Back on the wagon- Couch to 5K running plan

So it has been about 8 weeks since I last ran. the October snowfall and cold spell stopped me early this year and then when i could go back, I was so caught up in getting ready for the Christmas season that I just didn't make the time.

But for the next few weeks I am visiting C's family in Puerto Rico so I promised myself to take advantage of the warm weather and get back to running.

Oh how much I lost in 8 weeks..

So last I ran I was on Day 1 of week 5...Now I am back on week 3 and struggling to run 3 minutes straight. I know some of it is that I lost stamina, I haven't been taking the best care of myself and i put weight back on and didn't sleep or eat right for two months. But i am ashamed at how much I had to backtrack.

Today was my third try at the workout and I still can't make it the 3 minutes. I will try again Sunday. I also know that the heat and humidity is making it harder for me. All I can do is keep trying. I hope that before I go back home I can be on week 4 and then if it is nice enough out I can keep going from there. I have 11 more days to try.. that is all I can do, try...

wish me luck.

Time to catch up

So i was so exhausted by the last week of Chriskindlmarkt that I just couldn't blog it. But now I can do some catchup on that at Christmas City Village.

So chriskindlmarkt...

1) turned out OK. It wasn't the stellar sales of last year, but it was better than 2009, so my trend of doing better each year (ignoring 2010) is still there.

2) five weeks is tough on me. I need to be better prepared next year both in inventory and in stamina

3) I am torn when it comes to having the bigger booth. I know that it helps sales because there is more room for people to look around in, but I am not sure it is worth my return on investment yet. i just dont see myself going back any time soon.

4) yes there are some kinks to work out, but i think the show will be better than ever next year.

Christmas City Village

1) it amazes me that two shows so close to each other can both do so well

2) the booths needs some work and some tweaks, but they will be better each year as time goes on

3) the nice weather was a big plus, this show is dependant on it

4) lots of news media picked up the story and that was a huge help too.

5) even the last weekend so close to Christmas 9on Christmas Eve) was sucessful

So comparing the two shows is like apples and oranges. One is quaint, the other showy and I think they draw a different demographic. I was lucky to be able to take part in both and I would like to keep doing that for as long as possible. the combination of the two really ended the year on a great note and set us up to survive the next few months without shows.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 15

Just a few things to say about today...

Much better than expected. Sales were brisk and I finally started seeing some of the "regulars" come out in larger numbers. Maybe the cold finally drove everyone inside to shop.

Odd sales... three shave mugs... in a row...hardy ever sell three a day and then to have them right after one another...just an odd start to the day.

To the person who stole a bar of soap from me...I saw you...I know what you look like...I only didn't run you down because my booth was too full for me to get out of it...probably the reason why you stole it in the first place..learn some patience, wait your turn in line...

To those artisans who are up in sales.. I am happy for you, it couldn't be happening to nicer people. To those of us who are down but accepting it with an "it is what it is" mentality, you are my heroes, I learn how to make the best out of a not great situation from you, thank you. And to those who are down and can't stop botching and wining over it, get over it and get over yourself, you will look back in a few months and be embarrassed by your words and actions. And if you are not you should be more ashamed of yourselves. You get what you put out into the world and spreading unhappiness and being cranky only gets you back people who are unhappy and cranky, and those are the ones browsing not shopping. You are getting what you are giving out.

And those are my thoughts for the day!


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 14


Last year this day I was proclaiming Best Day Ever... this year it's only the best day so far and sales were down by half from last year.

I am not the only one. So many people have a sob story to tell and you can't know which ones are true and which ones are just so your friends aren't jealous of your success. But of the people I know, the people I trust, sales are down or even, there is no up.

I am tired, and ready for a few days off. These last few days have mentally and physically tired me out. I hope I can fit in time for a nap on Monday.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 13

Today I had to leave a very sick kitty home alone. It made me sad and I cried most of the morning. She wasn't with us when we all returned home, and the vet came to take her from us so she could be cremated. I am glad that I decided to stay home on Thursday rather than go out with friends, it gave me one last night with my fur baby.

This is the time of the year where it is hard to have a real life, to balance personal with professional. We leave the house at 9 am to go to the show and return home at 9 pm. That gives us 12 hours for sleep, packing inventory, sending out orders, eating breakfast, taking showers, and well...trying to be human to the rest of the family and our friends. I wish everyone understood what all people in retail give up so that they can enjoy their shopping experiences. There should be a national "be nice to your retail associate day".

Sales were ok, not terrific, but OK. But more importantly was my customers. I met a mom who is a fizzy fan and looks for them every year under her tree, my friends the young newly wed couple who just came by to say hello, and about a dozen other repeat customers who consistently plastered a smile onto my face. I wasn't sad all day, I couldn't be surrounded by the love I felt. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!

Well, today is the big day, bet Saturday for the show (usually) lets see what happens!


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 12

Well today sucked, but because of personal reasons, not because of sales.

My kitty is sick, and I don't think GinSue will make it until Monday (when we have the vet visiting to euthanize her). I was a wreck all morning and on the verge of tears all day. I don't pray often, but I stood in my booth praying to "not loose my shit" today". It worked. I was blessed with friends who gave me things to do (planning a 2012 vacation) and lots of customers, and sales to boot. so my mind was kept busy and my hands were kept busy and I made it through the day.

I forgot my money at the show, so I hope it is still there when I get in today, so I have no idea what my sales were. I forgot my inventory list, so I have to try and remember what I need to bring in today too.

Ginny is more sick today. I don't want C to come home from his trip and find her gone, but I hope that she passes over soon so she is a kitten again in whatever heaven cats go to.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 11

Sunday December 4

Whoo Hoo, a good day all around. Both dad and I had two very strong, solid sales days. He called me around three to tell me he was doing good despite his cold. I am hoping having a few days off will let him recuperate and help him feel better.

