Archive for April 2016

The Board Chronicles: SCV Charity Chili Cook-off   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.

Chili Cook-offThe 4th Annual SCV (our home: Santa Clarita Valley) Charity Chili Cook-off supports two local charities. From the event’s website:

The Santa Clarita community will once again show their support for two great non-profits, Single Mothers Outreach and SCV Food Pantry, while sampling 40 excellent chili entries.

So worthy charities, food … and the event takes place 4.5 miles from our house.

We’re in.

New Ideas

  • This is our first-ever Happy Hour foodie event.
  • This is our first-ever Tuesday evening event.
  • Another solo appearance for Mr M’s Woodshop, as we only have one 6′ table. This is event # 70 for us … and the last time I soloed on one table was at event # 11. This time, however, Mrs M will join me to sample the chili and make sure I get sustenance while I’m vendoring.
  • I took one of my new display crates, turned it to the side and used it to hold small sous chef boards, large sous chef boards, pigs & pizza servers.
  • No room for a wrap station … so if anyone buys a board, they get it, unwrapped, in a bag or just under their arm. Never done that before!


  • Our Spring Fling. After doing only 2 events in the first quarter – and celebrating the birth of Granddaughter # 2 – this is our third spring event. We’re doing 8 events in 9 weeks. Come June, I will be tired.
  • I love local.
  • We’ve got a long-standing theory that food events involve cooks – and cutting boards belong there. Wouldn’t you think? Oh, and this event is held in the micro brewery for one of our favorite local restaurants, so I’m thinking alcohol will be involved. OF COURSE we’re interested!
  • Magic Bottle Openers are surprisingly popular … and it was really wrong for me to sell out of them before this event. My work list grows ever-longer.
  • Surprise! It’s an outdoor event. Who knew?
  • Surprise! It’s an 8′ table, not a 6′ table. No worries; I filled it.
  • Canopies are great when they keep the setting sun from blinding your customers. Too bad I didn’t have mine.
  • Lights are great after dark so people can see your stuff. Too bad I didn’t have mine.
  • Great crowd. Nice people; saw several customers & key people to stay in touch with. Was promised a couple of orders to come in soon. Soon.
  • About 400 people were there, I think. 5 vendors. 40 chilis to try, and a brewery to sample.
  • Goal accomplished. I broke even – almost exactly. If you don’t count labor. Or admin costs. Or my aching ankles.

The Food

Tuesday Dinner: Chili. Right? I had 7x one ounce servings. Or something like that. And a brew from Wolf Creek Brewery.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 18
  • Booth cost: $150 (plus 2x Chili Cook-off tickets for $50). Note: it’s a charity event. I hope to sell several boards, of course, but breaking even would be great.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Total sales: $250
  • # containers of product taken: 8
  • # boards available: 58
  • # transactions: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: nope, though the wonderful Refined Vintage Boutique was there, offering handmade soaps as part of what they do
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0:1
  • Returning next year? Maybe.

Boards sold: 1

Cutting Board 16 - End 018. Purpleheart, Hard Maple & Jatoba. End grain. 14" x 21" x 1-1/2".

Cutting Board 16 – End 018. Purpleheart, Hard Maple & Jatoba. End grain. 14″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″.


What? WHAT?   Leave a comment

A mink in Lake Clark National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 4/18/16.

Mink in Alaska are larger and darker than most weasels. They can hunt on land and water, preying on fish, rodents, birds and insects. Mostly solitary, they only gather during breeding season in the spring. However, this mink at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve doesn’t seem to be thinking about romance. Photo by J. Mills, National Park Service. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 4/18/16.


Lake Clark National Park

Falling Beauty

Salmon Is Good Eats

Tanalians Falls

The Beauty Of Fall

Posted April 19, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: KHTS Home & Garden Show   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.

KHTS Home & Garden Show LogoAfter several years resident at the Valencia Hyatt – which had been outgrown in more ways than one – KHTS (my hometown station!) decided to do a major upgrade with their Home & Garden show.

