The Board Chronicles: Almond Blossom Festival 2018   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.

The Almond Blossom Festival in nearby Quartz Hill has become one of our traditional first quarter events: this will be our 4th year doing this event. Sales have never been spectacular, but it’s close, it’s easy, and we spend the weekend with the Granddaughters. What’s not to like?

Well, I have a few answers to that question, as you shall see. But we were committed, and we were off to the 69th Annual Almond Blossom Festival!

New Ideas

  • The forecast was very clear: rain throughout Saturday, with more rain Saturday night. We opted for our best weather protection, and put up the big Trimline canopy. It takes more time to put up, but it is dry inside.
  • I now have an array of cheese knives (one individual knife and 4 different sets are available) I can offer to people wanting a “complete” cheese & cracker gift set. I also have chess & checker pieces for those that want a “complete” game set.


  • This event has a problem with communication. They have no social media presence, and don’t provide any tools for vendors to promote the event for them. Emails sent to the venders vendors had grammatical errors, factual errors, and were just plain annoying to wade through. They’re trying … but with the long legacy of this event, they should have the details right by now.
  • They should know how to use spell check, too.
  • Can you tell I’m annoyed?
  • Two years ago, our booth cost was 1/3 less. They’ve taken a 33% price increase in 2 years. Wanna bet my sales don’t go up that much?
  • I arrived at 11am to set up, only to be told that I had not understood the instructions. Well, I was actually told that they were sorry that their English wasn’t correct. I had to go away because some RV might show up to be parked in the next hour, so they weren’t letting anyone else in until the 12noon start time they had tried to announce.
  • This event does have many youth volunteers that are eager to help you. Unfortunately, they were not available when I most needed them, since they were pulled off to do duties for the event itself. And, as supervision waned, the attention of the youth wandered as well. Still, I appreciate the effort to provide youth volunteers.
  • The weather heavily impacted vendor participation. Many vendors were NCNS: No Call, No Show. That resulted in the aisles being very spotty due to all of the empty spaces. That made the event much less than it might have been had the positions been tight.
  • Another stalker reader of this blog found us on Saturday, and we had a great conversation with Catherine about going a-vendoring with her horseshoe art. Always nice to meet people that already know us because of The Board Chronicles.
  • Philosophy that was shared with me: “I always tell my kids to do what you love. If you like selling a bucket of rocks, then do that. Someone will be looking for that!” And, indeed, that is true.
  • My neighbor was hawking a solar company, and he was standing in his booth and saying “How’s your electric bill?” to every person that passed his booth to engage them in conversation. Every person. Most people just kept walking, but if they acknowledged him, he kept talking to them as they walked past my booth.
  • One lady reached Mrs M’s booth, and then turned and said to us, “I hate solar people. I hate’m.”
  • As a vendor, those kinds of aggressive sales techniques truly lower the quality of the event. The promoters take the booth fees … and vendors like us have to endure potential but lost customers running down the aisles to escape the obnoxious sales pitches.
  • My favorite events are all handmade. Events that mix in some buy & sell vendors can be fine – especially if they keep handmade vendors in a dedicated section – but if there are “professional” hawkers in the mix, then the quality of the shopping experience deteriorates rapidly. IMHO.
  • It started raining on Saturday in mid-afternoon, and didn’t stop. It rained all night, and was still misty/wet in the morning until about 10am.
  • Sunday morning, we were hit by the trifecta: 1) bad weather, 2) Sundays are for church, and 3) it was the day to jump ahead for Daylight Savings Time, so everyone lost an hour’s sleep. No one was at the event at 10am … including many of the vendors. I read most of a book on Sunday. Everything finally got going at about 1:30pm.
  • The Trimline canopy generated a lot of comment from other vendors … one thought it was a car port that I re-purposed as a vendor canopy.
  • Uh, no.
  • From one of Mrs M’s customers: “When you hang out with drag queens, you learn a lot of tricks.”
  • Uh, OK.
  • A lady came by and wanted to talk about the use of a wooden board. She had been told by one of her bosses to never wash a wooden board: only apply mineral oil to it. WOW. That is such incredibly bad advice. OF COURSE you should wash your cutting board! After every use, in fact! For complete instructions on how to care for your cutting board, go here. For a summary of cutting board research done at UC Davis & the University of Wisconsin that shows why wooden cutting boards are the most recommended – by science! – then go here.
  • A guy walked by the booth, and thanked us for being at the event. “You’re classing up the place,” he said. He went on to suggest that he’d once seen a guy making wooden ties, and that perhaps I should make some. He’d take me to the prom if I was wearing a wooden tie, he said. I declined the offer to go to the prom with him – to the relief of everyone present, I expect.
  • In the end, this event was weather-impacted so you should not draw firm conclusions from this one event. However, we’ve done this event 4 times, and 2 of those had heavy weather impacts (2016 was even worse!). 2017 had better weather, but sales were still disappointing. It’s clear after 4 years that this is a convenient but annoying local event that’s significantly below average for us. Time to move on.

