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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The gingerbread tradition.....

I say it every year....once the first of September arrives....life is a roller coaster! Time goes SO fast....and, even though I have a ton of things that I want to tell you...want to blog about....there just aren't enough hours in a day!

I am planning a tutorial about gingerbread houses. I have given this a lot of thought...and decided that, in order to do it "right", I need to break this up into more than one blog post.

I started this tradition when my kids were little. We always decorated the house on Christmas Eve. That probably sounds crazy...I mean, don't we all have "too much" to do on Christmas Eve?? But, to the little ones, it can be the longest day of the year!! It was always a fun, much anticipated, use of Christmas excitement energy. And helped to make the day go "faster"!

It is such an important tradition in our family that, years and years ago, I decided to teach the art of gingerbread house construction so that it could be part of lots of people's traditions! We held SO many classes, over the years....and I built SO MANY houses!! When I started the classes...I went through all of the steps. Making the dough, designing the house, cutting out the pieces, baking them off, making the icing (super important!!) and constructing the house. But....eventually...it became very obvious that my students were far more interested in decorating than constructing. And it became more of a workshop than a class! (Yes....we were WAY ahead of the trends...and had classes and workshops before they were everywhere!!)

Here, however, I am going to walk you through ALL of the steps....and I am going to pass along all of the tips and techniques that I have learned and perfected over the years. There are lots of ways to make this a fun, stress free project. And I want you to come to love this tradition as much as we do!

So....come back soon (I hope!!!) and we will start at the beginning! Just as a "heads up"...I have ordered all kinds of AMAZING candy to decorate your creation and I will be "getting it out" soon! Stop in to Sweet Memories before you go looking anywhere else!! And....I have been pinning ideas like CrAzY!! Go check out my gingerbread house Pinterest Board and start to get some ideas!!

Oh....this is going to be fun!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

All kinds of exciting things.....

What a difference a week makes!

Last week we had the air conditioners running....let me tell you...it makes it really difficult to get into the Christmas spirit and I NEED to do that, right now!

I love Fall and Halloween so much that, even getting my thoughts to jump ahead to Christmas is a bit of a challenge...but when the weather outside is Summer-like...it's almost impossible!

Luckily....the weather is cooperating now. AND.....our candy cane order came in (yup....those chocolate filled delights that you all wait for!!) and there is a new flavor, this year....it's milk and cookies! Chocolate cookie cream filled and the candy cane itself is vanilla!!! There was a broken one when we opened the box...so we had to try it...(Awww...such a tough job!!) and they are AWESOME!!!!!

We, also, got an order from a new company....and I am really pleased and excited with what I ordered! I think you will be, too!

I am expecting the rest of our Christmas candy to come in this week.....always one of my favorite shipments! I ordered all kinds of great candy! As always....wonderful stocking stuffers and gifts....but ALSO....all kinds of fantastic candy to decorate your gingerbread houses!!

Now....just in case you have never made one before...I want to let you know that I am going to be posting a little "how to" right here on the blog! We (me, my kids and even my Grandson!!!) have been making them for years and years. A long time ago...I started my "teaching career" with gingerbread house classes. I know how much everyone misses those classes...so I thought I would do a little "teaching" on here! There are a bunch of tips and tricks that will help you to be successful....I want your experience to be positive! Then....you can add gingerbread house making to your family traditions, too!!

Well.....now that I am "in the Christmas mood" there will be some progress to report about the "Gingerbread and Candy Canes Marketplace" (aka the shops upstairs!!) I know you are all excited to start your shopping...and, now that Mother Nature has turned off the heat pump....I am excited, too!!

Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The big day is HERE!!!!

It's here, it's here....the BIG day is here!!!

Today is the day that we will reopen the gift shop and let you see what we have been up to!!

These past weeks have just "flown" by (hahaha....get it??) I have had a moment or two of doubt. Doubt about my decision to change things so drastically. Doubt about actually being able to get it all done. But.....those doubts were few, and they are long gone!!

