Swan City Market Life

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Sweet Freedom

Last Friday, I had the rare opportunity to leave my office early. Of course, I made the best possible use of this opportunity by bee-lining it to the fabric store. It isn’t every day I have a chance to shop for fabric and sew it in the same day!

I left work early enough that I wound up behind an elementary school bus, which stopped every few blocks to let a few kiddos off. Most were pretty little kiddos — kindergarten to perhaps second grade. I watched them bound off of the bus gleefully and then run up the sidewalks with all their might, as if they were just released from a cage. Some of them skipped instead of running, but the same joyous pep was obvious in their steps. I recalled that similar feeling of freedom when I was a kid — Friday afternoon! The longest possible moment from the moment you’ll have to return to the grind!

Then it hit me — I had the same just-released-from-a-cage feeling! Don’t get me wrong, I adore my day job…But there is something completely wonderful and relieving about that Friday afternoon feeling when I know that I’ll be enjoying the Market in a matter of a few hours. I won’t have to take direction from anyone (OK, except maybe from Jim Luna, our beloved Market Manager). I can set up my booth any way I please. I can take a book to read. Or not. I can take some knitting to work on. Or not. It will be my time for me. And as if that weren’t fun enough, I’ll get to spend the day sharing the time and the hobby I love with so many wonderful Marketeers…other vendors, customers, dogs, kiddos, Mother Nature.

Upon realizing this, I was tempted to turn around, go back to my office, and do this “leaving early thing” right. I should have run or skipped from the office door to my car. Or heck, even a combo of running and skipping! I could throw in a cartwheel for good measure and nostalgia’s sake! Next time I get to leave the office early, I’ll remember the correct way to do it, for sure!

I hope those of you out there in the blogosphere are looking forward to the next few months at the Market as much as I am! This weekend, we’ll enjoy the annual Dr. Scissorhands Pumpkin Carving event, which is always a blast. Local physicians will be carving pumpkins that you can then purchase, and the proceeds will benefit the live music program at the Market. Live music and the Market are like peanut butter and jelly…So imagine your PB & J and without the PB. Or without the J! Now imagine the Market without live music! Yuck, I don’t like the sound of that at all, so please come out and help support a crucial element of the Market’s atmosphere. Vendors will be in costume in recognition of Halloween, including yours truly — So excited about the cool costume I made this year! (However, I never reveal my costume plans ahead of time, so you’ll have to come see me if you want to know!) There is also the Garden Extravaganza going on in Munn Park, so plenty of good reasons to head downtown.

The annual Market poinsettia sale kicks off soon, too…For me, that’s the starting gun of the race toward the holidays, and boy does that race go by quickly! As we head through October’s home stretch into November, it’s a great time to think about starting your holiday shopping locally at the Market. We have many vendors with terrific and unique gift ideas, and the Market is a great one-stop-shop for everyone on your list.

I’ve also been on Google and Pinterest like mad, looking for Thanksgiving recipes I can try with produce I can get at the Market. Last Thanksgiving, I was in charge of the salad for my family’s potluck celebration, and boy did I get some delicious greens and salad fixins at the Market! I’ve found that many of the produce vendors are really good at giving preparation suggestions for their veggies if you want to go outside the box and cook something you haven’t tried before. I think that will be what I go for this year!

And I plan for the SCML blog to be busier over the next few months as well! One of my goals for the blog is to get to know each of the vendors at the Market and help you get to know them, too, through Featured Vendor posts. I have three Features lined up that will be appearing soon — Scout & Tag home interiors (otherwise known as “the booth with the badger”), Walt Parks of Pro FX (who offers $1 per minute chair massages (that are fabulous)), and Bilbrey Family Farm (our local Certified Naturally Grown Farm) will all have features in the very near future, so stop back by often!

But digressing to this coming Saturday, 10/26, stop by Swan City Stitchery this Saturday if you and your kiddos are in costume (or even if you’re not because I’d still love to tell you hello!)…Then look for blog entry featuring all of the creative costume ideas I know you all have brewing at this very moment!

With sheer excitement,
Heather.


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Turn! Turn! Turn!

