Archive for November 2015

Look Up   1 comment

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Arts & Crafts Faire   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.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-type affair on its grounds, and in November it transforms into a holiday boutique featuring handmade goods only.

I did the event solo last year, and did it poorly. We decided that I would only take boards, but it was near the end of my inventory last year … so I didn’t have a good stock.

And then I left one container of boards at home, to boot.

But it was a lovely day in Carpinteria. 70+ degrees, sunny, blue skies … what’s not to like on a Thanksgiving Saturday? Total sales were only $285, though … but I enjoyed the day, and we decided to do the event again. After all, it fit on the calendar.

So we doubled down, and the elder Mrs M joined me to see if we could have a better day with a full effort.

New Ideas

  • Our standard 10×20 booth, with both of us driving to get the product and booths to Carpinteria.
  • We did this for a 5 hour event on a holiday weekend.
  • Mrs M set up her tables with a price list on both … and that worked very well. Having to create 2 separate booth displays for earlier events, and then being able to combine them for the rest of this year’s events, definitely was a good thing in this case.

Observations

  • We’re crazy.
  • After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving with family – even though I’ve been working non-stop in the woodshop – packing the cars for this event Friday evening just seemed crazy. We doubled down on an event that didn’t work well last year, no matter the reason. I was crazy. We were crazy. We had crossed over from sanity to looney land.
  • But at least it was a beautiful ride. We hit PCH (that’s Pacific Coast Highway for you non-SoCal folks) just as the sun crested the mountains, so we watched the sun rise and kiss the Pacific ocean for a glorious day. Blue skies. Blue water. Some people have to pay lots of money to get to see that sight.
  • My second customer of the day told me that my work had been highly recommended to her while she was buying a taquito snack. Apparently, I’ve made an impact on taquito eaters, so I’ve got that.
  • This show is probably the best I’ve seen at selecting vendors that are only offering handmade goods. If any were offering “buy & sell” goods, I didn’t see them. This is truly a handmade show.
  • While talking to my cutting board maker competitor (who’s a really nice guy that calls me “brother”), I explained that I have one chess board on display, and then I said it out loud: I hope I never sell it. That way, I’ll continue to have an answer to what was my # 1 request (“Do you make chess boards?”) without having to make another. This single board, the final remnant of my June production of 5 boards, has been on display since the July 4 event.
  • I sold it an hour later.
  • Lots of dog walkers at this community event. At one point, we had a convention of 4 Yorkies sharing fashion tips in front of our booth. Well, I assume they were sharing fashion tips, as they were all wearing sweaters that each closely examined. That’s how it looked to me, anyway.
  • Joke of the Day:

A senior citizen walked into the booth, and eventually declared that he was an 80-year old cabinet maker that had built over 100 houses in Carpinteria. He said he had a complete shop, but he just didn’t go into it much anymore. He asked what glue I used, and when I said “Titebond III” he said he’s never heard of it. He came back a minute later, and asked me to write it down for him so he could investigate. I’d taught him something, he said, and he wanted to look it up.

OK.

Then he stepped in close to me, and in sotto voice, said, “Don’t get mad at me. I don’t know what side you’re on. Don’t get mad at me.” “OK,” I said. (Where in the world is this going to lead???)

“A man walked into the White House, walked up to the guard, and asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. President Obama is not the President anymore.’ The man left.

“The next day, the man returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, as I told you yesterday, it’s 2017. President Obama is not here. He’s not President anymore.’ The man left.

“The third day, the man again returned and walked up to the same guard. He asked to speak to President Obama. The guard replied, ‘Sir, it’s 2017. As I’ve told you for the last 2 days, President Obama is not here. Why do you keep asking me that question?’

The confident reply: “Because it sounds so damn good to hear you say it.”

With that, my retired cabinet maker turned on his heel and left the booth to the sound of my laughter. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.”

  • The drive home was as the sun set over the Pacific. Some were fishing in the surf; some were camping. Every sunset is precious. Some people pay good money to see sunsets like this.
  • Did we make our goal? Absolutely.
  • Same booth next year? Absolutely.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 28

Saturday Lunch: Taquitos, sold by the Museum. They bought frozen and served them for $1 each with salsa & guacamole. Same lunch I had last year, and they were the only thing I saw not handmade at this event.

Saturday Snack: nope. Velda wanted to go to the bake sale … but didn’t.

Saturday Dinner: Thanksgiving leftovers, of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $150
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $1,093
  • # containers of product taken: 17
  • # boards available: 77
  • Saturday alarm: 5:01 am
  • # transactions: 43
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 5. We had 3 soapers, one lotion vendor right across from us, and someone else selling oils. Lots of activity in the skin & body products area at this handmade event.
  • # woodworking vendors: 7. WOW. We had another cutting board maker (incredibly, 1 of only 2 true direct competitors I’ve met in Southern California), a trio of turners, a wooden jewelry maker, a rustic furniture maker and me. That’s an unprecedented collection of craftsmen in my experience at pop-up events.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 7:1

Boards sold: 8

Large Sous Chef Board: 3

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Cheese Board: 1

Medium Surfboard: 1

Chess Board: 1

Surfboards? Cheese Servers?   Leave a comment

These cheese & cracker servers were immediately christened “surfboards” by people who saw their shape … but then I introduced actual surfboard-shaped boards to further muddle the situation.