The Food

  • Best Meals: Dinners with the Kids & Granddaughters.
  • Worst Meal: We decided to eat lunches at the event … Fair Food, as we call it. Both of them were overpriced and not that good. But, they were easy.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 152
  • Booth cost: $365
  • Food cost: $252
  • Travel cost: $79
  • Total sales: $1,078
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $382
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: nope
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:45a
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There was one other, who is also a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild! I looked her up on the member directory, and then reviewed all of the listings for California. I found that Mrs M is one of only 15 certified soapmakers by the HSCG in the state of California.
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 8:0
  • Returning next year? Nope. We’re done.

Boards sold: 8x

2x Custom Orders

2x Cheese Board

1x Small Board

1x Clipboard

1x Chess Board

1x Cutting Board

I Keep Making New Stuff   Leave a comment

This is a pot pourri of recent boards that made it to the finish line.

The first cutting board was a special order, and it’s the first piece I’m completed that uses Mesquite. Further down in this group is a Lazy Susan that better showcases this wood that’s uncommon in Southern California.

At the bottom of this group are a pair of “Family” signs that are the first of the true 3D carving signs that I’ve gotten to the finish line. Both of these are made from Hard Maple, though one of them is made from a dark wood that’s got some curly figure in it … unusual for Maple.

I got disorganized enough that a few pieces made it out of the shop and to last week’s event … and were sold before I got their pictures. That has not happened before!

I’ve got 4 more Lazy Susans in the shop that just might be finished for this weekend’s event … but I’ve got several custom orders that will be my focus this week.

The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2018   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.

After 2 very uninspiring events, I’m hoping that the trek to Fresno will be a change in fortune.

Well, I’m a vendor. “Fortune” had better not be my goal.

But I digress.

We scheduled this event based on my success last year as a solo act. Read about 2017, here. This year, we initially planned for both of us to go, but Mrs M opted to stay home and make soaps & lotion while I went to the Home & Garden Show … that she doesn’t really believe is a good place for her, anyway.

So be it.

It’s the 32nd Annual Fresno Home & Garden Show. Last year, this was my Best. Solo. Event. Ever. I did it in a single booth, and I spent a bachelor’s weekend in Fresno.

That was high living, so you bet I’m returning for another round of fun.

New Ideas

  • I had a trailer, I had a double booth, and I had no canopy. I didn’t exactly travel light, but not having a canopy or 2 in the trailer – and no canopy weights! – is most unusual!
  • I took my largest-ever inventory of products to this event. 317 pieces were on display.
  • We booked the event this year as a double booth, and then opted for me to take it solo. This exhibits unprecedented flexibility on my part. Big booth? No problem. No Mrs M? No problem. Fresno? No problem.


