Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kelly's Joyful Newsletter, November 10, 2010

I forgot to mention a wonderful email newsletter I found while I was up North this summer.  The gal who does the writing, Kelly Epperson, graduated in my sister's class in high school.  I discovered her writing when Mom and I were out shopping--I had no idea then that she went to my school.  I just happened to pick up one of those freebie newspapers at the hardware store and found her column on things that youngsters born recently would never know--like loaf of bread size cell phones, etc.

Anyway, through a strange series of happenstances involving Facebook, Avon and the above referenced article I discovered, Kelly was Sherri Meredith's sister--who was in my class.  Sherri mentioned that Kelly had a newsletter on JOY and she sent me a link and the rest is history.  Being a very bad, very frustrated writer myself, I was impressed that her content kept me reading all the way to the end AND assured that this was one of those weekly emails that actually got opened and read every week. 

Here's a peek at this week's newsletter.  There is a link to sign up on the left of the newsletter if you so choose!

So fast forward a couple of months and now Kelly is in pursuit of a paid job to blog for a big company--and it is a well paid gig!  So, if she is able to get in the top 20 in the next few days, she has a real shot at winning this job.  IF you would be so kind as to visit the link below and vote for Kelly, your day's karma will be assured. Plus if you go back each day until the contest ends and vote for Kelly, she will be a shoe-in!

October Craft Shows, 2010

Doing a little catching up here, so I will just give you the highlights of the five shows I did in October.

The first weekend was a show I have done for such a long time.  I have been on the east side of Riverside Park for so long, I can hardly remember setting up anywhere else.  This is a well run show put on by the Pilots Club of Vero.  The show had beautiful weather--but hot on both days.  I was fairly slow on Saturday, but, Sunday more than made up for it.  I had lots of regulars stop by--Linda, Terri, Victoria and so many of you.  Thank you!  I did camp in the van that weekend.  It was pretty hot on Saturday so I went down to the Mall to catch a movie while waiting for it to cool off and did a little shopping.  I found a great tea shop  I spent about an hour talking tea with the owner who had a hard to spell name that sounds out to More-Tea...isn't that fitting.  And his wife's name, you will never guess--Tee!!  I can recommend the House Blend--been drinking it in between my Republic of Tea favorites.  Oh the movie--I think it saw that Ben Affleck movie about the bank robbers.

Do you see my phone anywhere?

Log House at the park in Mayo, FL

The demonstrators booth in front of mine

The second weekend I went up northwest of Gainesville to do the Mayo Pioneer Days.  I decided to set up and sell on Friday night...but it really wasn't worth it.  I camped again and it was the first weekend I had to bring out the blankets!  Nice!!!   On Saturday, I was really impressed with the crowd, but, it was not a great show for me.  Especially  since I lost my phone--or it got stolen!  I think I dropped it when I was opening up,  picked it up and set down on the soap at the front of the table.  Then it walked away with someone!!  The show was only open the one day, so, it was pretty nice having Sunday off with Rod.

Next up was the Cedar Key Seafood Festival--another new show for me.  It had been suggested by several friends, so, I had applied in the summer.  Set up was pretty hairy as it was only allowed after on Saturday, but, it all worked out.  My spot was on the seafood end of the festival, which I think worked out really nicely.  I had several customers from other shows stop by.  Many of the customers had been coming to the Seafood Fest for decades.  You know it is a good show when it has a dedicated following!!  I did fantastic both days and spent a little money on clam chowder and crab bisque for dinner on Saturday night.  Lynn the SpiceLady was camping with her boyfriend beside me overnight, so, everything went great.  They suggested camping out on Friday night next year--to make setup easier, so, I will be sure to do that!

The view from my campsite!

Walking home after dinner

The fourth weekend I went down to West Palm Beach with Buckler Promotions.  I haven't done one of their shows in 7-8 years I think.  It was pretty unremarkable, except, I still did have a few good customers stop by...and I got to see two old crafting friends I have not seen in ages.  The other great thing about the weekend was my cheap $35 a night Priceline hotel.  I stayed in an Extended Stay DELUXE.  Never have gotten one of those before and for a cheap room it was huge with lots of amenities.  It was about 8-9 miles from the show, but, since I got to stop at Carrabbas for dinner on the way home Saturday--so worth the drive!  Plus that female bartender there makes one AWESOME mojito!!!