Whatever you call them, this is one of my favorite designs. The underside has gently sweeping curves on all four edges – cove cuts, they’re called – and the result is the piece sits very lightly on your table. Here’s the photo that best illustrates this design in use:

Surfboard Cheese

We’re at the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History’s Holiday Arts & Crafts Faire today, 10a – 3p. If you’re out & about in SoCal, come see us!

More

Cutting Sideways = Curves

Surfboards For The Discerning Cheese Eater

The Colors Of Sunset   1 comment

Spatchcocking & Other Musings   Leave a comment

Hearing the exclamations from the kitchen the night before Thanksgiving is an annual treat for me. Velda’s giving her all to cook a delectable spread … like always.

Speaking of spread, when I walked into the kitchen from the garage woodshop last evening, Velda had the turkey’s legs splayed at 180 degrees. I may not know my way around a kitchen (Well, I do know how to go around the kitchen, actually, but I digress), but I know that’s not how turkeys usually look in our house.

Several weeks ago, I had strongly encouraged her to attend a local cooking demonstration on how to cook Thanksgiving dinner (a clever strategy of mine) to:

  1. Distract her from work stresses,
  2. Distract her from Mrs M’s stresses, and
  3. Deliver an even better meal today.

Yes, there was something in it for me beyond her getting an autographed cookbook.

OH, and if my children happen to be reading this, don’t worry. Velda promised not to mess with the green bean casserole again. I even carried in the cans of Del Monte green beans myself, so I know she’s got the ingredients right. Your near riot of a few years ago is still a vivid enough memory that she won’t make the mistake of changing that recipe again!

But, back to the star attraction.

Come to find out the turkey had been rendered spineless not by the Lady’s rapier wit, but by a fair amount of sweat, a dull knife, a sharp knife, poultry shears and a bad word or two. The turkey had been spatchcocked, I’m told.

Who knew that was a word?

In any event, it’s spatchcocked turkey for dinner. We’ve got the whole family coming over, as well as three Bruins that are far from home and in search of a good meal (no surprise there!). We all have much to be thankful for, and I’m looking forward to dining with my wonderful family and some new friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A handsome pair of wild turkeys at Alabama's Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Michael Padgett. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/15.

A handsome pair of wild turkeys at Alabama’s Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Michael Padgett. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/15.

More

A Thanksgiving Truce

Thanksgiving Table

Posted November 26, 2015 by henrymowry in Living Life

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The Colors Of Sunrise   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles: Congregation Beth Shalom Holiday Boutique   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.

CBS Holiday Boutique REVISED 2015 FlyerCongregation Beth Shalom recently expanded their Temple, and their semi-annual holiday boutique was this last weekend in their main building. About 20 vendors were there, greeting parents that came to the Temple to pick up their children after they finished Sunday school.

This was our third event of the weekend, and we needed somewhere north of $500 to make the weekend goal of $2,000 in revenue from the three events. Any chance?

New Ideas

  • This is a kosher temple, and no food or drink is allowed to be brought in. I went 4 hours without a Diet Coke in my hand!

Observations

  • I was chatting with a customer about the series of wine-inspired scents that Mrs M’s offers. There are Chardonnay, Moscato & Riesling scents, for example. I explained my trepidation about the scents when I first heard of these … I mean, who wants to smell like wine? The customer’s prompt reply: “Mothers!”
  • Last year, there was another woodworker at this event selling cutting boards somewhat similar to mine, as well as engraved boards. One lady asked where the Challah boards were, like those offered last year, and she was embarrassed that I was not the same guy. No worries … but maybe I need engraved Challah boards so I can keep up.
  • I need a Hebrew consultant. And a font, probably.
  • After describing a gift recipient to me, I showed an appropriate board. Seeing the price, the customer stated, “He’s not that nice.” Perhaps my prices are too high … or relatives aren’t nice enough. You choose.
  • This was a short, 4 hour event, and it was S  L  O  W until families (mainly Moms) arrived to pick up their kids from Sunday School. However, the Moms were buyers and we made our goal for the event and the weekend.

The Food

Sunday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. Maybe I have a problem.

Sunday Lunch: made it home for a sandwich

Sunday Snack: nope. I was in the garage woodshop making sawdust. No time to eat.

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers. And bourbon. The weekend was over.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 12
  • Booth cost: $120
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Total sales: $552
  • # containers of product taken: 17
  • # boards available: 62
  • Sunday alarm: I woke up first
  • # transactions: 14
  • # soap & lotion vendors: One buy & sell lotion vendor
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 6:0

Boards sold: 6

The Board Chronicles: Summit Holiday Boutique   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.

SummitThe Summit is a development in Valencia with many gated neighborhoods; a friend produces a pair of holiday boutiques in the Summit’s clubhouse as a fundraiser for her designated charity, Bridge to Home. That charity funds efforts to help the homeless in Santa Clarita.

