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Monday, December 31, 2012

The perfect tree....the perfect ornament....

Can you see it?? It's in there...right there...hiding in the branches of the Christmas tree. Can you see it??

I love....LOVE...finding the perfect Christmas tree...but if I can find one that a little bird has loved too....loved enough to call it home....then it really IS perfect!!

Folklore tells us that finding a bird's nest in your Christmas tree means good luck and prosperity for the coming year!! This is, actually, the second time we have found a tree with a bird's nest in it...I kept that one...and I will add this one to my collection, too!!

I am going to be very sad when we take the tree(s) down. We are going to do it on Wednesday morning....and then I am going to the shop and do some sprucing up!! We spent some time at the shop, today....took the tree in the dining room down...fixed the garland over the bakery case....took all of the Christmas down from the fireplace in the dining room and redecorated it for the Winter season....and my husband braved the bitter cold and packed away all of the Christmas lights, outside, and replaced them with the "Winter" lights!!! It is always so bittersweet....I hate to see the Christmas get packed away but there is something very energizing about the redecorating process.

So....Wednesday morning...we will take each of the well loved ornaments off of the tree....wrap them carefully and, probably, do a little reminiscing. Each and every ornament has a story to tell and a special "sweet" memory to go with it!! But after everything is packed....and before we take the tree outside....I will carefully remove the nest and add it to my decorations. I have to say...as much as I love all of our Christmas ornaments I think, this year, this one was my favorite!! I hope that the folklore is right....and that the coming year brings good luck and prosperity....not just for me and my family....but for all of you as well!!

"Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance ~~ each beautiful, unique and too soon gone."

Out with the old....and in with the new...

                                                   Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Grown up Christmas.....

Just one more week....that's all....just one more week!! I am ready...are you?? I mean...I still have to wrap...but that's OK. We are going to go and "finish up" today....a few more more special surprises. I have to get our gingerbread house done (a train station because my Grandson LOVES trains!!) that's on my list for tomorrow. Our "real tree" needs to be decorated....but we do that on Christmas Eve...to continue the tradition of Santa Claus decorating the tree. I want to bake some Christmas cookies for MY family...but that will have to wait until I am done baking them for all of you...but I am OK with that, too....it's how it's always been. But....I am ready.~~~ It's funny how Christmas changes. I mean...this year....like last...is calm. The kids are all grown and in relationships. So our family has expanded. And we have our Grandson....which puts the "kid" back into our Christmas....but that's not how it has changed. When your kids grow up....Christmas grows up, too. There are no more letters to Santa with a wishlist a mile long (you are on your own!!) No running around trying to find the latest toy...no long nights putting it together!! No constant questions about "how much longer until Christmas gets here"....or questions about Santa Claus. No plays, or concerts...or those "shopping" days at school. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss all of that...those were some of our very, very best Christmases. But these "new" grown up Christmases are wonderful, too. As long as we can all be together...and enjoy the Holiday and each others company (and I have a fun and lively bunch...you can't help it!!!) it will always be a wonderful Christmas...but, today, I am thinking about all of those families in Connecticut who are going through hell. They will not have any of the things I miss either....but not because their kids are grown.~~~ Make the most of every Holiday with your family...make the most of every DAY with your family....because they are all a gift. Yes, I am ready....I think a little sharing, caring and hope are in order...and then, maybe, a little "change you would like to see in the world" thrown in, too....hey...now there's a great....PRODUCTIVE....New Years resolution!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cookies, cookies, cookies!!!!!

It's that time again!! Cookies, cookies, cookies!! There is a lot more to it than just cookies, though....it's really all about the traditions. I am a sucker for traditions. In our family....we have a ton!! Everything from when we get the Christmas tree (and put it up and decorate it...) to the "pickle" hidden in the branches!! As far as I am concerned...the traditions are what make Christmas so special. For a lot of people....baking Christmas cookies is a dreaded chore....that makes me a little sad!! And....for a lot of people....chocolate chip cookies qualify as Christmas cookies....that makes me even sadder!! There are SO many great recipes out there....EASY recipes that produce great tasting (and looking...) cookies with minimal effort. There are, also, quite a few tips to help make this a FUN experience instead of a stressful one!! Make the dough ahead of time. The measuring and mixing....and resulting mess....is the "hard part"!! Once the dough is done (and many of them NEED refrigeration time, anyway....) you can move on to the "fun" part!! Also....there is no law that says you have to make 40 dozen in one day!! If you find a recipe for an all butter, crispy cookie...the butter flavor intensifies when they "sit" a little bit....so those can be done first and wrapped well and stored.Start some new traditions, this year....find some great recipes, roll up your sleeves, and pull a chair up to the counter for some special little ones. Take it from me....the time you spend baking Christmas cookies (especially with the kids...) is time well spent. The "sweet memories" that those baking sessions make will last a lifetime....or, in our case, start a business!!

This recipe is for a "kid friendly" gingerbread cookie....not too spicy!!
Original recipe makes 2 1/2 dozen 

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Some week......

This has been some week!!!

One, frankly, that I would like to put behind us....so I am moving on!!

All of us are different. We have different tastes in music, art, home decor, food....we like different things...hobbies, vacation destinations, cars....but, in some ways, we are all the same. We need to feel safe. Nothing takes that safe feeling away faster than Mother Nature. You are told and told again to "prepare"....and most of us do. We buy the food and the water....the ice and the batteries. We bring the lawn furniture in, take the birdfeeders down, move the cars away from the trees and clean out the gutters (again....) but, the bottom line is....this just makes you "feel" prepared. There was nothing that all of those New Jersey communities could have done to "prepare" for what they are going through. Most of the people got out....and that was about all they COULD do.
            For me...my house is my haven. It is where I feel safe....until the power goes out. Without power we have no lights, no TV and no hot water....but we also have no heat, no sump pump and no connection to the outside world. While you are experiencing these....let's be honest MINOR inconveniences.....you feel like you will, surely, go insane. But....then the power comes back....and you can think clearly, and you get warm, and you realize....that by some HUGE stroke of luck....the lack of sump pump wasn't even an issue (not ONE drop of water in the basement!!!) and then you turn on the TV and you have service to all of your devices again....and you see how very, very, very lucky we were!!!
            I, for one, am looking forward to things getting back to normal. I want my busy, busy routine. And, at the end of the day, I want to come home to my warm, SAFE, house. But....I will NOT forget how very close we came to not having that luxury....and I am going to be very thankful, each and every day that everything that is important to me is safe and sound.....and keep all of those people, who cannot say the same, in my thoughts and prayers. (I am, also, going to try to convince myself that the "rudeness" I am encountering in people is actually frustration....because that will make me feel a little better!!!)
            I am, also....moving on!! It helps me to think about something else....so I have chosen Christmas!! I would appreciate if you would refrain from any judgement. I really DON'T want to hear that it's too early....because I wholeheartedly disagree!! I think we need a little Christmas...the light, the hope, the kindness, the giving.....and, yes, the candy canes!! Whatever we can do to make us smile!! I'm not going to put the Christmas CDs on at the shop....just yet....but I think I will play them in the car!! And, just in case you are on board with me...there are some Christmas movies on TV this weekend.....providing of course...you have your power back. If not....find a friend who does....we need a little Christmas NOW!!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Christmas on my mind!!

