Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Most Popular Make & Take in Years . . .

We have been having Free Make & Takes in our store on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for several years.  They are all popular (could be that “free” thing), but some more so than others.  Yesterday was one of those days – nearly 100 people showed up on a cold and damp Wednesday morning.  All for a chicken . . .


This was Lynn Brown’s project – I posted it on our website and Facebook page last week and the reaction came quickly.  People in the hinterlands who couldn’t get to the store wanted – begged for – directions so they could make it at home.  I checked the numbers – it was the second most-viewed Facebook post since I started the page (the first was my uninformed wisecrack last summer that an electronic sign advertising “craft beer” was a misprint).

So I asked Karen to ask Lynn for instructions that I could post – and Lynn did such a good job that it seems only fair to share them with you as well.


1. Kaleida Paper 80# Gold Cardstock -- 1 piece 4 1/2" x 8 1/2", 1 piece 2" x 2"
2. Kaleida Paper 80# Orange Cardstock - 1 piece 2 1/2" x 5 1/2", 1 piece 1" x 1"
3. 3/4" White Circle (x3)
4. 1/2" Black circle (x2)
5. Orange 1/2" Ribbon
6. Spellbinders Scalloped Circles Die
7. Marvy Daisy Punch (LV-SJCP 48 Daisy)

1. Fold 4 1/2" x 8 1/2" cardstock in half.
2. Using Spellbinders Scalloped Circles (largest in the kit), cut the card base. Position the die so that it hangs over the top, allowing a "hinge."
3. Use the 2nd smallest die to cut a circle from the 2" square to make the wings.
4. Using Tim Holtz Distress Ink "Spiced Marmalade," distress the edges of the card base and wing circle.
5. Cut the wing circle in half. Fold each half into thirds.
6. Take the 2 1/2" x 5 1/2" orange cardstock and punch out two flowers with the Marvy punch. Leave one intact. Cut the other into two groups of three petals and one of two petals (throw the two-petal piece away).
7. Put two white eyes on and then the black "eyeball" on top. Cut the third circle in half to make eyelids.
8. Make bow.

1. Glue eyes on. Fold the 1" Orange cardstock in half diagonally and use it for nose. Attach wings.
2. Put the flower on back with several petals showing over top of head.
3. Put the three-petal pieces on as toes.
4. Attach bow with glue dot.

Suggestions for Sentiment:
1. "From one great chick to another"
2. "For a great chick"
3. "Just chicken on you"
4. "For my (our) grandchicks"
5. "Have an eggs-tra special day"

Thanks again to Lynn for her hard work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dreaming of Spring . . .

I realize that I have no reason to complain – it’s 35 degrees and pouring rain here today, and some of you in the middle of the country just got buried in snow again.  But I’m ready . . .


Apparently, so is Mother Nature – I took this shot in my side yard a week ago.  Today, the daffodils are twice as tall.  But it appears that I’m not the only one in my household who is dreaming of Spring . . .


This was Nala on Sunday afternoon – looking out the window at a backyard that she hasn’t explored yet.  She came to live with us just as the weather turned cold last fall, so she hasn’t been trained to our Invisible Fence yet – that will start in a few weeks.

Unsolicited Plug – our cats do very well on the Invisible Fence.  We got ours specifically for cats 18 years ago so it was there when we finally got a dog.  We were the first cat customers for our local Invisible Fence folks, and the letter of recommendation that I wrote for them is still part of their sales packet.

I’m not gazing out the window – way too dreary here.  Instead, I’m looking at the long range forecast for Tucson, Arizona – the temps there are rising, the forecast looks glorious, and Mom & Dad will see their sons very soon.  My workouts have reached the point where I think I’m prepared for whatever hiking torture my dad can dish out – but he’ll read this, laugh, and plot something even more sinister.  Can’t wait . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Special Event for the Locals . . .

I had heard raves about Pat Huntoon from Technique Junkies Newsletter for several years – finally met her in person at last October’s show in York, PA.  But I had never had a chance to really talk with her until our booths were side-by-side at the show in Clearwater a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, first I had to move a bunch of our boxes that were taking up her booth space . . .


We had several topics of conversation – most notably the blizzard that was bearing down on her home in Connecticut and how she was going to get home after the show.  Eventually, we worked our way around to different shows that we attend – and she mentioned that she was going to be at the Indianapolis show the first weekend in March.

