Saturday, December 29, 2012

Get Ready . . .

In case you haven’t heard, CHA is 2½ weeks early this winter – it starts on January 12, 2013.  And that means the sneak peeks start early, too . . .


Spellbinders starts their latest blog frenzy on Wednesday, January 2.  Two to five new dies and/or folders (there are 65 in all) will be revealed each day – and of course they’ll be on our site for preorders as soon as they are unveiled.  All 65 will go live on our website at exactly 1:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 12 – I will be two hours into the first day of the Grapevine show, but thankfully the Grapevine Convention Center has wi-fi and it will take me just a few seconds to hit all of the right buttons!  We’ll start shipping your preorders in the order they are received as soon as they arrive here.  Spellbinders estimates that they will start shipping during the last week of February.

Not to be outdone, Tim Holtz will start previewing his new trinkets on his blog starting Tuesday, January 1 – and we’ll put them on our site as they are revealed, too.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, December 28, 2012

No Wonder She Stays So Thin . . .

Our family Christmas gathering is very informal – usually Mom and Dad are headed back to Arizona within a day or two, so we eat up the leftovers from Christmas Eve Eve, play games, and visit.  This year, I introduced them to two games I first experienced on my golf trips – a board game loosely called “Marbles” (kind of a cross between Parcheesi and Sorry) and a card game called “Wizard”.


I was headed back for dessert when I noticed that Mom had finally taken a seat to enjoy her meal – she looked really nice so I decided to snap a picture with my cell phone.  Then I looked closer at what she was eating . . .


Yep, that’s all.  Don’t be alarmed – Mom is mostly a salad person, so it’s not surprising when she takes just a nibble of this and that.  But it was quite a presentation when she piled it all on one plate!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cookie Night . . .

Last night was Christmas Cookie Night – one of our oldest family traditions.  For the uninitiated, Christmas was very hectic when Blake and I were little – Christmas Eve was spent with our dad’s family, and Christmas Day with our mom’s.  So “Christmas Eve Eve” was for us – we made cookies and each of us got to open one present.  It was our family night.  And it still is – we still have Christmas with Mom and Dad on Christmas Eve Eve.  But over the years, Cookie Night took on a life of its own.  There was a time when we wondered if we had all outgrown it – and our boys quickly vetoed that idea, telling us that Cookie Night was their favorite Christmas activity.  And after Mom’s good report on Wednesday, it was truly a celebration.

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I learned something last night.  The cookie cutters with handles are the originals from when I was little – we had a Christmas tree, a Santa, a star, a bell, and we used a biscuit cutter to make circles so I could make a wreath.  Last night, two more appeared for the first time – a bunny and a chicken.  No one seems to know where they came from, but they are definitely part of the original set.  And we have come up with lots of other shapes over time.

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We all take turns cutting out shapes (and sometimes freeforming them).  For the first time, this year we also used peppermint cookie dough.  Ryan’s girlfriend Emily (who unfortunately had her wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday and couldn’t attend) thought it was sacrilege when she heard that we used storebought cookie dough and insisted that she should make homemade.  We had to convince her that decorating the cookies was what was important – we rarely eat them after we’re finished.  Can you imaging eating a big cookie that’s just coated with icing?

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Soon it was time to decorate.  I was helping Mom in the kitchen (and taking pictures), so I didn’t even think I was going to sit down and grab icing – until Blake and the boys insisted that I do my traditional wreath cookie . . .

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The only picture I ended up getting of the wreath was from a distance, so the “berries” really aren’t visible.  At right is Ryan’s favorite entry – a cross between Chick-Fil-A and Pac-Man, I guess.

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Another of my favorites was my nephew Conner turning a bat into a bowtie.  And here are all of this year’s creations.  You may notice that most of them don’t have traditional shapes – all of the dough seemed to spread out in the oven so we had to improvise a lot!

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Strange development – we were finished and cleaning up the kitchen when we discovered that one pan of cookies went unbaked.  My nephew Tyler didn’t seem to care . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let’s Eat . . .

Yesterday was “Carry-In Day” at the store – the regulars who frequent our Wednesday/Saturday Make & Takes brought in lots and lots of food and shared it in “Marco’s Too” next door to our store.  Thankfully, they share with us, too . . .

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And nobody went home hungry . . .

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More views of the festivities.

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Meanwhile, I got these shots of Karen before she painted a “red nose” (seriously) on the bandages from her surgery the day before.  Good thing I got them when I did – this morning, she’s down to a Band-Aid and it’s not nearly as noticeable!


Unrelated, but still fun – Google is doing an interactive header today in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.  If you go to and click on the blinking arrow at the right of the header, you’ll move through images from Little Red Riding Hood.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Comes Early . . .

I had every reason to believe that the news would be good, and honestly not a single reason to believe that it wouldn’t – and still I had trouble sleeping last night.  There is always that tiny bit of doubt.  But it wasn’t just me – Mom’s blood pressure was quite high this morning, all because of stress.  So the four of us sat in the examining room, waiting for the oncologist to come in to deliver the results.