Some of my neighbors who have been complaining about slow sales now say they are up, others are up from last year as well, and still others who can't stop complaining are "up but it should be better than this"... really??? Be serious now people!!!!

I even made a few sales of some knitted things at Indiemade since my knitting friends had a booth there.

Gonna be a busy week, have to get inventory ready for a new store opening in Easton, and we vend Tuesday at Mulhenberg College. I have a few Christmas gifts I need to get knitting, and sachets to make.....

No rest for the weary this week :)

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 10

Saturday December 3

Now this is more like it! It was a very good day. Now it was not as great as 2010, but that was one of the highest attended days ever, but it was good enough that I am now running neck and neck with my 2009 numbers.

Last year was terrific, you couldn't wipe the happy off my face, but when I went back and looked, it was way up from 2009, so far up that I certainly couldn't expect 2011 to keep pace or exceed it. So now I am right on target as if 2010 never existed and I base my sales expectations and growth expectations on 2009 numbers.

Perfect. Right where I want to be.

Then add on all of dad's hard work at Christmas City Village and sales for the year will hit target projections and we can pay off some debt and start next year with enough money in the bank to pay bills, pay show fees, and start making soap. As long as the next three weeks go as planned. I big storm will mess these hopes all up but I think the weather looks good.

But I am finally happy, smiling, and not scared as hell.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 9

Friday December 2: Day 9

The day started out great, dad was on the morning news at Christmas City Village. Somehow he still managed to get a plug in for Chistkindlmarkt, bravo!

I had about a half dozen customers comment on his morning spot. He did me so proud!

The day for me was mediocre. I expected better from this Friday based on previous years but it wasn't bad at all. It was a very solid day, with a decent amount of people.

Many of my counterparts are still cranky. I wish some of them had the common sense to stop complaining about customers (or the lack thereof) when there s actually a customer in the booth. Some of them are costing me and other crafters sales and if it happens again today I am going to go ballistic. The lack of professionalism appalls me. I am doing my best to hide in my booth and stay out of it except for checking in with a few of my closet friends. I know I have to do a better job at it too and that is my goal for the next two days.

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 8

Thursday December 1 Day 8

There isn't much to say about today. Sales were slow, I was cold, and I a tired of my fellow artisans being cranky. It is what it is... We are scheduled for the time we are here, nothing we can do will change things, other than putting on put festive clothes, our biggest smiles, and start oozing holiday cheer.

I remember why I dislike working in a corporate situation...too much drama, too much whining. I like fast paced shows where I come in, work hard, and go home to my family and friends. And this just hasn't been as fast paced as previous years.

Fast paced isn't all about sales, it's about people and having interest and about having people present and engaged. There are days all I do is answer questions, explain my process, and encourage sniffing, yet make minimal sales, but those days are fun and go by fast.

I wish I could see real demographic information about this show, especially comparing the last few years. This year seems to be skewing older and less local. But maybe that is just my gut feeling about it based on who does come in my booth and buys.

But I got lots of work done and things accomplished, and that is never a bad day.


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Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 7

It was a great day to cap off the second week of the event. I had a steady flow of customers and the weather was beautiful so the tent was warm all day.

Dad was nice and warm over in his hut as well but fell short of his days sales goals by $3... In all I am very happy with his sales for the weekend and I am very proud of the hard work he has been putting in.

My sales fell short of last year's, but I have the two strongest weeks of sales coming up so I think I will catch up and do just fine.

Today I am thankful for my best friend and her husband. C locked himself out of the house and her husband came to the rescue with the spare key. It saved up a lot of grief, either with an emergency lock smith or breaking a window (which probably would be cheaper to fix than calling a locksmith). After the show we met for dinner and got to blow off some steam and compare notes and most importantly have fun and laugh a lot.

She is afraid for me. She is afraid that taking part in both craft events this winter will anger the ArtsQuest gods and I will be blackballed from their events next year. I have more faith in them than that. Yes there are rumors that this has happened to other artisans, but I don't think that any situation is that easy to explain, and I don't think that listening to rumors and hearsay is the way to make business decisions.

I made a business decision based on what I thought would be best for my business and my family. I looked at my financial needs, the crumbling economy, and my options. Being that we only travel 60 miles from the house for craft shows, there are only so many I can choose from to participate in. Yes, that means some weekends dad and I will be at competing shows, but that can't be avoided. And I am like the mayor of Bethlehem, I think both of these events compliment each other and having them both is an amazing opportunity for the city itself.

I believe that ArtsQuest will continue to support the local artisan and I will continue to support it and have faith in them as long as it does just that.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 6

So today was a good day. I won the Hedge vs Dad sales battles for the day. We promised from now on we wouldn't be in a contest about it, but it is hard not to do for the first few days and is kinda fun to compare.

But as I promised I wanted to think of good things, be thankful for things, and project that attitude out into the world. I think I did pretty good. I started out dressing up nice, it was a warm do so I could wear a skirt without getting too cold.

So here are the things I am thankful for:

1) I am thankful for my neighbors. Barry and Sandy G (and Cindy) make the best neighbors. They check on me and take care of me when I need it, and are friendly, but understand when customers are there who comes first, and don't complain about things all day. They are my favorite neighbors.

2) The aisles are wider this year. When it gets busy there is much more room for people to maneuver around. Especially the wheelchairs and strollers. There is actually enough room to keep a stroller in the aisle without blocking it while mom or dad shop.

3) Parking is much better, both for patrons and for artisans. It is so nice not to have to get there early and squish my car in someplace just to have it blocked in when I go to leave.

