Author Archive

Making My Assistant Work   Leave a comment

I need help.

Ask Mrs M. She’ll tell you that I need a lot of help.

It’s just me in the shop, of course … me and my CNC (computer numerically controlled router). I call it my assistant, and I get it to work by pushing a button (well, a lot of buttons, actually). Then, it stays busy while I’m doing something else.

Oh, it needs supervision from time to time – mainly when I’ve made a mistake. Some of those mistakes are simple programming fixes … some make more firewood. A few mistakes break things (mainly router bits). Luckily, those mistakes are not that common, and the results of my “collaboration” with my assistant have proven to be rather popular.

Thankfully! I would hate to have all of those electrons getting lazy in the shop.

Spice Up Your Presentation   Leave a comment

Serving pieces help turn an impressive array into a finished presentation.

I quickly learned that cutting boards are great … but many people need serving pieces to complete the process of getting great food to the table.

And, of course, if the food looks good when it’s served, that will help it taste fantastic as well.

We are a visual people. Food needs to look, smell, feel and, finally, taste good to maximize our eating experience. I may not be an expert … but I know good food when I have it!

Sometimes, a pair of serving pieces is required. In this case, it’s the flip side of a 5 Section Server, paired with the flip side of a Garlic Dipping Board.
A surfboard is the base for this presentation.
The first board I sold was a cheese board. It’s just a small cutting board, really … but it can be so much more when you have a presentation in mind!

There’s really no wrong answer here … my job is to provide a variety of options so your table can look wonderful. I’ve done some research into what makes a good presentation of cheese & crackers, or charcuterie, or whatever … the link is below. Enjoy!

More

How To Fill Your Cheese Board

Velda’s Bruschetta

Flipping A Dipping Board   Leave a comment

I started making Garlic Dipping Boards just a few months ago, and they’re a hit. If you missed the story of the Boards and their Great Garlic Graters, then please follow the link to read about the launch of the GDBs.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The “A” side, if you will, is perfect for sliced bread, oil, garlic and your favorite spices for dipping.

However, there are times that you need a presentation board … without the Great Garlic Grater.

Got’cha covered. These Boards are made to flip … unlike most of the cutting boards I make, these are made to use on both sides.

The “B” side is perfect for charcuterie, bread, or an appetizer like Velda’s Bruschetta. And, yes, they were delicious. I love photo shoots.

24 new boards just made it to the finish line in time for this weekend’s event, and they’re shown below. I have paired each board with one of the Great Garlic Graters (12 Boards have square Graters, and 12 have hexagonal Graters). But, you get to choose the set that you like when you make your selections. Some people like a matching/complementary Grater, and some people prefer a more, uh, colorful statement in their pairing.

You’re an adult, you get to choose.

If you see one you like, don’t delay: 3 are already spoken for!

More

Velda’s Bruschetta

New: Garlic Dipping Boards

Made To Be Of Use   Leave a comment

I love making big cutting boards.

I love it more when people actually use them. They are made to be of use, after all.

Here’s a wide variety of cutting boards that I have ready for this weekend’s event. Every person that does what I do has heard it, “Oh, these are too pretty to use!”

No, they’re not. And even if they are … I can ugly them up for you, if you like.

No one has ever took me up on that offer.

Surfboards: Mr M’s Epic Quiver   2 comments

I’ve stared at a surfboard display for 4 years.

We go, every year, to a party in Carpinteria … it’s the California Avocado Festival. It features the world’s largest vat of guacamole.

Vat. Guacamole.

But I digress.

Every year, our booth is opposite a shop that does surfboard rentals, and they display their quiver of boards in front of the shop.

That display has been working on me for 4 years.

I had been displaying my surfboard-shaped cutting boards … in a crate. This is one step up from a display where you just throw the boards out on a table & call it good.

I call that the vomit display. I hate those.

I knew I could do better, and I finally spent some time thinking about the surfboard display I’ve been staring at all of these years.

The California Avocado Festival is this weekend, and I’m excited to have a new display for my new surfboards. I’ve got 2 shapes in 3 sizes: in addition to the traditional (for me) flat bottomed board, I also now have fish-tail boards.

Hope to see you in Carpinteria!

The new display will have its debut this weekend!

The Board Chronicles: Claremont Village Venture 2018   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.

