Monday, December 13, 2010

The Sweetest Digs

How much do I love that name for a blog?!

I meant to post this yesterday, but the day got away from me (as usual) and I'm only finding a moment now between re-explaining the idea of an advent calendar (only ONE treat a many times do I...sheesh) to my 22 month old, having breakfast myself, and getting ready for a doctors appointment.
Only 6 more weeks until baby #2 arrives.
Like for serious?

I received a lovely email from the author of The Sweetest Digs asking if I'd help promote a giveaway she's got going on her site this week for a super cute embroidered coffee cup sleeve from Ottawa crafter and Etsian Pillowhead.

Handcrafted + Local + Free?
I wonder if it'd be a conflict of interest for ME to participate...

Click here for a chance to win.
Make sure you scroll to the bottom of all the images for details.

More updates from me and the shop to come.

We've got Kid's Night #2 this week (I love it, and also, kill me) and Men's Night is Friday. We're open late for a male-friendly shopping experience so tell your hubsters and feel free to pop in to fill out a wish list in advance.
And nobody gets hurt.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trend Spotting - Next Workshop

I just found something pretty similar to our next workshop project on the front page of Etsy.
Do we know how to stay one step ahead of the trend or what?

Few spots still left by the way.
Read more about it on the Handmade Nest blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Christmas Fairs

I'm blowing your mind with two posts in one day, I know.
But I had to share this.

A customer/old family friend of ours/all round totally awesome person told me late last week that she was so inspired by Handmade Harvest that she wrote a poem about it.
A poem.

If there's a bigger compliment to be had than that, I certainly haven't received it!
Thank you Terri.
We love Christmas Fairs too.
Also, YOU.


The Christmas Fairs by Terri Clarke

Nine o’clock sharp, first Saturday in November,

The line up is longer than they ever remember.

The doors open slowly for the large eager crowd

To greet all the artisans, smiling and proud.

Merchandise sparkles, the tables are set,

The shoppers will lessen the national debt.

Beads and bracelets, cards and pottery,

Scarves and slippers, rings and gaudery.

Pine cones and wreaths, candles galore

Scented and coloured for every decor.

Purses of silk and pillows with lace,

Welcome all to the pre-Christmas race.

Stroll pass the tables; confer with your friends.

See for yourself this year’s latest trends.

Examine the handiwork - could you make it for less?

Possibly so, but with considerable stress!

Weaving and baking and quilting exhibiting,

This is no place for spending inhibiting.

Trivets and trinkets and natural soaps,

Selections to satisfy everyone’s hopes.

Items too tempting and not to be missed.

Buy them for someone who’s not on your list.

No time to waffle, sigh or to ponder,

Now is the time to seize and to squander.

So sip on the cider and sample the squares.

Savour the start of the Christmas fairs.

The Dump

I think I should probably remove the BWO icon at the side of my blog because despite the fact that I've been a little M.I.A. lately I totally feel an obligation to blog.
I've been wanting to.
There's no shortage of stuff to talk about that's for sure.
It's always a time management issue.
Which, I'm constantly being reminded, is something that is about to get worse before it gets better.

Where to begin?
Where we left off perhaps?

Christmas flip week went well. It's always the same story.
Monday I feel like taking the entire week to turn things over seems like an excessive amount of time.
By Tuesday afternoon I think we have a good handle on things.
And by Thursday at 9pm we're exhausted and skipping lunch just to get everything done in time.

It was pretty bad in here.
I'm almost embarrassed to share...
This was my back room.
I don't really have storage at Blackbird.
The basement is pretty wet and I actually think it's a good thing I can't stuff to much in the back.
Gives me a better handle on inventory, but it was getting just a tad ridiculous back there.

We took every display apart, rearranged most of the furniture and created new departments for new product lines.

This may be my favourite new thing: Wordstock Photography.
You can build any word out of photographs taken by the talented Barb Rowlandson.
Apparently Barb sees the world a little differently than the rest of us.

I've seen this idea before, I will admit (I'm an Etsy troll you'll recall).
But I've never seen it done by someone I liked so much.
I met Barb at the gift show in August and you know how there are just some people you like instantly?
She's one of those.

I restocked the bath bombs with some more festive options.

Wild pillows and throws. All fair trade!

Great little stocking stuffers with handmade flare.

Sweet little ceramic bud vases.

We created the cutest window display by twisting red ribbon around our birch trees and then wrapping them in cellophane.

It's a veritable candy cane forest.
I need to take a night time shot so you can see the magic.

We had our Open House on Friday (Nov 12) and then it officially became Christmas here on Mill Street.
I love Christmas.
It's tiring, but I love it.

We have our two Kid's Nights coming up (Dec 9th and 16th after 5pm) and then Men's Night (Dec 17th we're open late) and then Christmas Eve is always a big day.
And then? Then I think I may just chill the heck out.

I had a small freak out last week when I realized that it's going to be a long time before I go anywhere by myself again.
I mean two babies?
That's a lot of baggage.

My mom was headed to Toronto for the weekend and I jumped in the car with her and went to hang out with some girlfriends for the weekend. I'm that spontaneous.
It was lovely.
We did nothing.
Just caught up and went shopping.

