Archive for March 2017

Cutting Boards, Large & Small   Leave a comment

People use all sizes of cutting boards … which is something I had to learn.

I now stock as many sizes as possible at each event. In my lexicon, cutting boards are:

  • At least 12″ x 12″ x 7/8″
  • Made with suitable hardwoods: “hard maple or its equivalent,” as the FDA regulations for commercial applications say. That’s the same regulation that most states copy into their regulations for commercial kitchens. Every cutting board that I make fulfills those requirements.
  • Either edge grain or end grain
  • Almost every cutting board has non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws. I do make some 2-sided boards that don’t have feet, but those are generally smaller than my “cutting board minimum size,” above.
  • Almost every cutting board has routed handholds for easy handling of the board. There are some exceptions, but those are generally special orders.

One of my challenges is to create an event display with enough cutting boards to show the breadth of my work, while still making it pretty. I struggle with those two conflicting goals … and there’s a new display and all new look for the booth just around the corner.

Meanwhile, here are the latest 7 boards to make it out of the shop.

 

 

Pick Me! Pick Me!   Leave a comment

Photo by Jaime Pardo / USFWS. Posted on Flickr by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Taken 7/20/15.

Photo by Jaime Pardo / USFWS. Posted on Flickr by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Taken 7/20/15.

Posted March 10, 2017 by henrymowry in Photography

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A Cotton Candy Sunrise   Leave a comment

Worth the pre-dawn hike: Fall sunrise from Cadillac Mountain at Maine’s Acadia National Park. Photo by Vincent James. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 3/8/17.

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Acadia National Park

A Dreamy Coastline

Posted March 9, 2017 by henrymowry in National Parks

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A Serene Sunrise   Leave a comment

Photo: Patricia Montanez / USFWS. Posted on Flickr by the US Fish & Wildlife Service; taken on 5/16/16.

Photo: Patricia Montanez / USFWS. Posted on Flickr by the US Fish & Wildlife Service; taken on 5/16/16.

Posted March 8, 2017 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Board Chronicles: Fresno Home & Garden Show 2017   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.

fresno-home-garden-showVacation’s over. Time to get to work.

I’ve enjoyed 75 glorious days since my last event … but now it’s time for some vendoring.

The Fresno Home & Garden Show (“the 3rd largest in California!”) boasts 30,000 in attendance over its three days. The private producers have 3 shows each year at the Fresno fairgrounds, and this is the largest. The show isn’t inexpensive … and Mrs M has a bad taste in her mouth with central valley Home & Garden shows after only selling $150 at the Bakersfield H&G we did last year. So, she opted out as I opted in.

After all, it fit our calendar.

Time to shake off the cobwebs.

New Ideas

  • It’s not a new idea for me to solo with just my booth, but it is new for me to drive the trailer to the event to carry just me & my stuff. I’m giving more meaning to the phrase “Go big or go home.”
  • One of the vendor comments offered as testimonial on the producer’s website described the area as “a little rough.” This is the first venue we’ve had an event in that’s surrounded by concertina wire. The Fresno fairgrounds are located near the old downtown area, and the surrounding blocks are not picture postcard pretty. The fairgrounds are in good shape, however.
  • Wine bottle holders made their debut at this event. Finally.

