Friday, January 29, 2010

After Further Review . . .

A peek inside my head -- "I need to word the following very carefully so I don't overdo my distaste for the Spellbinders' blog party concept they use to release their new dies . . ."

After I spent a good bit of time pouring through blogs to find all of Spellbinders' new dies, I spent a good bit more putting them all on a single sheet so our customers could have an easy reference. Finished the sheet, put it in the store and on our website, and referenced it on the blog. And that was that -- or so I thought.

Yesterday, I was on Spellbinders' website looking for a code number, when I stumbled across five more new dies that either I missed or weren't part of the blog party. I hate to leave things unfinished, so back to the computer I went.

That single sheet is now revised and shows all 31 new dies. It's at the same spot -- I also noticed a revised shipping date -- sometime in March. Keep those preorders coming . . .

On a lighter note, I have another recipe locked, loaded, and ready to share early next week. Stand by for an Apricot Nectar Cake. If you're headed to the grocery this weekend and want to plan ahead, pick up a Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Cake Mix and some Apricot Nectar. If your grocery has them, these little cans from Kern's are great because you can use two for the cake and save the rest for next time. Can't say I drink a lot of apricot nectar . . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bunches and Bunches of New Stuff on the Way . . .

I have spent a lot of the past two days getting flyers into the store to keep our customers up-to-date with the new items that our suppliers were introducing at CHA in Anaheim over the weekend (no, I wasn't there -- I was freezing in Ohio as usual). Seems a shame not to share them with you as well, so click on the links below and PDFs will come up that you can print out at home. To see these, you need to have Adobe Reader on your computer -- if you don't have it, you can get it free at (just click on the "Get Adobe Reader" button)

This process started because Spellbinders is introducing 26 new dies in their "Blog Party" format. From its success, this idea obviously works for them. So I'll apologize in advance to those of you who wake up in the morning with anticipation and can't wait to see which die is being introduced that day. It doesn't work for me -- I just want to see them all at one time, and Spellbinders won't let vendors like us see them until the Blog Party is over. I spent part of an afternoon bouncing from one blog to another to get all of the scans and info. So if you're like me (and even if you're not), you'll find all 26 dies on one page at

Ranger has several new products, most notably 12 new colors of Distress Ink Pads and Reinkers. Ranger's new releases are at

Ten Seconds Studio has four new Kabuka molds and four new Big Daddys. We had a few of the Big Daddys in Grapevine, Texas three weeks ago. I took a look at the Bingo Card and started laughing, and Cheryl wondered why. I told her that customers were going to flip through all of the dies looking for one with "their" numbers -- it hadn't even crossed her mind. Sure enough, it happened. You can see all of the new molds at

Scor-It is coming out with a new positioner -- Karen says it's really good and much like one Stampa Rosa had years ago. There will also be a new pink Scor-It board within a month or so, but no one has seen it yet. You can see the Position-It at

We are taking preorders for all of these items -- most will be shipping in mid-February. So stop by the store or give us a call at 1-888-433-5239 to reserve yours!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Bright Future for the Tim Holtz Crowd

Donna Weibel was holding another of her Tim Holtz classes when I was at the store on Saturday. Donna likes to use the tables back in the prep area -- she has room to spread out and lots of privacy.

She also has plenty of room to move around and give individualized instruction along the way.

A couple of the students asked me if we would be getting the new Tim Holtz products that are coming out. Gary had warned me to be on the lookout for an e-mail from Ranger announcing products they would be unveiling at CHA next week, but I hadn't seen it yet. It didn't come until Monday, so now I have an answer. YES -- we will be getting the new Tim Holtz products, and more! We have already ordered them, but they probably won't get here until sometime in March. I will probably get them on the website soon so we can take preorders and you can be guaranteed to get yours from the first shipment.

Here's what is coming:

12 new colors of Distress Inkpads and Reinkers

Wonder Tape (the same great Suze Weinberg tape in new packaging), and Enamel Accents in Black and White

Perfect Pearls Cafe Kit and Studio Extra Time Slow-Dry Medium

Meanwhile, Donna Sheetz was leading the Saturday Make It & Take It in our classroom area. Zoe has hurt Donna's feelings recently by not paying as much attention to her as Donna would like. But on Saturday, it probably had more to do with a munchkin presence . . .

Linda Virts' grandkids were in the house. Zoe loves kids more than anything, so it's no surprise that she went straight for them. Austin and Cheyenne are with Zoe, while Electra was still making her project, accompanied by her own stuffed canine.

But it only took a couple of minutes before Electra was down on the floor with her siblings . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Last Zindorfian Invasion . . .

Some of you know Michelle Zindorf. Some of you wish you knew Michelle Zindorf. Some of you are envious because we do and you don't. And some of you have no idea what I'm talking about . . .

I have told this story before, but it's worth retelling. In July 2008, I got an e-mail from a lady in California, singing the praises of a talented friend in Ohio who she felt should be teaching her workshops in our store. With a little research, I learned that Michelle Zindorf lived in West Alexandria (about 30 miles from here), could do magic tricks with a brayer and had a legion of blog followers who called themselves "Zindorfians." That did it for me -- I loved the way Zindorfian rolled off my tongue (try it yourself).

