Swan City Market Life



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!




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!


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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:

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!

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!

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!



The Heat Is On…

It’s that time of year when we could all swear the humidity is somehow above 100%. That time of year when afternoon rains roll in just as reliable as a Yellowstone geyser. We kick off hurricane season without so much as the bat of an eye. School lets out and summer camps and vacations commence. We switch out hot coffee for iced coffee. And summer doesn’t even officially start until June 21!

I’ve had to free my feet from actual shoes and wear sandals every Saturday now. My feet have gone from stark white to perhaps ecru or eggshell in a matter of weeks, although leaving white lines where my sandal straps rest. I found myself thinking back yesterday to December, January, and February of this Market season. Oh, the memories of arriving on Kentucky Ave. at 6:30AM in the total darkness, with temperatures somewhere in the 40’s and vendors dressed in 3 or 4 layers. Of course, by 10:30AM, we had usually shed at least a layer or two because the temperature had climbed to the upper 60’s. We couldn’t feel our hands to set up our tents. We’d hug one another good morning, and often linger for a little extra snuggle and an exchange of body heat.

Those days seem so far away now. Now, once I pack up my booth at the end of the Market each weekend, I am tempted to drive straight to Barnett Park and sit in the cool, refreshing fountains for a while (except that I’d be the creepy lady without kids). It’s that time of year when it could be really miserable to be outside at the Market. But amazingly, we’re still all there! Vendors are faithful in attendance, even though wearing one layer of clothing seems like too much. Customers are still steady throughout the day, even though the local supermarkets and big box stores are running their A/C’s full-blast. And we remain united — not just because we’re miserably hot together, but because the Market matters. Buying the freshest local organic produce at the best price matters. Buying gifts from local artisans matters. Because our local economy matters. Our relationships with one another matter. Our Saturday routine and commitment to our Market Community matters, even if it makes us physically miserable for a little while. 🙂

There are only 7 Saturdays left in this Market season. And yes, you can pretty much count on each of those Saturdays being rather miserable. But we depend on you and appreciate you in a way that those fancy air-conditioned retailers don’t. And come August, I’m willing to bet you’ll even miss us a little bit. That first Saturday of September will seem like forever away! And if nothing else, it is true that misery loves company, so at least stop by and commiserate with us about how hot it is. Over Teaki Bars and iced tea, we can discuss what crazy notion ever possessed Florida’s settlers to choose this muggy swampland to call home…but also be so thankful that they did!

Thank you so much for sticking with us…even at this time of year when your clothes are sticking to your body like flypaper. 🙂

Just as an aside, while we’re discussing the dog days of summer, I’d like to mention that I’m doing a casting all for all Canine Customers of the Market. Would you and your pooch like to be featured in an upcoming Swan City Market Life blog post? All interested pups and their people to stop by Swan City Stitchery next Saturday, June 15 for a photo and to give some insight on the varied personalities (dog-alities?) of our four-legged regulars. There will even be treats involved! (For dogs only, although any humans who enjoy eating dog treats will not be judged!) And since we’ve established that it will be hot, there will be a dog bowl of refreshing water as well. 🙂

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Featured Vendor: Theresa’s Promise

[Editor’s note: Due to blogging complications with the ongoing busy-ness of my life, the Vendor of the Week column will run occasionally rather than weekly. My goal is to eventually feature every vendor at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers’ Curb Market! Hold me to it, dear readers!]

Kerry tp

If you have ever browsed the southern end of the Market, right in the middle of Kentucky Ave., you have probably noticed a booth featuring beautiful, unique, and affordable jewelry. Theresa’s Promise, run by vendor Kerry, has been a Market regular for five years now. If you’ve ever browsed Theresa’s Promise, you’ve no doubt noticed Kerry’s graceful, gentle spirit and been greeted with her warm and friendly smile. Kerry recently helped me pick out the perfect piece of jewerly for my sister’s birthday gift. She asked about my sister’s personal style, her likes and dislikes, and took into account that she’s the mom of a 16-month-old. I ended up with a lovely pair of simple blue glass earrings that my sister absolutely loved! And I know I mentioned that Theresa’s Promise offers affordable prices…But seriously, folks. I mean AFFORDABLE. This is a booth you can stop by at least once a month a treat yourself (or that special lady in your life) to something beautiful for just a few bucks!

Swan City Market Life: Where is Theresa’s Promise headquartered?
Kerry of Theresa’s Promise: I love the freedom of working from home. I wake up when I want, go to bed when I want, and create my jewelry designs when inspiration strikes me. I used to be a first grade teacher, and I loved working with the children and their parents, but the freedom of self-employment suits my personality. I also like working with my family. My mom and I used to have a ceramics business together back in the 90s, and she’s an integral part of my jewelry business now.

