Monday, December 30, 2013
It's hard to believe that we will be welcoming a new year in a couple of days!!
I would like to take a second, though, before we do, to thank all of you for 2013!!
It was quite a year!!
Personally...our youngest daughter got married, our oldest daughter..engaged. Our Grandson is growing up (way too fast!!!) and I hit a "big" birthday (although...it's just a number!! I am more interested in gaining wisdom than years!!!) But 2013 was a spectacular year for Sweet Memories!! For this I would like to say "thank you"!!!
We are very lucky. The restaurant and bakery side of our business has grown and prospered throughout the entire 18 plus years that we have been in business. We have remained true to our original goal...and we continue to make all of our food, everyday, the exact same way we have always made it. Although the temptation to "mass produce" (or take short cuts!!!) may be ever present...it's just not what we want!!
But, there is another side to our business...and that is the gift shop. The Christmas season starts, really, at the beginning of November...and it was off and running, this year, right from the start!! Now, with it coming to it's close, I must say it was wonderful....and I have all of you to thank for that!!
Running the "food" side, of Sweet Memories, is second nature....I can, practically, do it with my eyes closed. But, the gift shop.....that's another story. There are so many different lines, so much merchandise available....in so many different styles...sometimes it's a bit overwhelming. Sometimes....you start to doubt yourself. Should I change everything....go in a completely different direction?? Should we be all country, primitive, shabby, cottage??? Am I carrying merchandise that is "trendy" enough....do I want "trendy" or should I leave that for everyone else??
I have to tell you...I have done some soul searching, the last few months!! Eventually, though, I came to the conclusion that I can't...CAN'T....carry merchandise that I, myself, don't love. I have to put my heart and soul into the gift shop...just like I do the restaurant and bakery....or it just will not be Sweet Memories!!
And...you know what?? We were busy...really busy!!! Yah!!
I know that online shopping is easy. I know that the big box stores are convenient (and cheap....but, you get what you pay for!!!) But all of us...the little independently owned shops....need you. We need you to come in and check out our inventory and purchase your gifts (and gifts for yourself!!!) from us!! I don't want to turn this into a soapbox session....I just want to take this opportunity to say "thank you"!!
To each and every one of you who made a purchase...and you know who you are....you made our Christmas even merrier!! The income, of course, because....after all...this IS our "paycheck"...but, more importantly, the vote of confidence. I am heading into 2014 knowing that you all love our gift shop as much as I do...and that makes my "job"....awesome!!! I am heading in to the shop, this morning, to do a little rearranging...and to get ready for all of the new merchandise that's on it's way!! If you are not one of the people that I am thanking, this morning....if you bought your Christmas gifts online (or from a corporation...) that's OK...we will forgive you. But make it a point (or a resolution...although I don't believe in those....) to "shop small" in 2014....we would love to see you!!! And....I think YOU will love what you see!!!
Monday, December 2, 2013
This past week has seen Thanksgiving 2013 come and go...and the "shopping season" get it's start. I must say...it was a little hard to watch.
In this high tech world that we live in...we see everything the second it happens. Good, bad, funny, sad....and even horrible behavior!! I tried NOT to watch any of the Black Friday "highlights". I want to believe....really, really believe...that people are good. That we all love this season for the right reasons and that peace and goodwill exist...and that is, almost, impossible when you see those videos.
Then we have "Small Business Saturday" and, of course, "Cyber Monday". Oh my....
Naturally...being a small business owner...I want to get behind the small business Saturday thing...but, honestly, I don't think it should be a once a year event.
I can't speak for other small businesses but I CAN tell you that I try to make every day...in every season...a special experience. The whole point of a small business is, frankly, the experience. I want you to take a few minutes out of your busy life and choose to step through our door. I want to have the opportunity to make you happy....not just during the Christmas season....but all year long. I want you to experience the personal attention that you cannot...and will not...get in the stores that were mobbed on Black Friday (or...Thanksgiving for that matter!!!) or on your computer, today.
I understand that we don't have amazing electronic deals...or those much needed designer boots...but we DO have something that we ALL need this time of year. We have the Christmas spirit....and you can experience it, too!! Do I want you to come in and spend money....of course. I would be lying if I said "no" to that....I mean...this is how we make our living. But, becoming a millionaire is not, really, on my bucket list! I am far more interested in extending our "family"...creating friendships that last...watching your kids grow up...celebrating special occasions with all of you...and making people happy!!
I think we all want that "old-fashioned" Christmas. I, also, think it's possible. Slow down...enjoy the music and the lights. Enjoy the preparations...after all...it's about the journey more than the destination!! And...find your "happy place"....the one that renews your Christmas spirit!! I truly hope...it's with us...and we will be seeing you soon!!!
Monday, November 11, 2013
I know, I know....most of you don't like Monday. Your weekend is over and it's back to the grind. But, for us, Monday IS our weekend...and it's a very, very busy one for me!!
Today I am packing away all of my much loved Halloween collection....and then cleaning!! Next week...the Christmas collections come out!!
I know what a lot of you are thinking. "What about Thanksgiving??" Please don't get the wrong idea....we love Thanksgiving just as much as the next guy....but my "free" time...especially THIS time of year...is very limited!! So I spend one whole day doing all of the decorating...and then I can concentrate on the HUGE "to do" list that comes with this time of year!!
Besides....what is wrong with Christmas lasting more than the days between the 24th of December and the 1st of January??
This is puzzling to me. I mean....I LOVE Christmas!!! I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the movies and specials...I love the memories, the festivities, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping....finding the perfect Christmas tree. As far as I am concerned....it can't start soon enough....or last long enough!!
In the world of retail...it starts in the Summer. I have to pick out the merchandise, that we are going to carry, months and months ahead of time. Then....it takes a lot of hard work and hours (and hours....) to get it all out and displayed the way I want it....the way I want YOU to see it!! I mean...logically...it all needs to be "out" WAY before Thanksgiving....or we won't have the opportunity to sell it. And, after all, we are a business...and, as a business, we need to sell merchandise in order to pay the bills!!!
Yet....without fail...I hear "Christmas already" a few times a week!! Of course....MOST of you can't WAIT for the Christmas to come out....and considering how busy we have been, and how many treasures have, already, found their new homes...I know I am not the only one who LOVES Christmas!! It still puzzles me, though, that everyone doesn't feel the same way!! Does it get to the point where Christmas is just another thing you have to do?
This has been a week of reflection, for me. Lots of things to think about. To be honest....my head is spinning!! One of the things that I have been giving a lot of thought to is our gift shop. Am I happy with the mix of merchandise? Am I making my customers happy? Do we carry what they are looking for? Should I move this, change that....focus just on "country", "primitive", "shabby", "repurposed"....."cool"??? While I haven't found the answers to all of my questions...I have decided that I need to sell what I love, and I need to be me!! I have, always, changed things and mixed them up....being in a rut is not part of who I am...and neither is following the "trends" ...I do my own thing!! I think a little redirection is in order...but I think that about 6 times a year!! (hahahaha...) I think that trying to make everybody happy is a fools journey...so I am going to be content with making all of my "kindred spirits" happy, instead!! If you like what we do and what we are all about....then that's enough for me!!
Right now....my "kindred spirits" are watching the Christmas movies, listening to the Christmas music and getting ready to make their homes warm and cozy....thinking about creating Christmas Magic!!!! If this applies to you....I can't wait for you to see the amazing mix of merchandise in the gift shop (but, hurry....a lot of our fellow "kindred spirits" have, already, visited...more than once....and they are beating you to it!!!) If this does not apply to you...hopefully a trip to see us will, at the very least, put a smile on your face!! And....to answer YOUR question.....yes, Christmas already!!! I can't wait!!! Kindred Spirits....unite!!!
Monday, November 4, 2013
Have you been watching the Hallmark channel??
Today is the BIG day....we are heading over to turn the upstairs gift shops into a magical Christmas wonderland!! We HAVE been watching the Christmas movies, on the Hallmark channel, and it has put us in the mood!!
The candy display is ready to go...all decked out with the very best Christmas goodies, stocking stuffers and little gifts I could find!! Now it's time to head upstairs and "work our magic" on the rest of the shop!!