So we contacted Michelle and set up a workshop in our store -- her first held outside of California. It sold out in days -- participants were coming from Kentucky, Arizona, New York -- and Canada. But we still hadn't met her -- or so we thought. Stampaway in Cincinnati was a week or so after we contacted her, and Michelle made a trip down to see her first rubber stamp convention. She came up to me and introduced herself, and we spent 15 minutes or so trying to figure out how we knew each other. It wasn't clear until I made a random comment about Waynesville (my hometown) being about the same distance from Dayton as West Alexandria -- Michelle stopped me and said "Waynesville -- do you know Mark Bradstreet?" And then we knew -- Mark is an accountant and Michelle used to work for him, and I have known Mark and his family since I was a kid. Our little print shop used to do printing for Mark's firm -- Michelle placed the orders and I delivered them. And 15 years passed before our paths crossed again.

We have had at least a dozen of Michelle's brayer workshop in our store since. Every one of the beginner workshops sold out in advance, and lots of those students came back to take advanced workshops. Karen and I told Michelle often that she needed to quit her job and go out on the road and do workshops. Then last spring she got downsized and the decision was made for her. Within a few weeks, she had a national tour set up that ran well into this year.

But at the same time, Michelle became a Stampin' Up Demonstrator, and Stampin' Up came out with new policies last September stating that their demonstrators are not allowed to teach with non-Stampin' Up products. Michelle tried, but they wouldn't make an exception for her other than to let her teach the workshops she had already scheduled. So unless something changes, this past Saturday was her last appearance in our store. Michelle is our friend and we wish her well.

Zoe and I wandered into what used to be the empty storefront next door (we have taken it over -- until we come up with a better idea, it's being called "Marco's Too"), and this nice lady said "You have a camera -- great! You can take our pictures!" So I did . . .

The view of the Zindorfians from the perspective of their Fearless Leader . . .

And a view of the Fearless Leader from the perspective of the Zindorfians . . .

Another angle because I know I missed a couple of students from behind Michelle's shoulder.

And a couple of looks over theirs . . .

If you're new to this and want to know what all the fuss is about, check out Michelle's blog at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fire Drill . . .

Zoe and I went to the store on Saturday looking for "blog fodder" -- I figured that with two classes and a make it/take it going on, there would be more than enough for a good story. I underestimated -- there was enough for two or three good stories. And the best one was one I completely missed. I could explain, but my version would be secondhand. So I yield the floor to Debbie Daniels, who e-mailed the story and pictures Saturday afternoon, and Sharon Lindquist-Skelley, who also took pictures.

"Today I was at Marco's taking the Moments from the Journey class taught by the very talented Donna Weibel. I just love her classes and have never been disappointed. Today not only was I not disappointed, but there was an added attraction. While we were making our project, there was a strange odor that smelled like something was on fire. The odor kept getting stronger . . ."

"Karen very calmly took charge of the situation, called the fire department, evacuated the building, and made sure the situation was under control and that everyone was safe. Thanks Karen! Evidently one of the tenants next door burned popcorn in their microwave, which filled their back room with smoke. They opened the doors and the odor was traveling into Marco's."

"Not wanting to miss a terrific scrapbooking moment, several of us took pictures using cameras and cell phones."

Thanks to both Debbie and Sharon for the pictures. Once the firemen and sheriff's deputies checked the store thoroughly, they let everyone back in and life quickly returned to normal.

I assume that Sharon Lindquist-Skelley and Donna Sheetz were begging for handcuffs they could use as scrapbooking tools . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Last Word on a Chilly Texas Weekend . . .

It is Wednesday morning in Ohio, and finally the temperature is higher than it was all weekend while we were in Texas. Of course, that isn't saying much -- the whole country has been in the deep freeze, with the possible exception of my parents in Tucson, where it has been consistently in the 70s. I'm jealous . . .

For the uninitiated, the Grapevine Convention Center is about two miles from the DFW airport. It's a really nice building, but it's not large, so most of the vendors are in the main room and others are in side rooms. For the past few years, we have been in the stage area, which suits us just fine -- there is a door in the back of the stage area that goes straight out onto the loading dock!

But there are challenges. The stage is 29 feet wide -- our booth is 30 feet wide. So in past years, we have bowed the back a little, angled the ends a little, etc. to fit from side to side. But it's also about 15 feet deep, so we have more space for shopping when we finish building the booth. This time, we also had to make room for the 10-foot USArtQuest display, and because of the size of the room it had to fit within the stage area. I tried for a month to come up with something in my mind that would work, but I didn't like any of my ideas. Leave it to Karen to come up with a solution that worked . . .

We started our booth at the front edge of the stage, took it along the side wall, and turned right at the back. That left room for Sue's display along the other wall . . .

. . . and her demo table up front. And it left a lot of walking space in the middle.