This is where years on the road come in handy – to drive from Connecticut to Indianapolis, Pat will have to pass within about 15 minutes of our retail store in Dayton.  So I suggested a stop along the way.  Pat and Karen worked out the particulars and we announced it yesterday – a trunk show and free make it/take it so Pat can teach two Gelato techniques.  So if you’re a local, or traveling from the east to Indianapolis, stop by and meet Pat from 9:00 a.m. –12:00 p.m. on Friday, March 1.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ryan Takes a Knee . . .

This story started a year ago – February 3, 2012.  I had spent the day setting up our booth at the show in Lawrenceville, GA and was doing computer work about 10:00 p.m. in my hotel room, when I got a text from Ryan that simply said I’m talking with a girl!”  He had recently reactivated his account, so I assumed that someone was intrigued with his profile.  Didn’t think much about it after that (show weekends are busy).  But Ryan and Emily sent messages back and forth for a day or two, then talked on the phone a couple of times, and finally decided to go out – the day that I flew back to Atlanta, picked up the truck, and headed to Clearwater.  Then the truck broke down in Valdosta, GA – by the time it was fixed, the first date had begun and I was driving south wondering how it was going.

Two days later, Ryan flew to Tampa, where I picked him up and spent three days with him hitting the theme parks in Orlando – and listening to him talk about Emily.  It was clear that he was smitten, but he knew that we had planned this trip together for a long time so he asked my permission to call her one evening while we were gone.  I was impressed.

I have learned a lot about Emily over the past year.  In many ways, she is a lot like Ryan – just three years younger.  So on a number of occasions, I have heard him giving her advice that is word-for-word the same advice I had given him years before.  Then Ryan would hang up the phone, note the stunned look on my face, and say “See . . . I WAS listening.”


We have met Emily’s family – she has met ours.  They love Ryan – we love Emily.  And they started to make long-range plans.  Shortly after Christmas, Ryan told me that he wanted to ask her to marry him – he knew that it would have to be a long engagement (probably two years) since neither of them can afford to move out yet, but he wanted to make it official. 


They did some ring shopping, and then I arranged for Ryan to meet with a jeweler friend of mine and a ring was purchased that was almost identical to the one she liked best.  Emily knew that Ryan had the ring, but he still wanted to surprise her with the place and time that she received it.

The original site was the parking lot at the O’Charley’s where they first met, but she guessed that one and vetoed it.  Instead, Ryan decided to pop the question in the middle of the Dayton Mall – at a bench where they spent a lot of time during the early days of their relationship.  He enlisted Emily’s mom who invited her out to dinner to get her to the mall, and my nephew Conner who arrived early to “reserve” the bench, take pictures, and (most essentially) keep Ryan calm!

I offered to hide in the shadows and shoot video, but Ryan insisted that all of this had to happen on the anniversary of their first date – which also happened to be the date of of this year’s Clearwater show.  So while we were tearing down the booth in Clearwater, Ryan was proposing 1,000 miles away in Dayton.

(Apologies from my nephew, who shot pictures from a distance on his cell phone – if you have ever tried to use the zoom feature on a cell phone you’ll understand how hard it is to get them in focus – some scenes are from two perspectives because I found some pictures that Emily’s mom took)


Emily and her mom and stepdad arrive at the mall, and her mom “notices” flowers on the bench and encourages Emily to read the card.

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Ryan emerges from the shadows, decked in his finest, and drops to one knee.  I’m told that his proposal was “Emily, a year ago today you made me cuddle with you and I want to cuddle with you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?”


Since she had been giving him the “sad eyes” for nearly a month trying to get the ring immediately, there was little doubt that she was going to say yes . . .


Ryan explains the whole deception to her – he had been nervous all week because he had to stretch the truth to keep her in suspense.

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You’ll note that Ryan forgot to smile – Emily wasn’t terribly happy about that when she saw this picture.  But Ryan was a nervous wreck all week (he worries about everything) – he was terrified that he would lose the ring before he got to the mall.

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At left is the picture that Ryan texted to me while I was going up the truck’s liftgate with another load of paper from the booth – at right is another that Emily’s mom took later.

Weekend with the Snowbirds . . .

Now that I am safely back in Ohio and my frozen fingers are cracking again, last weekend in Florida is just a warm (pun intended) memory with a few images worth sharing.

