Thursday, May 26, 2016

May Day, May Day

I'm not sure why this month, in particular, has been so, so, so darn crazy!  I just know May 2016, has changed everything for us going forward; from losing a dear friend at the get go, our twins started walking, a work contract gone sour, a new business direction hatched.  In the middle of all of that, it was time for my annual check up at MD Anderson to see if my Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma had recurred.  It has not, woo hoo, and this being my 5 year anniversary I will now be transitioning to a survivorship clinic within the hospital. 

To celebrate we picked a halfway point, Orange, Tx to stop and stretch our glad we did as we happened on Shangri-la Botanical Gardens.  It's a bit of an oasis right off the interstate.  And check out these tremendous purple martin houses; they are modeled after ones kept in the 1930's & 40's at the Stark House and downtown Orange.  I don't believe they are functional any longer...but I would love to have a mini version!
There was a small butterfly house we paid extra to see; only three species identified but it was one of the best maintained bird houses I've ever seen.
We were fortunate to catch the tail end of a temporary garden exhibit "Big Bugs" by David Rogers.  Each sculpture was magnificent and blended with the gardens perfectly.
This led us to Heronry Blind, where large platforms were being made use of by many, many nesting great egrets and double breasted cormorants. 
We can't wait to go back!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fabric Scrap Bags are Back!
This month has been cray-cray; seriously things have changed so much in the last 15 days, I feel certain it will have a ripple effect for the rest of my life...but more on that drama later; because fabric, yes fabric

I've eeked out 5 scrap bags -- the last time I did this was a couple years ago and they were very popular.  This seasons bags are quilt or novelty cottons, mostly divided by colors with a mix of vintage and newer but out of print designs.  Some have odd cuts and some are 1/2 yard pieces that I just didn't need. 
each is right under 13oz to ship First Class
pinks!  vintage & new
greens - this collection has batik, homespun cotton, a calico, and some blenders
blues - blenders, vintage plaid, other fun novelty prints
purple!  I think my favorite - there is a very old cheater print in the group; lucky person who gets it!
yellow! and golds - a couple ginghams, solids and florals
I only have one of each - and as history shows us, I'm not likely to make a new offerings anytime soon.  At $6 a bag; treat yourself to a surprise and see what comes of it!

Find what's currently available here.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fearless Bunnies 2016 Edition

This weekend past we caught the new show, Hunt Slonem - Antebellum Pop at the LSU Museum of Art.  I thought the kids would particularly enjoy the animals and bright color, which they absolutely did, but it reminded me, and inspired me, of my 2013 post about fearless bunnies.
For me, this exhibit didn't feel as "pop" as it did "expressionism" - think Matisse or Gauguin.  I love Hunt Slonem's confident brush strokes, strong use of colors, ease of rendering a canvas be it bunnies, birds, or Abraham Lincoln.  I wondered if this is what it looks like when each of us stop being afraid.
So, this week I'm embarking on a revised marketing strategy.  I was fortunate to catch a CrystalMedia presentation late last week and I gleamed these gems:
  • evaluate the platforms you use quarterly; in turned I signed up for snapchat (I'll post more when I figure it out, ugh.)
  • ask your customers to join your e-mail list; they want to hear from you!  I actually tried this and so far only ONE person said no.
  • give'em a lead magnet to join...or give to get; a free e-book, a coupon, a pattern.
  • make sure your content relates to "the perfect customer" - always.  
  • things that hold retailers back: lack of time (me), how to measure results (me me), confidence (me me ME)
I've taken each of these to heart as I really want to connect with our customers (and future customers) with what we're making, what we're selling and what we've built in this tiny town for several years.  I set an intention to make one video a week.  The results have been ok; no vids of me yet as I'm chicken, but here's my latest created to showcase some easy Mothers Day gifts.

The items features in this video are a combination of items available from our brick and mortar, Nest Interiors and our Etsy.

Check'em out and share your favorite retail marketing tips either from the point of view as shop keep or customer; I would love to hear it!

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Friday, April 29, 2016

its in the details...

