Saturday, July 23, 2016
It is one of my favorite Holidays....okay, let's be honest...ALL Holidays are my favorite....but, Fall and Halloween certainly rank right up there!
I get very excited about picking out the merchandise that I am going to carry in our gift shops. I know all of you do, too. It is, without question, one of the most anticipated times of the year, at Sweet Memories!
I have so many ideas....so many things that I want to do....displays that I want to set up...but, frankly, there isn't enough time.
My husband and I go to the shop early (very!!!) on the Monday that I deem "roll-it-all-over-to-the -next-Holiday" Monday and work for, about, 14 hours. We move furniture, clean, "base decorate" (like lighting and, in the case of Halloween, spider webs....Christmas would be snow...etc.) then start to unpack all of the goodies that have been coming in for months. I have big plans and lots of vision....until we hit hour number 10 (or earlier!!) and my energy level hits the floor. I never, actually, make it all I want it to be.
I hear....constantly....that we have the best displays and the most wonderful, unique, merchandise (and....thank you for that!!!! ☺️) but, lately especially, I feel a little like a fraud when you say it. I KNOW what I WANTED those displays to look like....and I, also, know that, while I love the merchandise that I am picking out, I want to offer more.
Now....none of this is new. It has been a "problem" for quite a while. Actually....there are a bunch of problems all rolled into one. I have been searching for solutions. I have had many, many conversations with myself and the only answer is adding more hours to the day! Since that is not, actually, doable....I started kicking this new idea around!
We are going to create a "Marketplace".
Here....I will give you the "official" tag line:
"Black Cats And Candycorn Marketplace"
A Gathering of Vintage, and New, Fall and Halloween Treasures
We are going to have our "Open House" on September 8, 9, 10 & 11. After that...the Marketplace hours (and ONLY the upstairs Marketplace....this in NO WAY changes the hours of operation in the restaurant or bakery!!!!!!!!) will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the middle of October. (I will give these dates many, many, many times...)
Basically....this solution does, in fact, add hours to my day. Instead of trying to do everything in one day....I will have weeks. And...since I won't have to worry about keeping the upstairs full everyday...all year long....I can be even "pickier" about what we carry! And....since the day to day operations, up there, won't occupy my every waking moment...I will have some time to make stuff!!! I will, also, have time to "hunt" for vintage treasures!!!! My husband will, also, have time to make stuff! And....we can actually HAVE an open house!! With all that that entails!!! Can you tell that I am excited??
Circle those dates on your calendar....right now....while you are thinking about it!! I know this is a pretty big change....but it will be amazing!
Monday, July 18, 2016
I told you that changes were coming....now I would like to tell you what that means!
We are going back to our roots....more or less. So....what am I talking about?
When we first bought our farmhouse....it needed a lot of work. A LOT! There is no better way to learn than by doing! Sure....you have to know when a project is out of your "ability zone" (heaters, big electrical projects, big plumbing projects....) but...if you just make up your mind that you are going to tackle something...you learn all kinds of things!!
You have a mountain to climb....start climbing!!
Not only have we learned all kinds of skills...we have learned that we have all kinds of "talents". I have presented more than one idea for a project....and my husband has delivered exactly what I wanted! He has become quite a woodworker! I think if you had told him that would be the case, when he was just a young lad, he would have laughed at you!! But necessity is a great motivator!
It is what motivated me to start what would, eventually, become Sweet Memories. I did custom baking so that I could be a full time Mom. It worked beautifully! One year I even got it in my head that I would have a "pop up" Christmas show right in our home! We cleared out all of the furniture and made EVERYTHING ourselves...by hand! Ornaments and decorations...wood, fabric, salt dough....it took us months and months to have enough "inventory"! Now....you need to understand that this happened WAY before it was such a thing. We are talking like 25 years ago!! It was an incredible amount of work....but it was very well attended and I was thrilled with how successful it was!!
I think you can see that the foundation for our, current, business was in the works....but, especially recently, I have been feeling like we are drifting away from where I would like to be.
I love....LOVE....home, my family, holidays....everything that makes life special (even more so with the world the way it is right now!!) I love to decorate my home and make it a place of comfort and security....and make it exude charm!! I love to look for all of the treasures it takes to make it perfect....and I love the fact that it takes years to gather all of those things! I love all of the memories that have been created...and the "things" that bring those memories back!!
