Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Easiest Cheeseball You'll Ever Love . . .

Some of the best recipes I have are for things I do not eat -- this is one of them. It gets more demand than anything I make, regardless of the occasion. If we're having a pot luck at the store, Karen wants my cheeseball. Family gatherings -- Mom wants the cheeseball. My friends Tom & Carol have a group over for New Year's Eve every year -- they want TWO cheeseballs (one for the party and one to eat the next day).

The amazing thing about it is it's EASY -- there are only four ingredients. But it still takes 45 minutes or so to make because of the time it takes to cut everything into little pieces. And that's the secret -- you have to take a knife and CUT everything. I have tried chopping tools and processors and such, and they just don't work as well.

Here's what you'll need:

4 Bricks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (not reduced fat or 1/3 less fat -- it doesn't set up)
2 Bunches of Green Onions
1/2 Red Onion
1 lb. Buddig Beef
A Sharp Knife and a Cutting Board

And here we go . . .

Take four bricks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and set them on the counter to warm up a little while you're working on the other ingredients (you'll appreciate this later).

Trim the green onions on both ends (cut off all of the white stuff on one end and an inch or so of the green stuff on the other -- how was that for a male description?) and rinse. Then slice the long way into thin strips. Depending on how the green onions look, you may only have to slice them once or you may have to slice three or more times into thinner strips.

Then crosscut the strips into little tiny pieces, the smaller the better. I usually grab a handful of the strips and hold them together at the end and try hard to miss my fingers as I cut over and over.

Red onion is next. Cut several slices, and then cut the slices in half and again cut more of those little bitty pieces.

Scrape everything off the cutting board into a mixing bowl as you go.

Next up is the Buddig Beef. Sometimes you can get it in one big package, but you may have to get eight of the little 2 oz. packages. Put everything together into a couple of half pound stacks, and then cut each stack into 16 squares.

Again, everything goes into the bowl. It helps if you try to separate the little pieces of beef as you go.

The cream cheese goes in next. Now comes the messy part -- if you wear rings, you might want to take them off first. And put a couple of pieces of aluminum foil on the counter next to you so you have someplace to put the cheeseballs when you're done.

Dig in and combine the ingredients. Squish it between your fingers over and over. Turn it upside down to get the onions off the bottom of the bowl and squish some more. By the time you're finished, it should be tough to recognize those little squares of beef anymore.

You've got enough here for two nice cheeseballs -- one to serve and one to keep. Form two nice balls and put each on a separate piece of aluminum foil (or two crossed pieces as I did above).

Then wrap your cheeseballs in aluminum foil, flatten the bottom so they will sit well on cheeseball trays, and put them into the refrigerator for at least two or three hours.

And you'll need a box of your favorite crackers. My wife likes Keebler Toasteds Onion Crackers, but you can't find them everywhere.

Enjoy -- I'm off to load the truck for the show in York, Pennsylvania this weekend . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sights from a Weekend in New York

I am running a few days behind in posting the pictures and witty narrative from last weekend's show in Rhinebeck, New York. I have been test driving a cold and sore throat and have decided to hold onto them both for a few more days . . .

When I told people that I was going on a business trip to New York, reactions usually ranged from "Oh, that's way too crowded for me" to "Are you going to see a Broadway show while you're there?" Rhinebeck is not THAT kind of New York -- this is about 90 miles up the Hudson River, with rolling hills, lots of trees, and a much slower pace.

The show was at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, which was a pretty busy place compared to other weekends I have been here. In addition to our show, there was a gem and mineral show next door, a flea market indoors and outdoors all over the place, and a Rotary Club pig roast.

I was one of the few vendors who had been here before (different promoter this time). When I pulled in for setup, several vendors came up to me with a very important question -- "Is it true there are no restrooms in our building?" Quite true -- the photo at left was taken at the entrance to our show, and the one at right zoomed in toward that little building in the background, across the parking lot. That's where the restrooms were . . .

There were other little inconveniences that had to be dealt with along the way. The loudspeaker system was in the fairgrounds office, and any announcements made there were heard all over the fairgrounds. So Ted Cutts came up with a bullhorn and wandered around our room from time to time calling out prize numbers and such. Everyone knows (and likes) Ted -- he owns Art Gone Wild, Inky Antics, Stampers Anonymous, and Darcie's Country Folk. He also kept me alert Saturday night -- some of his people were in the room next to me in the hotel, and Ted opened up their half of the double door between rooms about 10:30 p.m. and banged the tar out of my half, just as I was walking past it!

It was one of the few good-weather weekends these folks had seen in a long time, but that didn't stop them from coming out early on Saturday morning. Donna Brunell made sure I knew that in all of the giveaway pictures I took in Springfield in June, somehow I missed her. Not this time . . .

The customers were resourceful as well. The boot at left belonged to a teenaged girl who was using it as her camera pouch (and her cell phone was farther down the same boot), and the gentleman at right found a unique spot for his wristband.

Our friend Mary Garvey works with us at several shows in the northeast and was demoing this weekend. This is Mary's "home show" -- she only lives 15-20 minutes from the fairgrounds. Her sister was coming to the show on Saturday, so Mary and I made a deal so she could spend a little time with her . . .

