Wednesday, February 22, 2017

And We said Goodbye

Our tiny Tidbit had shrunk to nothing over the past two weeks.  I was determined that this was going to be the one animal that would pass in her sleep and we would wake up to find her that way, rather than taking her to the vet to end her life.  It just felt too hard to go through that again so soon after Chloe.  But....alas....the poor thing became obviously distressed and I couldn't handle it.  Nor should I, really, when there is another option.

So, I made that call yesterday morning.   Told them that I needed to bring her in.  Our vet's office is great.  They have been through this with us enough to know that we know what we are doing.  I chose not to stay this time.  I wanted to remember her alive.  With the dogs I've always wanted to be there.  With the cats it is different.  And so I sad goodbye through the tears, carried her crate back to the car only slightly lighter than it had been on the way in, and headed out for a very busy day.

Tidbit was a really great cat.  Of course she had her things that made me crazy.  Like persistent meowing.  She was always talking!!  And she repeated herself a lot.  Ha!

Lately she had taken to peeing all over the basement.  That makes us super crazy!!  Especially because it sets off Jonathan's asthma.  He had a close call one day last week where he nearly couldn't get to his medicine in time.  So...that made her a bigger problem.

But overall she was a sweetheart.  A cuddler with a huge purr.  She was always at my side.  As close as she could get without being on top of me.  Funny thing, last evening Oliver took up her spot at my side.  He doesn't do that.  He is more of a climb on top of you kitty.  But he was on the couch to my left kind of awkwardly in that space.  It felt kind of intentional.  As if he knew......

Tidbit was the last kitten from her litter to be chosen.  We think because she had that split face.  Yellow on one side and black on the other.  She was our transition kitty because just a few days after we chose her we began the move to Lancaster County.  She came along for our first weekend here.

In any case.....we don't have any plans to replace the cats as they pass on.  We are ready to just be a doggy household when Oliver's time comes.  Ollie has neighbor kitty friends so he won't be like Bandit was after Chloe.  Besides cats are fine to be on their own.  Not the pack animals that dogs are.
So...we are down to one kitty and we are good with that.

Other than missing my buddy, that is.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Opening Day!

I can't even say that Opening Day "finally" arrived.  It all happened so fast.  But I can tell you that it was oodles of fun!  With only two people shopping that didn't know us it was more like a private shopping experience with our friends.

This was as we planned it.  A quiet Wednesday with a steady pace of people who understood that we were learning our register system and how to answer their questions.  By Friday and Saturday we will cater also to the tourists who will be in town but this was just the most perfect way to start.

I did get the biggest kick out of something that happened before we opened yesterday morning.  I had decided to turn what was supposed to be our temporary sign into a wall hanging behind the register.  When the temporary banner had come it was so huge and the print on it so ugly that we agreed we wouldn't use it as intended.  But the logo was the size I wanted for our wall.  So, I was up on a step ladder adding lace and pebbles to the burlap frame when I heard voices.  They were happy, laughing women's voices.  I looked to the window and there were three ladies just having the best time oohing and ahhhing over the things they could see.  I began to wave my hot glued fingers at them and after a bit they saw me.  So, I went to the door and asked if they would like a preview....they would.  And so, telling me that they were the welcoming committee and that they walk each morning enjoying the shop windows they came in and we had a ball.  I am overjoyed by the warm welcome we have received by our new Strasburg neighbors.  All of them.

Now to tell my most embarrassing story.  Mom had mentioned that a fern would look great in the corner behind the register to cover some pipes that are exposed there.  I completely agreed and went to get one.  Once at the greenhouse I found beautiful ferns.  All at the same price.  That was the problem....a huge fern was the same price as a smaller, thinner one.  I went huge!!  Well, I went so huge that there was no way this monster was fitting in the space we planned to put it in.  So, we decided that it would go outside with balloons on it to get the attention of those who were looking for us.  That was fine until the wind kicked up in the afternoon and then those balloons whipped and bobbed until finally the entire fern fell over and the balloon strings broke.  That will teach me.  Ha!  Next time I shouldn't get caught up in getting the biggest and nicest.  I need to listen to that little voice telling me to be sensible.  Ha!  Back to the greenhouse for me!