If you LOVE Christmas as much as we do....plan a visit VERY soon!! ~~~ It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!
Monday, October 21, 2013
It is hard to believe you are in the month of October, in Pennsylvania, when the temperature is close to (and on a day, or two, above....) 80 degrees!! However....all of that is about to change!! I am really keeping a close eye on the overnight temperatures because I want to bring a lot of my plants inside for the Winter. It looks like that will be happening this week!!
Another thing that had an arrival delay, this year, was my pumpkin purchasing!! I wasn't sure what "route" I wanted to take for the front porch decorating....traditional....or all of those REALLY cool peach, pink, blue green and white pumpkins. I was having a little trouble getting into the spirit...between our crazy early October schedules and the weather....so I just didn't buy ANY pumpkins....at first!!
But....all of that changed, last week!! First I bought one of the new "pink"ones...at the grocery store...and then I bought a white one to go with it. Then I bought ANOTHER "pink" one...because it was, sort of, green and white AND pink....and it was really pretty. Then I bought two "traditional" orange ones...because the stems were fat and twisty....and then another one (with really deep grooves...)...and then another one, because it was HUGE....it turns out I am addicted to the little buggers!!! I tell myself we have enough...but I am drawn to them..like a moth to a flame...and find myself buying "just one more"!!
Oh well.....there are far worse things to be addicted to...right?? Hahaha...
To celebrate my "addiction"...and the coming of FALL(for real!!!)...I wanted to pass along a great recipe for you to try...and yes, it's PUMPKIN!!!
Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped white chocolate
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Heat cream and milk in a pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot...but NOT boiling!! In a medium bowl, pour hot milk mixture over the white chocolate. Stir until they are melted. Add pumpkin, vanilla and spices. Pour into cups, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
You might want to make this before the week is over....it's warm and cozy...and we are going to need it!! You might, also, want to go buy a pumpkin....it will be one less that is calling to me!!!
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
We all have different ideas of what makes our house a home. We have different things that make it "ideal" for us. New...old, big...small, lots of property....no yard maintenance whatsoever!!! Some of us like warm colors...some cool, some like an open floor plan...some like well defined rooms, some are "minimalists"....some like to collect!! Some love modern, some vintage, some antique....some a mixture of all of the above!!!
No matter what your own personal style is, though....we all want a home that welcomes, not only US, but everyone who visits. We all want a home that is our haven...that makes us feel safe and warm and snug. We all want "Cozy"!!!
This time of year, the desire to make our homes cozy is even more prevalent. As the weather turns colder...we all find ourselves wanting to light candles, cook hearty dinners, bake apple pies and decorate the house....because we are going to see the inside of it...a LOT!!! Not to say that we don't care what the inside of the house looks like in the Summer...but there are better things to do when the weather is beautiful!!
Making my home cozy is a top priority for me....no matter what time of year it is!! We spend so little time "relaxing"...I need "home" to be a happy, comfortable place to be. But cozy homes are on my mind, almost, all the time. Not only is it important for my own home to BE cozy....it is part of my job to help you make YOURS cozy, too!!! I am, always, at least 3 months....if not MORE..."ahead" in the gift shop... (For example....I just finished a big Mother's Day and Garden order with one of the companies I work with.) It's part of the job....and I take it very seriously!! So....right this minute...I am "cooking" up ways to continue to "fluff" the dwindling Fall and Halloween merchandise so that it stays "cozy" right up until the end. However....I am, also, dreaming of that "White Christmas" and constructing those cozy Christmas displays (in my head....) with all of the fantastic merchandise that we have, this year, so that you can see how cozy it will look in YOUR house after you buy it and take it home!! And...in addition to all of that...I am, also, picking out the merchandise that will show up this Spring and trying to figure out how to make THOSE displays as cozy as possible!!
Like I said....I take this part of my job very seriously. I take a lot of pride in the fact that we have such a great selection of merchandise. A word I hear constantly is "unique"....and that makes me happy because I really work at it!! The gift shops are FULL....no matter what the season (after all..you are in them to SHOP...and you can't shop without LOTS to look at....right????) of the very best "cozy" I can find.
If you find yourself....here, in the middle of that "cozy" month of October, with the big gift giving season right around the corner....(you may not be ready to hear that...but it's a fact!!) searching for ways to make your life cozier....may I suggest a visit to see us...SOON!!! Not only are our gift shops as cozy as it gets....the whole place is full of the cozy smells of cooking and baking...all the time!! It doesn't get any better than that!!!
Monday, October 7, 2013
This past Saturday was our third annual "1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" event. And....other than the weather feeling a LOT like July....I think it's safe to say it was a huge success!! We tried to "tally" the number of visitors...just so we could have some idea...and we were in the 800 region. Not too shabby!!!
It has grown, substantially, each year. We have set new goals (and reached them!!) we have tackled new projects, and we have learned new lessons. This is a picture of "our" table full of goodies from the very first year....we had, about, three times this amount, this year....and, pretty much, sold out!!
Planning, and executing, this kind of event is a big, BIG job....and it "takes a village" (or a dedicated committee and an army of volunteers!!! hahaha....) We have food vendors, craft artists, a kid's tent...full of games and crafts...a harvest tent FULL of wonderful produce and fall decorations, we had stories and demonstrations, spooky music playing, a baking contest with delicious homemade pumpkin and apple desserts, alpacas to visit, a display of wonderful, handmade "Haunted Gingerbread Houses" to admire and amazing decorations to delight....and each and every one of those experiences....take months and months of planning and preparing!!
I, personally....could NEVER do all that I do without my family!! They created the decorations....ran the sound system, the baking contest, our booth and the shop....(while I ran back and forth between both places!!!) seemingly effortlessly (although I know how much time and energy we all put into it!!!) and I would just like to take a moment to thank them all...my husband, my daughters, my son-in-law and my future son-in-law....for being the talented, hard-working, patient, wonderful people that they are!!!
Needless to say....since none of us rest on our laurels...we are, already, talking about next year!!! New goals, new projects, new lessons to learn!! Oh.....and a lot of praying for a little Fall-like weather!!!
I hope you had a chance to visit the event this year...and I hope your experience was "spooktacular"....but if you missed it, that's okay....because, come the first Saturday in October of 2014....we will be back and better than ever!!!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
But....aside from all of that....last Monday was "decorate our house for Halloween" day...and then Tuesday was "design, cutout and bake haunted gingerbread houses" day and Wednesday was our class!! All in all....a pretty hefty dose of creative energy was needed!!
At the beginning of "decorate for Halloween" Monday I am excited about getting it all done....spending some time with all of my collectibles!! By about noon-ish....I am wondering what I have gotten myself into (add in the fact that I really didn't feel well!!!) By about three-ish.....I just want the day to end!! This is a huge undertaking when I feel GREAT!!! I haven't done an official count (I am not sure I WANT to know!!!) of the number of "bins" that are devoted to Halloween...if I had to estimate I would say in the 18 to 20 range. All of them need to be emptied before I can even begin!! It's a daunting task...but, when I am done, it is very, very satisfying!! I love to do the displays....and "show-off" all of our treasured collection!! What I really love, though, is just wandering from room to room....enjoying what we have ***created***!
Every year, when we have our gingerbread house classes...whether they are the "haunted" variety or the Christmas houses.....we have a "newbie" or two (or three....) that claim to have "no creativity"....to this I say...."horsefeathers"....(well....that's not what I REALLY say.....) I defy anyone to sit with a "blank" gingerbread house in front of them....and a table full of candy....and NOT be creative!!!! Every time....without fail....unique, one-of-a-kind, extremely creative houses are carried out the front door! (by very proud owners!!) Somewhere in the course of the evening....the juices start to flow and the uncultivated creative side emerges!!
But there is more to it than just going home with a house that you're proud of. Somewhere during the creative process....we relax, we let go. We find ourselves thinking about something other than the pressures of the day.....we enjoy the creativity and the end results!! There is a really good reason why people paint and write, knit and garden, cook and bake, decorate and collect. It makes us happy!! Do you need to be the next Picasso....no. Do you need to be the next Jane Austin....no. Do you need to be Martha Stewart....heavens no!!!! You need to find the creative outlet (or outlets...) that makes you happy and take a little time to indulge in them!! Creativity is VERY important....go out there and find something to create! Hmmm....maybe if there were MORE creativity....there would be LESS rude, self important arrogance!! Just saying!!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
That's our tagline....but it's true.