The challenge was turning that corner, and figuring out what to do with the space once we turned it. But a couple of short pieces of gridwall at a slight angle did the trick, and a lot of customers told us how much they liked it. We'll try it again next time, but don't expect it anyplace else -- I don't know of another place where we get enough depth to try it.

We marketed hard -- sent out flyers and e-mails, and passed out flyers in the line before the show opened. Must have worked -- this was the view inside our booth two minutes after the show opened on Saturday.

This was my favorite view from Saturday -- Cheryl Darrow from Ten Seconds Studio was demoing her new molds that had just come in from China. The three girls in the foreground were soaking in every word . . .

. . . and the next thing I knew, one of them had taken over Cheryl's demo chair!

I forgot to take pictures during the giveaway -- by then, my mind was already at Cowboys' Stadium. From the feedback I received after yesterday's post, apparently I made it sound like I am a Cowboys' fan. Not really -- I like the Cowboys, but I like the Eagles, too. Same with the Packers, and the Vikings, and the Steelers, and the Redskins, and even the Bengals from time to time. I consider myself a "reformed Bengals fan" -- they have disappointed us so much for so long that I decided a year ago to give up on them and look for a new team to root for. Haven't decided on one yet. But I really like to explore ballparks and stadiums when I travel, and that was what I was most excited about.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How 'Bout Them Cowboys!

When we are on the road, our days are very full. Let's face it -- these are business trips, not vacations. And by the end of the day on Friday or Saturday, often we barely have enough energy to get something to eat and then collapse in a hotel room.

But when I can, I like to plan a little "me" time -- something special that I can look forward to. That will often involve sports. Over the years, I have been to major league baseball games in most of the eastern cities and a few of the western ones. But I have never gone to an NFL game on the road -- I'm always working when they're being played. Until last Saturday . . .

A week ago Sunday, I was watching the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles play their final regular season game. The winner was going to host a playoff game the following weekend. It soon became obvious that the Cowboys were going to win, and that playoff game could get in the way of our show in Grapevine. Of the four possible timeslots, the one that worked best for us from a business standpoint was Saturday night -- plenty of time for customers to come to the show, and still get home or to the stadium for the game. And that was the time the NFL chose.

The next morning, it suddenly hit me that I could go to the game. I got on Ticketmaster and found out tickets were going on sale at 10:00 CST. And by 10:05, I had a seat up in the rafters for less than $100. I had seen pictures of the stadium and the huge video boards -- what better place to see them than way up high? And I had seen the outside from a distance when I went to a Rangers' game back in July.

I went into logistics mode -- show ends at 5:00, game starts at 7:00, parking is going to be outrageously expensive and I'm driving a box truck. So I took a shuttle from the hotel out to the airport on Saturday morning and rented a little Hyundai for $25. As soon as the show ended, I was on the road. The traffic was easy -- I left the Grapevine Convention Center at 5:10, and was parked near Rangers' Ballpark and on my way to Cowboys' Stadium by 5:45.

This was my first view. It's much more impressive at night when it's all lit up. Looks a little spaceshippy in the daytime.

The closer you get, the more impressive it gets. I told a friend that Jerry Jones (the Cowboys' owner) has an ego as big as Texas, and this stadium is proof.

They were showing the Bengals/Jets playoff game on huge video boards at the entrances, and on TVs all over the stadium. So everywhere I looked, I could watch Cincinnati crash and burn.

This was my first view when I walked inside. Most of the people in front of me had tickets for one of the "party decks" -- standing room tickets. Only a handful would actually be able to see the field -- the rest would watch on one of the "small" video boards. I was glad to have a seat where I could see the field.

Of course, a lot of people had much better seats than I did. These people were on one of the club levels I passed on my way to the upper deck.

Even the drink cups were "over the top" -- a hologram with day and night views of the stadium.

This was the view from my seat. For the record, the big video boards are even more impressive in person -- they are more than 60 yards long and crystal clear. And they're high enough that they show the action live without distracting the players. I enjoyed watching the plays unfold on the field and then watching the replays.

And I wasn't all the way to the top -- all of these people were behind me . . .

But what do they show on the video boards even more than the game? Yep -- the cheerleaders. Poor girls -- on those HD boards, even the slightest blemish stands out. Of course, I didn't see many . . .

The Cowboys take the field. But the cameras stayed on the cheerleaders until the last possible second.

National Anthem -- the flag was unfurled by members of all four branches of the service. Very impressive . . .

Since the roof was closed (it was 20 degrees outside -- coldest Texas weather in 20 years -- but a toasty 70 degrees inside), the blimp couldn't get any shots of the game.

This was the first playoff game in the new stadium. The Cowboys hadn't won a playoff game since after the 1996 season -- second longest streak in professional football (only the Bengals have gone longer). And the locals went home happy -- Dallas 34, Philadelphia 14. Best sign I saw all night was in front of a little kid in the stands -- "I have been waiting 13 years for a Cowboys' playoff win -- and I'm only 10 years old."