Monday, November 30, 2009

The 12 Days of Christmas, Marco Style . . .

The first part of this post is for the locals. Apparently we had an ad for our retail store in the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday editions of the Dayton Daily News. I say "apparently" because it was in the "garage sale" section of the classifieds, so I didn't see it -- but I'm told that section works for us! The store is having a special event they're calling "The 12 Days of Christmas" that runs all this week and next. Lots of big sheets and closeouts in the vacant storefront next door (which I've heard may become ours permanently in the near future), and 1,000 items in the store with markdown stickers up to 75% off!

And here's the big news -- more FREE Make It & Take It opportunities this week and next. This week, the usual Wednesday edition will be from 9:00-11:00 and will be led by Sandy Livingston -- and there will be different projects offered from 1:00-3:00 by Judy Davidson and Barry Payne. Then on Saturday there will be two different projects offered from 11:00-1:00, one by Barry Payne, and the other by "Becky" (sorry Becky, I don't know your last name).

Here's a look at both of Barry's projects. For the uninitiated, this is the type of thing we do in the store every Wednesday from 9:00-11:00 and Saturday from 11:00-1:00. And it's FREE -- just bring along your basic stamping kit including scissors, double sided tape (or your favorite adhesive), pencil, bone folder, pop dots, glue stick, small ruler, and a paper cutter if you have one.

And for you folks out in the hinterlands, we have extended the FREE SHIPPING OFFER until December 17. Through December 17, place your order of $50 or more and we'll ship it free by UPS Ground or USPS Priority Mail (our choice). Retail purchases only -- applies only to Continental U.S. addresses. For Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and Canada, we'll ship by Priority Mail for 1/2 the regular rate. For other international addresses, we'll be happy to check to see if we can do the same economically, but can't guarantee it. Please remember to ask for the Free Shipping Offer when you place your order.

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It was a great weekend in Ohio. Thanksgiving was cold and rainy, but Saturday and Sunday were really nice -- I was able to get by outside with a couple of sweatshirts while I was putting up the Christmas lights on our house.

I have always been afraid of heights, though it's much better now than it was when I was a kid. Still, the peak on our garage roof is WAY up there. I have done it myself for the past few years, but this time my neighbor was out doing his lights at the same time and he offered to get the highest stuff out of the way for me. I really like our neighborhood -- we help each other out.

This is the finished product, which of course doesn't show up very well in the dark! We didn't do outside lights for years, but I built a rock wall around the landscaping on one side of the house about four years ago and I wanted to run some lights around the stones. And then I wanted to try something else, and then I wanted to try something else again, and one thing led to another. Our neighbors especially like the lights above the dormer windows.

Zoe loves it when I'm putting up the lights, since I'm outside all afternoon for two days. Sunday, I was stringing lights on a shrub when I heard her bark -- just one short bark. I was ready to get after her and then I saw what she was doing . . .

Our neighbor's grandson Tanner was out in their yard and Zoe was trying to get his attention. Tanner's mom and dad were helping with Grandma and Grandpa's outside decorations. Zoe LOVES Tanner (and vice versa). This may have been the only time Zoe was still -- she spent most of the time running back and forth in front of Tanner and sprinting laps of our backyard. There is still a lot of puppy in Zoe, and that's what she does when she's excited. You should see the damage she can do in our living room . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thelma and Louise Make the Newspaper . . .

Everybody knows Karen, and the locals all know Joanne from visits to our store. But Thelma and Louise? This is a story worth telling . . .

Several years ago, we scheduled a show in St. Paul, Minnesota. I don't remember why I didn't go (probably a school conflict), but it was decided that Karen and Joanne would take the truck. Joanne was the driver; Karen was the navigator -- it was their first time out on the road together. In the midst of loading the truck, some smart-aleck (and it wasn't me) took a finger and wrote "Thelma and Louise" in the dust on the back door. And there it stayed, all the way to Minnesota and back, and halfway through my next trip, until I stopped at a truck stop for fuel and realized how strange that looked with a guy driving the truck.

So to this day, whenever Karen and Joanne are doing something together, the Thelma and Louise reference will come up again. Yesterday, they made the local newspaper.

