Thursday, October 25, 2018

It's Toffee Time! (and a little personal note)



It seems like ages since I've made my last post, what with Farmers Market season finally on the wane, and the two of us making preparations for our Fall and Winter shows and Markets.  Life has been busy for us, and we've enjoyed (and endured) a lot of living over the last few months, but as always we remain thankful for everything we've been given in our lives.

So, let's talk TOFFEE!  As it has every year, the cooler temperatures and low humidity of the Fall signal the time for Terry to begin anew in making her wonderful organic confection we call Oh My Goddess Butter Crunch Toffee.  Made with organic ingredients and (as always) with Intent, this delicious treat has become quite the favorite with our fans in both the Twin Cities area and throughout the country. Some folks have actually said that it is better than their Grandma's recipe, but we suggest that YOU be the judge!  We will warn you though that it tastes so good, you might become addicted.

Made as a "soft crack" toffee in the tradition of the old-fashioned country store toffee, using organic cane sugar, organic condensed milk, Slave and Child Labor free Fair Trade organic dark chocolate, and Terry's loving touch, she has crafted a confection that our fans proclaim as a treat "To die for!"
We constantly tell folks that "It's not our job to judge whether you should have a treat or not.  Our job is to provide you with a good one." And with no artificial ingredients or chemicals ever used in our product, it is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a "clean" and great tasting, delectable treat! 

Since we are slowly approaching the Holiday Season, I must point out that our Oh My Goddess Butter Crunch Toffee is perfect for gift giving, stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, entertaining guests, or as a nice reward for yourself for whatever the reason.  If you live in the Twin Cities area, know that we are actively shopping for stores to carry our product, but you can always head out to our many sales venues (listed on the left sidebar of this page) and pick it up from us personally.  If you live anywhere else around the country, you can order it directly through our website (check the tab at the top of the page).

On a personal note, I was invited to Anime Fusion as a Featured Speaker this past weekend, and to tout and autograph copies of our writing team's serial novel Hawks Effect.

It was a wonderful experience talking about our urban science fiction series with the attendees, and even more rewarding running panels to offer tips and encouragement to aspiring writers wanting to tell their own stories. 


My first experience as a speaker was a roaring success thanks to our fans and the great staff of Anime Fusion.  I am both encouraged and humbled by the experience, and I look forward to seeing you folks again along the Anime Con circuit.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!





Well, that's all for now.  Live life in a good way, be kind to others, and always be good to yourself!  Be the best YOU that you can be!

Blessings,

Nehemiah

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Giving Back: A Tent Weight tutorial for Vendors and Outdoor Enthusiasts



After nine years of working the local Farmers Markets and outdoor shows, Terry and I have seen it all.  As we have evolved as vendors over the years with our tent set up, so have Farmers Market managers.  The days of using large pieces of iron, gallon jugs of sand, barbell weights and other heavy items tied to a tent to hold it down are numbered, now that market managers are encouraging vendors to properly weight down their tents and to conform to a more uniform standard.  More and more market managers are enforcing this standard and have gone from encouraging it to making it mandatory.

Many vendors have moved to weight bags as a solution, and although there are many ways to accomplish this, some have drawbacks.  For example, filling weight bags with sand seems like a great idea in theory, and we have done this ourselves.  However, we have learned over time that this is not the best long-term strategy.  Bare sand in a weight bag eventually causes friction against the sewn seams, and after a year of use, the sand begins working its way through the bag eventually eroding the seams, causing a hole and sand leakage. In addition, rain causes wet sandbags. Couple this with the friction and they create dust and grit which permeate the bags making them dirty to handle and problematic when placed in your clean vehicle for transport.

We also tried the novel idea of filling empty 2-liter bottles with sand and placing them in the weight bags.  This worked very well for a while until the sand eventually broke through the thin walls of the plastic bottles into the weight bags, taking us back to square one.  Eventually, we came across vendors who had a hardware store make weights for their tent bags which solved these problems.  Their bags remained clean on both outside and inside and lasted for years of service.  Last year we had weights made by a local hardware store, which were great, but the cost of labor and materials was pretty steep.  Tent weights for us are somewhat of a capital expense, and since I had to get a new set made for our second tent, I determined to do the labor myself, saving about $65 doing so.  In order to give back to our fellow vendors (and anyone else who uses an outdoor canopy often), I’m gonna give you instruction on how to make these yourself and save money.

