Archive for May 2016

It’s About Color Temperature   2 comments

Yesterday, I talked about the wood being important in the pieces … and the cowbell for my good health. Or something like that.

More cowbell.

I’m loving the new photo array that I’m using to shoot the new offerings for both Mrs M and myself these days. I bought a 30″ photo cube that’s a folding bit of white nylon – sort of like a folding windshield cover on steroids. Open it the wrong way, and it might take an eye out.

But spring that cube open, and you’ve got a great light diffuser to photograph shiny objects … like newly finished boards. I pair the cube with the 4 table top lights purchased to make the photographs perfect. The lamps all have a “daylight color temperature,” which means the light is the same collection of frequencies as daylight. The result of that is the most consistent & realistic photos I’ve been able to make of the boards, soaps & lotions that we’re obsessed with right now.

I love the realistic colors. I hope you do, too!


It’s About The Wood

It’s About The Wood   3 comments

“I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell.”

  • The Real Bruce Dickinson, as played by Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live, April 8, 2000.

In this case, it’s about the wood, not the cowbell. Although I have played cowbell in my time, so I do understand that cure as well.

But back to the wood. This collection of 5 Lazy Susans was just completed for this weekend’s big event, the California Strawberry Festival.

Three of the Susans have Mahogany in them, which I was able to buy inexpensively because somebody made a big mistake. The lumberyard got an order for 2″ rough stock flooring, and they cut the order – 7 pallets of order – using Mahogany.

But the buyer didn’t want Mahogany.

So, I got the opportunity to buy a few pieces for pennies on the dollar. Wish I had more, but this is the end of my mistaken Mahogany.

The other 2 Susans both have Padauk in them, which is freshly surfaced in these pictures. And, yes, when Padauk is fresh, its color is pumpkin orange, just as these pictures show. Over time, though, that color will fade to a nice warm brown. Not as spectacular, perhaps, but more in keeping with most decors, I believe.

So, Mahogany may not always be cheap, and Padauk may not always be orange … but when you’ve got a fever,  more cowbell is the only cure. Just sayin’.



Oh, That Look   1 comment

The largest of the eared or tufted owls in North America, the great horned owl is a wonderful and fascinating bird. Covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against cold weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey, their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest. Rarely seen because of their camouflage coloring, their calls are familiar across the U.S. Photo by Dennis Demcheck, U.S. Geological Survey. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/16/16.

The largest of the eared or tufted owls in North America, the great horned owl is a wonderful and fascinating bird. Covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against cold weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey, their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest. Rarely seen because of their camouflage coloring, their calls are familiar across the U.S. Photo by Dennis Demcheck, U.S. Geological Survey. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/16/16.

Posted May 19, 2016 by henrymowry in Photography

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How Far We’ve Come   2 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Mrs M’s Handmade and what we do.

Our first event was just over 2 years ago: March 22 & 23, 2014 (see Things I Learned At The Street Fair). At that event, we constructed our booth with a borrowed canopy weighed down with cinder blocks. Tablecloths on our 3 tables (1 borrowed!) came from the collection in the dining room … and didn’t match. We had worked feverishly to create our products; I had 25 boards with a retail value under $1,000. Together, Mrs M had total sales of $420 that weekend, against a booth cost of $115. And we thought that was a big enough success to keep going.

Two years later, I’ve had single transactions over $420. I’m building as much inventory as I had on display at that first event this week. Well, that’s not true. I’m actually doubling that this week with the pieces in production. This week. And next week, I’m taking another staycation so I can get really serious about building new stuff.

One conversation at that first event was with a fellow vendor talking about her experiences growing her hobby into a business into a passion that filled her home and over-filled her evenings with production as she valiantly struggled to keep up with demand driven by pop-up events and a growing website. She described an out-of-control commitment that barely left her room to breathe.

We couldn’t believe that.

And now we are that.