The news was good – everything we had hoped.  Mom’s PET Scan was completely normal.  He will check her again in six months.  And he made a comment that I found interesting, after asking Mom if she had seen her family doctor recently for any kind of routine checkup.  She hadn’t (of course, she and Dad just got back from Arizona last week) – and the oncologist told her that she needed to start planning regular checkups and paying attention to the little aches and pains of life.  I can’t quote it directly, but he told her that since nearly a year has passed since her last chemo without any signs of recurrence she needed to shift her focus from “I’m dying of cancer” to “I’m planning to live a full and healthy life.”

And so we will.  Our traditional “Christmas Cookie Night” is tomorrow, and it will be even more special this year.

To those of you who have walked this path with us these past 15 months, my family cannot thank you enough.  You have lifted my mom up – with your prayers, your e-mails, your notes, your gifts, and with your kind words to her son.  May you all have a most joyous holiday season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This Jingling Man Is True to His Word . . .

I got a call at the mail center last week from Barry Payne – he is working at our store a couple of days a week (he might as well – he knows the place better than most of us) – and he said he had something he needed to show me if I could stop by on a day when he was working.  So we decided on Monday . . . and I really wasn’t paying attention when he said “I’ll be there with bells on.”

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And this is what I saw when I came in – Barry helping a customer, dressed in his Santa hat and a Christmas apron complete with jingle bells.  If you have read this blog from the beginning, you may have seen that Santa hat before . . .


. . . since Barry wore it along with his “complete” suit three years ago.  Barry has a soft spot for my four-legged friend – usually has treats for Zoe when she stops by.  And that’s why he wanted me to come to the store.

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He had a present for Zoe – a handmade box filled with four dog biscuits.  I took it home and let her try to open her present on the kitchen floor this morning – and instead of taking pictures, I shot video with my cell phone assuming that I would get some cute footage to show off.  But the lighting was lousy so it really wasn’t worth your time.  However, I showed it to Barry at lunchtime today and he got a kick out of video evidence that his gift was well-received.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Poinsettia Quadruplets . . .

Last Wednesday, Ginger Deaton did a make & take project in our classroom to show off the new Tim Holtz poinsettia die.  This was during the period where I was practically living at the store gathering orders from the Thanksgiving Weekend Sale.  About mid-afternoon (four hours after the session ended), I wandered through the backroom with a box loaded with goodies – and happened upon four nice ladies wearing Ginger’s poinsettia pin (of course, one of them was Ginger – far left in the picture below).  And they were just convinced that such a sight was surely blog fodder – since everything is blog fodder . . .

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It probably says something that Karen is the only one of these four who was wearing her pin on the right – but I have no idea what that would be so I will withhold further comment!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Emerging from a Self-Imposed Silence . . .

It has been two weeks since I last sat down to exercise my typing fingers.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.  It’s more that I had more important things to do – namely filling your orders.  We got absolutely swamped with orders during our Thanksgiving Weekend Sale (this is a very nice problem to have), and for more than a week I did practically nothing other than gather orders and order out-of-stock items so Debbie and Patti could constantly pack orders and ship them off to you. 

A lot of the smaller items we sell are stocked at our retail store – they haven’t seen so much of me in years.  I should have taken pictures – I spent most afternoons at the store, spreading order sheets on tables and filling as much as I could from there, then piling everything into boxes and heading back to the mail center.  Debbie and Patti went home after the last pickup about 5:00, and I usually stayed until after 7:00 laying out stacks of completed orders so they could hit the ground running the next morning.

We’re now in the home stretch – if you haven’t received your order yet, it probably includes Spellbinders dies (a new supply will arrive Thursday) or Tim Holtz dies and folders (those come in from multiple suppliers).  I can’t thank you enough for your support – it seems obvious, but without you we wouldn’t have jobs!

On to unrelated matters . . . a lot of you who have called or e-mailed to check on your orders have asked questions about my family.  Nala is adjusting to life in our household – after a lifetime of having to fight to survive, she still doesn’t understand that every movement by a bigger cat (or even a dog) is not a threat.  She does understand that our tomcat rules the house – and he never had to raise a paw to her.  Tom seems to have that effect on other animals.  But she is starting to realize that Zoe is a pacifist – Nala has slashed at her a couple of times and Zoe just looks at me with a surprised “Are you going to do something about this?” expression on her face.  A couple of nights ago, I noticed that Nala was using Zoe’s tail as a play toy – chasing it back and forth while Zoe laid on the couch.

And as I type this, my parents are on their way to the airport to fly back here for the holidays.  Mom has a PET Scan scheduled for Thursday, and we’ll get the results early next Wednesday morning.  A lot of you who have been through this before will understand that they decided to wait to schedule the return flight to Arizona until those results come in and give her a clean bill of health.  At this point, I refuse to even consider that she could get any results other than that.  But we would appreciate it if those of you who have supported Mom so much over the past 15 months would continue to keep her in your prayers for the next week or so.  As soon as we leave her appointment next Wednesday, I will come back here and post the results.  Thanks again.