There was a two-page article in the Life section of the Dayton Daily News about homemade gifts, complete with a picture of Karen, quotes from Karen and Joanne, and mention of upcoming classes and make it/take its in the store. No picture of Joanne? She politely declined -- something about running late, wet hair, etc.

If you'd like to see it, go to

And another completely unrelated thing you have to see . . .

Nikki and Sheila from Heirloom Productions (Heirloom is the show promoter at about half of the shows we attend) have started a blog called "Stamping Shenanigans" where they share stories from their travels, tips, and such. Their Thursday post was classic -- it's a "paper play" entitled Black November (A Turkey's View). When I finished, the question I couldn't answer was "Where did you come up with all of those old workout tapes?"

See for yourself at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

At Long Last, Genesis Trimmers Are Back!

I got an e-mail this afternoon from our friend Bonnie Boyle -- for the first time in years, she is accepting new orders for Genesis Trimmers.

This is a plug from me for something we do not sell -- the only place you can get a Genesis Trimmer is from Bonnie at I met Bonnie at a show in Atlanta eleven or twelve years ago, and as soon as she showed the Genesis to me I bought one. At that point, they were manufactured by a small company in Maine that was very satisfied with making them one at a time at their own pace. I waited six weeks to get mine -- soon the wait was six months, and then it got even longer. And still the orders piled up.

Several years ago, the folks in Maine decided to go out of business (I think they retired). Bonnie made them an offer and brought all of the machinery and such to Atlanta, got everything up and running, and then contacted all of those customers who had placed orders (some went back several years) to see if they still wanted their trimmer. She told me that she wasn't going to offer it to the public until she took care of each of those customers.

And that time has come. I promised Bonnie a long time ago that I would help her get the word out when she was ready to take orders again.

We sell little personal cutting machines from Fiskars and such, but whenever customers asked, I told them to save their pennies and get a Genesis Trimmer if they were ever available again. I kid you not -- this thing is great. Mine looks just like the picture above, complete with the edgelight. And I wouldn't get one without the light -- I like to print several pictures on one sheet of photo paper and the light illuminates the edge of the picture so I can trim it exactly. In all the years I have had mine, I still haven't had to replace the blade.

The Genesis Trimmer is not cheap -- the 16" model with the edgelight is $390.00 (there is also a 12" version). But if you use a cutter as much as I do, it's money well spent.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sights from Deer Widow's Weekend in Michigan

The theme for last weekend's Birch Run show was "Deer Widow's Weekend". Sunday was the first day of deer season, and evidence of the theme was everywhere. The outlet mall, restaurants -- even a truck stop where I filled up was trying to attract the hunters and/or their "widows". But the hunters weren't all men -- one customer on Friday assured me that she would be in her tree stand come Sunday morning, trying to bag her buck before her husband did. And on Sunday morning, we saw a hunter park his truck in the corner of the expo center parking lot, and go marching into the adjacent woods with his shotgun over his shoulder.

And those deer widows came out in herds -- this was the view out the front door and around the corner on Saturday morning. Notice all of those pink flyers -- I had already been through the line handing them out!

Our booth continues to grow -- 60 feet this time -- but I think we have reached our limits and need to scale it back a little. Our usual 30-foot booth strikes me as "10 pounds of potatoes stuffed into a 5-pound potato sack", so there must be a happy medium somewhere.

Like several other shows this year, Tim Hammonds from Scor-It had a demo and a free make it/take it at one end of the booth. He taught Judy Davidson, Nora Bussell, and Donna Sheetz how to teach his make it/take it, and they went to work.

And no, Nora is not bored -- just intense . . .

In the middle was Sue Nelson from -- Sue has such a following from her website. Everywhere we go, customers mention her card gallery. And there may even be the tiniest bit of envy from some when they find that we know her. Sue was right next to Karen this weekend, so she had opportunities to teach Karen about the art of spoiling a first grandchild rotten . . .

We put Judy at the opposite end of the middle table for most of Saturday, demoing Flower Soft. Judy, Nora, and Donna are quite versatile, but at one point it looked like Judy had misbehaved and Karen sent her to stand against the wall . . .

And Sue Rothamel from USArtQuest was holding court at the other end of the booth. Sue even brought her own visual aid -- that is one seriously big bottle of glue . . .

