Beginnings & Endings   Leave a comment

Alone   Leave a comment

Take the road less traveled to Capitol Reef National Park. For Michelle Olmstead, Capitol Reef is her favorite Utah national park because it’s possible to find solitude that can sometimes be lacking in other parks. “After hiking all day we were rewarded with this beautiful golden-hour light hitting the red rock as we were leaving. I feel very grateful to be able to experience these beautiful public lands with the ones I love.“ Photo courtesy of Michelle Olmstead. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/26/17.

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Capitol Reef National Park

Posted July 19, 2017 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Hunters   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles: Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair 2017   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

It was at this event, several years ago, that I first saw an iPad with a Square card reader in action. I remember my jaw dropped. Technology had made a great leap.

This was back before we were vendors; we’d gone to see the booth of our good friend Heather of Heather Hill Clothing. Once we became vendors, we had talked every year about doing this big community Street Fair that promised attendance of 30k, but we were always put off by the temperature … it’s July, and Mrs M’s products don’t do well in the heat.

This year, the event fell on the weekend that Mrs M had to work at her “job,” so we decided that I should do a solo event with just my stuff.

Yes, “we” decided that “I” should work. Did I mention that the Saturday of the event was on my birthday? I wrote about that, in It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles.

This will be my 2nd solo event of the year, and it seems like my expectations for solo events are almost never met. Time will tell….

 New Ideas

  • This is the first solo event that I took the trailer to … so I had the full setup with the roll-off cabinets. You know our slogan: go big, or stay home.

Observations

  • So disappointing when I arrived and the guy with the clipboard (a youth volunteer) could do no more than confirm my booth number. No map for me to take. No clear direction on how to get to my booth! “It’s just over there” was all of the information I got.
  • Booth numbers were not clearly marked on the curb when I got there. This event has been happening 50+ years, but they didn’t seem to have their act together. No clear paths for people to get in and out for loading and unloading. Very disorganized when compared to last week’s 4th of July event that had the same basic setup!
  • I need more Goncalo. The board I have on display is so striking! It didn’t sell, but it did inspire a special order and many comments.
  • The booth was located on one end of the event, so I got a lot of people that had just arrived and didn’t want to carry/commit, so I heard a lot of “See you on the way back.”
  • The event is 5 blocks long, with a beer garden/concert stage on each end. Food & carnival rides are in the middle. It’s really laid out so the booths get seen, which I appreciate.
  • At this event, many of the “See you on the way backs” actually did come back. Always nice when that happens.
  • I was greeted on Sunday with bags of trash behind the booth, next to the trash can. Nice of the near-neighbor caramel corn/lemonade vendor to leave their trash for me.

  • A guy was looking at my boards while his wife was next door buying a hat. She got the hat … but wouldn’t let him buy a board (sigh).
  • Good crowd here, and they did walk the booths. No complaints about the attendance; just wish I would have sold more stuff.
  • My main problem at this event was boredom. When I’m alone – so alone – and I go an hour + without a transaction, I start wondering why I’m there. Over 25% of total sales happened in the final hour of this 14 hour event, so I spent 13 hours staring at the crowds wondering what was wrong. Hard to overcome all of that contemplation.
  • I get so many compliments on my beer bottles … and so many people wonder about why the bottles are empty. And then they see the MBO demo. And they smile.

  • Several repeat customers came through and gave me kudos for what I do, which is very uplifting. One guy came in to buy his 4th board from me. He doesn’t use the first 3, he said, but he enjoys looking at them. He may use #4. He said.
  • Requests were for hot plate trivets, a Cribbage set (x2!), coasters (x2!), a cutting board stand (x2!) … and a chess board (x2!). I am committed to having all of those things available by September’s events.
  • Did I make my low goal for this event? Nope … but I was close.
  • Maybe my whole solo event strategy is wrong. Something else to contemplate….

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s deluxe ham sandwich.