I began writing The Board Chronicles series last year to entertain you with our foibles and share the lessons we were gleaning. Hopefully, we are helping some vendors and wannabes out there with our vast experience, reported by me in what’s been described as a “funny, non-funny style.” Now, with the Facebook, we’re regularly being confronted with memories of what we were doing 1 and 2 years ago, and what our booths looked like.


Very humbling.

Here’s what our booth looked like just one year ago, at the 2015 California Strawberry Festival:

We had very high hopes for this event – after all, it was one of the most expensive events we had ever done, with the booth cost at $390 for the weekend. It was one of our first juried events: we had to apply and then be evaluated before we were accepted. It promised to be an all-handmade event, with tens of thousands in attendance.

The results weren’t great, with sales of $1,235 against that booth fee of $390.

Not great … but look at our horrible, constricted booth display and necessarily limited inventory. It’s a wonder we had any sales!

One year later, it’s time for the 2016 edition of the California Strawberry Festival, this Saturday & Sunday. As is our current tradition, we doubled down with a double booth … which is our most expensive booth ever at $765. We’ll be setting up Mrs M’s new display, of course, and our presentation will look a lot like these:

The results will speak for themselves, of course, which you’ll read about in the next edition of The Board Chronicles. One thing I know for sure, though: we are getting better at what we do.

Thank goodness.

Today, we’ve got purpose-built display pieces. We’ve got professionally produced logos. We’ve got more inventory than we take to an event (well, usually!).

But there’s a lot we don’t have. We don’t have a good visual from outside the booth (no banner!). We don’t have a vehicle large enough to transport our inventory & display pieces. And I still don’t have chess boards on display. Or cribbage boards, for that matter.

Maybe next year.

Mrs M's Handmade Logo

Loving The Flowers   Leave a comment

This blacktail deer knows how to enjoy the wildflowers in Olympic National Park in Washington. Find a meadow covered in flowering purple lupines and settle in for a relaxing afternoon. Is there anything more peaceful than this? Photo by Jim Tobalski. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/12/16.

This blacktail deer knows how to enjoy the wildflowers in Olympic National Park in Washington. Find a meadow covered in flowering purple lupines and settle in for a relaxing afternoon. Is there anything more peaceful than this? Photo by Jim Tobalski. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/12/16.

Posted May 17, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: Simi Valley Street Fair   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.

Simi Valley Street FairWhen you go to the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce’s site for this event, here is what you see:

Produced by the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, but with a lot of help from business, organizations, the City of Simi Valley and the community, the Simi Valley Street Fair has sold out of street space in past year’s events.  This year will be no exception!

That is the complete event description. No photos, no hype. Just … 2 sentences.

So, please, let me be a bit more verbose.

This is the biggest single-day event in the city of Simi Valley. 300+ booths are promised, along with 5 entertainment stages and more. We did this event in 2015; you can read about my experiences as an overwhelmed solo act here. I found the event exhausting, but worthwhile.

This event is a little quirky for us as “experienced” vendors. After all, we’ve had 2 whole years of experience, so we practically feel like senior citizens now.

But then, we are.

This event requires all vendors to attend one of their pre-event information sessions to hear how the event will work, and get their booth assignments live. Part of that presentation is a very rudimentary discussion on how to maximize the opportunity that the Chamber of Commerce is affording you (“Know your goals!” “Wear comfortable shoes!”). I was insulted last year, and called in to decline the opportunity to attend this year. I was cleared to not attend, and was sent an email after the final meeting, giving me our booth position, which was on the opposite end of the string of 300 booths from where we were last year.

That’s no big thing, but it is certainly not a benefit to move positions unless last year’s position was BAD. Ours was not: last year, working solo, I had what was at the time the Best. Day. Ever. Given that, OF COURSE we were going back in 2016. And, as always, we doubled down with a double booth (doubling our expenses). Because of Mrs M’s new display, we rented a U-Haul trailer for 2 days (again, increasing expenses).