When Cindy came into the shop with her initial batch of goodies
she noticed a row of yellow tulip vases lining the top of the shelf.
She immediately knew she would make us a tulip sign
to go with them.
I met her yesterday morning when she dropped it off.
Love her!!

We added another artisan yesterday.  She makes lamps from vintage bottles.  I'll take a photo later to share.  They are so nice!  We don't have much space left but we made room for two of the lamps.  She found the bottles in a 1700's Spring House when they bought their farm in the '70's.  With much effort Barbara Heller cleaned these bottles until they look like new, inside and out and transformed them.  For those who love a piece of history these are amazing!!  They are also just beautiful for those who don't care two figs about history.  :-)

As a mother I have to tell you how very, very proud I am of Chelsea.  She has done so very well.  Her vision for the shop has come to life.  Mom and I have added our touches, no doubt, but as Chelsea said yesterday, she is pleased with the overall feel.  It works.  It has been hard for our girl because she is so quiet.  Retail and quiet aren't exactly best of friends.  It has sometimes held her back at her jobs.  But we make a great team.  She gets to shine in her element of shopping the right items and then displaying them to their fullest potential.  She has the experience of dealing with customers as it is what she has done for the past six years.  And she will have the flexibility of caring for the wee one after it arrives. Seeing Chelsea's eyes shine yesterday, and hearing her interact with so many friend/customers made me super happy.  I think we have found her happy place.  And I'm fine with being the mouth of the group.  Even if I do come home and cringe when I remember how excited and expressive I was at points yesterday.  Perhaps the M&M's Warren gave me for Valentine's Day are partly responsible. Could be.......

This is us the day before we opened.

Mom got a custom apron order already.  And bless her heart, she remembered the perfect feed sack to make it from.  One eight year old grandson who has discovered a passion for cooking is going to get an adorable puppy dog apron for his birthday next month.  I was so happy!  This is what we hoped would happen when people saw the inspiration aprons.  Didn't think about it being for a boy, but why not?  And with the fabric choices it is just perfect.

I have to get going and get candle orders prepared for shipping and then shower and head back to the shop for day two.  This is also co-op day so I'll leave for the afternoon to sing with "my" kiddos.  Doesn't that just sound like the most perfect day??  I wouldn't want to tear myself away for anything less but singing with them is just the right distraction.

This is my beautiful friend, Tiffany, who accompanies the choirs for me at Co-op.  She brought her four perfectly behaved children into the shop yesterday and got these earrings.  Apparently they had caught her eye when I posted them on Facebook and now they are hers!  How cool is that?  I'm stealing her picture from her Facebook post.  Hopefully she won't use that against me in class today.

Headed out soon!  Have a blessed day!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I wrote my Shop Story

Chelsea, Mom and I agreed to each write our "shop stories" to share on our Facebook page because this has been so unexpected and fantastic.  If it all stopped tomorrow the blessing mentioned here has been realized in building this thing with the precious people in my life.  I'm so thankful.

Becky's Shop Story....begins in March 2005 when “on impulse” I suggested that my neighbor, Beverly, should start a candle company and I would keep the books and be her public relations person. Well....that delegation of responsibilities lasted about two minutes. Once we started researching and making candles I was hooked all.the.way!! And I've remained in my happy place when making candles in the twelve years since. During the first couple of years Bev and I dreamed of having a small shop where we could offer our candles and other small gifts. We even purchased some display pieces in anticipation....they ended up in our attic only to be sold off in more recent years.

Bev moved to a retirement community and got busy there... losing interest in making candles but I continued. And the company grew. I gave up my part time business as a Financial Analyst because I hated the paperwork there and LOVED pouring candles.

Over the years my desire of a brick and mortar shop never went away but I did let the dream die. I gave up completely on it and poured myself into supporting the shop keepers I knew and loved as I consigned candles in their shops. I paid particular attention to how they did things. What they had success with and the things they would have done differently the next time. I mentioned them in my social media in hopes that they would have even more success because someone who hadn't met them yet would find them. But, I “knew” that I wasn't going to have this experience personally.