Saturday Snack: A giant chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday Dinner: Lasagna at Bella Cucina. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, from Jimmy Deans.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s. It was easy … and the Dodgers scored 5 yesterday so it was cheap!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $250
  • Food cost: $129
  • Travel cost: $136
  • Total sales: $960
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $445
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 17x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers, AKA Surfboards: 2

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese Boards: 1

Bread Board: 1

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

2a – It’s my birthday. Why am I awake?

4:04a – Ugh. Cannot sleep.

5a –  Alarm. I’m up. I’m up. Dress. Pack the cooler. Go.

5:29a – On the road.

5:44a – Hello, old friend. Here’s a thought: I could do a diary of my day and blog it, since I think I’m going to be bored today. OK, done. Welcome.

ed. note.: I am doing a solo event today, which we decided was a good plan since Mrs M has to “work” at her “job” and summertime events aren’t good for her since she would melt. I mean the lotions would melt. Or something. In any event, she’s out. I’m in. I decided to do a solo event on my birthday: the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Welcome.

6:43a – Arrival. Found the guy with the clipboard … who has no map to give me. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth. He calls over Joe, who also has a clipboard. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth.

6:45a – Going for it. Drove through, dodging canopies, vendors and vehicles … didn’t find my booth. Found a guy, who gave me a couple of landmarks and I drove through. In the other direction, still with my trailer. Of course. Dodged canopies, vendors and vehicles again. Also rolling freezers. And trailers. And portable lights. And generators. And barricades. And golf carts. Threaded the needle, and didn’t hit anything. This is what I do for fun. I guess.

6:51a – Found the booth … about 50 yards from the original guy with the clipboard (and he couldn’t tell me that?). Hidden, faded chalk marks on top of the curb marked the booth, but they were not visible unless you are standing over them. But, no worries, they’re putting visible papers with booth numbers taped to the face of the curb for the next guy. Unfortunately, their vendor check-in started over an hour and 15 minutes before I got there.

6:52a – Unloaded the trailer. Drove out to park it, and got lucky. I must be early. Parked on a street 2 blocks from my booth.

6:55a – Setup begins. Opened the bag for the canopy … pieces fell out. This is not good.

6:56a – I know these pieces. This is the same thing that broke in Ridgecrest last year, so I know how to fix it. I’ve got this. I have duct tape.

7:03a – Canopy up. Duct tape in place. First thing I do is move the canopy 18″ away from the curb, and farther into the street. Have to get out of the gutter. Nothing good comes from being in the gutter.

8:15a – Setup ongoing, but mostly done. First walker in the booth. He bought a cutting board just 2 weeks ago, and he loves it. Good for him. He did not buy from me.

9:21a – Set up complete. My neighbors are a chiropractor, and a vendor of imported crap. 2 for $5. Or, 1 for $8, 2 for $15. Like that.

9:28a – Street is empty, so I go walkabout. Vendors seem to be just what I expected: heavy on the imported cheap merchandise. No organization that I can see. A few handmade items, mainly food.

9:38a – Bought 2 massive chocolate chip cookies. Handmade. Of course. Happy birthday to me.

9:51a – First sale … had to break a hundred. Great start.

10:15a – Handed an entertainment schedule for the event … and a map! Come to find out, there’s an entertainment stage and beer garden on both ends of the event, with 5 blocks of booths between. I’m at one end, near one of the entertainment stages (but it’s across the street, in a park, so I can’t see/hear it).

1023a – She said: We will be back later.
He said: I knew I wouldn’t get past this booth.

11:07a – Chiropractor’s assistant is now 2 steps into the Midway trying to grab people to get their posture evaluated. Lovely.

11:18a – He and She came back. Bought 2 boards!

11:24a – “I just came from the gym. I am not here to shop.” That’s fine … she almost bought 2 boards. “Settled” on one.

12:54p – 90 minutes later … no more sales (sigh). Yawning. Time for lunch.

1:12p – Another sale, and the sandwich is now dried out.

