Archive for September 2015

Rocks & Water   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles: Goleta Lemon Festival   3 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.

Goleta Lemon FestivalWe’ve done the Strawberry Festival. The Poppy Festival. The Almond Blossom Festival.

Time for some lemons.

Goleta is 77 miles due west of us. It’s part of the central California coast, north of Santa Barbara. We found local motel prices were, uh, pricey in Santa Barbara County, so we ended up driving another 33 miles to the motel in Buellton.

This was the 24th annual Goleta Lemon Festival, celebrating the area’s lemon orchards.

Didn’t see any.

Velda wanted lemons for her lotion display, so we went to the local grocery store to buy some.

The lemons for sale were products of Chile. Those warning bells just turned into sirens….

New Ideas

  • Best attempt to energize social media by the promoter, complete with sending out custom graphic with a timely admonition to invite all of your “clients, friends and followers” to the event. Predictably, the person running the event for the Chamber of Commerce was under 30. Here are the perfect graphics they sent out a few days before the event:
  • Mrs M premiered 2 products here: Goat Milk Lotion & Beard Oil. Both were successful introductions. Because she needed more products.
  • We were an island, really … our double booth was open on 3 sides. The back of the booth was open, but there was a kids activity business there on Saturday and a kids music activity business there on Sunday. They were open air, so we had great, great visibility on the corner of the vendor area, right next to the kids in plastic bubbles playing in the water. Everybody had to check that out, and we were right there. Perfect location.

Observations

  • Could not find the drive in entrance to the event area. I could see the set-up, in the city park, but I couldn’t find the road to get there. Silly me. I was supposed to jump the curb with the not-wide-enough wheel chair ramp, and drive in on the sidewalk. Well, OK, then. Here we go.
  • Set up had barely begun when a neighboring canopy blew over and began to tumble towards a bunch of clueless ladies setting up their booth next to their car. I caught the canopy, helped right it and collapse it so it would not harm any people or possessions. The canopy wasn’t weighted at all, of course. When I returned to our booth, Velda and I muttered it together: “Amateurs.”
  • Surprisingly small number of vendors. This was not a huge event, and certainly didn’t have 35,000 in attendance, as the information provided by the event on a vendor website promised. There were perhaps a dozen retail vendors (3 of them were jewelry) and perhaps 2 dozen commercial vendors or local companies there promoting their business. There were several food vendors, some of which were local fundraisers selling lemony goodness.
  • This Festival is promoted as a family friendly event, and there were LOTS of young families there for the wide range of kids activities. Pony rides to Johnny Jump Ups for tweens. There was a track to drive battery operated John Deere tractors for the 3 year olds. A climbing wall. 4 or 5 bounce houses. Happy kids were everywhere.
  • Lots of UCSB students were there as well. No idea why, really … but we had college students, many of which had ridden their bikes to get there. It’s the central coast, after all.
  • I got 3 requests for backgammon boards … which is now my most requested item. Hmmmmm. Also a request for salad tongs, which I’ll file under “no.”
  • Never expected Velda to say this to me: “Here’s a pretty picture of soap.”
  • Best line of the weekend came from a young father there with his wife and 2 carrot-topped children. He was wearing a Cardinals t-shirt, and I commented that I grew up a Cardinals fan, but then converted to the Dodgers when I moved to LA. I congratulated the parents on having 2 red-headed children. Part of the 1%. I observed that I used to have red hair … to which the Dad replied, “Did you lose the red hair when you stopped being a Cardinals fan?”
  • You know the event didn’t go well for some when one vendor neighbor told us she’d never do another pop-up event like this.
  • Velda was overwhelmed by the business on Saturday: it was Mrs M’s best single day ever. The event was the biggest event ever for Mrs M. Those central coast people must need their handmade lotion. Or, perhaps it was what several people suggested to Velda: we had the best products there. Apparently.
  • While Mrs M prospered, Mr M was bored. Last Saturday, I outsold Mrs M, 10:1. This Saturday, Mrs M outsold me, 2:1 … the first time that’s happened in more than a year. And it’s about time!

The Food

Friday Dinner: Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Buellton. To paraphrase MrsMowry, we were drinking better beer than you were.

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4 for me & # 1 for Velda. We ate while driving to the event.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s cheese & cracker presentation. It got kudos from the customers. Of course.

Saturday Snack: Too hot. Who’s hungry?

Saturday Dinner: We couldn’t get a reservation to the Hitching Post, so we were stuck seeking comfort food at Pea Soup Andersen’s. It’s a traditional tourist-driven restaurant on the California 101 highway. And … ’nuff said.

