Archive for September 2020

Juicy Small Boards   Leave a comment

We are getting control of our home.

I am getting control of my business.

And, by doing that, I found these 17x boards. See? Organization is a good thing. You just have to embrace the pain!

The whole story is that, at long last, we’re remodeling our home. We’ve lived here over 30 years, so it’s simply time for changes to be made. The first floor is getting paint, flooring & lighting. Upstairs, the master bathroom is getting remodeled out to the studs: new shower, vanity, plumbing, mirror, etc. New. New. New.

For far too long, you see, we put up with the problems in our home because … well, it wasn’t a priority. Money was tight. We had no time. And, it all worked, in a fashion.

Now, though, the kids are gone and we had an opportunity to solve some long-standing problems with our home. Like, how it was always dark in the living room. And, storage for Mrs M & Mr M was a CHALLENGE that we had no real solution for. The result: storage containers of soaps, lotions, cutting boards & serving pieces lived in the downstairs hallway between events. House Beautiful, it was not. But we had a plan….

And that plan began with lighting being installed, and that meant all of the stuff being stored in the hallway had to move. Some went upstairs into the guest bedroom (a problem for another day, when we’re allowed to have guests!). Some went to our new, larger storage space. And some went to the Family Room until we got a bit more organized. All good.

Except, during the upheaval, a container of new small boards that were awaiting branding by my laser engraver got moved & misplaced. They moved to the Family Room at the bottom of a stack of containers and I didn’t find them until I moved that entire stack a few weeks later. Now, I’m happy to report, those boards have been branded, oiled, waxed & photographed.

These Juicy Small Boards are all 11-1/2″ x 11-1/2″ x 7/8″, with a juice groove that’s 1/2″ wide and 1/4″ deep. More of a crumb catcher, really … but also perfect for you to corral your juicy food while you serve a ribeye, slice a tomato or deliver a sandwich for an after school snack.

You’re an adult, you get to choose. These Juicy Small Boards are a perfect complement to your larger counter top board that’s central to meal prep. As with all of my cutting boards, these boards have non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws, along with routed fingerholds so they are easy to move to wherever you need them.

If you like what you see, you can purchase these on the upgraded Mr M’s Woodshop site. Just hover your mouse, or click on a photo & get the file name of the one(s) that you like. The file name will be in the format, “Small Board 20 – 2xx.” Put those numbers in the notes section of your order, and I’ll choose those for you if they are still available. And, yes, I recently upgraded MrMsWoodshop.com so you can buy directly and easily. Here’s a direct link to the Juicy Small Board page, and here are the latest boards that have made it to the finish line:

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Faire On the Square 2020   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.

An event! I have an event!

That’s about all I could think about in August, as I finally, FINALLY prepared to do an event that had been on my schedule for months. This Labor Day weekend event in Prescott, AZ has proven to be a solid one for me; this was my third year there. You can read about my previous efforts in 2019 and 2018.

This time, I had picked the spot I wanted facing Montezuma Avenue, AKA Whiskey Row, across from the legendary Palace Restaurant & Saloon. The Palace, the oldest business operating in Arizona, was once frequented by Doc Holliday and his buddies, Virgil & Wyatt Earp.

Whiskey Row? I’m your huckleberry.

Gotta do the easy ones. C’mon.

But, this is 2020. Nothing will be easy during this pandemic. I’ll get transported back to the wild west for a bit. But, at least the whiskey was good….

New Ideas

  • Vendors must wear masks. Vendors must certify they are healthy. Vendors must sign a hold harmless with the Chamber of Commerce that means no one gets sued if they get sick.
  • I left the chess boards, card boxes and other lesser products at home this trip. I have so many cutting boards & serving pieces, I only brought those, plus the cribbage boards & signs. I only had a 10×20 (!), and I had to fill it with the right stuff.
  • I arrived at the booth shortly after 6am on Saturday with only minimal setup still required. I got the last 2 details done: set up the cribbage boards, and price all of the signs. Once that was done, the walls were rolled up and securely stored, the banner went up … and I took pictures of the booth. This was all done by 8:30am. That was almost unprecedented!

