Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Big Sale Does Not Require Waiting in a Long Line on Thanksgiving Evening . . .

I have been following the “Opening on Thanksgiving for Black Friday” conversations and commentaries in the media and social media with a personal interest – because it affects our family gatherings this year.  Ryan has to leave for work at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday because Best Buy opens at 6:00 p.m., so Thanksgiving dinner was moved up to noon and our usual Thanksgiving evening desserts at my brother’s house will take place tonight instead.  Thankfully (and surprisingly), everyone could accommodate Ryan’s schedule – he was already dreading Black Friday and missing a family gathering would have made it worse, especially since for the first time Thanksgiving dinner is being held at his condo!

Don’t kid yourselves, folks – if you are planning to hit the stores tomorrow evening, I can almost guarantee you that most of the salespeople would prefer to be home eating leftovers and watching football with their families.  So please be especially nice to them.

This whole idea of being open on Thanksgiving is partly my fault.  It was 1976 (maybe 1977 – my memory is a little cloudy on that), and we were having a a discussion at the grocery where I worked during high school and college about how boring Thanksgiving morning was while we were waiting for dinner and football to commence.  And someone said “Why don’t we open the store from 8:00 until noon?  We can kill the time, get paid for it, and still get home before the first game starts.”  So four of us went to the owner and asked if we could open the store on Thanksgiving morning.  That first year, we wondered whether anyone would come in – what we got was a steady stream of customers who were missing one ingredient or another for Thanksgiving dinner and were thrilled that we were open.  So the same four of us opened the store the next Thanksgiving morning – and the one after that – and a tradition was born.

One of those four now owns that grocery – and it is now open all day on Thanksgiving.  I had nothing to do with that . . .

Enough on that subject . . . let’s move on. 

Drumroll please . . . I suspect that some of you have been waiting for this . . .


Just in case the type in the graphic doesn’t show up clearly on your computer -- 25% Off Sitewide Through Tuesday, December 3!  We're again combining Turkey Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday and into one neat package -- and you don't even have to leave the house!  Take 25% Off the regular price of everything on our site -- the sale price will show up in your cart.  Online and phone orders only -- Classes, Gift Certificates and Previous Purchases not included.

So please take some time this weekend and save!  It requires no long lines or leaving your family gathering early – you have almost a week to do your shopping!  Based on the response in past years, please be patient with us -- it may take a little longer than normal to ship your order, but we'll be working as fast as we can!

And don’t forget this . . .


From now through December 17, all retail orders $30.00 or more ship FREE in the Continental U.S.  For orders from outside the Continental U.S., we'll ship by Priority Mail for 1/2 the rate the USPS charges us (there will be some exceptions to areas were the Priority Mail rates are just outrageous, but this should work easily for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Canada, etc.).  When you are asked to "calculate shipping & handling" in your cart, make sure to click on the button that says "Free Shipping"

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I spent Monday evening doing my Thanksgiving baking (chocolate mint cookies and pumpkin cream cheese muffins) while watching Monday Night Football, then made a cheeseball last night.  So I’m looking forward to a relaxing couple of days.

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I took this picture on my way out of the YMCA yesterday morning – we had a dusting of snow overnight, but with absolutely no wind all of the tiny twigs on this bush had an accumulation.  I tried to blow up a small portion of the picture, but I guess there isn’t enough resolution on a cell phone picture.


Finally, my Thanksgiving gift to you – Nala's selection of new places to nap continues to amaze me. I took a short break from folding Ryan's t-shirts after removing them from the dryer -- and this is what I found when I returned . . .

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Look Back . . .

This has been a week for retrospection – a look back 50 years into our past.  On TV, in the newspaper, online – it was everywhere.  Here is another – it is related, but only peripherally . . .

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I can't begin to count how many times I walked underneath this sign when I was a kid -- it was a symbol of growing up during the Cold War (and of how naive we were to believe that we could survive a nuclear attack). When I saw an original for sale online a few weeks ago, I had to have it -- then I had to stop by the school to make sure that weather-beaten sign was still there, guarding the entrance to the old cafeteria.