I make A LOT of cake!!
In the "bakery business" trends come and go....I, myself, have never been one to follow trends. Between all of the food channels and the magazines it seems the whole world has become a "foodie" and a food critic. Considering what we do for a living....I don't think that's a bad thing. I do, however, think the best part of this, particular, trend is the "new" interest in the old-fashioned baking. It's not a "trend" around here....it's what we do and what we have always done...but if it shifts the spotlight...that's okay with me!!
This has been an interesting week. I just ordered a cookbook that is full of heirloom recipes...(actually, that's not all that interesting...I have an obsession with cookbooks and can't help myself) I am excited to read it because I love recipes with history and family connections. I think that's one of the reasons I will recommend (and carry in the gift shops...) the Gooseberry Patch books...they are nothing BUT recipes with history and family connections. No complicated steps, unusual cookware or weird ingredients. Just tried and true...no fail...homemade....period. The kind of recipes that you will make....over and over...and, eventually, become "known" for!! Now...this started me thinking about all of those recipes that you make again and again...the ones that are expected at each and every family gathering. You know what I am talking about....right? They are the best....nothing trendy...just really good food that makes everyone happy. The very definition of "comfort food".
Now....THAT got me thinking...I am sure that you had a birthday cake. No, I don't mean..."had" a birthday cake....I mean there was one kind of cake that was "yours". Someone made it for you...every year...and you could count on it. Sometimes the rest of your family looked forward to it, too. Sometimes they didn't....for example if you like coconut and the rest of the family isn't a fan...oh well, more for you!! These cakes, more than likely, were homemade...no decorations, no fondant, no edible glitter or airbrushing. Just delicious...from beginning to end. In other words...no trends.
Now..... The entry forms for the baking contest at the "1803 House : A Very Merrie Halloween" event are rolling in. So far....they all look to be old-fashioned family pleasing recipes. And....I have had multiple phone calls from a company that wants me to try using duck fat in my baking....that is not going to happen. I told the lady, that keeps calling, that I was partial to butter....I am not sure she is listening. And....this week....I, also, had someone who needed a cake with absolutely no dairy...(allergies)...which I can do....but she wanted it all decorated....which I WON'T do. Like I said...it's been an interesting week.
At this point...we have been in business for a long time....long enough that, for quite a few of you, "your" birthday cake....is a Sweet Memories cake!! I just wanted you to know that I will continue to "find" (rediscover???) those wonderful old-fashioned recipes...probably tweak them (it's another thing that I do and can't help myself...) be here to make "your" cakes...without duck fat (I don't care HOW "in" THAT becomes!!!!) and NOT cloud up the "comfort" with a whole bunch of unnecessary decorations.
After all.....making people happy is my job....and, most of the time, it's a piece of (old-fashioned, nostalgic, memory (sweet of course) filled, comfortable, makes-you-happy, delicious) cake!!!!
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Do you pin, tweet, post....blog??
Are you "surfing" to look for decorating ideas, recipes, to stay up to date on all of your favorite stores, movies, television shows and music. Are you doing a little "spying"...yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Is it too much??
I get a lot of questions about our "website". I knew, a long time ago...even before social media...that it was something I would have to look into, that we needed a "web presence". To be honest...."ordinary" websites don't do anything for me. I think they lack personality. I never feel like they tell me what I want to know. Can I find out a stores hours....sure...but I want to know what the store is like...and you can't get that from a website. With the avenues that are available, now, I can finish putting icing on a cupcake, take a picture and post it all within seconds. I can tell you when events are coming up, when new merchandise has arrived, take pictures of new displays and even tell you all about my daughter's wedding!! But, most importantly, I can stay connected to all of you!!
Really....all of this technology is just a case of "Everything old is new again"...it's like sitting on the phone, for hours, with your best friend, seeing your coworker's vacation pictures, exchanging recipes (and a little gossip) with your neighbor and getting a letter from your Grandmother (which I miss!!) all within the 3 "spare" minutes we can manage to find in a day!!
With our crazy schedules...and crazy lives...I think it's great that we have a way to stay connected!! Sure....some people over do it. Too many pictures from the inside of the car....too many updates about the dog...too much information, period!! But, in my news feed, I can stay informed of important events, have a little laugh and feel like I am visiting with an old friend. I think I am more involved and connected than ever!!
I LOVE the social media outlets and the way they allow me to stay connected to all of you!! I love the idea of being able to talk to you, answer your questions and, maybe, brighten your day!! There is something very rewarding about posting something and getting lots and lots of "likes" and comments!! It shows that you like us...you really like us!! (hahahaha....) I don't think any of this replaces time spent with the people that matter to us...but then, neither did a letter!! It's just a great way to stay in the loop!!I just want you all to know that, no matter how busy we are, no matter how much I have to do...you are very important to us...and I am just the click of a key away!!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Since we have started getting ready for the Fall and Halloween season, at the shop, I have heard wonderful things!! Lots and lots of you, my customers and friends, are "Autumn" fans!! You get excited about decorating your homes and enjoying all there is to enjoy in this season!! We, also, have a HUGE group of you who adore Halloween and are avid collectors....of course YOU can't wait for us to get ready in the gift shops...and that is evident almost immediately!!
But....as is the way of the world....there are always a few who say "already????"....like this comes as some sort of surprise....or like I am the one in control of ending the Summer simply by changing the merchandise in the gift shops!!! I am NOT the one making these changes....look around!! The burning bushes are all getting color, the sycamore trees are starting to get that dusky look...actually, if you look for it, some of the maple trees are starting to get some color!! Anyone with apple trees knows that Fall is right around the corner...and, before too long, my front entrance will look like this picture!!
If all of these signs have, somehow, escaped your notice (perhaps the word denial could be used here....) once those big yellow school buses start to roll....there is no turning back! Which brings me to my point. Usually, around this time, the classes at Sweet Memories start to get a lot of attention, too. The phone starts to ring off the hook, I get a ton of messages and questions on Facebook....I get stopped in the street....OK THAT one is a slight exaggeration....but, inquiring minds want to know.
Here it goes....I am not going to have the "normal" Fall schedule.~~~Sorry. The fact of the matter is...there just are not enough hours in the day. Between the gift shop and the baking, the 1803 House event, decorating the shop, decorating my home, the gingerbread house classes, some really cool special events that we have planned (stay tuned....but let's just say...let everyone else have their "open houses"...we are going to have a PARTY!!!!!!!!!) Thanksgiving, Christmas.....well....like I said...not enough time for everything. So...I decided to wait until after the Holidays and schedule the classes in January, February and March. Not so much going on....so I can give them...and all of you...my undivided attention!! We ARE doing the gingerbread house classes (and, actually, with this set up, I can add an extra one....so more of you will be able to join us!!) and the "Haunted Gingerbread House" class is, already, scheduled!! Give us a call for more details and to get signed up!!
I am in the process of figuring out what I want to "teach"....so please feel free to make suggestions!!
I know, sometimes, change can be "upsetting"....but it is inevitable. This particular change... I AM in control of...but, trust me, it is for the best!!
In the meantime....come in and see us, sign up for the gingerbread house classes and enjoy all that Autumn has to offer....because, before you know it...January will be here...and "school" will be in session!!!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
It has been a long journey....but the Halloween "room" is almost complete!!
I say a "long journey" because we changed each and every room along the way!! Typical to my personality...I wanted EVERYTHING moved around!! We moved the kitchen display pieces...all of them!! Then did a complete overhaul in there (in a couple of weeks we will do it again when we get all of the AWESOME Fall and Halloween "kitchen" merchandise out!!!). We moved things all around in the Christmas room....trying to display the Byers' Choice Carolers at their best...and make all of the Jim Shore pieces look spiffy, too!! Then we rearranged the Kid/baby room....sort of like cleaning your, actual, kid's rooms...going for nice and neat!!! Of course...we have all kinds of Halloween goodies to add in there, too!! THEN we moved everything all around in the front room to make this year's Halloween the very best....ever!!!
