Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Craft Show Recap: "Country Bayou"

Me and my soaps before the show
I hope you aren't tired of my craft show posts, Wonder Turtle friends. I've been doing a lot of them lately - three this month alone. (For the locals, my next craft show is the "Santa's Workshop Craft Fair" at the Navarre Conference Center, FL on November 20 from 9-4. See the "Events" tab on my Facebook Page for more info.)

Last Saturday was the "Bayou Country Craft Show" at Niceville United Methodist Church. We had a fantastic day! (By "we" I don't mean me and my other personalities - at least, not this time. I mean me and my mom, my booth buddy.)

My booth was in the main gymnasium area. We set up the day before, which is something I used to not do. I used to worry about leaving my stuff overnight, but it's rare for any mayhem to occur and it certainly takes a lot of stress out of getting ready the morning of the show. I might wait until the morning of to set up if the show is farther away and just hope that there aren't any surprises.

Shoppers were already starting to arrive while we were taking care of the finishing touches on my booth. I took this to be a good sign, hoping that perhaps it would be a busy day! I had heard good things about this show, and this was my first year participating. I missed it last year for some reason.

I managed to sneak off before the show officially started to visit the Pumpkin Patch. The Patch didn't open until later in the morning, so I was able to walk around and get some lovely pumpkin pics! I remember my dad carving a pumpkin one year when I was little. He cut out rectangles for the eyes, stuck toothpicks into the edge of the rectangles, and then stuck the rectangles on either side of the pumpkin for ears. With its sharp-toothed grin, our pumpkin looked like a Gremlin. It was awesome.

I had scrambled all week to restock my table. I had a good day the Saturday before at Shalimar's Holly Fair and needed to make my table look full again. It's funny - I can take 150 bars to a show, but it never looks like that much once I get it all on the table.

My table at the end of the day

And, boy, was I glad that I had my table fully stocked ... one of my dear friends stopped by and bought 25 bars from me for Christmas presents! (Thank you, dear friend! I won't mention your name in the extremely unlikely event that one or more of your friends may see this post and possibly have their holiday surprise ruined.)

 My dad stopped by, too, and it was very nice to see him. (I should have asked him to pick out a pumpkin so we could make a Halloween Gremlin again.) Thanks, Dad!

I also saw some neighbors at the show and a high school teacher that I had not seen in over 15 years. It's fun to bump into people and catch up.

It was very busy almost all day, and lots of folks turned out for the show. I was up and talking to people most of the day. I love when shows are busy - it is so much more interesting. Days get very, very long when things are slow.

I had an energizing and rewarding day. And when I got home, I was surprised to find an email from someone who had been at the show and had bought a bar from me - she wanted to let me know how much she loved her soap! I thought it was so sweet of her to take the time to contact me, and her kind words really made my day.

Plus, I bought more cupcakes at the bake sale at the show, and I managed to get them into the house without destroying them this time.

Great success!

Thank you to all of the organizers and volunteers at this year's Bayou Country Craft Show. Thank you also to everyone who came out and visited Wonder Turtle Soaps! And thank you to my mom for being my booth buddy again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Craft Show Recap: "Holly Fair"

It's been a busy week in the soaping kitchen, Wonder Turtle friends! I figure I better get a post up about my last craft show before my next one rolls around in less than two days! (For the locals, my next show is at the Niceville UMC this Saturday, October 23, from 8:30-2:30. Check out my upcoming craft show schedule for more info.)

Last Saturday, Wonder Turtle Soaps was at Shalimar UMC's "Holly Fair." The show was a great success, as it was last year. Shalimar UMC has been putting on this show for 14 years, so it is very organized and runs like a well-oiled machine. The staff and volunteers are so nice and helpful, too.

Almost done setting up
The Holly Fair attracts a lot of vendors and shoppers, which makes for a great, lively atmosphere. I was upstairs and shared a room with two other vendors. The church gymnasium was also full of vendor booths, and the courtyard outside also had some booths.

So many nice folks came by my table to chat, and some of them went home with a few bars of soap that I hope will make them (or a lucky gift recipient) very happy! It seemed like a lot of people had soaping stories of their own, and it's always fun to swap soaping stories. Lots of folks were curious about the soapmaking process, and many asked me about the origin of the name "Wonder Turtle Soaps." I explained that I chose the turtle because I am very much like a turtle myself - I am slow, cautious, and deliberate, and I retreat into myself when threatened. (And rest assured that absolutely no turtles are harmed in the making of any Wonder Turtle Soaps.)