Yes, you know I’m behind … but you also know I’m catching up. This event always happens on the last Saturday in October, and it’s been a rare very good one day event in the past. From Claremont:

I really liked this event in 2016. I absolutely loved it in 2017, where it was my best solo event ever.

Until I upped my game in 2018, that is.

The event is a bit quirky. It has an odd name. The merchant association that produces the event only allows you to buy one space per seller’s permit … so Mrs M hasn’t done this event. That’s OK, it was very good for me last year. What’s not to like?

New Ideas

  • Same old, same old. I’ve had the same booth every year.

Observations

  • This is a rare event where the marching band leads the kid’s costume parade. What’s not to like?
  • A couple came into the booth … and they shall be known as the Bickersons. She came right up to me and said that she would buy a cutting board if he would shut up about it. He responded that her cutting board was awful. After a bit more back and forth, they settled on their selection. As they walked away, we were chatting about relationships, and I asked, “How long?” Her reply: “Long enough.”
  • The worst part about solo events is the boredom. I had 15x transactions spread over 8 hours … and not nearly enough quality conversations to cover the time. With Mrs M, we have many more transactions … more conversations, more action.
  • I hate the boredom.
  • Two couples entered into the booth within about 30 minutes of each other. Both saw my steak sign:

CNC Sign 18 – 29 Steak. Hard Maple. 9″ x 12″.

Both couples announced that they had an adult child that was a vegetarian. Both couples took a picture of my sign and sent it to their wayward child. I provide parenting assistance, no charge. Apparently. Not sure what the wayward children will think of their idiot parents. Well, maybe I do know.

  • Parenting experience does allow me to accurately predict what the kids will do, after all.
  • Sales were way, way down from the prior year.  In fact, they were just under HALF of what they were last year. No clue what happened … but I’m out.
  • Requests were for clipboards (no room in the Jeep!), 2x in-counter boards (send me the dimensions!) and 2x Magic Bottle Openers (I’m out!).

The Food

  • Best Meal: My booth is in front of a deli, so I have a bagel sandwich every year. Delish.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 122
  • Booth cost: $215
  • Food cost: $12
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $960
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 4:15a
  • # transactions: 15
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? doubtful

Boards sold: 25

Cheese Boards: 6x

Trivets: 6x

Coasters: 5x

Hearts: 3x

CNC Signs: 2x

Large Serving Pieces: 2x

Bear: 1x

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Sherman Oaks Street Fair 2018   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.

I’m gaining on my back log of blog posts, honest. I keep whittling away … and SWEAR I will not do an event while not having published the previous year’s blog (and I’m close to that!). In any event, from Sherman Oaks:

This is a main street event for a relatively affluent community in the San Fernando Valley. I’ve tried to find more events in the Valley, this is one … and it’s one day event.

Oh well. It fits on the calendar. Let’s give it a whirl.

New Ideas

  • One day event, with a Jeep load in. Going old school for this one.

Observations

  • Definitely found getting into the event a challenge. There were volunteers, but I was there on time and the line was, uh, not quite formed yet. Once I got by the guy with the clipboard, the street was wide open. Only a few booths had started setting up. Time to find my place in the world.
  • Lots of amateurs here. First timers, even. Not. Good.
  • A question that I’ve never been asked before: “What’s a Foodie?”
  • Uh … read the sign.
  • I want to make spoons. I need to make spoons.
  • This event had more than its fair share of shade stealers. It was a hot October day, I get it … but my shade is provided for my customers. Please.
  • Worse than a shade stealer was the table swipe by a Mom’s Purse … knocking a board onto the ground. Mom didn’t notice.
  • With only the room in the Jeep, inventory was necessarily limited. But I was still frustrated when I was asked for a chess board and a cribbage board. They were at home.
  • I believe I need to have standards, and here it is: I don’t want to set up for less than $1,000 in sales. This event did less than half of that … so there you go.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 60
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $15
  • Travel cost: $0
  • Total sales: $483
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Sunday alarm: 5a
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 0
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards: 14

  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Heart: 3
  • Individual Coasters: 4
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Sign: 1
  • Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Museum of Natural History Holiday Boutique 2018   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.

