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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

a few snowy observations....

How are you making out with all of this white stuff??

An innocent question. Or the beginnings of a firestorm!

If you live where the "blizzard of 2016" hit....you know that is, pretty much, all anyone has been talking about. The interesting thing, though, is that no two conversations are the same.

There are people who are singing the praises of the road crews...people who are angry and frustrated because those very same road crews are not doing a very good job. There are people who are talking about how their neighbors and communities came together and worked...side by side...to clean up their little corner of the world....and there are people who still can't find their cars...or who cleaned out their space only to be plowed right back in again. There are those who took out their snow shovels and did the responsible thing...and cleaned up those sidewalks....and those who still haven't touched them.

So....why so many different takes on the very same storm?

I think one of the explanations lies in our personalities.

I can really only SPEAK for myself......but I can observe others and draw conclusions.

My take....as much as we all would like to believe that we have a handle on the weather....we do not. You can check on what the weather experts are saying 24/7 via all kinds of avenues...TV, computer, phone....but, the bottom line, just because "they" are telling you something doesn't make it "so"....and Mother Nature is driving this bus! Sometimes "they" are right....but, just as often, "they" are wrong. So....observation....watching the weather is a pleasant diversion....sort of like reading your horoscope.

Another observation....the world is made up of all kinds of people. There are people who try to find the good in everyone and people who are just plain miserable. There are people who do "the right thing" and people who wait for someone else to do "the right thing" for them. There are people who take others feelings and situations into consideration....and people who only care about themselves. If you would like to observe all of this for yourself....head to the grocery store two days AFTER a storm. Just stand still....people watch. Watch the ones who are in the middle of the aisle...blocking the way....maybe on their phones....completely oblivious to everyone else (I am going to assume they have not done their sidewalks...) and then there are people who are picking up the things that they need...as well as a few things for their elderly neighbors (I am going to assume they are part of that community that worked together to clean up the whole neighborhood!)

As I said before....I can only observe and draw conclusions for others....but I can SPEAK for myself. I do not do well when I am not in control. Period. And there is no...NO...situation that you have less control of than the weather....and what happens AFTER a weather event. My opinion....the roads aren't horrible....but I think they could have been better. That brining thing that they wasted days and dollars accomplishing....was a dreadful waste of time, energy and money. There should be a "Plan B" in place for "historical" weather events....better to be prepared for something that never happens than to be unprepared. I think our little town (and many, many others...) were unprepared. I think if you love the snow...that's just wonderful....but there comes a time when you should keep that to yourself! And now would be that time! I think if you have a job that you can do from the cozy comfort of your home....or one for which you continue to get a paycheck even if you don't, actually, work...that's super awesome for you....but there are an awful lot of people who NEED to get somewhere....work, an appointment (perhaps the doctor...) who would like for you to be quiet!

We will be starting our 22nd year in business this Summer (ah....Summer!!) and, although everyone is  claiming the reasons for all of the, current, problems is the "historic" nature of this storm, I have witnessed the inability to handle snow (even less historic amounts....) many, many times over those 22 years! Taking into consideration my problem with lack of control....I am seriously considering taking this bull by the horns....does anyone know where to find a used front end loader? Craig's List??

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pass It along.....

I don't know about you...but once the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is over I start to think about all kinds of new projects.

I love, love, love the Holidays....starting with Halloween all the way through Christmas and New Year's Day....but there is so much to do...decorating, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping...there isn't a lot of "extra"  time.

But....once the decorations are all put away (and my Snowman and Valentine's Day collection is out!!) there is a little time to think about something else. Now....let's be clear....there is just a "little" time.....because...before you know it...it'll be time to think about gardening projects!!! (And after the snowstorm, yesterday....the sooner the better!!) but January and February are perfect for those indoor endeavors!

When you are the "caretaker" of antique properties (and we own TWO!!) most of the time those projects involve maintenance....painting is, usually, at the top of the list! But....there's always time for some other things too!

