All right girls, this is where I might quite possibly offend some of you. Remember I'm a tad bit bias while discussing this delicate subject..
Personally, I believe Missouri is one of the best territories for flea market shopping in the good old US! Oh yeah, the big state of Texas has some hard to beat grand flea emporium's, plus you have Mar-burger, the tiny town that magically transforms itself into a spectacular three day flea event! We mustn't leave her out!
Sunny Southern California happily hosts huge parking lot fleas, like this one, as well as those one of a kind hip boutiques.
Iowa, I have to say, Iowa would probably be runner up on my list. Do you know why? I admire the way the Iowans make use of what they have. They have been practicing the art of re-use and recycle long before it was the green thing to do. I love driving through the Iowa countryside. Especially fond of this small town. There are little flea market shops nestled in amongst the small towns and back roads.
Sorry Iowa, we're talking about Missouri now!
Oh wait, Minnesota, can't leave the twin cities out! There's Junk Bonanza, great show! Some of the gals that detail their wares at Vintage Market travel over the hills for that show!
Kansas, Every Missouri girl knows, you don't want to miss the big Sparks Kansas show, and if you drive further North, White Cloud, now Spark's little sister flea event, don't forget to climb up on that hill and gaze over the mighty MO. That's where you'll be able to officially say you've witnessed seeing four states at once, if you dare to climb to the overlook. I like stuff like that! The states you'll be seeing, Missouri, Kansas , Iowa and Nebraska.
I know I've more than likely left out your wonderful place you call home, and I know you have some magnificent, glorious flea market localities, I know you do! But were'e talking about Missouri remember?
Yesterday, Julie and I traveled to one of our favorite flea market towns, St. Joseph Missouri. St. Joseph is not only trimmed with rich history it has more than a couple of my favorite vintage markets.
I like this one because the boutique proprietors seem to have a great eye for detail while showcasing their wares.
The beginnings of staging a twig Christmas tree. Can you see the little ginkgo leave attached to the branch? Lennis insisted this branch needed to be trimmed from the tree. So it seemed right to recycle the limb into the twig Christmas tree.
Did you know the Ginkgo tree is one of the oldest living trees?
As you can see, the twig tree needs some more pine branches. I'll be trimming some pine stems and branches from our very large white pines. They will also generously give me enough branches to make garland. I love you white pine! When we planted the pines they were a foot tall and we paid $1 for each. Now they are over 75 feet and serve as a privacy fence along our property. I love you white pine!
Hot and heavy into displays and that assembly soap wrap line is moving at full speed!
I wanted to show you my flea market find filled with holiday soap and little boxes.
The soap mounds are beginning to form around the Bittersweet Studio. Preparing for the Vintage Market in a couple of weeks and Bittersweet's annual Holiday Open House.
Reminiscing on the first Bittersweet open house I hosted back in 1997. It was a time of excitement as well as nervousness with Bittersweet being fresh and new.
I jumped in head first, quit my job, worked non-stop, ate, lived and breathed about it, and focused most on making a successful little business. There have been challenging moments while other's soulfully heart felt rewarding, all of those, cherished moments I would never exchange for others.
My Aunt Viv had sent me homemade soap she made as a Christmas gift. I remember anxiously opening the package as though it was yesterday, removing the tissue she had tenderly wrapped around the soap. As I rubbed my hand over the silky soap bar and took in its soft delicate scent, I knew immediately I would soon be making my own soap!
Back then, there were not too many books on the subject, in fact I found only one small book about making the modern version of Great Grandmother's soap. I purchased the book and read through eager to begin. Purchased the items needed, most available at my local market at the time, that has since changed.
After gathering all the ingredients I began to make soap. I remember using shoe boxes to pour the soap in and sitting the boxes under the bed, covering them with several old quilts. I could barely handle not peeking under the blankets to check the soaps progress. I didn't though, I waited until the next morning.
