Monday, December 2, 2013
This past week has seen Thanksgiving 2013 come and go...and the "shopping season" get it's start. I must say...it was a little hard to watch.
In this high tech world that we live in...we see everything the second it happens. Good, bad, funny, sad....and even horrible behavior!! I tried NOT to watch any of the Black Friday "highlights". I want to believe....really, really believe...that people are good. That we all love this season for the right reasons and that peace and goodwill exist...and that is, almost, impossible when you see those videos.
Then we have "Small Business Saturday" and, of course, "Cyber Monday". Oh my....
Naturally...being a small business owner...I want to get behind the small business Saturday thing...but, honestly, I don't think it should be a once a year event.
I can't speak for other small businesses but I CAN tell you that I try to make every day...in every season...a special experience. The whole point of a small business is, frankly, the experience. I want you to take a few minutes out of your busy life and choose to step through our door. I want to have the opportunity to make you happy....not just during the Christmas season....but all year long. I want you to experience the personal attention that you cannot...and will not...get in the stores that were mobbed on Black Friday (or...Thanksgiving for that matter!!!) or on your computer, today.
I understand that we don't have amazing electronic deals...or those much needed designer boots...but we DO have something that we ALL need this time of year. We have the Christmas spirit....and you can experience it, too!! Do I want you to come in and spend money....of course. I would be lying if I said "no" to that....I mean...this is how we make our living. But, becoming a millionaire is not, really, on my bucket list! I am far more interested in extending our "family"...creating friendships that last...watching your kids grow up...celebrating special occasions with all of you...and making people happy!!
I think we all want that "old-fashioned" Christmas. I, also, think it's possible. Slow down...enjoy the music and the lights. Enjoy the preparations...after all...it's about the journey more than the destination!! And...find your "happy place"....the one that renews your Christmas spirit!! I truly hope...it's with us...and we will be seeing you soon!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, December 02, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
I know, I know....most of you don't like Monday. Your weekend is over and it's back to the grind. But, for us, Monday IS our weekend...and it's a very, very busy one for me!!
Today I am packing away all of my much loved Halloween collection....and then cleaning!! Next week...the Christmas collections come out!!
I know what a lot of you are thinking. "What about Thanksgiving??" Please don't get the wrong idea....we love Thanksgiving just as much as the next guy....but my "free" time...especially THIS time of year...is very limited!! So I spend one whole day doing all of the decorating...and then I can concentrate on the HUGE "to do" list that comes with this time of year!!
Besides....what is wrong with Christmas lasting more than the days between the 24th of December and the 1st of January??
This is puzzling to me. I mean....I LOVE Christmas!!! I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the movies and specials...I love the memories, the festivities, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping....finding the perfect Christmas tree. As far as I am concerned....it can't start soon enough....or last long enough!!
In the world of retail...it starts in the Summer. I have to pick out the merchandise, that we are going to carry, months and months ahead of time. Then....it takes a lot of hard work and hours (and hours....) to get it all out and displayed the way I want it....the way I want YOU to see it!! I mean...logically...it all needs to be "out" WAY before Thanksgiving....or we won't have the opportunity to sell it. And, after all, we are a business...and, as a business, we need to sell merchandise in order to pay the bills!!!
Yet....without fail...I hear "Christmas already" a few times a week!! Of course....MOST of you can't WAIT for the Christmas to come out....and considering how busy we have been, and how many treasures have, already, found their new homes...I know I am not the only one who LOVES Christmas!! It still puzzles me, though, that everyone doesn't feel the same way!! Does it get to the point where Christmas is just another thing you have to do?
This has been a week of reflection, for me. Lots of things to think about. To be honest....my head is spinning!! One of the things that I have been giving a lot of thought to is our gift shop. Am I happy with the mix of merchandise? Am I making my customers happy? Do we carry what they are looking for? Should I move this, change that....focus just on "country", "primitive", "shabby", "repurposed"....."cool"??? While I haven't found the answers to all of my questions...I have decided that I need to sell what I love, and I need to be me!! I have, always, changed things and mixed them up....being in a rut is not part of who I am...and neither is following the "trends" ...I do my own thing!! I think a little redirection is in order...but I think that about 6 times a year!! (hahahaha...) I think that trying to make everybody happy is a fools journey...so I am going to be content with making all of my "kindred spirits" happy, instead!! If you like what we do and what we are all about....then that's enough for me!!
