Archive for December 2015

The Board Chronicles: Valencia Summit Holiday Craft Boutiques   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.

SummitWe’re back for part 2.

This boutique ended up being split onto 2 different days in November and December. The November event was good (read that Chronicle here), but I had lower expectations for this event just 6 days before Christmas.

New Ideas

  • The promoter, Stella, played into my superstition and moved our tables away from the door. My working theory is that being next to the door is a negative on sales.
  • Of course, Stella put her tables right by the door … so she’s either being far too accommodating of me, or she rejects the superstition outright.

Observations

  • With only 2x 6′ tables and 1x 4′ table, space is at an absolute premium at this indoor event. I left the blocks at home, brought too many cheese boards, and decided I didn’t have room for the pig on the table. And I still sold it. Go figure.
  • Here’s what I will remember: a year ago, I was out of the pig business. At the end of 2015, I was, again, out of the pig business. Therefore, I’m not in the pig business.
  • Yes, I sold the last pig.
  • Santa's a very busy man this time of the year.

    Santa’s a very busy man this time of the year, what with the workshop to manage remotely and all.

    We had 3 different people come to find us at this final event of the year, and all 3 were big sales. Note to self: when you promote where you’re going to be, people will find you.

  • With promoter promotion (THEIR JOB), and then when all of the vendors do this as well … it works.
  • Santa came by today … not sure who he was texting.
  • Sales were up today from last month’s event, with our booth not near the door. My superstition only grows….
  • Loved this day. Totally relaxed with no expectations at all for this event. Great friends working the event, relaxed atmosphere. Goodies to snack on. What’s not to like?
  • Mrs M showed up at lunch and stayed the rest of the day, through load out. Good news: she helped. Bad news: no Christmas cookies were baked. Unless she’s hiding them from me.
  • The last event of the year was a success. And I am oh so ready for a break. Well, a break after I get those last few promised projects out of the shop in time for Christmas!

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Velda’s egg burrito. Yum.

Saturday Lunch: Tater tots & grilled cheese with bacon from The Grilled Cheese food truck. Yum.

Saturday Snack: Holiday treats brought by the vendors to share. Yum.

Saturday Dinner: Salmon at Fishtail. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 44
  • Booth cost: $80
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: both of them
  • Total sales: $870
  • # containers of product taken: 18
  • # boards available: 72
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: one soap vendor & Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 5: 1

Boards sold: 6

Cheese Boards: 2x

Large Cutting Board: 1x

Pig: 1x

Bear: 1x

Small Sous Chef: 1x

Snowy Sunrise   Leave a comment

It doesn’t get much better than the views found at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. With seemingly unlimited vistas to the east and west, it is popular for both sunrise and sunset. This sunrise looks even better with some snow catching the dawn’s early light. Photo by Steve Perry. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 12/17/15.

It doesn’t get much better than the views found at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. With seemingly unlimited vistas to the east and west, it is popular for both sunrise and sunset. This sunrise looks even better with some snow catching the dawn’s early light. Photo by Steve Perry. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 12/17/15.

Moonrise   Leave a comment

A magical moonrise over Yosemite National Park in California. Matt Walker captured this night shot – yes, it’s a night shot – on Thanksgiving week. It had snowed all day and began clearing around sunset. An hour later, the full moon rose with an intense glow as fog and clouds swirled around Yosemite Valley. “It was an amazing experience having my 10-year-old son next to me watching this unbelievable moonrise,” says Walker. Photo courtesy of Matt Walker. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 12/18/15.

A magical moonrise over Yosemite National Park in California. Matt Walker captured this night shot – yes, it’s a night shot – on Thanksgiving week. It had snowed all day and began clearing around sunset. An hour later, the full moon rose with an intense glow as fog and clouds swirled around Yosemite Valley. “It was an amazing experience having my 10-year-old son next to me watching this unbelievable moonrise,” says Walker. Photo courtesy of Matt Walker. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 12/18/15.

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Yosemite National Park

A Double Rainbow And The Half Dome

Fire!

Low Fog & Bright Stars

Right Place, Right Time

Sentinel Dome’s View

Stoneman Meadow

Sunrise + Milky Way

The Serenity Of Yosemite

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Upper Cathedral Lake

Yosemite In The Snow

500. And Counting.   Leave a comment

It’s been quite a year.

