I've been very busy for many weeks now getting ready for the Bloomington Handmade Market. This will be my second year at the BHM, which is one of the best local craft shows of the year. Besides being furiously busy making stock to sell, I've been putting a lot of thought into how to display my things in an attractive way.

Last week, I decided that I had to have a gumball machine. I was looking at the brightly colored felted bouncy balls I'd just finished, and thinking how much they looked like gumballs in the1-gallon glass jar I stored them in. I started looking into getting a gumball machine, searching Craigslist and sending out a request on Freecycle. It turns out that they're not that uncommon, and that you can buy one for around $25-80.

I also had this vague notion that I'd seen a gumball machine in my grandparents' basement. I debated for a while whether or not I ought to call and ask, since it sounded crazy and I didn't want to confuse my grandmother with such an oddball request. I mean, how would that conversation go? "Hi Mom-Mom! I was wondering if you happen to have a gumball machine sitting around your house?" Finally I decided on sending an e-mail, and to my surprise, they did find a gumball machine in their basement!

They didn't know where it came from and they didn't have a key to open it up, but they said I was welcome to have it and any change inside. This morning I took it to a locksmith, and within a couple hours the lock had been picked and I had a new key to open it up.

Inside was a card from the Lions Club, a 10 cent sticker, one lonely leftover chiclet...

And 352 dimes! Enough to cover the cost of the locksmith and leave $11.99 profit! The shiniest of the dimes were from 1988, so I'm guessing it's been in my grandparents basement for 20 or more years.

Of course, the best part is that now I have a really fun way to display my bouncy balls at the Handmade Market in just over two weeks! The balls come in three sizes, and are $2 for the small balls, $4 for the medium, and $6 for the large. They make awesome stocking stuffers for both kids and pets.

By the way, when the Handmade Market is over, I'm going to make another batch of felted bouncy balls and use the gumball machine to decorate Annie and Laurel's room. Gumballs make everyone smile.