SCML: How did Theresa’s Promise get started at the Lakeland Market?
KTP: Back in 2008, I was doing my taxes for my business, and my accountant asked if I’d ever been to the local farmer’s market. I checked into it and realized I could sell my jewelry there. As a result, I’ve met so many wonderful vendors and customers over the years. It’s like a second family.

SCML: Describe your product line.
KTP: I primarily sell beaded jewelry—necklaces, bracelets, earrings, wire-wrapped rings, and anklets—for children and adults. I can also make beaded eyeglass holders, badge holders, rosaries, and body jewelry (particularly for belly dancers) upon request.

SCML: If your name is Kerry, who in the world is Theresa? And what is her Promise?
KTP: I chose the name Theresa’s Promise in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. In St. Therese’s biography, Story of a Soul, she said that she believed in “doing little things with great love,” which is my motto when I’m creating my designs.

SCML: What kind of jewelry do you like to design the most?
KTP: I’ve always been obsessed with jewelry. In high school, I was named “most unique” for the way I’d accessorize my Catholic school uniform. I used to wear a ring on every finger, big gaudy pins, huge dangly earrings. So I pretty much enjoy making anything and everything.

SCML: What types of metals and stones do you generally use in your jewelry?
KTP: I primarily use pearls, gemstones, Swarovski crystals, glass, and shells. I’m like a crow — I like things that are pretty and shiny. I try to make my findings as durable and hypoallergenic as possible while still being affordable, so I use surgical stainless steel French hooks for my earrings and non-tarnish artistic wire for my hand-wrapped rings.

SCML: Where does your jewelry design inspiration come from?
KTP: I read magazines, flip through catalogs, study craft books, and observe what celebrities are wearing on television and movies.

SCML: You have other lovely items besides jewelry at your booth. Tell us about those.
KTP: I recently found some beautiful artificial flowers at a secondhand store that I felt the urge to upcycle, so I turned them into hair bling for my customers. With summer coming up, I also thought it would be nice to make some inexpensive foam visors for kids and adults to help them block the summer sun.

Kerry invites all Marketeers to check out her website. You can also “like” and follow her updates on Facebook. You can even share Theresa’s Promise with all your out-of-the-area friends…Kerry has an Etsy shop, too!

Last but not least, Kerry offers a few other handy options. She is open to creating special orders. Bring her your rough ideas and she’ll help give them more definition and beauty! If you have an old piece that is broken or tarnish, she can also help you with repairs or using what you have to create something totally new. She also teaches classes to children and adults and hosts jewelry parties. Stop by and see her this week for an aesthetic treat that will keep your wallet (and your fingers, wrists, ears, and neck) very happy!

On a Swan City Stitchery related note, I would really love it if you could contribute to my June charity project — collecting art supplies for Art Feeds! Based in Joplin, MO, Art Feeds was formed after the devestating tornado that hit Joplin. Their mission is to provide art therapy and a creative outlet for children processing the trauma of natural disasters. Their latest focus is on the children affected by the Moore, OK tornado. If you have a moment to stop by a dollar store, you can pick up a few art supplies that will make a world of difference in life of a child in Moore. Bring them by The Stitchery this month, and I’ll package up all the donations to send to Art Feeds! You can include a little note of encouragement or a small artistic piece of your own, too, if art supplies aren’t in your budget. I need to fill this box by the end of the month!

art feeds box

Thanks in advance for all you contribute to our Market and our world!


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Calling All Future Stitcherists…

One of my most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the Market is whether I teach sewing lessons. As much as I would LOVE to teach lessons, between my full-time regular job and making inventory for and running my part-time small business (Swan City Stitchery), I just don’t have time for teaching lessons. I am, however, always excited to help someone interested in learning stitchery find a place where they can take lessons. Here are some local resources I recommend:

Fabric Warehouse in Lakeland: With a website this nifty, just imagine how wonderful their store and classes must be! Fabric Warehouse is located on the corner of Griffin Rd. and N. Florida Ave. They carry a huge variety of beautiful cotton prints. I buy my Amy Butler (modern graphic prints) and Riley Blake (classic to quirky prints) there. This is a great place to shop for 100% cotton quilting fabric, since that’s largely what they carry, and you can build a pretty nice stash of fat halves, fat quarters, and fat eights without breaking the bank if the yardage price is out of your budget. I always find lovely yardage prints on their $3 and $4 per yard shelves, though! On their website, click “Calendar” at the top and make sure you’re viewing the current month for a schedule of the classes they’re offering. They are also Husqvarna-Viking dealers if you’re shopping for a super nice machine.