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This past week was our long-time vendor buddy Stephanie’s last week at The Market. You probably saw her booth at the very end of the South side of the Market, in front of Crisper’s — Taffy Knits and Ridge Plants. She made lots of very cool felted wool things, including dolls — one of the first gifts I ever gave my niece. She made very cool and very tiny little native Florida birds, and swans of course (one of which I have on my keepsake shelf of special things). She had a lovely selection of native Florida plants, too, and was so knowledgeable on all of them. Stephanie and her family will be moving to Texas this coming week. Since last Saturday, I’ve been reflecting on how much we’ll all miss her. Stephanie always had a kind word and welcoming smile. It was a joy to share weekly laughs with her. Her daughter Genevieve had begun joining her at The Market over the past couple of months, and she had become one of my Market Kiddo buddies. This Saturday seemed odd without them there…

And then, today I woke up with The Byrds in my head. I really couldn’t tell you why; I haven’t listened to their famous song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in a very long time. But as the lyrics ran through my head, my brain really stuck on the parts about a time for love, a time you may embrace, a time to mourn…and how most of all, there are times when all of those times exist simultaneously. Stephanie’s last day at The Market was one of those times. And though this week was odd without here, I reminded myself that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. I found myself realizing that Stephanie really isn’t leaving our Market. Though we won’t see her on Saturdays again, she will always be a part of our Market because of the special ways she touched each of us as vendor friends and the relationships she had with our customers. She may be physically gone, but her spirit will remain on Kentucky Ave. each Saturday. Bigger than that, though, are the special bits of The Market, of Lakeland, of her life here that she will take to Texas. The spirit of The Market will go with her, and so will be bits of joy we all exchanged with her. They say everything is bigger in Texas, so hopefully that means all the love we send with Stephanie and her family with grow in her time there, and maybe she’ll find a great big Farmer’s Market she can join! 🙂

Along similar lines, I found myself reflecting on special news I received this week. I may be a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant. I have been on the National Marrow Registry for about 5 years, and I got a call Friday that I could be a match for someone! I go this week for confirmatory testing, and then anytime within the 2 weeks to 60 days after, I’ll hear whether I am a match and can donate. So hopefully this will be a time to heal, a time to dance, a time for peace, a time to gather stones together. I marvel at the idea that a small little piece of who I am could be going out to someone to completely transform their life. I’m meditating on the hope that even if I am not the match for this person in need, someone is. It is incredible how connected we all are in this life. Just as all of the vendors who knew and loved Stephanie will always connect with the parts of her she shared with us, it is possible that my DNA, my leukocyte antigens may be so closely connected with a total stranger that I can give them my bone marrow. Our connectedness is just mind boggling…

Well, if I got a little deep there for you, no worries! I have some lighter news…This week, I will get back to posting Vendor Features, so look for a feature on Weefcraft Tiedye later this week!

I also thought that since today is the official first day of Fall, and since we are all looking forward to that gorgeous Florida autumn that is [hopefully] just around the corner, you might be interested in some goings-on that will be happening downtown in October…Good stuff to check out while you’re also downtown for The Market:

10/12 — The Lakeland Fire Department will host their annual Open House. Take a tour of the historic Downtown Station, check out educational demonstrations and cool firefighter equipment.
10/12 — ALSO Downtown Zombiefest will take over Lakeland after The Market closes down! Check out LFD, enjoy The Market, and stay for Zombiefest that starts at 2pm! Make it a day downtown!

10/19 — Lake Mirror Classic Auto Show: I am NOT a motorhead, or anything close to it, but I absolutely love this event! So many neat and beautiful cars!

10/26 — Munn Park Extravaganza: Plants, flowers, trees, Master Gardeners to answer your questions, soil testing.
10/26 — ALSO on this date, check out The Market’s Dr. Scissorhand’s Annual Pumpkin Carving contest and vote for your favorite vendor costume!

Hope to connect with you all as we move forward in the Market Season.

I swear it’s not too late,
Heather.


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The wait is almost over!

Hi, everyone! September 7th quickly approaches, and with it comes reopening day of the Market! This year, we even have a poster that makes it official!

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I’ve been missing my vendor and customer friends and my Saturday Market routine. . .but I have to admit that it has been nice to sleep in a bit on the weekends, have more free time for new ideas and designs, and enjoy air conditioning during the brutal heat of August!