The next morning I anxiously uncovered the blankets and gazed into the boxes filled with soap! I rubbed my hand over the box of soap thinking how exciting it was! Having always been a flower girl and fragrance girl I knew I had finally discovered my niche. Thank you GOD.
I still have those very first bars of soap in my cupboard! They are reminders on how far Bittersweet has come.
Today, things really haven't changed too much on how Bittersweet is made. I continue to make soap in my kitchen just as I did back then. Although I don't use shoe boxes and no longer place them under the bed. Lennis built soap molds. The soap is covered with the same vintage quilts though.
There have been times Bittersweet needed to lease a warehouse, hire employees to make the soap, and have space for storing the bars, but I was always turned off by those thoughts, and my instincts always lead the way. I really feel that over the years I have made the right business decision by not going big.
It's hard for me to imagine how many bars of soap I've, we've poured, cut, wrapped and tied! I'm estimating somewhere over 100 thousand bars. Now that's a lot of soap!
I have learned that without the help from family and friends, the entire process of operating one's own company would be bitter rather than sweet. My family has always been supportive and encouraging along the wavering path, and I'm thankful they are filled with so much love and have eagerly shared that love with me!
I was thinking the other day on how when I get older, like in my eighties, just how am I going to pour that very heavy liquid soap into the molds. I'ts always been challenging to do even for Miss Arm Wrestling Champ, yeah, I'll tell you about that someday!
Anyway, those are thoughts I'll continue to ponder...
Ah Friday, and I am kinda taking the day off, well sorta. When I say I'm taking the day off that usually means I'm still working, but it's usually minus the pressure of deadlines, schedules, and time. The latter, never enough of that! Even 5 am is not early enough to usually get my daily list of work completed. I know, I know, makes you sick, doesn't it? Please don't hold it against me, I've decided it's an inherited trait.
Thanks for all the Autumn love sent my way regarding the pictures. I loved receiving your comments.
Today I've been working on a special order for a customer. Normally I do not offer special orders, packaging etc., but have made an exception in this case, kind of personal. These little origami pouches are filled with a petite size bar of Bittersweet Soap. Don't you just love origami? I do!
I remember as a kid folding paper to make all kind of stuff. Paper flowers, boats, those fortune folded papers, you remember all those folded things, don't you?
My weakness for pretty papers is evident if you were to look inside my desk. The so-called lost art of hand-writing a letter is not a lost are with me. No sir ree, I find it relaxing and fun to slow down the pace and sit and compose a hand-written letter. One that signs off with XO, love doing that too!
I thought you might enjoy some Autumn pictures taken from my neighborhood, while on a morning walk. They are beautiful signs of Fall, I believe.
I couldn't resist taking this shot. I laughed as I walked by. Do you know what it is?
Did you guess what this messy little area is?
This spot is where Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel have taken a moment to stop and nibble on their Winter supply of walnuts. It appears they must have had a fat tummy after munching down all those nuts!
Then, a shot of this home I pass by each morning. It is just a few houses down from ours. It's my favorite house in Liberty. Its last occupant, Mark English lived in the little cottage while raising his family. Lennis built a large studio in the back of the house several years ago for Mark. It's nestled in amongst big winding trees. I can see only one drawback if I owned the home. My family would never see me, I would spend my days in that wonderful large studio.
Isn't this rusty jeweled crown adorable? It's hand-made by Ann. You can find more of Ann's lovely workwomanship and unique talents at Vintage Mood.
Ann and I met at the Vintage Market. I think Ann's a jewell and I so enjoy talking with her each time I see her!
This past weekend Ann's hand-made wares shined brightly at the Farmstead Show. You remember the Farmstead Show, don't you? Bittersweet participated in the Spring show and had a blast.
This Farmstead Autumn event was outstanding! If only I would have taken my camera!! I'll see if I can give you an old-fashioned radio description of the event.
First, we parked in the field up the hill and then were escorted to the farm by a big truck, Kelly's husband Ron was the chauffeur that led the caravan. We hop out of the big white truck and proceed up the hill to the barn. As we walk up the hill we notice little vignettes embellish each side of the mulched lane, each one was designed by a proprietor or artist participating in the show. The added lane attractions added to my excitement. Or maybe that other favorite word best describes how I felt..
