Thursday, October 30, 2014

We’re Going Back to Birch Run!

It was just finalized Wednesday afternoon – we have added one final show to this year’s schedule. 

We attended “Deer Widow’s Weekend” in Birch Run, Michigan for several years on the second weekend in November – but last year it was moved up a week, and the first weekend in November is also the first weekend of the Ohio State Football Playoffs.  I know that is of little interest to most of you – but I have been the football announcer at my local high school for the past 35 years and the first playoff round is played on the home fields of the higher ranked teams (subsequent rounds are at neutral sites).  I missed a playoff game for a show in 1999 – and spent the entire evening on a cell phone with a friend in the stands getting updates while listening to a friend announcing the game in the background.  I was miserable – and vowed never to miss the opportunity again.

However, two losses in the past four weeks have made a home game impossible – so we checked earlier this week and the nice folks in Birch Run were able to accommodate us.  And better still, our good friend Sue Nelson will be at the demo table.  Therefore . . .


Spread the word – get a carload together – and join us one final time in 2014!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

First Effort . . .

By popular demand, I just finished put the Free Make It & Take It Project that was held in our retail store today on our website for the first time.  You’ll find a picture of the project, a supply list, instructions, and links to the supplies in case you don’t already own them.

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There is a heading in the left column on our homepage so you’ll be able to find the projects at your convenience, but for now if you click on this link you’ll go directly to today’s project.

Again, I will be interested in your feedback – if you like it, don’t like it, and anything that I might have missed that will make this more useful for you.  Thanks!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Red at Night . . .

Thought you might enjoy what I saw yesterday when I went outside to light the candles inside the pumpkins . . .


Wish I had known it was coming so I could have shot video.  The whole spectacle lasted about five minutes ... started as a few pinkish wispy clouds and over the course of about two minutes deepened into this ... then two or three minutes later it had faded out completely.


On a lighter note, I should have taken “before” and “after” pics of this.  The “inside” of the Reds logo had sagged completely and the Wishbone C was no longer recognizable.  And the “stripes” on the cap had done the same.  So I propped them up with a few red plastic toothpicks – if I could have done the same with the team, they might have been playing in the World Series tonight.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Night 2014

Last night was pumpkin carving night at my house.  For those who haven’t spent years reading my musings, pumpkin carving and Christmas cookies are two traditions that have had staying power in our family over the years.  Ryan and Emily now have their own household, so it’s a bit harder to get everyone together.  But I’m learning to ask Emily – if I ask Ryan, he tells me that he needs to check with Emily – but if I ask Emily, she decides right away and then tells Ryan when it’s going to happen.

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Which led us to last night.  We had some food that we could get quickly if necessary, but the evening was more about the carving.  Ryan and I have always been “freeform carvers” – Emily likes to work with templates, and encouraged me to try it her way this year.  My freeform pumpkins have always been some variation of “eyes, nose and mouth” – there is not a creative bone in my body (my idea of creativity over the years was putting a couple of teeth in the mouth).  But I tried – spent some time on the laptop looking at templates but couldn’t find anything that just screamed at me.  That’s not quite correct – I found a Herman Munster template that I loved, but I knew that the detail was way out of my league as a first-time templater.  And I looked at a lot of sports-related templates, but a simple logo just didn’t do it for me.


Meanwhile, Ryan finished with his entry for the year (he calls this “One-Eyed Bob”), and Emily switched from the cat template above to an owl.  I came back into the living room with nothing and decided to go back to freeform mode, but the sad look on Emily’s face made me go back to the laptop for one more try.  I went to the Cincinnati Reds’ website to see if they had any templates (for me, “when in doubt, go to baseball”) – found a couple that weren’t bad, but still weren’t calling out to me.  But then the wheels started turning.

I now share my “creative process” – more for laughs than anything else, because for me this is as good as it gets . . .

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I started out with a Reds’ logo – figured I could use it for eyes.  Then I found a hat and moustache (part of the All-Star Game logo for 2015 because the Reds were baseball’s first professional team in 1869).  Maybe a bat for a mouth (I found that elsewhere).

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Then the hamster started running on that wheel inside my brain.  Maybe a skull and crossbones, with bats as the crossbones and the Reds logo as the skull.  And what about the hat and moustache to give it some character.  After a few overlays, I printed my “template” out and went to work.

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Picked up an “observer” along the way . . .


The finished product wasn’t perfect, but I thought it wasn’t bad for a first effort.  Then it was time to take them out on the front porch rail and light ‘em up . . .

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Left to right – Ryan’s “One-Eyed Bob” . . . my creation . . . and Emily’s owl.

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The finished product is never as important as the journey – and I have to admit that it was the most fun I have had on Pumpkin Night in a long time.


All of the activity and supervision did take a toll on Zoe, though . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Question for the Masses . . .

We were having a conversation at the store earlier this afternoon – part of it originated from inquiries received after last week’s post about the winners of a couple of card-creating contests (say that three times fast) during the Fall Fest.  Several of you wanted to know about the stamps or other materials used in one card or another.  We have rarely done this sort of thing in the past, but . . .

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Here are two cards (as examples only) that will be Make & Take projects in the store during the next week.  Is there any interest out there in posting such projects online or on the blog with pictures and instructions – perhaps even with kits for sale so you could make the exact same card at home?