And, right now, I am obsessed with old recipes!!

A few months ago I pulled out all of my grandmother's recipe collection. I have four separate "collections"...notebooks and recipe files. They are full of newspaper and magazine clippings and hand written recipes. There are quite a few "typed" copies, too! Typed....like on a type writer!! ��  The hand written copies are not in her handwriting. They were shared by someone she knew. I go through those pieces of paper...carefully!!!...and think "this must be a great recipe" after all...someone took the time to copy it and pass it along. And aren't those the best?

There are definitely many, many more "treat" recipes than "dinner" choices. Pound cakes and pies, cookies and candy....and that's fine with me!

There is a place for fancy, (over)decorated, trendy baked goods....but not in my world! I love the old recipes....the old-fashioned, homemade, nostalgic...HAPPY recipes!! We are so lucky....we have access to Pinterest, Facebook and Blogs. They are today's newspaper and magazine clippings....they are how WE "share" recipes!

Someone takes the time to cook or bake something...and it makes people HAPPY....and then they pass it along!! Old-fashioned ideas....just a new way of doing it!!

I am, slowly, working my way through these recipes....picking out the ones I want to try. Once I settle on one...I will take the time to bake it and then "pass it along" right into the bakery case at Sweet Memories!! With any luck...it will make all of you happy! After all....making people happy is my job....and, usually, it's a piece of cake....or pie, or cookies!

If you have an old recipe, or two, that has been making people happy....pass it along!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Be the Change.....

One whole week of 2016 is in the books....how is it going for you?

I know, traditionally, the start of a new year means resolutions. Resolutions to change everything. The way you eat, the way you spend your time....the way you live.

Personally....I don't make resolutions. I try....everyday....to do my best. I try to have a positive attitude, treat people the way I want to be treated, try to find the good in everyone (THAT one can be challenging!!) try to work hard, try to give back whenever I can....I put my family first....and choose to be happy.

There is no doubt about it....the "world" is not always the way we want it....there is room for improvement....LOTS of improvement.

The Internet is an amazing thing....we know everything in "real time". We can avoid accidents, check the radar, find a recipe, check "sales" at stores, check our bank balance, wish someone a "happy birthday" post a picture...seconds after we take it...but, with all of this amazing technology at our fingertips, so many of us "miss" the old days!

We talk about how....it was NEVER like this when we were kids! A coincidence? Is all of this technology, at least partially, to blame?? Or maybe, just maybe, we should take some responsibility ourselves?

I think there is a little distance (or maybe a LOT of distance...) when you communicate with some taps on a screen....and, I think, that has made people a little...well...rude! After all....you can say anything you want and there is no backlash.

I am an opinionated person. I raised my children to have opinions...and to have self esteem....and to stick up for their beliefs. But I did not raise them to inflict their opinions and beliefs on other people just because they can. Unfortunately....I think the distance that those taps on the screen has created has made it, not only okay, but "normal" and acceptable to just say whatever pops into your head!!

It's not. And perhaps it's one reason why it was never like this when we were kids!

I don't know if you spend any time on Facebook pages or websites of people or businesses you enjoy, or if you ever read comments....but it is, actually, shocking. The rude...beyond rude....things that people say!! Reviews are the worst. Sad, unhappy, nasty people who act like they have some right to bash people simply because they can. After all....you will never meet them face to face...so there are no repercussions!

Again...one of the reasons things aren't like they used to be?

Here we are...at the beginning of a new year....a new start. You can put all of your energy into not eating candy....or we can put all of our energy into starting a movement. Go find all of those businesses and people that you like, love or enjoy and let them know how appreciated they are!! Review the small business...the one that makes you happy. Let them know that the hours and hours that they put in, every week, is not a waste of their time! Find a few old friends on Facebook...and reconnect! Find something NICE to say about posts and pictures....compliment!! If you don't have something NICE to say....don't say anything! Be part of the solution....not part of the problem!!

