Monday, September 29, 2008

It's begining to look a lot like Halloween!

I am making some Halloween decorations for the store this week. I was on a quest today to find some good, fake spiders for a wreath I'm doing. This is proving harder than I thought, so I'll try to make some out of plastic soda bottle lids and electrical tape. Lord knows we have enough of both of those things in our house! My quest lead me to many places I rarely visit--both -Marts (K-and Wal-), Michael's (okay, not THAT rare for me), and a Halloween Store that has popped up where Wickes Furniture was. All that was was a giant version of Kmart's Halloween aisle--complete with K's on the price tags. But no spiders that were small enough to fit on a wreath! I'll let you know how my homemade spiders come out.

I also thought about what I was going to give out to trick or treaters this year. It needs to be "green" in some way. So I searched out organic Halloween candy. Not in my budget. Small toys? All made in China. What's a girl to do??? Then I remembered that there is a candy factory in nearby Forest Park--the Ferrara Pan Candy Company. Makers of Lemonheads, Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans, etc. They have an outlet store within the factory, and they said they'd soon be getting Halloween size boxes in mixed bags. That's about as green as I can afford to get, so I'm going to. I have to get the scoop on whether or not kids trick or treat in the Depot District. I would assume that some of my "regulars" will come by. I'm sure everyone knows I love Halloween, and they will assume I'll have treats. So I will!

***Corny Joke Warning***

Why did the Vampire subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?
He heard it had great circulation...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freecycle Rules!

About 4 weeks ago, I put an ad on Freecycle that I had moving and storage boxes up for grabs. I said it was ongoing, and people are still contacting me about them. I'm so glad I thought to do that! Before I was open, I'd just put a sign in the window, and people would stop and get them, but now that I have a real window display, I didn't want to ruin it with my hand-rendered cardboard sign. It's kind of sad, because I think most of the people who are getting them are helping their parents move out of the family home (or at least their parents' stuff--I think some have passed away). But at least I can help them out in this small way. I do have a realtor friend, Stacey, who has gotten some for her clients who are selling their homes and need to start packing. And a few customers have taken some to use to donate their old toys and stuff to make room for new ones (from Fly Right Gifts, of course!).

A lot of my products comes wrapped in huge sheets of kraft paper. Yesterday I ironed it all and I'm taking it down to the daycare center for them to use to cover tables when they do art projects--or the kids could lay on the floor and make giant drawings. I knew I was hoarding it for a reason! And my storage room is going to look and function so much better once I get this stuff out of there!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oktoberfest Success!

This was the scarecrow that the kids from Prairie Oak school made for Berwyn C.A.R.E.S. She's the old lady who swallowed a fly (I don't know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die)! I had the pleasure of hosting her right in front of the store all weekend. In the background is the Cuckoo Haus (Germanic version of a fun house). I didn't venture in there--I was too busy.

Wow. That's all I can say about Oktoberfest in Berwyn. They really did it up right! I was really proud when a very young girl came into my store and bought a small, but relatively expensive stuffed panda (made of soybeans and kapoc, thus the added cost) with her carnival money from her parents. He was only slightly larger than the smallest carnival game prize animals, but oh so soft and eco-friendly! And way cuter, too. I'm sure all those cheapie prizes will end up in a landfill soon. The panda probably won't, but if he does, at least he's biodegradable.

I'm so glad that I stayed open until 11pm both Friday and Saturday nights--tons of new people came in, and many bought stuff. It was great exposure for the store, since we were right along the carnival midway. I met so many new people and my head is swimming with names and information! I got to see a lot of previous customers, and acquired a lot of new ones as well. The feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive. Now I feel really great about taking this giant step. I can't believe how many people actually bought stuff. . .they had to carry it around with them all night! I think I'll be seeing lots of them again, too.

At Angel-a's urging, I put out the Halloween merchandise early. I'm so glad I did. I didn't sell a lot over the weekend, but I have a feeling people will be back for it soon! And it's just so darn cute! I did sell a lot of the paper decorations that I had--vintage reproduction cutouts, still made by Beistle.

I'll be writing about ways to "green" up your Halloween in upcoming blogs. Thanks to everyone who came to Oktoberfest, and especially those who stopped by to check out the store!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rain, rain, go away! (in other words, take a hike, Ike!)

Well, for the past few days we've been having rain, and plenty of it! Chicagoland broke the previous record for inches of rain this weekend. There has been lots of flooding in the area, and I know of many people who had water in their basements--I'm one of them. For us, it was coming in through the walls, and in a couple of places it was seeping up through the basement floor tiles. And through the bricks in the fireplace. Luckily, we noticed it before it got deep, and I set to work with my handy shop vac and tons of towels. Of course Jon was out of town until Sunday afternoon, so I was on my own until then.

The rain barrel was overflowing right away, and since it's right next to the house, I had to reset the downspout to go back into the storm sewer. Once we get the water level down a bit in there, I'll put the down spout back to the barrel. It really helps that we connected it with a flexible "hose" that was pretty easy to maneuver back towards the sewer downspout.