Is anyone else thinking about Christmas?? I mean....part of it is because I HAVE to....it's part of my job!! Heck....I start to think about it in March!! And I have all of that covered. I have the boxes and boxes of new merchandise all sorted out....I know which room of the gift shop all of it belongs in...I know what "theme" I am going to decorate each room in...and I have a game plan for the "switching" over. I WILL leave the Halloween in place....so that you will, actually, be able to SEE Halloween ON Halloween....a strange and foreign idea, I know.....but, of course, Halloween falls in the middle of the week...so the transformation will have to be a little bit of a process and a little less "magic"....but there's nothing I can do about that!! But what I am REALLY talking about is the Christmas that happens in my "real" life. I have been giving it a lot of thought. I know what I want to do outside (on my new porch:)) and I have already started to buy the lights!! Under normal circumstances I am a "fly by the seat of my pants" kinda girl. Some of my very best ideas come to be when I am under a lot of pressure!! Planning this far ahead is NOT how I usually fly!! But....I have a whole bunch of ideas written down in my "little book" and cannot wait to get started!! I have to keep telling myself that we haven't even had Halloween yet....and to slow it down....but I am READY!! We have our last class (other than the gingerbread house classes) of the Fall line up Wednesday night. It is a workshop more than a traditional class....we will be decorating cookies....learning all kinds of fun techniques for turning cutout sugar cookies into works of art!! And....like the last class where we learned all kinds of fun ways to decorate cupcakes...this one will be a "mixed Holiday" celebration!! Yes...that's right....I will be making half of the cookies, that my "students" will be decorating, CHRISTMAS shapes!!! Hahaha....I told you I had it on my mind!! Hey....the other half will be Fall and Halloween!! It's going to be a lot of fun...and, with any luck, it will be "enough" Christmas to keep me happy....at least for now!! Oh....I just had a great idea....I think I will play some Christmas music while we create!!! Heeheehee.....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How can it be the middle of October?????

I can't believe it's the middle of October. How did this happen?? I'll tell you how it happened....I couldn't wait for it to get here!! That's what always happens...the things you look forward to the most....are over the quickest!! It seems like I just decorated the house for Fall and Halloween....and now I know that I only have a few short weeks left  to spend with my beloved Halloween collection. Before I am ready....it will be time to take it all down and pack it away!! I must tell you, though....as hard as it is for me to believe that we are halfway through this month....it's even harder to believe that I am starting to get excited about CHRISTMAS!!! As sad as I will be to see my witches and pumpkins and skeletons get packed up....I can't wait to see all of the my Santas and gingerbread and blown glass ornaments. Crazy right?? I lay at least part of the blame on pinterest. I have been looking for Christmas images for my pinterest page....and it all looks so cozy and inviting...it just makes you want to get out the mittens and sleds!!

  I spend my whole life in a "different" time zone than the rest of the world, already....(for example...I ordered Valentine and Easter candy this afternoon!!) and I know that a large portion of the population groans and grumbles about the department stores "rushing" Christmas. So, please understand, I am NOT trying to rush anything!! I want to live in the moment....I want to enjoy the pumpkins and the apples....the Fall color and the chill in the air, trick-or-treat and the Halloween specials on TV. I really, really do!! But....I have to admit....I have been humming Christmas songs. I have, also, been day dreaming about how to decorate our new porch for the Holidays....I mean...should we go simple and country....or light up the neighborhood?? See what I mean?? But, really....there is no harm in THINKING (and humming...) Christmas....right??? Hmmmmmm........I think I'll go get some apple cider and look for a Halloween special on TV....that should bring me back to the "right here and now".....oh....I saw this great idea....they hung a wreath on a birdhouse!! It was SO pretty and festive...I pinned it on my pinterest page if you want to check it out....we wish you a Merry Christmas...hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

busy, busy,,,,and thank you, thank you!!!

I am always busy....and I like it that way. But, I have been EXTRA busy lately. Well....more like extra, Extra, EXTRA busy. I am on the committee for the 1803 House:A Very Merrie Halloween. We hold this event on the grounds of the 1803 House to raise money for the restoration and preservation of the house. This whole thing was my idea....but I didn't really plan on being this involved. I am sure that sounds a little weird....and maybe even unbelievable....but, it's true. I "pitched" the idea at one of the board meetings and thought that they would run with it.~~~ Generally speaking....I am not, usually, "looking" for something. You know...that "what's in it for me" thing that, I think, is pretty "normal"....all I really wanted was a cool, unique and unusual (and those last two words are the important ones here...) "something" going on around our shop that I could "get behind" and be proud to send people to....I wasn't looking for ANOTHER full time job!! Really. I am an "idea" person...and I can, literally, "see" things...how they should look when they are done...so I guess I am not all THAT surprised that I am THIS involved in this event (I know my family isn't....they seemed to expect it from the beginning!!!) but I really have a lot on my plate!! Planning and executing this event is just like running a business. Granted...it is a business that is only "open" for 5 hours one day a year....but it is still a business!! I have networked and networked like I have never had to do for my REAL business!! But....I am very pleased with all that has been accomplished so far!! This past weekend was our second annual "Very Merrie Halloween"....and it went well!!! There were glitches...more than I would have liked...and things that NEED to be addressed...but, all in all, it went well....and I would like to take a moment to thank a few people. I have AMAZING family and friends....AMAZING!!!! There is NO way that I could have accomplished all that I did, on Saturday, without them!!! My oldest daughter and her significant other ran MY stand at the event...then my youngest daughter's fiance joined them to help...and both of the guys helped me to judge the apple pie contest!! My youngest daughter was my right AND left hand at the shop when I couldn't be there (I was back and forth between both places all day...) and my husband did it all....built the candy cart, the Witch, ran load after load up to the house.....thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We had a haunted gingerbread house workshop...and all of the ladies that built houses brought them to the event to be displayed....and enjoyed....and then came back and picked them up when it was over!!! You guys are the best!! Half of the craft artists (and the farm stand owners)are close friends of mine who signed on because I asked them to!! (luckily...they keep RE-signing on!!!!  :)) the pumpkins that were decorated in the kids tent were arranged for by someone I have been friends with longer than either of us want to admit to...the bottled water was donated by friends of ours....and most of the cool stuff that was going on in the kids tent was from the imagination of another friend!! Then, of course, we have all of my customers (aka family) who attended!!!  I am tired...still....and pretty sure I will be for a while!! I am going over and over all of the things that need to be addressed...but the thing I am thinking about the most?? How lucky I am to have all of you!! Thank You, again!! ~~~~~NOW....about next year.....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Finding home....

We are approaching an anniversary of sorts in our family. We have lived in the same house for almost 28 years. For me...that's a very important thing. I come from a long line of...for lack of a better word....nomads. No one knew how to stay put....put down roots. I lived in 5 or 6 houses....that I can remember...by the time I was 17. I have no "childhood home"....except in my memory. I knew this was "the house" the moment I saw it. My husband had a very different opinion. We had been looking for a house...that would become "home" for a while. I think I was driving the realtor crazy. I wasn't looking for a "starter home"....I was looking for THE home. THE home where we would put down roots. I wasn't, at all, interested in staying for a little while....and moving on....I wanted a place where we could stay forever. The first time we walked in the front door....my husband turned and said..."no". I smiled and said...."oh...yes"!! It was in need of some TLC...that's for sure....but I could "see" what it would look like when we were done. It was vacant when we bought it...and the owner allowed us to get in and work on it before settlement. We bought it in October....and moved in just in time for Christmas. We, literally, painted every square inch of the inside. We fixed windows, caulked, scrubbed, built things....and we have been doing all of those things ever since!! It's an old farmhouse....so it needs to be loved A LOT....but I have never, ever, regretted the decision to buy it!! It is home. THE home. It's the "childhood home" for all 3 of our kids....a place where they belong. It is FULL of all of our "sweet" memories. All of the Christmas cookie baking and Christmas mornings, Halloween costumes and pumpkin carvings, Easter egg decorating and baskets full of chocolate, birthday parties and Thanksgivings, swimming and picnics, first days of school and homework, prom pictures in the garden....and, next summer, a wedding. I know the world is full of different people with different ideas....it is, after all, what makes it go around. I don't begrudge the part of the population that likes to move around....but I am VERY happy to stay put!! I am very happy that I have roots....and that, 28 years ago, we found "home".