What you need (Materials):


4 tent weight bags - Amazon.com offers a huge selection of zipper or velcro lined bags as low as $19 for a set of four, each with a two weight compartment. We prefer velcro over metal zippers which can rust.

One 10 foot section of 3” PVC Pipe (around $20) – I found 2-foot lengths of PVC pipe at our local Home Depot for around $5.50 each.  Since each of my weight bag’s compartments accommodate the length of one foot plus the end caps, this worked out well.  You will need 8 pieces of PVC pipe to outfit your weight bags so you can cut two-foot sections in half yourself, cut the larger pipe into suitable lengths or have an associate cut them for you (which I did). Note: While 3” thickness is standard, your bags may accommodate a wider or thinner width of pipe, so choose accordingly.

Sixteen 3” PVC Pipe Caps (around $4.50 each) – (Your biggest expense) A larger local hardware store should have these in quantity, but even our local Home Depot only had so many, and I cleaned them out of their supply.  You may need to go to several stores to get a total of 16.

1 Large Bag of Play Sand (around $2.50)





Tools Needed:

A Hammer or Mallet
A small block of wood 2X4
A small scoop

Once you’ve acquired your weight bags, measure the length of one of the compartments.  You may need a foot or more of pipe depending on what bags you get. An easier way to do this is to bring one of your bags with you to the hardware store, take a smaller length of PVC and place a cap on the end.  Then place the end cap and pipe into one of the bag’s two compartments and judge how much length you need, leaving enough room to close the bag securely.  Most hardware stores sell 10-foot lengths of pipe, but as I mentioned above, I was able to find 2-foot lengths which could be split in half.  If one-foot lengths work for you, fine.  If your bags are longer, you will need to cut exact lengths from the larger piece of pipe. NOTE: It is very important to take the end caps in consideration for your measurements to prevent your weight from being too long to fit the bag!

When you are ready to assemble the weights, take a length of cut pipe and place it into one of the end caps. Set the wooden block on the open part of the tube and pound it firmly into the end cap.  Because of their tight fit, you will not need any adhesive to keep them secured, which saves a bit of cash.

Once you have your eight tubes with end caps assembled, fill each tube with sand.  Tamp the sand down with your fingers or by lifting each tube and slamming it to the ground.  Place more sand in until you fill it with as much as it will take.  Clean the sand off the edges of the pipe. Then place another end cap on the pipe and tap it in place using the wood block and hammer. 

Place your completed weights into your weight bag, and seal closed with the velcro closure.

There you have it!

The total cost of materials:

Tent bags around $20, PVC Pipe approx. $20, End Caps approx. $72, Sand $2.50 = approx. $115
It cost me about $180 to have weights made by the hardware store.  Savings: $65

While $115 is nothing to sneeze at for most vendors, the cost savings, and convenience of having permanent (and market compliant) weights for your tent/canopy make it well worth the money spent.  The weights themselves will outlast your weight bags through the wear and tear of the market season, and after several years of use, your only added expense would be replacing torn or worn out tent bags as needed.
 
I hope that this simple tutorial is of benefit to you.  Thank you for taking the time to read it. Be well!

Nehemiah Inverse,                                                        Winter Goddess Foods       

 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring is coming. Before then, a few thoughts

Early Spring?  April in Minneapolis

While it is hard to believe that Ma Nature hasn't eased her grip on winter, we certainly beg to differ.  However, Spring will come, and that means the opening of Farmers Market season won't be far behind.  The cold and snow do give us a chance to sit down (where it's warm and comfy) and reflect on what has transpired of the course of the winter season.

After being in business for over nine years, Terry and I were sure we had seen everything.  However, nothing could prepare us for how popular a number of our products have recently become in the Twin Cities area. Demand for our Tranquility Chai, Traditional Wild Rice Bread, Oh My Goddess! Butter Crunch Toffee and our entire line of Aww Nuts! products, in particular, has reached an all-time high in both winter market and indoor show response. Here's just one of the product testimonials that we have recently received:

"I love your Tranquility Chai tea!  At my office, I call it my adult hot chocolate.  Its just the right pick me up after a hard meeting or on a day when I know I could use a little additional focus on taking care of myself."
                                                                                                              - Dena Warrington

As a result of this upsurge in popularity, we have also had more interest from potential wholesale partners in the area as well.   And for that, we thank you all for your support.

