Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Children Are Our Future . . .

It was the beginning of a Whitney Houston song, and it fits so many situations in life . . . “I believe the children are our future … teach them well and let them lead the way.”

This phrase came to mind this morning after the phone rang at the mail center about 11:00 this morning.  On the other end was a nice lady inquiring about the Make & Take Project that was just starting at our store.  She wanted to know two things – was this something where she could just drop in and participate (yes), and would an eight-year-old girl be welcome (absolutely!).

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About an hour and a half later, she brought three of them – and when I left the store, Judy Kennard was hard at work introducing them to the art of cardmaking.  Hopefully they enjoyed themselves and learned a new hobby, and perhaps someday they’ll come back with friends – or even children of their own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walter White – 1914-2014 – Honoring a Life Extremely Well Lived . . .

We have been expecting this news for several weeks, and preparing for it for much longer.  Gary’s father-in-law, Walter White, died this morning at the age of 100.

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Regulars at our store knew Walter well – he spent most of the last 15 years of his life there, wrapping packages and doing odd jobs.  Those of you who visit our booth at shows got to know a little about him during the past four years, since the tubs of his dollar packs started appearing next to the demo table.

There is so much more to Walter than that, and I have shared stories about him a couple of times in this blog. There were several instances this summer where it appeared his time was coming – but I was certain that there was no way Walter White would die in the middle of baseball season, which he loved as much as I do.

Today, I am struggling a bit with how to feel – it is hard to mourn the passing of someone who experienced and enjoyed such a full life, especially since he had reached the point where life was no longer enjoyable.  As I type this, what I am feeling most is a sense of gratitude that I was fortunate enough to know such a fascinating man and consider him my friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It Begins Again . . . Free Shipping with a $30 Purchase

I started getting questions like this at shows in October – “Are you going to do your free shipping thing again this year?”  Oh yeah – it usually starts about the same time every year . . .

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And that time is now!  Between now and December 16, we’ll ship retail orders over $30 free in the Continental U.S. (and for 1/2 the USPS rate to many foreign countries).  So get busy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful . . .

This is mostly for those of you who never experience weather like we’re having today.  You northerners know the type – they look at pictures of snow scenes and wax rhapsodic about how wonderful they look, but never have the “pleasure” of going outside in subzero wind chills (we’re going to get those tonight).

Yes, I know – there are even some northerners who live for winter – even southerners who travel north in search of snow.  As much as I grumble, I used to love it as well – but learned how to shiver as I grew older.  And by then my roots were just too deep.

This was the view outside when I got up this morning . . .

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And a similar shot after it got light out.  I hadn’t noticed until a friend brought it to my attention, but my original predawn shot had some artistry to it.

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Those are very symmetrical lawn mower lines in my front yard – believe it or not, I mowed yesterday.

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Two more shots from my front yard.

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And one from my side yard, along with a close-up – yes, this stuff is wet and heavy.  That piece bending toward the ground is usually standing up straight with the rest of the bush.

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Backyard view.  These pics are not black and white, but it’s hard to tell except for the few orangish leaves still on my maple tree.  My neighbors two houses down the street left for their winter home in Florida two days ago.  I envy them . . .

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This is from the shopping strip across the road from our mail center.  Last year, there was a massive pile of snow and ice on that spot well into April.  But it didn’t start this early – on November 17 last year, the high temperature was 61.

Global warming . . . yeah, right.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Make & Take Instructions Continue . . . and More from the Weekend Grab Bag!

I assume you have been paying attention, but just in case . . . there are now six projects from the Wednesday/Saturday Make & Takes in our store that have been posted on our site with instructions and a list of materials, with more to come.

Here are the most recent four that you may not have seen yet . . .

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There are no links on the individual pictures above – save this link so you can go to the “cover page” and see all of them – then pick your favorites and click on the links there for more information.

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It’s coming again – I almost forgot about Small Business Saturday until I read an ad on my Facebook page this afternoon.  This is the fifth year that American Express has made the Saturday after Thanksgiving a holiday – and has been willing to pay you to join in the fun!  In past years, Amex would give you a $10 statement credit if you spent $10 or more at a participating small business (for you folks in Dayton and the surrounding area – that’s us!) on Small Business Saturday.

But this year, it’s better – Amex is giving three $10 statement credits per card! I haven’t found all of the fine print, but I assume that means you “have” to go shopping to three different small businesses on November 29 to get the full credit – that will be rough, won’t it?