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tis the season......

Tis the season. Isn't it amazing? You are just going along....watering your garden....pulling weeds....enjoying (or in our case TRYING to enjoy....and ignore the horrible weather...) your Summer...and Wham!! Fall arrives!! Sometimes it's a change in the weather (thank goodness!!)...sometimes a change in the routine. But, whatever it is...it hits you! You NEED pumpkins and mums on the porch....candles burning, apple pie in the oven and chili in the crock pot! In the retail world preparations begin for the season (well...for every new season...) months and months in advance. I am always concerned that it may knock my inner clock out of whack....or, at the very least, make me a little numb to the excitement of celebrating a new season. Luckily....it hasn't!! We change things, at the shop, well ahead of the "normal" time. Most people don't get ready for the Fall season in August (of course....that doesn't mean you can't buy new things for when you DO get ready!!) but the merchandise has to go out...again...it's a retail world thing. In our case it's also a "we are REALLY into Fall and Halloween and WANT the stuff out NOW!!!!" thing. :) But....at home....we changed everything this past Monday. We packed all of our "Summer collections"...the rabbits and wheelbarrows....the bee skeps and watering cans....the child sized gardening tools and picket fences. All of them are well wrapped and safe until we meet again!! Then we cleaned (not really the BEST part....but wonderful when it's all done...) and then we said "hello....missed you!!" to all of our Fall and Halloween collection!! I love getting up early in the morning and walking around....looking at everything. Now and then I shift things a little...tweaking if you will!! And when we get home from work we light the candles....it's all so cozy!! I am going to enjoy this Fall as much as possible...even though it will fly by. It is always a very busy time for us....the classes start up again, we have the "1803 House:A Very Merrie Halloween" event in a few weeks, the candlelight dinner to cater, Lehigh Valley Style magazine is putting us in the December issue, the Thanksgiving orders will start to roll in soon....and then we are on to Christmas!! Like I said....tis the season!! But it's one of my favorites....and I don't want to miss anything!! I think a few more pumpkins on the porch...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Strange thoughts......

Exactly 2 weeks ago, today, I decided I had had enough of the Summer of 2012 and turned the front room of our upstairs gift shop into Halloween Heaven. We have spent the last two weeks tweaking and fluffing....and we are, almost, done. I still have to decorate the fireplace mantle in the restaurant dining room and the steps leading up to our gift shops. And, of course, the front porch will need to be done....and the all important (and much anticipated...) CANDY is on it's way....but, it is still August....so we are not quite up to them....yet!!!! We have, also, been very....very busy....very....and, to be honest...I am whipped!! Good whipped....not complaining about being busy....just saying!! So....what I am about to tell you should come as something of a surprise. I have spent some time thinking about "being bigger"! I have SO many people tell me that we need to expand....or that we are ALWAYS full and they can never get a reservation...I have people...well....whine....because I am "booked" with orders and no, I can't do "just one more cake". I, also, have people who would like me to open another "branch" in....well, let's see....EVERYWHERE. Don't misunderstand....I am not making light of any of these things....in fact...I have given ALL of it a lot of thought. I have thought about what it would be like if money were no object....all of the different shops and businesses I would open. I have an image in my head of the PERFECT General Store....the one with a little bit of EVERYTHING....I think about how I would set up the perfect country store....what merchandise I would carry...and, sometimes, I think about how I would expand the "food" side of things....what I wish I had room to do!!! But....the fact is....money IS an object...and I am a control freak. So....for now....I am going to continue to give 100% to everything I do....and stay true to what and who we are. I think that's one of the secrets to our success....because as tempting as it is to be a little bit of everything....it's better to be 100%....you. But.....if that ship ever does come in....or we win the lottery (which I don't play so the likelihood of that happening is not good....) LOOK OUT!!!! Now....let's see....we will need a good name.... :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Little Bittersweet.....

It's right around the corner....you know that, right??? Fall is in the air...and I must admit....I find that a little bittersweet (did you see how sneaky I was just then....) I have NOT enjoyed this Summer....especially because of what I do....but, now that it is bearable outside...actually beautiful once in a while....I am going to be sorry to see it go!!! We have been working on getting our poolhouse....our daily mini vacation spot....just right. We put the finishing touches on it on Monday!! The gardens are coming back, now that we have had some rain, and the sun isn't burning everything!! It's actually enjoyable, again, to work in them!! But....I LOVE Fall....and I am excited for it to get here!! The transformation to "Halloween Heaven" upstairs in our gift shops is almost complete....there are still things on their way....but that just keeps the inventory fresh....and keeps you guys shopping!! The bulk of the job is done. I have started to sneak a little pumpkin and apple into the bakery case, here and there, and NO ONE seems to mind (actually....I can't seem to keep up with it!! ;)!!) I am nudging Fall into the spotlight....but it, truthfully, is getting there all by itself!! You can feel a difference in the air....even on very warm days....it's not as bad as it was (thank God!!!) We were discussing when we are going to decorate,for Halloween, here at home....and my husband scheduled the pool closing!! Yes....it's right around the corner!!! Enjoy these last few weeks....but...as soon as you're ready to embrace the change....Sweet Memories is waiting for you....with some AMAZING Fall and Halloween merchandise!!! Even some "bittersweet" ;) !!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

We all dream.....

We all dream. We sit in the house on a cold, blustery day and dream of our garden in Spring. We look at pictures in magazines and dream of a perfect kitchen or bath. We dream of Norman Rockwell-like Family gatherings and Christmas card inspiring Holidays. And....we dream of long, beautiful Summer Days spent in a spot just like this....the breezes rustling through the trees, the birds singing....the smell of roses in the air!! Yes....we all dream. And then....reality!! We are very close to saying goodbye to July. Actually...we are close to saying goodbye to the Summer of 2012 all together.....and I can't wait!!!!!! By the time August rolls around I am thinking about Fall. Well....I am MORE than thinking Fall....I am creating it. I gather my thoughts....and all of the new merchandise that I cannot wait to unveil....and get to work. But....this time of year....I am, also, thinking about Christmas. What I have, already, gotten in....what is still coming....where to put it and what themes to use in each of the rooms in the gift shop.When I start to think about all of that....I start to think about organizing....(when things are not organized I get a little crazy....and I can't think about anything else) and, usually, when I think about organizing....I think about rearranging (they kinda go hand in hand) and then comes the "are we efficient enough" thoughts...and then the "how can we be more efficient" thoughts. Just like Mother Nature has her seasons....so does running a business!! I know how hot and humid it is....(I work in front of an oven all day....believe me I know...) and I know that all of you are still looking forward to the rest of the Summer....perhaps dreaming of at least a few days in a spot just like this....but I am moving on. I have things to do....organizing, rearranging, planning, decorating, creating..... I just want to say....goodbye July....hello HALLOWEEN!!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In the Good Old Summertime.....