And then there were the hats. These aren't really hats -- they're vases -- the lady at left was selling them in her booth. But once Sue put one on her head, it became her constant companion. Can't you just imagine it decorated with all kinds of glitter and paint?

There were also sights to behold. Elvis and Pricilla made an appearance (see the "Blue Suede Shoes" post from earlier this month) . . .

And I really liked this lady's crown. It had ribbons that were marked "Chemotherapy", "Surgery", and "Radiation" -- and the caption said "TREATMENT -- The Only Thing I Completed All Year" . . .

There were LOTS of t-shirts and sweatshirts with lots of unusual sayings. Some of them were even repeatable -- the one at right is a little out of my league, but it did seem rather fitting for one of our customers!

I didn't get to take a picture, but I did want to send out a special thank you to Elizabeth Sova. She came into the booth on Saturday, and when she checked out she told me about a purchase she had made at the show in Novi back in August. When she got home, she realized that we hadn't charged her for a $20 set of Spellbinders replacement mats, and insisted we charge her for them. Honesty -- what a concept. Our customers are the best . . .

One last image to burn on your retinas. As I said, the theme for the show was "Deer Widow's Weekend" -- the promoter sent out an e-mail last week encouraging the vendors to dress appropriately.

Apparently I was the only one who got the memo. The promoter actually screamed and ran down the aisle when she saw me (I didn't think I was that frightening). I had a customer take the picture with my cell phone so I could text it to my son -- the camoflauge pants are his. He outgrew them years ago, but they're about three sizes too big for me!

A Heart Attack on Every Plate . . .

When we announced that we were going to a show in Birch Run, Michigan, customers who knew told us two things -- make sure to hit the outlet mall (obviously), and make sure to eat at Tony's I-75 Restaurant. We were told that Tony's is a Birch Run legend. No kidding . . .

Too bad my son wasn't with us -- Ryan would have felt right at home as soon as he saw a picture of the Mythbusters on the menu. Mythbusters is required viewing on Wednesday evening in my house. The waitress told us that Grant, Tori, and Kari stopped by on the way to test out a myth in the Upper Peninsula a while back.

Tony's isn't a fancy place, which suits me just fine. But they were having a wedding reception in one of the side rooms (first time, according to the waitress) -- on Friday the 13th! We crowded eleven people around our tables, but I couldn't get them all in one shot. Clockwise arond the table -- Sue Nelson (, Sue's husband Bruce, Tim Hammonds (Scor-It), Crystal Copperstone (USArtQuest), Sue Rothamel (USArtQuest), and Marco's staffers and local teachers David Ihle, Karen Ihle, Donna Sheetz, and Judy Davidson.

This was the only way I could get the other two -- our local teacher Nora Bussell and some nut with a camera.

It's the portions that are legendary here -- take-home boxes are mandatory for most items on the menu. Judy's sandwich took up the entire plate.

Views of other sandwiches at our table.

But this is the sandwich you go home from Tony's talking about. We didn't order one, but the guy at the table next to us did. The picture is lousy, but this is a BLT. They explain the ingredients on the menu -- two or three slices of tomato, some lettuce, two or three tablespoons of mayonnaise . . . and a pound of bacon!

And he ate it all . . .

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Karen's Perfect Birthday Present

This fall has been a challenge for Karen. First her stroke, then the recovery, with everyone watching her every move and trying to make sure she doesn't try to do too much too fast. Yes, it's nice that people care, but even I'll admit that we can be a little overprotective at times.

Wednesday was Karen's birthday, which didn't offer much time for her to celebrate. We were loading the truck for this weekend's Birch Run, Michigan show (much more about the show and a local restaurant legend tomorrow), so everyone was running around and nerves were frazzled. Karen's oldest son Michael came in to take her to lunch and he was still waiting when I got there at 2:00.

Then she got the mail . . .

This is the card that arrived from Scott and Alexis in North Carolina (Scott is Karen's 26-year-old) with the news that she has been waiting (begging? pleading?) years for. She's gonna be a grandma for the first time.

Of course, the card and accompanying sonogram made the trip north with us. This made for a nice change of pace -- last month in Fort Wayne, customers and vendors alike were coming to welcome Karen back to the show circuit. She got some of those yesterday, too -- but I noticed quickly that there is quite a difference between a delicate "welcome back" hug and an enthusiastic "you're going to be a grandma" hug . . .