In the continuing saga of how far behind am I, here’s one part of that. So, from Carpinteria:

We have done this event 3 times … and had a no call no show one year due to weather. It was going to rain, 100% … and I just didn’t have it in me. But, I digress.

This event is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It’s sponsored by Carpinteria’s Museum of Natural History, which sponsors a monthly swap meet on its grounds. In November, though, it transforms into a handmade event.

Sort of.

But, we like Carpinteria. The weather can be outstanding … as it was for us in 2014 and 2015. I tried something else in 2017 … and decided to go back in 2018. Mistake?

New Ideas

  • We have a double booth, but we’re committed to not taking the trailer. The booth location in the back of the museum is just not workable for a trailer. Since we can’t get a street/front booth space, we’re driving separately.
  • I don’t like doing single day events, so this is a rare one for us. Thank goodness. Drive 70 miles, set up, do the event, load out, drive home. A full day of fun.

Observations

  • We felt the legacy of being at this event almost immediately. It’s good for people to remember you. It’s even better when they buy again.
  • A Lady asked me, “Are you the one with the sense of humor?”
  • Uh…. Sure. That’s me. Funny guy.
  • There were an incredible 6 woodworkers at this small neighborhood event. One guy was selling small cutting boards for $10. Uh huh.
  • At the end of the day, it wasn’t much of a buying crowd. Competitive pricing was brutal (even if the quality of work wasn’t). Other vendors also had a tough day at this event in 2018.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 280
  • Booth cost: $200
  • Food cost: $8
  • Total sales: $412
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: a few
  • Saturday alarm: 4a
  • # transactions: 21
  • # soap & lotion vendors: a few
  • # woodworking vendors: more than a few
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: nope
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards sold: 2

Small Boards: 2

 

The Board Chronicles: Tehachapi Mountain Fest 2019   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.

This mountain community, about 90 minutes north of us, has an annual festival that we have been a part of for the past 4 years. It’s local. It’s a shopping event. It’s handmade. We love this event.

Feel the love read my Board Chronicles from 2018, 2017 and 2016. Oh, and the 2015 version is here, though the date is not in the title. (I was so young then.)

New Ideas

  • We decided to upgrade our booth, and bought a triple booth: 2 for me, and the same 1 for her. I can only display all of what I do in a double booth, so this is now the 5th event that we do regularly with a triple booth. Here, we’re in an “L” shape, just like at the KHTS Home & Garden Show.
  • The Granddaughters decided to have a dance recital on the Saturday of this event, so the Grandmother drove down to Lancaster to do what she does. This left the Grandfather working a triple booth. I was a lonely, lonely man.
  • But! It’s good to have friends. Jan & Barry have the adjacent booth, and they both pitched in to help me survive the onslot of legacy customers that need Mrs M’s stuff. And, mine too, thankfully.

Observations

  • Set up in the heat on Friday afternoon was not fun. At all. But … it’s a triple booth. Whachagonnado? We got it done.
  • Mrs M drove me to the event on Saturday, and then left when set up was all tidied up. No worries. I got this. Who needs Mrs M?
  • I went walkabout shortly before the official opening at 10a … when I returned to the booth, my neighbor who was selling several crafty wooden items (including pallet wood MBOs for $10!) was in my booth with her cellphone out taking pictures of my work. I normally don’t care, but that brazen display of idea thievery was not welcome.
  • And then she asked me where I bought my wood. I was kinder than she deserved, IMHO.
  • A vendor liked my stuff. How much for that board? $225. Vendor rate? Uh, $225. He was not pleasant: he offered me $100 cash (LOL). My day was not starting well.
  • I said no, y’know?
  • A cute little girl walked up to me and handed me a $20 bill. (thank you?) THEN I noticed she had a little owl in her other hand; she was buying some ZooSoapia. That’s when I knew why she handed me money. OK, I’m back now.
  • A young lady, 20 something, asked it we took Venmo. I said yes, but I am not very familiar. She then proceeded to take me to school on Venmo. I felt like Miss M was in the booth.
  • An older lady introduced herself to me: her name was Veda. Too bad she missed meeting Velda.
  • To complete my notable female interactions in the absence of Mrs M, another lady asked if I made the cheese slicers. When I said yes, she asked if they were related to the slicers sold by the vendor in the downtown park by the train station? Ummmm. No. I make these. The lady had some difficulty understanding that I make my stuff, and if other people have similar stuff … I didn’t make those. And they didn’t make mine, for that matter. Still not sure if she understood after I explained 3 times that I make everything in the booth!
  • We went to the event expecting sales to be down from prior year … because last year was quite good, as we remembered. Funny thing: sales weren’t nearly as good as we thought. And we thought we were down, but we were actually up a bit. We were confused the whole weekend about sales because I had not taken the time to check history, and our memories were not accurate.
  • Expectations will kill you.