Sunday Breakfast: See Saturday. Still the best option.

Sunday Lunch: Cheese & crackers, part II. Still a good idea.

Sunday Snack: Velda had a lemon beer.

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers at home. 9:15pm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 385 (we drive 2 cars to have enough cargo capacity at most events)
  • Booth cost: $450 for a handcrafter 10×20
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,784
  • # containers of product taken: 23
  • # boards available: 104
  • Saturday alarm: 5:30a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:30a (oops. Should have been 6:30a)
  • # transactions: No clue. Velda gave up & stopped counting. For Mrs. M, this was the Best. Event. Ever.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other, selling soap & lotion bars
  • # woodworking vendors: one other, selling kid’s wooden toys
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 12:1

Boards sold: 13

Small Board: 4

Small Sous Chef: 2

Lazy Susan: 2

Small Surfboard: 2

Chess Board: 1

Large Surfboard: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Rain Puddles Are Beautiful   Leave a comment

Zion National Park is known for great hiking and incredible views. Gazing up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky, sometimes it’s hard for visitors to stay on the trails. Everywhere you look, there’s something beautiful to see and as the light and weather changes, so does the scenery. On a day after a desert rain storm left puddles in the park’s lower areas, Ian Barin used the opportunity and some ingenuity to capture this amazing shot. Photo courtesy of Ian Barin. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 9/21/15.

Zion National Park is known for great hiking and incredible views. Gazing up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky, sometimes it’s hard for visitors to stay on the trails. Everywhere you look, there’s something beautiful to see and as the light and weather changes, so does the scenery. On a day after a desert rain storm left puddles in the park’s lower areas, Ian Barin used the opportunity and some ingenuity to capture this amazing shot. Photo courtesy of Ian Barin. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 9/21/15.

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Zion National Park

Sunset At Zion

The Narrows

Posted September 28, 2015 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Fireweed   1 comment

Fireweed blooms in the late Alaskan summer and darkens as autumn approaches. It gets its name from growing on burnt ground left open after wildfires. One of the great joys of discovering the botany of Denali National Park is the unique and intact nature of the plant communities that exist here. Here we see fireweed thriving with Denali in the background. Photo by Gavin Danapong. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 9/19/15.

Fireweed blooms in the late Alaskan summer and darkens as autumn approaches. It gets its name from growing on burnt ground left open after wildfires. One of the great joys of discovering the botany of Denali National Park is the unique and intact nature of the plant communities that exist here. Here we see fireweed thriving with Denali in the background. Photo by Gavin Danapong. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 9/19/15.

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Denali National Park

Cold

Northern Lights

Posted September 27, 2015 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Painting The Mountains   1 comment

Add this National Park to your bucket list now! Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Venkatreddy Kancharla. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 9/18/15.

Add this National Park to your bucket list now! Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Venkatreddy Kancharla. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 9/18/15.

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Grand Teton National Park

Cottonwood Creek

Sunrise On The Tetons

The Oxbow Bend

Posted September 26, 2015 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Not Following The Rules   Leave a comment

Bears just don't follow the rules at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 9/17/15.

Bears just don’t follow the rules at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 9/17/15.

Desert Beauty   Leave a comment

“Velcro, I’m DONE Waiting!”   1 comment

Love this video shot from a Bearcam at Katmai National Park. To join the horde of us addicted to LIVE bearcam coverage, go here.

Mom is bear # 273 (some are named, some are numbered). The cub is known as Velcro.

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Katmai National Park

Survival Of The Fattest

The Bears Of Katmai

Posted September 23, 2015 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: Agua Dulce Country Fair   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.

Agua Dulce Country FairAgua Dulce is a rural town that’s 16 miles north and east of us. It’s horse country, and the site of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, where Christopher met the younger Mrs. M.

Of course we have to do their annual Country Fair.

The Fair starts with a parade in mid-afternoon, and then the whole town comes to the site of the Women’s Club, which sets up a big stage. Entertainment begins with cake walks, moves up to a performance by the high school choir, and then has a couple of bar bands play for the rest of the evening. It’s a fun time; you get to meet your neighbors & share a beer under the stars.

The event is a commitment, though. The parade started at 4pm (closer to 4:30), and then the event really got going as the crowd came into the event area. The band played until 12 midnight, and that’s when vehicles could first come into the area to load out. We got home at 1:30am, which is hardly normal for us. We must have had a good time, yes?

I do envy the vendors that can move their set up on a hand truck. We travel far, far too heavy to make that happen!

