Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our Customers Take Such Good Care of Us . . .

At shows, many of the vendors go out of their way to give something extra to our customers – could be a great demo, or prizes, or sale items, or just a warm smile in the midst of a crowded booth.  And sometimes our customers go out of their way to give something extra to us . . .

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These nice ladies made a pin/badge for Ted Cutts and presented it to him today.  I was across the aisle at the time and shot a quick pic with my cell phone.  From a distance, I knew it looked like an alarm clock (how fitting for someone who handles so many Tim Holtz products) with a caption that said “(something) for Ted” – but I couldn’t figure out what that first word was and assumed it was “Time”.  After blowing up a piece of the pic I shot, I’m still not sure.  Regardless, he got a big kick out of it and posed for lots of pictures.

Later, it was my turn.  Some of you may remember this shirt and the story behind it . . .


Melinda Doster is a huge North Carolina basketball fan (and I am not) – so she buys me a t-shirt whenever they win a national championship and I wear it during setup as often as I can in an effort to destroy it.  I got my revenge a couple of years ago when the University of Dayton beat North Carolina in the NIT finals and I sent her a Dayton shirt.  I wore that Carolina shirt during setup in Clearwater back in February (and probably as I walked through the Make & Take in the evening), and Judy Patrick saw it, gagged, and said something to the effect that when her team won the national championship she would bring me a real championship shirt.  Today, she delivered . . .


I have never seen the little “OK” sign, but she says one of Kentucky’s players would do that when he came back down the court after making a basket and it caught on with the fans.  I told her that I would never live this down at home – my house is surrounded on multiple sides by rabid Kentucky fans (so much so that when my neighbor died a year ago, he was buried in his Kentucky sweatshirt and their fight song was played at his funeral).  Of course, Judy wanted evidence that I actually wore it and I promised to provide it.

Later, Pat Johnson came in with a piece of custom headgear for me . . .


It seems that she and some friends were eating lunch at a place where a balloon artist was performing, and she commissioned this tiara just for me.  After that it seemed only fitting that I combine the two, fulfill my promise to Judy, and amuse the customers who gathered for our giveaway . . .


So this is what they saw when I climbed up on a chair to do “Happy Fun Giveaway Time” – are you satisfied, Judy?

Seriously, you pay us no higher compliment than when you think enough of us to share in the fun.  And as much as it will cause me pain in my own neighborhood, I will wear the shirt with pride (I suspect it will last longer than the tiara)!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Alas, Our Booth Is In Another Room . . .

We are at the International Palms Resort on International Drive in Orlando, Florida this weekend (Saturday 10:00-5:00, Sunday 10:00-3:00 – come out and see us).  Nostalgia sets in quickly – 15 years ago this weekend, I was just down the road at the old Sheraton World Resort doing our first-ever show.  This weekend, I will renew acquaintances with a handful of people who remember that first little booth and my stunned look of glee all weekend as I realized for the first time how much fun I was having and how nice all of you are.

Apparently the folks at the International Palms think we are special (the photo credit goes to Mary Kay DelaFuente from Stamp Camp . . .


No, my ego is not inflating – all of the rooms in the convention hall here are named after islands off the Florida coast.  Ironically, though the sign says otherwise, this is not one of the rooms being used for the convention.  Still, it was my laugh for the day after a long and hot day of setup.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spellbinders Blog Frenzy Strikes Again . . .

CHA starts three weeks from Tuesday (July 17) – and those of you with the fever for all things Spellbinders know that means that it’s time for Blog Frenzy again.  It actually started two days ago, so I’ll just plead “hectic schedule” (that and reacting to your outpouring of support for Kathy Krivitski – she is still flying high from that) and get down to business . . .


Click on the graphic above and you’ll go to the Spellbinders blog, where you’ll find links to the post for each day of the Blog Frenzy.  Each post will lead you to three other blogs where one or two of the new dies are revealed.  Then, as you read and discover new dies that you just can’t live without, click on this link to come back to our site and place your advance orders.  With a few exceptions, the new dies should ship around August 15 – and as usual, orders placed before Spellbinders ships will be 20% Off the MSRP with Free Shipping.  And we will ship orders for new dies in the order received as soon as they arrive.  Feel free to place your orders as you see dies you’d like, and we’ll try to ship everything together.

(One disclaimer – if you happen to click on that link right after I post this, you will find that page completely blank.  I am putting the cart before the horse a bit – when I finish here, I will start adding dies to that page.  When I catch up, you’ll find all of the dies that have been revealed so far.  Then each day through June 28, as many as six new dies will appear.)

Once the blog frenzy has been completed, you’ll want to click that link again at exactly 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 17 – when CHA opens and the rest of the new Spellbinders dies (I blinked while I was counting them, but I think there are 83 altogether) will appear.  For us, that’s when the frenzy really begins.

