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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Playing Santa....

Last night we played Santa. It was awesome!! In my family we have experienced some loss...this, of course, is not exclusive to our family. However we have had some harder than average hits. This kind of experience can drive you apart, or bring you closer. We started a "Ladies Night" in our family. Actually, my sister-in-law started it. We have since lost her. What we do is...once a month all of the Ladies in the family get together and have dinner. We rotate hostesses and the hostess of the evening makes the food. We have had craft nights and game nights...we have had themed food nights...we have even gone out to dinner. Those of us who are committed to this have become even closer. We have "lost" some along the way who weren't committed...but that's to be expected. It is still a very worthwhile way to spend one night a month. A few years ago, my husband asked everyone to start to pay "dues" so that we could give back...as a way to "honor" the family we've lost. The first two years we gave a nice sum of money to St. Jude through our local radio station...but last year just got away from us. The result...we have quite a bit of money in our "account"!! So, we decided to do as much "good" this Christmas as possible!! Last night we all met up at Toys 'R' Us and filled a shopping cart with all kinds of toys and games for as many age groups as we could and filled the donation box....We, also, did some of the shopping for our adopted family while we were there. So, when we got up to the cashier, I said we need to keep these separate if you don't mind. We checked out the gifts for our adopted family first...she gave me the total and then asked if I would like to donate a dollar to the Toys for Tots...I said "this next whole cart is for Toys for Tots..." She looked surprised...said "Oh" and finished that transaction!! Then she asked me if I needed a bag for the next cart load....I said "no...I think we'll just put them right in the box". We created a bit of a scene and several employees were watching, and thanking us, and one nice young man gave my little 4 year old niece a high five on the way out!! My husband and I have done this, before...but it was a great experience to watch my little niece get in on the fun!! She insisted that we buy a fire truck for a little boy...needless to say...there is a fire truck in the box!! If you have ever thought about doing something like this...I cannot recommend it enough!! It's what Christmas IS about...giving to others. I am super proud of my family...they are the best!! Now we are on to the next "giving project"....HoHoHo!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the quest continues....

Our attempt at turning the shop into a gingerbread house continues. In between our Brunch service and our Sunday Supper service, yesterday, my husband took the "ingredients" that we found on Saturday night and decorated the front windows. We wound up buying garland (evergreen and pinecone...) and more little colored lights (the only thing available...) then we, also, bought "shatter proof" (aka plastic) Candy cane and little peppermint ornaments. We found them at The Home Depot...they are Martha Stewart brand (she is making some odd marketing choices...) The candy canes all needed to be re-glued and one of the peppermint candy ornaments was broken...(I must have misunderstood the meaning of shatterproof....) Seriously?? This whole experience has just made me that much more determined to carry quality, unique gifts and decorations in the shop!! It wasn't enough that we had to go all over the Lehigh Valley, or that we had to "settle" for this solution...(I will be honest...it looks really good, so this may have been for the best...) but we had to "fix" everything before we could even use it!! Maybe it's just me...but I think when you put your name on something you should make sure it's a better quality. I don't think it should always be about the $$$$...but that's just my opinion...or as I was once told "the world according to Jamie"...(I think it was meant as a dig...but I don't see it that way...) If everyone took pride in their product and had really high standards....the world would be a better place!!! If things were of a better quality, they could be handed down as heirlooms instead of thrown in the landfills. If lights would last more than one season...there would be fewer "Scrooges" driving all over the place trying to replace them. If we could spend more time enjoying the Holiday, and less time getting frustrated....that would be a "good thing"...right??? I think I might go on the Martha Stewart website and give them a piece of my "world according to Jamie"...IT'S a good thing!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking for Christmas...Lights.....

Every year, when we decorate the outside of the shop for Christmas, I have visions of  sugar plums dancing in my head....well, visions of a gingerbread house, anyway. I think, with the porch and the little front garden, that it lends itself to decorating it to look like a gingerbread house. We have lights that are colored (the candy) but with white "icicles" hanging down (the icing)...they go along the edge of the porch. Then we try to find as many things that are candy related as possible for everything else. In the past we have had a candy cane tree (which fell apart and burned out all at the same time...) peppermint lights that go in the ground...which, also, burned out (but my wonderful brother-in-law fixed them for me...Thank-you, again!!!) candy canes that, also, go in the ground...although usually don't last more than two seasons....peppermint lights that we put all around the front door (We searched them out, last year, and bought all that we could find...only one strand is working this year...) are you seeing a trend??? Nothing is made to last...nothing!! So...with so little to work with, this year, we were on a quest to fill in the "blanks". We had a little time last night, so, after a dinner of leftovers (again) off we went....the conclusion to this quest??? The choices in outdoor lighting and decorating (and, frankly, indoor as well...) are HORRIBLE!!!!! What a huge disappointment!! I mean we were EVERYWHERE and everything that is available is junk!! I wasn't really looking for decorations...I mean, I know where to get the very best...Sweet Memories has it (wink wink...) but the lighting selection was non-existent. So...our creativity has been challenged...and we will have to go with plan B. I have to spend some time baking off gingerbread house pieces, tomorrow,(class #3) so my husband is going to see what he can do with what we've got!! I'll let you know how it all turns out...in the meantime, if you know of a place, that I am unaware of, that is carrying anything....ANYTHING...other than plain multi-colored lights...please let me know!!!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Small Business Saturday"....

