Sunday, July 29, 2012

Return to the Twin Cities . . .

This weekend, we are in Bloomington, Minnesota – right across the street from Mall of America.  Each show brings special challenges – this time, the challenge is getting our booth up to a convention hall that is on the second floor at the Ramada Mall of America.  So the vendors spent all day Friday jockeying for space in the freight elevator.  But I have to admit that I only jockeyed for a couple of hours – after that, local heroes Leo & Jan Viktora and Rene Mewes brought everything upstairs while I worked on building the gridwall.


This was the view outside the window behind our booth (yes, we have a window!) – apparently, the Ramada Mall of America was originally the Thunderbird Motel, and I saw Indian themed carpet and accessories everywhere.

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Of course, we only got to see that window until the booth was built – then I noticed that the glare through the window made it impossible to see our sign.  So I had to draw the blinds.  And you’ll notice that the ceiling is lower here than most places, so only the top half of our sign is visible.


This was above the entrance to the room where our booth is located – notable only because I went to Miami University (founded in 1809), which was named after the Miami Tribe.  We take great pride in differentiating ourselves from that “other” Miami down south – there are t-shirts for sale in the campus store that say “Miami was a university when Florida still belonged to Spain.”


After setup, I walked across the street to Mall of America.  No, I wasn’t shopping – I went to the train station underneath the Sears parking garage and bought a $4 roundtrip ticket to ride to Target Field in Minneapolis so I could cross another major league ballpark off my bucket list . . .

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The Twins have played at Target Field for three years – before that, they played at the Metrodome about half a mile away.  This place is really nice, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was more than a little chilly at games in April without the usual retractable roof found in the north these days.  And it was Fireworks Night!

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Had to support my son’s employer – Best Buy was sponsoring a booth where folks in blue polo shirts would snap your picture and then text or e-mail it to you.  And the whole thing was free.

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When Saturday morning rolled around, “Tweety Jill” Haglund was doing great Make & Takes in our booth to promote her new Christmas stamps and collage packs.  I thought her posture looked exceptionally good until I noticed why she was sitting up so straight . . .


And I had to make do with “Virtual Cheryl” – but the Queen of Craft Wars will be live and in person in our store next Wednesday night and all day Thursday (August 1 & 2), and in our booth in Cincinnati next weekend (August 3 & 4).  And if you missed Cheryl’s winning performance, TLC will repeat it on Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 EDT.

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This is a first for me (I think) – this is Trisha Dolinsek (or Patti Dolinsek, or Patricia Dolinsek – apparently she goes by different names for different purposes . . . cardmaking, friends, etc.).  She won a Spellbinders die in the giveaway on Saturday, and told me she would make a card with her present and bring it back Sunday morning.  What she made was very impressive – and I got to take it home with me!  She is extremely talented – I suspect you’ll find more of her work on if you click this link and go to her blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watch Craft Wars Again – With Cheryl at Marco’s on Wednesday, August 1

I hear the outtakes would have been just as fun as the Craft Wars episode – we won’t get to see them, but at least we’ll get to hear about them.  You can, too!  Join us for a very special Meet & Greet with Cheryl Darrow from Ten Seconds Studio – the Queen of Craft Wars!  In our store on Wednesday, August 1 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Set Your DVR . . .

Tonight is the night – our friends Cheryl & Megan Darrow from Ten Seconds Studio will be competing on Craft Wars on TLC (The Learning Channel).  I have mentioned this before, but the TV bigwigs changed the time – it will be on at 8:00 EDT (which makes me happy since I will probably be able to stay awake until the results are announced).


I made this sign to put on our website and in the store – for those of you in our area (or coming in for the Cincinnati show next weekend) – Cheryl will be teaching in our store on Thursday, August 2.  So after you watch Craft Wars and see how talented she is, make plans to take her classes!  This is really a big deal – and now that she is a TV star, she is really getting bombarded by stores wanting her to come and teach for them.  But we got her first (because we knew her “when”) . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Power Outage . . .

