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Monday, April 29, 2013

The candles on the cake....

I don't remember the last time my Birthday was a big deal to me. I feel much more comfortable making a fuss over other people....I am not a fan of a fuss being made over me. I think I get that from my MomMom....she always made sure everyone else was taken care of....and never wanted the attention on herself. In addition....the whole "age" thing....doesn't really matter to me...it's just a number!

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

Taking a break

This has been one....rough....week!!

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

Are we your candy store???

Like a kid in a Candy Store....we have all heard...and used...this phrase. When we are delighted...when we have found our bliss...we are all like kids in a candy store.

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

That's the way the cookie crumbles....

"That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles"....Do you believe that everything happens for a reason??

I do.

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

Having it ALL!!!

Happy April!! Happy day-after-Easter!!

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!!!  :)