  • I drove through rain about 60 miles south of Fresno, and I felt it following me. Rain was forecast for the first 2 days of this 3 day event. My booth is indoors, but so much of the show is not, I wondered if people would turn out in the rain. Only time will tell if I will match last year’s success.
  • Everything I said about set up last year is still true. This is a large complex, signage is minimal to non-existent, and you just have to feel your way. Luckily, my booth is in the same building as last year, and I drove right to it.
  • Well, sort of. Due to congestion, I had to have a 40 yard load in with the rolling carts. That’s not a big deal, but somewhat annoying when the load in is made more difficult by people just parking their cars wherever – and leaving them for their own convenience after they’re unloaded – with no concern for other vendors. You get a few entitled jerks, and everyone else suffers.
  • I suffered.
  • On Friday, we had rain. As predicted. Showers came every 2 or 3 hours, and the temperature was in the low 50s. My building was dry … but unheated. I just sat there and got cold. And bored. And when I’m bored, I get colder. It was a miserable day. Today sales on Friday = $80. Last year, sales were several times that. Friday was awful.
  • I went walk-about Saturday morning before opening, and looked at about 75% of the displays at the event. I found three (3!) different booths selling bottle openers with magnetic capability. Two booths were selling (IMHO) ugly rustic versions; one was selling something similar (but not as magical) as the ones that I sell. Still, this was the first time EVER that I have seen other woodworkers selling wanna-be MBOs.
  • He said he was a woodworker. “I mostly cut up old furniture and use the wood. We don’t have any furniture in the house anymore.”
  • Best t-shirt slogan of the weekend: “Rhinos are just chubby unicorns.”
  • I was walking behind a couple of women as they turned the corner in front of my booth.
    • Lady 1: Wow.
    • Lady 2: Someone has fun.
    • Lady 1: Beautiful.
    • Lady 2: Some people hang these.

How can I not smile?

  • Saturday had better weather, though it was still wet. Not as cold, fortunately (there’s that word again), so the day was much more pleasant. Sales, though were down from last year. Significantly down. As the day wore on, I was down 40%.
  • But, to use a baseball analogy (it’s Spring Training!), you play all 9 innings. In the last hour  of Saturday, a 3 generation Sikh family (the patriarch had such a wonderful beard!) came into the booth and bought 2 chess sets and 2 Lazy Susans. That transaction, the largest of the weekend, put me ahead of prior year at the end of Saturday … even though it was raining. Sunday, though, will tell the tale: that was the biggest sales day last year.
  • Sunday was a clear day. Blue skies, but still a bit crisp in the wind. Can I top last year’s best day of the event?
  • I do hate friends that turn to a shopper and say, “You don’t want to buy that.” I just want to scream “GET OUT OF MY BOOTH.”
  • But, I don’t.
  • Why is it that, now that I have chess boards, people will look at them, turn to me, and say, “Are these cutting boards?” Can I not ever WIN?
  • When a legacy customer walks into the booth, shops for several minutes, and then says to me, “I’ll just buy one today!” … well, OK, that’s a win.
  • Requests were for a mahjong board, a bread board, a pistachio board, a counter top, a cheese slicer (coming!) and a beef jerky board.
  • Sales were slow into the mid afternoon on Sunday, unfortunately. I sold 10 items, but all were priced at $50 or below, so I was down significantly from last year’s best day. Thankfully, I play all 9 innings.
  • The last sale of the day was my last Chess Board. I sold 6 Chess Boards at this event, and 5 of them sold with a new offering that’s not handmade by me: sets of imported chess pieces from India. So, again, I’m out of chess boards. This last batch of 10 that took me too many months to make only lasted for 6 events … and I sold most of them with chess pieces. At a Home & Garden Show. Go figure.
  • Again on Sunday, the tale was told in the final hour of the event. I had 3 nice sales that totaled over $400, and that is what made this event, again:

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • The double booth at this event helped me sell 13 different items on display. I need more real estate, but do we really want to do a triple booth when I share with Mrs M?

The Food

  • Best Meal: BJs Brewhouse was just down the street from my hotel, and I had their wonderfully cold wedge salad and then the Parmesan Crusted Chicken. This was a good meal.
  • Honorable Mention: I found DiCicco’s Family Italian Restaurant a mile further down the road, and that was a great way to unwind after a difficult day a-vendoring. Highly recommended!
  • Worst Meal: The “free” breakfast at the Best Western on Friday. Paper-thin bacon with scrambled eggs. The curiosity of the meal is that they buy bread that’s too big to fit into the toaster. What are they thinking?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 397
  • Booth cost: $1,000
  • Food cost: $103
  • Travel cost: $343
  • Total sales: $2,164
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $512
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2. One lady asked me where leaks in the roof were, and another pair dropped off solicitations for their next 2 shows. No introductions. No personal contact.
  • Saturday alarm: Nope
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 25 spread over 25 hours.  However, 41% of total sales were done in the final hours on Saturday and Sunday.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I didn’t see the entire show, but there were a couple in my building. Neither had the presentation that Mrs M did … well, that she might have had. Since she wasn’t there, she had nuttin’.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was another cutting board guy that I found; he had a small, artsy display. He offered nothing larger than a small board, by my definition.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:
  • Returning next year? Yes.

