Dec 30, 2006
Before embracing the New Year, I always feel a need to assess the past year first. As usual, I think about all that I did, the things I didn’t do or get to do, where I traveled, who I visited, and how could I have done things better, differently, or maybe I shouldn’t have done at all.
After reviewing my prior year, I usually start planning the New Year. Things I want to do, places I want to visit, goals I want to meet, and all the possibilities that lie ahead in the next 12 months. That is what I usually do.
But not this year.
This year, I decided to look back on the past 12 months not to assess all that I accomplished or where I may have come up short; instead I look back to only to review my personal growth. I look at all the challenges and situations that faced me and how I grew from them. It doesn’t matter how I handled the situations – whether I handled them well or not so well. Either way, I grew personally from that situation.
Or, at least I hope so.
Personal growth is the absolute best gift we can give ourselves. Without personal growth we can never learn to really love ourselves, nor appreciate our strengths, nor have a true understanding of who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming. All of this stems from personal growth.
So as I look towards the New Year, I am not going to write my usual list of goals or imagine all the possibilities that lie ahead. Instead, I am going to contemplate about how much (I hope) this time next year, I will have grown – which ultimately determines how much more I learned to love and appreciate myself. Because once we truly love ourselves, it is only then that we are free to truly love others.
Now that is a growth spurt worth waiting for!
Happy New Year – May it grow on you well!
From my house to your house,
Dec 19, 2006
I don't know how to speak in sign language, but I do know how to do a "thumbs up" and that is what I am doing now. I went to court in regards to my signage issue with the city.
Briefly I will remind you of the events that led to a court hearing. My portable sign was in the middle of the sidewalk, I was cited, and I moved my sign back to my front door area where it has been for over three years. The city inspector, who has plenty of free time to watch my store and write me up, decided to write me up again for my sign being next to my door! Thus a court date.
I simply went in, waited for my turn to go in front of the bench and when my turn came, I asked the judge if I could explain this set of circumstances. He allowed me and I simply explained what I just told you and I added, "You know, if the city would have just called me and told that even though they have let me have a sign next to my front door for three years now, and now I would have to stop, I would have complied. A simple phone call would have saved us a lot of time."
The judge agreed that a phone call would have been a good route for the city to take, and he asked to see the sign, and I brought in a photo of my store front with the sign by the front door area and at the same time, the city employee who was there for the inspector who wasn't there, pulled out a large photo of my store that the city inspector had taken. Our photos were almost exact, which proved that I was telling the truth.
The judge was reasonable enough to see that this was a waste of time and he understood that I thought I was complying. The fine? $24.50. The best part of the night?? When I went to pay the fine, I was informed that our city inspector will no longer be working for Maplewood! I actually wrote my check with a smile. He is off to torture another city in the area and give another load of business owners headaches. I didn't even care why he was leaving. Just as long he is leaving.
Bottom line, I stated my case, the fine was small, the judge was reasonable, and I hope I can work with the city about allowing me to have a sign so that customers can find my store. We will see. I much, much prefer to handle matters with reasonable people. Hopefully I can find one in city hall now that the city inspector is gone. I topped off the evening with my very good friend, Sherrie, and a bottle of wine and a half of a bottle of champaign, some cheese, peanut brittle, and cake. We stayed up snacking and talking until 12 AM.
And I had a brand new nephew, Broderick born today at 8:07 AM (Austin, Texas). Mom and baby are fine. My brother is beaming. And I am a very happy Aunt.
Not a bad day: small fine in court, eating cake at midnight with my good friend, and a new baby to welcome into the family.
Thank you for all your emails, support, and encouragement.
From my house to your house,
Dec 14, 2006
I wanted to update you on my sign usage. To date, I have yet to receive a phone call from the mayor or my alderman. The last time I addressed this issue, EH received a citation for having my sign in the middle of the sidewalk. That was simply due to the fact that I had just hired a new employee and she accidently put it out. And please know that I don't blame my employee at all - this friggin sign issue began long before any employee came along.
Once I realized this, I put the sign right next to my entrance, next to my potted trees - where it does me no good at all unless someone actually takes time to turn the corner and see that there is another store afterall. In fact, just yesterday I had a customer come and I always asked how a customer found the store, and she said she was looking for a friend who left another store, and peeked around the corner to look for her and then she saw my "Open" sign and wondered what that was all about - she had no idea that there was another store around the corner!
So, now Maplewood is taking me to court because the city inspector saw that my sign was at my entrance of my store (see photo) and even that wasn't good enough! I have had my sign next to my front door for almost four years without any issue. It wasn't until Maplewood changed the streetscape and widened my sidewalk to 20' and took away my front door parking, did I need to move my sign way out to the center of the sidewalk (right next to a large tree) to let people know that there is a store around the little corner. Since August, when I got notice to remove my sign (from the center) I placed it right next to my trees, as shown above ever since. Now suddenly, even this location is now off limits.
I go to court on December 18th at 7PM. I have no idea what the fine will be or if my business license will be revoked, but what makes me angry is that after my new employee accidently put it out, I thought I was complying by returning it to the front door area like it had been for four years now.