Finally, it was my second year at the Micanopy Fall Festival.  The weather was just perfect for Fall--in the fifties overnight and upper 70's/low 80's during the day.  It was Halloween weekend and I thought we would see more kids dressed up, but, honestly I think there were more adults in costume.  Soap wise, it was better than last year by a huge amount.  So much so that I had to go into Gainesville Saturday night (oh shucks, Carrabbas again!!!) and get more copies of my order form.  I was next to Greg Smith the potter again, and, had a new vendor (ApronLady) on the other side.  I really love doing shows in the Gainesville area--they really appreciate handmade items!!

I was home in time for some Trick or Treaters at the house...Rod had stocked enough candy for 10 times the number of kids we ended up seeing.  But, that's ok--he got plenty of Reese's and other chocolate goodies.  I won't tell you home long it took me to devour all that chocolate...not long...LOL!  My sister tells me this chocolate craving I am having is not a symptom of pre-menopause.  Dang IT!  Turns out it is just my sweet tooth which is totally out of control.  HELP!!

Long time, no Chat! November 10, 2010

Rod and me on my birthday
Well, my blogging got hung up back in September when I was talking about Mom and Dad's big Anniversary party back in Illinois.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving the only copy of the pictures up there.  So, I am trying to get a copy of it made to do a picture blog of that day.  Stay tuned...

In the meantime, we had my birthday (48th), did a bunch of yard work and tried to annihilate and destroy all the wasps that took up residence around the house this summer.   Those buggers killed an elderly woman near here last I don't feel  too bad about it.

This year's Christmas soap--a combo of Plum, Fig and Cinnamon
 with  a red and green swirl

In the meantime, lots of soapmaking is going on down here in Orlando.  And that is in spite of rising vegetable oil prices, longer shipping times and a ever growing feeling of being WAY BEHIND!  It seems each week the To-Do List grows longer, while the time to accomplish it grows shorter.  I am sure you all have those feelings too, right?!  I  got the Christmas soap scent blend finished and named the soap, "Under the Mistletoe"--check it out if you get to a show, ok?

These are cute little stocking stuffers or office gifts--two guest soaps

I had a bit of trouble with the new sewing machine last month.   It was the bottom tension messing up.  After several days of trying different things (and too many swear words), I finally took it to a local sewing machine shop--Keels on Edgewater Av. here in Orlando.  Keels has been around forever.  The third generation owner, Danny, is a nice guy who took one look and had it diagnosed before I even had time to explain what was happening.  He still patiently listened to my troubles and then pointed the thread had come out of one of the guides.  According to Danny, the bottom tension messing up almost never has anything to do with the bobbin--which is where I was looking for the problem!  I can't wait to buy another machine--Danny turned me onto some of the new models--I think this Viking lover will be buying a Janome

Painting  the bags for the sachets

I expanded the line of sachets I am carrying too--now I have Rose and Chamomile in addition to the Lavender four packs you will find at shows and online.  I love the scent coming from all these together!  Time for a trip to Penzey's Spices I think!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary Pre-Party, September 17, 2010

Mom and Dad asked us all to come to the Butterfly Club for a family-only get together on their official anniversary.  These are just table pictures from the evening.  The highlight for me was sitting next to my brother Jeff as he ate 7 pieces, big pieces of fried cod.  I am sure nephew Roger had about as many! 

On Saturday we started the food preparation up at the Church.  Bruce and Dad peeled 40 pounds of potatoes, while Jodie, Travis and I fixed the celery, onion and eggs.  Once it was all cooked, I mixed up seven big bowls of the salad to go in the church's big refrigerator.  While I was doing that, Jodie was artfully arranging the vegetable trays.  Then we took a break to go down to the Corner for lunch. 

When we got back, we started on the meat and cheese trays.  Turns out it was a bit harder than it looked in the food catalogs!  We ended up coming up with some creative garnishes and some great ways to pile on the pounds of beef, ham, turkey, cheddar, provolone and colby jack.  Whew, when we were all done it was so nice to get out of there and relax. 