1:53p She #2 asked: Are your boards dishwasher safe?
I said: No. No, they’re not … and I kept a straight face.

2:13p –  The worst part of a solo show is the boredom. No Mrs M transactions to fill the time. The worst part of a bad show is the boredom. No quality conversations to fill the time. And when it’s a bad, solo show….

2:20p – Another He said “I still have your board that I bought 3 years ago and I still love it.” Love. This.

3:02p – The battery on the chip reader died. This cannot be from use. I know I charged it. Heat? Bad charge? One more problem to contemplate. Luckily, I have a swiper. The Lady packed the bag bag of supplies (with bags in 3 sizes) well.

3:32p – Most heard comment of the day: “too pretty to cut on.” One lady saw the pic I have of a cheese & cracker server in action, showed her husband, and used the picture to prove her point that the cutting boards weren’t really cutting boards … they were serving pieces that were too pretty to cut on. Geez. Speechless.

3:40p – Open-mouthed reaction to the MBO demo. I own the demo. Didn’t sell the MBO, though.

3:45p – What kind of a crowd was it? I noticed a lady, older than me (on my birthday), who was wearing a Todd Rundgren t-shirt. Not something you see every day….

4:08p – Fun conversation with a couple that came into the booth, and were clearly having fun looking. The guy eventually admitted he was a turner (meaning he’s crazy), and the woman also goes into the shop with him to turn smaller stuff like bottle stoppers (good, they’re crazy together).

Why are turners crazy? They take a perfectly good piece of wood, put it on a machine to turn it at a high rate of speed, and then they stick something sharp into it just to see what flies off. Crazy. But I digress.

4:09p – The couple eventually admit that they’ve thought about vending as they like making stuff … but they’re running out of relatives that will take stuff they’ve made. He shows me smartphone pix of the work, and it’s really exquisite. Great, great looking stuff. I caution them that to vend, they need to figure out how to make things for under $50 that will sell … what he likes to make takes a month per piece and should cost hundreds of dollars each. Difficult to vend with art pieces like those. I point them to this blog to read more of my supposed vendor wisdom. Welcome.

4:31p – Hot. Drinking my cooler dry.

4:37p – Another She tells me she bought an MBO at Champagne on Main (April, Ventura) and she loves it. Her He loves it, and uses it every day. Love. This.

4:59p – A lady in the booth is looking for a charcuterie board. Last year, I didn’t know what that was. Now, I’m so continental. And a year wiser.

5:36p – The only thing I like that’s sold by the importers of crap are the battery operated bubble blowers. Every kid should have one. The 4 year old kid in front of the booth had one, and when he stopped walking, he held his finger on the trigger. Bubble blizzard! You couldn’t see through my booth for the bubbles, and I was all good with that.

5:40p – Bubble blizzard cleared up. First time explaining end grain vs edge grain today. First quality conversation about cutting board-sized cutting boards. It was 7+ hours into the event. Geez. Not good.

6:27p – My new catch phrase: “I start with lumber and I end up here.” Works.

7:04p – Shutting down. Wrapping it up, even though people are still in the booth. Doesn’t matter. It’s my birthday.

8:25p – Home. Quick, quick turnaround & out to my favorite Italian restaurant: Bella Cucina. Yum.

9:43p – Home. Check the tally, which was right. 10x boards sold.

10:10p – Return emails with birthday wishes. Haven’t even looked at Facebook. Not today.

10:18p – In the chair. Ahhh.

10:  p – Asleep.

The next day, today, 2:46a – Awake again, still in the chair. Bed.

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When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

The Shoreline   Leave a comment

The walk along the Ocean Path at Acadia National Park in Maine is an easy stroll past tide pools, smooth boulders, jagged cliffs and lush forests. The deep smell of salt air accompanies the dramatic ocean views and the cacophony of breaking waves. The first national park east of the Mississippi River, it’s on my bucket list. Still. Photo by William Mobilian. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 7/13/17.

