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Monday, February 28, 2011

So much on my mind......

I have Easter on the brain!! I am expecting my "big" Easter order tomorrow. We have gotten lots of great things in, already, but this one has the merchandise that I base all of my displays around. Once it comes in I can really concentrate on the displays. I have all kinds of ideas in my head...I just want to get them done "for real" so that I can think about something else!! We have people calling to see if everything is in, yet. We have a lot of customers that travel a little distance to see us (which is VERY flattering, by the way...) and they want to make sure we are "ready" for Easter when they get there...they don't want to miss anything!! That is, also, VERY flattering!! It makes me happy when you guys love the merchandise I pick out...it's a bit of a gamble, really. I have 1000's of choices available to me...deciding what to carry can be difficult!! But, when I hear all of the nice comments ("your stuff is so unique and not like everything that everyone else has" is my favorite...) and have people calling to see if we are "ready" for whatever Holiday is coming up (and traveling to see it...) that makes me think that, maybe, I am doing something right!!! If Easter is your thing (or ONE of your things....like me!!) make sure you stop in sooner rather than later!! Some of our selections are gone already!!~~ I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about the Spring class schedule, too. I have it all ready...by the end of February...as promised!! We have some exciting "surprises" for this round of classes. I am trying to make them a little more interactive. I think it will be more fun for both of us!! All of the information will be available starting tomorrow...just give us a call...we will sign you up!!~~ And, now that the weather has broken a bit, I can give the Afternoon Tea some more time!! I was all ready to go...and then we had all of that nasty weather!! I decided not to push it too hard until the weather cooperated a little more!! There is nothing worse than having something planned and then having to cancel it!! I think I am "safe" now, though...I am sure it's not COMPLETELY done with us (although that would be fine with me!!!) But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!! I am going to come up with a menu and post it on my facebook page. I will have a new one for every month...that way you'll know what we are serving. We are "famous" for changing our menu all of the time...but I think the Afternoon Tea menu can stay the same for a whole month and then change...I can take advantage of what is "in season" that way, too!! If you haven't tried it, yet...make some plans and call for a reservation!! ~~ Boy, there's a lot going on in my head!!! If I have seemed a little "out of it" lately....now you know why!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday.....

One Day They are babies...
And then.....
They are celebrating their 1st Birthday!! Wow...it just goes SO fast!!! A year ago it was snowing...so we were able to close the shop early and meet my grandson!! Funny how that works out!! He has been a source of happiness ever since!! I mean, look at that face!!! We went birthday shopping, last night, with a very clear gift in mind...and wound up with something completely different!!! It doesn't matter, really, because his favorite thing in the world is the broom and mop!!! He carries them around and "seeps"....of course he is pretty attached to the snow "suzzle" too!!! Luckily there isn't any, right now, to be "suzzling"....what a difference a year makes....Boy ain't that the truth!!! Happy Birthday Peanut...We love you!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here comes Peter Cottontail.....

The Easter goodies are coming in fast and furious now!! We have some really great stuff!! Everything from Vintage reproduction to whimsical to just plain CUTE!! As I transform the shops into a Spring and Easter "wonderland" I remember how much I love this time of year!! I spend so much time looking forward to Halloween (and I am still spending a considerable amount of time thinking about it because of the event we are working on at the 1803 House!!!) and the Fall weather...and then, of course, Christmas consumes my every waking thought...(whether I am at the shop or at home) but sometimes you forget just how exciting this time of year is, too!! Not only because the weather is getting better...but my gardens coming back to life and then the Easter Holiday itself!! I have been tweaking the Easter candy display and the Easter merchandise in the gift shops all week. It is an ongoing process that is never, actually, finished. As I work on the candy display I find myself thinking how much I wish I were putting baskets together for my kids...this stuff is just SO cute, and unique...it would be great additions to the offerings from the Easter Bunny...(and we got some stuffed animals in yesterday that BELONG in the baskets, too!!) Then we got some foil wrapped "candy" bunnies that are for decoration only...I will get pictures on here!! The more we get in the more I am looking forward to Spring...I am glad it is so "late" this year...more time to savor the decorations!! It will also mean a better chance for warm weather...egg hunts in the bitter cold are NOT fun!! If you are in the area...make sure you stop in and see all that we have been working on...and if you find yourself singing "Here comes Peter Cottontail" that's OK...'cuz I have been humming it myself!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary???.........