Wausau, WI Art in the Park, September 11 & 12, 2010

My crazy ornament neighbor...where can I get that hat???

My booth crammed in between the doors!

Wausau's Art in the Park is just one of several shows going on in town this's all part of the Artrageous weekend of events put on by several groups.  Our part of the show was inside a couple of the buildings at Marathon Park.  Unfortunately, the other part of the show was full of buy/sell vendors  which always makes it hard on the artists who make their goods by hand.  The fine artists were downtown and it seemed that most customers shopped all areas.

One of the ways that the Wisconsin Valley Art Organization tried to keep customers on the art path was to line the path with butterflies--which were the theme of this years show.  Kind of a nice little extra way of helping us out.  The volunteers with the group were really nice and constantly checking to see if there was anything we needed.  I was a late application, and while I was glad to get in, the spot they put me in was less than ideal.  I was really out of the foot traffic path, which is never a good thing.

One of the nicest things the organizer did was have dinner for us on Saturday night.  The local Vets group had grilled chicken, pork chops and all the sides for us.  I ate with the gal across from me--a potter and a guy who did metal work.  Nice company and I got a few ideas for next years summer show schedule.   I also got a new bowl from the potter.  Hm, I should take a pic...

The Rotunda where the other Art in the Park artists were located.

The trip up was about three hours each way--and it was gorgeous!  I love the scenery in Wisconsin-- especially when the weather just starts to turn cool.  I did see one or two trees that had nice color on them.  I was daydreaming that they all had changed early...just trying to envision what it would look like in another month.  I really, really miss Fall.

Coming up next week is all the party stuff for Mom and Dad's 50th.  Will we make it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Soapmaking: The Day the Gremlins Visited, August 31, 2010

I  was going to title this entry, "The Soapmaking Day from HELL"...because it was.  Let's just say that if this had all happened on my first day making soap, I would not now--12 years later--be a soapmaker. 

The day started out nicely.  I had picked up my equipment and supplies from the warehouse the day before.  So, I thought I was ready to roll.  Then I remembered that I had forgotten (!!!) to pick up the Pomace oil from GFS  (Gordon Food Services) coming back from Ali's volleyball game last night.  No problem, right!?  It's just a half hour delay.  And, I am only doing one 4 pot session this morning.  Easy, peasy. 

When I got home, I got the hotplates out and setup the headboard counter in my parents garage.  I pulled out a card table and got the scale and all the oils ready to go.  I decided to finish pouring the final couple of pounds of castor oil out of a big 50 pound cube box.  Normally, I set the box on a table, put a gallon jug under it and turn on the spigot.  The oils flows serenely out of the box into the jug...and I am around to make sure nothing goes wrong.  This time however, I decided to go in and put a recipe on the Lye Calculator while it was flowing.  When I came out, something had bumped the box and it was serenely flowing onto the soaked paper towel I put under the jug...onto my parents very clean garage floor.  Dang it!

But a little mess like that is not going to deter me!  I got my four stock pots loaded with the oils and shea butter and put them on to melt.  Then I poured the lye bowls out--except I mispoured the lye in the first one.  I only needed 14.2 ounces and by the time my brain registered how much the scale read it was already over a pound.  Oh well, the drain down in the basement sink was running slowly--time for a good clean out!  Crap--I hate wasting my precious soapmaking things!

After a bit everything was finally combined, stickblended and starting to cook.  This is when I usually turn to my sink and wash out the lye bowls.  At my parent's I have to dash into the kitchen to do this.  When I give hot process  soapmaking lessons, I always stress not to turn your back on the cooking soap.  I really need to practice what I preach.  By the time I got the bowls washed, the oil/lye mixture was rising out of the one of the pots, splashing onto the floor and everything within a four foot radius.  OH SH*T!!! 