Wow...Black Friday!! Let's be honest...we are the antithesis of Black Friday. No parking problems, no crowds, no frustration, no pushing or trampling. Pretty Christmas music, a nice lunch, some treats out of the bakery and shopping happily. All day. Busy, busy, busy!! Everyone was really getting into the Christmas spirit!! Lots and lots of shopping bags heading out the door~~~and I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the purchases were personal treats!!! Nothing wrong with that!! We were VERY busy in the restaurant and bakery as well...either everyone was sick of turkey or just wanted to get out and enjoy themselves...nothing wrong with that, either!! We have a family (well...the female part of a family) that has made an afternoon with us their "day after Thanksgiving" tradition. We were trying to remember how many years they have been doing this...at least the last 10, if not longer!! When they started this, we could get all of them at one table...there were 17 attending yesterday, I believe!! The family is growing...and we are, still, a part of their lives!! It's pretty awesome!! Today has been dubbed "Small Business Saturday". Trying to compete with "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday"...I think it's a good idea. Sometimes we forget about the "little guy" and find ourselves in the "big box stores" more often than not. So, I think, whatever can be done to promote small businesses is a good idea. I have explained my view on this issue, before. I always try to spend some money when I am in other shops...even though I have access to the same merchandise (wholesale). It's not, always, about the pricetag. There is a whole lot going on in these small businesses. At least there is for us. Personal service, interaction with our customers...most of the time we consider you all part of our family. You can't get that at the "big stores"....and it is not included on the pricetag!! If there is a shop you love (I hope we are on that list!!) go and see them, today, and tell them they are doing a great job....spend some of your Christmas budget with them. It might not get you that laptop for $10.00....but, in the long run, you'll get a whole lot more!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thansgiving memories...

So...Thanksgiving is a memory!! For us it is a "sweet" one!! It was a very nice day!! I had to start from scratch and make everything, including our pies...but it all got done! We had a lovely breakfast and then didn't eat until 5:30 (that way I had the oven all day and could get everything baked.) My husband got most of the Christmas lighting done...in the SNOW...that was an interesting twist!! It is his tradition to do all of the lighting on Thanksgiving morning. We were keeping an eye on the weather all last week because they were calling for rain, then they changed it and thought it would hold off until later in the day...then they changed it, again, and he was pretty sure he wasn't going to be able to do it. As soon as it got light, he went out and got started...hoping to, at least, get some of the lights up. Next thing you know...it's snowing!!! He still has some more he wants to do...but we did have some lights for Thanksgiving. It would have been heartbreaking to have a dark night!! We had our Grandson at the table for dinner. He couldn't figure out why he couldn't eat what we were eating...but that will have to wait for next year!! He had a long day and was very tired (and cranky) by night's end...but, then again, weren't we all!!! I had planned to write this last night, but I will be honest and tell you...I didn't have the energy!! We started to watch "Miracle on 34th Street"...but I fell asleep soon after the Thanksgiving parade part...which is at the beginning!! Oh well....good thing we have DVDs!!! I am off to work. I have a lot to do. The empty bakery case is calling me!! Have a great day....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Twas the night before Thanksgiving....and we got everything done! Our day started at the crack of dawn...but that early start was crucial to our success. 25 cakes, 14 pies, 8 cheesecakes and a mixed bag of various other goodies later and all that was left to do was wait for them to get picked up!!! Everyone respected my pick up time and came when they were supposed to.(The pick up time is between 2:00 and 5:00....at 1:59 I was finishing the last cake!!!) No one forgot, so no "reminder" calls had to be made. And the "icing on the cake"...we closed 20 minutes early so I could come home and do some of MY preparations. (I think it's funny~~ all of our hard work, all of the white boxes that left the shop today and I need to get up early tomorrow....I still have to bake OUR pies!!!)~~~ I started roasting only turkey breasts a few years ago. No one in our family is a dark meat fan, and roasting the whole bird was a waste. I have done the brine method before and decided to do it again this year. So I had to make the brine and submerge the turkey in it overnight. I bought a brine bag at the store...super easy!! They are HUGE and very sturdy. I wanted to add fresh herbs to the brine mixture....so there I am, in the dark, cutting herbs from my garden!!! I put rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme in the bag...added the salt, some sugar, onion, celery, peppercorns and water, rinsed the turkey off and put it in the bag, put the twist tie thing on it and put it on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator...easy!!! I will let you all know the result tomorrow night. In the meantime, I am beat and calling it a night!! From all of us at Sweet Memories....have a fantastic Thanksgiving!!! I would say don't eat too much....but that's the whole point of this Holiday....so go for it!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can I have the recipe???