4) Having Sandy come stay with us. My artisan friend comes and stays with us each weekend. I love having this time with her each week and I look forward to having someone to talk to who understands the uniqueness of our jobs.

5) Seeing faces I recognize. I love catching up with artisans I only see once a year and seeing how our lives have been going. I love hearing all the stories of the past twelve months of shows and life. I also love seeing customers that I know. It is amazing how many over the years I have started to recognize as repeat customers. I have always been bad with names, but I know the faces and remember odd details, like their favorite soaps or their husbands birthday. I sometimes surprise them by remembering these things, and I always hope they don't think I'm creepy, it's just the way my brain works.

OK, so those are five things I thought of yesterday while in between customers, I plan on thinking of more today and I want to make a gratitude list each day, even if it is only one thing. I need to keep my head up, my attitude positive, and pt out into the world h energy I want to get back from it.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 5

November 25, 2011

My father kicked my butt...in an 8 foot x 8 foot hut, nestled in the Sun Inn courtyard, at a brand new event, my father sold more than I did.

Now I had my best day so far at Christkindlmarkt, but by no means was it the Black Friday of yesteryear. The show seemed relatively full of customers, but I think it was more full of crafter drama than I ever remember it. They set up two artisans who do relative the same thing across from one another, almost immediately when you walk in the door. One told me that she was apologized to for the mistake, but I think a reimbursement is in order in some way for the lost revenue and the grief of having a competitor right at your door.

It rained again during the off days, so at least half the artists and have soaking wet rugs again. There is only so much the shop vac can dry out when the macadam underneath is wet.

I am tired of all the drama, I hide in my booth and people still come to me to complain because they have time to wander around outside their booths. I just want to come to work, put my head down, sell soap, and go home to my family and friends.

My only real complaint this year is the food. I don't know if it is the wind, or the placement of the heater unit intake, or what, but this is the only year I have ever had the heavy smell of grease in my booth. It is sad when a 10 foot by 15 foot booth is full of soap and customers comment on the grease smell. I am farther away from them than I have been in the past, so it has to be something about the new set up. But I barely ate all day because I found the smell overwhelming. I give thanks to the fact I am not across from them.

OK... my goal for tomorrow is to find a list of ten positive things about the move and new set up. It is too easy to dwell on the negative, and you get back from the universe what you put out into the universe, so from right now I am focusing on the positive and changing my attitude!!!


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 4

November 20: Day 4 of 19

Sales Sunday were the second best of the weekend, but that's not saying much. Happy to say this week is over. Glad I have a few days off. And blessed by every dollar and sale I made, because I know I did better than many who attended this weekend.


There is a list of things that just make me say WTF????

1) Shows are usually set up in a way that the majority of the people turn to their right as soon as they enter. This one is backwards, everyone is forced to go left, or go around the stage, through the food, and then get to crafts if they go right. And when they leave the first tent, the have to go left into the craft tent, the whole thing is set up "backwards".

2) People enter into the darkest part of the tent- the food court- leaving the brightness of a clear day, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the utter darkness of the food court area and can be downright disorientating. The opposite happens when they leave, they are blinded by the sunlight, and it will be worse when there is reflection from snow.

3) If you do come in and turn left, one of the first booths puts a cup in your hand. It is a sample of some drink mix. But the first rule of merchandise is to keep peoples hands empty so they will keep filling them. Basic theory of a shopping cart, and the reason why most places offer "to take that" while you look around more. Empty hands mean more purchases. And there are no garbage cans in that isle anywhere for people to get rid of this empty cup, so that whole row deals with cups being left on displays and becoming garbage cans for little cups all day.

4) Selling cigars- really? Isn't this a family show? This is allowed? Is there licensing involved for that? And are they doing a proper ID check with purchase? And since they are soaked in alcohol, does that change things even more? This whole booth makes me shutter every time I pass it. It just feels wrong and to have it be one of the first things you see is wrong on even more levels.

5) What is the deal with grouping all the like vendors together in one big bunch. The first row has cinnamon beeswax (and will have two vendors of it next week), soap (not me), and candles all withing 10 booths of each other. Talk about sensory overload. And jewelry people set up across from one another? Was this place just filled first come first serve, because if someone planned this, I do not understand their thought process at all.

6) And the poor crafters that face the food vendors, all they look at is peoples butts all day. The lines for food extend into their booths, keeps out customers, and the food smell permeates their displays and clothes. Nothing like going home without sales and smelling like fried pickles. I could get that at a street fair, I don't expect that at a high end event like this.

7) And where are the garbage cans? It isn't just the little cups that are a problem, but each row should end with a garbage can, at the very least. Or in the center where the horizontal aisle is there could be one at every intersection. But they are no where to be found.

8) The odd thought for the day came to me from a crafts person whose booth sits between parking space lines. She swears these lines on the floor are like invisible barriers that keep people out of the booths in her row. She says you can see people look down at them (thinking maybe they re raised up some???) and then think twice about crossing them into the booth space. She is going so far as to buy a rug to cover hers to see if she can see a difference in peoples behavior in the weeks to come.

9) Is the safest way to cover a drain a piece of plywood, some sandbags, and a table and chairs? Because the drain in the middle of the food court is covered in just this way. And if it does rain hard would that mean that drain won't ...well... drain? and what happens to that water?

And after 4 days these are the things that make me shake my head and wonder....I bet next week their will be more.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 3

Saturday November 19th: Day 3

OMG I think I am in a black hole... of wait, a black hole attracts things with a powerful gravitational force, I need to look up what repels things, like customers, because I don't have any.

So if I am lucky this weekend I will make in four days what I averaged in 1 last year. Seriously. Four days. OMG.