During the Winter months, Terry and I have appeared at several venues including the Richfield, Blaine and Plymouth Winter Markets.  We have also participated in and were well received at the XOXO Valentine's Market at the Modist Brewing company in Minneapolis, the annual Spring Vendor Show at Rosemount High School, and a special Winter Art Fair and Flower show at the Minnesota Arboretum.  We were also pleased to supply tasty goodies for the Minneapolis Uban League's annual brunch, as well as supplying products for Home Essentials' Spring show.  With everything going on in the first quarter, as well as in the business of life, I'm sure you'll forgive us for our absence from our blog!

On March 1st, our long-time wholesale partner, Oxendale's Market began carrying all three varieties of our delicious Aww Nuts in their stores, in addition to our Caramel Moments and Oh, My Goddess! Butter Crunch Toffee. Oxendales makes it their business to support and promote quality food items from local entrepreneurs, and we are certainly happy to be in partnership with them.  If you live in the Twin Cities area, you can find our sweet and savory Aww Nuts, our spicy Slow Burn and our even spicier Inferno and both their Nokomis location at 5025 S 34th Ave, Minneapolis and the West St. Paul store at 374 Bernard St. West.  Of course, if you don't happen to live in the Twin Cities, you can also order these items and more through our website.

As I mentioned earlier, Farmers Market time is hastily descending upon
us.  As a result of our past work, it seems that our reputation of providing great, tasty food and drink items has proceeded us, in that we have received quite a number of invitations to apply to participate in new or already established markets for the new season.  We are both humbled and thankful for all this attention.  This year, we are pleased to announce that Winter Goddess Foods will be participating in FOUR different Farmers Markets.  In addition to attending and displaying our products at our home market, namely the Midtown Farmers Market, we will also be including the Northeast Farmers Market on Saturdays as well.  On market Sundays, we'll appear at the wonderful Linden Hills Farmers Market, as well as the Golden Valley Farmers Market, all in the Twin Cities area.  We look forward to greeting old friends again and making new ones as well,  once the season is in full swing.  Market dates will appear in the events section of our webpage on the left.

That's about it for now.  Here's to health, prosperity, and happiness to us all in 2018.  Stay safe, stay warm, and stay Blessed!

~ Nehemiah




Friday, October 13, 2017

2017 Happenings and Where to find us next



2017 has been a very busy year for our company; so much so that I have been behind on updating our website.  The Farmers Market season has been very active for us this year with the addition of our first season-long presence at the Linden Hills Market in Minneapolis, after our dry run last October.  Of course, we are having a great year at our "home market," the Midtown Farmers Market here in South Minneapolis, and a presence early in the season at the Richfield Farmers Market.

As the season went on, through the recommendation of a fellow vendor at the Blaine Winter Market, we are now a part of Home Essentials Boutique.  It is a "one-stop shop" for seasonal furnishings, furniture, one-of-a-kind gifts and gourmet foods. Home Essentials is proud to feature Made in Minnesota products, and has become known as the place to go for Holiday and gift shopping; so much so that it has become one of Minnesota's most popular shopping destinations, with tour buses routinely stopping there, with enthusiastic shoppers marvelling at the wide variety of products that are available.  If you are looking for that perfect gift for yourself, for the family, or for that special someone, Home Essentials Boutique has what you are looking for, including all three varieties of Winter Goddess Food's Organic Granolas and Aww Nuts nut mixes. We have also introduced our new 4oz. snack sized Aww Nuts Snackers (in Classic or Slow Burn) which we made specifically for this venue, which you will find at the checkout register.

In July, after impressing Greg and Chelsea Miller, owners of the popular Kabomlettes food truck that roams the streets of the Twin Cities, Terry was recruited as the new baker for their full-service deli Vittles, in south Minneapolis.  Terry now serves up her wholesome baked goods to an even wider audience, along with a wide range of specialty pastries and treats made without artificial ingredients or additives.  Unfortunately, with the added demands and responsibilities, she had to end her time at the Richfield Farmers Market due to time constraints.  On the plus side, Terry is making a name for herself in South Minneapolis with her baking prowess.

In a related note, due to Terry's relationship with Vittles and Kabomlettes, Winter Goddess Foods has partnered with them to do dessert catering, which has been one of her dreams.  So far this year, we have catered events for the Ann Bancroft Foundation, the grand opening of the new Hennepin County Service Center in South Minneapolis, as well as several events for the Minneapolis Urban League.  Terry is also gearing up to accept orders to create tasty cakes and pies for the holiday season, as well as her organic chocolate truffles and buttercrunch toffee.