The gymnasium downstairs
I got a great suggestion at this show, too, and I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner - several people suggested that I needed a shaker of whole coffee beans to help clear overwhelmed noses. So at the next show I will have a couple of salt shakers full of coffee beans to make sniffing easier!

Also, because I've been doing craft shows for about a year now, I see many of the same people - both vendors and shoppers - again and again. I remember them and they remember me and my mom (my booth buddy), and we've all become very friendly with each other, which is fun.

Lavender was the big hit at this show. At the end of the day, I had one lonely bar of Lavender left and my Lavender Patchouli sold out (but no worries, I made more of both!). It's interesting to see what the big sellers are show-to-show. Sometimes I'll think that something will just fly off the table, but then something else ends up being the favorite. And at each show, it's different. I always try to keep the perennial favorites well-stocked, though. And I restocked my holiday soap inventory since it's getting to be that time of year!

Ken and me
My husband, Ken, stopped by to see us during the middle of the day. He's sweet about coming by to visit, and he also usually makes me his World Famous Bean Burritos for dinner after a craft show. Craft shows are fun, but at the end of the day, I'm ready to chill, so he handles the cooking and we hang out at home. Sweet, huh?

Because I knew he was cooking dinner, I thought I'd bring home something for dessert. The Holly Fair also had a bakery two doors down from my room, so I paid them a visit with my wallet in hand. I desperately wanted pumpkin bread, and I did find a loaf of sweet, spicy, glorious pumpkin bread. I also wanted something icky-sweet and cake-y, and when I spied some individually-wrapped cupcakes with fluffy frosting and sparkly sugar sprinkles on top, I thought, bingo!

They would have been perfect for a post-burrito dessert, but ...

I succeeded in keeping the cupcakes in pristine shape during the day, and I lovingly set them in a safe place when we loaded my mom's Jeep after the show. Somewhere between the Jeep and my house, though, tragedy struck. After the cupcakes were smashed, Ken didn't find them especially appetizing (picky, picky), which meant more cupcakes for me.

It was a wonderful day at the Holly Fair - pulverized    cupcakes notwithstanding - and I'm hoping Niceville UMC's "Bayou Country Craft Show" this Saturday goes well, too. From everything I hear, it should be a great show. (Thank you to all of the craft show organizers, and to everyone who comes out to the shows!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seaside Getaway

The last couple of weeks have been hectic, and by last Friday I was feeling more than just a little burned out. I was glad to finally have a long holiday weekend where nothing much was going on so I could recharge and decompress.

Last weekend, the weather was stunningly beautiful, so my husband and I took a drive to Seaside, FL for a short day trip on Saturday.

Seaside is an idyllic planned community of sea cottages and cute little shops and restaurants alongside the Gulf of Mexico just beyond Sandestin in Northwest Florida. Seaside is about a 45-minute drive away from my neighborhood, and we're lucky that we can just hop in the car and be there in no time.

We are quite proud of Seaside here in the Panhandle because it served as the fictional town of Seahaven in 1998's "The Truman Show" starring Jim Carrey.

Only Seaside is real. It exists, and, yes, it really looks like Seahaven. We enjoy popping over there every once in a while because it's just so darn nice. It's almost like being on another planet.

The beach is the main attraction, of course, and during our visit on this warm Columbus Day weekend, there were plenty of beachgoers enjoying the surf and sand. (And, as you can see, there's no trace of oil on the beaches from the BP spill - our gorgeous sugar-white sand is still sugar-white, and the waters of the Emerald Coast are still emerald green!)

You would think that I would be at the beach all the time, living so close to it. So many people pay big bucks to come down here to enjoy what's just a short car drive for me. But the truth is, I haven't been to the beach in years. Well, I guess what I should say is that I haven't been to the beach for the purpose of hanging out in the sand and going in the water for years. When I go to the beach, it's usually just to snap a few photos. If it's the off-season, it's nice to walk along the water's edge for a bit. Honestly, though, the traditional hot-weather "going to the beach" experience is just too much of a sweaty, messy hassle for me anymore. I was probably spoiled growing up with these gorgeous beaches in my backyard. When I was a kid, we were out on the Hobie or visiting the beaches a lot. As an adult, though, I can rarely be found at the beach or on the water.

Anyway, a couple of my favorite independent shops in Seaside are Sundog Books and Central Square Records, both housed in the same building. Sundog Books is a cute little book shop with a lot of local flair. They have mainstream books there, but they also have gorgeous coffee table books about Seaside and coastal living, regional cookbooks, and other souvenirs. And upstairs at Central Square Records is a hip little space filled with new and vintage CDs and records (large, grooved vinyl things that are played on an ancient machine called a "turntable"). Both stores have a cool, coffeehouse vibe about them. A sweet black dog even wanders around the bookstore - I don't know the dog's name, so I just call him Sundog.