The Food

  • Best Meal: As Julia Child said, “People who love food are always the best people.” Dinner with friends are the best!
  • Honorable Mention: Big Papa’s Steakhouse was a total surprise. It’s a big bar … but the restaurant side was quiet and the food was really quite good.
  • Worst Meal: The free breakfast at the Best Western won’t win any awards. I keep thinking that….

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 286
  • Booth cost: $540
  • Food cost: $105
  • Travel cost: $210
  • Total sales: $2,202
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 5:50a
  • Sunday alarm: 7a
  • # transactions: I have no clue; counting was impossible as a solo act … with help
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: there are a couple of others, but they don’t do what I do
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: no end grain sales
  • Returning next year? absolutely. We’ll need to think about 2 v 3 booths, though

Boards sold: 18

  • Cheese Board: 4
  • Cheese Slicer: 4
  • CNC Sign: 3
  • Cutting Board: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Board: 2
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • 5 Section Server: 1
  • Bread Saw: 1

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Arts & Crafts Festival 2019   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.

I like to do out-of-town events with Mrs M. We call them getaway weekends. The fact that we’re working, up at 6a, sweating … well, sure. That, too.

These work best when Mrs M gets time off from work to go with me. This year, 2nd year in a row, we put the Labor Day event in Prescott AZ on the calendar, and for the 2nd year in a row, Mrs M discovered other priorities.

So, I’ve got a 6, er, 8 hour drive and dinners alone. I’m a lonely, lonely man … but, hopefully, having a great event in my favorite little town in Arizona. After all, when their night life section is named Whiskey Row, I should want to be there, right?

I’m in.

New Ideas

  • This is my 3rd trip to Prescott in 12 months, so I thought I knew the way. I just followed my GPS to Barstow, then I-40, then … well, then the GPS decided I needed to go the long, long way up the National Forest road on the far side of Prescott. I spent an extra hour in the desert. My GPS sucks.
  • I need a new GPS. Or a car. That’s it. I need a new car. With a GPS.

Observations

  • Finally got to my AirBnB after dark, and all was well … but on day 2, after set up, I torched the microwave. It thermaled out – twice – and my dinner was a bagel and a banana.
  • My hostess had a new microwave in place the next morning. And, I did not starve. Big bonus points to the hostess.
  • One of the quirks of this event is that you can’t begin set up until after the judges leave the courthouse. On this holiday Friday, there was a trial in session, so no one left early … and then there was a wedding to follow. Set up did not begin until after 6p.
  • Connected with a person at event check-in to help me with set up. Day labor at it’s finest … and with his help, I got the Trimline up before dark.
  • Saturday morning, I arrived shortly after 6a and began hanging signs. I was largely set up by 9am, but didn’t finish until 9:15. I left the banner down for the day; I just didn’t have time.
  • My neighbor to the right was a direct competitor. He had 36x cheese slicers on display (!) along with large charcuterie boards with metal handles (that I would call serving trays). He had a beer flight, a wine flight, some digital clocks, some hairpin leg tables … nice looking stuff. But, a direct competitor was next door. No one really wants that, right?
  • A couple walked into the booth … and the Lady looked at my 4-player cribbage boards, and said to her significant other, “Your father couldn’t cheat on this board!” (Apparently, they were used to playing on a small board that you had to take laps around the course, and the father always took a short cut somehow.) I nodded knowingly. They left. No sale.
  • A man walks into the booth. He holds his phone up to this sign:
CNC Sign 19 – 715 The Answer

The man says, “I have something for Daddy.” The phone laughed out loud.