That little cleanup took about a half hour and used up an entire roll of Bounty paper towels!  And it was only done good enough to keep working--the final cleanup would take a couple hours and included washing walls, mopping the floor four times and cleaning up all the gardening and painting tools that got hit with the oily mixture.  And, my soap!  I ended up having to throw away 12 bars of partially cooked Kumquat soap.  But then as I carried a wash basin full of oily, dirty water into the kitchen, it slipped out of my greasy hands and fell...onto the threshold of the back door--some of it going onto the tile kitchen floor, some of it onto the garage steps and runner carpet.  Which led to another half hour of cleanup and more cussing.  LOTS more cussing!

So, now a normal person would have just shut down the soapmaking operation for the day.  After all, ALL SIGNS are pointing to eminent danger.  They are at least suggesting that if you continue on the track you are on, it may lead to loss of limb, life or blowing up the house.  RIGHT!?!?!  But, no.  I come from farm folk.  Good, sturdy, Scotch/German genes.  We don't give up.  We ARE NOT sissies.  We PERSEVERE!  DAMN IT!!!

So, I continue with the soap cooking.  Another 15 minutes pass with no problems.  Whew!  I finish three pots of soap, remove them from the burners onto the concrete floor to start cooling.  I give the slow cooking pot a good stir and turn my back...and that dang pot falls off the burner--three feet to the ground and hot soap goes all over.  Onto the wet vac, my Dad's big CB radio receiver, the power cords, and more on the floor.  Are you F*****G kidding me!  I lose another 4 bars of soap, this time my Olive Oil Castile. 

By this time, my parents have holed themselves up in the house.  They are afraid to come out for fear that my bad mood may fall on their poor shoulders.  They are also taking notes to write a new book on current trends in bad language--very bad language.  It will be a bestseller for rappers, kids from the hood and Vice President Biden.

But, this story has a nice ending.  Four soaps make it to the mold and come out very nicely the next day.  I am sure that every other soapmaker that had the good luck to make soap this day had only good things going on in their soapmaking worlds.  Every single gremlin, goblin and evil soapmaking devil was visiting me that day.  I don't think any of us will have to worry about soaping for a while.  I took them all to task and whooped them good!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Schaumburg Septemberfest, September 4-6. 2010

My fourth year at Schaumburg was awesome.  It was my best year in both sales and FUN.  Mom and Jodie joined me for the long weekend.  We decided it was officially a Girls Weekend!  Unfortunately I forgot to document the festivities for posterity...and the blog!  So no pictures.

We arrived at the Marriott after a quick trip over from Rockford.  We had to take two vehicles to get all the soap here.  The room was nice, but, small--with two double beds.  So, I brought my sleep mat in and made my sleep cubbie on the floor by the window.  No one believes me, but, I sleep great on the floor.  Actually I sleep fitfully the first night while I decide if the floor and room are clean enough.  Then I sleep like a baby the rest of the time.  I may be the luckiest traveler in the world--I haven't stayed in a room yet that had bedbugs.  At least not yet. 

Friday night we hit Lou Malnattis for their classic salad and a thin crust pizza.  Mom was reluctant to believe us about it being the best pizza and salad in the WORLD.  But she is now a believer.  We got to bed early as we had a 6:15 call to line up for  setup.  We had a little problem with parking in the school lot--apparently it is ONLY for volunteers now.  But Jodie was able to find street parking with no trouble after we unloaded.  Set up went great.  We were next to Jeff, Deb and Pops of LB Wood Shoppe once again this year.  They are the nicest people--I look forward to seeing them at many of the shows I do up this way. 

Saturday was gorgeous and the great weather brought out tons of shoppers.  The day went quickly and before we knew it we were heading out to Cheesecake Factory--after a quick stop to get some copies of my order form made.  Dinner was yummy, cheesecake was awesome.  Mom tried the Splenda Classic Cheesecake--actually we all tried a bite--and it was good enough to order again.  I had my usual CHOCOLATE and more CHOCOLATE cheesecake--something like their Anniversary edition this time.  We finished off the pieces of cheesecake at the hotel--feeling properly sated and sick at the same time. 

Sunday was another great day and we had dinner at Ruby Tuesdays before trying to get back to the hotel to watch Mad Men.  Of course the hotel did not get AMC on their cable.   Damn!  So we got to bed pretty early as we had early breakfast plans with friends at a local place.  The day was definitely nice with a bit of rain, but, the shoppers were fewer and further between.  I ended up doing really well for the three days, and, I think my helpers had a good time too! 

