Friday, July 3, 2015

A New Distress Color . . . a Unique Planter . . . a Party Animal . . . a Riddle . . . and a Blast from My Past

You can probably tell from the heading that you’re getting everything but the kitchen sink today (but you will be getting something from the bathroom).  Let’s get started . . .

This actually came out on Wednesday morning – but we didn’t know it until late Wednesday afternoon.  I loved the tone in the release that made it sound like the color was being announced a couple of days early as a holiday treat – especially after I found out that Ranger was going to be closed Thursday and Friday (so it was more likely their holiday treat).  I barely had time to make the adjustments on our website before leaving for the day (Wednesday is Golf League Day – priorities, you know). 

Then I spent all day yesterday picking up some display pieces for the booth that should make setup and teardown sooooooo much easier (more on those next week sometime).

So here we are on Friday – even though I’m technically two days late, in the actual release schedule I’m right on time . . .

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The July Distress Color of the Month is Blueprint Sketch – I’m still waiting for purple, but I really like this shade of blue.  As usual, if you want all six pieces (ink pad, reinker, marker, paint, stain, and spray stain), they’re 20% off the MSRP with free shipping in the Continental U.S.

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I’ll bet you don’t have a geranium planter like this one – but my friend Christine Yoder does.  I stopped for a visit on my way home from the Lakeland show last weekend and couldn’t resist.  The fencing is to keep her dogs from disturbing the foliage . . .

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Meet “Spuds MacKenzie” (not his real name, I suspect), the Original Golf Party Animal... started tagging along with our group on the 11th hole in Tennessee on Tuesday and stayed with us all the way in. Led the way from tee to green... with occasional detours to chase a squirrel. The locals said he does it all the time.

No picture for this one – but I read it in USA Today on Wednesday at lunch -- tried it when I got back and the answer is funny. So if you have an iPhone or an iPad, pull up Siri and ask "What is zero divided by zero?"  And do it before you read the next paragraph, which is the response (for those of you who don’t have toys from Apple) . . .

“Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get? See? It doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends.”

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And the blast from my past . . . July 3, 1988... Carla woke me up at 12:30 am on Sunday morning and told me it was "time"... and in typical male fashion I asked her if we could get a few more hours of sleep and go to the hospital in the morning. Yeah, right... off we went. Ryan arrived at 11:08... and a few minutes after this picture was taken, I called each set of parents at their respective churches to inform them that they had become grandparents.

Have a great Independence Day Weekend – and thanks to all of the vets who make it possible.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

58 Years . . . from 1,000 Miles Away

This weekend, we are at “StampFest Summer” – formerly StampFest Orlando, relocated to Lakeland in search of a quality facility with quality air conditioning with quality free parking with a quality hotel next door.  All of these were accomplished – the customers were unanimous in their lavish praise, even those who had to travel from north of Orange County.  For those of you who missed it this year – mark your calendars for the last weekend in June 2016.

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This is the standard view of our booth at a show.  I have been doing this blog long enough (and many of you have been reading it long enough) that I try to keep it fresh by looking for non-standard views – behind the scenes things – or from different angles things – that you don’t usually get to see.  And I found three or four here . . .

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Creek Bank Creations was across the aisle from us – this was Julie when she discovered that something needed to be adjusted after she and Tom had covered up their booth for the evening.  I had to look twice – then made her stand there while I pulled out my cell phone.  On our Facebook page, I captioned it “Some parts of StampFest Summer are still under wraps…”

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I heard it all day long, and we were as far away from his performance as you could get and still be in the same room – “I couldn’t get anywhere near Tim Holtz all day!”  It made for a fun story as I warmed up the masses for the giveaway at 4:00 p.m. – I was only a few feet from Tim earlier in the day, and there was no one else around.  Of course, most of the customers at a typical show don’t have access to the men’s restroom . . .

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Remember the “Senior Superlatives” (at least that’s what they called them where I grew up) that your classmates voted on just before high school graduation – you know, Most Likely to Succeed, Best Dressed, Cutest Couple, etc.  If there was a vote for “Sweetest Vendor”, Lisa Yang from Local King Rubber Stamps would win every time.  Lisa has been using some of our cardstock for her demo for more than a year – we have talked about putting footprints on the floor leading from her booth to the paper in ours.  After several shows with a steady stream of customers asking for “Lisa’s Paper”, I put a shelf next to my cash register along with a sign – “Did Lisa from Local King send you here looking for paper?  This is It!!”  Now that she is using several different weights and coatings, that shelf has been replaced with what I have referred to as a “Shrine to Lisa” . . . today she saw it for the first time and agreed to do her best Vanna White in front of it.