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hanging On for Dear Life . . .

I went out into the backyard yesterday after church to continue what I worked on last Sunday -- mowing and raking and generally getting the yard ready for winter. The first thing I saw gave me pause . . .

This is a tulip poplar -- we have several that I have planted over the years that came from my in-laws' yard (you should see their "momma tree"). It was those few leaves up at the top that caught my eye -- they looked like they were hanging on for dear life, and as long as they could stay on the tree they could keep winter from coming. I have been feeling like that, too!

I worked until dark, and then drove over to Miami University in Oxford to watch my nephew Conner play broomball. I went to Miami -- so did my wife and my brother. Many people confuse "our" Miami with the one in Florida, but ours has been around since 1809. I have an old t-shirt at home that says "Miami Was a University When Florida Still Belonged to Spain."

For the uninitiated like me, broomball is like hockey with no skates and a plastic "broom", and a ball instead of a puck. I took a shot of the opening faceoff with my cell phone and then cropped it -- that's my nephew in front of the referee (blue sleeves).

This morning, I took Zoe to the vet for her annual checkup. I always feel like a rat when I know she is going to get shots. But I wanted to get it out of the way before she heads to the kennel on Thursday morning . . .

Because we will be headed out for our last show of the year. We're going to Birch Run, Michigan (between Flint and Saginaw, and just a stone's throw from Frankenmuth) for the Great Scrapbook Events Shopping Show at the Birch Run Expo Center (right across the street from a huge outlet mall). This will be the first three-day show we have ever attended (Friday 1-8, Saturday 10-6, and Sunday 10-4), and we're going all-out with Fifty Feet of Fun -- Plus Ten! We're going to have Sue Rothamel from USArtQuest at one end, Tim Hammonds from Scor-It at the other, and Sue Nelson from in the middle, and we're going to fill the other ten feet with lots of scrapbook papers and such.

Added bonus -- we were expecting a shipment of the new Cuttlebug Christmas Dies later this month. They came in early, so we'll have them this weekend! You can get more info about that show at If you're in the area, plan to come out and see us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Instructions for Last Week's Slider Card

Connie Vogt did a really cool slider card for the Free Make It & Take It in our store last Wednesday. She sent me photos and instructions -- in advance -- I told her I would post them ASAP.

So I sat down after lunch on Wednesday and went to work -- downloaded the pictures Connie had sent and mixed them with the shots above that I had already taken of her project. And I went to work on the blog post. That was about the time that Karen called and told me that Barry Payne was in the store in an Elvis getup and I needed to get up there NOW and take pictures. And I did -- went up, took the pictures, came back, and put them together to post.

Then I hit the "Publish Post" button -- and everything in both posts disappeared. Apparently it is a bad idea to work on two posts at the same time in different browser windows. I learn something new every day.

Since the Elvis post was the "short and easy" one, I redid it quickly and got it online. Figured I would get to Connie's later. Didn't . . .

Even had two people ask me about Connie's card Saturday when I was in the store and I promised I would get it done on Monday. But Connie beat me to it and posted photos and directions on her blog.

So with thanks to Connie, if you go to you can see photos and step-by-step instructions without being bothered by my commentary!

I had begged off until Monday, because I already knew what I would be doing during the daylight hours Saturday and Sunday afternoon . . .

And this is what it looked like Monday morning -- 17 bags and one trash bin full of leaves, stomped down as much as I could compress them. We don't have that many trees, but I won this year's version of the "Who Gets to Rake B.J.'s Leaves?" Sweepstakes. My neighbor across the street has a huge tree right next to the road, and the leaves always blow into someone else's yard. Most of the time, the wind comes from the southwest and Jim & Sylvia two doors down from me get bonus leaves. If the wind comes from the west, they blow all the way down to the end of the street (Chad & Ashley at the end of the street are in their 20s and have plenty of energy, so Sylvia and I were hoping for that option).

Friday morning, the wind started howling directly from the south. I was at work, but I knew what I would find when I got home. So I started raking on Saturday afternoon, took a break for the trick or treaters, and finished the job Sunday after I got home from church. I was still grumbling about the time change -- it was almost dark when I finished, and it wasn't even 6:00 yet!

My supervisor was on duty through the entire process . . .