Now, I’m just ready to fast-forward to next weekend! I’m excited to see all my friends, maybe meet some new vendors, debut my booth make-over for fall (the blog has a fall make-over as well!), and see the live performance of The Applebutter Express. . .Described as Americana/Ukulele Funk and Bonnaroo Bluegrassers, their performance should be a whole lotta fun!

When I think about the coming months, I am so excited to experience a season of the Market I haven’t seen as a vendor yet — Dr. Scissorhands and the Vendor Costume Contest, fresh veggies for my Thanksgiving feast, poinsettia sales, and holiday shopping for my friends and family at my buddies’ booths! I’m also excited to enjoy the fabulous Florida fall weather, which will be icing on the cake to our wonderful Saturdays outdoors at the Market!

What have you missed most about the Market during August? What are you most excited about shopping for when we reopen? I sure hope you can all make it out next Saturday!

With excitement and exclamation points!,
H.


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Reflections on the Market Season

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The 2012-2013 Market has drawn to a close, and we are on hiatus until September 7. This past Saturday at the Market was filled with both anticipation and nostalgia. Peggy at Scotty’s Produce summed it up well — “It feels like the last day of school!” It really did. While we were all mostly ready to enjoy a break from the heat and the early Saturday mornings, we also knew it would be hard to not see our friends for a month and to be out of our routine.

I’ve spent the past week reflecting on the joy the Market has brought to my life in so many ways. I’ve tried not to make this blog about me personally, my life, or my business exclusively, but I do want to express gratitude where gratitude is due. I owe a whole lot to the Market. In August, 2011, I started feeling crummy. Crummy turned into bad. Bad turned into awful. Awful quickly became terrible. And one day in October, 2011, I collapsed at work. I saw several doctors who ran all kinds of labs, reviewed all kinds of imaging, and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. Every measurement indicated that I was healthy and normal. But I’ve never in my life felt so far away from healthy and normal. There were days that lifting my arms to my keyboard at work felt like more than I had the strength for. There were days that laying in bed felt like it took too much energy. I tried hard to keep moving because if I sat still, I’d fall asleep, but I also didn’t have the energy to keep moving, and I hurt all over all the time. Eventually the doctors I saw decided that I had anxiety, that I was psychosomatic (i.e. my symptoms were real, but resulting from mental turmoil rather than a physical cause). I admit, I WAS anxious…but I was anxious because no one could figure out what happened to my life. The energetic, fun, and exciting life I was used to leading. Anxiety came secondary to all the physical stuff that went unexplained. I remember a period of what seemed like months when I’d say every day that I just wanted MY life back, or that I didn’t know whose life I was living, but it wasn’t mine. This all really started to look bleak just before my niece was born in February, 2012. I began to panic thinking that I had some rare mystery diagnosis that no one would figure out, and that I’d never get to have a quality relationship with my precious niece…something very important to me because I’ve been blessed with THE coolest aunts ever, and I really wanted to join the Cool Aunt Club. I finally saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with osteopenia resulting from low vitamin D. None of the doctors I saw before thought to check my vitamin or mineral levels! I was relieved that my diagnosis was so treatable — more time in the sun and daily supplementation — but it took a good 6 months of supplementation to even start to begin to feel like the person I was before.

Meanwhile, my anxiety continued. I developed depression resulting from my negative thoughts about all the time I’d lost to my illness. I felt foggy-headed all the time, tired, dizzy, short-of-breath, and achy. It was hard to do my regular job, and anything extra for fun was out of the question for a while. But when I finally started to feel better, I wanted to be out and about and catch up on all the things I’d been missing out on. One of the first places I went was to the Market. My good friend Jess from high school had recently become a vendor, selling her awesome jewelry through her business Stray Creative, which eventually became Here & Now Boutique. I had gotten back into sewing to make Christmas presents once I started feeling better, but I knew that Christmas would come and go and then I wouldn’t have much reason to sew and create on a regular basis. Jess was really encouraging of my start-up at the Market. With a purpose to create and a reason to be outside to get sun to improve my vitamin D (bonus!), I really began to feel like “I” was back and better than ever!