Ahhh.....the good old Summertime!! Remember when you were a kid? The promise that Summer held? So many days of freedom....and fun!! Sunny days and firefly lit nights. Picnics and bike rides.....swimming and playing....so much excitement!! WHAT HAPPENED????? I cannot WAIT for this Summer to be over!!! Has global warming really made it so much hotter.....or don't you care when you're a kid??? I am so sick of this heat and humidity....the constant need for air-conditioning....the constant watering....the constant exhaustion!!!! If I hear it once....I hear it a hundred times a day....I am so done with this Summer!!!! Bring on the cool air, the changing leaves, the pumpkins, the Halloween.decorations!!! I want to bake apple pies and witch's finger cookies!! Heck.....I want to feel like baking....instead of dreading turning the oven on!!!! I have already received some of the new Fall and Halloween merchandise....and I am expecting more any day....and I can't wait!! Usually, this time of year, we are checking all of the orders....pricing them and taking them home to store them until "revealing" day. That day that I put aside to work 12 plus hours and get all of the "spookiness" ready for your enjoyment....this year?? I am very tempted to bypass the storage.....and head right for the reveal!! The words "already" and "rushing"...keep popping into my thoughts....but....I am not sure I care!!!!! And....I'm not sure you guys do, either!! Ohhhh....to be a kid, again.....to love those lazy, hazy days of Summer!! Naaaaahhh.....bring on Fall!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Treasure Hunting.....




Re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose.....today's catch phrases. No one recycled 20 years ago....just like most of us didn't, usually, bother to put our seat belts on. But times have changed....and now EVERYONE is recycling (which is good...) but the "re-use and re-purpose" trend has really taken off, too!! Personally....I have been re-purposing for years....and years and years!!! I don't follow trends....I do my own thing.....and I have ALWAYS liked the idea of using something in a new way. For example....I have cupboards in my house made of old doors and shutters. I hang old wooden boxes and use them for shelves. I stack little antique footstools and use them for my books. I think I have ALWAYS re-purposed in my garden. I love the way flowers look in old buckets. I love rusty old metal containers. I love to use fun and unexpected things that make you say....oh, look that's a .......(fill in the blank....) I have flowers planted in wheelbarrows, cream separators, chicken feeders and sap buckets. I use old ladders, screen doors, window frames and egg baskets for all kinds of things....my husband even made my garden gate out of old garden tools! I am thrilled that this is finally "catching on".....these things deserve a second look....a new lease on life!! Not only are we saving some room in the "land-almost-fulls" but we are adding lots of personality to our homes and gardens. Anyone can have perfectly clipped hedges and a row of flowers lining their walkway.....but it takes someone with an artistic eye and a thirst for uniqueness to turn an old enamel pot into a planter for flowers!! This time of year, with all of the flea markets and yard sales, is the perfect time to go searching for YOUR style!! It's out there....right now....waiting for you!! Maybe even in someone's trash....you know what they say...one man's trash is another man's treasure....go treasure hunting....it's the "in" thing!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

technical difficulties.....

OK Blogger Friends....I am going to ask for your patience...I am working on technical difficulties!! I would love to be able to "blog" more often....so I would love to be able to write them at work (not that I have a whole lot of "free" time....but a minute or two in the afternoons is all that would be necessary!!) But I can't figure out how to access my photo library on my Ipad....I, also, can't email myself pictures, all of a sudden...so I can't use new ones on here when I write this at home. So I wrote the Blog below...on the Ipad (from this very spot!!) but I couldn't use a picture. And this is a picture of the pool house....from last year....because I can't email myself new ones!! You can see the dilemma....I will give this my undivided attention as soon as possible....and with a little luck...have some new pictures to show you, and more blogs for you to read, more often, sent to you from the corner of the shop (the one with the "most bars" :):):)) Stay tuned!!!

Almost there.....

How can we possibly be in the MIDDLE of June already???? I know the first, official, day of Summer isn't even here yet....but it FEELS like half of the Summer is gone. And we are still working on the projects outside. On the one hand....that makes me feel very behind....but, on the other hand, I don't sit well and I enjoy having things to do and keeping busy. The "problem" here is, really, the same one I find myself faced with in the Fall and during the Holidays.....I want to enjoy all of the work!!! I want to take my morning coffee outside and sit in the pool house watching the birds and admiring the flowers....I can't do that if I see 10 things that still need to be done before I will be happy!! I have no problem with the maintenance....that's a given...it's all of the "projects" that need to be done before I can enjoy the surroundings!! Oh well....we ARE getting there!!! My husband has re-built the floor portion of the front porch....and it looks great! Now...the rest of that project involves old porch posts and the "fun" kind of building that he loves to do....(and a few creative touches that I have thrown into the mix)....so he is looking forward to that "work". We have, also, been working in the pool house. Cleaning, re-arranging etc. I made the burlap curtains on Monday....in a very pretty green....so that's done. I have a few more things to plant....pots that "decorate" the space....and there is a little painting to do.....but, now, it's mostly decorating....and that's the fun part!! All of the flowers are planted, the tomatoes that I sprinkle into the herb garden are doing well, my pumpkins are all up, the peaches are getting big, the apple trees are happy....like I said...we are getting there!! We will be taking a few days "off" around the 4th of July....and I am looking forward to spending it in the yard.....hopefully all of the big projects will be taken care of and I will be able to take some time to smell the roses....literally!!! Have a great Father's Day weekend....it looks like it's gonna be a beaut!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The bright side.....

I think THIS is the only kind of weather that we did NOT experience, today!! One minute the sun was out....and it was warm....then the clouds would take over and the wind would pick up...and it was, actually, chilly....then rain....and then it would start all over again!! I was determined to get all the rest of my planting done, today. The weather has not been cooperating with my plans for weeks....and I feel VERY behind. I had planned to go to the garden center and pick up the rest of what I needed and then spend the day putting the finishing touches on our yard. I was really looking forward to this....our yard is like our daily mini vacation spot....it's where we unwind from the stresses of the day. I love to work in my gardens....and I love knowing that they are waiting for me when I get home from work. Of course....as has been the pattern of late....things didn't go quite as planned!! Not only did the weather challenge me....but I started the day feeling drained....and that's not good when you have so much to do!! This was a VERY trying week. I'm not going to go into details....I would prefer to put it all behind me...I will say, however, that I realized at some point, over the weekend, that today was the full moon!! That should be enough said!! Sunday was, particularly, trying....and I decided not to serve dinner. I don't do that. I take my commitments and my responsibilities very, very seriously.....but the week had taken it's toll....and I decided to call it a day!! I took the opportunity to go to visit a friend's farmstand. We have very similar hours...so I don't get over there as much as I would like. I wandered around....picking up some of the plants I needed for my planting marathon, today...and pondered the guilt I was feeling for not serving Sunday Supper. I, also, stewed....just a little....about the difficulties of the week. Then... I spent a few minutes talking with my friend (who owns the farmstand....) That rain we had the other night did some damage to their inventory (washed some of it AWAY!!!!) and they had to take time (which no small business owner has enough of to begin with...) to repair the sales area. Two seconds after she told me all that the rain had done....she gave me a list of what could have happened....but didn't....and finished with "the sales area looks better than it has in a long time" because they had to repair it!! I told her I loved the "find the bright side" attitude....and she said "when you own your own business...you HAVE to find the bright side"....and that is so true!! When you own your own business....your heart has to be in it every day. There is no one to pick up the slack if you are having a bad day (or week!!!). So....today....I planted, in spite of the rain, and persevered. And, tomorrow.....there will be a bright side, again.....and my heart will be in my work. Now....that said.....I would appreciate if it would stop raining....so I can enjoy my yard. Those daily mini vacations are a necessity!!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Neglecting for the greater good.....