Flash forward to Christmas 2016. I stopped in to visit one of these shop owners in Strasburg. Sharon had only recently set up her shop, Grey Vervain. It was so Sharon. Warm and sweet! I had made candles for her for a few years and we had become friends. It was kind of surreal to stand in that space and hear her say, “If I don't stay after my year lease is up, you should take over the space.” Now, I don't think she had a clue that things were going to come to a place where she would need to leave before that year was up but that she even said that then was something I look back on now as a seed. A seed was planted that made the next step even a possibility.

Sunday, January 15th God got my attention about the issue of tithing. This is kind of an embarrassing tale to tell but it is key to all that follows. Pastor Mike was preaching from Malachi 3 and had gotten to a verse where the people were questioning how they could restore their relationship with God. Mike didn't go on to the next verses where the questions were answered but I felt compelled to open the passage on my phone and read His response. God told them that they had not been tithing and that they needed to do so. Now, I have been lax in that area. Excuses such as playing the piano during offertory, not having my checkbook or purse with me, or not having the funds at the time have all been used. But as I read that passage there was a verse underlined. I didn't do anything to make that verse get I know beyond a doubt it was God speaking to me. Here is what I read:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My House, And test me now in this”, Says the Lord of Hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.

Now, this became an issue of obedience for me. Not one of gaining reward. It was something that would be between me and my Lord if I didn't obey. It couldn't have been clearer. So, having the technology at my fingertips I logged into my bank account and scheduled my tithe to get mailed to the church. Crazy technology, crazy world.

Just two days later.....On January 17th I received a text from Sharon saying that due to family needs she was going to have to leave the shop. Would I be interested in the space? We got on the phone and chatted.

Have you ever had that dream that you had given up on dangled in front of your face? You wonder if it is a test to see if you have truly given it up or if it is a perfect gift. I answered the test with a test. Even as hope began to grow in my heart I told Sharon that I needed to think on it and would get back with her. I hung up the phone and looked at Warren. Then I unloaded the dishwasher. Ha! As I did so my excitement grew. IF only my girls would want to go in with me. Together we could do this! And so I came back to the living room and told Warren what I was thinking. He was one hundred percent in favor! Shocker of shockers! Now I knew we were on to something. If he had been hesitant I would have really had to think about it. Messages went out to Chelsea and Emily and they both responded positively...meaning they wanted to know more. We set a time to meet and discuss it in person.

We had that meeting at The Daily Grind. Both girls were seriously considering it. Emily and I went to the shop to take a look and talk to Sharon. Chelsea had an appointment.

Over the next few days I felt like there was a gentle hand on my back steering, leading and guiding as I found myself taking steps to rent the shop.

I was a bit concerned about how my shop owner friends would respond. I shouldn't have worried! They have been soooo supportive. Every one of them. One even sat down with me for two hours and poured out her experience and wisdom. It most likely has spared me much pain and frustration. Another chatted on the phone for a very long time and then sold us some SWEET display pieces. I can't begin to tell you how blessed we are. It is beyond our comprehension. I am excited to be in the Strasburg community with Tiffany at Blue Dandelion. She is a dynamo and has been very supportive. I know we will drive each other to be the best at what we do. Not in a negative competitive way, but in a let's rock Strasburg with cool shops kind of a way.

In the end Emily decided that this wasn't the right timing for her. She has dreams of her own and I appreciate, so much, that she decided to hold onto those and fully throw her support behind ours from the sidelines. Chelsea, however, was ready and fully on board. It was just a couple of days later that my mom, Ruth, asked if she could become a partner too. Now, she did mention being a “silent” partner but I'm pretty sure that was never really an option. She's been amazing! Making items for the shop, organizing the stuff that makes me crazy and sharing her retail experience from many years of working with people and product.

Chelsea has been our main buyer and visual merchandiser and I think you will see that she has a real gift at that! I'm so proud of this step of faith on her part. She has left her secure position at Sight and Sound to become a shop owner. But we are excited that she will have much flexibility as she prepares for her sweet bundle of joy to arrive around August 1st. And I look forward to seeing that sweet baby at the shop!