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out!! February is a very busy month for us. We have Valentine's Day, then our Anniversary, our daughter's birthday and, now, our grandson's birthday. These are all fun activities...a little bit of a challenge, too...we don't have a lot of free time to plan celebrations. As it turned out, though, three out of the four "landed" on a Monday, this year, which is the only day we are closed at the shop!! We have been trying to come up with fun things to do to celebrate...my husband and I took a little day trip, last week, for Valentine's Day and we had plans for most of the day, today, to celebrate our Anniversary.~~ He's sick!!~~ Oh well...what can you do?? We are planning to go to the Flower show in a couple of weeks...that was our "Anniversary gift"...but we had plans for today, too. It is less than lovely outside, so I think I'll just "dream" of Springtime in Paris (that is this year's theme for the flower show...) and look forward to that trip!! I was planning on going over to the shop for a little bit, and get some of the merchandise displayed the way I want it. I did not have a whole lot of time to "decorate" the way I wanted to. This week was very busy. So...I'll go over and get that done while he rests (and hopefully feels better!!) and we will have to make new plans to go and see "Gnomeo and Juliet"... Unwelcome weather, unexpected sickness...like I said...a little bit of a challenge!!! Ahh, February!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another one of those days.....

Have you ever had one of those days...you feel like you are running in place. It seems like you will never, actually, get anywhere. I have them now and again...and I had one, yesterday. It has nothing to do with the shop...I have had these days at home, too....I guess it's just the way the planets line up...or the full moon!! We can blame all kinds of things on that!! Today, I am heading to work with a positive attitude and high hopes that I won't feel like a hamster on a wheel, again!! There were many, many moments, yesterday, that the bakery case did NOT look like this!! I just kept baking and baking...but the case was emptying faster than I could fill it up!! All in all it's a great "problem" to have!! One of these days I am going to keep track of how much butter and sugar I use in a week...just for fun!!~~ Well, we have gotten to the end of another week~~as far as merchandise deliveries go~~and I still have things that I am waiting for. It is so strange...some of my companies ship super early (think Christmas in July...hey, maybe that's where that came from???) and others...I wait and wait!! Oh well...keeps thing fresh and ever-changing in the shops...and that keeps things interesting!!! We have gotten all of the Easter that I have so far, out...I am sure I will change the displays several times as new things come in...but that's OK. And, as I suspected, everyone else is ready for this season, too, because the Easter is selling!! The candy display is all done...and that is selling, too!! Spring cannot come fast enough...I just hope we don't have too much Winter left to deal with. I am off to make the cakes~~lots and lots of orders, today!! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Candy, candy, candy....

Yesterday was an eventful, busy day!! Baked and baked and baked...cookies, kiefels, brownies, scones...whew!! And we are trying to get the remnants of Winter put away and embrace Spring. I am decorating for Easter...and I don't care that it is late this year...we deserve chicks and bunnies!! And then we had a surprise visit from my son and grandson!! I will have to get some pictures on here...he will be a year old in a week, and has grown so much!! He is so funny...his favorite things are the broom and mop!! He carries them around and "seeps". The problem is that they are, considerably taller than he is, so the handles are a weapon!! We have all gotten really good at dodging the handles!! We are, also, teaching him "HOT"...I don't want any accidents in the kitchen!! During his visit we received a phone call from the truck driver who was about to deliver my big candy order!! The shop, currently, looks like a candy factory exploded!! It is everywhere!! I just didn't have the energy...although my grandson did!! He wanted to help "unpack" that candy and see what was in those boxes!! My grand plan was to put all of the old-fashioned and nostalgic candy out right away, but save the Easter candy, and put it out in a couple of weeks....but it is all just too darn cute!! So I am going to do that too!! I am heading to work, now, to get this job done!! Candy, candy, candy...it's a tough job....but somebody has to do it!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taste of Spring....

I know it's early. I know Easter isn't until the end of April....but I don't care!!! The weather, on Monday, really felt like Spring and I am so ready for it!! This was one tough Winter...the snow and ice are, finally, melting from around our house and we can see...all too clearly...how much clean-up needs to get done!! Just removing the cinders is going to be quite a job!! But that's OK with me....I say "bring it". My youngest daughter and I were shopping for curtain material for her apartment Saturday night...no luck (yet..) but I did see some really awesome green burlap. I want to re-do the curtains in our pool house, this year. They really took a beating from all of the wind. When I made them, last year, I bought the burlap from a garden store....never occurred to me to look at the fabric store...duh!!! The stuff at the fabric store seemed much heavier. Oh, it must be February!! I am stacking the projects up...that is a sure sign of Spring!!! We got our tea order in, today. So all of you who have been waiting for the Vanilla Coconut....it's back!! I ordered a bunch of new flavors, too, including strawberry chocolate and red velvet...yes, those are TEA flavors!! We, also, got our forsythia order. Wreaths, stems and garland!! And, just to warn you, the Easter is starting to show itself....this is one of the best parts of owning your own store....it can be Easter if I want it to be...and I DO!!! If you, too, are looking for Spring...you know where to find it!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A great Valentine's Day...