It's been a week of misconnections, miscommunications and so much so, I felt this week I should lament the two etsy convos that were questions about details clearly stated in the listing or the man that walked in Wednesday, that just about ran out when he saw a store stacked with girly gifts...not sure what he suspected we were from the outside, but I assumed he wasn't paying attention and drifted in my door.  Clearly, though, I am not above reproach with probably the worst offense...this morning we got word that a good friend of the family is dying from cancer and not expected to last another week.  Though she was secretive (apparently sick for a couple years), we just shrugged off the signs and went about our business.
I had a rare day of help yesterday and I was glad to work from home (before this bombshell).  I like to walk outside for a bit when the kids are napping.  The ground is so soft compared to the hard floor of the shop.
I also found a very large bird's nest; it's a Mississippi Kite - can you see it?  They've come back for the last three years and nested.  Or at least the three years I've paid attention.
Of course you can't be everywhere at once right?  And I'm lucky, though it's a small group - I have a group that looks out for me.  The above is from the team at Rustic Treasures, where we opened our second location this month.  I check in each week and they always make sure our items look fresh and shelves stocked.
Doing my part at home, I silk-screened a small run of one of my most popular towels -- our Cajun Crawfish towel and made sure its in both shops and online.  We already sold one on Etsy this week with a rave review; love that!
Also, another pet project.  I'm cleaning up and revitalizing a shelf that will become part of our new jewelry and accessories area.  I'll share the results once complete, but currently, it lives my head mainly.  I used our very own chalk paint, hard to tell, but its one of most favorite colors, French Quarter Rain, that popular eggshell blue green everyone loves.
And with Mother's Day approaching; I started thinking about our seed collection from Hudson Valley Seed Library.  This year, when the shipment arrived, my mother and I pilfered the box, picking several packages to try.  It's been fun comparing notes.  She told me today, the bumble bee tomato we sell (one pack left) is indeterminate...meaning it will grow and grow and grow.  She expects a big harvest.  Her tomatoes are further along than mine, but she is a Master Gardener.  In fact I consult with her on all seed order for the shop, just to make sure its right for our area and that even a novice gardener (like myself) will enjoy the experience.

This weekend, as you begin to slow down - try to take stock, and see what's right in front of you; but take heart too, that there is no way to notice everything and that's why we have one another to help us catch the good stuff.

Featured in this post:
  • our Mother's Day tabletop inside Nest Interiors; most items are online and on sale.
  • our pretty naturals; cotton, lavender and bird nests are available at both Nest Interiors & Rustic Treasures
  • Don't Make Me Go All Cajun on You towel - buy it online on Etsy
  • Cottage Nest Chalky Finish Paint - exclusively at Nest Interiors
  • Hudson Valley Seed Library - see what's in stock at Nest Interiors 
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Friday, April 22, 2016

rule breaking...

This Saturday we did a huge retail no-no; we closed!  I know, I know, stores, especially independent ones should be open always.  We had the opportunity to take our kids to the Baton Rouge Zoo, free with lots of extras -- and we couldn't pass it up.  A lot of retailers want to say "family first" but its always a struggle between that and being professional.  I do want to just add, we asked a lot of people if they wanted to work months in advance, with pay and incentives of additional gifts and no one wanted to give up a Saturday (and I guess neither did we!) - it seems weird to me as I would of jumped at the chance as a young girl to have this job.
I did get to see this awesome bird at the zoo (twice actually as it's in two areas).  Its a white crested laughing thrush from Indonesia and the only "songbird" type bird I found in the collection.  There's a pair in the back of the zoo nesting and that was really remarkable to watch.
The very next day, at home, I open my window to see a treat of a rose breasted grosbeak.  Just as remarkable a bird, and nearly the same size as the thrush - right in my yard.  It's amazing what we see when we learn to really look.
That being said, I wanted to stay home all week, play in the yard, look at birds, and sing to my kids.  I dutifully carried on and brought a nice update of cotton to our booth at Rustic Treasures.
Both stores got a refresh of Swan Creek Candles that arrived Tuesday.  My favorite is this Vanilla Pound Cake in a bright teal bowl -  I seriously could sit with a spoon and eat it, it smells that delicious!
Wednesday, I updated our Etsy with some items that have been in the physical shops and for reasons beyond me not found homes.  Like this beautiful quilted pillow set with matching log cabin block tops.  They're just lovely and would be so sweet on a porch or guest room with twin beds.
And yesterday, I spent a good portion checking in a lot of jewelry items and updating the main website.  This Queen Bee necklace is already getting a lot of attention!