This event is sponsored by the Agua Dulce Women’s Club, which produces the event as a fundraiser. They use the proceeds to fund their local charities throughout the year. They charge $5 admission to the event. Vendors are spread across their parking lot. Some vendors are also placed in the building the Club meets in – which was a perfect way for us to do this event last year. We didn’t have lights; we didn’t own a shade structure.

The 2014 edition was actually the 6th event we ever did as Mrs M’s Handmade. Our set up was 3 tables and 2 chairs in the corner of the hot building (the fans were broken). This time, we returned with more products and more resources … like 2 shade structures for our 10×20 booth.

New Ideas

  • I drove up to set up the shade structures & tables late Friday afternoon. That certainly made the Saturday set up much easier.
  • Had to buy a 2nd set of our outdoor lights that we hang in the shade structures. Our lighting must be great: we had 4 vendors come to us asking how they could get similar lights!
  • While Velda and I went to buy dinner, Christopher and the younger Mrs M (and Payton!), stayed to run the booth. Christopher was in charge of Mr M’s Woodshop, of course. He must of had fun; by the time I got back to the booth he had sold 4 different boards. Clearly, I need to eat more.

Observations

  • On the way to the event, Velda and I drove through a bike race. Some of the riders weren’t anxious to share the road, which was hardly sporting of them.
  • 50% of boards sold at this event were at their first showing. That always scares me.
  • Could have sold another Canarywood cheese board, but I’d left the 2nd one I made at home. You never know which inventory to bring….
  • Velda yelled at me when I made a face at the off key singing being performed on stage. “You never know who’s related to whom,” she said. That’s true. But, my goodness, there were some poor singers on stage. Over all, the entertainment was good … but I did take exception to a couple of numbers here and there. But, after I was corrected by Mrs M, my thoughts were not broadcast on my face. I think.
  • The vendors in the building didn’t seem to have good traffic this year. One of my favorite vendor neighbors was in the building, Carrie’s Creative Caps.
  • I really dislike vendors that drive their truck to their booth and then pack it up. They end up clogging the area for vendors that are ready to load out, but can’t fit their vehicle into the space because of the impatient vendor that didn’t follow the rules. Every event has the same rule: pack your booth, and THEN drive in to load it out.
  • The good part of traveling very heavy to these events is that when you follow the rules and get packed up first, then you can usually drive right in to your booth for load out. Bu the time we were ready, the rude, angry people were already gone. Thank goodness.

The Food

Saturday Lunch: After we unloaded, we moved the Jeep to vendor parking and then had a fabulous & leisurely lunch at the Sweetwater Bar & Grill. Highly recommended. We’ll go back to this restaurant without the event to lure us!

Saturday Snack: Velda bought caramel corn, but I barely ate any. Not my thing, generally.

Saturday Dinner: Chicken quesadilla … which Velda told me I never eat. She’s wrong, and she’s not the boss of me (Alley is). I enjoyed my quesadilla.

Saturday Dessert: Payton brought Velda a lemon cupcake & me a chocolate chocolate chocolate cupcake. Of course it was fabulous … but she took a bite out of Velda’s. Not sure what that means.

Sunday Breakfast: Velda’s homemade breakfast burritos with chili. Mmmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 96
  • Booth cost: $150
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Total 2015 sales: $1,286
  • Total 2014 sales: $551
  • # containers of product taken: 19
  • # boards available: 96
  • Saturday alarm: none
  • Saturday arrival: 11:45a
  • Saturday departure: 1:05a
  • Sunday alarm: absolutely none
  • # transactions: 24
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M!
  • # woodworking vendors: just Mr M!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:5

Boards sold: 14

Small boards: 3

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Cheese Boards: 2

Large Cutting Boards: 2

Cutting Boards: 2

Lazy Susans: 2

Small Surfboard: 1

Lesson Learned, Perhaps?   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe end of the run. The rest of the batch.

Here are the remaining boards from my latest explosion of making.

These boards are not the largest, and they’re certainly not the roundest. They are a mix of end grain and edge grain, and sizes range from small cheese boards (that might be very small cutting boards for some people) to rather large cutting boards.

One of these boards was intended to be a third cutting board with bread board ends and a juice groove, just like those in the first photo labeled “Cutting Board # 15 – 101,” but that was not to be.

You see, I decided to reuse my double stick tape while routing the last juice groove of the day. I ignored those warnings in my head (“It’s never worked before!”) and tried to save about 5 minutes and 5′ of tape … and the result was a $100 board became a much smaller $60 board in an instant.

Perhaps I’ve learned that lesson, but time will tell. At this point, I can only hope.

Oh, and remember that board that I messed up? The one that got smaller in an instant? It was the first board sold from this batch. Not sure why I keep getting encouraged to make mistakes….

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