Observations

  • Drove in to the fairgrounds, in search of the unfortunately named “More Exhibits” building that I was assigned to. The map actually called my building “More Exhibits.” Here’s the problem: every building on the fairgrounds had a big banner on it: “More Exhibits.” Luckily, my More Exhibits was the 2nd More Exhibits building I tried.
  • My booth was between the Tupperware ladies and a fence builder. Problem was the fence builder had put up a 5′ spite fence blocking the view of my booth which was against the rules (vendors are limited to 3′ obstructions in the front half of their booths, which is standard for pipe & drape environments like this one). I complained … and the builder moved the fence. Wow. Rules enforced by the producer. Maybe there’s hope here.
  • “Park at the lot on the corner of Maple & Butler,” I was told. Free for vendors. I drove there … and on the 4 corner lots there were 2 fair or city developments with fencing, a park with fencing, and a liquor store. No parking lot entrance near the intersection, except for the liquor store. No signage for the fair, for parking, or for vendors. NO signage. Come to find out, the “park” was a grass lot behind a fence, and that was the parking lot. Not the other corners with asphalt. But since I couldn’t find any cars, nor an open entrance anyway….
  • Forgotten, Day 1: Left my Bubba Keg in the Jeep, so I had to survive over 10 hours without a Bubba filled with Diet Coke within 5′ of my hand. The horrors of vending.
  • We use Paypal, which pushed a mandatory software update the weekend prior to the event. I dutifully installed it. All was well until I tried to use the app for our first transaction, and the keyboard was screwy. Push 4, and it said 4. Push 5, and it said 8. Push 7, and it said 1. The numbers were randomly generated, it seemed, and I could not figure out how to get it to work. Luckily that first customer had cash … and then I found that the software update had changed my default to include sale tax in the transaction, so every time I pushed a number, the app added 8.5%. Automatically.
  • Shut that off.
  • I hear it all of the time: customers come into the booth, like my stuff, and promise to come back later. Generally, those people get lost on the way to their car, or something. All I know is they usually don’t come back. Friday, the majority of those people did come back. Friday had surprisingly good results, and I was off to a great start.
  • Forgotten, Day 2: Discovered I had left my cooler at the venue the night before, so I had to deal with getting ice & soda to the venue without a cooler. Not as bad as being without my Bubba, but still. Also forgotten was the Paypal e-chip reader, left at the hotel on Saturday. Why am I forgetting things???
  • Expectations can kill you. Saturday was totally underwhelming – barely better than Friday, in fact. My expectation for Friday was almost no sales, and I did 5 transactions, including a big board. All good! Saturday, I did 9 transactions, but they were all small. And it was forecast to rain on Sunday … hope wasn’t fleeting; it fled. Saturday had huge traffic … and few buyers in my booth. Other vendors had very good days with the traffic surge.
  • Overheard: “I can not WAIT to get tickets to go see Neil Young … I mean Neil Diamond.” I understood her excitement, since one Neil is so much like the other.
  • This event was open for 25 hours. During that time, I had a total of 20 transactions. When Mrs M is there, we have a lot more transactions … but don’t think that more transactions always result in more profits. A big difference, though, is that I have to deal with boredom. I had hours go by with few quality conversations and no transactions, and that’s just not fun.
  • During the slow times, I wasn’t even happy talking to DIYers and the ever-present shop teacher that trolled my booth to tell me of their accomplishments. Normally, those are very pleasant conversations, but here I could not avoid my frustrations that the event was not fulfilling my high expectations.
  • Although, I did note on Saturday that it was great to hear my skills lauded by other woodworkers. Translation: I’m better at hiding my mistakes than they are.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Requests: a lamb-shaped cutting board (that’s new), business card holders, a pepper mill, rolling pin (2x – but I am NOT a turner!), decorative mason jar lid covers (You know you’re in an agricultural area when….), a cutting board with a built-in drawer, a pizza peel, a cutting board with bowls built in to collect your work, a 4’x6′ island, a cribbage board, a custom gunstock, and my # 1 request was (wait for it) … chess boards.
  • Saturday was slow, but Sunday was my best day. In the rain. No other vendor I talked to did better on Sunday, but Sunday saw 2 of 3 large cutting boards sell. Sunday grew beyond expectations, and was 40% of my sales.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • Every event has the same rule: no breaking down of your booth until the event closes. In this case, that was 6pm Sunday. The event started breaking down their gear at about 4pm. When vendors followed immediately, the producers did not stop them (though my neighbor was told not to break down by a temp employee).
  • When a producer doesn’t follow their own rules, then there are no rules.
  • Strike at 6, packed by 7, loaded & on the road at 7:47pm. Only 186 miles to home….

The Food

Friday Breakfast: Best Western Village Inn free breakfast. All good with biscuits & gravy.

Friday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews. No fair food.

Friday Snack: See above.

Friday Dinner: My MOS (Mushroom, Onion, Sausage) from Mama Mia Pizza. Definitely a good pizza, just as Yelp predicted.

Saturday Breakfast: Back to the Village Inn for a disappointing choice between “cheese” omelets and pre-cooked egg slabs (they tried to look like a fried egg, but, yuck).

Saturday Lunch: Granola bars, trail mix, cashews and a banana. And Oreos. No fair food.

Saturday Snack: See above.

Saturday Dinner: I was desperate enough to drive to Olive Garden (!), but they had a line out the door. I ended up at Carrow’s, where I was not the youngest person there, but every single table had an older person at it than was sitting at my table. I felt young.

Sunday Breakfast: Back to biscuits & gravy. Thank goodness.

Sunday Lunch: Same as Saturday, but no Oreos. No fair food … but I would have had a cinnamon roll if someone would have been there to cover the booth while I stood in line.

Sunday Snack: See above.

Sunday Dinner: McDonald’s # 1 on the road. No time to eat; I had to drive.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 428
  • Booth cost: $450
  • # of people I met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Two: one when they showed me a potential leak in the roof above my booth, and one when they dropped off a solicitation for their next 2 shows. Pass.
  • Total sales: $1,940
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 20
  • # soap & lotion vendors: a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: I seemed to be the only cutting board maker; there were 4 guys there showing furniture & such made from wine barrels. Four!
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 18:4
  • Returning next year? Yes

Boards sold: 22

Magic Bottle Openers: 8

Cheese Boards: 4

Large Cutting Boards: 3

Cutting Boards: 2

Pizza Server: 1

Large Sous Chef Board: 1

Wine Bottle Holder: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Small Board: 1

Glorious   Leave a comment

Sunrise, snow and clouds mingle in this spellbinding photo of Canyonlands National Park in Utah.  Photo by Simon Dumont. Posted on Instagram by the US Department of the Interior.