Boards sold: 35

Coasters: 8

Chess Board: 6

Clipboards: 4

Trivets: 3

Heart-shaped Board: 3

Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Cutting Board: 1

3D Carved Sign: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Magic Bottle Opener: 1

Word Block: 1

Custom Order: 1

The Board Chronicles: Whiskey Flat Days 2018   1 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.

We did Whiskey Flat Days 3 years ago, but haven’t been able to get back since. This annual event is in Kernville, CA … which is between 2 of our favorite event sites in Tehachapi and Ridgecrest. This year, the calendar worked out so we were oh-so-ready for the elegantly named Whiskey Flat Days.

This year is the 61st Annual. It’s a small town vendor event, with a rodeo and carnival thrown in. Oh, and a frog jumping contest. A beard growing contest. A costume contest. And, I’m sure a lot more! This small community definitely turns out for the event … I mean, what else would you do in Kernville, in February?

New Ideas

  • This event has an odd structure over President’s Day weekend. The event runs Friday, 1p – dark. Saturday & Sunday run 9a – dark. And then, paradoxically, vendors are asked to open again on Monday, 9a – 1p. When we did this event 3 years ago, our Monday sales were $35. I think the Monday hours are to force vendors to stay another hotel night … or maybe just stay off the roads so tourists can leave Sunday evening without having to follow vendor vehicles.


  • I got the loading of the trailer going; pulled the Jeep over & hooked up. No problem. Loaded the trailer. Got Mrs M loaded, uh, so to speak, and turned the Jeep’s key. Clickety-clickety-click. And, just like that, we were delayed over an hour while I went to buy and then install a new battery. I covered foreshadowing last week, so I see no need to cover it again this week. Apparently, God had other plans.
  • We arrived in town right on time, actually. Had lunch at Cheryl’s Diner, and then went to the Chamber of Commerce to check in. We then went to our booth location and set up the “hard goods,” as we say: the canopy, tables, and display pieces. All product stayed in the trailer, as there was no security provided on this night. We were almost set up by dusk, and then headed off to find dinner.
  • We used the Trimline canopy this week, since it was an extended length event with a leisurely set-up time. After not using this canopy for 6 months, I forgot how the roof went together. Unfortunately. We had to backtrack a bit to get it done properly, but the canopy is so nice when it’s up. It takes more time, but it’s worth it.
  • I’ll keep saying that; Mrs M may believe it eventually.
  • The aisle is pretty narrow between the booths at this event: there’s only about 10′ between the booths. Friday, a larger-than-life veteran planted himself in the middle of the aisle, outside of his booth a few booths down from us, and proceeded to try and raise funds by selling coffee cups for his veteran-focused charity. I appreciate the charity’s goal, but the sales style? Yuck.
  • Thank goodness he did not return for the rest of the weekend.
  • That same charity, though, had a couple of booth workers that were also in the parade as Harley Davidson riders. They parked their bikes in the driveway across from our booth, and then roared off down the aisle at about 4pm on Saturday. Gas fumes led to zero Mrs M sales until the air finally cleared several minutes later. Oh, and the noise made small children cry. Where were the promoters?
  • Teen boy, pointing to his friend, asked Mrs M, “Do you have any lotion to fix his face?”
  • Random odd guy walked by my booth and called out, “Do you have anything good?” Confused by the oddity, I didn’t respond; he never broke stride and called out, “Didn’t think so.”
  • We had the first-ever opening of an actual beer bottle as my MBO demo. This event is characterized by a lot of public drinking; some do it as BYO, obviously!
  • Young lady was looking at my stuff. Her large, long-haired significant other loudly announced, “You don’t need no f***ing fancy board to cut stuff.” They left the booth before I could react. Mrs M leaned over to me, “And he probably beats her, too.”
  • The fact that this is supposed to be a family event did not deter many from using a limited vocabulary to express themselves.
  • Mrs M and I were talking, sotto voice, about the paucity of sales. She said, “I want you to beat me … oh, I knew it sounded bad when I said it.”
  • I did not, in either case.
  • A guy was in the booth, accompanied by a couple of friends. He was shopping for a gift for his wife that was back at their home in France. He liked a board, but one of his friends told him, in my booth, that it was a poor gift choice. “You should buy her clothing or jewelry.” I did not throw the “friend” out of the booth. I held my tongue. The guy ditched the friends & came back an hour later to buy the board.
  • Discretion can be a good thing.
  • When you are a vendor, you’re just like the hired help, I guess. People can be Oh. So. Rude.
  • Overheard:
    • Young Girl (hovering over ZooSoapia): “Mommy, buy me a soap!”
    • Mommy: “Don’t touch things! Lord, help me. This is why animals eat their young!”
  • Can you tell we just didn’t feel it at this event? Poor sales. Poor parenting on display. Bad language heard frequently. I’m from a small town. I like small towns, but Kernville didn’t show us anything good on this trip.
  • The Monday forecast was for lows overnight in the 20s, with high wind, rain or snow showers overnight and into the morning. Lotions freeze, so we were not interested in ruining product just so we could sit in the cold with no customers. We packed up Sunday night, went back to the motel (bringing the lotion inside for the night!), and then drove out Monday morning.
  • As we drove through town, I saw at least 4 canopies that were upside down and ruined by the overnight winds. Many booths had already packed up at 9am; many more were not open during the “official” event hours.
  • Requests were for a backgammon board, boards with no feet so they could have 2-sided use, and a cheese slicer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: The Fremont Deli came to our booth on Friday, and offered to deliver to our booth when we ordered lunch during the event. We took their offer on Saturday, and I got a very nice, hot Ham & Cheese. Delicious. 4 stars.
  • Honorable Mention: We had dinner Sunday night with our friend Delinda of Sweet Spot Home Decor. The restaurant (Kern River Brewing Co.) was not great … but the meal was a perfect way to relieve the stresses of a failed event. 2 stars.
  • Worst Meal: El Rio was the Mexican restaurant we found. The food’s not bad, really, but the place has zero atmosphere. The next night, we ate in the motel; we had carry out hot chicken from the grocery store deli, and that was better. YaknowhatImean? 1 star.
  • Final recommendation: Don’t go to Kernville for the food.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 281
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $271
  • Travel cost: $146
  • Total sales: $1,126
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $159
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: none
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 5 handmade soap vendors at this event, which was entirely too many, IMHO. This event may “jury” some categories, and I use the term very loosely … but they didn’t count or care about how many soap makers they let in.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was one other cutting board maker there (!). He did different stuff as well, including boxes and spoons.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 10:0
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 10