One of the reasons for this "journey"....aside from the fact that I just can't be happy with "normal"....was my periodic examination of our gift shop. We don't have a whole lot of free time, anymore, but we do get around. We have our favorite day trips, when we decide we need a "me" day (which is right around the corner...let me tell you!!!!) favorite places that we like to go. I always try to buy something....even though I can get the same merchandise...but I, also, pay attention to other store's displays and the way they merchandise their product. I am constantly looking for new merchandise....unique things...and I am, constantly, trying to improve the gift shops.
One of the "tried and true" displaying methods is to create a vignette that the customer would like to recreate in their home. The idea behind this is that you see something...like it...and buy all of it so you can set it up exactly the same way in your own house. I get it. I really do. I just don't like it. I like to set up my OWN vignettes...I want MY personality to shine through when I decorate my home. I have a lot of confidence in my self and my style....and I believe that all of you do, too!! Don't get me wrong....I don't think merchandise should be lined up on a shelf....like the "big box" stores do...I am a strong believer in grouping and making everything look great!! I just don't think the minimalist...three things on a tabletop because I don't think you can focus on more than that...is necessary!! I want to give you as many possibilities as I can...order as much awesome, cool and amazing merchandise as possible and give you the opportunity to get lost in the shops...wander around and around so you don't miss anything...and I want you to leave excited to go home and get your new treasures where YOU envision them going.
Yes, sometimes it takes a journey....lots of thinking and deciding....questioning and even rearranging...but then you find that the best place for you to be...is where you started from!! I am tickled with how great everything is looking. I am thrilled with all of our new "goodies" and can't wait for you to see them. But....most of all....I am extremely proud of how different we are!! If you are "unique" too....you know where to find us!!!
Monday, August 5, 2013
The Haunted Gingerbread House Class for this year will be held on Wednesday, September 18th at 5:00.
What does this mean??
We have "taught" gingerbread house classes, here at Sweet Memories, for years...and years and years!!! They are always highly anticipated, well attended and a ton of fun!! To be honest....I could, probably, hold about 10 more if my schedule...and energy....would allow it!! But, the fact of the matter is....these "classes" are, really, more like workshops. I design, bake and construct all of the houses. Then we make a whole bunch of "party food"....rearrange all of the furniture....fill many, many, many bowls with candy....make batch after batch of royal icing....and watch (slightly bleary eyed....) while all of you have the time of your lives decorating the gingerbread houses!! Don't get me wrong...I would NEVER NOT do it....but you can see why I can't do 10 more!!!
Last year...while my amazing family and I were talking about the second year for the "1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" event and kicking around ideas....my husband suggested we make a "Haunted Gingerbread House" to display during the event. Of course....us being us (and if you asked them they would rephrase that to "me being me"!!!!) we turned the idea into something even bigger and better!! We added another gingerbread house class....for a "haunted" house....and the houses were put on display at our event!!
It was a huge hit....and I was, as always, very proud of our "students"!! Not only did they do a fantastic job on the houses....they brought them to the event....and then picked them up when it was over (Okay....that was required of them as part of the class....but they did it without complaining!!!) and lots and lots of people were able to enjoy their creations!!
So....drumroll please....it's time to fill that class for this year!!
If you would like to join us here's what you need to know! No experience is necessary. You will be decorating the house with a full team of "professionals" there to help you....(you really won't need us...we just find it helps to tell you that...eases the trepidation!! Many people think they "can't" do creative things...which is NOT true!!!....) you will need to call the shop and grab a spot. These classes are limited in size and fill up FAST!!!! The cost is $35.00 per house....and that includes food....PARTY food...so come hungry!! If more than one person works on a house there will be a small, additional fee, to cover the food. These will need to be paid in advance....that way we know you are serious....if you can't make it, there are many people on a waiting list that would like to take your spot...so PLEASE be sure you can join us and get the payment in!! And, one last thing, you will need to get the house to the Merrie Halloween event on the morning of October 5th and pick it up, again, at the end of the event...of course this really isn't a hardship....since you will want to be in town to ATTEND the event and then visit Sweet Memories, anyway!!!
If you have any further questions....or, more importantly, would like to sign up....give us a call at the shop and we will take care of everything!! If you can't make it for this class....stay tuned...because the CHRISTMAS gingerbread house dates will be announced soon. We would love for you to join us...it really is a lot of "Sweet Memories" in the making!! (sorry....sometimes I just can't help it!!)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
But....no matter how you feel about the coming of Fall...no matter if you love the idea...or hate it...the time has come to give it my undivided attention. Does that mean Summer is over?? No...of course not!! I am hoping to get a lot more swimming time in...a lot more sitting and relaxing and enjoying, too. But you know how the old saying goes....first we work, then we play!! And we have a lot of work to do!!
Not only do I want to get the ball rolling on our Fall and Halloween displays....I have big plans for room makeovers!! I have some new display pieces....and I want to move things all around in every room of our gift shops...BEFORE we start to unpack the goodies!! By the time we are done....shopping in the gift shops at Sweet Memories will be a whole "new" experience!!
We have some of the best (and I say that every year)...Fall and Halloween....(and Christmas, too) merchandise that we have ever had!! I am so excited for all of you, my fellow Halloween fanatics, to see what we've got!! The ideas for displays are, literally, keeping me up at night!! But there is more....much more....to the coming of Autumn around here!! We are, also, just weeks, really, from "The 1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" event. It is time to get the details together for the Haunted Gingerbread House class....we need to make them even better than last year....although that might be a hard task because they were AWESOME last year!!! I know you guys are all wondering about the Christmas Gingerbread House classes, too. Lots and lots going on!!
Like I said....I am not saying goodbye to Summer....but it IS time to roll up those sleeves and get going on these huge projects!! The sooner I make all of these "keeping me up at night" thoughts and ideas into reality....the sooner I can go sit by the pool and enjoy the rest of Summer 2013!!
Stay tuned....I will let you know as soon as I can about the gingerbread classes....and the BIG reveal!!! Oh my...but this IS exciting!!! Have a great day everybody!!!!
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I have had Fall and Halloween on my mind for weeks...granted it was in the "way back" part while we were getting ready for the wedding....but it was still there!! It's part of my job. Just like magazine writers and editors are months and months ahead....so, too, are retailers. You have to be. But...up until the inferno that was last week....I didn't have all that much company. Now...I think the boat is full!!!
If we never have that much heat and humidity...all at the same time...ever again...it will be alright with me!! But...it sure made getting into the "Fall spirit" very, very easy!!! I have displays and plans rolling around and around in my mind. I want to change everything....really mix things up...and make this the best Halloween and Fall season ever. I am even thinking about an open house. Well....MY kind of open house...I will keep you informed!! I have new display pieces on the way...a few more orders to place....and a whole lot of work to do!! I'm just not happy unless I have BIG projects in the works!! I want the gift shops at Sweet Memories to be, not only the best that they can be, but the best....period!! I want to be your go-to place for gifts, for Holidays, for yourself....just because!! That doesn't happen without work!!
Yesterday....a good portion of my BIG Halloween order came in....very exciting!!! It's, also, a great motivator. I want all of you...my avid Halloween shoppers...to get to see all of the amazing new goodies, too. So....the process has begun. It's a slow process...so don't expect to see Halloween this weekend. However....if there is something that caught your eye in our upstairs gift shops....get in here and get it!! Any day now the witches, pumpkins and ghosts will show up....and Summertime 2013 will be just a memory. And, let's be honest, after last week....who will argue???
Monday, July 15, 2013
This was a "non-traditional" wedding. I used that term a thousand times whenever I was asked the "traditional" questions. If you know my daughter....and her HUSBAND (that will take a little getting used to!!! teeheehee!!!).....you would expect nothing else.
I HIGHLY recommend a "non-traditional" wedding!!
There is something SO wonderful about being exactly who you are, exactly where you want to be....surrounded by exactly who you want to be surrounded by....dressed exactly the way you want to be dressed, eating exactly what you want to be eating...and laughing with exactly the most important people in your life!!
"Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer." ~~~ Jean de La Fontaine
They didn't have a "wedding party"....they had an amazing group of friends...and family...brothers and sisters, cousins, friends from childhood...and some from not all that long ago...that came together and got along right from the start!! Not only did they help them to celebrate....they helped...period!! Everything that needed to get done....they all pitched in and did it!! Setting up the tables, blowing up the balloons, hanging lanterns, lighting candles, taking pictures, carrying food, parking cars...and getting the flamingos where they belonged (very, very long story!!!) It was awesome to watch....and all of them are welcome in my home anytime!!
We had blue, antique ball jars on the tables...and they were to be filled with flowers. Oh....I went around and around about what to fill them with....I didn't want to fill them with the same flowers that were in the garden (6 inches away!!!)....I thought about daisies...and almost went that route...and then...inspiration!! When the girls were little my MomMom used to stop on the side of the road, on her way up to visit, and "pick" Queen Anne's Lace. They would fill jars with colored water and hope that the flowers would "suck it up" and turn the color of the water!! So....at the crack of dawn..."big sister" (and other future son-in-law :) ) found themselves driving down the country roads "picking" Queen Anne's Lace for the tables!! Just not something you do when you go the "traditional" route. We told her MomMom sent them!!
Yes....I HIGHLY recommend a "non-traditional" wedding!! If you find yourself planning a wedding....please take my advice. Do it YOUR way!! Don't worry about what everyone will think. Don't do things because you are "supposed to"....do the things you want to do!! Surround yourself with the people who matter and make yourself happy!! The sweetest memories are made when you are the happiest....and I don't think I have ever seen her happier!!!
Monday, July 1, 2013
Now....having said that....I am starting to think "Fall"!! I can hear some of you now...."NO!! Not already!!!" But the plain fact-of-the-matter is....when you are in retail...you are ALWAYS a few months ahead....or out of business!!
I am on the planning committee for "The 1803 House: A Very Merrie Halloween" event and I put the flyers out, on the counter, at the shop. I want you to be aware of this event....and plan ahead so that you can attend. It is a great event, it benefits a great historical property and it gets better and better every year. I feel as though NOT giving all of you the opportunity to know about it, and be there for it, is a great disservice to you. The reactions to the flyer have been interesting...and somewhat predictable!! Many, many, many of you see it, grab it and are excited by it. Some of you say "NO!! Not already!!!"
The bottom line...if you love the Fall....and Halloween....you love it year 'round. There is no "season"....or right or wrong time to think about it. I know this is a true statement....because Halloween collectables sell all year long!! The same holds true for Christmas. If Christmas is your Holiday....then you keep it in your heart all the year through (as you should!!!)...and, Christmas collectables sell all year long, too!!
I have had a lot on my plate, recently, with all of the planning for the wedding. It should be enough....but the fact is...I have a responsibility, to all of you....our wonderful customers....to make each and every Holiday special and to carry the most amazing Holiday merchandise I can find!! In order for that to happen I HAVE to be months and months ahead. Period. I have to order and plan WAY ahead of time....or the next Holiday will not live up to your expectations...or, much more demanding, mine.
So, regardless of my own personal schedule, and the happenings in my private life, I pulled out the calendar and started to plan for "the big makeover"...the day when the Halloween would start to make it's appearance. This is no small feat!! This is hours and hours just to get "the bones" (pun intended!!!) in place...and then days and days, afterward, of setting up new displays, tweaking the existing ones and adding new merchandise as it arrives!! I posted the fact that I was checking out the calendar....and starting to plan for the "big day"...and the reaction was interesting....and somewhat predictable!! I just want to go on record, here, and tell you that I am NOT doing it right this second....calm down...I was simply planning!! I think part of the reaction to "the rushing of the Holidays" is the, almost disrespectful, way that the "big box" stores handle the transition. Throw it all on the shelf....the Christmas decorations on one side...Halloween on the other. Let me assure you....that is NOT the case in our shops!!
I treat each and every Holiday as if it is my favorite (because, truthfully, at the moment we are experiencing it...it is!!!) and I try to give all the other "enthusiasts" out there plenty of time to find, and purchase, those special things to add to their collections. I also try to give us all a little extra time to enjoy!! What could possibly be "wrong" with surrounding yourself with a little "taste of Fall"...and treating yourself to a little day dreaming...on a hot day in August?? Nothing!! Does it mean that the Summer is "over"?? Of course not!! It just means that there is something to look forward to...and I don't see anything wrong with that!!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
It is hard to believe...but there are just a few weeks left before my daughter's wedding...luckily the to-do list is getting shorter and shorter!! Monday was an "all hands on deck" kinda day....and it started VERY early...and ended very late!! Painting, pruning, still more mulching....and a little "creating"!!
This new table, on our front porch, was created from a whole bunch of flea market finds and re-purposed pieces. I have been decorating this way for a very long time....even before it was "cool"...and it is still one of my favorite things to do. I love finding things and using them for new purposes. I have turned funnels, egg baskets, buckets and washtubs into planters. Windows and doors into pieces of furniture. Porch posts...topped with a birdhouse...into focal points. Old clay pots into a flower bed border...and don't get me started on the many uses of ladders!! There is something very special about "old" utilitarian pieces...they add instant charm and history!! If you find new and clever uses for them...they add instant creativity!!
Not only are we fast approaching my daughter's wedding...we are, also, fast approaching the "birthday" of Sweet Memories...well, the 180 Main Street version, anyway!! What does one thing have to do with the other?? Good question!!
We have been doing so much "hunting" for vintage and antique pieces in preparation for this big event...I have started to give some thought to the idea of mixing some "vintage" into the gift shops. I believe that, in order to have a successful business, you need to be yourself. You need to carry merchandise that you love and show your personality in everything you do. All too often businesses make the mistake of trying to be too many things, trying to keep up with everyone around them...and, in doing so, they lose something. Copying what another business is doing will not make you successful...being yourself...will!!
When you come into our store....you are seeing..."ME"!! I love to cook and bake...I love the idea of gourmet foods and having a candy store...and, when you head upstairs to the gift shops, you will see that I love to make my house cozy, my kitchen adorable, my Holidays extra special, my garden gorgeous....and all of the "little ones" in my life happy!! But, I also LOVE vintage...and, right now, that is missing!!
So....as we approach the 18th birthday of our store...keep your eyes open!! I have some of my favorite people..."picking"....just for you!! And, not only are THEY looking for some really great treasures....once the wedding is all done and in the "memory" (sweet of course!!) books...my daughter and husband want to spend some time "creating" original pieces from vintage, re-purposed finds....and, I think, they will have "Sweet Memories" written all over them!!! Hey...you guys all know....around here, we don't do ANYTHING like anyone else!!! ;) Have a great day!!!!
Monday, June 17, 2013
I love anything old. I love the character, the patina...the story that I am sure it could tell!! I collect yellow ware bowls, old watering cans, children's gardening tools, little benches....I could go on and on!! I think my favorite thing to "re-purpose" is old shutters and doors (oh...and porch posts!!!) they practically call my name!!
Our coffee table, in the pool house, is an old door. Our coffee table, in our house, is an old door. I have a screen made of old shutters hiding the water softener in our laundry room. I have a table in our foyer that is made from an old shutter...and several of my cabinets (4 to be exact) were made with either old doors or old shutters. Right this minute....there is a small pile in the shed...waiting!!
I have plans...I want some of them to go in the pool house to ensure a little more privacy (there are "new people" next door with some VERY annoying kids!!!) but a couple of them are going to be used for a piece that I want on the front porch!! We spent most of the Winter actively looking for shutters for these projects...and as soon as I had given up...decided that the projects would just have to be put on hold until we found what we were looking for...boom...there they were!!
It is very exciting...and I will be sure to keep you posted!! When my husband gets the piece for the front porch built...I will be sure to post pictures!! If it turns out the way it looks in my head (and the way ALL of his projects turn out!!) I may find myself on the hunt for some MORE shutters!! I am thinking it's about time to "share" some of his talents with the world...and bring some things into the shop!! And, as it turns out, my daughter has shown some interest in "re-purposing" and building furniture, too!! So you just might find yourself taking a piece of her talent home with you, too!!