More Summer Stuff, September, 2010

It is not often that my brother takes a day off.  He works hard for Wonder Bread.  So imagine my surprise when he suggested a market to me, it was on a day I had free AND he could go too!  The bad news is that his co-worker gave him some bad information.  We woke up at 1:30 am to get to the market to ensure we got a prime spot.  Unfortunately, no one else showed up until 4:45--so we were plenty early.  The market turned out to be a snoozer, but, Jeff and I had fun. 

My parents are still planning the big 50th Wedding Anniversary party.  Mom and I went to check out cakes at the local stores and I came away with this little guy.  We HAD to test the cake, right?!  Besides, I LOVE crabbies...more so when one of  the Deadliest Catch guys is attached to them, but, a big blob of frosting works too I suppose.

Jodie and I spent one night after work printing out the invites I designed.  It went slick as a whistle, but, we did use a LOT of yellow ink.  Luckily her boss doesn't mind the employees using the nice laser printer for non-work stuff.  Dad helped me put on stamps and return address labels the next morning while Mom worked at the Church.  It was lucky she didn't see me spill a glass of water on about a dozen newly addressed, stamped and labeled invites!  Lucky for me they dried off nicely and the mail lady picked them up a couple hours later with no problem.  Whew!

Jodie and I also volunteered to do the food.  It is going to be a light buffet, so, we are going to put together meat, cheese and veggie trays.  Oh, and make about 50 pounds of potato salad!  One of my customers suggested a local grocery deli, but, nothing compares to homemade.  Especially when Mom thinks hers is the best around.  LOL   Let's hope I don't screw it up.  Oh, and here are some platters that came from the local deli.  I know we can do better than that!

I also went shopping one night with Jodie along to give a thumb up or down.  It's good to go shopping with someone else I think.  Especially when you are buying something besides my usual shorts and t-shirts.  I tried on a few things at Kohls but didn't find anything I liked.  So we went across the street to Bergners and we hit the jackpot.  The only bad thing was looking at the price tag after deciding on an outfit and finding the pants were $98 (darn you Laura Ashley)!  Lucky for me, there was a sale on, and since Jodie offered to put it on her credit card for me, we got an extra 20% off.  So, all three pieces were only $57.  Gosh, I love getting a bargain!  Now to find some shoes that will Crocs for me that day I guess.  Unless I have Rod bring me the 4 inch Croc heels! 

Lake Geneva Venetian Art Festival, August 21 and 22, 2010

Lake Geneva in the summertime....ahhhhhh!  I asked to be up front on the sidewalk this year.  This is why:

All weekend long, I got to sell soap, wait on customers and every once in a while, look at this:

And Sunday Mom and Jodie came so I got a chance to look at this too:

For us Midwesterners, nothing compares to being able to spend time at the lake.  If the Lake happens to be gorgeous, with a nice beach too--perfect! 

I did actually get pulled out of my reverie a couple times to visit with some really nice repeat customers.  This is my third year at this August festival, so, I have some die hard customers who come to see me.  Luckily, I picked up a new wholesale account while here.  The In Focus Gallery which specializes in nature and wildlife photography is now stocking my soap.  The shop is on Main St. right behind the Kilwans Chocolate Shop.  I know you all know where that is, right?!!!  But remember to shop for SOAP first, then photography and last but not least--CHOCOLATE!

Another good thing about this show is the quality of the art.  My neighbor was Paul Prorok, a Chicago photographer.  This guy's work had me thinking I was in Italy every time I glanced to my right. Gorgeous photos and being an offbeat artist kinda guy, he took a swim every time he got hot...which was frequently.  At first I didn't connect the old guy without a shirt getting into the water in front of my booth.  Paul's wife said this year wasn't as bad as a couple years ago.  She had to yell at him to get out--he had pictures to sell. 

On Saturday night I had Chinese and then caught a movie--"The Other Guys" with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrall.  Silly, fun and made even better with an audience that didn't take it too seriously. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lake Geneva with the Guys, August, 9, 2010

When Rod comes up during Fair Week, we have started a tradition of getting with my brother Jeff to do something.  Jeff takes a week off during the Boone County Fair and since we don't get to spend much time with him, it's nice to get away and do something fun. 