We, the family that owns Sweet Memories, consider all of YOU to be part of our family, too. We lost a family member last Friday. A lady that we loved to see...a lady that was funny and sweet...a lady that was way too young! Life is too short. There just are no words...all of our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas Memories!!

Merry Day After Christmas!!

I hope it was wonderful!! Full of family, fun and very Sweet Memories!!

Today is the first day in weeks that I am sitting....sitting with nothing to do! The decorating got done, all of the gifts purchased and wrapped...and given! All of the cooking and baking from the last two days (and all of the days before that!!) is over...and the leftovers are in the refrigerator!

We plan...and work....to make the Holidays special...for weeks. And then, in the blink of an eye, it's all over! All over...except for the memories!!

We have two Christmas trees....well, two full sized Christmas trees!! There are a few smaller ones sprinkled around, too!! One of them is an artificial tree and it is covered (and I mean covered!!) with my blown glass ornament collection. The other tree....the "main tree" is very real....and equally covered....but this one is covered in family memories! There are ornaments that all of the kids made in school, all of their "first Christmas" balls, the "cowboy boots" ornament from the year the girls went line dancing, the chef Santa from the year our oldest daughter started culinary school, the VW bug ornament (the year before our youngest was old enough to get her drivers license!!) there is the one with our first grandsons picture in it....and the new one he hung up, last night!! There is the new one....that one of our wonderful friends....made for our brand new grandson, too! Lots and lots of special ornaments that my MomMom gave me, every year....and all of the ones that my husband and I have made over the years!

As I sit here....sit...for the first time in weeks....I realize how lucky we are.

Lucky to have had such a wonderful Christmas....lucky to have such wonderful customers and friends.....lucky to be doing what we love....and lucky to have all of the special memories of Christmases past...long past and recently past!

I hope your Christmas was all you hoped it would be....but, more importantly, I hope it was filled with Sweet Memories!!

Merry, Merry Day After Christmas....and Happy almost New Year!! May your "2016" be Spectacular!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas is coming....

I love the Holidays....all Holidays.

It does put me in an odd position, though. Why?? Well....because I am a "retailer".

When you become a retailer your job is to find, and purchase, merchandise that you think will sell. And then...sell it. For some "big box" retailers that means saturating your every waking moment with the merchandise that makes them lots of money. Television commercials, magazine and newspaper ads....buy here!!! Spend your money with us!

Now....all of us.....small businesses.....can't do that. We can't saturate your every waking moment with...well...anything!! And, as far as I am concerned, that's a good thing! That would be the odd position of which I speak!

We are not like most retailers.

When I pick out and purchase merchandise for our gift shop I don't give any thought to whether or not it will sell....I only think about whether or not I would want it in my own home or would give it, happily, as a gift. That ensures that, when it's time to set everything up and design the displays, we are excited to decorate....just as excited as I am when I decorate my own home. I think it shows. When you love what you're doing...and the merchandise you are displaying....there is extra sparkle and the magic is evident.

My greatest hope is that you will come and see what we have to offer....and love it all as much as we do! Even better.....come often!!! Come when you need a gift (or two or three....) come when you need a break, come when you are looking for the magic....because, as much as we need you to buy from us so that we can be here next year to do it all again, what we really need is to share the love, and excitement, of the Holidays!! Something you just can't do with commercials and ads!

Merry Christmas....and very, very Sweet Memories!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Magic, Wonder...Journeys and Destinations!

"Life is a journey...not a destination"

I believe that 100%. I believe that we all need to enjoy the journey a little more....and I really believe that this philosophy applies to Christmas!

We have been ready for Christmas, at the shop, for the last few weeks. And....just like always....we have heard a few "already" and "what happened to thanksgiving" comments. Not everyone...most of you are full of the Christmas spirit and really in the mood to shop for your little pieces of magic (there are things that are, already, sold out!!!) but, I must say, the negativity....however sparse....is really puzzling to me.