And better than ever I certainly am. I am better for having gotten to know all the vendors and customers I’ve met during this past season. I am better for having the experience of being my own boss and making my own decisions for my company. I am better for being able to contribute to my community and my local economy. I am better for having a place that I feel like I belong and where I can just be me without any judgment. I would have never expected to have gained so much from my Market experience, but in some ways, it saved my life. I had resigned myself to never getting my “old self” back. I had accepted that I would probably be tired and in pain for the rest of my life. The Market truly gave me a reason to push through in a positive way and get well — physically and mentally.

The Market has now become one of the major ways I take care of myself. I need the Market to help me balance out my regular week life. I absolutely love my job as a mental health counselor — helping others and seeing them grow is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But it can be difficult, even traumatizing, to listen to people’s stories all week. I’m glad I have the Market where I can focus on what I love doing and also enjoy being a part of my community, even if it’s in a small way.

I’m very much looking forward to an even bigger and better 2013-2014 Market Season! Each week at the Market seems to give me a booster dose of exactly what I need to keep doing well. I hope each Market vendor and customer finds even a portion of the joy the Market has brought to my life again. I will always be grateful.

Mark your calendars to come see us on September 7. We’ll be missing you in the meantime. Honest.

With thanks,
H.


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And then there were two…

Hard to believe there are only TWO Market Saturdays left in this season before our August hiatus! While I’m looking forward to a break from the heat, I will deeply miss my Saturday routine, my vendor buddies, and all the customers. I find myself trying to imagine what I will do with my Saturdays for a whole month. I know I have a lot of sewing in mind…but what will I do beyond that?

I ask that question in seriousness, dear readers. What will I do? What should I do? What ideas do you have for me? What’s fun to do in Lakeland on the weekends? I know there must be a lot, but with the Market being my regular Saturday plan, I need help finding ways to fill my time for a month!

Please post your Saturday activity ideas in the comments for this post…You won’t only be helping me, but also your fellow Market goers and vendors like me who might otherwise wander up and down the 200 block of North Kentucky Ave, looking lost and confused. This could be a serious problem since the barricades won’t be in place! Help us, please!

😉
Heather.


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Incognito as a Market Customer

I had taken off from the Market this weekend because I’d initially had ideas of going to the beach with my main squeeze for the long holiday weekend. The iffy weather ruled that out, though, so we stayed home and did A LOT of Spring Cleaning that didn’t get done this Spring. 🙂 Yesterday morning, before I got down and dirty with house cleaning, I decided I needed to stop by the Market for essentials like veggies, granola, soap, and cookies.

To my delight, I had to wait in LINES to pay for my purchases! A lovely steady breeze and plenty of shade made it the perfect morning for waiting. Bilrey Farms was packed with customers. I got some local red potatoes, onions, and butternut squash. I’ve never cooked butternut squash before, and when I mentioned that to the vendors, I got recipe ideas galore from both the vendors AND the other customers! It seems like the hardest part of preparing this squash will be deciding which delicious way I should prepare it! Bilbrey Farms is also now accepting applications for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Memberships — You could pick up your very own box of fresh, organic, locally grown produce every week at the Market beginning in October!

I got a chance to browse a few other booths on the North End of the Market. This is a rarity in my life these days since I’m usually manning my own booth. I’ve been a vendor since December, 2012, so I was really amazed to see how much the North end of the Market has grown! I haven’t been able to give much of a shout-out to the North End of the Market thus far, and regretfully so. Those of us on the South End are only half a Market without the guys and gals on the North End!

As I made my way back to the South end, I found Sugarbuzz buzzing with customers wanting Peaches & Cream Cheesecake and Snickerdoodles. (I may have done myself a disservice by letting out the secret of their fabulous Snickerdoodles!) I was really glad that during my Spring [Summer] Cleaning, I found the mixing bowl that went with Ron’s antique mixer — my mom had the same mixer when I was growing up! I brought it to give to Ron and now he has a complete, working antique mixer!

I also brought some fabulous wool yarn I’d had for a while and gave it to my buddy Stephanie, whose booth is at the extreme Southeast end of the Market. I know some knitting basics, but not enough to do this gorgeous yarn justice, so I was glad to find it a worthy home. Next week, I am going to bring my knitting needles and my basic knitting skills, and Stephanie is going to give me a refresher!