I know of two crafters who had things stolen from them so far. It may be because it has been so slow we are are not properly manning our booths, we are off chatting with our friends, eating, or doing other work.. or there just could be a higher than average loss rate this year due to the weak economy.

But the highlight of my day was that Gabe came and helped. He is very good in the booth and I think he will be a big help as the days get busier. It was good to have a trial run on this slower day so we can work together better on the really crazy ones. See I have faith, there are crazy ones to come. I pray there are crazy ones to come.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 2

Day 2 Friday November 18.

Well my day could have started out better. After having a conversation with a few colleagues I realized I had been overcharged for my booth space. Great.. Now I have that to deal with that as well. Gotta figure out who the right person to talk to about that is. At least I will get a reimbursement which is never a bad thing. I found the right person, gave them my paperwork and receipt copy, so things should be all straightened out in a few days. Turns out it was just a few hours and all is right with the payment situation. Bravo on the quick fix!

I tried bringing in a lamp to use in a dark space... Didn't work, the light was great but it hid my wreath. I ended up using my clip light from my work space so now I feel like I am sitting in the dark... If we don't get customers I am going to find it hard not to take a nap. But in fact, the sunshine brightens up my booth quite a bit during the afternoon. So much in fact that the spot in the tent that is not tightly secured sends a beam of light onto the curtain between me and my neighbor, I am tacking it as it moves across my booth space and acts as a defacto sun dial. It will be a fun way to keep tract of time in the days to come.

Sales were slower even than Thursday which really surprised me. I expected people to come out after work. I can't judge till after this weekend but for me sales have been a bust, haven't even made my booth fee back yet. I know I gambled on this weekend and hoped that the pros would outweigh the cons. I loved the idea of not setting up on Thanksgiving was my main motivation for trying this out, but I certainly don't like the idea f going into this season with a loss.

So if you have been thinking of going---- go--- come out and shop-----there is cool stuff, cool people, and no lines. It's awesome!

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 1

Day 1- Thursday November 17. Now I wait for customers. Everyone is set up and ready to sell sell sell. There is a pervasive disappointment in the tent. Once agin, people dislike change, and put enough vendors together with nothing to distract them ( ie customers) and you get a gripe fest.

A shop vac was brought so people could vac the water out of their carpets. I decided to just let mine go, it wasn't soaking wet and I didn't feel like getting on my hands and knees to do it right.

For me I have this odd perception that the show is actually smaller than last year. It may because the show is wider with an extra row, or because the entertainment doesn't break up the vendors the same way, or because it seems there are tons of 15 and 20 foot booths rather than the typical 10 footers. But my perception is that the show is smaller with less vendors rather than bigger like they have been saying it would be. Going to pull out last years floor plan and check things out.

And can I just say there are no real bathrooms close by and the port-o-let's are so far away for me. It is going to be a cold month of long walks to do my business.

And the music is farther away from me but louder because I am no longer behind the speakers.... Fun....

Sales have been sporadic but overall better than I had expected, but not as good as I had hoped. It is getting quite cold in here, especially my feet. I am very glad I have a foot warmer and leg warmers I can put on. It certainly gets and stays warmer the more people who are in here and having customers keeps me moving and makes me warmer.

Glad the day came to an end. Tired and falling into bed for sure
Only 18 days to go...

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day -0 (setup day 2)

Day 0: second day of set up. Arrived about ten am and was very happy that the bulk of everything had been brought in the day before, it was raining and soon began to downpour. By noon, I was questioning who designed the tent position, layout, and parking lot design. Obviously there was a communication break down somewhere. Because the rain flowed like a stream through the tent to the drain, located at the center of the tent. I am happy that the parking lot drainage system works well, but the tent and booth location in relation to said drain leaves much to be desired. Before the sump pumps were brought in and turned on, there was enough flowing water that I contemplated handing out rubber duckies to the vendors so we could all play in the water as many waited to be able to even begin their installation.

My rug is soaked and I had to get wood to boost up a few displays out of the stream in my booth, but I avoided the bulk of the water, some had a few inches before the pumps were turned on. Nothing better than starting a show with a soaking wet rug...

I got all of my inventory where I wanted it, a few little things figured out, all my wrapping area set, cash register ready, and I feel pretty good. I think there is a spot that needs more light, but that means I need to bring the ladder back and refocus a few lights. I might need one more lamp, but I am hoping to avoid that if possible.

By four I was ready to cover up everything and leave. Just a small list of things to bring for the next day and a few things to do at the house in the morning and I am set.

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day -1 (set up day #1)

Day -1.... First day of set up for the show. Kinda hard to get used to the new set up and most people were having the same problem as me. In theory I am in the same place, next to Barry G. and right near the end of the food vendors, but since the food vendors have moved and so has the food court and entertainment, I am not really in the same spot. Also, the entrance has moved so that will impact the flow of people too. There isn't any real way to know what is going to happen till this place fills with people, and that may not happen until week three if we go by last years peak attendance days.

Overall I am not greeting a good vibe, people don't like change and it will be interesting to see what those changes bring.

As for the set up it went well. C did all the electric for me and we got all the displays up and all the inventory unloaded into the booth. We made a list of things to bring the next day and headed home. It took about five hours to accomplish all that.


Clearview Elementary School and Indian Valley Women's Club

These past few shows were all Dad's to do. I stayed home and got things ready for Chriskindlmarkt. I think I would have rather been at the shows :)

He took part in the Clearview Elementary show last year and did well. It isn't just arts and crafts, it is vendors and an auction all to raise money for the PTO. He did better than last year and he loves the event. Only three hours at night it is a short event with an easy set up and dismantle. It is inside, and well attended by people who are connected with the event. Overall he always has fun at this show and enjoys being part of it.