In the meantime....if you have any old shutters lying around...let me know!! ;)
Monday, June 10, 2013
Summertime has always gotten my creative juices flowing. I guess because I had "off" for Summer vacation...so my time was my own. When you are little....it's all about playing...and having fun. Once you get a little older...say 12 or 13...you're too old to "play" but your "boredom" threshold is easily reached!!
I would say....around that age...I started to get "projects" in my head. I wanted to learn how to bake bread. So I read a few cookbooks...asked my Grandmother for a little advice...and baked bread!! (It is still one of my favorite things to do...) I have learned many, many skills that way....just get the idea...and do it!! I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt. So....I quilted!! We lived across the road from, I would have to say, the best quilter who ever lived...no exaggeration...and she, along with my Grandmother, helped me to finish the quilt!! Well....if I am to be fair....they did A LOT more of the quilting than I did...but, still, I learned an amazing craft!! If you don't try....how will you ever know if you can do it??
I think the most important thing, when you are trying something new, is to have confidence in yourself. I can say....with 100% sincerity....that I have never thought "I can't" in my life!! I just get an idea in my head....and then jump in without looking back!! I have even passed this along to my husband!! Way back at the beginning of our life together...I would show him things...decorative pieces or furniture...that I wanted. My favorite phrase was..."you can make that for me, right??" He would say....I don't know how to do that...but then tried it, anyway!! Not only did I get some amazing pieces for our home, but he has discovered a love of woodworking and being creative that he may have never known about!! This new arbor....one of his many creations!! I just said...I want a new arbor made out of logs and sticks...I want it to look "fairytale-y".... ta-da!!!
Now...once again...we find ourselves with the whole Summer ahead of us (how did it get to be June 10th already???). It's not anything like it used to be, of course...my time is, most definitely, not my own. We don't have the prospect of long days stretching out in front of us waiting for us to fill them with wonderful adventures....but don't let that stop you!! Make a promise to yourself to be creative!! Find something you have always wanted to try....and try it!! Take a class if you aren't sure about "just doing it"....or get a book or do some research online!! It's easier than ever to learn new things...and, in the process, learn things about yourself!!
Monday, June 3, 2013
Our gardens are our vacation spot. I take preparing them very seriously....after all I will spend the next 4 to 5 months "vacationing" here. This is where we look forward to spending our "time off"....our evenings and every Monday...from now until it gets too cold (and the "Holiday season" begins in the shop....because then there is NO free time!!!!!) to garden!!
This year....I am taking the preparations even more seriously than usual....this is where we will be celebrating our daughter's wedding!! We have weeks....just weeks...left to get everything done....but we are right on track!! I have all of the confidence in the world that the yard will be perfect!! Just in case....I have a meeting with Mother Nature later this month. We will be discussing the weather conditions...that is one thing I can't control!!
We aren't, really, doing anything that we wouldn't have done anyway...but there is a little added "stress" that I don't normally have to deal with....after all, we have a target date for the "perfection" I aim for every year!! Usually, the "perfection" is just for me....but, this year, it is for our daughter!!
So...I am in the middle of a bit of a balancing act. I give 100%....well, 200% really....every day at the shop!! It is, and has always been, very, very important to me to be the BEST that I can be (yes....that type "A" that I have spoken of, before....) every single day. The garden, in front of the store, still needs to look awesome, all of those little projects that need to get done....still do...I have to get my Fall, Halloween and Christmas orders in, make amazing displays with the new merchandise, bake, bake, bake....in this HEAT, and make every meal you share with us...special!!!
Like I said....a bit of a balancing act!!
It isn't anything I can't handle...I have everything under control!! If I say that enough....everything will be fine....right?? Ummm...sure!!!! :) Hey....if you find yourselves visiting with us in the next few weeks...and I sure HOPE that you do...please just ignore the fact that I am distracted and have that "far off" look!! And if you see a weed (or two) on your way down the path....please feel free to pull it!! I'll take all the help I can get!!! :)
Monday, May 27, 2013
Yes....we have the world at our fingertips...literally. But, sometimes, that can be a burden. While it is super convenient to be able to call anyone....from anywhere....at anytime...to discuss anything....should we?? I don't know about you....but those private conversations that I am, involuntarily, listening to at the grocery store are really no concern of mine...and, if you weren't HAVING that conversation...you would be able to pay attention to your surroundings, get you and your cart out of my way and maybe not be so RUDE to the cashier!!....Just saying!! And....of course...we all know what those conversations are costing the world while we are supposed to be driving!!
Then we have the power of Facebook. It is really wonderful to connect...and stay connected...to the people we care about!! To see the pictures of the things that matter to your friends, hear about the accomplishments, the kids....even the occasional gripe...say Happy Birthday!! But...do I want to know EVERYTHING....ummm...no!! Not to mention the posts that really get you fired up!! You KNOW what I am talking about....the people that use the "spotlight" to tell "tales"...or outright lies...about people and things that you care about!! Ah yes, the power of Facebook!!
Like I said....love/hate!
As much as I enjoy this technology...and the fact that you are here...right now....reading this....I would like to make a suggestion!! Every now and then....walk away from the keyboard!! I think we all need to remember how wonderful the simple pleasures are...bake something, cook something, grow something....watch the birds, read a book, learn a new craft and do something creative!! One of my friends posted something, the other day, about how when this generation "becomes a Grandmother" they won't know how to knit or quilt....but they will know how to take pictures of themselves in the bathroom mirror!! Lord, I hope that isn't true!! And yes, I am aware of the irony....that I saw that on Facebook!!
In this day and age of instant....everything...lets make an effort to slow down and smell the roses...or shell some peas...let's try to find those things that make us happy and give us balance. Let's take the "spotlight" away from the liars...and "haters"...of the world!! Instead...let's go up, up, up....slow down a little bit...and enjoy the simple pleasures!!
Monday, May 20, 2013
You water and weed and prune....and then, without warning...you get the urge to revitalize your containers on the front porch with a few mums. Before you know it...You are filling them with greens for Christmas!!
Usually....although you miss your garden...you are kinda happy for the "break"...and you are so absorbed in the coming Holiday preparations...all of your time and energy are focused elsewhere!!
But then...it's January. It's cold, dark and....brown.
I try to spend my "free time" in the Winter months planning the changes I would like to make in the garden. Add this....move that....try to grow such and such. But....somewhere along the line...my "visualizing exercises" (roam from window to window and try to see as much of the garden as possible!!) are interrupted by "stuff"...and the "stuff" starts to bother me.
What do I mean by "stuff"?? Galvanized buckets and tubs, chicken feeders, wheelbarrows, benches, pots, watering cans...."stuff"!! Now....this "stuff" is what makes my garden....mine. It is what gives it personality....MY personality!! I have been recycling and reusing....forever!! WAY before it was cool!! But, the truth of the matter is....when all of the "stuff" is sitting in a brown garden in January....it just looks like...well, I hate to say it....junk.
I find my plans take a backseat to thinking about the possibility of downsizing my "stuff" collection. Maybe I should get rid of some of it...does it make the yard look junky?? What do people think when the drive by in the Winter months?? For that matter...what do they think when they drive by in the Summer?? (you forget how awesome it all looks when you are in "I think there may be too much "stuff" mode!!!) I mean....we have all seen "those" yards....the ones with too much "stuff'....I don't want to be one of "those"!!~~~ Oh the self imposed agony!!
And then, before you know it....it is Spring. Everything starts to come to life...and all of my "stuff" is right at home!! Actually....the "stuff" takes center stage and makes my gardens SHINE!! To be honest....I usually find myself looking for MORE "stuff"!!!
Like I said....it happens every year!!
So....what is the lesson learned?? Try to remember my philosophy....even in the "brown" months!! (hahaha)~~~ Have confidence in yourself....be true to who you are....don't EVER worry about what other people are thinking!! Fill your garden....and your life....with all of the "stuff" that makes you happy...and have a little faith.
Oh.....and "junk on"!!!!
Monday, May 13, 2013
All in all....it was a very "smooth" day...I mean I think we fed "the world" but the reservations were spaced out and well timed so that there were no moments of feeling overwhelmed!! Really, though, the "smoothness" of the day was due to the fact that my family works well....and hard...together. They are all awesome!!
