Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Catching Up

After a flurry of activity and many long days (often working all day until 10 or later at night), things are slowing down now, and I am catching up on things in regular life and a bit here on the blog as well!

The introduction of the gift sets (mentioned in this post) in my online stores far exceeded my expectations, and as a result, the end of November and all of December up until the last few days ended up being very busy! 

In the middle of assembling gift boxes

The days were full with making product, assembling gift sets, communication with customers online, packaging orders, trying to keep up with ordering supplies to make more of the products (thankfully, each time I ran out of something [such as bath salt jars or mailing boxes], the newly ordered ones were delivered right when I needed them!), not to mention the farmers market on Saturdays, too!

At the farmers market . . . and Leah has been bringing her candles there now as well She has done well with those there! (And please pardon the wrinkled tablecloth . . . would you believe I ironed it? I didn't realize how bad it still looked until looking at this photo! The lighting really brings the wrinkles out.)

Leah working our booth

Lots of delicious veggies at the market!

One Saturday these two gentlemen played and sang, and it was much enjoyed by everyone! They sang wintry songs, beautiful old favorites such as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Joy to the World", some oldies, and also children's songs. They had brought a bin of maracas and tambourines so customers could play along. The children especially loved it! When this photo was taken, they were playing "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain, and it was so fun listening to them all and singing along.

There was one week in December when so many orders were coming in online that Mom and Leah helped with packaging some of them, and then took over the meals for the rest of the week for me, too (as it was my week to cook.) 

I am thankful for the blessing of how well my business did during this time and how it has grown (though am glad it has slowed down now :) and thankful also for my wonderful family. They were so supportive and helped so much with packing orders, bringing packages to the post office for me a number of times, and not minding the stray bits of excelsior that seemed to be continually tracked onto the living room floor nor a dining room table that had to turn into a 'gift box assembly station' many days . . . .

A table of orders in progress . . . and the gift boxes with excelsior sticking out have just had the first step done - getting excelsior put into them. Once the gift sets are all done, it is all carefully tucked inside. 

Two days of orders . . . the biggest Post Office run with 29 packages! 

All of this was a fun adventure that's for sure!

So . . . that's why I have been rather quiet here on the blog. :)

Amidst the busyness, though, one much enjoyed event took place this past Sunday which was the annual "Volunteer, Rider, and Donor Appreciation Day" for the Therapeutic Riding Center. All four of us went, and it was so good to see dear friends again including two of my little riders (and their families.) It was like a mini reunion!

Dad, Mom, and Leah visiting with a gentleman who sat at our table

We enjoyed wonderful conversations, lots of hugs from sweet littles, delicious food, and then watching the slideshow which is a compilation of photos from the year followed by an award ceremony.

Some of my favorite parts of the afternoon were:

- Spending time with these sweet girls (and their brother, Will [who I work with at the therapeutic riding center] and their little sister) . . . .

(And in the back top right of this photo is one of our little riders, Livi, whom I'll share more about in just a bit.)

- Playing with dear Will (sorry no photos of him! He preferred to stay out of them that day. :) At one point, he was teasing me a lot and giving me his adorable little sideways looks so I started imitating him . . . which made him start doing all sorts of different things, with me imitating him right back. He thought it was hilarious! It makes me smile just thinking of his eyes all lit up and how he laughed! And then how he'd all of a sudden run over and give a spontaneous hug.

- Holding Suzi and dancing to the music during part of the slideshow . . . her giggles of delight were infectious!

Suzi and I (not dancing at the moment :) with the sweet card from their family and the drawings the girls made for us (Thanks so much M. family!)

Leah and Layla - our laps stayed busy! And Leah enjoyed lots of snuggles including Suzi just about falling asleep on her.

- Gentle "Livi hugs" and hearing some of her new words! Livi is a precious girl Leah and I have been working with the last year and a half or so at the riding center - no photos of us with her sadly, though she is in the photo mentioned above. Sweet girl and her parents so thoughtfully gave Leah and I each a gift which included a photo of us each working with Livi which was really special. (If you all see this, thank you again so much!)

- Talking with parents of our riders and some other volunteers we've become friends with

- Seeing all of the photos on the slideshow which brings back so many special memories!

 Layla being silly and playing with my Dad who was sitting behind us

 Love these sweet girls! (And Will and Sadie!)

We are so glad we were able to go to this! We weren't sure at first given the rather wintry weather we had had, but thankfully by Sunday, the roads were clear enough that we could venture out.

Friday we had freezing drizzle begin in the morning which lasted all day and left everything coated in ice. Unfortunately, the road crews didn't start salting the roads until mid-day Friday and by that time, the roads were sheets of ice. It took my parents 1 1/2+ hours to make the 20 min. drive home, and it was hard driving! The interstate was barely moving in some places, and others, not at all as many vehicles, and especially the semis, were just sitting there with tires spinning on the ice.

Leah and I were praying at home that Dad and Mom would make it home safe, and it was a relief when they pulled into the driveway! 