Coasters: 2x

Cutting Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Sous Chef: 1x

Soap Deck: 1x

Magic Bottle Opener: 1x

Small Board: 1x

The Board Chronicles: Lake Havasu Winter fest 2018   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.

Well, faithful readers, I know you’re on pins and needles to see what happened after we were almost blown away.

Didn’t know? Then you should read Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles, which tells the story of the devastation wreaked on us at this event. Go ahead, follow the link & read.

I’ll wait.

This post, however, is the story of the event itself: the 33rd Annual Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. This is a “big idea” event for us, so the investment was significant. We got there.

Hope it’s worth it!

New Ideas

  • As stated, this is our first interstate event. We had to register with the state of Arizona, as well as get a business license from Lake Havasu City. Unfortunately, I forgot to do both, so had to scramble at the last minute (and I do mean the last minute) to get both done properly.
  • My inventory is now over 300 pieces, which is a personal record. I’ve got a varied product line, with Hearts back in stock, 3 kinds of finishes on Word Blocks, and Coasters available for the first time.


  • After I scrambled to get the city license + the state registration, no one checked to make sure that we were following the rules. Which is how it always goes, it seems.
  • We did, however, get our first-ever fire inspection to ensure we had a fire extinguisher in the booth. I thanked the fireman for doing his job.
  • Oh so many lotion vendors there in the small part of the show that we did visit … and they were all making medical claims of one kind or another. I certainly hope these snake oil salesmen had a bad weekend. I mean, does anyone really think that there are potions to prevent Alzheimer’s that you can just buy on the street?
  • He said, picking up a clipboard: “Is this a cutting board?
    • I said: “No. It’s a clipboard.”
  • Another He said, looking at a cutting board for $150: “Is this price right?”
    • I said: “Yes.”
    • Another He said: “You must make these yourself.”
    • What do you say to that, other than, “I do.”
  • Yet Another He asked if I had cribbage boards. I pointed to the one on display.
    • Yet Another He asked: “How much?”
    • I said: “$40.”
    • Yet Another He said: “That’s a fair price.” (and he turned and left)
  • Arriving to find half of our booth destroyed on Sunday morning was not a good time, I assure you. We packed up Mrs M’s stuff, and moved it into the shade on the sidewalk. We decided to not pack up my stuff … we were there, and selling ANYTHING sounded better than sitting in the Jeep for the 5 hour drive and getting more depressed. So, we set Mrs M’s tables back up and moved my extra inventory onto those tables in what was now Mrs M’s open air booth. Of the things we put on display … nothing sold.
  • Luckily, other things did.
  • She said: “$80 for a Pig for me to chop an onion on? Oh, hell no.” (and she turned and left)
  • Requests were for a Jokers & Pegs set (no), a Wisconsin-shaped cribbage board (no), a flybox (He wanted a tool, not a keepsake. I don’t do utility boxes … and rarely do keepsake boxes!) and an RV sink board (2x).