Inspire! Quilting & Sewing in Plant City: Inspire! hasn’t been open too very long, but they have created a huge buzz among our local stitchery community. I had the pleasure of visiting with one of their employees at Fancy Flea and picked up a charm pack of Moda fabric (my absolute favorite) at a very decent price. Inspire has a TON of classes going on, with their June line-up already posted on their website — just click the “Class Calendar” link from the site’s top menu bar. They offer a 15% discount on all supplies purchased at their store for their classes, and a $5 store coupon if you sign up for a class more than 7 days in advance of the deadline. I really like that Inspire! gets very specific about the level of skill you’ll need for each class. For example, there are “beginner” classes and also “confident beginner” classes. So you know that if you have never touched a machine in your life, the “beginner” class is best for you. After you’ve taken a few classes and feel confident in your abilities, you can move up a step without the intimidation of calling yourself “intermediate” just yet. I also like that they go beyond quilting classes and offer classes on making handbags and even apparel. They are Brother dealers — also nice machines if you’re in the market for one.

Heartfelt Quilting & Sewing in Lakeland and Winter Haven: Heartfelt opened a Lakeland location not too long ago, but their Winter Haven store has been my go-to place for Moda fabric for the past couple of years. For just a few bucks, you can enjoy a “Sit & Sew” get-together with other stitchery-minded sewists two times a week. There is no instructor, but with other stitcherists of varying skill level, someone in the group is sure to be of assistance if you have a question. And I like that you can bring any project you’d like to work on. There are also totally free demos where you can pick up free patterns if you purchase supplies and you even get to watch someone make the project using the pattern from beginning to end. If you’ve always wanted to learn to quilt, Heartfelt has an awesome deal — free Beginning Quilting classes if you purchase your pattern and fabric from Heartfelt. They are also offering day and evening Kid Camp classes this summer. On their website, mouse over the quilt blocks and choose the store you’re interested in — Lakeland or Winter Haven (A Kissimmee store is planned for 2014!) Then their “classes and events” link is in the top menu bar, and classes are color coded on their calendar so that you know which classes are in Lakeland and which are in Winter Haven. They are Janome dealers. (My personal machine is a Janome that is much loved!)

Hopefully one of these options will meet your need. Sewing is one of those things that’s best NOT learned on YouTube (rare to find these days!) and even more fun when you enjoy it with friends! If you take a class, bring your finished project by the Market and show it off to me! I am always so excited to see others who are enthralled with sewing and creating!

In Stitchery Solidarity,

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Be a Craftivist!


I have been on a “news diet” for the past few weeks because I find the repetitive images of everything that’s going wrong in the world to be overwhelming. More than that, though, it’s skewed. Certainly there is a lot that’s going right in the world, but you only see the occasional feel-good story on the news.

Of course, it’s impossible to be completely cut off from the media today, and I’m okay with being aware of what’s going on as long as I don’t have to watch the horrific scenes on repeat. When I heard about the Moore, OK tornado, I felt compelled to do something to help. After all, as Floridians, we have been and could again be victims of similar devastation resulting from hurricanes. I considered what I could do to help. I am trained in Disaster Mental Health as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, but the ARC did not need to deploy any Disaster Mental Health volunteers from Florida to Oklahoma. Thankfully there were enough trained volunteers near Moore, OK to respond to the immediate mental health needs there. And I’ve heard about all the resources that are generously pouring into Moore — cell phone charging stations, laundry washing stations, free hotel rooms for those displaced, food, clothing, water. Even the Moore Home Depot has been transformed into a pet shelter. Immediate needs are being met, and the generosity flowing into Oklahoma is one news story I’m glad to keep track of.

Of course, there will be long-term needs in Moore, OK. Sadly, something else terrible will catch the attention of the news cameras, Moore, OK will fade in our memories; and before we know it, the news will run a quick update on how Moore has rebuilt on the one year anniversary of the tornado. When I was considering what I could do to help, I knew I wanted to find a project that would provide long-term assistance. I started browsing what projects were out there on the internets, and I came across Art Feeds. This was it! This is what I can do to help!

Art Feeds is on the ground working to bring healing through art to young people recovering from disaster. They’re working now to bring their programs to Moore. Art Feeds is based out of Joplin, MO and conducts mobile programs with elementary students who have undergone trauma and overcome obstacles. The programs use therapeutic art and creative education that comes free of cost to the participating students and schools. Their programs and processes are created to facilitate healing as well as cognitive and developmental growth. How perfect! Two things that are very important to me — helping others and using creativity for healing!

So this is where you have the opportunity to come in, dear blog readers — Art Feeds is running an arts and crafts supply drive for the victims of the Moore tornado. During the month of June, I’d love it if you’d pick up one or more of the items on their wish list (here is the link again if you need it!) and drop them off at The Stitchery booth. I’ll package up all the donated supplies and mail them to Art Feeds. Please note that Art Feeds requests that all donated supplies be new. I LOVE that they are asking for Super Hero capes! If you are a Stitcherist like me, I’d love to get some cool capes to send! There are lots of easy cape patterns and ideas on Pinterest!

We have the opportunity to be a community of craftivists and do something good for a community that could have just as easily been ours. I hope you’ll join me in being one of the many great things that’s going right in the world!

Thanking you ahead of time,