I'm the big mouth, front man. Dealing with the legal stuff, spreading the news and signing up artisans. I'm the big picture person. And I have so many ideas for the weeks and months to come that I cannot wait to share. But, there will be time for that. We need to just get opened and make sure we can run the register. Ha!

This has been a long story in a very short amount of time. Less than a month from January 17th , when Sharon sent that original text until we open on February 15th!! How in the world??? But the shop is stocked, we are nearly ready. Monday and Tuesday we will set up the register system. We are nearly finished entering inventory and the few “strangers” we have invited into the shop to review it for us have had very nice things to say. Yes, strangers. I literally invited some in. One I met at Java Junction next door who is from Delaware but has come to Strasburg for many years. She was the perfect person to review us. Another set of ladies from Virginia who were peeking in the window got an invite in to give us feedback. I don't trust my Even if they wanted to be honest they would be seeing it through a filter.

We look forward to growing, offering classes and artisan features, becoming a real part of the Strasburg community and building life long relationships from Pebbles and Lace at 11 East Main Street.

Sometimes when God makes your dreams come true you just have to enjoy the ride. And.I.have!!
Your support has been phenomenal. We can't thank you enough. Come and see us. We open on Wednesday morning at 10. And spread the word. We plan to have a grand opening event Memorial Day weekend. Until then we will be perfecting, refining and gathering the best and most beautiful merchandise we can get our hands on. Wait until you see what is in the pipeline!! It's crazy pretty.

It helps to know creative people!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Checking the Boxes

The BIG paperwork and legal stuff is now in the done column.  This evening we will go and seek permission from those in charge for our external sign.  Thankfully they have approved our temporary sign so we are good to open on February 15th!  Whew....this has been a whirlwind.  From not having a clue it was coming to figuring it all out on the fly.  Thankfully there are many dear friends and new acquaintances who are generously sharing their knowledge.

I honestly believe that God has granted us special favor in creative ideas and resources.  Sometimes things come to me and I just have to stop and give Him the praise then and there.

Warren installed the chandelier last night and it looks so good.  He is working with all of the lighting.  Such an important part of retail.  Making sure items are well staged and well lit.  Chelsea is our stager.  She has quite the eye for beauty.  It is kind of fun to go out and get product, bring it in the shop and then leave because when I come back she has it all looking sweet!

Today Emily is riding along with me to pick up babies breath from a wholesaler in York.  The same one we used for Chelsea and Chadd's wedding.  I'm anxious to learn more and more about air plants and succulents from her as we go.  She is a genius when it comes to plants.  I'm so thankful for her wisdom and willingness to teach me.  The only thing better would be if we could talk her into doing the plants herself.  Ha!  But until that happens I'm having a blast making fun and pretty arrangements.

Here are some shots from the shop last evening....

Things are still in flux. 
What I'm showing you is all subject to change.
But it is definitely coming together now.

I should receive the first of the consigned baby items 
on Thursday.  We have several really great people
working on goodies for us.

I'm so excited to see them all get here.

I can't thank them enough for joining in this whirlwind 
that we are calling Pebbles & Lace.

I believe that the overall feeling of our space will 
be calm and a treat to the senses
not the chaos and crazy that has led up to it.

I told you we are excited about an artist who is 
working on pieces for us now??

Meet Cindy!
She has a gallery in Lancaster called

We can't wait to see what pieces she shares with us
at the shop!!

I have gotten to know and love Cindy as we worship
together at our Wednesday Morning Bible Studies.
Cindy is the drummer!!
She lives life to the fullest...and loves people in 
a very real and big way.

We are so very, very happy to have 
Cindy's work headed our way!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Remembering....With Gratitude

We were invited to Chadd and Chelsea's for the Super Bowl
this evening.  This caught my eye and brought many thoughts.
First off, I was reminded that I'm so glad that my 
Grandbaby will come into a home where the candles 
frequently burned are clean soy candles.
Knowing how dirty candles CAN be, it is so important
to me that our sweet baby not be exposed to the toxins
in those kinds.