My goal, when I started Sweet Memories, was to create all of that for our customers. We create a special menu for each and every service. Sometimes....we "miss the mark" as far as some are concerned. No....we don't serve breakfast...or have chicken fingers for the kids....but that is intentional. We want to stand out....be special! (Thankfully....99.9 % of you wonderful people not only "get it" but love us for it!! And....let's be honest....you are the ones that matter!)
My goal, for the gift shops, was to give you a fantastic collection of unique and special treasures. For you, your home...to give as gifts...and, while I believe we have been successful, it's just not "good enough" as far as I am concerned! I have had to give quite a bit of my "creative control" away....there just aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with the baking (thank you!! 😊) and do all that I would like to do in the shops! I, also, have become very dependent on "companies" for merchandise. Don't get me wrong....most of the companies I use are based right here in America and their products are awesome....but I want more! I want the shops to exude the same charm that I strive for in my own home....and, in order to get that done, I have to be the one to do it!
So....we will be "closing" the shops at the end of July. No....we are not closing them permanately! We are going to take our time and create the kind of Fall and Halloween experience that I have always wanted to give you! We will have a "big reveal" open house kind of thing....and then, limited, shopping hours for the remainder of the season. Then....we will "close" again....and I am going to create the kind of Christmas experience that I have always wanted to give you! We are going back to our roots. There will be vintage and handmade....one of a kind charm that you will love forever!
Obviously....there is a lot more to this and I will keep you posted!
Just know that we always strive to be the best us we can be....and making you happy is what we do!! This is going to be different.....but AWESOME!! And we are thrilled to have you come along for the ride!
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Personally....I like it.
I change wall colors, furniture placement....I have even changed room purposes once or twice!
I am, practically, "famous" for all of the changes at the shop. I hear "oh...you changed things" all day long!! We change the menu every week..and the offerings in the bakery case can, and often DO, change hourly!!
Changing things keeps them interesting and fresh. And, sometimes, changes are just necessary.
I, recently, changed the color of this hutch. I am not sure I am "done" with it...I may distress it a little. I do love the creamy, buttery yellow...I am living with it. I will "know" what else needs to be done to it...if anything else does.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
It's, actually, not that easy!! I have many more stories to share about my grandmother and the influence she had on me. However....I, also, really wanted to share a little bit of the hard work I have been doing in our "home makeover"!! And, really, it's all connected anyway!!
One of the things that was in the back of my mind when we started all of these projects was finding a place....a really special place....for all of the heirlooms she trusted me with. Me being me....I can't just stick it all somewhere and hope it looks okay. I LOVE to collect things I love...and I love to decorate with them even more!! I make little "stories" with my displays. There is always a lot going on within the display, itself....but they are "contained"....they have "borders"....so my house never feels overwhelming. I know that one of the current trends is minimalist. But not in my house!!
Minimal "things" is equivalent to no personality, as far as I am concerned. One look around our home....and it is very easy to see my personality!! But.....one look just isn't enough!! You will miss some amazing stuff that way!!
There are some collections that are represented in every room. Children's antique gardening tools, for example. I find that they lend themselves to many different stories. They "belong" with my birdhouses....AND my Easter bunnies. Then there are other collections that are grouped together in one area....for example my nursery rhyme collection.....more on that in another blog!!
This picture is in our bedroom. The little teal chair...is LITTLE!! My grandmother had a "thing" for chairs and she gave me a couple small children's chairs. She called them "Sunday School" chairs. That was the beginning. I, now, have more than 10 scattered here and there all over the house!! They hold Santa, bunnies, pumpkins.....and, this particular chair, is holding some very important heirlooms! The picture, on the chair, is of my great-grandmother.....my MomMom's mother. She is holding one of her siblings. The little dish, in front of the picture, was my great great grandmothers!!
I know a lot of families have pieces that were handed down through the generations....but my great grandmother died, from the influenza epidemic, when my MomMom was only three. She....and all of her sisters...grew up in an orphanage. So...the fact that there is ANYTHING is a pretty big deal....and the fact that she gave these important things to me to take care of....well...you can see why I am taking it so seriously!!