The next day he went down to the Indian Valley Women's Club show in Souderton. It was his first time at the show and he said that the set up and dismantle was very easy. It was a very well attended day but he noticed that the isles were quite narrow so it was hard when someone stopped at a booth and then the next person wanted to by. They plan on addressing that next year by hopefully expanding into other parts of the school the event is held in. Sales were strong, the food was good and affordable, and his neighbors were all friendly. Overall a great day and he plans on attending again next year.


St. Lukes Craft Show and Peddler's Village Apple Festival

This weekend Dad went to the St. Luke's Craft Show and Health Fair. This year they broke the show into two days- the usual Saturday show for the regular price, plus, a Friday "preview day" for an additional cost. The Friday only had a small number of spaces available, and you had to move your display at the end of the day to the location it would be in on Saturday. So it was kinda like doing two different one day shows, only within walking distance of one another.

Friday Dad did great. I was very surprised at his sales and I think it was because his location brought in many employees and patients as well. Saturday was terrible. According to Dad it wasn't just him, it was mostly everyone who was down in sales. So when you added the two days together I made $13 less than last year in one day (and paid a higher fee to be there too). But I look at the bright side, we were one of the few who had the opportunity to vend on Friday, so I feel as though the weekend could have been much worse had we just decided to do Saturday.

On a related note, I do think last weekends storm kept people from the buying mood. May people lost their whole refrigerators and freezers full of food, many had property damage, and other storm related expenses. The storm and it's impact was the topic of conversation, and I think it left many people short on extra cash this weekend.

Now the Apple Festival at Peddler's Village was really great for me this year. For some other people- not so much. But I was up over %30 from last year.

The weather during the days was beautiful. It was in the mid 50's. But let me tell you, setting up in the morning when it is a finger numbing 25 degrees out is just awful. Luckily there is a set up time available on Friday afternoons, so I just need to remember to take advantage of that in the future. It was also quite chilly once the sun started to set so our mini propane heater certainly came in handy. One other thing- pack up fact on Sunday or you will be packing by car headlight- it gets dark very fast. If I don't start cleaning up before the end of the show there is on way I would be able to get out of there while I could still see without a flashlight.

So that was my weekend- next stop for me is Chriskindlmarkt!


October 2011 Snow

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October 2011 Snow, a set on Flickr.

Here are my pictures of the October Snow Storm. We are lucky and got power back on yesterday.


Dr. Sam's Veterinary Housecalls

I have been meaning to blog about this for a while now, and since it is snowing I figured this is a good day to get caught up on inside work, including this blog post.

A few months ago I decided it was time to have my two furry children checked out. It actually started because Fuchsia, my long haired cat, had stopped grooming herself in her old age and I wanted he checked out and possibly sedated and then groomed. But just about a week before my other cat, GinSue, started acting really weird. I knew that she had been off, she hadn't been sleeping with me for weeks, but I figured it was due to the crazy schedule I have during August and that she was just mad at me, or experiencing some anxiety.

I had read an article about another local vet who makes house calls for euthanasia, and had bookmarked that site thinking I may need it one day. But that sparked a thought that maybe someone else would come to the house and see the girls, saving me the time and the agony of binging them into an office. So I looked up veterinarians who make house calls and stumbled upon Dr. Samantha Ottinger.

And before you ask, yes it costs a little more. There is a "house call" fee above the regular visit fee and any other testing fees. But it wasn't so expensive to be cost prohibitive, and in fact in the end I thought it was well worth every penny (and more).

I made the appointment via email, which is great for my crazy schedule. We decided on a Monday and Dr. Sam and her assistant Lexi arrived. It was amazing- they had these kits all ready with everything they would need, a scale, the laptop, it was impressive. What was more impressive was how GinSue handled the visit. She acted like it was any other of my friends coming over, and although some of the poking and prodding offended her a little, she didn't run and hide during the exam at all. Since Fuchsia is a more cranky cat, she did eventually hiss and spit a little, but nothing near the anger and abuse I expected her to dole out to our visitors. The whole experience was much more comfortable for me as well. I got to sit on the floor, hold them while blood was taken, and in general be part of the procedure, rather than just having them whisked away from me to some unknown part of the office.

So while the news for Fuchsia was good, she is old but healthy for her age, it was not good news for GinSue. Some of her lab work came back off the chart, and it was diagnosed at CRF- Chronic Renal Failure. Our little furry girl is on a path, and we know where it will end, now all we can do is make her comfortable along the way. About a week later I made another appointment with Dr. Sam and she and Lexi came out to administer some subcutaneous fluids to GinSue before I left on a trip with my Mom. I got her medications and left my dad in charge. Honestly, I didn't expect her to be here when I got back.

But here she is and she is doing well. She is comfortable and responding to her medications well. Dr.Sam answers all of my questions quickly (via email) and is honest, reliable, comforting, but realistic. And when it s time for GinSue to leave us, Dr.Sam will come to the house and go through the process of euthanizing her with us, and be sure she is cremated properly, and return her to us in the end. Knowing that is very comforting to me.

So please, if you are in need of a vet, call Dr.Sam. You ultimately may not like the news you hear, but it is impossible not to like the doctor you will be getting it from.

Samantha Ottinger, DVM
PO Box 152
Bath, PA 18014-0152
(484) 809-9838


October 17th Mulhenberg College

Last April we took part in the College's Earth Day Celebration and we were welcomed with open arms. It was a wonderful day and event, so we searched out how to vend at the campus more regularly. So now once a month we go and vend and give 20% of our sales to EnAct, and on campus environmental group.

