Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Little Humor for Our Friends in the South . . .

For our friends in Atlanta -- you have to grab humor where you can find it today!

I have to go to ATL from the Gwinnett Fairgrounds on Sunday evening, so I MapQuested it this morning to see if there was a better route than the one I usually take.  This is a screenshot of the results -- get a load of the "based on current traffic" estimates . . .


Stay safe, everyone – we’ll see you this weekend!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Not Today . . .

This morning, I made a decision that I have never made in 55+ years on this planet – I am staying home.  We had more snow last night – only three or four inches, but the winds have whipped up and it’s blowing all over the place.  To top it off, I have been reading reports from most of the local highway departments that they’re not able to clear the roads as well as they normally do because they have used up their salt supplies and are waiting for more (we have had a lot of  piddly snowfalls in January that were hardly worth mentioning but caused roadways to become skating rinks).


This is the view out my front door this morning.  The snow has blown onto the front porch and my front walk is missing – it was completely clear when I went to bed last night with 6”-8” of snow piled on either side.


The view out my sunroom door, protected by the back of the house.  The tracks are from Zoe and me walking out to try to find the newspaper – I’m sure it’s near my garage door someplace, but we didn’t find it.  So I read my paper on the iPad this morning.  And since I took this picture five minutes after we went out, you can see how fast the blowing snow was covering the tracks.


A little fuzzy from the lack of light – this was yesterday’s sunset viewed from a stop at a country traffic light.  If the old adage “Red at night – sailors’ delight” still holds true, then sailors must love snowstorms . . .

None of this has ever stopped me before – I just get in the car and go.  But this morning I feel different – and I realize that with one minor exception, everything that I need to do at work today can be accomplished from my laptop at home.

So I’m sitting here trying to determine what has changed.  Is it maturity?  Fatigue?  The memory that the furnace at work could only get the temperature up to 64 yesterday?  I do know that I have had my fill of snow-covered roads and bone-chilling cold these past few weeks – and I showed you the long range forecast yesterday.

I had already made the decision and was working on this blog post when Ryan texted me that he had arrived at work safely – but had to use 4-wheel-drive to get there because he was sliding on the interstate in 2-wheel.

So here I am at my desk at home, with Zoe and Nala wandering in occasionally to check on me.  Stay safe out there . . .

Friday, January 24, 2014

As If I Needed Incentive to Fly South for the Winter . . .

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t had much to say this month, there’s a reason – my fingers are frozen.  The temps have been below zero at least five or six mornings already in January (as I type this, it’s –2 outside).  I will never get used to it, but I have learned something – the blood thins quickly in warmer climates.  It was below zero for three days before I left for Texas two weeks ago, but three days in the 60s in the Metroplex spoiled me – when I got home, I found myself shivering in the upper 20s.

At least the show schedule sends me south in the winter – we have shows in Lawrenceville, GA (NE of Atlanta) and Clearwater, FL the first two weekends in February.  But I have to get through this first . . .

5 Day Weather Forecast for 45458

Actually, tomorrow and Sunday look almost balmy compared to what we’ve experienced most of this week.  But those little numbers (the low temps) for Monday and Tuesday, along with the wind chill – brrrrrrr.

Do I even need to mention that I can’t wait to go south?

In all honesty, the real reason for my silence is the avalanche of new products released at CHA earlier this month – I’m still putting them on our website.  I sent out an e-mail to our list last weekend with links to some of them – probably will send one out this weekend with links to others – and at some point I’ll sit down and put the highlights on the blog.  In the meantime, feel free to go to our homepage and click on any of the banners to see what I’m talking about.  Judging from the advance orders rolling in, the USPS, UPS, and FedEx are going to love us over the next few months.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As Usual, You’re Telling Me What I Might Have Missed . . .

I have spent most of my work time the past few weeks (and a lot of time that was supposed to be free time) putting new items on our site, and getting others ready so I could make them visible on our site (by stepping away from my cash register in Texas and pushing the appropriate buttons on my iPad) as soon as CHA started on Saturday.  Now that I’m back in the frozen north with snow flying in the air, I’m getting a chance to go through the “Are you going to be carrying…?” e-mails that have arrived between Sunday morning and today.

I have said many times that our customers suggest many of our best new items – and we do listen.

So after a few days, here are some of the most popular new items we have seen.  Some of them we already knew about, others took a little prodding from folks like you . . .

flower-punch-board flower

Yep, there is a new punch board from We R Memory Keepers.  The Flower Punch Board looks amazing.  Most of the info I have seen says they will ship in April, but we spoke with our rep this morning and she said it would be better to say May since it will be late April at best before they appear.  So May it is.