And how did I get here? A casual comment to Velda, and a mutual need to exercise a different part of our brains. And, oh my, we had no idea what we were getting into!

But here we are.

Last week, I sold my 500th piece of the year. It was a large end grain cutting board, going soon to a lucky lady for Christmas.

Cutting Board # 15 - 075. Jatoba & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16" x 20" x 1-1/2".

Cutting Board # 15 – 075, and the 500th piece sold in 2015. Jatoba & Hard Maple. End Grain, Juice Groove. 16″ x 20″ x 1-1/2″.

How did this all happen? I blame Velda.

Of course.

She started playing around, making sugar scrubs. She got Alley to join in. They both made them for presents one Christmas … and the die was cast.

In the next year, Velda received a lotion bar as a present – but the giver thought it was soap. ’twasn’t. Velda began doing research, and with encouragement from her friends, she discovered she could make lotion bars. She did, and, again, she gave them away.

“You should sell these,” people said.

“Good idea,” she said.

The younger Mrs M stepped up and wanted to play as well, hoping to create better, more natural skin care products for herself and her daughter, our # 1 Granddaughter.

Logo-300xWith that, Mrs M’s Handmade was created. The ladies had one problem: someone had to lift the heavy stuff. So, Velda decided to volunteer me. It happened that I had just made routed bowls and cutting boards for Christmas presents, and she suggested that I make cheese boards & cutting boards to sell alongside her skin care products.

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before their opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. We were so young then – on March 23, 2014.

She was getting a great deal: free labor from me, plus she could banish me to the garage woodshop whenever she wanted some peace and quiet in the kitchen laboratory.

I got my revenge, though. Sawdust now covers just about everything. Velda tolerates it, thank goodness. Not that she has much choice. I’ve blown out one dust collection system, and my second system now seems to be leaking as much dust as it captures. But I’m a woodworker: I make sawdust. Velda has to learn tolerance.

Because that sounds like Velda.

21 months ago we began this journey as vendors selling our handmade wares at pop-up craft fairs in Southern California. We do it because we are scratching an itch we can’t reach with our real jobs. Velda enjoys making skin care products for the satisfaction of researching and creating solutions that people actually love to use … and tell her they love to use them. Not the same thing as caring for patients, as she does in her real job. The younger Mrs M hopes to craft a good alternative for better skin care products for her kids. For my part, making sawdust is not the same thing as sitting at a desk selling computer systems to radio stations on the telephone. Love my job … but I also need to clear my head, which I can do by not being on the phone while making things in the garage woodshop.

This year, Velda and I decided to, uh, accelerate, so we put my foot on the gas and we began making product and doing events at a furious pace.

The result: We’ve done 64 days of events this year. We’ve done as many as 3 different events on a weekend. Both Mrs Ms have been there, as well as Miss M on a few occasions. Velda and I have both done solo events as well. With that amount of effort, we’ve found sales success for the Mrs M’s … not to mention for their subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop. I’ve now sold well over 500 pieces this year. Cheese boards, cutting boards, Lazy Susans, building blocks, serving pieces … and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming in 2016!

After I install the new dust collection system, that is.

The Nearly Lost Recipe   6 comments

Juanita Boring Mowry, 1984.

Juanita Boring Mowry, 1984.

Growing up, there were two certainties when there was a Sunday dinner at Grandma Mowry’s: homemade Lemon Meringue Pie, and Chocolate Pie.

Chocolate Pie for the win, of course.

The problem was that Grandma didn’t have the recipe written down, and didn’t use measuring cups. She simply put the ingredients in the bowl until they “looked right,” or into her hands until they “felt right.” That’s how she cooked the World’s Best Pie.

So how do you bring that legacy forward?

Enter Velda, the big city girl who married Grandma’s only Grandson and moved with him to California. Fortunately, Velda was also fearless. She asked her Grandmother-in-law to demonstrate the recipe, and actually guesstimated the ingredient quantities and created a recipe card by watching her make a pie.

It was 1980.

Velda does not consider herself a pastry chef, but she does agree to make the World’s Best Pie twice each year. All was going well, until a kitchen accident nearly became a kitchen CATASTROPHE. The recipe card Velda wrote in 1980 – the only written copy of THE recipe – got caught in a Christmas cookie crossfire, and ended up stuck to the bottom of a cookie sheet.