We set up inside the Student Union and we vend for about 6 hours, It is super easy to get in and out of the building, we live really close. There is a place to get food and drinks right there and we are close to the restrooms. All the things that make vending pleasant.

Add in a very intellectual student body who is engaging and you have a great day no matter what the sales figures are at the end of the day. October was not as string as September, but if I remember college, it was easier to spend money at the start of a semester than at the end of it when that money was gone. We also vended on a Monday rather than the Wednesday we vended on in September so that may make a difference too depending on class schedules and such. We are trying to plan for one more day at the end of November so student shave an opportunity to purchase holiday gifts and then we will be back in 2012.

October 15th 2011 White Horse Farm

This is the most beautiful place to have an event. The farm is wonderful, the alpacas and goats are adorable, and the food is beyond excellent The barn we vend in is clean, dry, spacious, well lighted, easy to get in and out of. The day was super windy so I was glad that I decided to vend inside and pay the extra money than vend outside. I think we would have had to leave, it was too much for me to handle out there.

Now for the cons. There were almost double the amount of vendors this year and I made half the amount of money as I did last year, and they did not double attendance from last year. See the math problem here? I have this theory that since the economy is soft right now, people are coming to events with a stricter budget to adhere to. This means that they hope to spend this year what they spent last year (or maybe even less) and adding so many new vendors dilutes that money over more people. The only way to keep that from happening as much is to drastically increase the number of people attending. So in this case, what was a pretty good event for just a few vendors ended up being a mediocre (or worse) event for many vendors.

I love the day, I love the event, I love the people. But it is over an hour away from home and takes up quite a bit of gas and tolls to get there. I have to admit, I doubt we will be back next year as vendors. I will go and see the alpacas, have lunch and shop, but won't have a booth there.


Couch to 5K Week 5- Day 1 Another try- Again

So a chest cold and some general self misery has kept me from running for the last few weeks. But I had a good talking to myself, and watched the pounds crawl back up the scale and promised myself to get going again.

So I started again with Week 5 Day 1. I finally found myself a route I like and can modify as I run farther. It is a series of lops, kind of like two figure 8's next to each other, so I can just keep adding loops around my self made "track". And I ate before I ran, so now I can do this with food in my tummy and not get sick to my stomach.

So how did I do?? I think I did pretty well.

Walk 5 minutes- Done
Run 5 minutes (ran 4:30)
walked 3 minutes- done
run 5 minutes (ran 3:00)
walk 3 minutes- done
Run 5 minutes- Done!!
walk 5 minutes- done!

So I am feeling pretty good. After the first interval my chest was on fire but by the end I seemed to have found a rhythm and felt invigorated. I also stubbed my toe near the end, but I kept going. It might hurt tomorrow but no real damage done- gotta love my Vibram shoes, they keep even a klutz like me from hurting herself.

OK, time to go jump in the shower, got a day of selling a head of me, can't be all sweaty gross for that!


Jordan UCC Bazaar & Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts

Saturday dad did the fall Bazaar at Jordan UCC in Allentown. He reported back that it was a pleasant day. Load in and out were easy, the food was good and inexpensive, the pies are great, and his neighbors were friendly. The congregation is happy and many turned out just to explore the used book sale, or attic treasure sale and then have lunch. The event has many components to it and it can be a fun few hours of indoor entertainment.

Our sales were mediocre, but the event may have actually been plagued by good weather, as it was actually nice enough out for outdoor activities, which may have hampered attendance. The church is just a few miles from home and we hope to take part again next year. It is especially nice that it falls on the same weekend as the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Show, so we can attend a show both days of the weekend.

As for Chestnut Hill: OK, so I was a bad, bad girl this year. I forgot about this show and I sent in my application late. I got a spot, but not my old spot from year's past. I was quite a way's away from where I used to be, right in the hustle and bustle of it all, and the slow sales showed that many of my usual customers couldn't find me in my new location.

Sales were quite a bit down from last year, but I just need to get on the ball next year and be sure to get my application in on time. The weather was beautiful and warm, the food is always plentiful, affordable, and very tasty. The artisans are always the best quality, and are plentiful, I would guess easily a few hundred of us turn out to line the streets for the day.

It is also wonderful that the show is only on Sunday so I can double book the weekend with a Saturday event someplace else. We will have to see how next year goes, but I am pretty sure a spot more central to the activities will help sales for sure.

A Very Merrie Halloween * Allentown House Tour

A Very Merrie Halloween- 1803 House Emmaus PA- October 1, 2011

The 1803 House in Emmaus was once known for it's craft show. But as all things do, it ran it's course and slowly died. But the house is resurrecting a festival to take it's place and I think with the right plan it could be better than the Memory Days of the past.

This was the first year of the Very Merrie Halloween Festival and it was wonderful to take part in it. First, it didn't try to bite off more than it could chew- there was a half dozen artisans, kids crafts, food, story time, an apple pie contest and of course house tours. For a first year event I thought the attendance was astounding and I think they were happy with the event as a fundraiser.

I hope to continue to take part as the event grows each year, it is only about a mile from where I live, it was a superb day with strong sales, and i loved getting to tour the house and learn so many new things.

Allentown House Tour- October 2, 2011

Last year the house tour tried to add on a craft area to the house tour. This would give people something to do as they waited for the tours to leave, or to do when they were done. I haven't personally taken the tour but I have heard wonderful things about it from those who have. This year the craft portion was, for all practical purposes, rained out. The weather forecast looked as if we were going to be able to get the short time we were to be there in without incident, but a few hours into the event the rains came pouring down and the already sparse attendance washed away with the rains.

With only a half dozen or so vendors this small event could be great, especially as the house tour grows in attendance. However, it is tough on the rainy days. Sales last year or this year certainly weren't strong, but since I live nearby, and I can do another show on Saturday someplace else, we will probably give it one more try next year before deciding the fate of the event in our schedule.