IBT40965 blendingtool_press

I have received more e-mails about the Mini Ink Blending Tool (and the related Replacement Foam) than any other new item.  Those are coming in February.

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This one caught me a little off-guard – it’s the new Tool n’ One from Spellbinders.  Apparently this solves most of the problems crafters have encountered in using dies with all of those little pieces that clutter your crafting room.  And we hear it works best with the related Specialty Foam.  Both are coming in March.

TDPK40316 TDPK40323 TDPK40330

Of course, Tim Holtz is in on the act as well.  All of the Distress Ink colors will be available in 1” square Minis between now and August, but they are spread out in four releases of 12 colors.  So far, we are offering the three sets that will release in February (click on the pics shown above) and the three sets that will release in April.  It’s just too soon to be taking orders for the others – I’ll let you know on those.

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And the last 13 colors of Distress Paint should ship in January – this will complete the set if you have the other colors already.

I know there are others I should be mentioning now, but I’m out of time and the e-mail version of this blog goes out in less than ten minutes.  So I’ll include more soon – and I’m sure you’ll let me know if there is something I have missed so far that you just can’t do without!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Escaping the Iceberg . . .

It was a little chilly in Ohio earlier this week.  You might have heard about it – you might have heard me screaming.  Last Sunday, we were supposed to get 8”-10” of white death – instead, we got rain.  And then Sunday night the temperature started dropping – to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, it went “to zero and beyond.”  Cars were frozen shut, Tuesday morning it was –11, and the windchill hit –40.

And there was a show in Texas this weekend – I couldn’t wait to get out of Ohio.  But I had to thaw out the back door of the truck so I could load it.  And even though I plugged in the truck on Saturday (diesel engines require this in cold weather), that engine block warmer apparently doesn’t affect the battery – and the truck wouldn’t start.  But after an hour on a battery charger, that glorious sound of the starter grinding followed by engine life got me on the road.

By the time I got to Memphis, it was 32 degrees and pouring rain – and the local weather weasels couldn’t decide whether it was going to stay rain or drop a degree and turn to ice.  Thankfully, it stayed rain – and I kept moving in the direction of warmth.

I awoke Friday morning to rain – but the promise of sunny skies by the time we finished with setup.  So off to Grapevine I drove . . .

2011-07-15_12-47-51_527[3] 2011-07-16_09-56-42_474[3]

You might remember these pictures – they appeared in this space in July 2011.  We start cultivating the future of our little craft industry from birth.  Now 2½ years have passed . . .

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. . . and Lucia McLaughlin is almost three years old, helping Mom and Grandma set up the booth along with her older brothers.  In return, I will “pay” them by transporting their Christmas presents north – these days they live five minutes from our mail center.  The first thing I told Natalie when I saw her was how unfair it was that they missed our little cold snap in Ohio.

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J.T. and Hudson got in on the act as well . . .

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But I think what they enjoyed most was stomping down some boxes that we were going to throw away.  And even Dad got in on the act . . .

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When we finished with setup, I decided to tease the masses by posting a photo of the booth – with the curtains closed – on our Facebook page.  We did finally open them on Saturday morning – and more than a few found their way inside.

A few other things I saw along the way . . .


When I was walking inside the building on Saturday morning, I noticed these – about six weeks before they will appear in my yard.  Still, it reminded me to start looking for them at home – I’ll take any sign of Spring that I can get.

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This was the booth across the aisle from us.  I arrived before they did – and that little green card on the table just jumped out at me.  If security is that simple, guards worldwide need to seek a new profession . . .

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After the show on Saturday, I met my friends Becki and Bill at Grimaldi’s (the picture is fuzzy because I swiped a little one from their website).  Good New York style pizza – and easy for me to find because it was right across the parking lot from a brand in In-N-Out only a couple of blocks from the convention center.  I had already been there after setup for a burger and a new t-shirt for Ryan.

And now it’s time to head back to Ohio – where the temperatures have moderated and may even reach the 50s for a day or two.  Of course, by the time I get there we’ll be staring at the teens and 20s again . . .

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One Final Thought – if you haven’t noticed, I have been spending all of my free time the past two weeks putting new items in the background on our website, so they could easily be made visible when CHA opened on Saturday.  If you go to our homepage at and follow the banners, you’ll find well over 250 new items that are now available for advance orders!