On the agenda this time, Rod had in mind seeking out a Tiki Bar that he had read about on Jimmy Buffet's fan site--a place called Hemingway's.  So we  printed out a map, and headed out.  But first we had to run the folks car into Clinton to be serviced, so we did a little side trip to the Clinton Cafe, a place renowned for their pie. 

Since we got to the dealership's service department at lunch time, we headed into town to find the pie place.  We made it in before a large group of Japanese "tourists" who we hypothesized were in town to check out buying the whole town.  Honestly, maybe they just heard about the pie because a couple of them wanted their pictures taken in front of the Clinton Cafe sign outside!  Maybe there is a new pie franchise coming our way?!

The lunch was nice and the pie we sampled was incredible.  If you are ever there and the Dutch Apple is offered--get it--warmed with vanilla ice cream.  I am sure the Blueberry Jeff got was good too, but, after the other one I just couldn't taste it.  The dealership was ready for us after lunch and we were in and out of there pretty quick.  Then just a short drive into Lake Geneva where we parked near the Library.

The day was bright and sunny with lots of activity going on at the beach.  We did a slow walk through the shade trees on the waterfront, the guys hoping to scope out some thong clad women at the beach before coming around the tour boats and heading back to the car.  We were gonna do a drive by the Lake, and in after thought we should have.  By then we were hot and ready for a cold beverage, so we headed to Hemingway's instead. 

When we found it, there was one car in the parking lot and honestly it looked like it might have been there over the winter months.  A quick look at the sign in the door told us we were too early for drinks in the Tiki Bar.   Maybe when I come back for the Venetian Art Festival in a couple weeks I can have a drink there and send a postcard to Rod!

So Plan B was a return trip back to Rockford.  I told the guys we could have a drink at Rascals and maybe catch the Cubs on one of the TVs.  They of course were still hot and thirsty so we high tailed it back to town.  On the way I sent Roger a text hoping he could join  us.  He ended up bringing Richele along with and we all had a couple beers, shot some pool and then headed back to the folks house for dinner.  It was a nice day even though it didn't totally go by our original plans!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wilder Park Craft Fair, Elmhurst IL, August 7 & 8, 2010

Mom decided to come along to this craft show put on by the same promoter who does the Downtown LaGrange Craft Show.  We headed out Friday afternoon--early we thought--to drive down to LaGrange first to pick up a pail of lye from a supplier there.  Unfortunately the traffic around O'Hare was horrible resulting in us being about 10 minutes late to pick up the lye.  Lucky for us, Deb in the office of Boyer Chemical was very accommodating and she was able to wait for us.

After picking up the lye supply, we were free to explore the area and find the hotel.  Our hotel was up in the Itasca area so we opted to drive the local roads there to see if we could find any great places for dinner.  We stumbled on Christy's Pancake House where we should have gotten the Friday fish fry, so, we weren't exactly "wow"ed after eating.

The Hotel was a Doubletree Inn just up the road which we found ok.  The front desk staff was wonderful and they even give you a couple warm chocolate chip cookies when you check in.  Very nice rooms and a nice business center to check email too!  We hit the beds early since we were trying to get to Wilder Park to set up by 7 am. 

It turns out that the promoter's setup time was 7:30, so we chatted with other vendors for a while before getting down to work.  We even found a grocery store to get some sandwiched because it didn't appear they were going to have any food.  There were maybe 60 vendors at this show, mainly spread along the sidewalk at the park's edge. 

As usual, I wasn't at the sidewalks edge, but rather down in the park with 12 or so other unlucky crafters.  Turns out the promoter thought the ground slanted too much at the sidewalk, so, they moved us down where it was flat--and where no one wanted to walk when it was wet.  LOL

Saturday was a slowish day with not too much traffic but absolutely gorgeous weather.  We made plans to get some copies made after the show and find a place to eat.  That turned out to  be a hard thing to do--we drove around forever never finding just the right place.  In Wood Dale we came upon the "Sweet Baby Rays BBQ" joint and while neither of us were feeling like BBQ, we were happy we did.  My St Louis ribs were awesome and Mom enjoyed the baby backs.  We ended up getting the copies made at the hotel while we settled in to watch a couple episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress". 