It is clear that we were rewarded, today, for the weather that we have been dealing with all Winter!! How lovely that we enjoyed this treat on Valentine's Day!! My husband and I took a little day trip... our reward after such a busy, busy weekend!! We had our usual crowd on Saturday and then had a baby shower come in. Most of the guests for the shower traveled about an hour to get there! That is very, very flattering. Not only do so many people pick our shop for celebrating their special events, but so many more are coming from farther and farther away.... I guess that's the definition of a "destination" place. We were very busy for Sunday Brunch...lots of couples and families...and then fully booked for Sunday Supper, last night, and there were quite a few cars with New Jersey plates!! It really makes me feel good...and makes me feel like I am doing something right!! We, also, had some of our favorite customers come in and see us this weekend. I even got a few "Valentine's" and a flower!! It is always so nice to realize how very lucky we are... we don't just have customers...we have an extra large family!! All in all this was a great Valentine's Day...hope you had a great one, too!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

So charming...

Are you ready?? Valentine's Day is just around the corner!! These charms are great for backpack zippers and key chains...but we, also, got our other~~super popular~~charm order in, yesterday!! The company had a whole new line...they are magnets and are interchangeable!! You can have a new necklace everyday!! I have not had a chance to take any pictures, yet...but you should really come in and see them in person, anyway!! We, also, re-stocked all of the other charms...scrabble tiles, quotes, vintage pictures...they all sold out the last time we had them...come in and check them out!! ~~~ I put some more orders in, yesterday...so, just to let you know...we have forsythia on it's way...some more amazing Easter and Garden goodies...and the Tea order has been placed!!! All of the ugly weather really wreaked havoc with my schedule. All of those things that I am, usually, on top of kept getting pushed back!! I am, almost, back on track!! We, also, completed a little project back by the cash register...(that ALSO took much longer than it should have!!) You will have to come in and see it and tell me what you think!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Secret recipes....

I love cookbooks and recipes. That, of course, is no secret. I have been baking...in one way or another...since I was a kid. I have been baking "professionally" for a very, very long time!! I collect cookbooks and recipes like people collect stamps~ Or whatever you collect~ I  rarely follow a recipe, as is. I have been doing this for so long that I can tell by looking at a recipe if it will "work" and be a winner...or not!!! But I do find a lot of inspiration in books and magazines etc. I, especially, like "real" recipes that are used by "real" families everyday. Which is why I carry the Gooseberry cookbooks...you can't beat family recipes!! (I don't follow those, exactly, either...but that's not the point!!) The recipes that I use at the shop, everyday, are "mine"...either I came up with them, from beginning to end...or I "worked" on them, changed them...added, subtracted and tweaked...until they are mine!! Everything from the soups, salads, quiche and sandwich fillings...to the dinner selections, Brunch dishes and all of the baked goods!!! My scone recipe, alone, was a "work in progress" for a VERY long time!! So, why am I telling you all of this??? Well....it is the back story to a really GOOD story that happened this week!! People never cease to amaze me!! We received quite a few boxes of new merchandise on Tuesday (AWESOME new merchandise....just saying!!) so, when I finished all of my baking and my orders, I went up in the gift shoppes to find homes for everything. My daughter came up and said that she had just had "the phone call to beat all phone calls". Just to let you know, that IS saying something...because I could write an Erma Bombeck-type book just about the phone calls!!!! A lady, who has moved out of the area, called, and was telling my daughter all about how she used to come in to the shop, but that she, now, lives in another state etc. etc.....my daughter thought she was going to ask if we ship cakes. But, no, instead she asked if she could have my recipes!!! When my daughter recovered from the shock...she told her no...that wasn't enough. The lady asked her to go and ask "someone with authority"...oh dear!! My daughter told her who she was, that she KNEW some of the recipes, herself, and that the answer would still be "no" regardless of who she talked to!! I guess she wasn't very happy!! So...the question of the day is...when I am ready to "retire"...and decide to "write a book", do we make it the tell all cookbook....or the funny one ?? I'll tell you what...kids may say the darndest things, but the adults are a close second!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Very Merrie Halloween...

