2015 end-of-year post

The annual post is a tradition, so here I am again to reflect on the year that is ending, as a personal exercise more than anything else.

In hindsight 2015 feels primarily like a year of stability for me and my family. We lost a beloved pet (whose time had come), but not any human family members. I'm still working at the same job where I started in 2014. We took over a craft fair in summer, but that was organic growth and not a disruptive shift. I hunted down and consumed mushrooms like usual. We continued work on our house that has been on the to-do list since we moved in five years ago. I ate all the food.

I wrote about my one big change of producing inventory and tabling as an artist at my craft fairs, although even that activity seemed inevitable and a long time coming. I was a session presenter at this year's bushCON which was fun and exciting but also a repeat of my talk from IgniteCompared with last year there were no big surprises and no unwelcome changes. There were also no grand adventures or incredible discoveries... just life, well-lived. And that's OK. The older I get, the more I appreciate this kind of peaceful co-existence and natural personal development.

Hopefully it's been a good year for you too. Love always and peace,


2015 Minneapolis Craft'za

Well, half the year is gone, and we hosted the 4th annual Craft'za last weekend. Here is a very blurry photo of my booth to show how it changed since the spring. I wanted to build a fancy custom display but this pegboard was super-effective!

I had a lot more inventory than I did at Craftstravaganza and the table felt really full this time. I sold a good number of hoops and even my most expensive framed piece. Also did some great trades with my fellow artists, my favorite thing to do.

So it turns out this is the year I finally hang my shingle as a legit craft artist. Lots of interest and great conversation at the event, and people asking where they can buy online... which should be possible soon since I'm setting up a Storenvy shop!

Craftstravaganza #10

Hard to believe, but this May was our 10th annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza. We built it, we grew it, and we kept it going for a whole decade. One thing I had never done--until now!--was have my own booth as an artist.

This year I decided to take the plunge and go all-in with a separate table, selling as my hand-stitchery brand Angleworm Embroidery. It's all the work I've been sharing on Instagram since last December. I sold some hoops, traded a few with other artists, and had a lot of admirers. In particular my Zork piece (which I thought was a somewhat obscure reference) got a huge positive reaction.

It was fun to be an artist and stand behind the table as an exhibitor. But I also had to run the show and that meant I couldn't hang around in one place all day. I'd like to try another event where I can just participate as an artist. Overall the event was great and it inspired me to continue embroidering. One nice thing about running craft fairs is that there's always another one coming up in just a few months!

Morel Hunting Crib Sheet

Start looking for morels the first week that temperatures stay above 50 degrees overnight, usually early to mid-May. The morel season in Minnesota only lasts for about two weeks, so don't sleep! Other signs that it's time for a hike:
  • Lilacs blooming 
  • Dandelions begin to go to seed 
  • Oak leaves the size of a squirrel's ear 
Early spring, search on south-facing slopes in fairly open areas. As the season progresses, go deeper into the woods and explore north-facing slopes. You want to find well-drained, sandy soils and dead or dying trees (ideally with bark sloughing off the trunk). Look for these landmarks to identify potential hunting grounds:
  • Dry creek bottoms 
  • Old apple orchards 
  • Ash, aspen, elm & oak trees 
But is it really a morel? Morels are always hollow. "If it's not hollow do not swallow." Morels' heads are always attached to the side. "Head attached, down the hatch!" Oh, and remember you always gotta cook 'em first... a friend's dad just got sick from eating raw morels. Happy hunting!


Lola Memorial

Lola was a good dog. She was our first baby and tolerated our human children with infinite patience. We had many good years together but it was her time to snuffle off this mortal coil on April 1, 2015. Goodnight sweet pup, we miss you.

Jenna says:
After a rough start to life, Lola came to us around age 4. We had 10 wonderful years with her, and we are so glad that our girls were able to spend their early years with such an amazing pet. It will surely take us all some time to adjust to our new normal without her around. Thank you Lola, for being such a sweet, patient & loving dog!

Pins & Needles

I started doing embroidery in a serious way this winter when I cross-stitched a bunch of Christmas gifts (and one fancy deer). That was so fun that I kept on going and stitching things for myself, just for fun. Then soon I had a pile of finished pieces sitting in a drawer.

And so this is all leading up to the announcement that I'm going to try--for the first time in ten years of Craftstravaganza history--to staff my own booth and make a go of selling like a real artist. I've sold stuff at our shows before, sporadically, but always as a small part of Jenna's Scuttlebug booth. And there was the time I had a half table for one day at SpringCon. But this will be separate, with unique new branding, all my own art. I'm excited... and I have a lot of work to do!

I'm hoping some people will buy my stuff, that's one thing. But also this will be a test to see if I've learned anything about being a good exhibitor in the decade I've spent as an event manager. Come see if I succeed, or crash & burn, on Saturday May 9.

Pre-Shopping Craftstravaganza

For years after we first started Craftstravaganza, managing the event took up most of our time. My wife and I would frequently reach the end of the day and realize we never had a chance to shop our own show! That simply would not do.

It's important for us to give back to our artists, and besides, having the chance to browse and buy from artists that we selected was the main reason we created the show to begin with. So now I have a budget of cash in pocket and plan which booths to hit up so I don't miss anything.

Here are some of my anticipated acquisitions for this year's event.
 Original painting, DC Ice
 Woven scarf, Taillon Made
 Upcycled necktie, AENDEE Products
 Mortar and pestle, Fringe & Fettle Ceramics
Nerdy terrarium, Moss Love

EAT IT, 2015

I don't make resolutions, but I do make plans, and my favorite thing to plan is what I'm going to eat. Here is a list of some foods and beverages that I haven't eaten in a while, or ever. I'm going to make an effort this year to eat/drink them all.

I listed also the most likely sources where I can find a good example of these treats. If you have a better recommendation then by all means clue me in!
  1. Affogato (Crema Cafe)
  2. Cronut (Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar)
  3. Crepe (La Belle Crepe)
  4. Takoyaki (Zen Box)
  5. Okonomiyaki (Moto-i)
  6. Korokke (Japanese-style Croquette) (Sakura special menu)
  7. Udon (Tanpopo)
  8. Fish & Chips (Anchor)
  9. Morels (the forest)
  10. Genever (Amsterdam Bar & Hall)
  11. Absinthe (Meritage)
  12. Caipirinha (Fogo de Chão)

Predictions for 2015

I don't set resolutions, but it's fun to make predictions about what the year holds in store and review them a year later. Sometimes they're hilariously off base, rarely they're accurate, always they tell a little story about the general direction of my life. Here's what I'm looking forward to in 2015!

Events will happen
It's my first full year as a full-time event manager, so the one thing I know for sure is I'm going to be managing a lot of events. I'm running the Food & Wine Experience for the first time in March (I volunteered there last year), and the 10th Annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza in May!

Children keep growing up
The milestone in 2014 was Natalie starting first grade, a full day of school, every day of the week. She rides the bus and brings back homework and everything. It's a little surreal and sad but she enjoys it and I'm proud. This year Paisley will actually be in preschool, which is crazy weird.

Personal projects
I advocated following your passion in 2013, I did it in 2014, and I'll be working to learn and improve in 2015. Aside from my day job and our craft fairs, Weekly Planner podcast is my main project. As always I want to keep on making art; I'm super into embroidery right now so we'll see if that sticks.