If you tried to call the mail center this morning, all you heard was my pleasant voice asking you to leave a message.  Patti and Debbie are there, and they would love to be able to answer calls – and I’ll bet they would love to have air conditioning, too (as I type this, the temperature outside is 95 degrees).  But we have no electricity – workers are burying lines in back of our building that were replaced last summer, but were still above ground.

So I went home to work on things that required power and an internet connection.  One of those things was this – I promised yesterday that I would post a travelogue from my weekend in Texas.  And air conditioned comfort required that I fulfill that promise . . .

When I got to the Metroplex (for the uninitiated, that’s Dallas-Fort Worth) Thursday evening, I had two errands to run.  So I got them out of the way early . . .

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Errand #1 was a new In-N-Out t-shirt for Ryan – he has a collection of those shirts that started when his Uncle Dex first sent him one from California when Ryan was in the first grade.  Errand #2 was a couple of beer koozies (if I spelled that wrong, forgive me – I am not familiar with these) for my neighbor Chad, who is a huge Dallas Cowboys’ fan.  Items such as this aren’t available in Ohio, so I sent him a picture of the three possibilities I found in the Dallas Cowboys Fan Store (he chose the one in the middle).

Friday was the usual whirlwind day of setup, this time followed by a round of golf (frustrating, but enjoyable) at the Grapevine Golf Course.  Saturday, we hit the ground running – we greeted the customers with three demos in front of our booth.


Cheryl Darrow from Ten Seconds Studio was holding court in our booth for the first time in several years (and if you’re coming to Stampaway in Cincinnati in a little over two weeks, she’ll be there, too!).  You’ll notice Jane McLaughlin observing in the corner of that photo – she was getting ready to take over for Cheryl on Sunday (Jane has learned – and demoed – just about everything that has come through our booth in Grapevine for almost as long as we have been coming here).  And thanks to Pat Larson from Heirloom Productions, I have closeups of what Cheryl was working with . . .

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This may end up being the new hot item this year – VerDay is very cool, especially if you like aged and weathered looks.

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Rita Barakat is a member of Faber-Castell’s design team – she also lives in Rockwall so it was an easy jaunt across town to work in our booth.  Our paths hadn’t crossed before, but after five minutes of watching her work it was obvious how talented she is!  Wish I had been closer to home, because by Sunday morning we had to take orders for the Gelato Gift Sets – Rita had already sold all we brought with us!

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Suzanne Reed has worked with us in Grapevine for years, and for the last few I have looked for new demo items for her to work with (she is also a high school teacher).  I introduced her to Glitter-Fast Glitter (the stuff that doesn’t stick to you while you’re working with it) on Friday, and she went home and watched their videos and played with some samples.  This is what she came back with on Saturday morning – I had never seen it used on a diecut before.

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But she wasn’t the only one in her family who came up with a demo sample.  Suzanne’s son Sean (shown at left when he first helped us set up last year) not only worked all day with us setting up the booth, but went home and created this piece.


Put them all together, and what you get is a booth full of happy customers.  We always try to come to a show with at least one thing you haven’t seen before – this time, for many we had three!


After the show on Saturday, I got to spend the evening with my childhood classmate Becki and her husband Bill.  This time, they took me to see the Fort Worth Stock Yards.  We had a nice meal together and then walked all over Cowboy Country.

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Didn’t get to go inside, but at least got a look at a famous Fort Worth landmark . . .


Also walked past this . . . everything is bigger in Texas!


And much like Orlando, I went home with a new t-shirt – this one is a “Becki Begley Original” – Becki works for the City of Fort Worth, so if you see people in the area wearing these t-shirts while they collect household chemicals, you’ll know that Becki designed them.  I had a choice of colors – I couldn’t resist this one after I told her the color was “Road Crew Green” . . .