These are our newest recipe cards...the art work is SO cute!!! They would be a great gift...or an addition to a gift. If you make homemade things for gift-giving (which is brilliant by the way....everyone eats and something homemade is awesome!!!) include the recipe~~on these cards! We have had a whole bunch of new arrivals show up the last few days. The Switchables are in, the magnetic calendars, the advent candles, the bayberry candles and the cutest little gnomes...they are supposed to help you with your household chores...too cute!!! Lots and lots of unique things for gift giving ( or self treating...) We are, also, expecting the Christmas cookie cutters any minute...I really thought they would show up today. I did an awful lot of "Thanksgiving order" preparation today....I peeled pounds and pounds of apples and mixed up a ton of piecrust!! Tomorrow will be a challenge....mostly because there just is not enough oven space....probably the same problem you have at your house when you are cooking a big meal!! A little organization, some planning and an early start should do it!! I haven't failed yet...and it won't happen this year, either!! It really is a very nice feeling to know that you are a part of so many celebrations....I have a great job...exhausting, but great!! I am hitting the hay....big, BIG day tomorrow. I will be back tomorrow night....or out like a light on the couch, depending on how it goes!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy, almost, Thanksgiving!!!!

Here it is...Thanksgiving week!!! The official start to the Holidays!! I am very excited...I love this time of year!! We ran all of our errands this morning, so Thanksgiving~~~~is in the refrigerator!! Of course I still have to cook it, but that is just a technicality. Everyone always asks me if I have to cook. When I say "yes" they always look a little offended on my behalf. The truth of the matter is I wouldn't have it any other way! When you compare this meal with what we have to do everyday...this is a walk in the park!! I enjoy making everyone happy...it's what I do!! We had our ladies night on Saturday and decided to head up to Toys 'R' Us and buy things for Toys For Tots...but we also "adopted" a family through my niece's church and we are going to play Santa Claus for them~~hopefully make their Christmas happier!!! We are also going to help another family that is going through a rough patch and are looking into donating food to the food bank!! All in all...a very successful Ladies Night!! I am really looking forward to the Holidays this year!! The next few weeks are going to be crazy busy...but that's part of the fun!!! This week we have Thanksgiving, next week is Gingerbread House Class #3...then we have the Breakfast coming up that we do for the Hospice volunteers, Gingerbread House Class #4, December Ladies Night, Lots and lots of parties booked at the restaurant, orders, orders and more orders....Whew, I think I'll go take a nap!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting caught up.....

Let's play a little catch-up.....These are some of the houses from class #2. Again....they did a great job!!! Class #3 is the first Wednesday in December. When I came up with this class schedule it was still HOT outside and the thought of all of this was really just a misty "down the road" idea....and then, just like that, it's here!!! Crazy!! First things first, though, we have to get through the mountain of orders I have for Thanksgiving!!! I attended a meeting on Thursday night to discuss a very interesting idea for next Fall....I won't elaborate just yet...I feel that it is important for me to focus on the tasks at hand right now....I have enough of them at the moment....but I will keep you updated!!! I ordered the Christmas cookie cutters (that I have been planning on ordering for 2 weeks....) and the Switchables, too. Both companies are very prompt, so they are on their way as we speak....(but I, also, ordered my Valentine and Easter candy. Too funny!!) I have really gotten all out of whack with my writing schedule for this blog...we haven't been home, in the evening, all week. I will try to get back on track, AGAIN, this coming week. We have "ladies night" with my family, tonight, so that is why I'm writing now. We get together once a month and have dinner and hang out!! My 4 year old niece is, usually, the entertainment. It is a lot of fun....but we have some important business to discuss tonight. We give "dues" every month and then try to do something charitable with the money. We need to figure out what we are going to do this year. We have enough money in our treasury that we will be able to do many things.. I am excited!! This is what Christmas is all about....I will let you know what we decide to do....but in the meantime...this might be an idea to help with some of the stress of gift giving!! Maybe instead of giving gifts to your friends (and maybe even the adults in your extended family...) you could pick a charity and do something for them!!! Among other things, we have Toys for Tots on our list...what a fun thing!! Go buy some toys that you know will make a little ones Christmas...playing Santa has much more appeal than earrings!!! Just saying!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Almost done....