Secondly, I can't look at that figurine without remembering
one of the hardest days of our lives.
It was the day Chadd was taken in for emergency abdominal
surgery and then they did more procedures on him
without telling us so that it was hours and hours
instead of the hours we were expecting.

Chelsea had gone to the gift shop and purchased this 
Willow Tree piece as we waited.
She wrote a Facebook post that day,  July 17th, 2015 ....

"I've never been so covered in prayer. People all over the globe are praying for my sweet fiancé as he is being treated and operated on.
Today has been a harder day for me as the shock wears off and reality sets in. But I am so blessed to know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are lifting this up to our loving Father. My friend and I were talking this morning about how God is good. She mentioned that she had wondered if we would still be claiming this, even if the reports we'd been getting weren't as good as they have been. Shortly after this conversation, we found out that Chadd was being taken back in to the operating room. This was a surprise, as just this morning things seemed to be looking up.
As previously stated, it has been a difficult day. But I'd just like to say that God is still good, still sovereign, and I'm not intimidated by the enemy that is trying to break my faith, because my God is way bigger and stronger.
Thanks everyone for your prayers.
I just bought this little thing in the gift shop to forever remind me of His faithfulness, shown through His devoted children reaching out to us during this time."

And then Chelsea posted this photo:

I love that she keeps this reminder right by her kitchen sink.
God IS indeed good.
We are all older, wiser and a bit beat up after the events of the 
last two years.
But we are also closer to our Heavenly Father.

One time a very good friend told me she was glad she went through
a journey with cancer because it changed her life for the better. 
Honestly I just couldn't relate to what she was saying.
I heard her, but it wasn't my experience.
I'm not sure I could say yet that I'm glad for our journey.
Too many bad things happened to wonderful people.
But I think I understand that friend better.
These things either drive you closer to the Lord 
or farther away.
I'm thankful that our kids drew closer to Him.

As we begin a new journey together with the shop and look forward 
to the baby coming this summer, 
we remember.
And we are thankful for God's mercy and grace
in our lives.

He is there...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Full Day

We left the house shortly after nine this morning.  On the way we stopped by some neighbors to check out a ladder we needed for one of our shop displays.  Fortunately the ladder they offered was exactly what we were looking for!  And they gifted it to us.  Sweet!!  We really know great people!

Then we got to the shop where the work for the day commenced.  You see, Warren is very busy at work these weeks because it is the time of the year when the theater is between shows and that means he is working longer hours and has a lot on his mind.  But my precious man dedicated himself to our shop projects today.  For hours and hours.   I am so blessed.

At one point we went to Habitat for Humanity where they were having a special sale.  We had no idea this was going on but were clued in as we approached the parking lot to find cars parked everywhere, including the grass.

We went inside to look for light fixtures for the shop track lighting.  We didn't find those but we did find ....a chandelier!!  As is happening so often these days I'm finding that these things make me ridiculously happy.  So....apparently I've wanted a chandelier...but didn't know it.  Because I was thrilled, especially when it was a total of 55% off the $39 ticketed price.  Cute, cute, cute.  But there was something bothering me.   The place we needed to put it has a hanging ladder in the way.  We planned to just thread it through the ladder and Warren even wired it in but occurred to me that we could add more chain and swag it over to the front window.  Easy-peasy says Warren Keeney.  And so very soon we will have a sweet chandelier in our front shop window.

Earlier today one of our valued vendors came to the shop with her adorable little daughters.  Annie makes very, very beautiful greeting cards.  She is also a very talented photographer and gifted us this photo of our shop in process.

I got to play with the plants later today as Warren brought some from home
for me.  I've been wanting to but it has been quite cold at the shop so I've
been trying to be patient. 

Now I can put it all together.
This time it was in a large bowl.

Then in some smaller hanging terrariums.

There will be many more but I did just a few tonight.
I want to have Emily come and make sure I'm doing it right.
And it is nearly time for the plants to get their weekly soaking
so rather than have to pull them out of the terrariums in 
a couple of days I just decided to hold off on making more.
But it was still a lot of fun.

On the left in the above photo you can see some of the feed sacks we are carrying.
They add a beautiful pop of color!

The rest will go on that ladder from our neighbors. 