KHTS partnered with the city of Santa Clarita to incorporate their Arbor Day celebration, and then with that support moved the event to Santa Clarita’s Central Park. Attendance of 12,000+ was expected to see the big show, maybe get a free tree, and enjoy some Southern California blue skies.

New Ideas

  • The “home & garden” vendors were moved to 4 large tents on the edge of the park, next to the food trucks. The other vendors – some with their own shade structures, and some with event-supplied canopies – were behind the 4 large tents. Lots of activity going on here, from a climbing wall for adventuresome kids to a quilt show to city-sponsored tree giveaways. This event goes big, so we felt right at home.
  • With the event 3.5 miles from home, we were. I reffed a lot of AYSO soccer on this field. Unfortunately, the grass was better before the drought restricted our municipal grass watering so severely. Didn’t like the dust blowing in the wind throughout Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday.
  • Last year, my booth location was in a photogenic garden area at the hotel: KHTS kept it as exclusive handmade area. My neighbors were local, handmade, and mutually supportive. Very nice. This year, the handmade booths were lost in a sea of vendors. Handmade vendors were in our area, but my closest neighbors included Pampered Chef (buy & sell), a hat vendor (cheap import buy & sell), a BBQ rub maker (local!), a pet supplies vendor (buy & sell), the SCV Domestic Violence Center (community group), a lending library (community group), and a clothes vendor (buy & sell). Of that batch, only the rub maker was handmade. Not so homey.
  • Last year, it was just my boards & me. This year, Mrs M’s Handmade was there with all of her products. FWIW, come to find out.


  • I love local.
  • My gosh, it was windy for setup on Friday! We had gusts of 20+ MPH while we were putting product on tables … and then we stopped. Too much dust in the air, and too much air movement, for that matter. Setting up on Friday allowed Mrs M to help (as she had the day off), but it wasn’t very successful due to the wind.
  • On the other hand, I had to return home for a table that I forgot to bring as well as a rubber gasket to repair the scrub wash station. Then, after I was home, I had to return to the booth for a forgotten cell phone. Good thing it was local! (sigh)
  • We go big. It’s how we do. And when we go big these days, we really don’t fit in the Jeep + the Honda. And soap is coming. We need a trailer.
  • We were there at 8:30a on Saturday and were not allowed into the booth area to unload the Jeep. We were directed to vendor parking, with no appeal possible. I hate it when events don’t follow their own rules (which had offered close-to-the-booth area access until 9am for a 10am start).
  • Little Girl helped with setup Saturday morning, and was in the booth all weekend. She told me I couldn’t write about her unique approach to prep for the event, but then I forgot what she told me I couldn’t blog about. I asked her to remind me, and then she didn’t tell me not to write about her reminding me that she painted her toenails in the booth before we opened.
  • Freedom of the press is a thing … though I don’t have a press; I just have electrons.
  • Mrs M was “working” this weekend at her “job.” She said.
  • Several former customers approached me over the weekend – several while I was talking to new customers – and gushed about how much they & their loved ones love their board(s) and how much the new customers will enjoy having their boards. Totally unsolicited, totally heartfelt, and oh, so gratifying to help people that love my hobby.
  • I love local.
  • Home & Garden shows, in my vast experience of 2, appear to have limited appeal for Mrs M’s products. There were several lotion vendors here this weekend, but our results indicate they may not have invested wisely. For our part, my boards outsold Mrs M by a wide, wide margin, in spite of the fact we were at a big Santa Clarita event!
  • A young lady (who, come to find out, went to high school with Little Girl) was playing with a flying disc (definitely not a Frisbee) with her ?nephew? or ?little brother?, when a wind gust sent it onto the roof of one of the large tents, and out of reach. Little Girl went to the rescue with the long arm of our awning adjuster, and with a slightly taller young man helping, the disc was rescued. People helping people. Community. A good thing.
  • I was asked for puzzles (that’s a new one), charcuterie boards (wow, two weekends in a row!), chess boards (of course) and toaster tongs. That’s a new one, too.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Bagels & cream cheese that tasted like strawberries, as Mrs M was making very fragrant strawberry lip scrub & lavender body scrub as I was eating. And then I helped her with the packaging so we’d have the new scrubs for Saturday sales.