The transformation is almost complete...I am going to do this fireplace display on Tuesday...and that will put us in total Christmas mode!!! My husband and youngest daughter worked on the front porch, yesterday, and it looks great!! They are not done...but it got dark and some of the lights weren't working...so the frustration set in. Today is a new day!! Doing the lighting is their thing. They do all of the lighting outside, at home, together...on Thanksgiving morning while the turkey is roasting. It's their tradition. Speaking of which...our next installment...Another source of Holiday stress is decorating. I think that's a shame!! Stop freaking out about it!! There are NO rules. You do what you like and what makes you happy!!! If hours and hours of primping and fussing make you happy...go for it!! If you like all white...do it!! If you are into "retro" go retro!! If you want an all pink tree...make sure your husband is on board...and go pink!!! If you lovingly collect and display things that are very meaningful to you, that's awesome!! If you want to start all over every year...do it!! This time of year should be fun and magical...go with your heart and you can't go wrong. If you love it...it will all work together! That holds true for decorating all year...you can't make a mistake!! If your home makes you smile...you've done something right!! If anyone would like to add anything...please do!!! Have a great day!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some new traditions....

Our second gingerbread house class was last night and it went well!! I think the ladies set a record for speedy construction!! They didn't even dig into their "tea party" until they were all done. Many of them had some ideas before they got there...we even had an all chocolate house this year!! We took lots of pictures...and then forgot the necessary cord for the camera at the shop!! Always feel like I have a 5 second (or a week..) delay on the picture thing!! Oh well....I'll get that worked out eventually.~~~So...this is a pickle. There is a tradition attached to it. It is hidden in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning the one who finds it gets an "extra" little gift....they are selling like crazy...they do every year...but I am bringing this up for a reason. We are about 5 weeks-ish away from the big day and I want to start to give you some stress relievers, in the form of new traditions. One thing that gets everyone stressed this time of year is finding time for everybody. So I thought we would start there. If you have a large family, have a party. That way everyone can get together at the same time. It is much easier to get together once than to run all over visiting each other. You could plan a "pot luck" and that way no one person has to do a lot of cooking. The added benefit is that there are all kinds of great dishes to choose from!! We host Christmas Morning Breakfast every year....our whole family comes. It is a much looked forward to event...and no one would miss it!! We have all kinds of casseroles, my husband's famous pancakes, baked ham and of course the greatly anticipated sticky buns!!! We "give it" as a gift to our family...but it could just as easily be pot luck. Everyone gets to spend time together, and then go do their thing for the rest of Christmas Day. The same idea could be applied to a gathering of friends. You could even kill two birds with one stone...have a "purpose" party...for example, a cookie exchange (takes some of the baking stress away...you could even "exchange' cookie dough...that way you still get to bake, but the messy part is done!!!) or a "wrapping" party. Bring the gifts that you want to look really special and then everyone brings paper, tape, scissors and then fun embellishments that you can share. Your gifts will look great without spending a fortune on all different paper. Or, if you are a crafty bunch, have a night of gift making. It is much more fun with company!! A progressive dinner with your friends or neighbors is nice, everyone is responsible for one course and you go to the next house for the next course. If all of your friends or neighbors really enjoy decorating that would be a nice way to enjoy their hard work!! I have more ideas...but I will sprinkle them in for the a while instead of all at once. If you have any ideas to add....please feel free to add them! Comment on here or on Sweet memories face book page....I may not be the ghost of Christmas Past...but I will get rid of the Scrooges of the world one way or another!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Believe in the magic....

OK...a few days ago I was on my soapbox (again) talking about The Scrooges out there. I have gotten down from the soapbox...but I haven't given up on the crusade! I have been watching my customers and listening to their comments and I have come to the conclusion that there are people who believe in the magic...and people who don't. Most people believe. I can tell because they are calling and asking about parties and special sweets orders....those are people who want to make someone happy...they believe! We are getting phone calls about certain special items in the gift shop...things to put the finishing touches on your decorations or celebrations...those are people who want everything to be perfect...they believe!! We have people who get lost in their thoughts while they are shopping...looking for a special gift for someone who is special to them....who are so excited with their finds and can't wait to surprise the recipient....they believe!!! Every once in a while, though, I hear "Oh...Christmas already...I'm not ready for this yet..." A non-believer!!! We stayed late at the shop tonight to cut out, bake off and assemble the gingerbread houses for class #2 tomorrow night. I listened to Christmas music all day, today....and when we got home the first thing I did was turn on all of the tree lights in the house!!! I believe in the magic and would like to help everyone else believe too!! Is there some part of the Holidays that stresses you out?? Is there some obligation that you dread?? If so....please tell me about it (either with a comment on here or on Sweet Memories facebook page..) I would like to see nothing but "jolly, happy souls" from now until Christmas....I have some great ideas for gift-giving, entertaining and just plain enjoying....It is possible to have a wonderful Christmas....You just have to believe in the Magic!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Our house is all decorated for Christmas!!! The outside still needs to get done...but inside it looks great!! I started to unpack the bins and, coincidentally, unpacked the ones with all of my greenery first. Those are the first things I need when I'm decorating...they are like the backround. However they also make a huge mess. There are so many that they cover the floor...and then some!! My plan was to keep going and unpack everything just like I always do. That way I can see everything and figure out where I'm putting what. That part of my plan was suddenly changed, however, because my son called and said he was coming with my grandson for a visit!!!! I just stood there looking at this HUGE mess...all over the floor...where he will expect to be able to CRAWL!!! Small problem!!! I managed to get almost all of the greens put where I wanted them before they got here...all clear for crawling!! Then we took a break and played with my grandson...then got back to work!! It was a nice afternoon...and we still got done in pretty good time!! It really does look great...I will post some pictures as soon as possible. Right now, though, I am getting my PJs on and calling it a night!! I do believe these "days off" are going to kill me!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deck the halls.....