  • Sometimes, I have no idea what’s going on in the booth.
  • Hot on Saturday … 95*. The canopy in direct sun is hotter, and I didn’t get any shade and little breeze until after 3p.
  • Saturday sales were 100% card. No cash.
  • I got cash on Sunday, but the transactions were very card heavy … because this is a touristy crowd, I believe.
  • Saw the promoter on Sunday … and she immediately apologized for putting 2 woodworkers side-by-side. I really wasn’t upset, but it was nice that she noticed the error.
  • I don’t have PTSD. I’m not freaked out about being in public at an event … but I heard 3 loud bangs followed immediately by a siren … and it took the lizard brain a few seconds to figure out that the loud bangs sounded like an empty trailer hitting bumps. Metallic bangs. Not gun fire.
  • This is something I never used to think about. Ever.
  • Sunday was kind of slow. My neighbor the blacksmith/potter/fountain maker said it was slow for him as well.
  • Then, a mother and her adult daughter walked into my booth and each bought 4x pieces. My Sunday was no longer slow.
  • I had my first ever payment via Samsung Pay today. Easy: he activated the app on his smartphone, waved it at my reader … and it was approved in about 5 seconds. No signature required.
  • My retail consultant dropped by and told me that she can’t wait for me to get a proper cash/wrap and stop showing my underwear. Apparently, this is how retailers talk to each other.
  • I was settling down, writing this blog and have a relaxing evening when I heard the wind blow up. I opened the door, and there’s an unexpected storm out. Wind. A bit of rain. So, a picture:
Find your rainbows wherever you can!
  • I poured some Elijah Craig, and started to write. Then, the phone rang, and it was my buddy Delinda. Trouble at the site: storm. Microburst. Canopies down. Destruction. Time to return to the courthouse … and find this:

It’s not easy when one decides to go a-vendoring.
  • NOT MY BOOTH. Thank goodness. I counted about 12 canopies down, mainly on the north and east side of the courthouse square. I was on the southwest corner, so I was OK. At least I was at 7:30p, when I folded up my umbrella and headed for my AirBnB.
  • My alarm for the final day, Labor Day Monday, just got earlier.
  • I woke at 5:30a to a serene sunrise. Blue skies. The weather forecast says isolated thunderstorms; a 30% chance of rain. We shall see.
  • The official count was 30 canopies destroyed. 43 vendors packed and left due to loss of product, canopy, etc. This was a major storm event.
  • Labor Day Monday started slow and never really improved. But, I did better this year than last year, in spite of the wet on Sunday … and continuing rain Monday afternoon.
  • I did have a guy come back to the booth on Monday, bringing his Marbles board that he wanted me to duplicate … and he brought a friend that would buy it if I did! We had a fun conversation, at least. Not sure I’m going to make this game board, but I’ll think about it … next year.
  • Final “customer” of the day: “Would you make a deal on a sign at the end of the day?” I asked what she had in mind … she wanted this sign:
CNC Sign 18 – 58. Hard Maple. 9″ x 12″.
  • She wanted to buy the sign for $30, a 1/3 discount. I said no, and pointed her to the $30 signs that I did have for sale … and she didn’t care. I was good with her leaving the booth with empty hands.
  • Requests were for a game called Marbles (?), an Aggravation game (I am so slow), a Magic Bottle Opener in a different color (as I only have 1 on display) and a Lazy Susan (I’m still out! I need shop time!!!).

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M’s spaghetti, naturellement.
  • Honorable Mention: I went out to dinner after load out with our good (former) vendor friends, Barry & Wendi. Fabulous burger at Bill’s Grill … and better company. That was a treat.
  • Worst Meal: Dinner with a broken microwave, a bagel and a banana. Was there any doubt?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 960
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $18
  • Travel cost: $550
  • Total sales: $2,656
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5a
  • Sunday alarm: 6:30a
  • Monday alarm: 6:00a
  • # transactions: 27
  • # soap & lotion vendors: I saw 3; there may have been more on the backside of the courthouse.
  • # woodworking vendors: My neighbor, of course, and another guy that makes iPhone acoustic wooden amplifiers that are kind of cool.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 34:1
  • Returning next year? Yes … in a shady spot, I hope.

Boards sold: 35

  • Special Order: 5
  • CNC Sign: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Cheese Slicer: 4
  • Bread Saw: 4
  • Cutting Board: 3
  • Large Serving Piece: 3
  • Cheese Board: 2
  • Trivets: 2
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Chess Set: 1
  • Heart: 1
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