Anticipation! As I gaze over to my right I see a Mary Jane style tent. The large white tent was constructed on a wooden platform and decked out decorated with a beautiful chase lounge and lovely accessories. I really did consider after the long day, stepping into the tent, closing the flaps and taking a nap on that luxurious velvet lounge.
We stroll across the lane and enter one of several outposts. Claudia's in the cute brown tiny house. She's set up her tiny brown house and filled it with her unique one-of-a-kind vintage and antiquities. This is where I found the brown containers! You can see more of Claudia's finds here. I love going there too!
Across from Claudia, in another outpost, ReDeux. You would love their stuff! Stehen and Dale/Redeux will be at the next Vintage Market held in Zona Rosa, I'll be there too. You don't want to miss that one, believe me!
We continue are journey and enter the horse stall area. The horse stalls had been lined with fresh cedar mulch, as you walked, you could feel the cushion of the mulch pieces. The stalls were filled with artist's! Everything from unique jewelry wares to scented candles, vintage goods, antiquities filled the large barn space. It was a treat for the eyes indeed!
As we exit the stalls we enter the barn. First, let me say this is not your every day barn . No, I would describe this barn as a 5 star luxury lined barn with all the amenities.
We continue wading through, stopping by each proprietors embellished petite boutiques. So much to see! Each nook reflecting its owner. Oh my, are those "Smart Wool Socks?" Love those!! This jewelry is beautiful! Oh looky, Ann's boutique is so cute, and look at that darling little metal crown she made, gotta have that!
Remember when I mentioned the package wrappings? I have always been fond of the old-fashioned brown paper wrap. Quite possibly just because of the brown color and the simplicity, yeah, I believe that's probably it.
The picture above shows the brown wrappings embellished with dried hydrangeas from my garden. Then I've tied the present with brown velvet ribbon, love that! This package is a merchandise prop for the upcoming Market Show. There will be several, all wrapped in the natural kraft paper softly embellished with pine cones, hydrangeas, and pine stems sitting amongst the Bittersweet Holiday Collection.
This is a prototype and a picture of the continued natural look only with the new/recycled containers I picked up on my recent outing.
The boxy containers are perfect for housing a pound of aromatic bath crystals, wouldn't you agree?
Soap wrapping assembly line is getting underway and at a constant steady flow.
By the way, I finally stopped in the post office and got the shipping low down on overseas cookbook fees. I spoke with a live p.o. person and we calculated shipping. It appears $9 will cover most areas. I will send you a separate invoice after you place your order on the web site. Thanks again for the cookbook love. I know you will enjoy the recipes in this book.
Oh too.. I have not forgotten about those signed thank you cookbooks. It will be closer to the holidays before I get them to you. Kind of my little Christmas gift to you!
Thought you might like to see the Autumn Flea Market finds I found on Saturday. I have big plans for all of them and I'll be sharing those plans later.
Working mostly with what I have, but these new pieces will add a punch to my holiday displays.
The vintage embroidery will be used to trim little bags and the trough, well, I bet you can guess what that will be used for. "What we need is lot's of Soap!" a quote taken from a children's book I used to read to Patrick when he was little. Some of you may recognize the line..
I have more pictures and tales of what's hot at Bittersweet this season and some new Christmas package wrappings I think you will really like and that you can easily duplicate and they're not costly. I really did use what I had on that project and it turned out elegantly delightful, if I must say.
Oh, and those containers you see in that bag... A new project I'm working on. I have before and after shots, quite pleased with the look.
It's beginning to all fall together and look cohesive. I really never know exactly what I want until I begin designing, then it seems to all come together. The Flea Market break on Saturday allowed me to refresh.
Thanks again for all you're doing promoting my new Cookbook. Love you all, I really do!
Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00 (Two Autumn hugs are surely better than none)