You need to register your Amex card to be eligible for the statement credits – the registration period opens this Sunday, November 16 at 12:00 a.m. MST.  I haven’t seen a specific website to visit to register, but I suspect if you go here on Sunday you’ll be able to find it -- https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/

Every year, I enjoy giving you a tip that puts free money in your pocket!

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On an unrelated note, here is your tease for the weekend.  This is a picture that I picked up last week and at some point over the next few days I’ll tell you a story about him . . .

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Birthday Greetings . . .

I was raised to be a gentleman – and as such, to never ever make reference to a lady’s age.  However, there are milestones in life that should be recognized.  Therefore . . .

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Please join me in wishing Karen Ihle a very Happy 60th Birthday!  I realize that most of you live way too far from Dayton, Ohio to stop by in person, so you can send birthday wishes to her electronically at marcosretailstore@gmail.com

But if you are close enough, please stop by the store after the morning Make & Take for a “day after” carry-in luncheon/birthday celebration on Wednesday, November 12.  Plan to arrive with a dish to share at 11:30!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Surprise Visit to the North . . .

I thought our show season for this year ended with the York, PA show in October.  I expected my football announcing schedule to take up the next weekend (which caused me to miss the show in Sevierville, TN), and a home playoff game to keep me from Birch Run, MI the first weekend in November.  Then the football team lost twice in December, which meant they would play on the road in the first round (where they lost 24-22 on Saturday evening) – and I finally cried “Uncle!” to Gary’s constant twisting of my arm . . .

And so it was that I awoke to a cold rain on Thursday morning in Birch Run.  When I had been there in the past, the layout of the booths made it impossible for me to drive the truck inside and keep it there all day – so I was expecting a good soaking as I unloaded the truck.  But things changed last year when the dates were moved up a week and the cropping area was moved to the other half of the building, so I got to drive inside for both setup and teardown.  And I was relieved.

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I was also relieved that Tish Ramsey was available on short notice to help me set up the booth.  During the process, I found three pennies and two dimes on the floor – all of the coins made it into my pocket, but didn’t give me hope of giving up my day job.

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This is the first time that the booth has been “landlocked” (no space between ours the the booths on either side) for about 15 years, so we had to rearrange the spacing to create an aisle on each end.  Tish and her mom discovered on Friday that the aisle was just wide enough (by about an inch on each side) for wheelchair access.  That’s Stamp On It’s booth to the right – and the close proximity gave me my chuckle for the weekend . . .

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I am a natural grammarian – but even with the use of “ain’t” I still thought this was funny . . .

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This was on the floor in front of our booth – and nowhere else in the building.  I’ll bet the expo center staff wasn’t terribly pleased when they initially found it.  But it made for an interesting conversation piece since it was very close to my register.

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It was an “Old Friends Weekend” – Sue Nelson hasn’t demoed in our booth for several years.  And she actually got to sit down and demo some, in-between getting up to hug her followers who hadn’t seen her in a long time.

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The view from my cash register on Friday morning – and a look at a selection of Memory Box dies that Sue had recommended we bring along.  This will be happy news for many who shop our local store – they have been asking for these for a long time, and they will be in our store soon (and on the website for the rest of you).

When the show ended on Friday, I had to switch from a hotel next to the outlet mall across the street from the expo center to one 20+ miles away in Saginaw – apparently there are people who will pay $170 per night on the weekends for a room within walking distance of outlet shopping, but I’m not one of them.  However, I got a surprise when I opened my door . . .

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Somehow, I got upgraded to a two-room Jacuzzi Suite – seriously, all I needed was a bed and a shower (and hopefully a good TV selection).

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Not for me, thanks . . .

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You may recall seeing this pic on the blog a couple of weeks ago.  I submitted it to the Dayton Daily News and was told a little over a week ago that it would appear in Thursday’s paper – of course, I was 250+ miles away on Thursday, but I got to see it online.  Honestly, I liked my original picture more – I thought the red sky showed up better when the houses in my neighborhoods weren’t visible.

After the show, I had an extremely pleasant drive home (with apologies to our friends in East Lansing) – I left the expo center just as the Ohio State/Michigan State game kicked off, and when the postgame show ended I was five minutes from my house.  So I’m back at work today, going through a weekend’s worth of e-mail and trying to catch up.  The first thing that was brought to my attention this morning was two new items from Tim Holtz . . .

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24 new colors if Distress Spray Stains that complete the set of 52, and one more Christmas Stamp Set.  Yes, I made sure they went on our website promptly . . .