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Completely Unrelated . . . Don't forget to go to starting at midnight tonight to register your American Express card for the $10 statement credit on Small Business Saturday on November 30. You have to shop at a "brick and mortar" local store and pay with your Amex -- so wherever you are go out and support your local small businesses. And if you're in or near Dayton, of course you'll want to shop at Marco’s Paper!

Friday, November 22, 2013

17 Things . . .

There has been a trend on Facebook lately – people write a list of things that you may not know about them, and if you “like” the list you are rewarded with a number.  Then you are supposed to write a similar list with that many things about yourself.  It seems to be calming down now – haven’t seen nearly as many this week – and I have been careful not to “like” any of them so I wouldn’t get stuck with a number.

But the whole process made me think, and in my head I started writing my own list.  In less than ten minutes, I had 17 obscure facts about myself.  So after a week filled with surgery updates, I share this as a much much lighter pathway to the weekend . . .

1. People who know me well (or only see me at shows) may find this hard to believe, but I am terribly shy. If I am in a room full of people I don’t know in a non-work situation, I will never speak unless someone speaks to me first.

2. I crave “alone time”, probably because I get so little of it. When I am traveling, I eat by myself, go to the movies by myself, play golf by myself, and love just driving down the road with nothing but my XM radio to keep me company.

3. When I was a kid, I hated mowing grass and working in the yard. My dad told me that would change when I had a place of my own. He was right — I have loved mowing and yardwork for years.

4. I lost my spleen when I was 16. I was umpiring a men’s softball game and was run over in the baseline by a guy who outweighed me by about 80 pounds. It was my fault — I was out of position. But for me it gave “Kill the Umpire” a whole new meaning.

5. I paid my own way through college. My parents offered to pay for it, but I told them they had done enough and it was my turn. Four years later (two years at a branch campus and two years at the main campus), I had my Miami degree — tuition, room and board, books and gas cost $10,000 (wouldn’t even get me through a semester today) and I had $250 left in the bank.

6. I have always hated owing money. Had mortgages on each of the houses I have owned because I had no choice, but once my current one was paid off, I vowed I would never owe money again. I don't have much, but nothing that I have requires a monthly payment.

7. I don’t like food and feel that sit-down meals are a waste of valuable time. I rarely try new foods. I have eaten the same thing for breakfast (a chocolate fudge Pop Tart and a glass of milk) since I was a teenager, the same thing for lunch (usually a burger and a Coke at McDonald’s) since I started working, and the same thing for dinner (usually nothing if I’m not hungry) as often as I can.

8. But I like to cook — especially bake — and often make things for others that I wouldn’t think of eating myself.

9. I have learned to do the dishes, do the laundry, run the sweeper, clean the toilets — and I enjoy it.

10. I took a sip of coffee when I was 8, didn’t like the taste, and have never taken another (but I love the smell of coffee). I took a sip of beer when I was 18 and didn’t like the taste — was told that it’s an acquired taste, I didn’t see the point, and have never taken another. I took a sip of whiskey when I was 21, it burned all the way down, again I didn’t see the point, and have never taken another.

11. I have decided to retire from announcing Waynesville football games at the end of the 2049 season — at that point I’ll have 70 years in and I feel more than that is probably greedy.

12. From the time I was 7 until I was almost 20, I wanted to be the radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds. Thankfully, my horizons broadened a bit — the guy who got the job when I was 15 is still there.

13. I have seen two no-hitters in person — Rick Wise pitched one against the Reds in 1971 (and hit two homers in the game), and Tom Seaver pitched the other for the Reds in 1978. I would like to see another.

14. I didn’t have a pet (Mom didn’t like them) until I was almost 40. Now, I can’t imagine life without them. Zoe seems to agree.

15. We do a show in Cincinnati every August that has a Friday night Preview Party with a costume theme. In 2003, the theme was “Wild West” so we decided to go with me as a riverboat gambler and Karen and Melinda as barroom floozies. But when we got to the costume shop, the barroom floozy costumes had no bustline. We didn’t have time to come up with another idea, so I had to wear the barroom floozy costume. Because of the response, I have worn similar costumes several times since — and now our customers are disappointed when I dress as a male.