The Modica Market is another favorite. It's a neat little grocery store with a deli and a bakery and lots of gourmet items. We picked up a yummy jar of spicy-sweet peach salsa and a slice of orange Sunshine Cake during our previous visit. And Modica Market was also featured in "The Truman Show" - Truman's buddy was stocking a vending machine there in one scene.

Our little trip to Seaside was a nice getaway for the day. Clear blue skies, beach breezes, and the gentle swooshes of the waves certainly soothe the soul. It's easy to forget your worries when you're in a place like Seaside. It seems inconceivable that any problems could exist here, but I'm sure they do.

If you ever have the opportunity to come out this way, I highly recommend it. (Just please mind the lifeguards and our beach safety flag system!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Craft Show Recap: "Jingle Bell Craft Show"

Woo-wee, it has been a frantic couple of weeks here, Wonder Turtle friends! I've been making, packaging, and labeling soap like a crazy person. October is a busy craft show month - I've got two more coming up in the next two weeks. (If you're in the Fort Walton Beach, FL area and you want to know where Wonder Turtle Soaps is heading next, check out my craft show schedule for October and November.)

Last Saturday, I did the Jingle Bell craft show in Mary Esther. It was a great show. Sales were good and I met a lot of nice folks. It's so exciting that autumn and the holiday season are finally drawing near, and the craft shows are becoming more festive! I especially love craft shows at this time of year. I introduced this year's Christmas/holiday/winter soaps at this show, and I am gradually listing them in my Etsy shop.

I've been doing craft shows for a year now, so I'm starting to cycle back through some of last year's venues. Several people from the Jingle Bell remembered me and my mom (my booth buddy) from last year and other craft shows. It was so cool to hear things like, "I bought some of your soap last year" or "I got some of your soap as a gift." When I make a new batch of soap, I make it hoping that people will love it, so it's very nice to get such positive feedback.

It's always fun to talk to people at the shows. Some are soapers themselves  and have soaping stories of their own, or they'll share stories about their favorite soaps. Maybe a soap will remind them of a granddaughter or nephew, and they'll tell you a cute story about their family. Or maybe a fragrance triggers a memory for them. It's fun to hear stories like these.

Kids like soap, too, and it's fun when they come over to chat. My favorite moment at the Jingle Bell was when this adorable little girl came up to my table and said she was looking for a soap that is "shaped like Eeyore and smells like a pig." I had to agree that that would be awesome.

At the end of the day, some folks went home with some soap that I hope will make them (or a gift recipient) very happy. Many people asked about my upcoming shows, so I hope to see some familiar faces during the next couple of weeks!

I will take photos at the upcoming shows, too, and I plan to work on my pictures. I worry that all of my craft show photos are starting to look the same - I need to venture away from my immediate area if I get the chance and snap some pics. Usually, I get my booth ready only moments before the show officially starts, and I don't like to leave my booth if I can help it. I am kicking myself now for not taking pictures of the pumpkin patch outside at the last show, but I think there will be a pumpkin patch at the Niceville show. (Some of the venues have these big pumpkin patches out front this time of year where you can pick out a pumpkin for carving, decorating, or eating. It's so pretty and just captures the essence of fall. I can't believe I didn't think to get a photo - it occurred to me a few days after the show. Way to think quick there, brain!)

If you participate in shows either as a vendor or shopper, how are they going? Anybody have some favorite craft show stories?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Upcoming Craft Show Schedule

Hi, Wonder Turtle friends! Just had a great day at the Jingle Bell Craft Show in Mary Esther (more on that later in a future blog post).

Lots of nice folks were asking about which upcoming shows I plan to be at, and I want to make sure they can find me!

So here it is. Wonder Turtle Soaps will be at:

The Holly Fair - Saturday, October 16 from 8:30a.m.-3:00p.m. at Shalimar United Methodist Church (1 Old Ferry Road, Shalimar, FL)

The Bayou Country Craft Show - Saturday, October 23 from 8:30a.m.-2:30p.m. at Niceville United Methodist Church (214 Partin Drive S, Niceville, FL)

The Santa's Workshop Craft Fair - Saturday, November 20 from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Navarre Conference Center (8700 Navarre Parkway, Navarre, FL)

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to the Jingle Bell Craft Show today! Hope to see you at some of the upcoming shows!