"Christmas already" is not a phrase that I would EVER utter!! I love Christmas....everything...every, little, thing about it!! I love Christmas lights, Christmas movies, Christmas songs....and I feel that a few measly weeks of all of that magic and wonder just aren't enough!!

When you are a little kid...the magic of Christmas is all tied up in the gifts. But, once you are an adult, you find yourself with the "responsibility" of Christmas. You have to do the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking....but, as far as I am concerned, that is the journey. I guess you can get caught up in the "work" that the Holidays cause....but I don't see it that way.

We get the shop ready at the beginning of November because....well...we are a shop. The retail world dictates that, if you are going to survive and live to see another holiday season, you need to get in the game!! But I am all ready, here at home, too. I spent my whole "day off", last Monday, decorating the inside of our home. Because of what we do for a living our "enjoy the holidays" time is limited....so I try to get as much out of it as I can!!

There is nothing that makes me happier than coming home to all of our collections and decorations and all of the memories connected to each of them. I tweak and shimmy for days....until I get all of the displays just right. Each display that I create tells a story....and underneath that story is a glimpse into what I love. The whimsy and the nostalgia of an old-fashioned Christmas.

This year try to enjoy the journey...take every opportunity to create the magic and the wonder that you remember! As you sit down, this week, to enjoy that feast...don't think about all of the dishes and cleaning up that will need to get done. Enjoy the people that are enjoying it with you!! And when you haul all of those decorations out....enjoy yourself! Create a wonderland that you can't wait to come home to...find your magic and wonder!

The destination will be here before you know it....get all you can out of the journey!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Creating Magic.....

Good Morning....and it IS a good morning.
The sun is shining and the Fall colors are really starting to "pop"....but it's also COLD!!

At this point, as far as the weather goes, I think we have all come to expect the unexpected. But a big change in the weather....however short lived....really is quite a reality check! Summer is in the rear view mirror and the Holidays are right around the corner! Time marches on...sometimes at the speed of light....and we all need to take at least some time to enjoy it all!

Are you?

For us....enjoying life is about hearth and home and family. We create a haven in the Summer....a place where you want to sit and enjoy all that Summer has to offer. In the Fall....we decorate every nook and cranny of our home...inside and out...with an amazing collection of whimsical, wonderful vintage inspired Fall and Halloween decorations that we have been collecting for years!! When Christmas comes we strive to make our home just as magical as the Holiday itself. Our Christmas decoration collections are some of our favorites....beautiful things that bring back special memories....and that's what Christmas is all about!

Is it all a lot of "work"....of course it is! But we love it....we love "the work" as much as the results. We love coming home, each and every evening, and sitting in the wonderland that we have created! Our family, in addition to working together every day, gets together with some frequency. No matter how many times our kids have seen the decor, for all of the seasons and Holidays, they still love to see it all make it's appearance. And now....there is a whole new generation to enjoy all of our "hard work"! There is nothing better than watching a little one stare at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree!! You can actually SEE the magic....practically touch it!

At Sweet Memories....we work really, really hard to fill our shops with that very same magic! When I look for, find and purchase the merchandise we carry...I look for special, unique and wonderful pieces that I would (and often do...) add to my own wonderland! When you decide to spend some of your time perusing our shops....we want you to feel inspired, excited and happy. We want you find those special pieces that will help you create your own special "Sweet Memories".

I know there are some who are trying to "downsize"....who don't want to decorate because it's too much work. I am going to be honest....I don't understand. I hear an occasional customer talking about "getting rid of stuff" and not wanting anymore to dust. I am afraid I don't identify with that. Yes.....when you plant a garden you have to take care of it.....and it's work! But just think of all you miss when you don't do it!

As we bundle up, today, and find ourselves starting to think about the wonderful fun and special memory making opportunities that are right around the corner....I just want to remind you that the shops at Sweet Memories are the place to be! We still have terrific Fall and Halloween decor....but the Christmas magic is starting to make an appearance, too!! We would love to play a part in all of your special occasions....and if you love to make those memories as much as I do....there really is no need to shop any where else!!