Sunday we made it to the show about 10 and were greeted with rain and grey clouds.  By 12:30 you could tell it was clearing.  By, 1:30 the promoter was telling everyone that this slow moving "storm" wasn't going to clear up until after the show's 4 pm closing time, so we were free to leave.  Which of course meant that half the crafters packed up to leave!

Once I am set up and it is raining, I am just not ready to give up.  First, your tent's gonna have to be dried out.  Second, packing up soap in the rain is very stressful and can lead to lot's of damaged product.  And finally, I committed to being there until 4 pm and I needed more customers!

By about 1:45 the sun was out but no one was coming off the sidewalk to shop.   SO, Mom and I carried our tables right up to the edge of the sidewalk and Mom proceeded to sell almost as much soap as we had the whole day on Saturday in two hours.  The customers couldn't believe that the crafters had left.  The promoters had left about 1:35, so, I guess they had another commitment that day.  Pretty lousy of them, I thought!

The good news is that by the time we got back to Rockford, Rod was within striking distance of being there!  Two months apart is TOO LONG!  So glad to see him and be able to spend some time together...finally.

Hampshire IL Coon Creek Country Days Festival, July 30 - August 1, 2010

I decided to try this little community festival since it was so close to Rockford.  They had a nice line-up of music events and it seemed like a great way to spend a weekend.  The only downside was that it was four days long and the evening hours lasted until 11 pm.  Luckily, crafters could pick the days they wanted to come.

So, I decided to drive over on Friday afternoon and setup for the 6 - 11pm hours.  When I arrived, the only people to be found were the Pretzel vendors in the food area.  A short while later, one of the organizers drove up and he helped me find my spot.  The weather was threatening to rain, but, we never got more than a misty sprinkle.  By about 7 pm the sun was out and the bugs too!

I ended up doing alright for a Friday night, making all my expenses and a little profit.  I was looking forward to Saturday--but I had been warned it would be quiet until the evening hours. 

On Saturday, more of the crafters showed up.  There were about 24 crafter/business booths spaced out and by the weekend they had all been filled.  However, there were probably only about 12 true craft booths.  A little disappointing to both those of us looking for a craft show and customers too. 

The best thing about the festival as a whole was the music.  Friday night's lineup was incredible.  I had to ask one customer if that was the band playing or canned music between sets.  They were great!!!  Saturday during the day the music was geared to a younger crowd, so, not my favorite thing.  By Saturday night the good music was playing again along with a FANTASTIC fireworks display. 

Now fireworks I know--living right behind Universal Studios I get to see three sets of fireworks nightly during the summer and Holidays.  But, it's been sometime since I saw the ground level displays.  Both the high stuff and the ground stuff at Hampshire were AWESOME.  I am not using those capital letters lightly, folks! 

On Sunday there was a parade through downtown followed by FREE sweet  corn prepared by a local farm using their old steam tractor as the source for the heat.  Lots of locals came out for both, and some even walked through the craft area.  I think this festival has a bit more growing to do before it will support a true craft show.  But, the organizers have their hearts in the right place--I enjoyed being a part of it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Helping Out, week of July 19, 2010


I offered to help the folks get ready for a party they were hosting for their Grange next week.  The big things on the list were getting the garage cleaned up (check that one off the list), then weeding the backyard and finally washing the windows (really wish you were here, Rod!!!).  Mom and I tried for several days to finish the weeding in the back yard, but, it was just too hot for her to work too long.  And if I had done it, well, lets just say she would have needed a LOT more mulch because I didn't  know what was weed and what was plant.  LOL

We were thrilled that a rainy day forced us inside to work on those windows.  Jodie had stopped over to take Dad to get a new phone, so, Mom and I finished up on the porch.  It had rained heavy the night before, so she was reluctant to work on the planters, but, I talked her into it. 