Oh my....again!! I really don't mean to fall so far behind on my blogging duties....really I don't!!! May is a very intense month in my world. Mother's day is THE busiest day in the restaurant world....hands down. It is, also, the "get those gardens in shape and get your planting done or you will miss the boat" month!!!And.... May is the "deadline" month for a lot of my really important gift shop orders. I have to have my Halloween candy order in....my "pre-sell" Christmas candy and my candy cane order in as well!! I also try to have my "most important" Halloween merchandise order in or I am likely to hear....no, that's out of stock...when I finally do get around to it!! On top of all of that....I need to take a really good look at where my "holes" are (usually from Mother's Day and the "I want my garden to look gorgeous" sales :):):)) and see what I can do to fill them up....and all of my reps want to get the Fall-Halloween and Christmas orders in....oh, and then we had the classes, too!!! Like I said....May is VERY intense!! I am happy to report, though, that the orders are in,(even the all important candy:) ) and I have met with all of my reps....we have amazing merchandise on it's way...some to make your home and garden a great place to relax this Summer and some to help you make this Fall and Halloween....and Christmas....the best one yet!!! I have a Summertime/ Nostalgia candy order in route as we speak....and some really fun new things for "right now" will get here soon....things that I am VERY excited about!!! I will keep you posted....I promise!!! I just wanted you to know that I am "neglecting" you for the greater good....and you WILL thank me later!! All of you "nesters" and collectors and Holiday fanatics.....I have your back!!! Stop in and see us soon....you DON"T want to miss anything!!!! :):):)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Please be patient....all of the operators are currently busy!!

This week has been, almost, as crazy busy as last week.....If you are, patiently, waiting for the next "class" so you can add some more to your Fairy Garden....( and I HOPE you are looking forward to adding more to your Fairy Garden...) I will get that done...I promise!! Just stay tuned....we had our last class for the Spring, this week....lots and lots of prep to do for that....and we had to "whip" the front garden into shape....there is a function in town, this weekend....and they will be stopping to "look" at us on the tour....can't have an unruly garden!! Plus....I have been busy ordering some more amazing and exciting merchandise for your shopping pleasure....then, of course, there is that small matter of cooking and baking....:) Hang in there.....I will be back....promise!!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day...???

Ahhh....Mother's Day.....a day of celebration!! Or....in our case....a day of running, running, running!!! It is, hands down, the busiest day of the year for us...there are quite a few that come in a close second....but it is the busiest!! This year...it started on Friday....which, to be honest, is a blur!! Then Saturday was non-stop....desserts, gifts, gift certificates, more desserts....fully booked for lunch reservations...go, go, go!!! And then we come to Sunday itself....well over 100 for Brunch and almost 40 for Sunday Supper!!! We cooked so much food on Sunday....wow!! The Brunch dishes were selling very evenly....(which makes me happy....because I feel like I have done something right...) but the carrot cake pancakes were a particular hit!! So many nice people....so many of our "regulars" ie extended family....hopefully all had a great time. I was wished a Happy Mother's day over and over....but, I have to be honest...it's not my favorite. Now, you are probably wondering why?? We were full....and I mean FULL....for 3 solid days...from a business stand point...it doesn't get any better!!! We had lots and lots of our "SM Family" join us!! Love that!! Of course....I don't get to celebrate....but that doesn't matter to me. We are used to celebrating things on "off" days....no big deal!! Compliments galore, BIG sales in the gift shop, lots of happy people....what's the problem?? Right??? We start to get reservations, and dessert orders, for Mother's Day in January....no I'm NOT kidding!! We were full....completely FULL....weeks ago. That means every spot at every table....all day long. But the phone rings and rings....many just hopeful that they will get lucky and that there will be a cancellation...or an "extra" cake lying around....but there are just as many who get nasty. Yes....I said nasty. We are hung up on....talked to like we are just a little "stupid"....like maybe we just don't understand the request....and it gets worse all the time!! I am getting on my soapbox....hold on....and then we have THREE tables of no call/ no shows. Not cool!! We fed well over 100....and turned at least that many away!!! If you aren't going to make the reservation, after all......CALL!!! I have the "this is just how it is...." conversation SO MANY TIMES!!! No one RSVPs, returns calls, answers e-mails....cancels appointments!!! I know this probably doesn't apply to you....but I feel that we need to make a stand!! If this has happened to you....don't take it anymore!! This "new trend" is AWFUL!!! And I think all of us....the kind and courteous ones....need to stick up for ourselves!!! OK...I will get down off of the soapbox....I am going out to lunch....and then to the bookstore...I got a gift certificate from my daughter and her fiancee for Mother's Day...:) and....I got one from my other daughter, and her boyfriend, to one of my favorite stores (a wool shop down the road owned by a very good friend of mine:):):):)) so that will be another day...AND our pool gets opened today!!! We made it, we survived....and I am very proud of all of us (future son-in-law did dishes ALL day long....welcome to the family!!!) for a great job well done!! I will continue to do what I do....and I will NOT allow the mean people of the world to win.....if you are with me....feel free to leave a comment....I WILL answer it....I ALWAYS do!!!!   :):):)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Fairy World awaits.....

"When the first baby laughed for the very first time, The laugh broke into a thousand pieces, And they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."-- Sir James M. Barrie, Peter Pan. ..........Are your pencils sharp.... notebooks at the ready??? Here we go.....
          This is a picture of my "portable" Fairy Garden from last Summer. As you can see....it is quite "decorated"...furniture, an arbor, a birdhouse, wheelbarrow, watering can, fence....and, like I said in the last class...if that is as far as you go in the making of your fairy garden...that's fine. You will have created a miniature world full of whimsy that makes you happy....and that is the goal. But....there is so much more to Fairy Gardening. This garden is full of herbs....which all have meanings and magical qualities. As I said before...the fairies love all living plants. But, there are a few that are their particular favorites....like thyme and foxglove. Thyme....they dance in the thyme on Midsummer's Eve. I always make sure I have plenty in my Fairy Garden (there is some in the garden pictured here!!!) Thyme is used to promote health and healing, it is used in love potions and it means courage. Foxglove is a favorite flower of the fairies....they use it in their wardrobe!! They wear the bell shaped flowers as hats....and if you look real closely....the tiny little dots inside of the flowers are fairy fingerprints!! I would recommend these two plants as an excellent start to your fairy garden....and I would, also, recommend that you look around for miniature decorations for your garden. Those are the things that make it "enchanted"....and that's what we are striving for here....I mean...let's face it....the world could use a little more enchantment!! I will be back, soon, for another installment of our adventure into the world of Fairies....in the meantime....go buy some thyme....;););)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Do you believe....in fairies????

Do you believe in fairies?? I hope so. The world is full of stress and heartache....but not in the fairy world!! I have been "fairy gardening" for years and years....way before it was "in"!! I have loved herbs and flowers and studied their meanings....and the magic they possess. A fairy garden is just, naturally, the next step! Now....the term "fairy garden" is open to interpretation. For some....it means lots of "fairy" accessories in their existing garden. I am fine with that...(and you can find lots and lots of GREAT accessories at Sweet Memories....just saying!! :)) but, if you want to, you can take it to the next level. Basically, in the magical world, fairies love, and care for, flowers and herbs...( there are some tree fairies, too....but we can talk about that later :)...) so all you have to do is plant a garden. However....there are some flowers and herbs that will ENSURE that the fairies will come to live in your yard....that's what this "class" will be all about!! In each "class" I will talk about two or three different flowers or herbs....and why they are fairy favorites....and discuss their magical properties. I will, also, tell you what to look for in your search for the fairies, themselves. For example....they love a good party!! Have you ever noticed the shells of seeds and nuts all together in one spot?? You probably found the remnants of a fairy feast!! And....they use spider webs to hang their washing to dry.....ever spotted a leaf or a flower petal stuck in a spider web?? Hmmm....coincidence??? I don't think so!!! :):):) I hope you will "follow" me and join in on this magical fun. I can guarantee you won't find any stress here.....fairies..yes....but no stress!! And....if you have any comments or questions....please feel free to post them on here....I will be happy to answer them! Stay tuned for the next class....and come prepared to take notes....you don't want to miss anything!!! Have a great night!! :):):)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Fairy Garden Adventure......