Save the date! Saturday October 1, 2011! We would love for you to join us at the 1803 House for "A Very Merrie Halloween"~~a Halloween art show and Fall festival. We had another meeting, last night, and picked the name and date...so it's official!! I know we are trying, desperately, to break out of this cold weather and get a little sun and warmth into our lives...and, now, I am talking about October...but it takes a long time to plan an event like this, especially if we want it to be awesome and memorable...which we do!! I asked, before, if there are Halloween Artists out there who would like to apply and participate...this is the most important part of the whole thing!! If you, or someone you know, would be interested...please feel free to contact me!! The Artists will be able to set up in the house...it's a beautiful old building that will be a great backdrop for Halloween art! We are looking for a diverse mix of things...so, maybe you paint or sculpt, re-purpose and re-use, make jewelry or candles or witches brooms...if it's Halloween...we would love to talk to you, see your art and have you apply!! We have some other things planned for this, too....so it will be a fun day for everyone!! I'll give more details as we go along!! I am very excited about this!! You guys all know what a big deal Halloween is at the shop. We work, very hard, to bring you a fantastic selection of collectibles and decorations...and we have been told (more than a few times...) that we have the best!! You guys, also, know that I am a collector, myself!! I follow several, amazing artists and their work...and most of them participate in some kind of show (or shows)..some online, some that the public can, actually, attend. Unfortunately, these shows are in Michigan and California...not an option for a small business owner. But, this is a way to bring this kind of experience right here to our area!! I am sure that we have some amazing talent of our own, right here!! If you can help us locate it...that would be great!! So...all of my Halloween enthusiasts....(and you know who you are!!)...you circled the date didn't you?? We are going to have a "Very Merrie Halloween"!!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oh Baby......

We are going over to the shop, this morning, to tackle the "baby room"...I got a whole bunch of new...adorable...things in and it is time to change that room around!! Once we are all done I will get some pictures so that you can see the new merchandise!! Cute, Cute, Cute!!! I have, always, looked at the baby things from my various companies...but I didn't start to carry it until my Grandson came along!! I didn't feel that I had enough room to do the subject justice...but I have given this a lot of thought and feel, now, that it really is a good tie-in to the shop. We have showers...many of them baby...almost every Saturday...and we have many, many doting Grandmothers who love to buy things for the grandbabies and I can't think of any shopping experience that brings "sweet memories" to mind more than shopping for a baby gift!! I decided that I did not have to carry everything...I am not a "Babies 'R' Us"...so I am picking out the cutest, cuddliest, most adorable "sweet memory" producing things! Once we get this all changed around I will be able to concentrate on finding more. So...we are off!! If you have any babies in your life, either now...or in the near future, be sure to stop in and check out what we are doing....and if you don't have any babies right now...check it out, anyway!! Nothing says Spring is in the air like a healthy dose of adorable!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

40 something days 'til Spring....

That which does not kill us...makes us stronger!!! It is only a matter of days...40 something, actually...and we will be saying hello to Spring!! I cannot wait until the porch looks like this, again!! Other than the hanging plants...I will be getting those from MY plant place, this year. I bought the ones everyone else did, last year...you can see the results!! Not to toot my own horn...but I have a green thumb...so this was either a result of the weather (now, there's a shock!!) or the plants were stressed to begin with. I go to a greenhouse that is family owned and operated. Their plants are amazing!! I get all of my herbs, and some bedding plants and perennials, from them. I would, probably, get more from them...but I fill the back of my car with herbs and can't get any more in!! It's a bit of a trip and Monday is the only day that I can go. There are other, more local, greenhouses that I frequent (and I mean that literally...sometimes several times a week!!) and they have great annual bedding plants...but the selection of herbs is nothing compared to my favorite one. We have a large, formally laid out, herb garden. I really stuff the plants in because I like the look of controlled chaos. I, also, like unusual herbs in addition to the parsley and basil!! I mix tomatoes and other vegetable plants in too...mostly for the look...it gives the appearance of an old-fashioned kitchen garden. I teach classes, in the Spring, that feature herbs...among other things!! I promised to have the class schedule ready before the end of this month...so keep your eyes open!! We, also, have some herbs that you can grow on your windowsill...they are in the shops, upstairs....just in case I got the juices flowing with all of this garden talk!! Have a great Sunday!!...They say the sun might make an appearance...now, wouldn't that be wonderful??