One of our local radio stations is playing the Christmas music!!!! I am so excited...it's on on the radio in the kitchen at work (and in my car!!) It is so much fun to work to the Christmas music!! Last night, my husband and I did a little furniture re-arranging and put up the new, artificial, tree we bought Tuesday night. It is all "fluffed" and ready to go!! Now, I don't want ANY confusion here...I am a "real tree" gal 100%!!! The only way I will not have a real tree in my house for Christmas is if I am in a coma....We have more than one tree. This one is for my collection of blown glass ornaments. We used to put it in the foyer. The one we had was just a little big, not nearly as realistic as the ones on the market now (they are like computers and cell phones...state of the art today, out-dated tomorrow!!! The one we had was top of the line a few years ago, and very realistic....then!!) and I wanted to move it into the library. So we found one that is a little taller and slimmer and it fits perfectly!!! The real tree will not get decorated until Christmas Eve...that is our tradition. When the kids were small, they didn't even see it "done" until Christmas morning...they thought Santa decorated it!! Everything else is getting done tomorrow, so we thought we would get all of the "ground work" stuff done last night so we weren't wasting time on that!! It looks great and it's all ready for the 20+ "bins" to come down from the attic!! I know it will be a long day and a lot of work...but I am excited!! I will get pictures on here as soon as possible!! I have not forgotten about my promise to give you some ideas to make your Christmas jollier...I am working on a "format" of sharing...I may even ask for some audience participation....we will see!! In the meantime...I've got to get to work...the Christmas music awaits!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yeah Candy!!!!!!!!!...........

The Christmas candy IS IN!!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!! I really wanted it to show up on Thursday, but if I were honest with myself I didn't really expect it to come until yesterday. However....time was ticking away and no sign of any trucks...no delivery men...no boxes full of Christmas sweetness....again, I have to be honest...I was getting ANGRY!!!! I thought...I am not going to get it until Tuesday...seriously???? Then, in the middle of lunch service on a Friday....(poor guy) he attempted to make his way in the store, through all of those customers (and said something about no recession here....) gave up and put everything on the porch!! Now, keep in mind, we serve on Friday nights...so we are frantically trying to price everything, move all of the "filler-inner" stuff that I had to use to make that area look presentable for the last TWO weeks, re-arrange the display to my liking (not a small feat in itself...) all while shouting food directions to my husband who was holding down the fort in the kitchen!!! I have to thank my oldest daughter....she was pricing while I was re-arranging. The reason I am thanking her is that I ordered new hot chocolate in little packets 140+ little sticky tags...chocolate Santas with strings on them so that they can go on a package or the tree...60 some...hot chocolate spoons, 4 tubs with 24 in each...you get the picture!! She was a trooper....especially because I kept saying "are you done yet??" Hahaha...anyway, GREAT stuff!!!!!!!! Chocolate advent calendars, Belgian chocolate lollipops, "snowball" bubblegum, flavored hot chocolate stirrers, old-fashioned ribbon candy, chocolate filled candy canes, chocolate covered peeps, Asher non-pareils, little candy cane trees, the pasta shaped like snowmen and reindeer....the list goes on!!! I can, finally, say that we are ready.....not to say that we don't have anything left to do, I just feel SO much better to have this project done!! Not to mention the fact that I won't have to hide in the kitchen so I don't have to see the disappointment on all of my "little customers" faces!!! They are used to a delightful experience when they rush up to the "candy shop".....the Santa cookie jar (empty) just wasn't cutting it!!! Make sure you stop in and see it for yourselves!! I will get some pictures and share it with those of you who are not in the area!! "The children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads....." What a relief!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soapbox....yet again!!!!