The Food

  • Best Meal: We had a great meal at Azul Agave. I had the macho burrito. It was Sunday, after a horrible morning and an OK sales day. Glad that we got a smile at the end of a very trying day.
  • Honorable Mention: Breakfast at the Black Bear Diner is always a treat for us.
  • Worst Meal: It was about unmet expectations, really. We had dinner at Mario’s, which did not live up to its Yelp rating. The food was OK, but I expected more. We ate there Friday night, before our event, so that meal was a dramatic device called foreshadowing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 617
  • Booth cost: $300
  • City License cost: $20
  • Food cost: $213
  • Travel cost: $233
  • Total sales: $1,487
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $400
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: none
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: given what happened to us, I’m surprised to say … none
  • Saturday alarm: 4a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue. We saw about 25% of the vendors there.
  • # woodworking vendors: see above.
  • Returning next year? Totally unclear. I’m leaning pro; Mrs M is leaning no. The canopy … it’s not leaning anymore. It’s trash.

Boards sold: 18

2x Serving Trays

2x Medium Surfboards

2x Magic Bottle Openers

2x Hearts

1x Large Cheese & Cracker Server

1x Cribbage Board

1x Large Cutting Board

1x Coaster

1x Coaster Set

1x Cheese Board

1x Pig Cutting Board

Wind. Blows: 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.

It was time to up our game.

Mrs M’s Handmade is now entering our 5th year of vendorhood. We started oh-so-humbly … and we’re still learning at every event. Unfortunately.

This year, we want to expand what we do. It’s our intention to do some bigger shows … and we scheduled ourselves for our first out-of-state event, Winterfest in Lake Havasu, AZ. That event is 300 miles from home, which is almost as far for us to travel as the events we’ve done in the bay area.

California’s a big state, you see. Going to Arizona from LA is closer. But, I digress.

We went to Arizona to go a-vendoring. What could go wrong?

Quoth The Fifth Element, Leeloo, “Wind blows ….”

This is the story of what happened while we slept.

Saturday was what we expected, really, only less. This very large vendor event has a Saturday morning setup, and we were there at 5:15am to line up for the 6am beginning of the process. We did what we do, and set up our booths, # 358 & 360, in the middle of McCulloch Blvd. We were ready for the crowds at 9am. People were there, which was great … but they didn’t buy much, unfortunately. Our vendor friends universally reported sales that were down significantly from last year. We ended Saturday at 5pm with a very, very disappointing sales total and complete exhaustion. We buttoned up the booths, put a table cloth over the soaps, and went to the motel to lick our wounds.

We knew that there was a windstorm forecast to hit at about 11pm, but we didn’t really worry about it. After all, we knew that we were prepared. Our weights were in place, our new Undercover canopies have thick, heavy side walls … we were ready.

We thought.

We were wrong.

We arrived before 8am on Sunday, because I wanted to tweak my display a bit. That’s what I would end up doing, but nothing else went according to plan.

Here’s the first thing I saw when we walked up to the booth:

My first look at the wind damage. No big deal, right?

This is a picture of the back corner of “my” booth (we do a double booth, so Mrs M has her side, and I have my side). See the upended table? That’s the back of my neighbor’s booth. My booth’s walls are what you see on the left side of the photo, and you’ll see that my canopy has shifted forward 3′. The booth did not go airborne, due to the weights that we had in place. However, the wind did push the sail formed by the wall of the booth forward, relentlessly, in spite of the weight. When the canopy was pushed and slid across the asphalt, the wall eventually rode up and over the top of the table. That, in turn, resulted in the boards I had stupidly left on the table getting knocked down. Only 3 pieces hit the pavement. Luckily.