Last, but certainly not least, here’s a shot of Suzanne and Natalie helping to carry a cart that lost its wheels out to the back dock.  They make ‘em strong in Texas, too!

And my cell phone just rang – the power is back on at the mail center.  Back to work . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here’s Something You Can Do While You’re Waiting for My Stories from Texas . . .

I am back from my whirlwind trip to Texas.  I took a few pictures . . . I’ll tell a few stories . . . but not today.  Today, you need to be reminded that there are items on our website that you may not have noticed yet.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT this morning, I pushed a series of buttons that revealed the remaining Spellbinders dies from this summer’s CHA release that weren’t part of their Blog Frenzy last month.  Want to see a few?

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That’s enough – I didn’t even link those pics to their product pages on our site.  You need to go there and see all of them!  So click here and they’ll pop right up!

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Same with these – here is just a taste of the new Tim Holtz summer CHA releases.  I’m still working on getting all of them on our site – I thought it would happen in Texas, but I was just too busy.  I know the folks at the show appreciated our efforts – and I’m sure you understand!  So click here to see the Tim Holtz items and keep checking back for more!

And tomorrow, I’ll tell a few stories . . .

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stamping Gala Tease, Part One of Many . . .

My apologies to those in the hinterlands – over the next few days, I’m going to drive you nuts.  Either that, or I’m going to send you in search of a travel agent.  For the locals, I assume you have already put in for vacation . . .


The annual Stamping Gala in our store here in Dayton starts on Tuesday, July 31 and continues through Wednesday, August 8.  As usual, the fun surrounds the 20th Stampaway USA convention in Cincinnati (Preview Party August 3, Convention August 4).  The store will be hopping, with nine days full of classes, demos, make and takes, and more!  I just finished a big graphic showing all of the Free Make & Takes and Demos . . . so why not share it with you?  Or so I thought – I put it here and it was blurry and unreadable.  So all you’re going to get here is a little bitty graphic, linked to a much bigger one on our site – just click on the picture and you’ll go there.  Dates and times are noted below each project picture.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Updates on Our “Patients” . . .

Our “patients” have been busy the past couple of days – thought you might like to know how they are doing . . .

I stopped by Mom & Dad’s place after church yesterday for my weekly cribbage games with Dad.  Found out that Mom spent all day Saturday sitting on the floor in the closet, organizing the mountain of e-mails, cards and such that she has received from all of you over the past nine months.  Oh how I wish I had known – I would have gone there to take pictures (and that is exactly why Mom didn’t tell me until she had finished).  She reread every one, organized them by date, marveled at the talents of those who sent handmade cards – and cried again at how thoughtful a group of people that she will never meet could be.  Mom is still doing well.  We have two family reunions around the 4th of July every year – and both were held in 100+ degree heat (which is really unusual here in Ohio).  She made it to the one on the 4th of July, but the heat really blew her away so she decided it might be better to stay home yesterday.  I noticed that her hair has lost its shaggy look – Dad trimmed it around the edges for her.  Mom was also very pleased to learn that you have shown Kathy Krivitski the same love and support that she received.

Yesterday was Kathy’s birthday (see the pic below of Kathy and the birthday cake from her sister).  She made it to the Orlando show and back but didn’t feel well the second day of the show.  She posted an update on her Facebook page and here is part of it -- “my muscles are very weak and yes I do my share of falling. I tend to embarrass everybody I'm with when I do this. It looks like I am tripping over be it, this is my life now. I did get a tripped out walker though. It's a nice shiny blue with hand brakes and a seat. Also has a basket in the front. I am STYLIN' with that thing!”  (editor’s note – I find it amusing that someone who is having trouble with her balance says she now has a “tripped out walker”)


Last but not least, Tom (our tomcat) went back to the vet today.  Looks like the change in diet and increase in his thyroid medicine are helping – he has gained half a pound.  And he is still wearing out the path between our driveway and the back garden.