In addition to all of this, Winter Goddess Foods will continue to provide employers and business owners with an opportunity to celebrate their employees through our Corporate Gift giving page.  We are working hard to provide more offerings for employers to choose from to honor their workers with. 

Image may contain: indoorWith the Farmers Market season entering its final month, our company will be participating in a number of shows and Holiday events throughout the Twin Cities area during the Fall and Winter.  Over the last two years, we have had a more active presence on our Facebook page. If you are looking for up to the minute news about Winter Goddess Foods, our events and where you can find us, I highly recommend that you go to our Facebook page here.

Finally, on a more personal note, I have realized a life dream of becoming a published author.  In May, my co-authors and I have released our first serial novel - Hawks Effect - in Europe.  We have secured U.S. distribution of our series, and by November, both episodes one and two and all subsequent episodes will finally be available to United States residents and worldwide as well.  You can read and follow our exploits here and here.


Thank you all for hanging in there with us!

Blessings,

Nehemiah






Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-CHANGES for 2017



After the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, Terry and I have dialed things down to a bit more low key.  Business goes on as always, but we are now taking a bit more of a relaxed approach to life these days.  Since we are between both Holiday and Farmers Market seasons, we have a little more time on our hands.  Besides the mundane tasks of doing paperwork, and going over our business needs, we find ourselves with time to experiment with new ingredients and new ideas for making even more yummy products to delight your taste buds with!   This is our FUN TIME!

Change is an inherent part of life.  In life, in order to get yourself in a better place physically, mentally, and even spiritually, we have found that the best way to accomplish this is to remove anything that doesn't serve you and to move forward by making the choices that suit your needs in a good way.  Business, just like life, deals with change on a daily basis. And just like in life, the best businesses remove what doesn't serve their needs, and replaces them with new offerings that are more in line with their vision. They also satisfy their customers by responding to their needs and requests as well.  With that in mind, we have both good news and sad news to report to you, our Peeps.

Starting with the sad news, Winter Goddess Foods is saying goodbye to both of our organic cocoa mixes.  Mojo and Muy Loco Coco will no longer be produced or available online or at any of our outlets or venues.  Both chocolicious hot drinks were dynamite products, but due to various factors, failed to find a regular audience.   We are sad to see them go, but as the saying goes, "Life goes on."

On the good news front, several changes and additions are coming to fruition over the next several weeks.  Sara, our graphic artist is reworking the labels on a few of our products.  As such, our delectable Butter Crunch Toffee Reflections will now officially be known as Oh My

Goddess! Butter Crunch Toffee, which more reflects the description of (and our fan's reaction to) our delicious product.

Both our savory Organic Wild Rice Bread and our spicy Aww Nuts! Slow Burn will sport new labels as well.

In response to our customer's needs, we will be offering a 16 ounce version of our nut-less Sunflower Apple Raisin Granola, which will join our full lineup of both 8 oz. and 16 oz. packaged granola's.  The new labeling is being produced as we speak, and we will introduce it officially at the Midtown Farmers Market in May!

And now, we are introducing two new offerings to the Winter Goddess Foods family!

Terry's newest creation,            Salted Turtle Shells have arrived.   They are a combination of her Caramel Moments and pecans covered in organic Belgian styled dark chocolate and dusted with sea salt.  And the taste? Ooey-chewy chocolaty goodness!  Worlds away from those chemically ladened "canned turtles" that you find at the local supermarket. Remember, our job is not to talk you out of your treat.  Our job is to make you a better treat.  Look for the Navigation bar at the top of the page and check them out.  (You'll be glad you did!)


Also, in response to our fans who are Chili-heads, and who have requested more "umph" in our sweet and savory nut mix, your prayers have been answered.  While our Aww Nuts Slow Burn has enough heat to satisfy most folks, there are some of you out there that wanted (and NEEDED) more spice.  I have been in the kitchen trying to develop an even spicier version of our Aww Nuts that will satisfy both the need for great taste and the need for more heat, and I believe I have nailed it.

On Saturday, January 28th, I will be doing test marketing and sampling of my newest creation: Aww Nuts INFERNO!   I have made a limited run of 8oz bags of this fiery taste sensation specifically for the Blaine Farmers Market this Saturday.  If you are a true Chili-head, and you are lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities area, please stop by for a taste of our "friendly fire", and let me know if I got it right.  For the rest of you, I plan to make this available online as soon as all testing, sampling and fine-tuning are completed. Stay tuned!