Couch to 5K Week 5- Day 1 Another try


So I think I finally figured out a route that has some hills but no killer ones, is challenging, can be expanded as I run farther, and is on quiet roads. YAY!!!

Today I:

Walked 5 minutes
Ran 5 minutes
Walked 3 minutes
Ran 5 minutes (ok 4 minutes 57 seconds, just as I gave up the time was called to stop)
walked 3 mintes
Ran 4 minutes 40 seconds (I only gave up because as I was trying a new route, I ended up on a killer hill right at the end. Next time I take a right rather than a left)
Walked 5 minutes

So I really consider this day conquered. I did this on about 5 hours of broken crappy sleep. But the day was beautiful, the air was crisp and cool, not humid at all. I felt my lungs expand and not scream about it.

OH- and for the first time after the first five minutes I felt like I could run longer, maybe a minute or two more... that's cool.

So Monday I give this day's routine one more try and if I can do it I will go onto the next day.


Couch to 5K Week 5- Day 1 Again

Better today I ran the first and third intervals and half of the second. I just can't seem to stay away from the hills. I kinda live in a valley so no matter which way I go I start out uphill or end uphill. I would rather start out uphill.

So today I went one street over where it is still uphill but more gentle (kinda) and then meandered my way aimlessly through the streets taking the path of least resistance in the general direction I wanted to go. I thought I would end up way far away from home at the end, but was only about two blacks away when the final cool down ended. Not bad at all.

I have to thank Rebeccawip for keeping me going. She is a friend I met on Ravelry and I think if we had met in real life we would have been great friends, but her life brought her to France instead. Like me she is struggling to do what is right rather than what is fun and falls off sometimes and then picks herself back up. But no matter where she is in her struggle she takes the time to keep me pumped up. Today as I ran that final interval I thought about writing this blog and how proud of me she would be. Thank you for making such a difference in my life.


Couch to 5K Week 5- Day 1

So I finished day 1 while I was on vacation: on a treadmill: on zero grade. I felt indestructible.

So with my inflated ego I started out yesterday with the plan on running Week 5 day 2. I failed. Miserably. I walked the first 5 minutes, ran 5 of the first 8 minutes, and walked the rest of the routine. I was tired, with a stitch in my side, throbbing legs, wheezing chest, and soooo thirsty when I finished.

So with yesterday ringing in my head I set out again today.. back to Week 5 Day 1 routine. I will attempt this day until I can strongly finish it, and then go on to Day 2. It might take me a few weeks to get there, but I will.

Week 5 Day 1:
Walk 5 Minutes: done
Run 5 Minutes: done
Walk 3 minutes: done
Run 5 Minutes: ran 2.5 minutes, walked 2.5 minutes
walk 3 minutes: done
run 5 minutes: ran 3 minutes, walked 2 minutes
walk 5 minutes: done

I changes up my route, it shakes out the cob webs and gets me over the innate fear of hills I have. This changing of the route moves the hills within the routine and I can't psych myself out over them as easily. This started me out uphill today- the whole walk and first run was uphill. I also finished today much mess wheezy than yesterday. The humidity is less and I am overall feeling better today than yesterday as well. I will take tomorrow off and try again Thursday. Now off for a shower:)


2011 Finger Lakes Fiber Tour

So this year fro my Mom's Birthday I brought her on the Finger Lakes Fiber Tour. A more perfect present and time together could not have been had. It was amazing!

Wednesday we started out in the am and drove across the state slowly and carefully. What would have been a 3-4 hour drive the fast way, took us 8 hours with a nice break for lunch along the way. We were in no hurry and we both enjoyed seeing the back roads of NY State and what each little town had to offer. We arrived at the hotel: the luxurious Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel around 3 pm. We checked in and had our bags brought up to the room. It was beautiful and clean and full of light. We each had a queen sized bed and it was so high we had to hop up to be able to sit on them! After a little rest we went for a walk to explore the town. We found the yarn store: Finger Lakes Fibers and checked in for the weekends activities. We were greeted with open arms and a bag of goodies for each of us, including yarn, needle holders, and patterns as well as a coupons to local stores too. We walked around and headed back to the hotel to change clothes and rest a bit. At 5 there was a welcome reception at the yarn store and we sat, drank wine, knit, and chatted for a few hours before heading to dinner on our own. Dinner was some good Chinese food and I even had some sushi. After that was back to the yarn store for a game where we all won more yarn and got to know each other, more wine, and dessert.

Thursday started early with breakfast at the store. Next was a over two hour class with Kathy Helton on using a drop spindle. She even covered basic plying techniques, different kinds of roving, and different kinds of spindles. This class sent us home with a top whorl drop spindle and roving to practice with and a how to handout. Class was followed by lunch at the store. The sandwiches and salads were provided by a local bakery and everyone raved over them. At 1:30 we boarded our tour bus and went to Windsong Farm. Here we learned about different types of sheep, what makes a good fiber and about curly locks- something that some sheep have and often are coveted. Then it was a tour of the area with a stop at a local Orchard before heading back to the store. Dinner was on our own and we had such a good lunch that we just stopped at the hotel restaurant for dessert and coffee. After some of the best cheesecake and chocolate cake ever- we headed back over to the store for another workshop. The even ended with some wine and more desserts, while we learned about adding beads to our knitting from Laura Nelkin. I never knew there were so many ways to add beads, and why you would use one way over another, and what the best beads to use are. It was just amazing to learn a new technique and have such a wonderful explanation of designer from the designer herself. We ended up back at the room later than usual that night because the workshop lasted so long, but it was good because the coffee at dinner had me revved up and it was hard to get to sleep. Mom and I sat there in the dark talking about stuff like two kids at a sleepover. It was wonderful.