Now since I know you’ll need something to keep you occupied while I’m putting the new dies on our website, here are three YouTube videos that Spellbinders created to introduce you to some of their new offerings . . .

Friday, June 22, 2012

Same As Every Other Friday . . .

Gary called me this morning to inform me that today is “Take Your Dog to Work Day.”  I think I read that someplace earlier this week – not that it would have mattered much.  If I am in town, every Friday is Take Your Dog to Work Day . . .


But just to confirm, I walked out front to make sure that there was a canine presence (yeah, I got the right species this time). 

I remember when Ryan was in school and they would have “Take Your Son to Work Day” – he would beg me to let me stay at school.  He had been coming here at least once or twice a week since he was 18 months old, and it had long ago lost its thrill.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Inbox Full of Prayers and a Good Night’s Sleep . . .

I have received two e-mails from my friend Kathy Krivitski since I posted the note about her health issues on Monday afternoon.  She is simply overwhelmed by the e-mails and prayers – and you are responsible for a peace that she hasn’t felt for a long time.  There is no better way to describe it than to share a few quotes from her e-mails.

From the first one Wednesday afternoon:

“OK, so guess what I’ve been doing since early this morning????  OMG – I can’t believe how many people have responded to your prayer request.  What a wonderful group of people that are on your blog.  I’m telling you, except for a brief outing to Walmart (which I didn’t want to go but Joe wanted me to get out of the house) I have been at the computer all day.  I just wanted to say thank you to all those people who are praying and continuing to do so.  I wonder how much the lines are jammed up going to God?  He’s got His hands full now!  These people have really brightened my day.”

And then from Thursday morning:

“Still getting prayer notes.  I can’t thank you enough.  I went to bed with a smile on my face last night and honestly slept better than I have since this whole blood clot thing started.  I’ll keep you posted.”

No surprise here – the reply I sent Wednesday afternoon started with two words – “Told Ya . . .”  You folks are simply the best – thanks for coming through again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Path in the Yard . . .


I was looking at this path in our yard a couple of nights ago – and wondering how much longer it will be there.  This is part of the meandering path that our 17-year-old tomcat takes from the back of our yard to the garage.  The garden area where the path ends is about 150 feet straight in front of those cars in the driveway, but the path has always been exactly the same.  Our other cat (she is eight) comes straight to the garage in leaps and bounds, but Tom will not be rushed – ever.  So he follows his path, one step at a time – and has done that since he was a kitten. 

My grandpa used to watch our house when we were on vacation, and even though he knew we had two cats at the time (Tom and his sister, Patches), he only saw one – Tom always comes out to greet (and investigate) anyone who comes to visit.

But I am beginning to wonder how much longer he will be around.  Tom has been living on borrowed time (or at least we thought so) ever since he fought off a really nasty bout of toxoplasmosis 14 years ago.  I still have visions of watching him go into convulsions and taking him to the vet emergency room in the middle of the night.  If cats have nine lives, Tom used up eight of his that night.  He always seemed to appreciate my efforts to keep him alive, and even though he is “Ryan’s cat” we have had a bond since.

The past few years, Tom has needed a special diet to keep his weight up.  In his younger days, he weighed about 11 pounds – the past few years, about nine.  But now he’s down to about six, even though he seems happy and active, and has quite an appetite.  The vet says it could be cancer, could be medicine, could be old age.  Who knows . . .


I found this shot on my computer – I took it about three years ago.  When I saw it, I realized how much Tom has thinned out over the past few months.  But he’s tough – and he continues to walk that path.

When I took that picture of the path, I realized that it used to irritate me because it disrupted my well-manicured lawn.  But I know there will come a time when I’ll long to see it again.  For now, I’ll just appreciate it and what it represents.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prayers for a Friend . . .

A lot of you know my friend Kathy Krivitski from Seaside Stampin’ Ink – or you may have seen her at shows in the eastern half of the country.  She comes with a tough outer shell, but a sweeter lady you will never meet – and I love the way she describes herself.  These are her words -- “a little more biker chick than Vera Bradley girl … although I do own a bunch of them.  I guess you could call me an oxymoron.  Likes Harley’s, Longaberger Baskets, and Vera Bradley Purses.”  To which I responded -- “Birds … you forgot birds.”


To be precise, macaws.  Kathy and her husband Joe do a show near their home in Ocean City, MD every year – and I still remember the first time she walked into the building with one of those birds perched on her shoulder.

Kathy has been having health issues for several years.  Until a couple of weeks ago, her major fight was with Transverse Myelitis – it’s an inflammation of the spinal cord that has caused permanent numbness in one of her legs, and if it returns could affect the other one as well.  Her doctor says she’s lucky to be walking at this point.  But she continues to travel to shows.

