Monday, March 21, 2011

It was a 'Moulin Madhouse'yesterday!

( photo by Laura Christin, )
Yesterday was a beautiful blurr... we had our Moulin themed Mermaid Mercantile to welcome Kim Caldwell (AKA alchemist of all things amazing and magical) and a bus load of wonderful ladies who made the trek down from LA in the rain to shop our event.
I had been preparing for this event, working into the wee hours and getting just a few hours of sleep all last week. By Sunday morning everything was perfectly placed, pretty and stocked full of vintage goodness. All 20 of my creative genius, vendors had been creating up a storm, literally.
 The weather report called for rain......, wind, hail..., radiation plume.... yikes!
 In spite of this I was determined to carry on with the show, accuweather said no rain untill 7pm Sunday night.
One by one all 20 of my vendors called me, "what about the rain Debi?" are we still going on with the event?
Kim Caldwell called asking if we we planning to hold our outdoor event rain or shine? Her group still wanted to come even in the rain...
I had a conversation with God, my Mom and myself.  I gave myself a pep talk, my Mom gave me a pep talk... "Debi carry on, have faith, better to be ready for the best than to give up in the last hour. No matter what happens, you will know that you gave it your all."
I am not one to give up easily and neither are my vendors...
All of my artists showed up Sunday morning set up their spaces under the ominus clouds, and created vintage magic. Their tents were sparkling, the garden was a wonderland of beauty and chatter. I have to say,  I love these women, beyond words.... they amaze me every month with the work of their hands and all the wonderful 'vintage pretty' that they proudly display. Each lady has her own special touch. Every time we set set up for our show, I walk through the garden, my heart races, the beauty is indescribable, a colorful quilt of creativity and individual personality. I have held the Mermaid's Mercantile for two years now. I have been blessed to get to know these women and have honor to showcase their talent. They inspire me, humble me and have caused me to refine and perfect my own work.  In the next few months I am going to post on each of my Vendors so that you all can see them all through my eyes.
Tonight as I type at my computer, I am a tired girl, recovering from the storm and filled with gratitude.
The wind and the customers showed up Sunday morning, then the bus pulled up.... I stood waiting to welcome  these ladies as they stepped off the bus,  I was dazzled by each of them , creative sisters, a sea of stylish clothes,  amazing handmade jewelry, pony tails and pink hair. I felt like I was five years old again and it was my bithday party! With the wonder of 2011 technology I had gotten to know some of these women  vicariously through their blogs, I had ooohhhed and awwed over their creative handiwork and gotten a peak inside their magical lives. I was super excited to meet them in person!
I wanted to chat with them and tell them how much I enjoyed what they had posted in blogland, but there was no time for that, they started shopping immediately, these ladies were serious vintage shoppers, discriminating, savvy and ready to bargain.
In a matter of minutes the line behind my cash register was all the way to the back of my store, they purchased every petticoat, vintage box and train case in the place. I sold things that were tucked away hiding in corners and drawers that I forgot I had! Some of my best treasures have found new homes. These women came and went like a whirlwind leaving behind an empty looking store that looked as if it had been completely picked over shaken upside down.
 As they prepared to go, Kim let me board the magic bus to say goodbye, she gave me her microphone and I thanked them all for coming, but what I wanted to say was, "you like me, you really really like me!"
As I write this post I would like to say thank you again to all my customers, I thank the lord there are people out there like you who appreciate handmade work. In our current economic climate it is more challenging than ever to make a living as an artist.  It has been 14 years since I opened my shop, by the grace of God and several miracles my doors are still open. I am blessed to have my efforts supported, and I am honored to share that blessing with the women who make the Mermaid's Mercantile what it is.
I have lots of photos to post from our event, which will come later in the week. If you attended on Sunday, please email your photos so I can post them. (
Our next event is planned for May 15th, I ordered lots of Sunshine and flowers, hope to see you then!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Artist Spotlight - Janina Farias - She-Devil Confections

I still remember the first cake I baked. I was about ten years old and Vicky, our Bluebird troop leader, let us take turns adding to a box of yellow cake mix. I watched her pull the cake out of the oven using oven mitts and thought, “What’s the big deal? I can do that!” Days later, I called my mom at work and asked if I could bake a cake on my own. I figured she’d be too busy to say “No” and wouldn’t want to listen to my protests anyway. I was right. Later in life I’d use the same tactic when I wanted permission to shave my legs and wear make-up.

After that first time, I baked constantly. I baked more than even a ten-year-old with an insatiable sweet tooth could eat, so I’d give my creations away to anyone who would take them off my hands. My ballet teacher, the housekeeper, my grandparents, they all became members of Janina’s Cake-Of-The-Week Club. I loved the taste of cake batter and licked the beaters quickly so I wouldn’t have to share with my sister. I don’t know how long my baking fervor lasted until I got bored with packaged cake mixes and moved on to something more exciting, like boys.