We started with the east end of the oval flowerbed and went to town.  We broke for lunch and because it was still cool we headed right back out to finish the little rectangular planter to the back.  By the time we were through, Mom had a plan in mind to divide the perennials later on and move things around a bit.  I mulched the bed the next morning before going camping!


That evening skies rolled in and we got another three inches of rain to add to the 2.5 inches the night before!  The yards need it around here! 


Camping at Rock Cut State Park, July 25-27, 2010

Jodie, Travis and I met out at Rock Cut on Sunday with two dogs in tow, a tent and the kayaks and bikes.  One of those dogs was actually a Brittany Spaniel puppy, Dakota, the Larson Clan's newest (and cutest) member.  The other was Bonnie Dog who was in a rare mood--barking, screaming, crazy terror trying to get every-dog-in-the-park's attention.  Needless to say, Bonnie's camping trip was cut short.  She got to stay home and  visit with her Grandparents!

So the relaxing camping did not exactly start out nice.  But we found a great level spot by the lake and pitched the tent and started a fire.  By the time it started cooling off we were sitting in front of a roaring fire (thanks mainly to Trav's fire starting skills) with the popcorn cooker going.  Ah, let the relaxation begin!  We enjoyed a nice walk around the camping area and the full  moon rising on the lake.   We were in bed early--about the time our neighbors across the road were setting up camp.

By 2 a.m. the kids who had driven in late were still going strong.  By 4:15 we hoped they were winding down, but, no!  Jodie reminded me to put in earplugs, and that was the end of that.  Although, Trav and I (and several of our camping neighbors) took strange delight in slamming car doors a bit earlier and harder than we might have those rowdies next door quieted down sooner.

After eating and showering, we took the kayaks out with puppy Dakota sitting in her Mom's lap.  She tried to slip out a couple times, but, all in all she did fine in the boat.  We are not sure if she was hot or tired or both, but, she finally settled down on the boat's cool floor toward the end.  After we got back we made pie iron pizza and enjoyed reliving our childhood.  We lived at Rock Cut every summer I can remember camping with family friends--the Wheelers, the Peases, the Browns, the Blumes and others.  These are great memories!!!  It is so nice to be able to come out and enjoy the park and the lake.

After lunch, Trav took one of the bikes and rode down to the Concession Stand to get a fishing license.  When he came back we all decided to go over to Olson Lake and check out the beach.  Since it was after 3 pm we opted not to pay the $3 a head to get in and instead spread our blankets out on the lawn and vegetated for about an hour.  Jodie and Trav went out on the kayaks for a bit before we started thinking about dinner and bonfire.

Garry joined us for dinner and brought by his words a "face cord" of wood--he wasn't far off.  So we had plenty of wood to stoke up the fire.  I caught up with him on his rotator cuff surgery and we all enjoyed the puppy's antics.  We dined on my famous Campground Slop--sorry Rod that name still sticks--and then later when my parents arrived, we broke out the popcorn cooker again and the marshmallow sticks for smores.

We were in bed by 10 p.m. and this time is was pretty quiet--the late arriving kids left during the day and the campground was not as busy on this Monday night.  The only thing affecting my sleep was a frog's croaking the whole night long.

Tuesday morning Jodie had to get up to go with Garry on a doctor appointment for his shoulder.  Gar had decided that since he was having trouble sleeping in his regular bed with his splint and surgery gizmo on, he better not even consider sleeping on the ground.  Hopefully he will be able to join us next month when Rod comes and we camp out another three nights after the Fair.

We had a lazy day, roasting hotdogs when we got hungry and just sitting enjoying the lake and the kids fishing all around us.  Jodie brushed up on Puppy Parenthood by reading a book on raising the perfect puppy.  I hope it goes better for her then it did with us and Bonnie.  LOL  After lunch we got packed up and we each headed back home.

I was able to get home early to help with the final preparations for Mom and Dad's dinner party.  They ended up with 19 people for their Grange party.  Dad supervised Roger while he grilled the chicken and I poured wine for those of us partaking.  The night went great--plenty of food and drink and company.  The only bad thing--I forgot to watch the finale of the Deadliest Catch!!!  So, now I have to find when  it will be rebroadcast!!!