Our expectation was that we could have a great event, even if we didn’t set records. After all, we had space for a better presentation – we had Mrs M’s new booth working for us. We were ready for a great day.

This event is a little quirky. It’s a Chamber of Commerce event, so you can expect a lot of local businesses with giveaways (bags, fans, buckets and much more). You can expect senior citizens walking the event to get the freebies with no purchase intent whatsoever. You can expect local politicos to have campaign booths. And, you can expect an overwhelming number of booths & vendors (300+ is a big number!).

We arrived on site at 6am, and got in the queue to unload our gear. This event is unique in that it requires all vendors to unload with the assistance of the Simi Valley High School football team (!), who transfers your gear to all-terrain utility vehicles (that people own in LA?) pulling small trailers. Mrs M went with the first load to our booth spaces, and the 2nd load completed our load-in. I went to park the Jeep + trailer, got lost, and ended up parking on a residential street. I walked back to the site, and we were ready for set-up.

New Ideas

  • Double booth this year with Mrs M, versus a single booth exclusively staffed by me last year.
  • We needed a trailer (rental) to bring Mrs M’s new display + all of the product. Last year, everything came in the Jeep.
  • A license was required from the city of Simi Valley this year. One more one-time expense….


  • Spring Fling #6 of 8. Are we done yet? Please?
  • Be wary of expectations. They’ll kill you.
  • It seemed that many more people were price sensitive this year … I even had one lady complain about the absurdity of paying $40 for a cheese board. And if that price point is unacceptable, I have nothing to offer her.
  • Mrs M had a steady stream of interest, though a limited number of transactions, it seemed. We spent the day wondering why business wasn’t stronger … and many of her transactions were for a single bar of soap. It’s hard to make much headway $6 at a time, though she clearly sold some soap.
  • Same level of activity on my side of the booth. No big board sales, and only one sale above $100. Last year, I sold 4x cutting boards. This year … none.
  • Lots of people talked to me about their bamboo cutting boards. All were surprised at the negatives that I cited; most had been lied to by either their bamboo cutting board sales person, or the internet. Unfortunately.
  • We saw a cat in a bag, a cat in a stroller, a corn snake, and an iguana worn as really funky jewelry. Simi Valley is an unusual place. Oh, and dogs were everywhere, so perhaps Simi’s not so unusual.
  • We got ‘whelmed a couple of times in the booth, and lost track of the sales tally that I obsessively keep track of. No big deal: it happens. At one point, I counted 4 different groups on my side of the booth. Velda had the same level … though it seemed just about everybody looked & kept walking.
  • We finished the day thinking we were down $200 to prior year.
  • I came home, counted cash, and discovered that we were actually up a whole $4 versus prior year. That’s better … but booth costs went up $150. And then there’s the trailer rental, so we definitely lost money compared to last year. The insignificant increase in revenue  wouldn’t cover any increase in expenses, much less ours which more than doubled.
  • Requests included cabinet doors, RV sink covers, cheese knives, a cribbage board, cutting boards designed to help amputees, and chess boards (4!).
  • I’m thinking I should make some chess boards.
  • Four people took pictures of my work, with my permission. “I don’t want to forget what I am looking at” was the typical reason … which implies residual sales will crop up. We’ll see.
  • We travel heavy, and one day events are a lot of work. For this 8-hour event, I had to rent a trailer, load the trailer, drive to the event (3/4 hour), set up (2 hours), do the event, tear down (1-3/4 hours), drive home (3/4 hour), unload the trailer … and get ready to do it again in a week. I don’t like one day events. Especially ones that disappoint.
  • Vending is glamorous.
  • Expectations can kill you.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Jack In The Box # 23. They’re open all night, so I figured they were a safe bet for breakfast at 5:15am. We were 3rd in line, in fact.

Saturday Lunch: Mrs M did a cheese & cracker plate. Wonderful, though I never eat a full meal before I get distracted, the food gets dry, and consumption ends. But it was wonderful while I was engaged.