What else. What else.
Oh. These are finally in.

Colleen and I have LOADS of great new ideas on the burner as far as workshops go and expanding on our craft show model. Good thing I'm cloning myself again.

And I'm VERY close to posting photos of all the renos and changes we've been making on the home front. I mean weeks away!

Less than two months until this baby comes so we've really got to kick it into gear.

Catch you soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Handmade Hollaaaaa

I don't particularly love writing when I'm not inspired to, but I know how curious you all are about the results of Handmade Harvest.
I would be too.

The reason I'm not inspired to blog this week has nothing to do with the success of the show.
It has everything to do with the fact that my inspiration reservoir is being drained slowly into the shop.

It's our Christmas Flip Week so Blackbird has been closed since Monday and Colleen and I have rearranged the entire place and started all new displays with new merchandise to boot.
It's a winter wonderland in here.

Actually, a blizzard of boxes and bubble wrap...but it will be.
Better be.
By 6pm tonight.

Join us tonight from 6 to 10 for the big reveal and between 15 and 40% off your purchase (shoppers draw candy canes at the cash).
Also for cider.
Maybe with rum.
Unless you're pregnant and not allowed to have any me.
But back to Handmade Harvest.
Friday afternoon at 3pm, tables were delivered and carted up two flights (by Colleen and Dad...not me) and the painstaking task of fitting a square peg into a round hole began.
By 5pm some eager vendors had begun to arrive to get acquainted with their space and our first ever craft show started to take shape.

With the help of our ever generous team of volunteers (mom, dad, Brad, Christine, Amanda, Terri, Sarah, Kristen, thank you thank you thank you) we began furiously (and at some points ferociously) making maple cotton candy (oh my gosh what a mess, but admittedly kind of fascinating) provided by Fulton's, stuffing swag bags, trouble shooting for vendors who were less than enamoured with their allotted spaces, setting up the Christmas tree for the photo shoots, hanging signage and bunting, etc, etc, etc.

We were amazingly out of there by about 7pm.
Out for a quick dinner with girlfriends who came all the way from Toronto for a crafty weekend, and then home for a sleepless night of tossing and turning over "what if this whole thing is a major bust tomorrow?"s and "what if the vendors are mean?"s and "what the heck am I going to wear over my hugenormous belly and still look half way decent?"s.

I woke up at 6am (Colleen totally woke up earlier than that so I can't complain) and arrived at the hall for 7am sharp.

Crafters starting piling in and the place started to take shape.

By 8:15am, on the promise of swag bags to the first 50 shoppers, people began to line up.

By 8:45 there were at least 75 anxious shoppers in line.

By 9:30 I began to pray that the fire marshall wouldn't show up and shut us down for being over capacity.

There was a steady stream of shoppers until at least 4pm.
Some were there spending their big bucks right up until the end.
It was amazing.
Emily Chen of MChen Wears

Melissa DiRenzo of The Sweet Escape

Jenniewren adorable handmade stuff for kiddies

Phlox hand appliqued onesies

Renee DesChamps beaded jewelry

Happy Shoppers!

We will DEFINITELY be hosting another show in the Spring.
In a MUCH bigger venue.

Thank you to Jill Guthrie of jemmTale Photography for these shots, and for a long day of free holiday photo shoots. If you're ever in need an event photographer, family portraits or just great shots of the family, give Jill a call. Not only is she an awesome photographer, she's really nice and cute to boot.

So there it is.
Craft show success!
And on to the next.
Hope to see you ALL tonight.

xo Em

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Handmade Harvest - Free Holiday Photo Shoot

The craft show is a week away.
A week!
That translates to like 27 and a half hours in my world.

Everything, incredibly, seems to be under control.
Just some last minute details that will be taken care of this week.
Including telling you about what you can expect from one of our fabulous sponsors.

Meet Jill Guthrie.
Jill has a steadily growing photography business here in Almonte called jemmTale Photography.
I've known Jill for quite a while now.
She's always been a great supporter of the shop, she has two beautiful girls, we share several friends in common, and she's a fantastic photographer.

Colleen and I wanted to make sure we documented our first craft show venture so afterwards we can pour over pictures and gloat about how awesome it was.
Also se we can use professional photos for the promotion of future events.
Naturally we thought of Jill.
And, naturally, she was totally game.

Not only is jemmTale one of our three show sponsors, she's also official photographer and will be setting up a mini studio during the event to take professional family Christmas photos.
We'll have a tree decked out with all the trimmings and a tickle trunk of props to play with.
Have some fun with tacky holiday sweaters, or spit shine the kids and capture some memories.

Photo sessions are free and, shortly after the show, will be able for viewing in an online gallery.
Should you choose to purchase any photos, Jill will be offering them at discounted prices leading up to Christmas.
Take advantage of the opportunity to have a free professional photo shoot.
Just in time to pop in the mail for the holidays and look like your one of those really organized people who does things like that.

Come early to reserve your spot.
Handmade Harvest doors open at 9am Saturday.
Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This week a woman came in to the shop and told me my window display was ugly.