Saturday Lunch: In & Out, courtesy of the hockey player. It’s a SoCal thing (the burgers, not the hockey so much. But, GO KINGS!).

Saturday Snack: never thought about it.

Payton if 4 - 03Saturday Dinner: Miss P’s 4th birthday party, complete with chicken tacos and some delectable bean dip made with chorizo. Dessert was a unique skirt cake, since we live in a Barbie world. Or, she does, at least. After dinner, Party Barbie was passed out cold on the floor, so Dr Barbie was trying to identify the problem with her stethoscope. Or that’s what it looked like, at least. All was good in the Barbie world.

Sunday Breakfast: Mrs M’s breakfast burritos. The best in town.

Sunday Lunch: A delectable grilled chicken, portobello mushroom & cheese combo on an Asiago cheese ciabatta roll. A great lunch from the Keep On Grubbin’ food truck.

Sunday Snack: Cookies from the Paradise food truck.

Sunday Dinner: Asian chicken wraps from Velda. A good day’s end.

The Facts

  • 2015: The Board Chronicles: KHTS-AM 1220 Home & Garden Show
  • Total miles driven: 82
  • Booth cost: $425
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 4
  • Total sales: $1,922
  • # containers of product taken: 22
  • # boards available: 145
  • Saturday alarm: none
  • Sunday alarm: none
  • # transactions: 393
  • # soap & lotion vendors: several. I saw 3 buy & sell corporate types as well as one soaper and one retailer that was, uh, difficult to ID.
  • # woodworking vendors: 2 turners, one scroll saw artist, one patio furniture maker and me.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 24:2
  • Returning next year? Definitely. Mrs M may opt out, though….

Boards sold: 26

Small Sous Chef Boards: 6

Bottle Openers: 5

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 3

Large Surfboards: 2

Large Sous Chef Boards: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Cutting Boards: 1



The Next Generation   2 comments

Posted April 17, 2016 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Board Chronicles: Westlake Village Community Street Festival   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.

Westlake Village Street FestivalBoasting over 100 vendors, the Community Street Festival is a cooperative venture between the city of Westlake Village and the Rotary Club of Westlake Village that actually produces this event. This year is the 22nd annual, so expectations were high as I packed the Jeep on Saturday … and prayed that the Sunday event would be in the non-rainy part of the weekend.

The weather broke spectacularly, with blue skies and a warm sun on my face at 8a as I was setting up. It cooled some in the afternoon as the clouds and breeze returned, but the weather was great as long as you didn’t look to the sky in the north, where it was dark grey. The weather at the event, though, was really fine.

New Ideas

  • This was a rare event that Mr M’s Woodshop was given permission to do solo. No Mrs M at this event – and no Mrs M products, either. This was all me, all the time.
  • New display pieces were used for the first time: crates holding Magic Bottle Openers, Clipboards & Sous Chef Boards were featured on two tables. This was a huge upgrade, and now allows these pieces to be displayed easily, and in quantity, without having to hang them in the air (and bang into people’s heads).