Every "Mom" thinks her kids are the best...the smartest, the cutest, the funniest....it's all part of being a Mom. Sometimes....they ARE the smartest and cutest and funniest. Sometimes just the fact that YOU think so is all that matters!! I am pretty sure that is the whole point of this Holiday...to say thank you for being there, supporting them and telling them they are wonderful!! So...you get cards, and gifts, and flowers and meals...all of which is very nice...but if you're lucky....REALLY lucky...you look forward to spending time with these people you have "created" each and every day of the year.
There is another side to all of this, though....an unexpected side that you don't give ANY thought to while you are changing their diapers and "fixing" the boo-boos, reading the bedtime stories and making sure they take a bath, helping with the homework and teaching them to ride a bike. Eventually....they grow up. Eventually....they are adults. Eventually....they find they're "significant" others...and you find yourself "Mom" to a few more "kids"!!
I must say....I am a very lucky "Mom" this Mother's Day....because all of my "new" kids are wonderful!! They jump in when needed (even to do dishes for us on the busiest day of the year!!) join in, happily, to all of our family traditions, get along with each other, keep ALL of us entertained....and "put up" with the fun and "quirky" personalities of my kids!!! :)
I am very, very happy that it is over....but, all in all, it was a wonderful Mother's Day....because I got to spend it with the smartest, cutest and funniest "kids" around.....mine...and the "new" ones!!!
I hope yours was wonderful,too!!!!
Monday, May 6, 2013
I always tell everyone that I hate Mother's Day....and I do. Not because we are SO busy....because that would be silly!! We WANT to be busy....we are a small business!! No....the reason I hate Mother's Day is because people are SO rude!!!
We have some VERY smart customers that make their reservations for Mother's Day Brunch...at Christmas...YES....Christmas!!! Typically we are "full" about three weeks before the big day!! Not just for Brunch on Sunday....but for the whole weekend....and when I say "full" I mean...could not possibly squeeze one more person in if we wanted to. This happens for several reasons. #1...we are small...(although we serve somewhere in the 115 people range for Brunch)...and I want to keep it that way...so don't expect that to change!! #2 Mother's day comes, approximately, the same time every year....and #3...people plan ahead.
So, naturally, the phone rings off of the wall with requests for reservations the week (or two) before...
No...wait....I haven't gotten to the problem yet!!
Most people are sweet and very understanding. "Oh no....I should have called sooner!!" But, way more often than you would think, we get (angry voice...) "you can't take any more??" "When do you have to call to get a reservation??" "I didn't even know you NEEDED a reservation" "My family is coming all the way from (fill in the blank...)" or....and this is our very favorite...angry huff...click. Nothing like getting hung up on....nothing!!
There is a new "made up" term in our vocabularies these days...Momisms. You know..."if you make that face it will stay that way!!"..."Close that door....were you born in a barn??""...etc. Let's be honest....most of them were just empty threats and phrases that we could use to get us through the challenges of parenthood. However...some of the wisdom that we attempted to pass down was....and still really NEEDS to be....valuable!!! "Do unto others etc. etc." (THIS is a good one!!!) "Wait your turn"..."Patience is a virtue"..."If you don't have something nice to say....keep your mouth shut!!"
In addition to trying to mentally prepare myself for the barrage of rudeness that awaits us, this week....last week was full of it's own challenges!! We had some shoplifting....some breakage...some paper towels flushed down the toilets resulting in a hefty plumbing bill....should I go on?? No....I need to move on and focus on the task ahead!!
If any of the above "wonderfulness" does NOT apply to you (and....thankfully... THAT list is a very, very long one!!!!)...I hope you have a fantastic Mother's Day....and I hope you will be spending some part of it with us!! If any of the above "wonderfulness" DOES apply to you...well..."A little bird told me" that "what comes around goes around" and "I think you need to go to your room and think about what you've done"....we will "wait until your Father gets home"...."Why...because I said so....that's why!!"
Hey....Happy Mother's Day!!
Monday, April 29, 2013
So....while I did not really care too much about "partying"...I did find myself in a "reflective" mood, this week!! It was a good week....the weather, finally, feels like Spring. I found out that one of my favorite "garden gurus" has a new book out (which I ordered and hope will be here today!!!) and I had a series of "aha moments"....
When you start a small business Your main goal is to get it off the ground...it's to have customers...and to be able to pay the bills. A lot of people have said to me, over the years, that they would love to have a business like ours....maybe when they retire...which is just a very, very silly thing to say!! While I am sure that "being your own boss" and "setting your own hours" is part of the attraction....it is, also, a bit of a joke!! Being your own boss means that ALL of the "junk" falls in your lap...and your lap alone...and setting your own hours translates to working ALL the time!!! So.....why do we do it?? Well....I do like to be my own boss...it's the "type A" thing....but I, also, love the work, the challenge, the creativity....I am even a little addicted to the pressure....but, this week, I realized the #1 reason WHY we do it is....all of you!!
I watched so many of you sit and "visit" with the new friends you have made...here...I noticed how many of you feel SO comfortable that you need to "poke your head" into our work areas just to say hello....I listened to all of you that have really special relationships with our daughters...and I watched all of the "little ones" who cannot wait to see my husband, talk to my daughters....or eat their cookie!! :) The friendships....the extended family...is the best part of being a small business owner!! "Where everybody knows your name"...we have created that....and benefit from it just as much as all of you!! It's wonderful to be included in your special moments....the showers, the Holidays, the anniversaries, the birthday celebrations...
I had a very nice birthday...lots of flowers, cards and birthday wishes. A special dinner (that I did NOT cook...my daughter did!!!) and time spent with all of the people that matter to me!! (Of course...my favorite gift was the cupcake picture my Grandson made for me!!!) Birthdays come and go...but the relationships and friendships that are the extra bonus of all of our hard work....(the icing....or the cherry on top!!)...mean a lot to all of us!! I just want to say thank you....YOU are all the "candles" on MY cake!!!
Monday, April 22, 2013
I need a break....a Spring break!!
I love my shop....I love every part of it...from the baking and cooking to the upstairs gift shops and everything in between. I must say, though....it can take it's toll. We put in a lot of hours, and we give every last little bit of our energy to everything we do.So....I look forward to Monday....I look forward to a quiet day, with no phone calls, no pressure, no deadlines, no "business". I look forward to just being able to spend one day....doing whatever I want to do. It is my "break"....and it allows me to start the week....on Tuesday morning....with a renewed spirit!!
Not this week!! We spent the whole morning, last Monday, working in the garden....something that I LOVE to do!! When I had finished all that I wanted to accomplish....I went treasure hunting at our local antique malls, another thing I love to do!! I didn't hear about the events in Boston until hours after they had happened!! So much for renewing the spirit!!
Between all of the stories and all of the video and pictures....all of the sadness and the unexplainable~~horribleness~~...it's hard to think about anything else. I can only imagine what all of those poor people have been going through this week!! So many people have so many challenges ahead of them!!
We all have challenges.....some are small and easily handled....some just plain daunting!! How should we handle them?? We can throw in the towel....allow them to consume all of our energy...or we can take a break!!
I am taking a break!! I am going to go out and work in my garden...no phone calls, no pressure, no deadlines, no "business"....no television!! I am going to listen to "my birds" singing and watch the robin build her nest in my tree!! I am going to feed....and talk to...our fish! I am going to marvel at all that Spring has to offer....and, probably, wish it were a little warmer!! I am going to get lost in my day off....and find myself thinking about the people in Boston who cannot do the same!! I am going to be thankful for the sunshine, the smell of freshly cut grass and my gardens coming to life!! I am going to do everything in my power to renew my spirit because my challenges are nothing compared to some....
I am taking a break....Please do not disturb!!
Monday, April 15, 2013
Do you like to go shopping?? Everyone does. It's just different for all of us. Some people like to shop for shoes, or purses, or clothes. Some people like to shop for electronics, DVDs or books :) ....some people find themselves always looking for things for their kids...some people (my husband) can get lost for hours in the tools or "outdoor" stores!! Some...die hard foodies...LOVE to go to markets and grocery stores!! MY passion has always been my "nest"....I love to shop for my garden, antiques and in small, quaint, independently owned shops full of things for my home.