Note that our weight is velcroed in place at the bottom of the canopy leg, just as it’s supposed to be. My neighbor’s booth is also secured, with the orange ratchet strap attached to the roof strut and holding a sandbag. Their booth (no walls) did not move, and did not protect my booth from the wind.

At this point, though, I was relieved. I had already seen canopies that were upended and destroyed in the wind, so I knew we were lucky that it was not worse. It took me a couple of thoughts to realize that the front of the booth – which looked perfect – was not all there. 10′ of our booth was missing. That’s when my focus shifted, and I saw this.

Velda’s booth, crushed by a flying canopy.

Here you see the opposite corner of my booth from the previous picture, and it was the front, center of our double booth. All you can see of Mrs M’s booth is the crumpled wall that’s on the pavement, and the leg and roof struts that have been folded parallel … they are no longer perpendicular. Mrs M’s Booth should be about 9′ tall; now it’s smashed.

Time slowed down. I surveyed the damage and realized that our day had just taken a very significant left turn.

Bad words may have been spoken at this point.

The booth behind Velda and her neighbor (a real estate agent) was a 10’x20′ booth selling dry soup mixes & such. The soup people had 2x 10′ canopies. They had bungeed the roofs together, and then secured the canopies with ratchet straps and DIY weights made from 4″ PVC pipe and, uh, stuff.

More on that later.

During the night, the wind lifted the dry soup canopies up, and then they flipped over and crushed Mrs M’s canopy, as well as that of her neighbor. Both Mrs M’s and the real estate agent’s canopies were properly weighted down and did not move from their spots. They did, however, get crushed by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy.

The Flying Dry Soup Canopy

This is the view from the far side of the real estate booth. That booth had a cheap EZ Up canopy … crushed flat. Note the 2 front center poles of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy: no weights are attached. These poles would have been front & center in the dry soup display, so the vendor did not put unsightly weights there.

Mistake. Big Mistake.

A DIY weight that really isn’t.

This is a picture of one of the weights that didn’t hold down the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. 2 things are wrong here:

  1. The weight itself is not properly secured. The weight should be connected to the ratchet strap through the eye hole mounted on the weight (now facing the pavement). Also, the weight must be secured to the leg itself. Otherwise, the wind will blow, the tent will shake … the weight will start swinging free of the leg, and then the pendulum effect will increase the power of the wind and speed the catastrophic failure of the canopy. As it did in this case!
  2. The weight itself is about 30″ tall. I have made weights somewhat similar to these. When I made my versions, I filled the 4″ PVC with concrete and rock. My DIY PVC weights did weigh 35 pounds when I put them on our bathroom scale. The pictured “weight,” however, was lifted by Velda using one arthritic finger. I estimate it was no more than 20 pounds; she believes it was under 10 pounds. I can guarantee it was not 50 pounds.

What’s important about 50 pounds? Here’s the relevant rule, which was a part of the event application signed by every vendor:

All vendors must have weights for any canopies in use. All four corners must have weights of at least 50lbs attached.

So, if you have 2x 10′ canopies side by side, you actually have 8 corners. When you put 50 pounds on each corner, you need 400 pounds of weight attached. In my opinion, the Flying Dry Soup Canopy did not have half of that.

The back of the Flying Dry Soup Canopy, now upside down and sitting in the middle of Mrs M’s booth. One weight is on the near corner; you can see the orange ratchet strap holding another on the far corner. But the back, middle?

So, we know there’s devastation here. Nothing to do but clean it up. With all of the involved vendors eventually helping, we took apart the offending canopies, untying the bungees and disconnecting the weights. Mrs M’s canopy could then be removed, to finally reveal the remains of her booth:

The top layers of Mrs M’s purpose built display did get pushed onto the ground, but the bottom layer was left alone. Under the tablecloth is the soap, which was totally undamaged. But as the asphalt underneath was revealed….

Amazingly, none of the wooden pieces were broken. Over 100 lotion bars were destroyed, as well as a small number of lotions and a single beard oil.