Indulge me....I am going to get on my soapbox again!! We had some beautiful winter and Christmas artwork arrive yesterday afternoon. We had to spend a little time finding just the right place for it...although I don't expect any of it to "hang around" (pun intended!) for long. While I was pondering the arrangements, and the re-arrangements, a lady came into the shop. When she came upstairs she seemed genuinely surprised that we were "ready" for Christmas...she even questioned weather we were Christmas year round???? Really???? It is the middle of November...right?? I mean, I am constantly confused as to the time of year  (I am figuring out my Easter candy order as we speak!!!!)...however, I have not lost the ability to understand the calendar. I defy you to locate a retail venue that is NOT "ready" for Christmas!!! I know this a hot topic, and everyone LOVES to complain about how it all seems to get earlier and earlier every year. The fact of the matter is it is a LOT of work (getting all of the merchandise out and the displays looking amazing...) and there is a huge monetary investment in this inventory. I don't want to wait until December 1st to bring it all out....you could have been enjoying all of the fun and excitement and magic that is Christmas for weeks!! I think part of the problem is that there isn't enough fun and excitement and magic!!!! When you see hyacinths, in the grocery store, in January...you think "Oh the promise of Spring..." and your thoughts turn to flowers and dinner on the patio...it gives you something to look forward to!! When we spot those first pumpkins we are so excited for the Fall weather and Halloween fun!! But when those first Christmas decorations come out, everyone turns into Scrooge!!!! You can hear the moaning and groaning all around you!! What a shame!!! I LOVE Christmas....and everything that goes along with it!!! If you don't look forward to this season, maybe this is the year to figure out why!! Make some changes...it's not illegal. If there are obligations in your Holiday schedules that make you unhappy...consider them opportunities for change. I know Christmas is for kids...but, at least once a year, we all deserve to enjoy life "like a kid". The magic is there...you just need to believe!!!~~~~~I'm not done with this...I've decided to take this opportunity to come up with some ideas to help you all find the Christmas spirit....even in November!!!! Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Books, books, books.....

I am sorry that I didn't write anything last night....but I was at the book store!! I am a book junkie!! I love them...I collect cookbooks...they probably number in the 600's...that one is sort of obvious, considering what I do. However, the obsession does not stop there. I have many, many gardening books, books about birds, decorating books, Halloween books and Christmas books. One look at my shelves and it is clear where my heart lies! Of course, I also have all things Harry (Potter) and a friend is hunting down another, more pristine, set for me when she goes to yardsales...because mine are SO loved and read that they are showing their age!! I went to the bookstore looking for one book, in particular, which I found....then added two more to my pile!! I told my husband when we got in the car..."some women love shoes, some purses, some jewelry....just set me loose in the bookstore and I am happy!!" While we were there, we checked out the current issue of Lehigh Valley magazine...we are in it. I hadn't gotten to see the article...it was nice!! So, all in all, a very successful evening!! I am off to work...lots to do!! Another day of watching for that candy order...I won't know what to do if it shows up!! It will be like Christmas!! Waiting for some other things, too. So, have a great day...and thank a Veteran. If it weren't for them...none of us could do what we love, and enjoy the freedom to live the way we do! I'll try to get back on track, tonight. Although, I make no promises...I have new books to read!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where are you Christmas Candy?????..........

So...we are now in week three of waiting for the Christmas candy order. I put a delivery date on it that should have ensured it's arrival before Halloween. I have been patient...not a trait I usually possess...and I thought that, perhaps, the delay was caused by the very busy time of year we are in the midst of as we speak....as it turns out, the delay is because the order was not in the computer!!! I called my Rep this morning and told her that I still had not received my order and asked her to check on it for me. I guess she got a little huffy with the company because she called me back and she assured me it would be sent out tomorrow at the latest!! Now I am concerned that I am not going to get the whole order...that things will be gone...which would really make me angry! I did this "pre-book" in the time frame allotted, and then got the order in before it was due....and all of this happened so long ago that I can't even remember when I did it!!! The moral of this story is "no more Mrs. Nice Guy"...from now on I am going to be that squeaky wheel you have heard about!! When things don't go the way I think they should....someone is going to get a phone call!!! I spend my whole professional life being dependable and responsible....I wonder what would happen if I lost someones cake order??? Un-thinkable!! Yet....I just don't know!! I did, however, finally receive another order that I placed a long time ago....some of the cutest recipe cards EVER....and these "Thank You Notes" for kids....they just fill in the blanks on the cards. It's a great (and fun) way to teach them etiquette...Really cute!! Hey...maybe if we teach them early, they will be less likely to mess up an important order somewhere down the road!!! Tis the season to be jolly....I'll just keep singing!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

All packed and put away....