There are some other things, mixed into this display, that meant a lot to her....see those little ceramic bunnies?? I painted them for her when I was 6. She took very good care of them....through all of their moves....and, eventually, gave them back to me!!
I decided these things would keep company with my child's hutch and my collection of antique children's bakeware. I love how this looks...and the story it tells!!
I know it's a lot of work to keep up with...and it all needs to be dusted....but I get to look at this, every morning, and smile....and think of her!! It's worth it!!
Like I said....I don't "get" the minimalist thing!!
More to come.....so stay tuned!!!!
Monday, June 20, 2016
But....when we moved down that dirt road in the middle of fields and woods, it was a different story!
The place we were moving from was a small neighborhood in a small town. While there were only a few houses, all of them had kids....and we were all pretty close in age. We did everything together. The small town was close enough (well....not by today's standards but....) that we could walk or ride our bikes. We lived along a really busy road so we had to go "get" the mail at a private school that was, relatively, nearby. I still remember the post office box number and our combination to open it!!
When we moved "up here" (Bucks County is still "down home"!!) it was a whole new ball game! There were neighbors...sort of! One family lived about a mile in one direction....and the rest of them (with kids) were...well...antisocial! All of a sudden I found myself in the position of having to entertain...me!!
One summer...with the help and encouragement of my MomMom...I decided to make a quilt. Yes....a quilt. I have never believed in limitations. Hahaha! Luckily, not only was she "on board" with helping me....so was our elderly but "totally capable of doing "mans work" neighbor", Mrs Snyder! She could work...physically....you know, mowing, stacking wood, riding the tractor...WORK....all day long. But, up in their little attic, she had a quilt frame that was, pretty much, always holding a quilt. Her stitches were so tiny and perfect!! It was amazing!!
Once a quilt is in the frame...you, basically, work on it here and there....when you have a little time! MomMom and I spent quite a bit of time, up in that attic, but....I think Mrs. Snyder logged way more hours than we did! She, actually, logged the hours when she made one! She could tell you...that one
took 203 hours, that one took 198. And, yes, that's how much work goes into one of these pieces of art!!
I fell in love with quilts that Summer (and well into that Winter....again...that IS how long it takes!!) and I still love them!! That's one of the reasons it was SO hard for me to cut into the one I used to redo my rocking chair (see last week's blog!!!) and brings me to my next subject!!
I have been working on pillows!! I, recently, completed all of the ones in this picture. They are all made from old, beautiful quilt pieces....that someone ELSE cut!! It has been really special to work with pieces of the past...pieces that someone else put so much love into creating!! I feel like I have given them a new life and I am super excited to get to do that!! I still have some pieces left from the quilt I used for my chair...so I am going to make some small pillows and sell them at the shop!! I would love for YOU to love them, too!
I will let you know as soon as they are done!!
Have a great Monday...and Happy Summer!!
Monday, June 13, 2016
Actually....I wanted to show you my rocking chair!!! Hahaha....and it, too, comes with a story!!
I have had this chair most of my life! When we were living in my MomMom's "weekend" house....and getting closer to the completion of the one we were building....the yard sale hunting began!! This chair was a yard sale find!
It was "made over" all of those years ago to match my new bedroom...and has been with me ever since!
Not only has it been with me....it has been made over time after time after time....and now....it has been made over again!!
I, unfortunately, was SO excited to get this project started....I totally forgot to take any before pictures!! I will do my best to paint a mental picture for you....
The wicker is in perfect condition. That is saying something....because it usually is not!! The seat
"cushion" comes out....but it is no "regular" seat cushion. It has springs and metal inside and it weighs a TON!! The back is, also, full of springs and stuff to make it more comfortable. But...from years of wear and tear...both of those cushions needed a bit of TLC. This last time...it was a very dark green with a khaki colored check patterned material on the seat and back. But....it has been yellow...and white...and has had many different materials on the cushions. You would think....because I have made it over so many times....that it is an easy job!! Well....it's NOT!!! All of the sewing, on the seat cushion, has to be done by hand....and that beast of a cushion has to be in my lap the whole time!!