16. I have never had trouble going to sleep at night, but for years I would wake up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep because my mind would start racing. Finally solved the problem by putting an ear bud in my ear with the radio playing very softly, so when I wake up I just listen to the radio for a minute or two and I’m asleep again. Now I can’t sleep without it.

17. I have lived in only one Zip Code in my life, since before there were Zip Codes. I could take you on a walking tour past every house I have lived in and it would take about 15 minutes.

And now you know much more about me than you ever cared to know.  My apologies . . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Surgery Updates and an Apology to DiGiornio . . .

I have heard from both of our surgery patients (or in Joe Krivitski’s case, a “representative”) . . .

Kathy posted the following on her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon – “So it's been 24 hours since Joe's total hip replacement. He is doing ok despite being sore from the 12 inch incision through his gluteus muscle. He just finished PT and even walked a bit! Just amazing. Hoping he can come home by Friday. Thanks for all the prayers. Keep them coming. We appreciate them more than you know!”

And a couple of posts last night from Joe’s page combined into one – “Surgery was successful. New hip joint feels good. The surgical site is however another story in pain.  Simply walking without pain will be a new experience. Thank you for the kindnesses. Ultimately, God is in control and I am just along for our walk together...”

(Addendum -- Joe called me about noon today.  He sounds fantastic (pain medicine is a wonderful thing) and he thinks he will be heading home this afternoon.)

If you want to send Joe a note, you can send it to Kathy at (I know that Joe has e-mail and logic says it’s probably just like Kathy’s except for a “joek” prefix – but I’m not certain of that so sending notes to Kathy is a more confident alternative.

Melinda Doster had her reconstruction surgery on Tuesday.  Her friend Zaira Cardenas sent me a text Tuesday evening that the surgery had gone well and Melinda was resting comfortably.  And I got a lengthy e-mail from Melinda overnight that she typed while she was waiting for her pain meds to kick in.  Here’s the part that would be of interest to you – “I got home today about 12:30 and have been miserable. I knew this surgery would be worse, and I was right.  I am in a lot of pain. Fortunately this time I didn't have the hours of nausea and retching that I had last time. I did experience nausea immediately following surgery, but not nearly as much.  I apparently traded it for the pain.  The pain was minimal with the first surgery, but just the opposite with this one.  I find it hard to comprehend why women would go through this for any other reason than necessity. If I didn't have way would I do it.”

Again, if you want to send notes, Melinda’s e-mail address is

And I owe an apology to DiGiornio – I have been blaming them for the upset stomach that has been bothering me for the past few days.  It started late on Sunday evening and has gotten progressively worse -- I was blaming it on a DiGiornio pizza I ate Sunday evening ("pizzeria style" crust -- I assumed the garlic got me since I don't handle anything spicy well).  But nothing I took to try to counteract the upset stomach did any good.  So I went to the doctor yesterday and went over the timeline with her, and she gave me a couple of pills to take for a few days to try to calm down my stomach.  Then I left, thought of something while I was driving, and went back -- and asked her if the new antibiotic she put me on last Friday (second attempt to knock down a sinus infection) could be a contributing factor.  She looked it up, and of course nausea was one of the potential side effects.  She really wanted me to try to gut out the antibiotic for a couple more days (she was assuming the pills she gave me would take care of the nausea) but after a few seconds of thought I vetoed that idea -- there are other antibiotics that I can tolerate if the sinus infection continues to bother me.  So I basically spent yesterday evening curled up in a ball on the couch.  Slept well and woke up feeling decent (as I have each night since it started -- it doesn't seem to really get bad until afternoon), so I worried about waiting for afternoon and dreading that feeling again.  Thankfully, I feel much better -- but I figure it will be two or three days before everything calms down.

Don't you just love it when friends tell me how much they hurt and I respond with a story about how I’m feeling?  I won't kid you -- I have been miserable at times these past few days, but it's nothing compared to what Joe and Melinda have been through.