Saturday Snack: Mrs M found year-old flavored almonds to foist on me. They tasted as good as that sounds, too.

Saturday Dinner: The Dodgers scored 5 runs yesterday, so we got cheap Papa John’s pizza this evening. Low impact, low cost nourishment.

The Facts

  • 2015 sales: $1,424
  • Total miles driven: 72
  • Booth cost: $315
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1 (“Here’s your welcome packet” … which I never looked at.)
  • Total sales: $1,428
  • # containers of product taken: No clue. I’ve lost control of the process …
  • # boards available: All of them (not a good thing).
  • Saturday alarm: 4:18am
  • # transactions: 55
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue … at least one other soaper that has an online presence that implied “we’re just getting started.” Been there, not so long ago.
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue, as I didn’t have time to go walkabout … but our neighbor made gnome houses from wood. I’m sure there were others.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14:1
  • Returning next year? maybe

Boards sold:15

Magic Bottle Openers: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Boards: 2

Custom Orders: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

The Board Chronicles: Rotary Art Show   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.

Rotary Art ShowIt’s a big world out there, and we’re venturing out into it. It’s the 47th Annual Rotary Art Show in Studio City! It’s a Mother’s Day weekend tradition in the Valley, gathering artists of many different stripes together so shoppers can browse and have a beautiful walk in the park.

This will be our first “art show.”


That’s a troublesome word for me. Some people look at what I do – and what Mrs M does – and absolutely say that it’s art. People say my boards are too beautiful to use (which bugs me). They walk into the booth and say “Wow!” (and I never get tired of that).

There’s no doubt that what I’m making is artistic, from some perspectives. On the other hand, there’s no doubt that what I’m making are functional tools for food prep, or perhaps food presentation. What I make is pretty, people tell me. So, am I an artist? A skilled craftsman? A maker? A guy with an out-of-control hobby?


On Mrs M’s side, she’s going way out on the art side with her new product, soap. It’s pretty – some of the bars are really very pretty with colors that complement the scent for a unified presentation. And, the bars are actually soap, naturally made, and 100% good to use on your skin. She’s explored the scientific side of soap making, and carefully created recipes that balance the result of using the soap: not too much cleansing which robs your skin of its natural oils, not too little lather, and (for me) not too much abrasive quality.

I don’t like scratchy soap. I’m a delicate flower, you see.

But I digress.

This is about what we’re creating as we make things – pretty things, we hope, but still with a purpose. The things we make are to be “of use.”


OK, we’ll see.

New Ideas

  • It’s an art show. Will we be at home?
  • This marks the launch of Mrs M’s soaps, offered for sale at this event for the first time. Mrs M’s email subscribers got an email Thursday evening to connect to Mrs M’s site which is now open for soap sales (you can subscribe to that seldom-published email on her website; fill out the form accessible at the bottom of the homepage, or here).
  • Mrs M got a makeover this week … well, her side of the booth did. New logo, new display pieces, new product, new packaging … new, new, new.
  • “Art.”