It wasn’t until a high school Home Economics class that I baked my first cake from scratch. It was a German Chocolate Cake and making it was far more exciting that using a mix. I sifted, I measured, I melted chocolate, and I made a mess. I felt like a cross between Betty Crocker, a mad scientist and Party Animal Barbie. The difference between scratch baking and using a mix was like the difference between Oprah Winfrey and a drunken co-ed. My German Chocolate Cake was like Oprah: dark, rich, and complex. My packaged mix cake was the drunken co-ed: cheap, easy, and forgettable. Again, I baked often and ate a lot of cake batter. Then I hit my early twenties and set down my spatula in favor of bad boys in rock-and-roll bands.

Even in my wild, wild twenties I still baked from time to time. I’d whip up plates of chocolate chip cookies for roomfuls of party animals with the munchies. I even dabbled in cake decorating and created Ninja Turtle and Shamu cakes for my nephews. When my son came along, I designed an elaborate three-tier circus themed cake complete with carousel and legions of clowns for his first birthday party. It never occurred to me to count the number of servings. I ended up giving away enough cake to feed the Duggars for days.

Again I set my spatula down. Working fulltime, often at jobs I hated, combined with the demands of single motherhood left me with little energy to bake more than the occasional pan of brownies or batch of cookies for my son’s class parties.

Fast forward about 19 years to the day I met my sister Debi. We had just enjoyed a Thai dinner and I announced that I was ready for a sugar fix. Debi took me to a nearby cupcake bakery. It was pink. It was sparkly. It was all girly gorgeousness. My son waited outside.(I think he was worried that his testosterone levels would drop.) And the cupcakes! Oh the cupcakes! They looked like edible tutus. Pirouettes of sugary buttercream frosting topped with arabesques of edible glitter. I agonized over my decision and settled on three mini-cupcakes. I took a bite and thought, hmmm, maybe the next bite will be better? I tried the next flavor. Nope. I tried the next. Meh. They were bland, mealy, and just plain disappointing. I muttered to Debi, “Mine are better.”

“You should do it then.” That was it. With those five words this woman, this sister I’d known for a mere couple of hours changed the trajectory of my life. The seed had been planted. Why not? Why not get paid to do what I love to do? My shelves were full of cookbooks. While everyone else was watching American Idol, I spent hours watching the Food Network. I called it my food porn. Forgotten baking memories started rising up from deep within my brain. I was stunned to realize that I’d been a baker most of my life.

Debi had told me about The Mermaid’s Mercantile. Intrigued, I checked it out and was floored by all the amazing artwork assembled in one place. It was one stall after another of feminine, vintage delight. The Mermaids were so welcoming and were clearly having a wonderful time in each other’s company. I just had to be a part of this sisterhood of talent. When I asked Debi if I could have a space at the Mercantile to sell my cupcakes, she said something along the lines of, “YESSSS!!!”

From that point on I dreamt in sugar. I could think of nothing else (except, perhaps, men, and maybe wine). I baked two, sometimes three times a week. I tweaked some flavors and abandoned others altogether. I decided on lavender cupcakes with rosewater buttercream and deep chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for my first sale. They were a hit! I reveled in the way my customers moaned and their eyes rolled back in their heads when they took their first bite. I still do. It’s how I know I’ve nailed it. My repertoire has expanded to include flavors like chamomile, chocolate chipotle and piña colada. I have several repeat customers who seek me out now and I’ve even catered a few parties.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the kitchen was my calling. I’d been working towards a nursing degree and hating every minute of it. Nursing seemed like a good, solid career path, but I had a hard time mustering up any enthusiasm for it. I dreaded the thought of a future filled with other people’s body fluids. So I changed course and enrolled in pastry school. Now THIS was a career I could get excited about! Since then I’ve been reading non-stop: chef’s memoirs, cookbooks, baking textbooks. In short, I’ve become a pastry geek. Everything I’ve read tells me I’m in for long, stressful work shifts in a hot kitchen to the exclusion of a social life and ever seeing daylight. I can’t wait to start!

Please be sure to visit my blog!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The next Mermaid's Mercantile is March 20th! Moulin Rouge Theme!

Vintage and Handmade wares from 20 talented vendors!
If there is a  little vintage gypsy showgirl in you,
you will not want to miss this!A Staged photo booth awaits our customers! Come change into Vintage costumes and take your pictures in a fun theatrical setting!
A magnificent day of shopping, vintage goods at great prices, furniture, chandeliers, handmade jewelry, hats, clothing and so much more!
Sunday March 20Th 10 am -5pm
315 s Cedros Ave
Solana Beach, Ca
in the gardens of our charming historical cottage,
858 755 7630
Exciting news!
Look for the Mermaid's Mercantile featured as the next 'local of intrigue' in the May issue of Somerset Life!
We are tickled pink to be included in such a beautiful magazine!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Annie Sloan coming to give paint demo this Monday!

Come to Out of the Blue on Monday March 7th  from 1pm-3pm
to meet paint legend Annie Sloan!
Annie will be demomstrating the ease of chalk paint and signing her two latest books,
"Creating the French Look" and "Quick and Easy Paint Transformations"
Annie is one of the worlds most respected experts in the field of decorative painting and probably the main reason for the painted furniture revolution though her unique chalk paints and creative aproach.
come join us for a complementary afternoon of paint education and fun.
315 south Cedros Ave
Solana Beach, Ca 92075
Call us at the shop for questions,
858 755 7630