And that’s enough of the medical updates.  Tomorrow, I promise a story from the lighter side – I have already written it – and you might even enjoy it if you have interest in the backstory of what makes me tick.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Efforts Are Requested Again . . .

I got a message last night from our friend Joe Krivitski from Seaside Stampin’ Ink – he was scheduled to have a total hip replacement this morning at 8:45 and was requesting prayers from those folks who lifted up his wife Kathy, his daughter Danielle, and his granddaughter Gracie at different points over the past couple of years.  Those of you who have met Joe probably know that he can project a tough guy image, but underneath he is a teddy bear and an old softie.  And this time, he was a scared old softie teddy bear.

I haven’t heard anything yet, but this blog e-mails out to most of you at 3:00 p.m. EST so I assume that by now the surgery has already taken place.  I did put a message out on our Facebook page last night – and it got the same type of attention that such messages get here.

That said, Joe has a recovery period ahead of him and your prayers would still be appreciated.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Update from Melinda . . .

Thanks to all of you who have flooded my friend Melinda Doster with prayers, cards and e-mails both before and after her recent surgery.  I got an e-mail from her overnight with an update and a request that I post it, especially for those she hasn’t had a chance to respond to personally.  So the following is to you, from her . . .

Thank you all for your prayers, emails, cards and gifts. I have felt very encouraged!

My first surgery went well. It was outpatient, but I had a very bad reaction to the anesthesia and it took them 5 hours to completely revive me. I was there a little less than 12 hours total.  The nausea was intense the rest of the evening. I refused to take the pain killers at the hospital or at home because I had not eaten and I knew the nausea would be worse. By the next day, the nausea had passed and I slept a lot.

I had a lumpectomy - they removed a piece the width of a tennis ball. It encompassed an invasive carcinoma in one area and a noninvasive carcinoma in another. The pathology report indicates that although I will need radiation, I do not need chemo (praise God!) But the margins were a bit too close on two sides where they removed the cancer. So when I have my second surgery (reconstruction) they are going to remove more tissue and widen the margins, just to be safe. They also took six lymph nodes during surgery and those tested clean.

My second surgery will be sometime this week (probably Tuesday or Wednesday). My doctor is supposed to call tomorrow to let me know for sure.

There is a lot more detail I could go into regarding the things I've experienced since the surgery,  but some of it is not for those with weak stomachs, so I will skip it.  Much of it, I didn't expect and was not prepared for.  And frankly, I'm thankful that I didn't know ahead of time. As you know I was not worried about the surgery at all. I had a real peace about it.  Had I known more, I likely would have worried a bit. This time, I confess I am a bit nervous about the second surgery, as I know it is more involved and requires a longer recovery.  But I know Whose hands I'm in and I trust Him.

I thank you for your continued prayers!  You have been a tremendous blessing!  And thanks to my special brother, Greg!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Your Eyes to Ours . . . and Then to Our Website . . . and Then to Your Mailbox

I have always been indebted to our customers.  Two of them changed my life 18 years ago when they wandered into the little front room of our print shop.  They saw the stacks of paper and scraps that we sold by word of mouth to churches, teachers, etc., and said “We’re rubber stampers – you should be marketing to us.”

We thanked them and they left – but under our collective breath, our response was something approaching “Are they nuts?”

They weren’t nuts – they were planting a seed.  It took nearly a year, but on that day my life changed – I got a new job without changing employers.

And they started a process that continues to this day – we really try to listen to our customers.  Most of the best ideas we have ever had came from one (or more) of you – and it means a lot when you see something new that excites you and take the time to e-mail or call or put a note on our Facebook page.

Yesterday was one of those days.  It didn’t start until last night – Cathy Yamashita from Indiana was the first, followed closely by Robyn Josephs from North Carolina.  Both had seen an announcement that I had missed – Tim Holtz is releasing Two New Layering Stencils . . .

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And here they are – Holly Bough and Harlequin.  You can order them separately or as part of a complete set of 16 stencils.

The news gets better – they will be here on Friday!