And then she baked it at 350* for 12 minutes.

The recipe card was severely damaged. Discolored. Corners flaked away. We almost lost this Most Important Family Recipe due to a moment of kitchen chaos.

img166

Enter the next generation, and the younger soon-to-be Mrs M asked Velda for a copy of all of her recipes. The result: the printed Mowry Family Cookbook, which was published in 2008. That saved Velda’s recipes from future cookie dough disasters, plus a host of classic friend & family recipes were added, to boot.

And then Mr M’s Woodshop got going at a furious pace … and I had another idea.

Here’s the latest from the shop: the laser engraved recipe board. It’s meant for display on the recipe side, and can be used on the flip side. Finished size is 8″ x 12″ x 3/4″.

Get me a copy of your recipe written on a plain, unfolded sheet of paper using a extra fine point black Sharpie, and I can do the rest. After all, if you are fortunate enough to be from a family that does Christmas baking, you should never have to chance losing your Most Important Family Recipe in the process!

Recipe Board 15 - 01. Hard Maple. 8" x 12" x 3/4".

Recipe Board 15 – 01. Hard Maple. 8″ x 12″ x 3/4″.

The written recipe you supply will be digitally scanned and converted to a graphic for the laser engraver. If the writing is pretty, that’s great … but if it’s illegible, there’s nothing I can do about that!

More

Grandma Mowry’s Chocolate Pie

Your Family’s Stuff

Treasuring Family Photos

Take A Moment & Enjoy The Views, Part 3   Leave a comment

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Take A Moment & Enjoy The Views

Take A Moment & Enjoy The Views, Part 2

Posted December 16, 2015 by henrymowry in Photography

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Your National Parks, For Free   Leave a comment

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

Three kids kids exploring stream

Fee-free days make national parks accessible to more people.

The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016, so on 16 days in ’16, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone.

 Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2016:
  • January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16 through 24: National Park Week
  • August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

National parks are America’s Best Idea, and there are 409 available to everyone, every day. The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the 127 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The others are free all of the time. Plan your visit and enjoy our country’s history and nature.

 The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
Fee-free days make parks accessible to more people. However, national parks are always economical, with entrance fees that range from $3 to $30. In addition, any fourth grade student can get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program, and active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability can also get free passes. For more information about the variety of discounted passes available, please visit the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass page.

Posted December 15, 2015 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: Winter Wonderland   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.

Winter Wonderland Paper Flyer 2015The Church on the Way hosts an annual community event that includes snow, a live nativity, Santa … and vendors. Their flyer is my absolute favorite for this holiday season, too.

New Ideas

  • In the “we’re still crazy” department, we are doing this event on a Sunday in December. It’s a 3 hour event … so I’ll spend as much time setting up and taking down as I will, uh, eventing.
  • The cost for the event is a voluntary contribution. Happy to tithe from our sales, as is suggested.
  • Given the forecast and the short window for the event, we downsized to a 10 x 10.

Observations

  • After last week’s Best. Event. Ever., this week promised to be a comedown. Zero expectations for this event, actually. It will be what it will be.
  • Rain was forecast throughout the event. It never rains in Southern California, but girl, let me warn you….
  • Last year’s event was a success, I was told. But this year’s forecast….
  • It started misting at 4:30, and it rained more every hour. There was no saving this event. No one’s fault … but it was raining. No shoppers.

Worst. Event. Ever.

  • No one’s fault, really. But, it was raining. We were done before we started. Setting up was a mistake, in the end.
  • Broke down in record time with Velda’s help, and then we came home with wet containers, a wet shade structure, and wet table cloths. We don’t think that any product was damaged, but it may have been. Only time will tell.

The Food

Sunday Dinner: A ham & cheese from The Grilled Cheese Truck. And tater tots. Mmmmm.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 16
  • Booth cost: $1
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Total sales: $11
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: too many
  • Sunday alarm: No problem. Load in was at 3:30p
  • # transactions: 2
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just us
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0

Boards sold: 0

 

 

Here Comes The Sun   Leave a comment

Posted December 13, 2015 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Forest & The Trees   Leave a comment

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