Friday started with breakfast at the shop and we were quickly on the bus headed to Schaefer yarn company. How amazing to see the workshop, to meet Mary Schaefer, to get to dye our own yarn, and to have another great lunch. We split into three groups and our group was the first to shop. The workshop has an outlet where you can get some awesome yarn- sometimes it is in a bag so you have enough of a dye-lot for a project, sometimes it is something unique (i.e. a mistake or research), and some things are not available in stores anymore. It was soooo cool to get to hunt through the boxes and then racks to see what you find. Then it was off to dying, one of the master dyers walked us through the steps to dying our own hank of sock yarn in the colorway "bugs" which is a five color green and blue colorway. The whole time Mary Schaefer talked to us about starting the company, where it is now, the steps in between, and all that it takes to stay inspired. As a business owner I was inspired by how she started and where she grew the company, I can see my story being similar if I work hard enough and if enough luck comes my way. Then it was lunch time... mom said the bread on the sandwiches was amazing, and I know I loved the potato salad. We then got to tour the rest of the shop, meet some more dyers and see how the yarn is dried and made ready for sale. We headed for there to Bel Canto Alpaca Farms (with a quick stop at the local chocolate store in town). This was my umpteenth trip to an alpaca farm, but by far it was my most enjoyable and informative. We learned about skirting fleeces, the different uses for different fibers from the animals, a lot about husbandry, and about showing alpacas. It was amazing. After that we headed to Standing Stone Vineyards where there were some light appetizers and wine tastings. Exhausted we headed back to the store and went searching for dinner. Mom and I headed out on our own and stopped by a farmers market before heading to dinner at a local cafe. Mom had dessert for dinner again and I had a burger before heading back to the store for one more game and some knitting time. This time we played scavenger hunt- where we split into teams and hunted for words all over the store displays to use in a story that we made up. The team with the most used words won (and it wasn't my team) but it was hilarious the stories we came up with and shared. Add to the festivities some dessert and more wine and we were having a ball! Mom and I cut out early so we could get a good night's sleep.

Saturday we started at the yarn store again (after we went and had a big breakfast at a local cafe) and then were driven to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. We browsed, shopped, chatted, learned, and tried different crafts (like bobbin lace) for the next five hours. It was perfect. We had a little over four hours to stroll around this great festival, with enough vendors and people to enjoy it but not too many that you felt rushed, pushed, or otherwise put out. And I must say that the Maple Syrup Cotton Candy is divine! The evening commenced with a banquet at the Blue Point Grill (at our hotel) where we ate, drank, chatted, exchanged contact info, relieved the yarns we dyed the day before, and otherwise just didn't want the night to end. We really had such a joyous time and met wonderful people and made lots of new friends.

Sunday we headed out early, stopped for a great lunch along the way, and ambled our way back home. We arrived exhausted, excited to share our experiences, and weighed down by laundry and new yarn. I hope we can come back again next year because it was such a wonderful time!

Couch to 5K Week 4

I haven't been blogging while away on vacation... but I have been running.

I have COMPLETED week 4 of the program. I ran it two days in a row, last Thursday and Friday. Both days I ran on a treadmill at the hotel. Thursday was with no incline and Friday was on the "random hill" setting.

I usually come home and run the intervals on my "home path" but on Saturday I went up a notch and ran WEEK 5 on the treadmill and finished all the intervals! So I feel as though I can go onto Week 5 now that I am home and go on from there. It wasn't easy to finish week five, even on the treadmill with no incline, but I did do it so I am proud of myself.

Although I haven't been running as regular as I want to I will get going again and I feel as though I am on a strong path for finishing the program before it snows too much to run. I plan on trying week 5 on the road tomorrow if the weather cooperates and then assess myself and go on from there. I still can't believe that I can run five minutes straight without stopping.

Vacation kind of made me fall off my diet plan, but I am getting back on that wagon again too and I will be back on plan soon!


Fiber Tour 2011

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Fiber Tour 2011, a set on Flickr.

Pictures from the 2011 Finger Lakes Fiber Tour I took Mom on :)


Couch to 5K week4 Day 1

It has been almost exactly a month since I last ran. Last year when I tried this program, August was the death of me and I never picked it back up. This was pure laziness on my part. So this year I swore to myself that I would pick it back up where I left off and keep running.

It has been a few months since I last officially weighed myself, and the scale says that I have lost 10 lbs! I had been thinking lately that I was feeling thinner but I didn't let myself get too excited because last time I felt thinner but had only lost 2 lbs. So I have lost 8 more since then. So not only does the running make me feel better, but I look better as well. I am finally below 170 and 160 is my next big goal...Maybe by Thanksgiving!

So I ran today- week 4.... no going back to week three, just keeping on with the program. and I did better than I expected to.

Walk 5 min- done!
run 3 min- DONE!
walk 90 sec- done!
Walk 2.5 min- done
Run 3 min- I ran 1 of the 3
walk 90 sec- done
run 5 minutes- I walked it
walk 5 minutes- done

Do I started out strong and walked the second half. But I reminded myself that I have more tries at completing this week ahead of me and that it was more important that I can run again in a day or two than to wipe myself out today. I also am proud that I could come out so strong after not running for a whole month, strong enough to run my longest time ever!!!

I ran slow, but steady and it was that pace that let me run as much as I did. I am super happy today that I ran again and that I did what I did. It is a beautiful place to start building on this fall.


Musikfest & Irene

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Musikfest & Irene, a set on Flickr.

Final Pics of Musikfest Clean up and Damage with Hurricane Irene Pictures too