What she really said was that she almost thought she had the wrong store due to the lack of anything interesting in the windows.

She's not wrong I guess.
Coming up short on the bedside manners perhaps, but not totally wrong.
If only she knew how many things were higher on my list of priorities.

In my defense, it's kind of a strange time of year.
I JUST did my fall display. A few items had sold out of it and it was looking a little sparse, so I had begun cleaning it out thinking I might do a Halloween something...but gosh.
That's a lot of work for only a couple weeks of display time.

I don't want to be lazy though.
I don't care how busy I get, Blackbird has to keep up with appearances.
I LOVE doing my window displays, but I do wish there was a window fairy, or a bunch of elves or something who could come in the night and take that one off my plate for a while.
Any volunteers?
(Seriously. I know some of you are designers. Want to come do my windows once and a while? Could be a fun way to advertise your business.)

Colleen and I are on a major bunting kick right now (expect to see an overload of it at Handmade Harvest), and since the craft show is just around the corner, I thought I might take advantage of the prime advertising real estate, and deck out the windows craft show style.

I zipped over to Textile Traditions after work and picked up a bunch of fat quarters (Kelly has amazing fabrics over there. If you've never been, that shop is an Almonte gem you should really check out) and promptly took them home to chop them up into little bunting triangles.

I had my assistant hand me triangles as I furiously sewed, and in no time I had yards and yards (and yards) of adorable bunting for my "atrocious" window display.

Ta da!
Birch trees and bunting.
I implore you. What could be cuter than that?
Incidentally, it made the perfect backdrop to our Thursday morning photoshoot with Tara from the EMC (local paper). Watch the paper for our article (next week I think).
We're getting loads of great publicity for the craft show.
I hope you're coming! Admission is free free free!

Here's a quick scan of what's in this month's Humm.
You can also find it here (page 15).

On the home front, the renovation of our back room is finally finished!
Save for another coat of paint. But I'm not waiting around for that to be finished to write about it.
For the time being we're going to use this as a kids playroom so we can de-clutter the family room and contain the madness that is all the toys and books and chalkboards and Play-Doh and kid stuff in general.

I told Brad I feel rich having that room done.
We've never really had more space than we need and it all just seems so excessive and luxurious.
Also, Brad paid for pretty much all of it so it feels like the biggest, best, most awesome present ever.

Now to decorate!
Just so happens one of my favourite blogs just did a big feature on playrooms.
Totally inspiring. Check it out here.

Here's another good storage idea which totally screams "Ikea", but also "doable" which always interests me.

And again with the bunting.

Going to an antiquing show with the divine Miss J tomorrow.
I'll be sure to bring the camera!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Post mortem...partum...whatever.

How'd it go?!

You know. The party!
Was it a success? Was it a flop?
Are you crying over piles of funky jackets and cardigans and handbags?
Is that why you haven't blogged in foreeeever?

Quite the opposite my friends.

(Do I do that extra periods for emphasis thing too often or what?)

Blackbird's first annual Clothing and Accessories Event was a HUGE success.
Honestly. Everything sold.
Every clutch, every cardigan, every coat, every scarf, every purse (except for one. I won't buy yellow again until summer that's for sure), everything.

I did have some jewelry pieces left and a few hats but, honestly, I was kind of thankful because the shop was empty.
We opened the doors at about ten to 6pm and by 7:30 the place was looking seriously picked over.

Needless to say I will definitely be doing this again.
On a bigger scale over a longer period of time.
It almost got dangerous in there as far as building capacity goes.
Not to mention the lethal combination of deal crazed women, free cocktails and open flames from the tea lights at the complimentary nail bar.
As always, watch the horizon for what's going to "pop up" next.

Back to business though. Seriously.
The Handmade Harvest Craft Show is less than a month away and it's a wonder my business isn't going down the tube with all the extracurriculars on my plate.
Everything's coming together just fine.
It's just a ton of work.
Most of which we can't even tackle until the night before the show.

You know we'll pull it off.
At least making this event a success isn't something that's resting solely on my shoulders.
Colleen and I just have really high standards for ourselves.
First impressions are important if we're going to move forward with a Spring Show. Go big or go home. All that.

Also, we're still pumping out workshops and being moms.
Sometimes in that order.
(Who are these women who can get buy without a husband at home to keep things together? Do they have to wear super hero garb or is it capes optional?)

This week we made Halloween Wreaths.
The pictures don't do these feathery masterpieces justice...but Lia seems to like hers.

I did actually manage to make time for family stuff in the midst of the madness.

Brad and I, and my parents took Clemmie to the pumpkin patch for some good old fashioned fall time fun.
She especially loved the animals.

We picked out three pumpkins and a baby gourd (mom, dad, Clem & baby Gord) and promptly took them home to wreck them with a hot mess of glitter.
They didn't turn out to be quite as glamourous as I produced in my pre-helper days, but we had fun doing it.

And I wasn't too disappointed when the glitter washed off in the rain the next day.
I'll redo them when she's sleeping and let her think they dried that way.

Or I'll tell her Sophia did it.
She could never be mad at Sophia...

Until next time.