Right now....my "kindred spirits" are watching the Christmas movies, listening to the Christmas music and getting ready to make their homes warm and cozy....thinking about creating Christmas Magic!!!! If this applies to you....I can't wait for you to see the amazing mix of merchandise in the gift shop (but, hurry....a lot of our fellow "kindred spirits" have, already, visited...more than once....and they are beating you to it!!!) If this does not apply to you...hopefully a trip to see us will, at the very least, put a smile on your face!! And....to answer YOUR question.....yes, Christmas already!!! I can't wait!!! Kindred Spirits....unite!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, November 11, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
Have you been watching the Hallmark channel??
Today is the BIG day....we are heading over to turn the upstairs gift shops into a magical Christmas wonderland!! We HAVE been watching the Christmas movies, on the Hallmark channel, and it has put us in the mood!!
The candy display is ready to go...all decked out with the very best Christmas goodies, stocking stuffers and little gifts I could find!! Now it's time to head upstairs and "work our magic" on the rest of the shop!!
If you LOVE Christmas as much as we do....plan a visit VERY soon!! ~~~ It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, November 04, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
It is hard to believe you are in the month of October, in Pennsylvania, when the temperature is close to (and on a day, or two, above....) 80 degrees!! However....all of that is about to change!! I am really keeping a close eye on the overnight temperatures because I want to bring a lot of my plants inside for the Winter. It looks like that will be happening this week!!
Another thing that had an arrival delay, this year, was my pumpkin purchasing!! I wasn't sure what "route" I wanted to take for the front porch decorating....traditional....or all of those REALLY cool peach, pink, blue green and white pumpkins. I was having a little trouble getting into the spirit...between our crazy early October schedules and the weather....so I just didn't buy ANY pumpkins....at first!!
But....all of that changed, last week!! First I bought one of the new "pink"ones...at the grocery store...and then I bought a white one to go with it. Then I bought ANOTHER "pink" one...because it was, sort of, green and white AND pink....and it was really pretty. Then I bought two "traditional" orange ones...because the stems were fat and twisty....and then another one (with really deep grooves...)...and then another one, because it was HUGE....it turns out I am addicted to the little buggers!!! I tell myself we have enough...but I am drawn to them..like a moth to a flame...and find myself buying "just one more"!!
Oh well.....there are far worse things to be addicted to...right?? Hahaha...
To celebrate my "addiction"...and the coming of FALL(for real!!!)...I wanted to pass along a great recipe for you to try...and yes, it's PUMPKIN!!!
Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped white chocolate
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Heat cream and milk in a pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot...but NOT boiling!! In a medium bowl, pour hot milk mixture over the white chocolate. Stir until they are melted. Add pumpkin, vanilla and spices. Pour into cups, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
You might want to make this before the week is over....it's warm and cozy...and we are going to need it!! You might, also, want to go buy a pumpkin....it will be one less that is calling to me!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, October 21, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
We all have different ideas of what makes our house a home. We have different things that make it "ideal" for us. New...old, big...small, lots of property....no yard maintenance whatsoever!!! Some of us like warm colors...some cool, some like an open floor plan...some like well defined rooms, some are "minimalists"....some like to collect!! Some love modern, some vintage, some antique....some a mixture of all of the above!!!
No matter what your own personal style is, though....we all want a home that welcomes, not only US, but everyone who visits. We all want a home that is our haven...that makes us feel safe and warm and snug. We all want "Cozy"!!!
This time of year, the desire to make our homes cozy is even more prevalent. As the weather turns colder...we all find ourselves wanting to light candles, cook hearty dinners, bake apple pies and decorate the house....because we are going to see the inside of it...a LOT!!! Not to say that we don't care what the inside of the house looks like in the Summer...but there are better things to do when the weather is beautiful!!
Making my home cozy is a top priority for me....no matter what time of year it is!! We spend so little time "relaxing"...I need "home" to be a happy, comfortable place to be. But cozy homes are on my mind, almost, all the time. Not only is it important for my own home to BE cozy....it is part of my job to help you make YOURS cozy, too!!! I am, always, at least 3 months....if not MORE..."ahead" in the gift shop... (For example....I just finished a big Mother's Day and Garden order with one of the companies I work with.) It's part of the job....and I take it very seriously!! So....right this minute...I am "cooking" up ways to continue to "fluff" the dwindling Fall and Halloween merchandise so that it stays "cozy" right up until the end. However....I am, also, dreaming of that "White Christmas" and constructing those cozy Christmas displays (in my head....) with all of the fantastic merchandise that we have, this year, so that you can see how cozy it will look in YOUR house after you buy it and take it home!! And...in addition to all of that...I am, also, picking out the merchandise that will show up this Spring and trying to figure out how to make THOSE displays as cozy as possible!!