Observations

  • Mrs M packs the food when I go a-vendoring. Food’s her thing. When I was already at our friend’s home in Prescott, my BnB for the weekend, Mrs M announced that she forgot to pack the Everything Sprinkles for my daily breakfast: bagels & cream cheese.
  • I had no sprinkles. I was deprived.
  • I pack my clothing when I go a-vendoring. When I got dressed on Friday … I found that I had forgotten to pack socks. Ooops.
  • Note: I could not go buy bagel sprinkles in an unfamiliar city. I could go buy socks. My feet were not deprived; only my stomach.
  • We got advance warning that there was a BLM protest at 3pm on Friday … and our setup was 6pm on Friday. Vendors were told not to park on the Courthouse Square during the protest, as we might get towed. We were directed to meet at the off-site vendor parking lot, and hope that all remained calm.
  • Prescott is a remote area, and traditional values run deep here. That indicates a conservative viewpoint, of course. The stage was set.
  • I got to the area early so I could get to the correct parking spot before any craziness could affect traffic patterns. I planned on grabbing lunch at The Palace, visiting an ATM so I could pay my helpers after the 6pm setup, and relaxing a bit before the work started.
  • The Courthouse Square was packed. Packed. When I arrived at 2:30 or so, the sidewalks were teeming with locals that were openly carrying long guns and pistols. They were there to protect the area businesses from the protesters in case things got wonky.
  • I talked to one of those business owners … he has 3 large sheets of glass in his front windows, and he was very nervous that those windows would be broken if the protest took a wrong turn.
  • The protesters arrived at around 3p, and numbered about 100. College kids, perhaps. Out-of-towners, probably. They were there to exercise their first amendment rights.
  • I’m a fan of those rights. Peaceful protest? Fabulous.
  • Meanwhile, the locals were there to exercise THEIR constitutional rights, which includes the right to bear arms. Remember, I’m in an Old West town. By an Old West Saloon. I’m going to estimate there were 400 locals carrying guns.
  • Yes, that’s a lot of guns at a peaceful protest.
  • There were also lots of police … 50? 100? Not sure. They were pretty mobile, and I saw at least 3 kinds of uniforms. In the end, thank goodness, peace prevailed.
  • BLM protestors marched. They shouted slogans. They marched. Then, they went home.
  • The typical protester was 20-something, white, female, and carrying a sign. The typical counter-protestor was 60-something, white, male, and carrying a gun. There were also a bunch of younger guys driving Bro trucks with American flags flying that were circling the area during the event. Lots of activity. Lots of noise. Lots of people. Lots.
  • The counter protestors, the locals exercising their 2nd amendment rights, basically watched.
  • One final note on Friday’s prologue to my event: as the protestors were marching near my (future) booth location, one young lady was screaming “Black Lives Matter.” A 65 year old white guy sort of leaned towards her and screamed back, “All Lives Matter.” She, of course, screamed back “Black Lives Matter,” and that circle continued for about 45 seconds. Finally, her friends rescued her, yelled some more, and led her away from the conflict.
  • The old white guy, meanwhile, had done it all for sport. He laughed. He enjoyed taunting a young girl and her values. That moment of derision from the old white guy was the hardest moment for me to swallow, frankly. And, remember, it was all free speech. Protected free speech.
  • What does all of this have to do with going a-vendoring? Simple:
    • I was supposed to set up at 6pm. Would it be safe? I didn’t know until after the protest was over and all of the protestors and counter-protestors went home. In the end, it truly was a peaceful protest. Thankfully.
    • When conflict erupts in the street, no one wants to walk through the event to do shopping. I had an immigration protest ruin an event in 2018. I support peaceful protests … but when I pay money to be at an event that is ruined by other people protesting, it gets harder to swallow.
    • That, of course, is especially true now. This is only my third event this year. If a protest had ruined/canceled it, that would have hurt me.
  • “All’s well that ends well,” Shakespeare said.
  • And I had not yet begun to set up.
  • My crew arrived at 5:30, and we waited for the clock to tick for setup to officially begin at 6pm. I parked the trailer on Montezuma, and we got to it. We worked past dark, and got 90% set up before we buttoned up.
  • I posted my booth pictures on Facebook Saturday morning, and they got a huge number of likes and comments. It’s good to have support! And, finally, I was open for business.
  • I saw a truck circling the square each day. It was owned by a flat earther; it was painted with something about “NASA IS A HOAX.” It’s a big world out there.
  • Suggested sign: “CAUTION! Dog cannot hold his liquor.” Nope.
  • Suggested sign: “Absolutely no working during drinking hours.” Nope.
  • Saturday was an odd day of transactions. Business was good. Very good. But I had 4 different non-chip cards presented for payment. That’s odd these days. I haven’t had 4 non-chip cards at an event for a couple of years, much less on a single day.
  • One of the first Presidential wearables I saw on Saturday was a Biden facemask. I thought that was odd, so I decided to do a tally of all of the Presidential wearables I saw throughout the weekend. As I observed above, the locals are largely conservative. The tourist trade is from Phoenix & Las Vegas, though, and is much more progressive. It’ll be interesting to see where that ends up.
  • One serving piece I didn’t put out this time was an Ampersand board. I only had one (still on my worklist!) … so I thought it should stay under the table. I was wrong. It was requested by name, and sold early.
  • She said: “My husband isn’t with me this year, so I’m going to buy it. He told me I shouldn’t last year … but he’s not here now.”
  • The clown show came out Saturday morning. Two 20-something men, somewhat unkempt, walked the Courthouse Square with signs worthy of a homeless person yelling, “We are transexual bi-polar prostitutes for Trump! Let’s send our boys back to Iraq!” No clue what that was about, but they did seem to be having a good time. They definitely confused a lot of people.
  • One vendor did not comply with the mask mandate – that was announced well in advance of the event. That vendor refused to sign the paperwork, and was asked to leave. Police eventually evicted him from his rental property (the booths are on county property, the Courthouse Square). This blew up on social media in the vendor community. Bottom line for me: idiots are everywhere. The rules were announced in advance. Follow them … or stay home.
  • I was ‘whelmed at 2pm. People were literally waving money at me to get my attention. That got me to thinking … in how many professions do people literally wave money at you? And do I like it?
  • Things you don’t hear at most events:
    • Guy # 1: Are you left-handed?
    • Guy # 2: Uh … no. But why do you ask?
    • Guy # 1: Well, your holster is crooked, and I wondered why.
    • Guy # 2: Yeah, it keeps moving around. I just adjust it when I need to.
    • Note: yes, of course, Arizona is an open carry state. And this weekend, it was.
  • Suggested Sign: “Eating’s Cheating.” No, no it’s not. And no thank you.
  • Favorite t-shirt of the weekend looked like this:

6

4

+ 3

2

  • Can’t figure it out? I needed a hint. The shirt was worn by a baseball mom … and 6-4-3 is how you would fill out a scorecard for a typical double play: shortstop to 2nd base to 1st base. Had a fun conversation with the family, and they ended up buying a few pieces.
  • Suggested sign: “We Love Vegetarians. We Have One For Dinner Every Night.” Uh … nope. But I did laugh.
  • She read my sign, saying I’m from Valencia, CA:
    • She said: “You’re from California?”
    • I said: “Yes, Ma’am.”
    • She said: “I’m sorry!”
  • The next day, another She read my sign, and said, “You drove in from Cali?” When did “Cali” become a thing?
  • Another favorite t-shirt: “Surround Yourself With Positivity & Tacos.”
  • Requests were for an Ulu Board (a style of cutting board used by native Alaskans), a backgammon board (nope) and wooden spoons (hmmmmm).
  • Final tally on Presidential wearables: 53 for Trump, 2 for Biden. And no, that’s not a scientific survey.
  • Masks were everywhere at the event. There were many people, certainly, that did not wear a mask. I believe most did, however. For over a simple majority. 75%? Something like that. Mrs M’s Waterless Hand Spray sampler was very well received. And emptied. Sales of the Hand Spray, though were negligible. That’s OK: I’ll take clean hands for the win.
  • This became a great event for me. This is my 6th event in Arizona, and there will be a 7th and 8th in 2021!