The pond that had formed in our back yard is still sinking into the ground (although it stopped raining yesterday) and thus, into one wall crack in our basement. The crack is behind the built-in work bench, so it was hard to get to. When Jon got home, his engineering brain set in and he came up with a way to corral the water into a bucket using a cheap plastic dust pan that he screwed to a lower shelf board and braced against the wall--the water just slid down through the handle and into a bucket! The bucket needed to be emptied about every half hour, so I put a large, flat plastic box under it so we could get a few hours' sleep. It would be impossible to empty it, due to the shelf, but that's where the shop vac comes in. The leaks were on all four sides of the house, so I got a pretty good workout running between the puddles and dumping 10 gallons of water at a time down the basement sink. Not to mention hauling all the boxes that had gotten wet out to the garage to dry out before recycling them. I used to hoard boxes (ya' never know when you'll need a good box!), but now that I have the store, I have a steady supply of boxes--which I give away to anyone who needs them.

So now, I'm thinking I need to disinfect the whole basement, since I'm really allergic to mildew and mold. But what can I use that isn't chemical? Well, we all know that vinegar is a darn good cleaner/disinfectant, but do I want my basement to smell like vinegar? So I hit the internet good and hard today, and found several recipes for natural disinfectants. One said to add about 10 drops of essential oil to white distilled vinegar and that should take care of the smell. Another one said to use 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil & 2 cups of water--spray on and wipe off. The most intriguing, and complicated one was this:
2 cups water
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 tsp. tea tree oil
1/4 tsp. lime essential oil
1/4 tsp. grapefruit essential oil

I started to calculate the cost on that one (essential oils are kind of pricey) and then a searched for a pre-made natural disinfectant. There's one on the market called "Benefect" that is sold online at It's $40 for one gallon. Back to the recipe. . .

I think I'll just use straight vinegar and follow it up with a good mopping with Mrs. Meyer's all purpose cleaner. It smells so good, that I'm sure the vinegar smell will disappear. And Aldi has vinegar for $.69.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The weather has been feeling a bit Fall-ish lately, and for that I am thankful. Things around the shop have been a little slow recently, which I guess is to be expected since everyone just spent all their money on school supplies and new shoes for the kiddies. I'm taking this time to gear up for the upcoming holiday, and by that I mean Halloween! I just ordered some adorable Halloween tablecloths, treat bags, place mats, and dish towels! I also got a nice Fall tablecloth with autumn leaves on it. I also have a really cute kit to make witch hand puppets, and a magnetic monster maker (you pick a background and then mix-n-match your monster's head, torso and legs--it's killing me to not have one for my own personal enjoyment!). I'm trying not to go too overboard, as I understand not everyone is as excited about Halloween as I am. I hope I get some trick or treaters at the store, and I hope I get home in time to see some of the ones there, too! My dear hubby had better have that afternoon off so he can man the fog machine and have the treats ready!

I have some cute new BlueQ bags that just came in--all made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. I've got 2 styles of shoulder bags, shopper totes, and small totes, and of course the coin purses (4 styles in all now). I've also replenished the water bottle selection, and I now have the very PC and cool stainless steel ones in addition to the cute plastic ones. I've got a couple of other orders due soon--the soda bottle birdfeeder kit, wooden train whistle, and more fun Pacifica stuff (if you like gin and tonics, you'll love their newest Juniper stuff).

I'm gearing up to redo the store window soon--we have the big Depot District Oktoberfest coming up the 19th and 20th. That should give me some good exposure--it's right out in front! There will be food vendors, bands, games, activities for the kids, and of course beer. I decided I'll stay open late-ish (if there's any interest). It should be fun, so if you're in the neighborhood stop by! I'm still not sure what to do with the window--probably just a general Fall thing that will easily morph into a Halloween spooktacular. I'm practically sitting on my hands to keep from spookin' the place up too early! I've got some great Halloween rubber stamps to play with in the meanwhile.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fly Right reviewed on!

Fly Right Gifts

I have been Yelping about other businesses for about a year now. Now that I have my own store (with its first Yelp review)I can see how valuable customer input is. Hopefully all my reviews will be five stars--I try hard to make people's shopping experiences postive. The girl who reviewed me is a fellow Berwynite. We had reviewed several of the same businesses, and we share a favorite menu item in our favorite Mexican restaurant. We met for the first time when she came into the store. Thanks, Clarissa J. for the nice review!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm back!

What a great trip we had! It's always good to be home, though, even when it means washing the sand and river goo out of everything you brought. The weather was perfect--warm and sunny during the day, and cold enough to make you love the campfire at night. Alex and Joanna from The Greater Green were there and they brought an organic watermelon from their garden that was the best I've ever tasted. We're hoping to get the CSA boxes going next year. That means yummy boxes of their tasty produce delivered to my door (and you can pick them up from Fly Right if you sign up ahead of time!). Hopefully we'll get the logistics worked out (Alex works in Chicagoland several days a week, so he can just bring 'em on over) and it will be a go! They're not certified organic yet, but since they cleared the land themselves, I'm pretty sure that pesticides have never touched that ground. They are certified "natural" for now. And their corn was awesome too! It sounds like they've been working really hard all Summer long. For now they've just been doing their local farmer's market. Joanna has been making beautiful jewelry from fair trade beads--I have a couple of her necklaces at the store. Alex made a couple of cool cedar soap decks for me from a fallen tree from his neighbor's property. There's one left for sale at the store--hurry in if you're interested. The craftsmanship is awesome, and it smells sooo good.