Please indulge me, I need to rant a little – it would have made much more sense to me if those who make such decisions had made sure that the existing layering stencils were plentiful before coming out with new ones.  There are three stencils from the first release that have been on backorder for a long time – none of our suppliers have any – and it makes it impossible to ship orders for complete sets until they arrive.  Yet we can get lots and lots of the new ones.  Strange . . .

That said, I am still pleased that the new stencils are arriving so quickly.  Thanks t0 Cathy and Robyn for bringing them to our attention – and to all of you who have done so on similar new items in the past!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Item, Free Shipping, Weather Rants, and More . . .


You may have wanted to see that more than anything else I might have to say.  Yep, our annual Free Shipping Offer has begun and will run through December 17.  All of the fine print is in the fine print above – if you’re in the Continental U.S., all you really need to know is that your order needs to be $30 or over, and you need to click on the button that says “Free Shipping” when the shipping options come up.


This is the latest of the “just arriveds” – Bow-It-All seems appropriate for this time of year, doesn’t it?  It makes lots of different types of bows and you can see video tutorials here for practically all of them.


This is pretty neat if you like all things Tim Holtz – click on this link or on the graphic above and you’ll go to a neat flipbook catalog that shows just about everything Tim puts his name on these days.  And of course, if you find something you like you know where you can get it . . .


The highlight of my weekend was doing the play-by-play on the internet broadcast of my local high school’s first-round state playoff game (yes, I did link to the archived broadcast – there will be one person out there somewhere who will ask me if there is a way for her to listen to part of it – but you’ll have to scroll through about 20 minutes of music before we actually start talking).  A local photographer takes pictures at all of the games, and this was the only shot he posted that showed the press box.  So I added the arrow – I’m in the farthest window on the right.  It was an exciting game and our boys lost in the last minutes of the game.  This is also my absence excuse to the nice folks at the Birch Run, Michigan convention last weekend – when Sherry moved the show up a week, I knew there could be a conflict.  I missed announcing a playoff game for a show 14 years ago – I was miserable and decided that I had to have some priorities.

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Sunday, my friend Tom and I paid a farewell visit to the golf course that we grew up on and have played for more than 40 years – we learned that it will be closing permanently at the end of the year.  The picture at left is the hole on the course that has the most personality.  But the picture at right has more meaning for me – that’s the site of my first (and so far only) hole-in-one 33 years ago.


Monday, we got this – gas prices dropped below $3.00 and stayed there for more than a day (the last time, they jumped 30 cents after about two hours).  But as usual, good things don’t last long – they jumped almost 40 cents last night.

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And Tuesday, we got this – thankfully, it lasted about as long as sub-$3.00 gas . . .


For the animal lovers – I took this just before I left for the playoff game on Saturday.  Nala was on top of the living room couch sunning herself just before dark – it was like a spotlight on her and I couldn’t resist . . .

Friday, November 1, 2013

The First Place in the World You Can Find Double Scoop Gelatos . . .

This is really exciting -- our friends at Faber-Castell contacted us on Wednesday evening with information about a brand new product.  Double Scoop Gelatos are twice the size of their original gelatos -- and for the first time are available individually!   I have told Faber-Castell for almost three years that our customers wanted to be able to replace individual gelatos without buying a set with three other colors they didn't need -- and now they have listened!


It gets better -- we'll have these in stock next week and Marco's is the first place in the world that you'll be able to find these creamy, vibrant pigment sticks!  Order yours now -- individual colors are $4.95 each, or you can get the whole set of 18 colors for 20% Off the MSRP!

But wait . . . there’s more!

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Here’s another tool that arrived Wednesday – The Perfect Airbrush Color Spritzer makes it easy to turn any marker into an airbrush.  Just click on the link and watch the video -- it really is that easy.  Get yours at the introductory price of $11.99 (20% off the MSRP).

And one more little tidbit . . .

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The Thumb Notch Punch from We R Memory Keepers just arrived this week -- it's a companion piece for the Albums Made Easy system and is great if you want to easily remove photos from sleeves.  It's also 20% Off the MSRP for a limited time -- just $6.39!