Happy May!!! Are you ready for some gardening?? If you have "liked" my Sweet Memories Facebook page....you know that I have another page....devoted to the "1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" Fall and Halloween Event held on the 1st Saturday in October. You also know that I have come up with a, somewhat, Halloween-y subject to talk about on THAT blog for the next couple of months. (I want to talk about the event... to keep everyone excited about it....but I don't  want to go on and on about the "planning" stuff....) Well....I realized that, while the idea of a "magic garden" is alluring....there is another side to it that is equally so!! The meanings and uses of herbs is a passion of mine....but so is Fairy Gardening. So....I have decided to make this a duel project. You can "follow" this blog to learn all about Fairy Gardens....and you can "follow" my other blog to learn all about magical gardens....they do go hand in hand, after all!! Now....I will give it my very best....as far as keeping up with the writing of these blogs....but please have patience with me!! :) I am, still, teaching classes (a lot of prep work...) running our business, taking care of both the garden at the shop...and here at home, attending the 1803 House meetings....and squeezing time in for my family!! But, I would like to encourage you to "follow" both of my blogs....and take notes!! If you have ANY interest in these subjects....I will guarantee to get you "hooked" in no time!! Please feel free to post questions or comments....and get those garden muscles ready....we are going to have some fun!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Do you believe in **magic**......

If there is magic in this world....I could sure use some. I am having technical meltdowns....left and right...and I am not too sure how to fix them. When Apple first came out with the IPad....I decided that it was the "portable" computer solution that I was looking for. I needed access to my e-mail and the web at work. I didn't want to get a whole computer "set up" though. Too much space....too much hassle....but I thought this would be the answer. I went up to the Apple store... did a little looking and a whole lot of asking....and bought an IPad. All was well, for a little while.I could take a picture....maybe of something new in the gift shop....maybe of some desserts right out of the oven....and post them on my Facebook. Presto.....there they were for all of you to see....like magic!! Then I could take even more pictures and e-mail them to myself so they were at my disposal, here at home, to be used on this Blog....again...like magic. I was able to keep all of you informed and entertained with the very essence of Sweet Memories....any time...day or night... **magic** !! Well....the magic isn't working. My pictures will not post. If I just write a post....without a picture....you can see it in your "news feed"....but if I add a picture...it just shows up on Sweet Memories home page....but you don't see it in your "feed". And...all of a sudden....I can't seem to send the pictures to myself, either. I e-mail them.....but the **magical** B-R-ing noise isn't there!!! The other night....we tried to load them directly to this computer....and that wouldn't work, either (too much explanation.....) Basically....almost all of the things that I bought my IPad for, to begin with, are not functioning. I have contacted Facebook....nothing....and I am being advised to go to the Apple store and let them take a look at it....but I don't think they can fix Facebook....and I have a feeling this is a combination problem. So much frustration. I don't need this. What I do need is to believe in the magic....and for you to, periodically, check in on the Sweet Memories homepage.....so you don't miss anything!! What DID we do before all of this technology??? (and the stress that goes along with it????) I don't know.....but I'll bet it was **magical**!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are you "Pinning".......

Are you "pinning" ???? You really should check this out if you haven't already. The first time I checked into it...I thought it was interesting. But, I will be honest, I didn't really understand how it worked. Then....when I had a little time to REALLY check it out....I started to look at what other people were doing. You have to ask to be invited...and then there is a little anxiety....will they ALLOW me to "pin"??? But I was allowed. Then I had to navigate my way around all of the technicalities. But....with a little trial and error....that is no problem. Then you sit and stare at your blank boards and wonder what you should "pin"....and maybe even why. But....with a little web surfing....you start to see things that you think are interesting....or cool....or beautiful...and you find yourself wanting to "share" them. So....you start to "pin"....and then pin and pin and pin. (It's really easy to get lost in this, by the way....) But then, something really interesting happens.If you go back and look at your boards and all of the pictures...collectively...you see yourself. These boards can be "real" pictures of real parts of your life....or they can be "dreams & wishes"....you know....what your "dream" kitchen would look like....what you "wish" your garden looked like. It's not very often that we can have our dreams & wishes right in front of us. It's kind of like a diary....but of your daydreams!!! I am a believer in positive thinking. This takes it another step. You are positive pinning!!! Once you see those pictures of your "dream kitchen".....maybe you will start to take the necessary steps to make it a reality!! And....once you see those pictures of what you "wish" your garden looked like....maybe you will find yourself just digging in (the pun is intended :)) and learning how to make it happen!! If you would like to see what it's all about....you are more than welcome to follow me....pinterest.com/sweetmemories3....or you can just click on the button on the left side of my blog. I would love to hear your opinion and input on this subject!! You can leave a comment on here....or on my facebook page!! And as the "Pinterest Team" says....Happy Pinning!!!!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Accumulating.....and proud of it!!!!

Good Morning!! Just a quick thought. At the moment...I am "covering" the gift shop on Wednesday....soon my niece....who teaches at a pre-school...will be "off" for the Summer and she will take over. I spend the day....on Wednesday....changing displays, re-arranging merchandise, looking at new merchandise options, pricing new things....if they happen to come in....and listening to the customers who come up to shop. For the most part....what I am hearing is "ohhh....that is SO cute" and "Oh, look at this..." that is a good thing. I get a lot....and I mean a lot...of compliments on the merchandise that we carry and the way it is all displayed. This makes me happy. It is always nice to know that you are appreciated. And....most of the time....everyone finds something that makes them smile...and that is wonderful! It is, after all, what we are here for. But (you knew it was coming....) sometimes I hear people talk about how they don't decorate for Holidays, anymore....too much work. Or, occasionally, I hear them say that they have given all of their things away....because they don't want to dust....(this statement is usually followed with how much they would hate to dust our shop.....no comment!! ) this makes me sad. Well....to be honest....my first reaction is usually "then why did you come up here...." If you don't want anymore "stuff" (their words...NOT mine!!!) then why did you decide to visit a gift shop?? But, once I get past that....it makes me sad. I LOVE my stuff. All of it. It is part of who I am. I love my Holiday collections, my handmade quilts, my pictures, my books, the special coffee cup I use every morning....all of those things make me smile....and make my house a home. We all have to dust....no matter WHAT you have in your "nest"....dusting the "stuff" you love makes it a little more enjoyable!! I say.....treat yourself.....buy a few more things that make you happy and make your home a cozy, comforting place to be....(and I am NOT just saying that because I own a gift shop!!!) Accumulators of the world.....Unite!!! I think I'll start a new collection!!!!!!!!!!  :):):)

Monday, April 16, 2012

It is Hot!!!!.......