So, I'm nearly caught up from our day at play; I realize also that it's Admin Professionals next week, Mother's Day and Teacher's Appreciation is near too and I may never truly catch up...ever.  So, I might as well as some fun along the way!

Featured in this post:
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vintage Vibe: April Finds

It's been a busy month for us at the shop and lots of shiny new items have arrived but a steady stream of amazing vintage and antique items have appeared too!  We have out of state buying trips scheduled in both May and June - so, keep watch for even more one of a kind and unique finds.  The above mirror is actually a re-purposed creation using old bead board with original chippy paint; I just adore this piece!
Look at this soup tureen!  It's gorgeous and includes platter, lid, and ceramic spoon.  It actually isn't terribly old as it's dated 1982 (ok for some people that might sound like ages ago, for me it was yesterday).  Newly vintage and with a small chip (that you can totally turn that piece around), I think, makes this piece a nice functional acquisition that you won't be afraid to use.
Also, from the early 80's is "Le Mouton" - how ridiculously cute?!  Nevermind that he's a highly collectible decorative figure from gift company Dept. 56, he's sooooo adorable.  Perfect for a knitter or crocheter, I think.

Featured in this Post:
  • Repurposed Bead Board Mirror 20" x 18" - available at Rustic Treasures
  • Vintage Ceramic English Rose Soup Tureen - available at Nest Interiors & Etsy
  • Le Mouton, decorative sheep from Dept. 56 - available on Etsy
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bull in a China Shop...

This past weekend was Strawberry Festival for our small town.  I made no fanfare about it as in past years on the blog as it's almost a hardship to go through each year.  An estimated 300,000 people attend in a town of just over 6,000.  It's a lot of people (though it feels lighter each year) and they really only want alcohol - all day long.  With that in mind, we don't expect a lot of sales and we move into "crowd control" mode -- this year, despite me being right in the entrance, a man staggered in either drunk, overheated or both and took down a cabinet full of glass.  With no means to pay for it, he left quickly.  So this year was a complete loss. 
Earlier in the week, as I was dreading this event, I was listening to an interview with a musician about what gratitude she felt having the career she has, entertaining people even, as she added, they are texting.  And I too, though I'm no rock star, know I'm lucky to have had this amazing opportunity owning and operating this shop.
Plus, it was an amazing feeling having my kids at the shop over the weekend and taking in the parade Saturday morning.  Just a year ago, they both were in the NICU.
So, I'm calling it "Gratitude with a Bad Attitude" - I want to honor the hard work and loss of money, time, etc. this festival brings on me each and every year, but I remain ever grateful I have a place in this town (and it's not Strawberry Festival every weekend!).
Festival attendees we asked were mixed with reviews; if you like food, drink and a carnival atmosphere, it was your cup of tea; however, if you wanted to see the real Ponchatoula, shop our stores comfortably and eat at our restaurants - it was hard and in some cases impossible.  Hopefully, it will bring back both kinds of festival goers to see what our town is really about on a normal day.

Nesting Notes:
  • I'm taking part in Scheepjes Crochet Along 2016, beginning April 20th - a beautiful afghan and just what I needed to bust my stash.  Kits are available, but the pattern is free and I just couldn't justify more yarn when I can't close my closet with out being hit with a ball of yarn!
  • I loved this article - are we all suffering from neurasthenia?  It's a 19th century term from what we equate with burnout -- they took it seriously then and even prescribed bed rest!  Worth considering in our busy days!
  • It was a busy weekend beyond the festival as three groups of birds fledged from my home - red bellied woodpeckers, carolina wrens, and carolina chickadees.  I was able to see the chickadees leave the nest one by one and have pictures on my tumblr page for my birding.
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