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This isn’t Lisa, but the pose is similar – this guy was posing for his wife, who was shooting the picture to send to friends.  I saw it but didn’t get my phone out fast enough – but I convinced him to reenact it.

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And during a lull in the proceedings in the middle of the afternoon, I found these pictures that were posted by my sister-in-law Lisa – Mom and Dad’s 58th wedding anniversary is Sunday, and they were celebrating with ice cream at Graeter’s (a Cincinnati-area institution for more than 145 years).  I hated to miss it, but I’ll get my chance in a few days when I get home.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Year . . . It Goes So Fast

Sunday was Ryan and Emily’s first anniversary.  So many times in the first few months, I intended to post some of the formal pictures – finally decided to wait and save them for now.  We have several hundred pictures, so I am showing a bit of restraint.

And so, without further comment . . .

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RE_240 RE_249RE_271 RE_288

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RE_395 RE_393

RE_896 RE_906

RE_407 RE_411

RE_927 RE_929

RE_413 RE_473

RE_539 RE_569

RE_799 RE_790

RE_675 RE_690

RE_715 RE_739

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Happy Anniversary, Kids . . .

Friday, June 12, 2015

Credit Where Credit Is Due . . .

I have not been terribly happy with Ranger and their customer service this spring – and have said so on more than one occasion.  But in the interests of fairness, I am pleased to report that the June Distress Color of the Month (Hickory Smoke) shipped Thursday – only six days after the color announcement.  And we’ll start shipping when they arrive here on Monday.

This is a major improvement – the first five months shipped about three weeks after the announcement.  So I tip my cap in the direction of New Jersey . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Everything Grows . . .

I came up with a new mathematical equation yesterday afternoon as I tackled my yard for the first time since the last week of May . . .

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12 days on the road  +  lots and lots of rain  =  an acre of THIS

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Not to mention lots and lots of clumping – I will spend an evening in the yard with a rake before I can mow again.

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My supervisor was cracking the whip all afternoon . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Translation Necessary . . .

I always make a stop at this ice cream place when I do the New England show . . . it has the best peppermint ice cream (if you ever have reason to get off a plane at the Hartford Airport, it's right up the street).

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So Saturday night I waited in the line, and when I got to the counter I asked for two dips of peppermint in a cup . . . the girl gave me a blank look and did nothing, then looked at her boss and repeated my order with a question mark at the end.  The manager laughed and said "He's not from around here... he wants two scoops" . . . then looked at me and said "I'm from Chicago... we call them dips, too."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Winds of Change . . .

I am a creature of habit – and not a fan of change in my life (trust me, my parents are reading this and nodding their heads).  I start my morning with my newspaper – every morning.  When I am home, I eat the same thing for breakfast – every morning.  You get the idea.  So when something I have done the same way for many years changes, there is an adjustment period.

We have new credit card machines in our booth – for the first time in nearly 15 years.  I know – it’s not a big deal.  But I found myself stumbling a bit in using them, so last night I decided to figure out why . . .

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New machine on the left – old machine on the right.  The numbers are reversed – the 0, 4, 5, & 6 are in the same places, but 1-2-3 and 7-8-9 are on different rows.  And the card swipes with the stripe facing left instead of right.  So that explains it, and I’ll master it eventually.

There are advantages – we can now take debit cards in the booth (and just hand the machine to the customer to key in her PIN), and when the newfangled EVM chip cards become mandatory in the fall, we’ll be able to take those, too.

Some changes don’t bother me as much.  The booth layout in the Better Living Center at the Eastern States Exposition was different this year – the booths were more toward the middle of the building and the aisles were longer and wider.  I noticed it right away (the promoter told me that he wondered if anyone would) – and all day on Saturday customers asked me if the show was smaller this year (it isn’t).  There was also something different on the way into the parking lot . . .

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There are message boards all over the place.  But there were enough familiar sights in our booth during the day to keep me from panicking . . .

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Donna Bedard took time out from her job with the USPS to run a cash register for us, Mary Garvey helped customers in the booth (complete with a ladybug purse), and Susan LeClerc was wowing customers at the demo table with Wink of Stella and Chameleon Pen demos.

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This is a familiar sight, too – I tried to snap a quick shot of the crowd in the booth early in the day, and got it out of focus.

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T-shirt of the day – “When in doubt, just add glitter . . .”

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And the best sight of the day – Lucie and Nicole (Luni Stamps) took time out from their busy retirement to come south of the border and visit with their friends from the show circuit.  I hadn’t seen them since last August at Stampaway in Cincinnati – their last show before they rode off into the sunset.