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter-weary.....

I wish. This seems like SO long ago!!! I am, without question, Winter-weary. It's not about the snow, or the sleet, or the ice...well, yes it is....but it is so much more than that! This weather pattern that we have been in, for what seems like years, is a real drain on your energy!! It seems like all I've done for~forever~is worry. We have a big responsibility. We own 2 properties that need to be taken care of. They both need the snow and ice removed form where you walk...which has been a constant job. We are, especially, concerned with the shop....I don't want anyone to fall and get hurt. So...it's constant. The shoveling, the re-shoveling, the salting, the plowing of the parking lot...I have to say...we feel like an island!! We have our property completely clean and clear and safe...but the rest of the town is, really, falling down on the job!! The alley(s) that you need to use to get to our parking lot are horrible!! The sidewalks all around us have not been taken care of...and there is a frozen "bank" that was never removed from the edge of the road that makes it impossible to get onto the sidewalk!!! We have great customers who have been coming~~no matter what~~but I am so disgusted with this situation!!! The local road crews have spent the last few days getting the triangle cleaned (finally) because there was an event planned for this weekend....ummm...we have "events" every single day. Showers and birthdays, retirements and job promotions, anniversaries and Holiday celebrations...but we are still "ice locked"!!! I had a customer, yesterday, who had called and asked about some of the new Byers' pieces. She was planning on buying quite a few and spending a lot of money. We had them all ready and waiting for her when she got there...but she called us from outside...in her car. She was afraid to get out because of the ice!!! Not on OUR property...the ice on the side of the road and the sidewalks of the neighboring properties!! We had to take the merchandise out to her. So much for the experience. I work my tail off to make your time with us memorable. From the second you step inside the door. But, if you are afraid to leave your car....I guess it doesn't really matter!!! I know this is a less than ideal situation all the way around...and NO one is enjoying it!! I know we are not alone....but, some days it sure feels like it!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Great new stuff coming in.....

Well...the weather, this week, has certainly been ugly....but it has not stopped the deliveries from coming in!! We have some of the cutest, prettiest new stuff!! I am very excited!! I am expecting even more today!! If you haven't come in and checked out the gift shops in a little while...you should!! One of my reps came in, yesterday afternoon, and she had a couple of new companies and new lines to show me...you guys are going to LOVE this new stuff, too!! So, it's Friday, and that means lunch and supper...and with the weather this week...I am going all out comfort food, tonight!! I think we deserve it!! If you are in the mood to make a little comfort food of your own...you should stop in and check out the "kitchen shop"...we have everything you need!! Doesn't this picture make you feel like cooking?? Oh...well then, never mind...that is what WE are here for!! Happy Friday,everyone and keep your chin up...Spring...or at least a stretch of non-ugly weather...HAS to be right around the corner!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mother Nature Wins....

Today...you could ice skate on the sidewalks!!! I don't think you would look this happy about it!! We take our business very seriously. This is not a "hobby" to us...it is our livelihood...but you just don't mess with ice!!! Like I said before, Mother Nature is one tough broad!! The groundhog didn't see his shadow (how could he...it is MISERABLE today...) so, according to folklore, that means an early Spring!! You all know how much I love folklore and fairytales...so I am going to hope that the rodent is right!! We are going to wait out the worst of this and then head into the shop a little later on. I have a whole bunch of "sprucing up" and re-arranging ideas for the gift shop. We got some of the new merchandise, that I have been waiting for, yesterday...and it, really is, just a matter of time before I start to unpack the Easter. I have been threatening for a few weeks...but the groundhog said an early Spring so....I am thinking about (which translates to "going to"..) adding on to the baby area. We have so many new "little customers" lately...we want to keep them happy! I think there is a gap in this market...especially locally...and I have given up thinking that the gaps will be closed by any new businesses...so I will close them myself!! I have some great stuff available to me~ I just have to figure out where to put it, how to display it and then what to carry. I am, also, planning to expand the "gourmet market"...this area is really picking up!! The products that we sell are top of the line and SO GOOD...and we have a real following for them...one of the companies I order from called the products an "affordable luxury" I think that is a great way to look at it!! So...we will go in to the shop, armed with my ideas, get some work done (I hate wasting time!!) and answer the phone...because I am pretty sure you are all just as sick of this weather as we are, and will be calling to make your "I need some Sweet Memories" reservations!!! Of course...you will have to check out the gift shops, too, you don't want to miss all of our new ideas!!