Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reading Material for a Snowy Winter Weekend . . .

In at least part of the country (unfortunately, MY part of the country), it is another snowy weekend, and The Weather Channel is already sending out horror stories about another major winter storm for the middle of next week.  And even if you’re a sports fan, the Big Game isn’t until next Sunday.  So allow me to offer some material to peruse at your leisure . . .

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There they are – all 45 of the new Spellbinders Embossing Dies that were introduced at CHA in Los Angeles today.  The first 29 of them were released in their traditional “Blog Frenzy” over the past couple of weeks, but the last 16 were just unveiled for the first time this afternoon.  The first of them will start to show up at our place in mid-February, while others won’t arrive until mid-March.  Please keep in mind that those estimates are in “Spellbinders Time” – usually you have to add a few weeks to coincide with your own method of telling time.  But sometimes not . . .

As with most new releases from Spellbinders, the most popular dies will be hard to come by for a long time – unless you preorder them.  Every time we get a fresh shipment from Spellbinders, Patti and Debbie fill the preorders first.  Then if there are any left, we take them to shows or put them out in the store.

So if you like the looks of one (or more), just click on it, and you’ll go straight to our website where you can place your preorder.  Or you can click here to go to a whole section devoted to just the new dies.

Hopefully, by next week I’ll get the new Tim Holtz offerings on our site for preorders as well.  Of course, there is the matter of loading the truck so we can head to Georgia next weekend – and Florida the weekend after.  Let’s see – new dies or warm skies?  New dies or warm skies?  Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Delay . . .

This post has been delayed for a week by the threat of snow . . . by actual snow . . . by fatigue from blowing snow . . . and by general procrastination.  Read on . . .

I have been home from the Grapevine, Texas show for a week – but for a few days while I was there, I wondered if I would be stranded there.  The entire Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex was at Defcon 5 the whole time we were there.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We go to Grapevine twice a year, so I have to look for a new angle to keep these posts fresh and exciting (yeah, right).  The January show is our first of the year, and it’s amazing how quickly we get out of “show shape” – even though it has only been seven weeks since our last show.

Thankfully, Jane, Ann, and Suzanne are seasoned setup professionals – I honestly believe we could just send the booth down and they could set it up, run it all weekend, tear it down, and send it back very nicely without us.


We took a break during setup for lunch.  We have tried several fast food joints near the Grapevine Convention Center – last time we did Chick-Fil-A and enjoyed it, so we decided to try it again. Suzanne was told to remember to bring along hot sauce for Karen and ketchup for the french fries (I guess we ran short last time).


She did not disappoint . . .

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Still, it took us a long time to set up.  This was the view between 3:30 and 4:00 on Friday afternoon – and we had been at it since 8:30.  By contrast, at the same time last July we were long gone.  We’ll do better next time – it really does take a show or two to get back in shape.  For months, I had planned to see my high school friends on Friday evening, but we knew that there was one event that might trump our dinner together . . .


And this was the trump – Becki and Bill’s first grandchild, Katherine Ann Neff.  She was born in Houston on Thursday evening, so Becki and Bill spent the weekend in Houston and texted me pictures.  I’m very happy for them – and we’ll get together in July.

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By the time the show started, we were ready to rock and drew a crowd early.  Sue Rothamel’s friend Crystal Copperstone was sitting at the USArtQuest demo table (Crystal is usually Sue’s “Girl Friday” – this time Suzanne took that spot), and I took the shot at left about five minutes after the show opened.  Meanwhile, Ann and Jane were busy demoing Tweety Jill items and the new Grand Calibur and Vagabond machines.


Meanwhile, it was family reunion time for Karen – she was raised near Abilene, and still has a lot of family in the area.  She was expecting (right to left) her cousin Dawn, Dawn’s daughter Bailey (who was three years old the first time we came to Grapevine!), and her aunt Pearl.  But the appearance by her Uncle Dennis and his wife was a surprise.


By mid-afternoon, it was time for a break.  It’s hard to find a quiet spot to relax in a small convention center.  And I promised Suzanne and Jessica that I wouldn’t say anything about the door next to where they were sitting being the entrance to the men’s restroom.  So I won’t . . .


Meanwhile, I was putting my new Christmas toy to good use watching the first round of the NFL playoffs between customers.  I have three little TVs in various desks at home and work, but since the switch from analog to digital, they are merely paperweights.  I have tried without success to find a replacement that got decent reception.  With Ryan at Best Buy, I thought it would be easy.  Finally found one that works – at Radio Shack, of all places . . .

All day Saturday, the main topic of conversation was the weather.  There was a big storm coming up from the Gulf of Mexico that was going to drown South Texas with rain, and start with snow over North Texas before blanketing the south.  Delta cancelled hundreds of flights in advance of the storm, and I spent Saturday evening checking to make sure Crystal and Karen could get out of town after the show ended on Sunday.


This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning.  That lead edge of the storm at the lower left was right over Dallas/Fort Worth – the weather weasels still didn’t know if anything would happen there.  But they were pretty confident that my usual route home (Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville) was going to be lousy, especially the Texas/Arkansas leg of the route, where they have no idea how to deal with any kind of frozen precipitation.


Still, a few hardy souls ventured out to see us . . .

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I kept looking outside for evidence of the white death.  It was mostly raining, but finally changed over to a little wet snow about noon.


And some finally stuck to the back of the truck and coated the grass by early afternoon.  But by the time we started to tear down the booth, it had melted and it was raining again.


But I still had to find a route home.  I watched the radar on my phone all day (and learned that I could save screen shots for use on the blog later).  The little guy at left shows my location, and all of that blue and pink shows danger ahead on my usual route.  There seemed to be less to worry about if I went north to Oklahoma City and then headed east along I-44 through Tulsa and on toward St. Louis.  And it made more sense than staying put – DFW was worried that the roads would freeze (and the overpasses are 30-40 feet off the ground so they are particularly dangerous) and the whole area would be paralyzed until late Monday or Tuesday.  So off I went – it really wasn’t so bad Sunday evening, but I woke up Monday morning and it was pouring snow.  Checked my trusty radar again and saw that another storm had just caught me on its way east.  So back on the road again . . .


And once I drove out of it, it chased me all the way home . . .


Where it caught me again overnight (we got 4” of snow on Tuesday).  Note to y’all in the South – that vehicle in the distance is a snowplow.  And it has this handy-dandy gadget on the back that spreads salt on the road.  Amazing what it will do to snow . . .

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This is the untreated parking lot at the mail center.  Notice that black ribbon of asphalt?  After this trip, I have a greater appreciation for our road crews . . .