You may remember the picture at left -- it's the one I took of the new Core'dinations display at the Greenville show the weekend before Rhinebeck. I replenished as much as I could, but the picture at right that I took on Sunday morning at Rhinebeck shows just how popular Core'dinations is -- look at those empty holes!

And this is Joey Henderson. I brought along a package she had ordered (her friend checked on Saturday to make sure I had it) so I saw her early on Sunday. Found out later that when she walked in the door, she saw the $500 basket of stamps the promoters were raffling off for charity and announced that she was going to win it. Five hours later, she did . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lou Ann's Greenville Demo

I suspected that the masses would request step-by-step instructions for the "flowers" Lou Ann Ewing was making at the demo table in Greenville last weekend. So I took pictures Sunday before the show started, and she sent me the instructions when I got home. And I have to admit that I'm shocked at how easy they are to make (translation -- I can do it). So the verbiage is Lou Ann's, the pictures are mine, and hopefully the two will go together well enough to be understandable.

And awaaaaaay we go . . .

Start with a piece of decorative scrapbook paper -- 1½" x 12" (just remember that your paper should be half as wide as whatever width you want your flower to be (1½" width makes a 3" flower).

Punch along one edge of the paper with any scalloped patterned punch (for this example, Lou Ann used a "running water" punch by Fiskars).

Score with a Scor-It board all along the paper in the "valleys" (the punch determines where you score -- if the pattern is wider you may have to score in both the "valleys" and "mountains")

Next, fold the scored paper "concertina" style (back and forth).

Then put ¼" red line tape on one of the ends and "marry" it with the other end.

Now you have a crinkled circle (make sure the side you want as the top is on the inside of the circle), and the decorative scalloped side is on the bottom).

Before the next step, punch out a 1" circle of chipboard to give the flower stability and put red line tape on it.

Now for the tricky part -- pinch one pleat on each of the opposite sides and push in the top part while pulling out the scalloped bottom (watch Lou Ann's fingers in the picture at left and twist so that the unscalloped side becomes the center of the flower).

Then put your 1" chipboard circle with the red line tape in the middle of the bottom to hold it together (you'll need to press in).

Flip over the flower and put tacky glue in the center and decorate with a button or charm.

Have fun with your new little flowers! Lou Ann says these make beautiful ornaments if you put two of them back-to-back with a ribbon hanging in-between.

Enjoy -- now I'm off to Rhinebeck, New York for another show this weekend. Come out and see us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Sunny Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina

I am spending the weekend at the "Karen Ihle Lovefest" in Greenville, South Carolina. So many people came up to me yesterday asking how Karen was doing -- I talked with her last night and passed along the good wishes. Karen is doing fine, and continues to be overwhelmed by the mountains of cards she has received (her husband brought home another box of them yesterday).

During setup on Friday, I spent a lot of time just staring at the empty gridwall in our booth. We just picked up Core'dinations Color Core Cardstock, and I had to find space for FORTY different packages. Gotta just love a new challenge . . .

And this is what I came up with. Went out to Kinko's after setup -- printed and laminated color chips for each assortment pack to try to help out. From the looks of that area after yesterday, you may want to check it out at

I didn't have time to take pictures during the day -- was only running one cash register and it was busy all day. I love busy convention days -- they remind me of Saturdays at the grocery store when I was in high school and college. Steady line of people, someone else at the side asking a question, announcements on the overhead speakers -- those days just fly by.

Had three demos going on at the middle table -- left to right, Lou Ann Ewing, Melinda Doster, and Peggy Gould. They all live near Charlotte and have been friends for years. I considered calling them "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil", but all three agreed that none of them fit the last description . . .

Lou Ann was nearest to me -- I knew she was doing something I had never seen before (that the customers loved) but I could never get close enough to check it out. So I took a couple of pictures at the end of the day . . .

The "flowers" she was making were something. I know they involved strips of scrapbook paper and a Scor-It board, but that's about as far as I got. May have to take some step-by-step pictures before the show opens today . . .

Oh yeah, and it was a little warm in the convention hall -- that has been a common complaint this year in many places. Since Karen's husband David wasn't here, his fan spent the day jockeying for space at the demo table.

We did the drawing behind the booth -- everybody paid attention and waved on command, except the lady in the foreground of the right picture. When I told her she wasn't paying attention, she played right along . . .

So did the lady in the background with the bracelet and necklace. She came up and asked about Karen -- told me to tell her "The Greenville Screamer" said hi (apparently, she won a prize last year and everyone in this county heard her scream of delight). And yes, Karen knew who she was!

And how does a shot of Zoe fit into this post? Well, my dog wasn't quite as popular as Karen, but I had more than a dozen people ask about her as well -- and several wanted to know why I don't bring her along to shows. Two reasons -- one, most convention halls don't allow animals, and two, Zoe would get way too excited because she would assume that everyone was her new best friend and had come just to see her. So I gave them the best thing I could offer -- this is the shot of Zoe that I have on my phone . . .