So....it would appear that Mother Nature is testing us....again. The calender says April....but that thermometer says something else entirely!!! It is hot. Thankfully this isn't supposed to last....and then we will get back to Spring. This is a good thing...just the other day I was thinking how much I like Spring. I am, very much so, looking forward to my gardens in June. I love when they are full and lush and enjoying the summertime....but there is something really special about the world in the Spring. The colors are much more subdued....the greens are lighter and the colors more pastel....but they are peaceful...and hopeful all at the same time. The trees aren't in full leaf....but they are just as pretty when they are starting to bud....and there are no roses, yet, but the promise of what is to come is exciting, too. There are a lot of empty spaces in the gardens....where the annuals and summer bloomers will be....but it gives you the chance to enjoy what is blooming now...and we should. This is the time of year when we kick it into high gear...and try to do too much all at once. So much to do....so little time. Every Gardener is the same....we all want the "perfection"...and the sooner the better!! The irony here is that there is no such thing as "perfection" and every seasoned Gardener knows that the garden is never DONE. There is always something else to do....always. Sometimes we just have to remember to enjoy the day....look around and see the beauty in the process.....because it will always be a process. And, if the truth is told, the most efficient "slower-downer" in the world is a hot day......hey....maybe that Mother Nature knows what she is doing after all....how about some lemonade????? 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stressed spelled backward...

Happy day after Easter!!! I hope it was wonderful!! We are celebrating ours today. Due to scheduling issues....we could get more of us together today than yesterday. This is what happens when the kids grow up and have lives of their own....and it's all OK. In fact...it's more than OK....if I had to choose between sitting down and eating Easter dinner together....and their happiness....I would opt for their happiness!! To tell the truth....my husband and I were still recovering from Saturday....and I was much too tired to cook a big meal yesterday!!! You know....there are very funny cards and signs that say "Stressed spelled backward is Desserts" which is true.....but, in my life, Desserts spelled backward is Stressed!! Let me explain. Many, many years ago I started down the road that has led to Sweet Memories....I baked (and baked and baked...) all kinds of custom cakes and desserts for an ever growing list of devoted customers. I knew what I wanted to accomplish....but I also knew that you have to walk before you run. Starting small....and accumulating success one step at a time... is the key to reaching your goals. "Overnight" success is short lived....it has no foundation underneath it. That said....I have spent the better part of 20 some years doing what I love with the intention of getting where I want to be....and I am there. Where I want to be is baking, from scratch, in SMALL quantities....the old-fashioned way. The best way. I want all of the goodies that leave our store to be fresh, taste awesome and look like they are "homemade".....because they ARE....(just not in YOUR home:):) ). I am not...at all....interested in doing large scale baking. Now, having said all of that....we come to the "stressed" part. We have grown...and grown and grown....over the last 17 years that we have been "Sweet Memories"...this is a GREAT thing....and I am beyond thrilled. The problem is....I am not willing to change who we are and what we do to get BIGGER....physically. I still want to, personally, bake all of the desserts that leave our store. In order for me to do that...I have to know my limitations...and I do. So we take orders....and some of my customers place them MONTHS in advance....until I feel stressed....until I feel like I shouldn't take any more for fear of not being able to handle it all and get it all done. And then we STOP taking orders....and tell you all....very honestly....that we are "booked"....that we are "full"......that I am at my limit. We always schedule the "pick up" between 2:00 and 5:00....and I am, usually, done....or almost done....by that time. Not this Holiday!!!! I had more than one person waiting for their cake....sometimes simultaneously. Yes....that's how many orders we took this year. So.....now that it's over...and I can see straight....we will be changing the "pick up" time for the next Holiday to between 3:00 and 5:00....to give me a little more time.....because I don't want to take fewer orders....but I, also, don't need the stress. And....now that it's over....and I can see straight....I am pretty confident that each and every time we answered the question "You can't do just one more cake" with a "no".....(and we said that A LOT) that it was the right answer!!! Like I said...."Stressed" spelled backward is "Desserts".....but, for me, it's the other way around! Of course, I wouldn't change it for anything.....and I don't plan to.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fiestaware....and memories!!

Good Morning and Happy April!!! This was one very exciting week. We started the classes again....lots of new and wonderful merchandise came in....had lots and lots of new people who, I hope, will become new friends...and, I think the most exciting thing of all, we got new plates!! Yes....it's the little things!!! :):):) I want to tell you a story about the new plates....they are Fiesta. I have a special fondness for Fiestaware. I think I have to back track a little bit. My MomMom was the biggest influence on who I am....it is because of her that I love to garden, to cook, to bake and love, and appreciate, antiques. Now, this is where the Fiesta comes in....a spent a lot of time with my MomMom....a lot. And much of that time was spent trying to coax me to eat.....I was a very picky kid. One of her favorites was "bread crusts make your hair curly" hahaha....I LOVE that one!!! Anyway....most of the "crusted" (as opposed to "crustless") sandwiches were served on her Fiestaware. I always loved these dishes....so, when she was downsizing, I got them!!! :) A little at a time, at first.....a few plates here....a bowl or two there....she would include a few pieces in my Christmas gifts....and my birthday....but, eventually.....I got it all!! And, it has resided in that very prominent location you see in this picture, ever since. It is the built in chimney cupboard of my kitchen....and, what you can see in the picture is a VERY small part of the whole collection.....(there are shelves and shelves above that....) Now....this brings me to this week. I have wanted to use Fiesta at the shop since....I can remember. It just seems right. The colors....the nostalgia....the memories....they all BELONG at Sweet Memories!!! So.....this was THE week. My Husband....the incredibly good sport that he is....ran all over the place to get them. Brought them in (while I was teaching the class....) and ran all of them through the dishwasher so they were ready to use on Thursday. (I just need you to understand that this was no small feat....this was plates, cups, saucers, bowls, little bowls and dessert plates!!!!!!) Both of my daughters have been good sports, too....because the cups are, considerably, smaller.....and need to be on a saucer (for the whole effect......) so they can carry less at a time...and they need to refill more often....so....more running. And....they have had to listen to a tiny bit of back lash from the guys who are calling them "tea cups"....but, I think they love them as much as I do....because they hold special memories for them, too. They have been in that place of honor you see in this picture their whole lives!!! So they remind them of their childhoods as well.....and all of those "crusted" sandwiches.....(and, for all of you who know the girls....I guess you can see which one ATE the crusts :):):) Now you know the story....and now you know why I am so excited about these plates!! We take a lot of pride in what we do....day in and day out. We strive to make your visit with us relaxing, fun, delicious....and memorable. But, above all else....we want you to feel like family....and these new dishes are just another way that we can do that. I hope you are planning to come and visit with us soon....so that you can enjoy these dishes, too....if you bring your "guys".....please tell them NOT to make a joke about the cup...and remember....if you want curly hair....you have to eat the crust!!! :):):)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The first class of the season....

What is the first class of the Spring schedule made of????......                          
Strawberry Cupcake Nests.......                
Easter Egg Cake Pops.......                  
And a whole lot of fun!!! This class was the "Easter Entertaining Class".....we had Bacon cheddar deviled eggs, pimento cheese spread, raspberry punch, tomato-herb tarts, ham and cheese pastries, the lemon coconut cookies.....and then everyone made their own nests and cake pops!!! I asked what you wanted to do in this round of classes....and you answered me!!! One of the requests was for more "hands on" stuff......ask and you shall receive!!! And, of course....once again....everyone did a great job!!! Already looking forward to the next class!!! :):):)

Monday, March 26, 2012

What a week!!!!