The saddest thing I saw broken:

So, nothing to do but get to it. Mrs M started cleaning up, and I started picking up.

Clean up, well in hand. 10am.

We cleaned up Mrs M’s booth entirely, and then decided that we should keep my booth open for the day. All of our costs were sunk; her stuff was safe. We would gain nothing by leaving for home, and if we stayed we just might sell a board or two.

That’s the story for the next installment of The Board Chronicles.

Still unknown is what will happen to our financial losses caused by the Flying Dry Soup Canopy. We do have their insurance information, and do expect to be compensated for the losses that we incurred. Will that happen? No clue.

Want to read about an even worse event weekend? The link’s below, When Nature Fights Back….

We expanded “my” booth into Mrs M’s booth space when we finally tweaked my display. There’s still cleanup needed, however.


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



We All Need More Heart   1 comment

I know these are a good idea … but you can add them to the long list of good ideas that seldom make it out of the garage woodshop.

I have been sold out of hearts for a year – a year! – but I finally found the time to make more.

These hearts each have Bloodwood in them (naturally). They are about 11″ across  and 3/4″ thick. They’re made for 2-sided use; no feet on these.

Because they are hearts.

When you’re making, you have to know what you’re making. And then … make it in a way that is true.

That’s the philosophy.

Here are the hearts.




The 300th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

I am starting 2018 in style.

Never, ever, have I had 300 pieces in inventory before. Last year, I struggled to stay above 200, and finally reached 250. Twice.

Only twice, for about 4 days total.

Now, though, things have changed. The CNC in the shop is allowing me to make different things, and I can complete one process while the CNC is doing another. This week, I was using the planer and the table saw, while the CNC was drilling the MBOs & coasters.

I’ve just about got 2D work mastered. Good thing: I have a big special order to work on this month.

But I digress.

This week, I celebrate the first time ever having 300 pieces in inventory. Not only have I never done that before, I’m doing it with a wide variety of items. I’ve added a new style of Word Blocks, completed heart-shaped cutting boards for the first time in over a year and made coaster sets for the first time ever.

Oh, and I have cutting boards in all sizes and shapes. I am ready for 2018.

This cutting board is pure Jatoba, which is a first for me. After a long search, I finally found some 2″ thick pieces of Jatoba, and I bought a bunch. The lumber is rough, which means I need to plane it smooth before I can use it, but I do believe the results are rather spectacular. I see more Jatoba in my future!

Cutting Board 18 – 301. Jatoba. Edge Grain, Juice Groove. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

Detail of 18 – 301. Non-skid rubber foot held on with a stainless steel screw.

Detail of 18-301. Routed Fingerhold.


The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)


More Magic, Just In Time   Leave a comment

I almost sold out of Magic Bottle Openers last year. I ended the year with only 3 on hand … and since I sell several at every event, I was in trouble for this year.

Did I mention our first event is this weekend?

So, back to the shop.

For the first time, I cut the holes for the magic using the CNC. So, while I was smoothing and shaping the blanks, the CNC was saving me a few steps at the drill press. Now, every hole is perfectly drilled and perfectly placed the same way every time.

It’s not magic, but it is a really good idea!

So, here are new MBOs, just in time. With this batch, though, I’m now out of magic … my shopping list just never ends. That’s a good thing, right?


At Long Last, More Magic

Cleaning Up   Leave a comment

I didn’t really accomplish my goal through the holidays: I wanted to clean the shop. I’ve got some shop cabinetry to build. I moved my lumber rack off site (!). And, I needed to use the lumber I had stuffed into every nook & cranny to Make. More. Room.

A lot was done, but not enough. I’m on my way, with a lot more work to do.

However, the flurry of activity this week did allow me to finish over 70 pieces for the first show of our year, in Lake Havasu, AZ. If you’re going to the 33rd Annual Winterfest, please look us up in booths 358 & 360 … and you’ll get to see the stuff I got out of the shop this week.

For a complete schedule of events for Mrs M’s Handmade and Mr M’s Woodshop (11 events are now confirmed for 2018!), you can always click on the tab above for Mr & Mrs M’s Upcoming Events … or just click here.

But, back to the work. I’ve already showcased the Coasters and Word Blocks that were created. Part of shop clean up, though, was finishing odds and ends that got put aside for one reason or another … so here’s a bunch of the things I found when I emptied those nooks & crannies.

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