After the Atlanta show, we tore down the booth and I climbed into the truck just a minute or two before the Super Bowl kicked off.  With the Atlanta and Clearwater shows only a week apart now, it has been easier and cheaper the past few years to leave the truck in a secure location in Atlanta and fly home Sunday night, then fly back on Thursday to pick up the truck and head for Florida.  So I headed back to our hotel to clean up a few loose ends and change clothes, then left the truck and took a shuttle to the airport, went through security, took the train to Terminal C, got some food, and finally sat down to enjoy some of the game before my flight left – just seconds before the lights went off in the Louisiana Superdome.  So I got to watch 35 minutes of nothing, followed by about 10 minutes of actual football before my flight was called.  Thankfully, I DVRed the game – but I still haven’t had time to watch most of it.

So after three days in chilly and snowy Ohio, I headed back to Atlanta on Thursday and drove through pouring rain all the way to Clearwater.  But it didn’t bother me too much, because as I drove south the temperature readout kept rising – from 42 when I left Atlanta to 71 when I arrived in Clearwater.


And I awoke on Friday morning to this.  You folks who live in the South and West probably take deep blue skies for granted, but where I’m from even a sunny day in the winter is gray.  I notice the difference every year – I take the same picture every year as I start to unload the truck.  And I’ll notice it again in three weeks when my brother and I head to Tucson to see our parents.

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Once setup was complete, I rushed to Clearwater Beach for about 45 minutes walking along the gulf shore before dusk.  By then the clouds had rolled in and I needed a sweatshirt, but white sand and sounds of surf are hard to beat in February.


If it’s warm, this beach is often crowded with teens and twentysomethings splashing in the surf – when it’s cold, it’s fiftysomethings and above.  And the seagulls welcome them all . . .

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Saw these in the distance as I headed back to my starting point – some of the simplest kites I have encountered.  I have always liked kites but have never done very well at getting/keeping them aloft.  These seemed so simple that even I could have flown them.


Oh yeah – there was a show, too.  This was the view in our booth about five minutes after the show opened, and Anna was already showing the new Envelope Punch Board to a customer.  We took more than 80 advance orders at the show, bringing the total sold so far to more than 300.  And I realized on the way home that the next step is to come up with paper packs in various sizes so you can make your own envelopes easily when yours arrives.

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Obligatory shot of the masses hypnotized by Sue Rothamel’s demos.  The five ladies in black each wore a patch with a bumblebee and the word “Sisters” – but from my vantage point at the cash register I couldn’t make out the bumblebee (and I told them later that my first warped thought was “Black Widows”).  Couldn’t resist the shot of Sue teething on the cover for her scissors . . .

On the way home, I played chauffeur for Karen, who rode to Atlanta with me before the Lawrenceville show and spent ten days with her son Scott and his family.  Since Karen’s grandchildren are what rock her world, I know how hard it was for her that Samantha is now 13 months old and Karen hadn’t seen her since two weeks after she was born.  We all had lunch together, but Karen disappeared quickly for a few minutes alone with her while the rest of us finished.


I took this picture just before we pried Karen away from Scott and Samantha and headed home.  That’s a good place to leave the story for today – tomorrow, I will share another life-changing event in my family that occurred while I was 1,000 miles from home . . .

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Show Goes On . . .

I am simply amazed by modern technology – when I write a blog piece, it goes out to most of you by e-mail about 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  So even though I wrote the piece about our tomcat on Friday evening, it went out on Saturday while I was running my cash register at the Lawrenceville show.  And 20 minutes later, a customer walked up and told me how sorry she was – she had read it on her phone.  On Monday, I got a call from our vet – who told me that Karen Seitz had read my story and forwarded it to her.  And of course, my inbox was flooded with the most tender e-mails – I talked with Mom on Tuesday evening and told her that Tom was almost as popular as she is!

But the show goes on – and there were a few images from the weekend that were worth sharing . . .

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The first was the hair.  I hadn’t seen Sue Rothamel since the Birch Run show in November – but apparently she dipped her locks into her Perfect Pigments (not really) about a month ago.  It does seem to add a certain pizzazz to her performance – and from the size of the crowd that surrounded her on Saturday, I suspect the customers agree.


Another view captured by Pat Larson from Heirloom Productions.  I appreciate Pat’s efforts – he catches images that I miss, like Sue’s husband Dave in the background helping a customer.