The Halloween is all packed and put away...see you next year!! It's kind of sad, especially because the house looks so empty!! (That is the only blip in the "one day to take down...one to put up" system..) But I only need to put up with it for a week...and I can spend the week thinking about my Christmas displays! I have candles burning, so it smells great...just looks sad...oh well!! It took longer than it should have (although I have a LOT of Halloween....) because I am running on fumes. This stupid "daylight savings time" thing doesn't help. I know the clock is saying 20 of 8:00, but we all know it's 20 of 9:00...and the clock said 3:45 but my inner clock said "get up...it's 4:45!!! I found myself walking in circles...trying to get organized and energized, this morning...so I put "The Santa Claus" on. It helped. I love Christmas movies and cartoons (actually...I love ALL things Christmas!!) and I still get excited when the "specials" come on regular TV...even though we can watch them any time we want to with DVDs...there is just something about them being on TV that I think is exciting...maybe a little "child-channeling"???? I sat and watched "White Christmas" two years ago...I have to say, I didn't care for it. I am sure that statement is punishable somewhere...but there you go! I, also, don't like "A Christmas Story" or "Christmas Vacation" (although the latter is one of my husband and kids favorites...????) Other than those...I pretty much love them all...even the somewhat sappy Hallmark channel selections. By far, though, my all-time favorite is the "Muppets Christmas Carol"!!! I love A Christmas Carol to begin with...and then Michael Caine is brilliant as Scrooge...and the songs are so GOOD...then you have the amazing creative talent of the Muppets themselves thrown in for good measure...It just doesn't get any better!! That will be my entertainment of choice next week when the 20 bins of Christmas come down the attic steps!!! I will sing along with Kermit and hope it goes smoothly!! What are your favorite Christmas movies?? ( If it's White Christmas...sorry!!!) ....to all a good night!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spending a little time at home....

We have not been here much this week!!! This was a rough one...but we made it!! The 1803 house candlelight dinner went very well, last night. No trains, again, (that is my biggest fear...that I'm going to get stuck sitting and waiting for the train with hot food in the car...)all of the guests were on time...early in fact. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and we were not too, too late getting home. So all in all, a good night!! We made cranberry-apple pork roast, little dumpling squash stuffed with apple-cheddar-leek custard and roasted asparagus. Dessert was a pumpkin-chocolate cheesecake. The appetizers were bacon and cheese stuffed baby potatoes, broccoli-mushroom cups and creamy crab spread on crostini. The guests all were talking about ghosts and how they would like to see one while they were in the house...no luck. Oh well! So my day off, tomorrow, will consist mainly of taking down all of my beloved Halloween decorations and packing them, carefully, away for next year. I am a little sad...but I am going to get the Christmas things out, next Monday...everything at the shop looks so great I am excited to get that done here at home, too. Something to look forward to. I used to wait until the Monday after Thanksgiving...but then I can only enjoy all of my collections (and hard work...) for a short time and then I have to put it all away!! A few years ago I told my family that I was going to have all of the Christmas "up" for Thanksgiving and asked if there were any objections....they said "no" so...this is what I do and it works for me. I get to enjoy it for a little longer and, by the time we are in full Christmas mode (in the rest of the world...) I have a little time to myself to enjoy it. We can spend our Mondays off doing fun things instead of worrying about decorating!! Besides...Thanksgiving is the start of the Holidays, anyway...otherwise, why would Santa be the highlight of the parade?? If he can show up in the Thanksgiving Day Parade...he can watch all of my family eat turkey...sounds about right to me!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Candlelight Dinner....

Well...the 'back on schedule" was short lived! This has been an insanely busy week for us, and it's not over! So, I am not going to beat myself up for not being on schedule! We have the 1803 House candlelight dinner, tonight. They hold a raffle. you buy tickets and then a winner is chosen. The winner receives a candlelight dinner for 10. They start with appetizers, then they get a tour of the house. Then they sit down to a salad course, the main entree and then dessert. The trick, here, is that there is no modern kitchen facility...it is a historic site. So we make all of the food in our restaurant and then transport it, one course at a time, to the house. My daughters are at the house, serving and helping out, and they keep me informed of the progress of the guests via cell phone. (WHAT did we do before those things?? Does anyone remember???) When they are "up to" the next thing, they call me and let me know and I put the next course in the car and race over the railroad tracks...(the ONLY potential fly in the ointment....but, in three years, I have not gotten stuck waiting for a train...knock on wood!!!) and deliver. Then I race back and prepare the next course. My husband stays at the restaurant and keeps an eye on the food. It sounds kind of crazy...but it works. It involves a tremendous amount of timing to get it all done when it needs to be...but, as long as the guests are on time, it's fine!! This event and the gingerbread house classes are the "trigger" for me that the Holiday season has arrived!! I don't think we have ever had both events in the same week, before...but sometimes these things are unavoidable!! This picture is of one of our rooms in the gift shops all decked out!! Everyone who has come in this week has been excited about the Christmas merchandise! Lots of shopping going on....so I am not alone!! Once we get to the end of this week, the Holidays will be here!! ....My candy order, is not....but the Holidays are! Enjoy your weekend....and come in and see us, and Christmas, we'll be around all weekend!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dishtowels and salt & pepper shakers....