I have been in many....many....many small, independently owned shops full of things for my home...M*A*N*Y!!! When we find a new shop....one we have never been to...I know...immediately....if I am going to like it. It's a total experience. The outside....the inside...the smells...the music (and there needs to be some!!!) I know. If we walk into a "once around" (a shop where I don't think I will be spending any time...) I do my best to make the shopkeeper feel like I am appreciating their efforts. I try not to leave too quickly...I would NEVER hurt someones feelings that way....ever!! If I walk into a "twice around"...I will spend a little more time...and, probably, a little money. I know that I can get all of the same merchandise...wholesale...but I try to do what I can. After all....I know how much time, hard work, energy and money goes into running a shop!! Now...for me...the definition of a "twice around" is a shop that, more than likely, carries the "same stuff" that everyone else does...no real surprises...but they have an eye for display...and I always appreciate that!!
Now....every now and again....I walk into a "three go round"....a store that you want to spend some time in!! You want to go round once...and soak it all in!! Then you want to go round, again, and REALLY focus on all of the merchandise and how it's all displayed. Then you want to go round for the third time and pick out the treasures you are going to take home to your "nest"!! I must admit....these are rare finds for us....I have very high standards!! But....if I find one...I can't wait to go back!!
I am "manning" the gift shop on Wednesdays, right now. So I am in a position to hear the feedback from all of your "shopping experiences". I hear lots and lots of wonderful compliments....but I think my favorite is that there is so much to look at!! After all....what is the point of a shop with fifteen things in it?? Then my next favorite compliment is....such unique and different things and everything is so beautiful!! And then I LOVE to hear....everything is displayed so well!!! All of these, combined, make for a "three go round" shop....unique, interesting merchandise....and plenty of it....displayed the way you would like it to look when you get it home!! I work....very hard...each and every day to bring you a "three go round" shopping experience...and it is very nice to know that I am succeeding.
If you are all about the shoes, purses and clothes.....or the tools....you probably don't climb the stairs to our second floor very often....but that's OK...because you won't find ME in the shoe department!! But if "feathering your nest" (or your garden) is your delight....helps you find your bliss....I hope you consider us to be one of your "three go rounds"!! And if you haven't visited our second floor in a while....you should!! We have new merchandise arriving all of the time...new treasures to make you feel "like a kid in a candy store".....(Oh....and FYI....we have the candy store, too!!!) Have a great week!!!
Monday, April 8, 2013
We want things....sometimes those things are material...sometimes they are about people and relationships...sometimes they are "experiences"....but we want them. We get it into our heads that these "things" would be wonderful...the key to our happiness. Then....they don't work out....and it is the very definition of disappointment...until you have that moment...they are calling it the "aha" moment....when you realize it was for the best.
That was my week. We have been in business....at 180 Main St. in Emmaus....for 18 years. I have been in business, one way or another, for even longer. One of the "secrets" to success, in business, is re-invention....going with the flow. You may start out wanting to provide "this"....and end up doing "that". For example....I didn't really plan on serving "food", way back at the beginning....I just wanted a place where I could bake....fill my "custom" cake orders as well as orders for all of the other baked goods I make. We would have a few tables where you could sit and enjoy a little treat....but the custom baking was my focus. Oh....how things change!! Of course....you can see what I mean about "going with the flow"!! While some parts of the business have taken on lives of their own....the most important part, I think, is still the bakery. It is, also, the part with the most potential for growth.
The lower part of the building, next door, is vacant. I'm sure you can see where I am headed with this!! We did a little investigating....looked into the possibility of expanding the "baking end" of sweet Memories. The rules and regulations involved in getting a building "prepared" to house any kind of business, other than offices, is...well....prohibitive. It's no wonder there are so many vacant store fronts!! While that idea was sent to the scrap pile....other ideas have surfaced!! Better ideas....more manageable ideas!! Yes....I would like a little more room....and, yes, I would like to be able to fill every, single order that all of you try to place!! But....the reality is...I am only one person...and I don't ever want to "change" the way I do what I do. I want to make everything in small batches, give all of my attention to each and every cake, cookie, scone, brownie, cheesecake, pie and cupcake that goes out the door. We want to continue to make all of the food from scratch, also in small batches, the old-fashioned way....no freezers, no leftovers....no waste....(less price hikes!!) All in all....I am happy with the way things are now....I can manage ALL of the aspects of the business...could I do that from another building?? (even one just 10 steps away??) I have the ability to go home at the end of the day....spend time in my garden, with my Grandson....would I be able to do that if the operation got any bigger?? Then, of course, we have all of you...I can talk to you now (well....once in a while, anyway!!!) ....I wouldn't even see you from "over there"!!
Everything happens for a reason...and this is for the best!!
So....What does this mean?? If you want to place an order....you will, still, need to plan ahead!! I can only do so many in a day...the more notice you give us....the more likely you will get what you need!! The seating in the restaurant is not going to change....so reservations are, still, a REALLY good idea!! Friday Nights are STILL walk-ins only....so calling ahead (and learning that) will NOT guarantee you a seat!! We will continue to make all of our food...fresh...everyday...which means that we do not have "extra" stuff sitting around...so if you have dietary restrictions...you STILL need to tell us about them ahead of time!! There is a chance you may have to wait a moment or two until we can get to you....please be patient (and respectful of others....) and I STILL do most of the writing on your cakes in green....but, sometimes, I make a really pretty "tiffany" blue...and I am really sorry if that is offensive!
Sorry for the "rant" but, like I said....this has been a week!! I DO believe that everything happens for a reason....but, sometimes that reason is hard to find!! If you are privy to what that last paragraph is all about...you know what a week it was!! I could write a whole separate blog....heck.... If I had the time I could write a book!!....Hmmm....I can see it now....maybe I'll even call it "That's the way the cookie crumbles".....I have decided the lesson HERE is to appreciate all of our WONDERFUL customers (family...) even more....and to try to go with the flow!!! Have a great week!!
Monday, April 1, 2013
It all goes so quickly...doesn't it?? It seems like we just put the Christmas decorations away...and now Easter 2013 is just a memory (Hopefully a "SWEET" one!!!)
Nothing makes you realize HOW quickly time flies faster, or with more clarity, than a Holiday!! Holidays are for kids....there is no question about that!! Santa Claus, Trick-or-treating, the Easter Bunny....it's all about the little ones!!
But....somewhere along the line...the little ones grow up...time marches on....and the Holidays just aren't the same!! We still cook, and decorate, and shop....but the magic isn't there. There are no shining, excited faces on Christmas morning....no costumes to "create"....no Easter Baskets to fill.
That was my morning, yesterday. I started the bread dough, made the deviled eggs, cooked the potatoes for the salad, prepared the ham...put the "a little candy because it's Easter" tray together....and remembered when I spent my Easter mornings hiding the eggs and putting the baskets together!!
However....if you're lucky....something else comes along that makes the Holidays just as wonderful as they used to be!! I have always thought that whatever age my kids were...was my favorite!! They were great babies, precocious toddlers, and fun and funny kids...they were even awesome (well....for the most part....) when they were teenagers!! Now....they have all grown into wonderful, opinionated, hardworking, happy adults....in serious relationships. While I spent my morning realizing how much things have changed....I spent my afternoon realizing what a great thing that can be!! I sat and listened to all of them discuss movies and television shows....I listened to the heated agreements...and disagreements...about their tastes in music (a VERY hot button in this house!!!) and watched them...laughing hysterically....about screaming, fainting and/or spitting goats!! (ahhh.....YouTube!!!) Somewhere along the line I realized...that, now, I have 3 more kids...and that they are great people, too!! That.....even though they all have their differences....they enjoy each others company...and that they are all still fun and funny!!
Yes....time marches on....but I am OK with that!! Of course....I, also, got to put my Grandson's Easter Basket together....and I get to hide HIS eggs this afternoon!! Sometimes....you get REALLY lucky....and you find you have it ALL!!!
I hope you had it all....too!!! :)