight tonight. There are quite a few to choose from. If you're interested, check out my shop and be sure to include the promo code "RS Sale" in the Message to Seller area when you order.

Rain, Rain, Go Away -- Today, please!!!

Well, our original plan was to go hear some live outdoor music tonight. We actually had four choices of where to go and three were free. This rain has definitely put the damper (pun intended) on that plan! Looks like Plan B might require me to create a dinner here at home. That definitely, wasn't in my plan! They said it should stop late in the day and tomorrow should be beautiful. Well, late must be a relative term.

My concern now, is picking an activity for tomorrow that involves a paved parking lot. I doubt there's a field in the State that should be driven on by anything other than a 4-wheeler or tractor tomorrow!!

Hopefully, y'all have exciting plans for the weekend and good weather flowing your way. Enjoy!!