I got the idea into my head that I wanted to recover it with an old quilt. Now....this, alone, was a HUGE "thing"!!! I am a quilt lover....LOVER!! I know all about the time and work that goes into them...(more about all of that in another "story"!!) and I just love to look at them!! The creativity and artistry is just amazing!! Now....knowing this....and knowing ME....would I be able to bring myself to "cut" (ahhhhhhh!!!) a quilt apart??? But....I couldn't get the idea out of my head. It's what I wanted!! SO....I spent hours and hours on Etsy and EBay looking for "cutter" quilts. Cutter quilts are quilts with issues...damage that exists (that I had nothing to do with!) that makes it "okay" (????) to cut it apart!! But...at the same time...I needed enough "good" parts to cover the chair!! I finally found "the one" and ordered it!! I loved the colors and the idea that the star burst would be right in the middle of the back.
And then....it arrived! Oh....the hours and hours and hours of work! All of those tiny little pieces of fabric...cut and sewn together...by hand! Those tiny, tiny stitches!!! It was, already, cut. Someone had taken a pretty good strip off of both sides. I can only assume there was damage. My head was saying...it's okay...it's going to be given new life and a place of honor!! My heart, on the other hand, said....just fold it up and love it the way it is!!!
I stripped all of the old fabric off....and painted the wicker this amazing red. And then...the moment of truth. I grabbed my wonderful, made for fabric and fabric alone, scissors....and made my mind focus on the job....and NOT the quilt....and started to cut!! I am SO glad that I did!!!!
I added new padding to the seat....and new filling and webbing to the back. There is new fabric (old-fashioned looking red and white ticking) on the underside of the seat cushion...and the backside of the "back"....because I didn't want to "waste" any of the quilt on parts that you couldn't see. I have enough left to make something....or maybe even several somethings...I will keep you posted!
I am so excited and happy about this make over....and about preserving so many pieces of the past....mine and whoever made this beautiful quilt!
Sweet Memories....for sure!!
Monday, June 6, 2016
Actually, both of my Grandmothers had a real talent for making you feel comfortable, happy, well fed....and at home!! Lessons that would, later, help me establish our business!
There were two houses that had the most influence on me. One was in Ivyland, Bucks County....the other in Zionsville.
The house in Ivyland was a split level on a nice chunk of property. There was a barn...and a horse named "Snowball" that I fell off of...(my cousins fault...and no....I am not a big horse person!!) an in ground swimming pool (which they used...but, eventually filled in!!!?????) a fountain out front and a big screened in "3 season porch" with a barbecue (it shared the chimney with the living room fireplace on the other side of the wall!) and three walls of windows! Many, many, many family gatherings in that room!! I watched her make lemon meringue pie and stew rhubarb in the kitchen....and tried mackerel on toast (which I liked??!!) and pretzels in chocolate ice cream! I spent many a night in the George Washington bedroom (there were pictures, above the bed, of George and Martha) and lots of time in the house!
The house in Zionsville was a "weekend" home. I am not sure it started out that way....but MomMom loved that house!! There were more "improvements" done to that house than they usually did, when they planned to re-sell. A new furnace, a new bathroom, the steps were rebuilt and they built an upstairs porch. There were 18 acres that went along with that house....and a row of peach trees at the top of the hill. It had a small barn...an outhouse, a big bell on a post and the creek ran right along the front of the property. The whole front of the house was an enclosed porch...and this little piece of Pennsylvania Dutch "wisdom" was hanging to the right of the door....so you could see it as you left!!
That house was an even bigger influence on me...and the me that I would become....than the house in Ivyland. I learned to love birds, gardening, antiques, history, quilts....even cats....in Zionsville. (We, actually, lived in that house while our new house was being built.) I watched her make peach jam, bake Christmas cookies and learned that I really liked mustard on ham sandwiches and birch beer!
We had many, many family gatherings in that house, too....and I watched the preparations and work involved in entertaining large groups.....in, relatively, small spaces! Again....some training for the future!! Are you starting to see where Sweet Memories was born!!???
That little piece of Pennsylvania Dutch wisdom is hanging on our walk-in fireplace, in our kitchen.....and it's just the beginning of what I want to share with you! Just like this story is just beginning!!
"come again...if you're here sometime" and stay tuned for the next installment!!