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Two more shots courtesy of Pat – the nice lady in the lower left is Melinda Sutton, who called early last week to see if by chance we might need a little help in our booth on Saturday.  She used my “newspaper buddy” Darlene Clark as a reference, which was good enough for me – we put her to work doing a make and take with USAQ stuff and she ended up working almost the entire show.  And here’s another rare image of me at a show that Pat took during the giveaway on Saturday.

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This was the hot item in our booth – We R Memory Makers overnighted a sample Envelope Punch Board to my hotel so our customers could actually play with it before placing advance orders.  And they did – it got a workout all weekend.  It was a blast to see someone sit down to try it and then call all of her friends over to check it out.


After the show on Saturday, I went out to eat with Pat Larson and Dave Carlson from Heirloom – they took me to a barbeque joint called Shane’s Rib Shack that they had discovered between the fairgrounds and our hotels.  Good friends, good food, and good atmosphere – and I got a kick out of this sign above the front counter.


This was one of the highlights of my weekend – longtime friend Alan Scott (his dad was my Little League coach when I was nine) is the lead pastor at Cumberland Community Church in Smyrna – this is the church that got me back on the road after our truck broke down in their parking lot a couple of years ago.  Last February (a week after the Lawrenceville show) they added an 8:30 a.m. service on Sunday – so this year I was able to attend before I went to work.  Alan was fantastic as always – but this time I got an added bonus.  Alan’s three daughters are part of a Christian band called Wire Method, and they played the praise music during the service – it’s a lousy picture, but they are playing the bass violin, drums, and keyboard.  Good stuff . . .


The final image from the weekend came after I got home – I was recovering in a corner of the couch on Monday, watching the Super Bowl on the DVR (all I got to see at the airport on Sunday night was the blackout).  And I heard this rustling sound below me – Nala had wrapped herself up in Zoe’s rug and was looking up at me with an expression that just screamed “Look at me – I’m cuuuuuuuute!”

So I did . . .

Friday, February 1, 2013

So Long, Old Friend . . .

Friday was a full day during setup for this weekend’s show in Lawrenceville, GA.  It was probably better that way – kept my mind occupied.  Because today, 500 miles from home, I had to say goodbye to an old friend.


Tom has been a part of our family since he was born underneath our front porch in April 1995.  There were five kittens originally – we kept two, two went to friends, and one went to the mailman (who left a note in our mailbox that started “If you’re looking for a home for the gray and white kitten…” – and he still lives with them).

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He was always Ryan’s cat – they just had a bond.  But Tom and I had a certain respect for each other – it started when he was three years old and went into convulsions.  We found out later that he had a whole body infection called toxoplasmosis – all we knew at the time was that Tom was in trouble.  I still remember the long drive to the veterinary emergency clinic at 11:00 at night, with Tom fighting for his life in the carrier beside me.  From that day on, he always looked at me differently – and I felt like he somehow gave me credit for saving him.  If cats truly have nine lives, Tom used up eight of his that night.

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Over the years, Tom was quite a soothing influence on Ryan as he went through his teenage years.  When he needed a friend, Tom was always there.

Tom was always the greeter – he would come out on the driveway to check out anyone who came to visit.  By contrast, his sister was skittish and would run and hide.  My grandpa used to watch our house and feed the cats when we were out of town – and he would question whether we really had two cats since he only saw one each time he came to feed them.


The last few years have been tough – kidney problems, emotional issues, joint stiffness.  Each time, thanks to Dr. Sue, another medicine was added to the routine and brought him back to health.  So many times, we made peace with the idea that Tom wouldn’t be around much longer.  And yet he survived.  Then the call came this morning, and Dr. Sue came on to tell me that his kidneys were failing, his temperature was down, his respirations were fast, and he was hurting, even though he wouldn’t let it show.  And it would take a lot to keep him alive until I got home – but it wouldn’t make him comfortable.  So the decision was made – it had to be made, but he was on my mind a lot today.

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This will be one of my lasting memories of Tom – the part he played in bringing Zoe into our lives.  The day I went to the pound to look for another dog, Tom was one of the “people” who came in during the morning to visit with her.  Since Tom ruled our yard, it seemed only right that he have a say in whether Zoe came to live with us.  He did the same with Nala just a few months ago – this was his way of welcoming her, when she climbed out of her bed to eat and Tom took her place.

Rest well, my friend . . .