What I know about this shop is this...
it is a community event.
About, and by, so many dear people.

We couldn't do this without so much support.

And our vendors who include soap makers, 
artists, crafters and fellow shop owners
are helping us get up and running in what feels like record time.
We are still on track for February 15th if there are no surprises.

Tonight I'm achin'.  
This chickadee isn't used to being on her feet all day.
But it is good for me!
I think.

Mom made two aprons from the feed sacks.
I took photos of one of them.

A picture of the pocket...which she embroidered for detail.
Love it!!

Now she is whipping up some towels.

We've decided to do a minimal amount of made up product, i.e.
aprons, towels and pillows, 
so if our customers want something they will be able to either order it from 
their choice of feed sack or purchase the sack and get creative
themselves.  We know many who are good at sewing.
Perhaps one feed sack would be a great add in to a special 
quilt project someone is working on.
The options are endless.
And the designs seem to be as well.

Tomorrow we rest.
We need it.
There will be a family gathering at Chadd and Chelsea's.
We've been so busy that we haven't seen Chadd for a while
and we miss him.
It will be good to spend some time together.
Chelsea and baby seem well....although
growing a human does tend to make one extra tired.
There's a miracle happening in there.

And now I'm off to bed.
Lately I can't sleep past 4 am but that means I'm super 
tired much earlier than usual.
So...rather than continue to bounce my chin as I nod off
I think I'll just give in....and sleep.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Work on the Shop Is at A Fever Pitch

Well, it turns out it takes a LOT to fill a retail space.
I know that my shop owner friends are laughing right now.
They could have told me that.
This photo was taken a few days ago for one of those
shop owner friends who was dying to see it.
She had just sold us some fixtures from her 
amazing shop in Lititz.

In this photo we are just getting started.

The first time Chelsea, Mom and I went to a local wholesale
warehouse we tentatively and very cautiously chose things
for the shop.
Then we came back and worked on the shop, 
placed much of what we have out for display and realized that 
we were woefully short on items.
Now, we know that our artisan products haven't arrived yet
and I have many plant related and candle items to 
prepare and put out but even so we had not come close
to our vision of what this space should look like.

We knew that new merchandise had just come in to the warehouse
so we returned.  We laughed at the change in our attitudes as we 
joyfully put things in the cart.
Lots and lots of things.

Chelsea made up this display today.
Doesn't it look sharp?

I love this piece!

 These are so soft and nice.

Finally today, I got a touch of lace onto the windows.

Oooh look! 
You can see Tiffany's shop across the way.
We are now shop neighbors.
And we don't compete with each other so feel one hundred percent
happy to visit her when you visit us. 
In fact, we are working hard to bring things to Strasburg that aren't 
currently here.  No need to reinvent the wheel or make enemies. 

We want every detail to have been thought of....
We'll see how successful we are.

I really like these too.

There is so much fun happening at the shop!!
From super great artisans agreeing to come in with us to
getting our EIN today which keeps us on schedule for now.
For those who don't know what an EIN is, it is our legal
identity with the Federal and State governments.  
We registered as an L.L.C.
Better safe than sorry.

Now we hope for a successful meeting
with the fine historical board of Strasburg
as they review our sign and then vote 
a week later on whether it passes muster.
Here's hoping!
I think it is sweet and meets their requirements.
As long as we aren't missing something.

The neighbors are awesome!
We are enjoying the process of getting to 
know them!

It feels like I've shown you everything...
but I promise you I haven't.
We have more goodness coming in tomorrow by way of 
Mrs. Robinson's Tea.
When we decided to open the shop Chelsea and I knew we 
wanted to carry this loose tea.
You may remember that we love to go to Mrs. Robinson's shop
in Kennett Square.
Lo and behold Mrs. Robinson was very interested in having
her delicious teas in Pebbles & Lace.

There is another artist coming that makes me squeal with
delight but I'm not telling you who it is yet. 
That is for another post.

My brother has shipped the mushroom art piece.
Can't wait to get it and take it in to the space
we reserved for it. is going to be amazing.'m exhausted.
But it's a good kind of tired.

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.
We feel so blessed.