Westlake Village 01Observations

  • No signage to help me find the designated parking lot for vendor entry. There was a map … not much help for me while driving. After 2 wrong turns, I found the guy with the clipboard standing in the driveway for the right office building. An address would have been really helpful in this GPS age.
  • First time at a new event, and I arrived early. This event had assigned times for street entry, and they made me wait in a parking lot for 30 minutes until my assigned time approached … even though there were few vendors actually on the street. Control appeared to be important to the organizers.
  • Set-up was very spaced out; every booth was a corner location, 10×12. The booths were set up on a wide street; everyone could have been 10×15. At least.
  • I don’t really like short, one-day events with a full outdoor set-up, and I certainly don’t like doing day-long events solo. All I can do is sit in the booth and wait for the next conversation. This was exacerbated by the fact that my last transaction was at 1:30, and the crowd had totally disappeared by 3p.
  • Mr M was a lonely, lonely man.
  • Only one cash transaction today: everything else was on a card. I didn’t even need to bring change!
  • Lots of dog walkers. No clue why two white poodles were air brushed & colorized. One was purplish, and the other was green and blue, with a number 10 left in white on its side. Why would someone do that to their dogs?
  • The most vicious dog moment was when there were 9 dogs in close proximity and they suddenly went into aggressive mode. Between the 9 dogs, they may have all weighed 30 pounds. Total.
  • This is the first event that I’ve shown two products in quantity: Magic Bottle Openers (9) and Clipboards (11). I sold 6 of the bottle openers … so they have found at least one appreciative audience!
  • Requests I received: Chess boards (3), a birthday gift for an 80-year-old, furniture refinishing, an RV cutting board & a charcuterie board. I’ve got 1 chess board and 2 charcuterie boards in the shop, but they aren’t done. There’s always more to do….
  • In the end, this wasn’t a great day, but it’s certainly true that the weather forecast was ominous at best. The actual weather was better in the morning, but the final results from this event were less than spectacular.

The Food

Sunday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 28. Won’t be doing that again.

Sunday Lunch: A ham & cheese sandwich brought from home.

Sunday Snack: Nope; I was tied to the booth … and this wasn’t a good event for eating, anyway, with only 2 food trucks in residence.

Sunday Dinner: Velda’s meatloaf. Yum.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 102
  • Booth cost: $160
  • # of people I met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Total sales: $585
  • # containers of product taken: 15
  • # boards available: 122
  • Sunday alarm: 5:14a
  • # transactions: 9
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 2 – Mary Kay Cosmetics was there, and a small batch soaper as well
  • # woodworking vendors: 2 – me and a wood turner
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 9:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 11

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Lazy Susans: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Old-Fashioned Paper Holders   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeWhile sleeping last night, I had a dream about drilling holes in these boards to install the clips … and realized that they would then be clip bored.

What, don’t you have punny woodworking dreams?

Alas, I’m often wittier at 3a than I am at 3p.

I have finally produced several clip boards, and I believe they will prove popular. I have been asked for them many times, so we’ll see if that demand will be satisfied with this group. Mrs M doesn’t have faith in this product line, but that’s OK, as I have no idea why she’s playing with bath bombs.

But that’s a story for another day.

All of these old-fashioned paper holders will be at this weekend’s Santa Clarita Home & Garden Show in Central Park. Stop by and see the lovely Little Girl substituting for the Mrs M’s.

Hope to see you there!


Magic Bottle Openers   2 comments

Everyone needs magic in their life, and these bottle openers require you to believe in magic.

Just find your favorite icy cold bottled beverage, and flip the cap with the opener … and the cap will be caught in mid-air by the wood.

It’s magic.

And that’s all I’m saying about that subject.

Assistants Need Tools, Too   Leave a comment

I believe every sous chef needs their own cutting board.

Do you have a plan to pass on the culinary arts to another generation? Great, then make sure your younger assistants have a good knife and cutting board to learn by your side. And maybe, just maybe, these sous chef boards will work in your kitchen!

The Litter Was Small This Time   4 comments

I’ve had big litters, I’ve had small litters. This was the smallest.

I already feel the pressure to make more.

Yes, I’m back in the pig business.


A Litter Of Pigs

Long-handled Mobility   Leave a comment

I think boards should be used as serving pieces, and these boards are designed to be mobile and decorative as you move from the counter to the stove … or from the pizza box to the table. Enjoy!

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