This event raised several hundred dollars for that charity. That’s worth something.

The event repeats in a month on December 19, with Santa Claus in attendance. Looking forward to it!

New Ideas

  • After so long doing outdoor events where you drive to your booth, it’s a real switch to prepare for indoor events with a folding wagon to haul product over sidewalks.
  • Splitting inventory to cover multiple events on the same day is a challenge. If you don’t actually count everything … you don’t know what you’ve got. That always leads to containers of products you don’t need, and containers of product at another event that you wish you had.

Observations

  • This event felt a bit like a home boutique: it appealed to a specific set of friends, and drew many people from the neighborhood.
  • There were about 20 vendors; a mix of handmade and buy & sell.
  • I did hear from one vendor that sales were down significantly from their appearance at last year’s event … it’s always a crap shoot, as one wise friend of mine likes to say.
  • More and more events, it seems, expect a raffle item contribution for them to extend their fundraising to selling raffle tickets. I need to start adding that expense to the actual cost of the events.
  • This is the 3rd event that we’ve been next to the door, and had less than spectacular results. This was a small event, but boards were next to the door, and I only sold one item from Mr M’s inventory. Superstitious? Getting there.
  • In the end, the event achieved my goals for the event. Expectations were met, and funds were raised for a deserving charity. Win, win.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. It’s a habit.

Saturday Lunch: A peanut butter sandwich. High living, this vendor thing.

Saturday Snack: hahahahahahaha

Saturday Dinner: Linguini at Marston’s. It’s a habit.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 10
  • Booth cost: $80
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $543
  • # containers of product taken: 13
  • # boards available: 45
  • Saturday alarm: I woke up first
  • # transactions: 19
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one soap vendor
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 1:0

Boards sold: 1

Here are the first few sets, bagged up!

Here are the first few sets, bagged up!

 

The Board Chronicles: Valencia High Choir Holiday Boutique   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.

Valencia-Boutique-Flier_15The Valencia High School Choir has sponsored a Holiday Boutique for 10 years. Their teacher, Mrs Tavares-Mocha, likes to have the boutique start on Friday so the students can see the merchandise during the schoolday on Friday and bring their parents back to the boutique on Saturday.

Works for me. Had a nice event in 2014 with sales of $812. We hoped to do better in 2015; additional marketing was secured to promote the event to the Valencia High community.

New Ideas

  • Students help vendors carry merchandise from the parking lot to the MPR. Loved seeing those young men and women struggle with the board containers. And no matter how much they struggled, I believe it was preferable to selling candy bars to raise money for the choir.
  • I set up and ran the event on Friday during my staycation, while the elder Mrs M ran the event on Saturday while I was at another event.
  • The merchandise and table we brought arrived in the Jeep and left in the Honda. Successfully, I might add.

Observations

  • I am still not used to the clothing worn by high school students. My guess is in 10 years I’ll simply stand in the front yard and yell at all passersby, “Get off my lawn.”
  • There was a domestic disturbance from a vendor one day. Loud enough to turn heads. Note Mrs M and I never were there together, so it wasn’t us.
  • Valencia High is the destination for many special needs kids in the school district who attend their classes on campus. That kind of exposure is good for everyone, I believe.
  • Vendor spaces were sold out with 26. Hope that doesn’t mean prices are going up….
  • Another child wanted to buy a single block at this event. However, when the child learned that S stood for Snake and not their name, they lost interest.
  • No students were caroling this year, which was a change from last year. That would have been a nice touch.
  • The Christmas sound track that was offered was nice when it was playing, but it seemed as if it went silent if left unattended.
  • Our booth neighbor kept telling Mrs M what a gem I am. Perhaps someday she’ll believe what she’s told.
  • A food option would have been a nice option as well. Note: no one starved.
  • Mrs Tavares-Mocha needs help; she coordinates this boutique herself. Where are the choir booster parents?
  • In addition to the sales recorded on Friday and Saturday, there were 3 quality conversations about buying boards (multiple boards in a couple of cases) that would substantially increase the value of this boutique to us. Happy to be a part of it!
  • Sales were up; the marketing worked. Or, uh, maybe our products are better.

The Food

Friday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4. It’s a habit.

Friday Lunch: Made it home for a sandwich.

Saturday Breakfast: 5 raw almonds & a glass of milk (guess who ate this breakfast!)

Saturday Lunch: Chunky Skippy with Welch’s grape jelly on whole wheat

Saturday Snack: A cube of pumpkin bread and 2 crackers with homemade jelly from another vendor. Purchase activity ensued.

Saturday Dinner: Pistachio-crusted salmon with vegetables, and half of a Caesar salad, from Marston’s

(ed. note: Does anyone else notice how many nuts the elder Mrs M is eating? I mean, I knew she was nutty, but geez….)

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 10
  • Booth cost: $180
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $923
  • # containers of product taken: 21
  • # boards available: 62
  • Friday alarm: 5:45a
  • Saturday alarm: up before the alarm
  • # transactions: 38
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one other lotion vendor with body butter & sugar scrubs
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 5:0

Boards sold: 5

 

Animals   Leave a comment

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