Sunrise, snow and clouds mingle in this spellbinding photo of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Photo by Simon Dumont. Posted on Instagram by the US Department of the Interior.

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Canyonlands National Park

The Color Of Summer

Utah’s Beauty

Posted March 6, 2017 by henrymowry in National Parks

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145 Years Ago   Leave a comment

145 years ago this week, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created. For anyone who has visited this incredible land of fire and ice and marveled at the amazing wildlife and unique geologic features, there’s little doubt why Yellowstone is considered one of our nation’s greatest treasures. Last year, 4 million visitors saw what all of the fuss is about. When are you going? Photo by Michael Hardridge. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 3/1/17.

145 years ago this week, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created. For anyone who has visited this incredible land of fire and ice and marveled at the amazing wildlife and unique geologic features, there’s little doubt why Yellowstone is considered one of our nation’s greatest treasures. Last year, 4 million visitors saw what all of the fuss is about. When are you going? Photo by Michael Hardridge. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 3/1/17.

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Yellowstone National Park

America’s Best Idea

Astonishing

How Wolves Change Rivers

North Twin Lake

Old Faithful

Steamy

The Animals Of Yellowstone

Traffic Jam

Twin Lakes

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Posted March 5, 2017 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Odd Bits   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe leftovers. The last ones. The ones that didn’t make it into the right containers. The unsorted.

The odd bits.

These boards were the final ones to make it out of the shop before the long trip north to Fresno. My inventory now officially stands at 236 unique pieces. I have never attained this number before, and it’ll last … well, for a few more hours. Then, it’s back to vendoring.

But wait, there’s more! There are 30+ boards that are nearly complete in the shop; many of them will be complete for next weekend’s Almond Blossom Festival in Quartz Hill. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t want my inventory to slip now that it’s built into such a varied lot.

On to the odd bits: 2 cheese boards, 3 end grain small boards and 3 cutting boards. Some are simple, some are chaos, and one is already sold. The simplicity of the Hard Maple edge grain board – by far the simplest look in this bunch is counterpointed nicely with the end grain chaos board that features 10 different woods.

Of special note are the 3 Black Walnut end grain small boards. I don’t make this kind of board very often … and as I say at nearly every show, there’s nothing like Black Walnut.

Please enjoy!

 

New: Wine Bottle Holders   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThese took forever.

I’ve had this idea on my wall for 2 years. I wanted to make them, really. I just had to figure it out.

And these took a lot of figuring.

Science is involved, you see. Geometry. Physics. I was called to master gravity itself, and gravity is the consequence of the curvature of spacetime. Gravity forms the galaxies, and it causes the tides. Gravity is nothing to mess with if you’re not prepared.

For the beer drinkers, you see, I had to master magic … but for the wine drinkers, I had to master science.

Make of that what you will.

These wooden Wine Bottle Holders are about 9″ long, but they only stand with a full wine bottle in place. Without the wine, they fall over … unlike humans, who more often fall over with wine, not without it.

Make of that what you will.

I’ve made 8 in this initial run, and half of them have light colored wooden centers, making them ideal for personalization.

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It Begins Again   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeIt’s been a glorious run. 75 days without an event meant I had time to retire to the garage woodshop, and really get to making. And then Dr H showed up, and showed me how the professionals do it.

He just recently actually retired, you see, so he’s the professional at, uh, retiring. Me, I’ve got a long way to go before I can say I don’t have a job, just a hobby. And it’s an out of control hobby, at that.

While he was here, I showed him how I do what I do for fun. He even had some fun with me, until I handed him a sander & told him to get to work.

And work he did. That’ll teach him … ’cause that boy needs teaching. And if you know him, you know what I mean.

But, unfortunately, all good things must end and Dr H’s vacation from retirement (which is confusing to me) is over and he’s now on the way home. I’m left sweeping the floors by myself … which is a good thing, as there is a lot of sawdust to clean up. Vacations are over, making is complete for now, and it’s time to get back to vendoring.

This weekend, you’ll find me at the Fresno Home & Garden Show. Big doings in Fresno. Who knew?

This is a solo show for me; Mrs M has concluded she may not belong at Home & Garden Shows. No matter; I’m sure that I’ll be able to find a good time. In Fresno. After all, I’m bringing the magic with me.

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More Magic Required

The Last Bits Of Magic

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