  • We’re back at our Spring Fling; this is event # 5 of 8.
  • Rain was forecast throughout the weekend … thunderstorms, even. SoCal weather continues to promise a lot of wet long past the time we should be doing our dry summer tradition.
  • Load-in was an absolute bear on Friday. I had to park about 50 yards downhill from the park entrance nearest my booth, and then had to push everything on my cart up the hill, and then carry it the final 10 yards to the booth. It was 90 minutes just to get the transport done … and then I had to set up the shade structures and booth displays, alone. This was not the best part of the weekend. I left all of the products in their containers, as rain was forecast overnight.
  • We drove in on Saturday morning for our early set-up under an ominous sky after an overnight rain. No rain damage to the booth overnight, though our tablecloths were wet. We put our wet sidewalls up, and got to work with the set-up. We had walkers at the booth by 9am, for our scheduled 10am start.
  • Mrs M loves her new booth. Loves it. And, if I may say so, somebody did a good job building it. This is a huge upgrade.
  • This art show is a well-oiled machine. The volunteers are very nice and helpful. The promoter is engaged with her vendors. Vendors even get free coffee and donuts from the Boy Scout-run food booth. I absolutely recommend this show.
  • Blue skies in the morning! The weekend continued to be cloudy as predicted, but it was only partly cloudy. No more rain fell on the event, so weather became more of a non-issue as the weekend progressed. However, the dark gray clouds were close enough Saturday morning that we definitely felt the event was weather-impacted.
  • The first sale of the day was the clipboard that I’ve sold 5 times. It started as a custom order, but the customer decided to not come get the completed item, nor pay for it. While I was still thinking the customer would respond to my emails, I did take the board to an event just to show it (with a “Sold!” label) … and I had 3 people ignore the sign & try to buy it. Finally, this weekend, I sold it to another vendor, who was happy to be the 5th & final buyer. A happy ending.
  • I must have been punch drunk as Saturday wore on. I said to one customer as they were looking at boards, “Let me know if I have any questions.” Apparently, I had a few.
  • Six languages were overheard on Saturday. I was happy that I spoke one of them. Better on some days than others, unfortunately.
  • One young lady was confused by one of Velda’s products. She read the label as “Booty Balm.” She thought that was a strange thing to sell … and didn’t notice that it was Baby Booty Balm. Not so strange. The lady then went on to tell the story that just a few minutes earlier, she saw an engraved tag (charm? pendant?) that she looked at, and it said, “Scratch My Butt.” She also didn’t understand that … until the artist told her it was jewelry for a dog.
  • There are some things I don’t understand, either.
  • My friend Cyndee dropped by to see me, which was such a nice surprise! We worked together closely for more than a decade. It’s good to work in a place where you actually see people every day … which is why, now, this lonely home office veteran enjoys meeting people as Mr M.
  • Best couple of the weekend was styling and having oh, so much fun. They looked like they could have been in the Mod Squad in the ’70s. Bright colors. Faux fur. Big jewelry. He was talking to me about woodworking (he had built stuff), when she returned to the booth after exploring Mrs M’s products, and grabbed his face to rub his beard. She thought he needed beard oil more than to talk to me. After another exploration of Mrs M’s wares, she returned to demand a kiss after using Mrs M’s lip scrub. Ah, youth.
  • We were more busy on Sunday … which is generally not the case. You wouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be a great day for a pop-up event, but the Rotary Art Show is an annual tradition in this neighborhood, where many people walk a few blocks to stroll in the park. Our business more than doubled on Sunday. We were overwhelmed a couple of times. We lost track of sales. Busy.
  • Mrs M had a wonderful time with her new booth. The new display appears to have been a wise project.

Mrs M’s Best Day Ever

Mrs M’s Best Weekend Ever

  • Marg Helgenberger, AKA Catherine Willow on CSI, dropped by Mrs M’s booth on Sunday. Alas, Mrs M was out shopping and did not get to sell her some soap.
  • Did we belong at this show? Absolutely. There was some high-end artwork on display, as well as some kitschy stuff, but it was really a very upscale, all-handmade show. Lots of jewelry designers. Fabulous show, great promoter … what’s not to like?
  • The results speak for themselves. This ended up being our best event ever that didn’t have Santa in its name. Not bad for a weather-impacted weekend in May, right?
  • Not many requests this weekend: wooden platters for Argentinian BBQ, a price list (!), chess boards (naturally), “another one just like this one,” more animal shapes, and a butcher block counter.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s # 4.

Saturday Lunch: Troop 210 took orders & then, on schedule, delivered burgers to the booth for vendors. SO happy to support this Boy Scout Troop!

Saturday Snack: The chips that came with the burger.

Saturday Dinner: After seeing too long of a line at our favorite local restaurant, we went to Olive Terrace for the first time. The Chicken Marsala was very, very good. And I don’t say such things lightly, as this is my dish. We will return!