It was a crazy mess on the roads with many people having their commutes go from 20-45 minutes to many hours and some up to at least six hours. The last of the school children weren't delivered home until 1 am in the morning, and there were 300+ wrecks in central Missouri as a result of the ice (thankfully the vast majority were not serious.) It has also been cold! Dipping below zero several times and some days not making it into the 20's which has made animal chores a little more interesting. It's starting to warm up a bit now, though, which is a welcome change, especially the sunshine of today.

Ice on the blueberry bush leaves

After the ice came a thin blanket of snow which minimized the slickness outdoors and made it beautiful. I walked down to get our mail after dark Friday night and the snow was falling gently then. It was so still out you could hear it. As I took it all in, my heart filled with thankfulness and praise to the Lord, the Creator, and I ended up singing "How Great Thou Art" all the way down the driveway (amidst slipping and sliding a bit on the ice and snow. :)


The girls (plus a wether) curious as to what I was doing when out taking photos

It's always fun after a snowfall to go for walks and photograph and then to also look for animal tracks. Though this time, most of the animals must have still been hunkered down as the only tracks to be seen other than birds and domestic dogs were these rabbit tracks:


So there you have a glimpse into what has been happening here as of late! And as a little fun conclusion :)  . . . any guesses how many different bird species are in the below photo?

Notice the fighting Blue Jays? They didn't want to share the suet feeder!

18 comments:

  1. Goodness me, Sarah! Your work seems to have doubled lately with the soaps etc. How nice that it is taking off so well. The boxes do look very attractive.

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    1. It did, Elizabeth! It was crazy busy there for awhile. And yes, it is!

      Thank you. :)

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  2. Oh my you have been busy! I'm so happy that your business is doing so well. I wanted to let you know how much I love the products I ordered from you. The peppermint tea tree soap is wonderful as is the lip balm. :) Will Leah be selling her candles online or is that just for the farmers market? I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as we celebrate His birth.

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    1. Thank you, Angela! I am so glad that you love the products you got. Makes me happy to hear that!

      Yes, Leah will eventually be selling her candles online. She is in the process of setting up an Etsy store now in fact! I'll let you all know once it is up and running.

      Thank you! May you have a blessed New Year as well!

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  3. Sarah--how wonderful that your gift packs have done so well! I was going to order some for Christmas presents, but ended up just ordering individual products. I may try your sets for future birthdays though! So thankful that your family just all pitches in and helps out when things get busy--that's family functioning at its best! Your account of the ice storm sent shivers up my back.:-) It has dipped down to 7 degrees at night here in OK, and our chicken chiding was COLD! I can only imagine how long it takes when you have even more animals like y'all do!

    Like the other commenter, I too was wondering (hoping!) that Leah might have plans to sell her candles online?

    Take care, Sarah, and thanks for how hard, faithfully, diligently, and excellently you work!

    :-) Betsy

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    1. Thank you, Betsy! If you try the gift sets in the future, I hope you (and the recipients) will like them. :)

      Aww, thanks for your kind words about my family. I am so thankful for them!

      Wasn't the cold weather crazy? We have enjoyed lovely weather the last week or so, but it's going to get cold again before long!

      Yes, Leah will be selling her candles online. I'll be sure to share about it here once her Etsy store is up in running!

      Thanks so much, Betsy!

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  4. I enjoyed this post and very happy for you that your soap business is going so well. Your market display is so beautiful and well done! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family! ~Sarah

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    1. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Sarah! And thanks so much for your kind words. :) Have a blessed New Year!

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  5. This is my second time. I send you a comment two days ago but must have forgotten to click on publish or got distracted by visiting my family. Oh well, I'll try again but much shorter message. Sorry! "You & your family have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!"

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    1. Since your first comment didn't go through, Leah, I am glad you commented again! I always enjoy hearing from you. Thanks so much for writing! I hope that you have a blessed New Year!

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  6. Hello Sarah,

    To hear your soap business is going well is such good news. I am so glad for you. Your wintry weather sounds like it tried to mimic Montana's winter time weather last week - hee, hee.
    I pray you and your wonderful family enjoy a most blessed Christmas.
    Mrs.B

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Mrs. B! It does sound like we were trying to mimic Montana's winter weather. :) Not right now, though! It has been so nice here lately . . . subject to change very soon.

      May you and your family have a blessed New Year!

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  7. That is so nice! I'm happy that you sold so many items. I just love your blog.

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    1. Thanks so much, Stephanie! I am glad that you enjoy it. :)

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  8. I am thinking of you...hoping you had a well-earned rest and joyful time : )
    Oh those lovely kids, and how you love them! And awwww the goats. I would love to pet them!
    Happy Christmas Holidays and may you, Leah and your M+D be blessed in the year to come.

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    1. Thanks so much, Alex, for your sweet comment! It brightened my day. If you lived closer, it would be lovely to have you over to visit! And I know the goats would enjoy the petting. :)

      I hope that you have a blessed coming year as well!

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    2. Thank you. And I would love that! But, at least, I'm grateful for blogging and the beautiful encounters it provides :)

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    3. That is a blessing of blogging, Alex! I am grateful for it, too. :)

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)