I got hugs from my buddies Janet (Dutchy’s Granola) and Sharon (The Soap Magician). Granola and soap, of course, too! I wrapped up my visit with a lovely Peach Rooibos iced tea from Matt at Teaki Truck.

It’s so hard to stay away from the Market for even one week. I was glad I got to visit since I couldn’t be there with my booth. I wasn’t unproductive in my time off, though! I finally got my sewing/art studio set up in the backroom of my house! It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to see my mental picture take shape in reality, and I can’t wait to work on new creations for the Market now that I have an organized and beautiful space to work in!

Perfect long desk/workspace from Ikea -- Plenty of room for my machine and cutting mat!

Perfect long desk/workspace also from Ikea — Plenty of room for my machine and cutting mat!

All of my fabric, notions, tools, etc. organized neatly in my Ikea cubbies!

All of my fabric, notions, tools, etc. organized neatly in my Ikea cubbies!

Best of all, I have my kitchen back, which previously housed Swan City Stitchery’s HQ. 🙂 Lots of counter space for trying butternut squash recipes now!

There are only THREE Saturdays left in this Market season before we close for August! If you haven’t been out to see us in a while, take advantage of the time you have left! If you’re a regular, we appreciate you so much and look forward to seeing you during our last couple of weeks!

What are your plans for your Saturdays in August? I know I have lots of sewing designs in mind that will be taking shape in my brand new studio!

Peace,
H.


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Market Mutts

One of the biggest joys out at the Market are the precious pooches, delightful doggies, and canine customers that I get to meet. You’ve probably heard about some of the various benefits of owning a pet. When Market shoppers bring their Market Mutts with them, us vendors get to enjoy those benefits, too!

Here are a few Market Mutts you may see around Downtown on Saturdays:

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River is a 1 1/2-year-old Shepherd mix who was adopted from the SPCA by his people, Sarah, Katie, & Jillian. His people describe him as “loving, soft, and sweet,” and boy, is he! He was excited to give me lots of kisses, and his coat is gorgeous! River’s favorite toys are his peoples’ socks — he loves to gather them up and play with them instead of toys! He showed me his really cool high-fiving trick. He can give a low five while he’s sitting or jump up to give you a high five! He seems to especially like to high five because he insisted on giving me numerous high fives while I tried to take his photo. 🙂 His people say his favorite reason to come to the Market is the car ride — he loves to ride anywhere!

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Meet Treble…not “Trouble,” although her people say that could be her name! Treble, a 6-month-old Chi-Weenie (Chihuahua/Dauchsund mix), got her name because her kid people are really into band at school. Treble’s mom, Kerri Greene, says Treble came into their lives when a family friend could not care for her or give her the time she needed, so Kerri & her kids came to the rescue to give her a loving home. Treble’s people say she is best described as “rambunctious, sweet, and inquisitive.” She loves to play with her favorite toy, a tiny stuffed rabbit, so I had to be careful not to let her see the Sock Bunnies I have for sale at Swan City Stitchery! Kerri said Treble’s funniest quirk is her ears — one flips up, and one flops down! Last Saturday was Treble’s very first trip to the Market, but we hope she continues to come out and let’s us know what she likes most about visiting us!

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Chances are this pooch needs no introduction if you’re a Market regular — it’s Gertie the official unofficial Market Mascot! Gertie’s person, Michael Antolak, bragged to me that Gertie has more Facebook friends than he does! Gertie the 6 1/2-year-old Lab/Boxer mix came into Michael’s life when Michael was volunteering at the SPCA. Michael’s plan was just to pressure wash the facility, but when he was done volunteering, he went inside to spend some time with the adoptable pooches. Gertie was quiet and shy in her pen until Michael came along and showed her a little love — he just had to adopt her, and now he describes her as the “happiest dog ever!” I would have to agree considering that Gertie was so happy to meet me, she wagged her whole body! Michael says that Gertie loves coming to the Market because she loves people and attention. The Market is just the place for her to find that!

If you’d like to see your Market Mutt on the SCML blog, stop by the Swan City Stitchery booth located on the south end of the Market in front of Crisper’s for a photo and a few questions about your dog’s personality (dog-ality?). My neighbor booth Wook’s Beef Jerky will be glad to give your Canine Customer a sample of their all-natural, locally made, delicious pet jerky!

Woof!
H.