The gift shops look like I have always wanted them to look.....the displays are exactly what I had "in my head"....and the merchandise selection is well on it's way to being EXACTLY what I want to offer!!

We accomplished everything on our list. We had a list of renovations to do.....painting, building...refreshing.....done. We had a list of handmade goodies that we wanted to present to you....they all got done, too!! I have a great selection of antiques and vintage wares.....and a great selection of "new" merchandise, too.

It will only get better as time goes on. We will have even more time to "make" things, more time to find amazing vintage and antique treasures.....and my "new merchandise" selections will be even more focused and awesome!!!

We have "explained" this new way of doing things a LOT over the last month plus....and I know it's a really different concept. But.....let's be honest here.....you have come to expect the unexpected from us!! Sweet Memories, and the family that owns it, is about as unique and special as it gets!! Trust me. Hang in there....eventually this "new way" of doing things will be second nature. And....each and every time you shop, upstairs, will be exciting. Every new season will bring treasures that will make you happy. I promise!

I know I am excited. Excited for the opportunity to give you the Sweet Memories experience! An experience you just can't get anywhere else!!

Doors open at 10:00......and we can't wait to see you!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Good Morning all of you trendsetters!!

Yes....you read that correctly....you all are trendsetters.

While, under normal circumstances, I don't care much about what the latest trends are....I can get on board with this one...mostly because we have BEEN on board with this one for 21 years!

So....what is this "new" trend?? To spend your time and money on experiences rather than just "stuff".

All of you have joined us for the Sweet Memories experience from the beginning!! And we are more than just an experience....we are an experience with benefits!! You can go skydiving, zip lining or mountain climbing....but when you come in and visit with us....you leave full, with goodies from the bakery and a few new treasures from the shop!!

And THAT experience....is going to be better than ever!!

Right now.....the upstairs looks like a train wreck! But.....we are making amazing progress (considering we are working in the middle of a train wreck!! 😉) and my vision is coming to fruition!! I must say....when the paint first started to cover the walls....I had a moment (or 6) of doubt.....but....not any more!! It is looking great and I can't wait to show it to you!!

So, so many of you have been asking about our plans and have shown so much excitement and anticipation.....even making your lunch reservations for our open house dates!! For this....I thank you!! This renovation has been a lot of work....and it's all I think about. And, I KNOW the new format will take some getting used to....but everyday that I spend on this project just makes me even more sure that I made the right decision.

Just a little over three weeks to go....and you are going to have a wonderful experience!! I mean...no zip lines....but wonderful just the same!! 😜 Thank you for sticking by us.....and for being the trendsetters that you are!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A little update.....

I thought I would give you a little update on what's been happening, this week.....the first week without the gift shop!!

Well...first...everyone has stopped thinking we were closing the whole place. That's a good thing. I must say... I am still baffled as to how that piece of misinformation was derived from the post.

Moving on....

Second....there has been some backlash. It was expected...this was not the first time I have made major changes in our long history....and most people don't like change. But, from a business standpoint, change is not only necessary it is essential. Static and boring are not words you want people to use when they describe you!!

You are just going to have to trust me....you are going to LOVE what we are doing....I know I do!! And, while you won't be able to go upstairs and browse everyday of the week....we still have a great selection of treasures scattered throughout the downstairs! Plenty to look at...plenty to buy!

Now....a little sneak peek into what we have been up to.

Hmmm.....I don't want to give any secrets away and spoil the surprise.

Well....let's just say...we are about to get very friendly with brushes and cans....I have been threading my needle...a LOT...(I forgot how much I enjoy sewing!! 😉) my husband has been refinishing and building, the vintage stash is growing....and Fall and Halloween 2016 are going to be AWESOME!!!!!!!

I know it's not what you're used to....but, let's be honest, is ANYTHING at Sweet Memories like anyone else's.......nope!! That's why you love us!! 😊 And right back at ya!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The FUN, new shop.......

Halloween....is fun!

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

Big changes...awesome changes!!

I think I am ready to tell you my news!!

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!