And right now, that’s the least of her worries . . .

Kathy has a blood clot and plaque in the posterior basal artery in her brain – and if any of it breaks off or moves, it could cause a significant stroke.  It’s large and dangerous – and it’s inoperable.  So far, she is being treated with blood thinners and cholesterol meds – and the neurologist at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore told her she needs to stay calm (oh,yeah) and not lift anything heavy while the specialists decide what to do next.

I asked Kathy if I could share her situation on the blog . . . explained what support from you folks did for my mom and how much it meant to her (and me).  Kathy is a firm believer in the power of prayer, and says that notes of support really cheer her up.  So I hope that you’ll come through for her like you did for Mom and me – please remember her in your prayers and if you have a few minutes send her a note at


Friday, June 8, 2012

Physics + Creativity = Snowflakes . . .

My friend Jack Stubbs is a physicist and an inventor, and he has an artsy side that comes out from time to time.  Wednesday was one of those times.  I was headed to our Facebook page to post some pictures, and in my news feed I saw a post from Jack with a picture of a snowflake.  Two thoughts immediately came to my mind – (1) Jack never posts on Facebook, and (2) I know some people who might enjoy this.

This is what I saw . . .

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It’s a three dimensional snowflake that he created with a computer and some scientific know-how that is way over my head.  But he created about two minutes of video that explains it, and you can see it by clicking here.  I saw Jack at the golf course on Wednesday afternoon and teased him about his camera presence (or lack thereof) – that know-how is not over my head.

I have known Jack forever – his parents and mine used to double date back in the 50s.  Longtime customers of ours may remember another of Jack’s inventions – Self-Simmering Potpourri.  It was really cool – looked like a little rosin bag that you could drop into a cup of water and get several minutes of fragrance.  He has also invented a number of intricate surgical tools that are simply amazing.

Enjoy – and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Weekend in New England*

*with apologies to Barry Manilow

I look forward to the West Springfield, Massachusetts show every year.  There are a lot of reasons – it’s usually the first weekend in June, so for me it means the beginning of summer.  I enjoy the drive through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and New York.  But mostly, the folks in New England always make us feel welcome.  You always greet me warmly when I pass out fliers to the customers in line – and I love that first wave of customers racing down the aisles to our booth when the show opens.

But before all of that fun comes a full day of setup . . .

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This time, things were relatively neat both in front and behind! 


After a long day, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, relax, and visit.  It may not have crossed your mind, but over the years we do become a bit of a family, and setup day is one of our few opportunities to catch up.  Some of the vendors like to go out to eat together.  But I am more of a “one hand on the burger and one hand on the wheel” eater, so my post-setup reward looked like this . . .


There was an ice cream stand about half a mile from our hotel.  At home, we can only get peppermint stick ice cream around Christmas.  I like it more in the summer, so this was a pleasant surprise.

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Our booth was in a different spot this time – near the snack bar is always a good place.  The left picture was taken three minutes after the show opened, and the right one about 90 minutes later.  As I said, we love New England . . .

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Bored husbands are always an inviting target.  But the husband in the right picture isn’t bored – he’s just resting.  That’s my friend Cal Ruger – he and his wife Dee have helped us with setup and teardown in the northeast for years.  Cal had a heart attack the week after the Allentown show in April, so I was thrilled when Dee e-mailed me a picture early last week of Cal working on their farm.  We didn’t let him do much and he’s usually a workhorse – I think he was going nuts by the time we finished with setup.

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“Awwww” – times two.  Need I say more?  When it came time for the giveaway on Saturday afternoon, I took a minute to thank everyone for their cards, e-mails, and prayers for my mom – but by the time I finished, I was having trouble reading the winning numbers through my watery eyes.

After a very busy weekend (I had a work project that took all of my free time after I left the fairgrounds), I decided to do something for me on the way home.  And I am a baseball guy, so a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York was just the ticket.

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It’s a good year to be a Reds’ fan, since Barry Larkin will be inducted in July.  And the Hall of Fame posts the current standings outside the museum, so I got to enjoy seeing the Reds at the top of the National League Central Division.

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I sent these pictures to my brother – Pete Rose may be banned from baseball, but his picture and memorabilia are everywhere in the Hall of Fame.


I offered to take a picture of a couple in front of the entrance so both of them could be in the shot, so they returned the favor for me.

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Addendum on a More Serious Note:

We were informed today that two of our most popular cardstocks – Beckett Expression and Beckett Cambric Linen – have been discontinued by the manufacturer.  We are in the process of getting everything we can get our hands on, especially Beckett Expression since it is a “paper of choice” for the Copic Marker and colored pencil folks.  I have been e-mailing back and forth with Sue Nelson this afternoon and we will be working together to find an acceptable alternative (if you don’t know of Sue,  you can visit her site at