I am also in the midst of creating another tasty treat, but I am keeping things under wraps for now.  Suffice it to say that if I can get things to my liking, we may be introducing yet another product by Farmers Market time. Please check out our page on Facebook for the latest goings on of Winter Goddess Foods.  Thank you for your support, and we wish you all opportunity and prosperity as we swing into 2017 in earnest!

Blessings,

Nehemiah














Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thank You and Season's Greetings from Winter Goddess Foods



As we approach the 2016 holiday season, Terry and I want to take a moment to thank our wonderful wholesale partners, our Farmers Market Managers, and you, our followers, customers and fans who we affectionately refer to as “our Peeps” for supporting our business this year. The outpouring of love, generosity, and support that you have shown us throughout the year has touched our hearts, and sometimes just blows our minds. It is gratifying to know that we have “done you right” by producing products that combine quality clean ingredients with positive intent, that not only taste great but make you feel good inside for eating or drinking them. We are humbled by your trust in us, and your continued affirmation of that trust. Your patronage of our company has made 2016 our best year ever! Now that the show season is over, we will be halting production of our products until the second week of January, in order to enjoy a well-deserved rest.

As we swing into 2017, Winter Goddess Foods will continue the mission of being good citizens in the world through our continued support of charities like Second Harvest Heartland, the Ann Bancroft Foundation, Sisters Camelot, and others. Thanks to your generosity and patronage, we were able to feed hundreds and hundreds of people, allow young girls and young women a chance to realize a dream, and do many other wonderful things for people throughout the Twin Cities. In our troubled world where times are tough for people, the only way we can make this world better is to work together to make it so. You have done this, and continue to do this, and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

2017 will mark our eighth year in business, and Terry, Mary Ellen and I are looking forward to serving you, and we will continue to live up to that sacred trust that you have placed in us. We will also continue to hold that positive mind picture of you, our customer, enjoying our products with a smile on your face and joy in your heart as we have always done. That is our secret ingredient that we liberally apply when crafting and producing delicious, clean and sustainable products that are truly “Made with Love for your well-being!”™. Thank you, and best wishes to each and every one of you for a joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2017.

Nehemiah Inverse, Terry Williams and Mary Ellen Webber

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Holiday Show Season!


With the Farmers Markets done for the year, Winter Goddess Foods' attention has turned to our annual Holiday Show Season.  For the next two months, Terry and I will be appearing at various venues around the Twin Cities area, as well as in Long Prairie Minnesota, making our tasty organic fare available for your holiday gift giving consideration.

To the left of our page (a little under our picture), we have listed our entire indoor show schedule for late fall/winter 2016.  Each entry is linked to the main page of each venue sponsor so you can find detailed information for every event.  This list will be updated as we add new shows.  Please feel free to click the links to find information about where we will be next.

Terry and I invite you to come out and see us during the Holiday season. We'd also like to offer suggestions on how to gift our organic comfort products:

1) Our Tranquility Chai or spicy Muy Loco Coco, paired with a purchased mug makes for a thoughtful and inexpensive gift for your loved ones.

2)For the health conscious or athletic person in your life, boxing up an assortment of our Cranberry Walnut, Banana Walnut and Sunflower Apple Raisin granolas is a great way to let them know you are thinking of them.  

3) Looking for a great Hostess Gift?  Surprise your hostess/host with several bags of Aww Nuts! or Aww Nuts! Slow Burn, along with a beautiful bowl to serve them in.  Who wouldn't want a nice bowl of tasty nuts for their holiday table guests?

4) Speaking of nuts, they also make the PERFECT stocking-stuffer for that guy, gal or child in your life.  'nuff said!

5) Our Caramel Moments make for another great stocking-stuffer idea for children and adults alike.  Keep in mind that they pair up nicely with that warm mug of cocoa, coffee, tea or even Irish Cream! A dozen caramels or even a bag of 25 will provide enough rich buttery goodness for everyone!

6) Looking to add a bit of class to that holiday gathering?  A dozen or two of Oh My Goddess! Truffles or Cake Gems will make you the hit of any get-together.  

Hopefully these suggestions will be helpful to you.  Feel free to let your imagination run wild, since our products have been employed in a wide variety of ways to provide pleasure and enjoyment to those you love. We look forward to serving you, our wonderful Peeps, for all of your holiday needs!

Blessings,

Nehemiah

Please note: The last day to submit all mail orders is Monday December 12th.  The last day to submit for all Twin Cities local pick up or delivery orders is Friday December 16th.  Please plan your holiday ordering wisely to avoid disappointment; i.e. Order early!