Sunday Breakfast: We planned to have Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, but I arrived at Jimmy Dean’s only to discover they don’t open until 7:30a, when we had planned to be on the road. We settled for Carl’s Jr, and their burritos aren’t even on the Top 10 list (sigh).

Sunday Lunch: Hello, Troop 210, and thank you for the burger!

Sunday Snack: Another bag of chips came with today’s burger.

Sunday Dinner: Grand Panda, which just may become my new favorite Chinese restaurant in Santa Clarita. We had Cashew Chicken and Walnut Shrimp (which was wonderful). And Egg Rolls, of course.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 185 miles
  • Booth cost: $300
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 5
  • Total sales: $2,908
  • # containers of product taken: After I loaded the 19 containers of soap, I lost interest in counting the rest.
  • # boards available: 105
  • Saturday alarm: 5:15a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:15a
  • # transactions: 74
  • # soap & lotion vendors: There were 2 other soap makers and 2 other lotion makers. None of them had the product range, nor the display, that Mrs M had. Just sayin’.
  • # woodworking vendors: There was a toymaker and me. The Ghost of Cutting Board Maker Past was there … apparently a fellow cutting board maker has been at this show for many years, and I was mistaken for him by several people, I think.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 29:3
  • Returning next year? Absolutely.

Boards sold: 32

Magic Bottle Openers: 10

Small Boards: 4

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cheese & Cracker Server, AKA Surfboards: 3

Clipboards: 2

Small Sous Chef Boards: 2

Large Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

Pig Cutting Board: 1

Custom Order: 1

Rehab Heirloom Family Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Boards, Small Boards … And A Couple Of Lazy Susans   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeTime was short, so I opened the cabinet and found 6 boards waiting for me to have time to finish … and there was no time like NOW!

I added several more glue-ups to this quick production run before the next event, and got to work. The result: 6 medium-sized, edge grain cutting boards, 3 small boards and 2 Lazy Susans. A couple of custom orders snuck in around the edges as well, but that’s a story for another day.

Several of these boards proved to have some remarkable Purpleheart in them. This Purpleheart was – luckily – cut just right, so that the wood flouresces. That’s very unusual for Purpleheart! Given how popular that wood is with so many people, I don’t expect those boards to stay with me for very long.

Today we’ll be at the Simi Valley Street Fair, so come see us if you’re out and about in SoCal!

Next week I’ll be at the California Strawberry Festival with Little Girl while Mrs M “works” at her “job.” I’ve been promised that the younger Mrs M will make a surprise appearance at the Strawberry Festival … just so she can have another glass of the Strawberry beer that she liked so much last year.

That’s fine by me. I get more time with my Granddaughters!

Here are this week’s new boards:


Soap: At Long Last   3 comments

Mrs M's Handmade LogoVelda is obsessed.

I’ve thought that for some time now … oh wait, I meant possessed.

But in this case, she is definitely obsessed with the making of soap. She’s mastered the lotions, balms & scrubs that Mrs M has now been selling for a couple of years (!), and soap is the latest challenge accepted.

She’s spent months researching ingredients. Trolling user forums. Buying protective equipment. And, she’s actually been making soap – which truly looks like a science experiment, complete with goggles, rubber gloves & caustic chemical reactions.

And she’s doing it all in the name of cleanliness.

She’s discovered a lot: believe me, I know. I’ve been hearing about it over breakfast & dinner for months now. No complaints – the more she talks about soap, the less she talks about the body fluids & such that she encounters in her real “job.”

So I’m a fan of soap discussions.

As she learned & improved, she’s upped her game considerably. She’s grown from making soap in a small silicon mold to ordering 3x custom, large molds and a 500 bar Soap Drying Rack from me. I’ve convinced demanded that she buy quality software and a custom soap slicer (a 12″ mandolin that cuts 1″ bars 12 at a time – and beautifully) so that her soaps will be as good as they can be.

