They always say, the older you get the faster the years go by, and it seems to be true!
Especially after a very busy summer on mackinac Island a few of the months are a little blurry!
Our family is growing and trying new things. New first teeth have come out, new sports, new friends, and new places to visit. One of best parts of being a parent is introducing our children to new things.
I went a little lengthy in recapping the year, feel free to read below and enjoy learning about our 2021. I am so happy you are here and wish you a very merry holiday!
We started the 2021 off with a clean slate, ready to take on the new year! I attended my annual buying show in Atlanta, finding all the fun goodies to bring into the shop. Going to buying shows is one of my favorite parts of the business! It's exciting seeing the new trends and inspiration. The boys skied often and I did some cross country skiing as down hill skiing is not my thing. Haha! Andrew went on his annual guys trip to Florida. January also starts the hiring process and ordering for the new season.
February is my favorite winter month living in northern Michigan. We hope for an ice bridge from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island where we can get to and from the island by snowmobiles. Andrew and his team haul the groceries over on the ice bridge when this happens and island residents are thrilled for the freedom. There was an ice bridge, however, it did not last very long. Our family was able to make the memorable trip across mid-February. It is such an exciting event for the boys and me! We really hunker down into organizing our businesses for the new season and work more on hiring, buying and new ideas. Besides working, we had a few winter campfires, evening ice skating, and cozy nights inside drinking hot cocoa and watching movies.
We started the new month of with a trip to St. Augustine, FL! It was our first time visiting the oldest city in the country. We loved it! We highly recommend the area. The boys and Andrew and I had an amazing getaway together. Then we got back into our work for preparation for the season. The boys did swimming lessons and soccer and we made a trip back to my hometown to see family before our busy season begins again. We spent spring break and the Easter holiday on Mackinac Island. The store got a little facelift with fresh paint on the shelving and adding new displays.
April is not my favorite month I have to admit! Early April is always my start time to get the stores back into shape and restocked. I had very little staff to help in April and early May. Andrew's season starts earlier than mine as employees and seasonal residents make their way back to Mackinac the grocery store gets busier. In April, the ferry boat to the island is still only running from St. Ignace and takes 40 minutes to get across so our work days were very short. Andrew and I had to both spend time staying the night on the island just so we could get more work done with the limited boat schedule. Louie started playing little league baseball for the first time which made our schedules extra busy, but it was a ton of fun watching him!
My three shops reopened again for the 2021 season! We managed to run the three shops with very little staff the first three weeks of being open. Looking back I don't know how we did it, but we did! A fresh group of young ladies arrived to Mackinac Island to work in my shops so the training began! We celebrated Tommy's 6th birthday the end of May with an island hay ride and cook out with family and friends.
The boys finished school in Petoskey and we were SO excited and ready to all be on Mackinac again full time! Lilac Festival is the second week in June, one of my favorite times of the year! Unfortunately, not all of the annual lilac festival events took place this year, but just seeing and smelling the beautiful lilacs was enough for me! We made sure we took daily walks where the lilacs were most abundant and tried our best to share with our customers and friends from afar how beautiful this time of year is on Mackinac Island. Tommy lost his first tooth and the boys attended swimming lessons, art classes at Watercolor Cafe, visits to the library, time on our boat (they love to sleepover on the boat!), and sports at Turtle Park. The busy season seemed to arrive earlier this summer; the rest of June seems like a blur!
The 4th of July is ALWAYS a blast on Mackinac! We celebrate by hanging out at Windermere Point watching the stone skipping contest, hot dogs at The Dog House and watching dad grill burgers and hot dogs for The Dog House! We have a family cookout and end the day watching the mini parade downtown and then closing the night out watching fireworks. My staff was well trained by now and I loved the team I hired this season. It made the days fun knowing my staff was having a great experience on Mackinac Island. We escaped as a family to Paradise, MI in the upper peninsula with my family for a long weekend. It was SO nice for some peace and quiet along the shores of Lake Superior. The rest of the month was just busy, busy, busy on the island!
The summer countdown begins now! We know school is starting again in just four weeks so we start to really tackle our summer bucket list. The boys spent a lot of time at Grand Hotel pool (the new renovation of the pool was incredible!), we went on more bike rides and picnics, boat rides, and the boys went to Round Island camping with Andrew and some friends for one night. It was the ultimate all boys camping event! LOL I am still hearing stories!
My summer staff starts to head back to college and now the yearly pattern begins: we are short staffed again and just work our way through it til Labor Day when the island starts to slow down.
We survived the busiest summer I have ever experienced on Mackinac Island! Woohoo! Our routine changes now with the kids back in school and we move back to Petoskey and start commuting to the island during the week and the whole family is on Mackinac for the weekend. It remained busy in the fall, just a different kind of busy. With less team members it was a different vibe and we focused on bringing fall items in and cozier products. The island is gorgeous in the fall. September is one of my favorites months on Mackinac.
With only one month to go before the island starts to close back up for winter the weekends are BUSY! Stores are putting summer products on sale and we have our annual Witch's Brew event in mid-October. Jenna Kator brought 50 women to the island for a women's retreat and we hosted all 50 women at Little Luxuries to sip and shop! It was a blast! October 25th was our last day open for the season. Then it was time for inventory, cleaning, closing up and preparing for the online holiday season. We said good bye to our amazing staff and they all went different directions: back home, back to school, or to relax in Florida.
After experiencing one of the busiest summers and watching our boys grow so fast I made the BIG decision to close two of my stores, The Artists Market and Canvas and Paddle. I made this decision public in early November. As much as I would love to continue growing with three stores, I know I just can't do it anymore. I know I need to backtrack and focus on Little Luxuries, our family, and enjoying life a little more! Saying good bye to 'my babies' was not easy, but I am eager to have new fresh ideas for 2022 at Little Luxuries! I turned 36 in early November and my team surprised me with a little breakfast party inside the shop! Then I escaped to Traverse City, MI with my good friend Jenna Kator for a girls weekend away searching for inspiration for our businesses and just some 'me' time. Johnny, our youngest, turned 3 years old in mid November which took us to an indoor water park with some close friends! We then celebrated the end of a crazy season in Florida for Thanksgiving. We took the boys to Lego Land and then we ended up on Anna Maria Island the rest of the week soaking up the sun and beach. Aside from all the fun we had in November, the online shop for Little Luxuries became busy for the holiday season. We shipped out several orders and worked hard at marketing our little store.
We made it to the last month of 2021! We spent the first weekend on Mackinac singing Christmas carols as the Christmas tree was lit downtown. Douds Market and Little Luxuries were busy shipping orders and preparing for the holidays. I opened the store once a week in December and will be open all next week for those visiting. I love the holiday preparation making our home magical for the boys and taking them to do memorable things, but those simple things. We celebrated Christmas with my family last weekend and will now enjoy the rest of 2021 on the island.
As I reflect back on 2021, I am so grateful for our family, staff, and support system of friends. As we live in a different world these days, we have to find joy in the little things. Those are the things that really count and we will remember forever. I am excited to start another clean slate for the new year approaching. Thank you for supporting my little shops and our family over the years. We couldn't do what we love to do without YOU! I hope your holiday is extra cozy and special with your loved ones whether they are near or far from you this holiday. Remember to choose JOY.
Love + prayers,