OK...back on track!! I prefer to write this at night, but all of my nights, recently, have been spent at the shop!! Tonight...we have some down time! This is the promised picture of the fireplace that my husband built in the gift shop. Pretty cool, right?? It's all decorated for Christmas...along with everything else! Well, actually, that is not true because I am still waiting for the candy order!! We worked on the "kitchen shop" today...it looks great! Lots and lots of awesome dish towels and adorable salt and pepper shakers among many other things. All would make great gifts...and the customers who were buying them, today, as we were getting them out, said the same thing!! We, also, got our back-order from one of my companies. That is all priced and out, too! When we started to get the dishtowels out I thought "What was I thinking? Why did I order SO many..." but once I started to really look at them I realized I ordered them because they are all so pretty!! They are an inexpensive way to add a touch of the holidays to your kitchen, can be changed whenever you want to and are useful, too!! Then I found myself thinking the same thing about the salt and pepper shakers!! But, once you see them, you just can't pass them up!! And, again, what a cute way to add some personality to your dinner table...with very little investment!! The back-ordered items are wonderful, too! We have a real touch of nostalgia happening, this year...you should come in and see for yourselves!! Like I said before...if you are looking for Christmas, I know where you can find it!! Well...We had a very productive day...and I am looking forward to relaxing and watching some TV. Big Bang Theory and Grey's...gotta love a "free" Thursday night!!!

One down...three to go...

The first Gingerbread House Class of 2010 is just a (Sweet) Memory....Once again...they did a great job!!! So much creativity...The table was full of candy and cookies. The icing bags were loaded (and loaded again and again....) the Christmas music was playing in the backround. The refreshments were in place. A big sandwich shaped like a wreath and another one shaped like a candy cane, chips and pretzels with dip and our famous "pizza dip" (we had some little helpers...2 four-year-olds and 1 six....didn't want to get too fancy with the food or they wouldn't eat anything but the candy!!) Then there were several plates of Christmas cookies! I think everyone enjoyed themselves...I know the kids did!! One of our littlest customers is a huge Harry Potter fan and she wanted her house to look like Hogwarts! That was a challenge...but I think we did a pretty good job! We also had an Alaskan log cabin appear right before our eyes! Both of my daughters and I actually rolled up our sleeves and helped in this class...with the bar set so high, we had to do more than just suggest and fill the icing bags!! Once again, I have to say "Great job, one and all!". Our next class is in two weeks. Right now, though, I need to concentrate on the candlelight dinner at the 1803 house...and my big project for today is getting the "kitchen shop" upstairs all ready for Christmas!! Lots of great merchandise for that room, this year!! So, I am off to work...still waiting for the Christmas candy order...I sure hope it comes today!! I will try to write this, tonight, and get back on schedule!! Have a great day!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gingerbread House Class #1.....

Our first Gingerbread house class of the season is tonight!! All of the houses are baked and constructed and ready for the creativity!! I love these classes...they are so much fun. Everyone really gets into their creations and enjoys themselves. It always amazes me...we provide candy (TONS...) and everyone has the same candy to choose from, yet all of the houses will be different!! So cool!! I need to make all of the refreshments later today...I have decided to make an assortment of Christmas cookies for dessert...nothing says "Christmas" like cookies! I made the house a very box-y shape for this class, because I have been told of some of the plans for the decorations and I didn't want the shape to get in the way...I will take pictures and get them on here...along with some new, Christmas, pictures...my schedule has just been crazy the past couple of weeks and time has flown by...but I will take new ones, today!! We are, still, waiting for the candy order...maybe that will show up this afternoon...that would be awesome...because the "candy shop" looks like heck and is making me crazy!! I hate when things don't look amazing...this could be the day when a whole bunch of new customers come through the door (well...everyday is...) and their first impression is ...."what is that???" you see my point! You only get one chance to make a first impression. I did put a ship date on this order that should have ensured it's delivery before I needed it...I spend my whole life on a schedule with deadline after deadline...it confounds me that the rest of the world doesn't??!! Oh well...maybe today! If it does show up I will take pictures of the "candy shop" too! I have a lot to do so I am off...see you later!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Christmas....

It is, officially, Christmas in the gift shoppes at Sweet Memories!! We put in a twelve hour day creating a Christmas wonderland...and we are not done yet!! There is still merchandise to get out and still some more coming in!! But the hard work is done!! (And I am feeling it...) Most stores close for days to get this job done...but, because we are also a restaurant, we can't do that. I don't think I would want to anyway...We had another small problem because we are also a restaurant...we needed to un-decorate the fireplace mantle in the dining room and then, of course, re-decorate it...with what?? I am not ready to do the dining room for Christmas, yet...it's too early!! We opted for Thanksgiving...and it is REALLY pretty!! Then we had the hallway...again, not quite ready for all out Christmas (The front porch will wait a couple of weeks, too...) but where is the dividing line?? So the hallway is still Fall...beautiful wreaths for your front door to welcome your Thanksgiving guests!! It really looks good! I did prepare the "Candy Shop" for a little Christmas...because I am expecting the candy order any minute...but once that is all done, I don't think anyone will mind a little taste of Christmas while they eat their lunch!!! I have to go and Bake, bake, bake...we had a crazy "sugar" weekend...but I wouldn't expect anything less...it was Halloween after all!!! I have to get the gingerbread houses done today, too...our first class of the season is tomorrow night!! It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!!