The Food

  • Best Meal: I stayed with friends in Prescott who graciously opened their home to me … and cooked every night. Velda better mind her Ps & Qs … I found a home away from home that comes with chefs. Grilled Rib Eye for the win. A good day of sales should always be followed by Beef & Bourbon.
  • Honorable Mention: Pork Loin with yams is yummy after the conclusion of an event. The trailer was packed, I was relaxed. And hungry.
  • Worst Meal: I blame the pandemic. Honestly. I was headed out of town & wanted to visit my old friend, the Sausage Egg McMuffin. But, McD’s doors were locked & only the drive thru was open. I drove through with the trailer, and didn’t swing wide enough through the drive thru curve. I crunched my trailer fender on a post. My fault … because the pandemic made me do it. After that … breakfast was awful. And, it cost $200.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 1,016
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $29
  • Travel cost:
  • Total sales: $
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost):
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: 6am
  • Monday alarm: nope
  • # transactions:
  • # woodworking vendors: There were several, including 3 direct competitors. None of the those 3 had the range or depth of inventory that I carry; I have no clue how successful they were. Just goes to show that more competition does not necessarily indicate less success.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 59

First Question: What Size Cutting Board Do You Want?   Leave a comment

It’s the most basic question once someone tells me they want to buy a cutting board. OK, what size?

There’s no wrong answer here.

I’m now making boards as small as 6″ square, and counter-top boards as large as 17″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. I’ve made even larger cutting boards … but I don’t carry them to & from events.

Carrying is a burden when the boards are large, you see.

“Cheese Boards” are what I call cutting boards that are less than 11″ in any dimension. They can be used for cutting, of course, but in my head, these are for serving cheese & crackers or other appetizers. I know many buyers love these small boards for one purpose uses, such as dicing fruit for after school snacks. The smallest of these are what I envision as “Bar Boards” for slicing lemons & limes. Dicing garlic or onions on a dedicated small board might make sense to some that like to separate the stinkin’ rose from other vegetables.

Here are the “Small Boards” that were just completed. These are all edge grain boards, meaning you cut on the edges of the lumber. They are all 11″ x 11″ x 7/8″, and have a juice groove. Routed fingerholds & non-skid rubber feet complete these boards (and all of the boards on this page) that can be cutting boards, serving pieces for ribeye steak … or you get to choose what to do with yours!

Finally, I get to my favorite cutting boards, which are end grain boards. These are the most difficult to make, show the least wear, and are the best for your knives. Made like the classic butcher blocks, these end grain boards are the centerpiece of any well-appointed kitchen. I seldom make these smaller than 13×17.

Cheese Slicers   Leave a comment

The world is full of cheese … and I’m going to help you slice it.

Such may not be the makings of an empire, but it is a part of my dogged search for the perfect cheese & cracker servers. I’m getting closer every day … and a well-appointed home will have a cheese slicer for those moments when a block appears that must become bite-sized pieces.

Each of these slicers is approximately 8″ x 11″ x 7/8″, with the wired slicer having a 5″ radius. That’s actually the largest size available in the US. I carry slicers with both black and chrome handles, though all of these are black. Each slicer has non-skid rubber feet to ensure the tool doesn’t move when you are depending on it!

If you are particularly enamored of one of these cheese slicers, just hover your mouse, or click on a photo & get the file name of the one(s) that you like. The file name will be in the format, “Cheese Slicer 20 – 4xx.” Put those numbers in the notes section of your order, and I’ll choose those for you if they are still available. And, yes, I recently upgraded MrMsWoodshop.com so you can buy directly and easily. Here’s a direct link to the cheese slicer page, and here are the latest slicers that have made it to the finish line:

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