It amazes me how this damn city is so quick to give the local paper a photo of my store when a story is being done on the "up and coming Maplewood" and how quick the city is to make sure my store is mentioned when there is any PR to be done about the "up and coming Maplewood" and how "proud" they are of all the little businesses (at least in front of a camera, that is), but Lord forbid they do anything at all to ensure that these little cute boutiques get the assistance they need to stay in business.
I am sorry to vent, but it just irks me to no end at all the tireless hours, money, working nights, expenses and so on it takes to run a business and the city reaps all the benefits of our hard work and is so quick to point out how great Maplewood is, but city hall has it all wrong. All these little boutiques are wonderful INSPITE of the damn city - not because of it. It is sort of like a couch potato spouse taking all the credit when his wife trains, works out, eats right, then competes, and wins a triatholon. I wish Maplewood city hall would get off its "couch" and try actually running the city for a change instead of ruining it.
So the saga goes - and so will I as soon as I can find another home for Elizabeth House.
Thank you for caring,
Dec 11, 2006
Hello! This blog is not allowing me to publish my posting in the order that I intended. If you are reading this first, please go to http://elizabethhousestlouis.blogspot.com/2006/12/mother-nature-attends-eh-open-house.html to read about the Open House postings in the order I intended. Thank you!
Just a few simple photos of different items in the store. Chocolates, glass balls, booklets, charms, and more! Charms by www.cathypentondesigns.com and Femme Fatale booklets by www.secretleaves.com
Thank you so much for sharing my open house with me.
Have a blessed Christmas.
from my house to your house,
Dec 10, 2006
Here are photos of my Little Bit Elizabeth House Baby line. I designed the crib bedding which is made of chenille fabrics with a silk ruffle. Elizabeth House has its own little bit soap and baby balm as well as a line of wonderfully hand knit clothing made from unbleached cotton. I plan to expand this line and add my own designed little dress with a vintage look made of what else? Linen. And yes, before you email me and ask...the top photo of the baby picture behind glass hanging by wire is me. :-)
These are the first of my Elizabeth House product line. I am very proud of them and look forward to increasing the line. I will have body, abode, and baby products. All are made with pure oils, salts, herbs, and packaged in very humble, but elegant craft boxes, bags, or in linen or burlap bags. All items are made locally by a skilled and dedicated artisian. I designed the packaging, which is simple, but elegant. Shown in the photos:
Bath Infusion: This is something I and artist developed together. In the package are two giant tea bags that are filled with bath salts, herbs and essential oils. Each package contains two bags of the same scent. Spearmint and Euculyptist, Lemon and Verbina, and Lemon and Lavender. Just place a bag in a nice hot bath, "steep," sigh, and sooth. Makes a wonderful stocking stuffer. $8 per package.
Body Butter: Is a wonderfully thick and silky body cream that is scented with lavender. Future scents are in the making. This body butter is none like you have tried before. $22
Calm Down: This linen incased herbal warming and cooling pack is a must have for anyone who strains muscles, the weekend sports warrior, if you get headaches, "ladies day" cramps, and so on. These wonderful packs are filled with all sorts of herbs to help all sorts ailments. They may heated in the microwave or oven. Or chilled in the freezer. The linen cover is so very chic - if there is a way to look chic while sporting an herbal pack, I will find a way! $42
Elizabeth House Soap: For now I have two scents for this handmade soap: Oatmeal and Honey and Lavender. This big block not only smells great, looks great, but it also feels great. It comes in a wonderful little burlapy bag that may be hung in the shower to house your soap, or used as a scrubby to exfoliate the skin. $12
Oil Diffusers: This room diffuser is like no other. It is made from 100% oil - meaning no alcohol at all. What does mean? It means that since there is no alcohol to evaporate, it will last much longer than other diffusers. Up to five months. There are two scents: Brown sugar and Honey (I have to tell you - it smells like a friggin cookie!) and Lavender. Another bonus - much less expensive than other fine diffusers as well. Only $26
Thank you for letting me show you the start of my line. I can't wait to add to it. More photos on next posting.
Dec 9, 2006
This twin bedding I designed for this vintage iron bed. I just love mixing fabrics...as you can tell. This bedding (which is sold already) is elegant, yet so inviting. I don't know about you, but I want a bed that welcomes a nap and not one in which I can't sit on while I tie my running shoes.
Don't you just love the little vintage parasol table lamp? It is worn, It is old. It is perfect. And you can't tell from these photos, but the little chandelier over the bed is actually a wall chandelier - meaning it is mounted on the wall and it hangs out sort of like a plant holder would.
More photos on next posting.
Why paper walls? Several reasons. One, I haven't done it before and have been thinking about it for a while. Two, have you ever seen a sheet of paper gently blow about in the wind? While it skips and hops and swirls, there is something quiet and calming about it - and that goes with my overall theme this year. Finally, it is cheap! And I wanted to do something that others could do as well. Old books, wire, grommet puncher and there you go! Paper walls!
The color, texture and size of the paper was purposely chosen - I wanted everything to be white and crream.
Enjoy the photos!
More photos after this posting - click on next post.
The front table is a whimsical wonderland of pale dishes, snow, paper, and cheese cloth. This setting greets you as you enter the store. The paper cones are made from very old book end pages - yes that I tore out of books that dated about 1900.
If you look closely at the bell jar, it contains snow - I was waiting for a curious customer to lift the jar and be surprised when all the snow fell out!
More pictures to come on posting prior to this one.