She went one step further and bought a shaver & a steamer so she can manicure each bar. I drew the line there, but once she’s possessed obsessed, there’s little to do but get out of her way.

So sayeth the wisdom earned over the 38 years of our marriage. I’ve endured loved every minute.

(ed note: I love Friday the 13th, and today is “our day.” Happy Anniversary, Velda!)

There. Taken care of for another year.

The webmaster (me) has finally gotten some screen time, so the soaps are now up and for sale on Mrs M’s website. Please visit

Finally, a part of this product introduction has been my researching what it will take for us to up our game with product photography – I just haven’t been happy with the inconsistency of my shots of the boards you’ve been seeing lately. We bought a photo array just for product shots (amazingly inexpensive, by the way!), and here are the soap shots from our first session:




Posted May 13, 2016 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4   12 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeFiguring out how to best display Mrs M’s products is an ongoing process, it seems. After vendoring for 26 months, we have now launched our 4th booth.

And it’s a smash.

When we started, we didn’t have a clue. We were so young then! The first booth was really just a bunch of routed bowls that Mrs M grabbed out of her collection, and dedicated them to the new effort that was Mrs M’s Handmade.

She included both of the custom bread bowls I made her that were the perfect size for her home made sourdough loaves … and since those bowls went into her booth, I don’t think she’s made bread since.


Our first booth was not a smash. It was humble. It was functional, and it did accommodate our meager product line:

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they 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. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

We soon learned that we needed a more verticality, so I built “the back bar” that was the center piece, er, the left side of booth # 2:

The complete booth in its inaugural showing ...

The complete booth (# 2) in its inaugural showing …

We were still doing single 10×10 booths at this point … but we knew that we could grow if we were willing to double down on the booth. That’s exactly what we did with the 3rd iteration of our booth:

Booth 15 - 42

We still used the back bar in the beginning, but the key addition were the 2 small “step units” on the right side of the booth that became the home for the lotion & sugar scrub displays. More verticality … but not nearly enough. The booth continued to be a visual mess, with related products (lotion bars) separated onto different tables for no good reason.

Goleta 07

So I was charged with building booth # 4. We talked about it ad nauseum. For months. Talk, talk, talk.

We actually put pen to paper in February of this year. More talking. Then, I was ready to build a couple of weeks ago. I brought out those 3-month-old designs … and Mrs M threw them out.

Of course.

Back to the drawing board briefly – but only briefly – because I started cutting lumber that day. We had a 12-piece booth in mind, and I was on a deadline.

11 of the pieces were complete for the first show last weekend, the Rotary Art Show in Studio City. Soap was the major product premiere … and with the new booth, Mrs M had the best day EVER. The best event EVER.

One piece is yet to be completed, and one more piece has already been ordered. I’m sure the booth won’t be “complete” until our big event in Montrose, June 4 & 5. Hope to see you there!

Pictures of the booth got posted on Facebook to a soaper’s group that Mrs M is a member of (she’s obsessed with soap now!) … and the picture of the booth filled with product garnered over 1,100 likes in 24 hours! This booth, after only one event, appears to be a total success. That would be good, as I don’t want to build # 5 anytime soon.

Here are three “not finished” pictures of key pieces, and then there’s a piece-by-piece look at booth # 4. There are some complete shots with product. You may want to click through the pictures one at a time to really understand how the booth is laid out; I think the gallery of photos is a bit confusing. But, your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

Finally, the answers to the inevitable questions:

  1. What woods were used in the booth: Red Oak & White Oak.
  2. Is the booth easy to transport? Sure, if you have a trailer and a Jeep to haul everything.
  3. Where’s the new logo? Patience, grasshopper, patience. It’s on the list, and will be there by Montrose.
  4. Will I make your booth? No, you can’t afford me.
  5. Is Mrs M happy with the booth? She seems to be. Ask her.


Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

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