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Acadia National Park

A Dreamy Coastline

Posted July 15, 2017 by henrymowry in National Parks

Cutting On The Edge   Leave a comment

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards: edge grain & end grain. Today’s boards are all edge grain.

Today we celebrate stripes. It is Bastille Day, after all!

All of these boards are made with a variety of hardwoods, both domestic & international. They are made to be of use, and with proper care will last for decades. What’s proper care? Check out my post on that topic, here.

All of these boards have non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life. All of these boards have routed fingerholds to make them easier to handle.

If you like what you see, all of these – and more – will be on display at this weekend’s solo event for me at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Yup, I’m going to the Street Fair this weekend. After all, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled!

Mrs M isn’t coming along, though … she has to “work” at her “job.” She says.

I hope to see you on Saturday & Sunday at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair, at booth # 128.

Clipping Right Along   Leave a comment

The truth of the matter is I like making clipboards.

That’s much to the chagrin of Mrs M, who just doesn’t get it. She works in a paperless office. A virtual world. You could argue that it’s a fantasy world of her own making, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Some people, however, still use real paper to write real words with a real pencil. Or pen. And those people seem to love my clipboards.

After receiving an order for three, I finally got enough shop time to make this batch of 9. One of those is notepad size, and the rest are letter size. All have 1/2″ clips.

With this batch, I’m using a polyurethane finish. Since these boards don’t need to be food ready … they aren’t.

Innovation, on a clip board.

I find that satisfying, so I’m going to keep making these!

My Favorite Posts From Year 5   Leave a comment

A Family Heirloom

It’s been a tumultuous year. The 5th year of the blog saw me address politics more than ever before – if only to get people to stop talking about politics.

No one ever accused me of being effective at that, by the way.

Other posts were about woodworking, some about going a-vendoring, and I even managed to sneak one post in about family history.

I hope you found some topics to enjoy along the way, and if you missed any of these posts, then, please, enjoy!

A Family Heirloom

Be Kind To Vendors

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2

Buying A 10×20 Trimline Canopy by Flourish

Do All Lives Matter?

The Golden Strawberry

From The Shop: Planning To Be Wasted

I’m Exhausted

Should Speech Be Free?

The 250th Cutting Board

The Board Chronicles: Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival 2017

The Farce Of CalExit

The Golf Course Project

The Lady Asked

Too Snarky

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

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My Favorite Posts From Year 4

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

My Favorite Posts From Year 3

My Favorite Posts From Year 2

My Favorite Posts From Year 1

Most Read Posts From Year Five   Leave a comment

Wild Mushroom Cobbler

The blog is 5. Can you believe it?

Actually, the date slipped past me, as I was engaged with other priorities, so this celebration of 5-hood had to wait a couple of weeks. But, to the meat of the matter:

  • Of these 15 posts, 10 were also on last year’s list of most read posts. I’m thinking when it’s good, then it’s evergreen. And once you start to move up on the Google machine’s algorithm, then everything takes care of itself.
  • For the fourth year in a row, Velda’s recipe for Wild Mushroom Cobbler is the most read post on this blog. How many times was I served that award-winning recipe in Year 5? Zero.

With absolutely no hope that this situation will change anytime soon, here are the most read posts from the fifth year of MowryJournal.com:

Wild Mushroom Cobbler

US Flag: Common Display Mistakes

US Flag: Common Display Mistakes

Soap Drying Rack

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The Use And Abuse Of Facebook

Portraits: Ronald Reagan

Petrified Forest National Park

Portraits: Lyndon B Johnson

Installing Oneida’s V3000 Dust Collection System

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

BattleShots!

Orange Liqueur Taste Test

Velda’s Ahi Wraps

Soap Drying Rack

Portraits: John Adams

Portraits: Franklin D Roosevelt

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Most Read Posts From Year Four

Most Read Posts From Year Three

Most Read Posts From Year Two

Most Read Posts From Year One

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