Well....what a difference a week makes!!! Last week, at this time, I was packing a picnic lunch to take on our Buck County/ Byers' Choice adventure....and this week the North wind doth blow!!!! Oh well....such is March I suppose. This has been an interesting week all the way around. A week of lessons, conversations, evaluations, commitments and invitations. We went on our adventure into Bucks County and we took our nieces with us (grown up....not children). It was the first visit to Byers' Choice....and Bucks County....for one of them!! We didn't need to be at Byers' until 5:30....so we took our time and meandered. We hit all of my favorite shops....and helped the small business economy...along the way. We visited gift shops, food establishments and greenhouses....like I said...all of my favorites :) It is refreshing to me to see what other small businesses are doing from time to time....and I notice EVERYTHING!! From what merchandise they decided to carry, to the displays, to the way they "bag" their sales....and, in the case of the food establishments...what they have decided to "carry" (or cook and/or bake) their displays and the way they "bag" their sales ;)!!! It's kinda like a "working" vacation :):):). Then we headed out to Byers'. This is always an interesting experience, too. They really know what they are "doing" both for their retailers and their customers....a trip through the Emporium is a real glimpse into their retail philosophy. When people come in they are there for the Carolers....but all of the merchandise that's for sale is complimentary to the Carolers and the "kind" of customer who buys them....always an interesting study for me....a learning opportunity. I have a tendency to turn everything into a learning opportunity...(aka...I think too much....which is a major contributor to my sleep deprivation...) but, I think it's important to learn!! So...on that note...what did I learn on Monday?? That I am pretty confidant that I am holding my own in the retail world. Nice. But....we cannot rest on our laurels!!! So.....a little evaluation into what merchandise has arrived, is about to arrive....or still needs to be ordered....for the spaces that will be left behind after Easter....check!! We are in good shape!! And then...conversations about us....and a few about "them" ( I never initiate those..or, really, "talk" for that matter...we must be good listeners....) what we are doing right (almost all of the time....thank goodness...) what "they" are not :( ....and, on occasion....what someone "thinks" WE are not....(I know the enchiladas are not "authentic"....I don't apologize for being different ...or doing things "my way".....I take PRIDE in it!!!! L-o-n-g  story!!!) A little more thought about this week's class....the first one of the Spring schedule....I take my commitments seriously....and we are seriously going to have FUN with this one....some major "hands on" stuff!!! :) And then, as if the week hadn't given me enough to think about (well into the wee hours....) invitations!! We will be joining the "Art in the Garden" event....and, if my good friend has her way...the Great Allentown Fair.....(more about all of that later!!) Whew!!  Like I said....what a difference a week makes!!!! Have a great Monday!!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Smell the roses.....

So....how about this crazy March weather??? It was still light when we got home from work, last night....the ONLY good thing about that stupid "Spring ahead" thing...so we took a little walk around to see what was happening. I will tell you what's happening....Mother Nature has a HUGE head start!!! Not only are we weeks ahead, as far as budding and blooming....but I feel like I am weeks BEHIND because there is so much Spring clean up to do. I have somewhere I have to be, today....and we are making it a much needed and deserved "break" day.....but I am going to have to kick it up after this!!! I can't wait until this (picture) is what I see when I get home from work. Not only because I love when it looks like this.....but because it will mean that I have "caught up"!!!! This feeling of lagging behind is sort of like that dream of not having a #2 pencil when you are taking the SATs......hahahaha....oh well! This is supposed to be my hobby.....I guess I shouldn't get myself all worked up. Unfortunately.....that is not how I am wired ;) !!!! Everyone who sees my gardens...or pictures of my gardens...always asks me if I have/take time to enjoy them. I always answer that question with absolutely!!! It's just that I ENJOY working in them....I don't need to sit to enjoy!! I can smell the roses....while I am pruning them!!! It's what makes me happy!! So...go out there and make this a great Monday, everybody.....take time to smell the roses....well...the daffodils anyway....and do it in the way that makes YOU happy!!!!  :):):)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Your "Happy" awaits.....

Well....officially, Spring arrives next week.....but there is NO doubt about it....in our neck of the woods....it's here!!!! The flowers and trees are starting to come back to life and the "itch" to get out in the garden is, almost, overwhelming!! Of course....the "itch" to get the inside of the house all ready for Spring is just as strong. Some more new merchandise has arrived....with more expected any day....and all of it will help you "scratch" those itches. We have all of the new merchandise to help you get your Spring cleaning done (not your favorite part, I know, but necessary never the less!!!) we have beautiful things to spruce up the inside....and wonderful things to spruce up the outside!! And....I have a few more orders to place this week!!! I am constantly on the prowl for the best new "happy makers"... Stocking the shop with amazing "stuff" makes me happy......making all of you happy makes me happy....This time of year makes me happy!!!! The chicks, bunnies and eggs....the flowers and "green" popping up everywhere...the birds singing....the sunshine....how can you be anything BUT happy????? Make sure you stop in and see us soon.....your "happy" awaits.....and, of course, if you throw a cupcake in the mix....you won't be able to stop smiling!!  :):):) Have a great day!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness.......

March Madness.....I think it refers to basketball....but, this week, it had a lot of meanings!! First of all...we had a full moon. Anyone who works in retail, customer service, education, health care....well, anything that requires interacting with people....knows what that means. Then we had the solar flares....or whatever they were calling them....which were supposed to be causing all kinds of problems with all of our electronic devises....which means everything...and then we got to turn the clocks ahead. Now....I hate when we mess around with time. I don't have enough of it to begin with so I really don't appreciate when some of it is taken away!!! My sleep patterns leave a lot to be desired to begin with, these days, I would rather not add to the problem....thank you very much!! I am going to assume that all of these "fun" things were contributing factors in the "people issues" we found ourselves in the middle of, this week. I mean....working with the public can be a "challenge" under the best of circumstances....but I think the "March Madness" that we were experiencing.....just made it....well....beyond challenging!!!! So much unpleasantness....so much negativity!!! Then....we had more than one "interesting" (and I am using that word very sarcastically....) phone encounter. I would love for someone to tell me when the rules of "salemanship" changed!!! I come from a long line of self-employed business people. I was always under the impression that you catch more flies with honey...etc. etc. I had two different phone calls.....intercepted by each of my daughters.....from people who are (well....let's face it WERE) interested in getting me to give them money for one thing or another.....and both times it was "hinted at" that I was making a mistake....and perhaps even jeopardizing my business....by NOT engaging their services!!!! NEWS FLASH.....I don't need your services....or your attitude....so go find another.....well.....let's just leave it there, shall we???? I am going to ask a HUGE favor of each and every one of you. Please try to go out and make this a better week....no full moons, sun flares and clock adjustments....just the promise of Spring, flowers starting to bloom and birds singing. And, if you find it impossible to be kind to one another....stay home. At least until it passes. And, if you are trying to sell something.....don't call us....we'll call you!!! :):):)

Friday, March 9, 2012

What I have been up to....all week!!!

Some of my Easter display in my kitchen.....
A corner of the living room......
The "farmer's market" in the living room....
Some of my "story book" characters.....
a little bit of "gardening" in the dining room....
Monday was a L-O-N-G day!!! It was my own fault....I should have been packing the snowmen away a little each night, last week.....so I paid the price :) but....it's all done!! I have been "tweaking" all week....I usually only have to do that if I get tired during the decorating.....I get "stumped" while I am setting things up....can't quite put my finger on why I am not happy with it....so I "tweak" until I get it right!! As you can tell....I don't do strictly Easter....I do more "garden"...while I love, and appreciate, the traditional Easter color scheme....it doesn't "go" in our house. I am pretty primitive. So....I mix in a whole bunch of "garden"....the Easter collection stays in the kitchen....candy containers, "chocolate" bunnies and vintage pieces that have the "right" look....it makes it a little easier on me, too....the kitchen display is the only thing I will have to change when Easter is over...everything else will stay out until it's time for Halloween!!! I just wanted to share what I have been up to....now it's time to turn my attention to the outside :) while I am not looking forward to losing an hour this weekend....it will mean gaining an hour of daylight so that I can work outside when I get home, each night....trade-off!!! Hope you guys have a great weekend.....even if it IS shorter!!!   :):):)