Like I said....I take this part of my job very seriously. I take a lot of pride in the fact that we have such a great selection of merchandise. A word I hear constantly is "unique"....and that makes me happy because I really work at it!! The gift shops are FULL....no matter what the season (after all..you are in them to SHOP...and you can't shop without LOTS to look at....right????) of the very best "cozy" I can find.
If you find yourself....here, in the middle of that "cozy" month of October, with the big gift giving season right around the corner....(you may not be ready to hear that...but it's a fact!!) searching for ways to make your life cozier....may I suggest a visit to see us...SOON!!! Not only are our gift shops as cozy as it gets....the whole place is full of the cozy smells of cooking and baking...all the time!! It doesn't get any better than that!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Monday, October 7, 2013
This past Saturday was our third annual "1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" event. And....other than the weather feeling a LOT like July....I think it's safe to say it was a huge success!! We tried to "tally" the number of visitors...just so we could have some idea...and we were in the 800 region. Not too shabby!!!
It has grown, substantially, each year. We have set new goals (and reached them!!) we have tackled new projects, and we have learned new lessons. This is a picture of "our" table full of goodies from the very first year....we had, about, three times this amount, this year....and, pretty much, sold out!!
Planning, and executing, this kind of event is a big, BIG job....and it "takes a village" (or a dedicated committee and an army of volunteers!!! hahaha....) We have food vendors, craft artists, a kid's tent...full of games and crafts...a harvest tent FULL of wonderful produce and fall decorations, we had stories and demonstrations, spooky music playing, a baking contest with delicious homemade pumpkin and apple desserts, alpacas to visit, a display of wonderful, handmade "Haunted Gingerbread Houses" to admire and amazing decorations to delight....and each and every one of those experiences....take months and months of planning and preparing!!
I, personally....could NEVER do all that I do without my family!! They created the decorations....ran the sound system, the baking contest, our booth and the shop....(while I ran back and forth between both places!!!) seemingly effortlessly (although I know how much time and energy we all put into it!!!) and I would just like to take a moment to thank them all...my husband, my daughters, my son-in-law and my future son-in-law....for being the talented, hard-working, patient, wonderful people that they are!!!
Needless to say....since none of us rest on our laurels...we are, already, talking about next year!!! New goals, new projects, new lessons to learn!! Oh.....and a lot of praying for a little Fall-like weather!!!
I hope you had a chance to visit the event this year...and I hope your experience was "spooktacular"....but if you missed it, that's okay....because, come the first Saturday in October of 2014....we will be back and better than ever!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, October 07, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
But....aside from all of that....last Monday was "decorate our house for Halloween" day...and then Tuesday was "design, cutout and bake haunted gingerbread houses" day and Wednesday was our class!! All in all....a pretty hefty dose of creative energy was needed!!
At the beginning of "decorate for Halloween" Monday I am excited about getting it all done....spending some time with all of my collectibles!! By about noon-ish....I am wondering what I have gotten myself into (add in the fact that I really didn't feel well!!!) By about three-ish.....I just want the day to end!! This is a huge undertaking when I feel GREAT!!! I haven't done an official count (I am not sure I WANT to know!!!) of the number of "bins" that are devoted to Halloween...if I had to estimate I would say in the 18 to 20 range. All of them need to be emptied before I can even begin!! It's a daunting task...but, when I am done, it is very, very satisfying!! I love to do the displays....and "show-off" all of our treasured collection!! What I really love, though, is just wandering from room to room....enjoying what we have ***created***!
Every year, when we have our gingerbread house classes...whether they are the "haunted" variety or the Christmas houses.....we have a "newbie" or two (or three....) that claim to have "no creativity"....to this I say...."horsefeathers"....(well....that's not what I REALLY say.....) I defy anyone to sit with a "blank" gingerbread house in front of them....and a table full of candy....and NOT be creative!!!! Every time....without fail....unique, one-of-a-kind, extremely creative houses are carried out the front door! (by very proud owners!!) Somewhere in the course of the evening....the juices start to flow and the uncultivated creative side emerges!!
But there is more to it than just going home with a house that you're proud of. Somewhere during the creative process....we relax, we let go. We find ourselves thinking about something other than the pressures of the day.....we enjoy the creativity and the end results!! There is a really good reason why people paint and write, knit and garden, cook and bake, decorate and collect. It makes us happy!! Do you need to be the next Picasso....no. Do you need to be the next Jane Austin....no. Do you need to be Martha Stewart....heavens no!!!! You need to find the creative outlet (or outlets...) that makes you happy and take a little time to indulge in them!! Creativity is VERY important....go out there and find something to create! Hmmm....maybe if there were MORE creativity....there would be LESS rude, self important arrogance!! Just saying!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Wednesday, September 25, 2013