Your feedback would be appreciated – thanks!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Fest

While I was in Fort Wayne and York, and in-between while I was trying to catch up from one and get ready for the other, the Fall Fest was taking place in our store in Dayton.  It was a week full of specials and classes and make it/take its, with a sidewalk sale and trunk show on Sunday.

Last Wednesday, I was playing golf and using an app on my cell phone as a GPS when it started buzzing over and over – and later I found several pictures that Judy Davidson had texted to me.  She later told me that the store had held a “Spontaneous Stamping Challenge” on Tuesday afternoon where entrants took a random package of paper and created something awesome – and these were the winners . . .

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First place went to Marty Osterday (left) and second place to Bernice Kleinschmidt (right – and of course we will assume that her entry was in focus even though this picture is not).


Third place was a tie between Gloria Foust and Donna Sheetz.

The same thing happened on Thursday afternoon – and my cell phone started vibrating during setup in York on Friday as more pictures from Judy arrived . . .

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First place went to Donna Sheetz (left) and second place to Toni Deloach (right).


Third place was again a tie between Bernice Kleinschmidt and Gloria Foust.

My favorite picture of the week arrived in my inbox on Thursday while I was driving to York.  It came from Judy Kennard . . .


Apparently Thursday was “Thanksgiving Hat Day” and this was Judy Schneider’s entry.  The opportunity to spend time in our store and share your creative talents is just one more reason why a visit to lovely Dayton should be on your bucket list.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Birthday Weekend in Historic York . . .

My bowling shoes are another year older (if you have read this blog for several years, this will make sense – if not, feel free to click here for the story).  My birthday was last Thursday, but since I was going to spend the whole day loading the truck and driving to York, PA (and since my brother had an all-day meeting on Thursday) Mom, Dad, Blake and I celebrated a day early.

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Dad called me a few days early and asked if Marion’s Pizza sounded good – for someone who lives around Dayton, Marion’s Pizza always sounds good.  Then they surprised me with Graeter’s ice cream cookie sandwiches for dessert.  It was a Southwest Ohio birthday – Graeter’s is ice cream in the Cincinnati area.  Then I spent the afternoon and early evening playing golf with my friend, Tom – he and I have played together regularly for more than 40 years.

I knew I was going to be dependent on others for much of the weekend.  The hotel rates in York are quite high, and the Holiday Inn where I have stayed for years had enough issues last year that I decided to look elsewhere.  I finally Pricelined last week and got a better rate at the historic Yorktowne Hotel.

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The Yorktowne Hotel was built in 1925 and has welcomed lots of dignitaries over the years – one elevator has a list of celebrities, and the other has a list of politicians who have stayed there.  It also has a working letter chute – I haven’t seen one of these in years unless the slots near the elevator on each floor were filled in.  And I also had an actual key for my room – it has been so long since I’ve had one of those that I almost forgot to turn it in when I left.

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This was very cool – in the lobby, they had a laminated copy of the local newspaper from the day the hotel opened – every story on the front page was about the new hotel in town.

Since the Yorktowne Hotel is downtown, it has a parking garage next door – which is fine for most, but not for a vendor with a big truck.  So Pat and Nikki from Heirloom ferried me back and forth from the fairgrounds for a couple of days and my friend Melinda did the honors the last day.

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Pat and Nikki decided to take me out to dinner for my birthday after setup on Friday – a barbeque joint had caught Pat’s eye the day before and he wanted to try it.  I would recommend it highly – Mission BBQ is a small chain that is spreading down the east coast.  Great barbeque and a military theme paying tribute to the troops everywhere, including the mobile smoker in the parking lot.

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Inside was more of the same – give it a try if you come across one.

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I got a kick out of this because the front wheels were up in the air once the jacks had leveled the living quarters – couldn’t resist shooting a couple of pics.  This rig is the “home away from home” of Rick and Kelley from Our Daily Bread Designs – if you can swing it, it beats a hotel room anytime.


Treats for Zoe from her “aunt” Bev Parnell greeted me on Saturday.  I greeted Bev with a big hug that I have been saving for two months – she lost her husband to cancer back in August.  She and I have shared prayers and cancer stories for quite a while now.


I showed this view to a lot of customers over the weekend – this was the live cam shot down Main Street of my hometown during the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.  Imagine more than 350,000 people on Main Street of a town of 3,000 – it is quite a sight, and the food from the local booths is out of this world – sauerkraut in everything you could think of (and a lot of things you couldn’t).  Modern technology is amazing – I could see what was going on at home in real time from 475 miles away.


Saturday evening, I treated myself to dinner at Smokey Bones (yes, more barbeque) – they had sent me an e-mail with a coupon for a free dessert.  This picture from their website doesn’t do justice to what I got – the Leaning Tower of Chocolate Cake was big enough for two (or three) and came with two scoops of ice cream.  I moaned when it came out – fought my way through half of it and then surrendered.  The rest went into a takeout box and I finished it on Sunday at the show.

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My favorite apparel view of the weekend was this little one wearing socks that looked like ballet slippers . . .


And we have a new item called “Papertyger Durable Paper” – you literally can’t tear it and it was fun to watch this girl try.

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Ah, the sleepy late afternoons at a show – my good friend Cal has done this many times while his wife Dee was shopping or working at a show.  If the image on the right looks familiar, it’s because I caught the same guy doing the same thing in Fort Wayne the weekend before!

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And for no reason other than “I wanted to share it with you” – here’s a rainbow that I saw while sitting at a stoplight last Tuesday.  It was one of the most vivid I have ever seen.

For the locals – my next post will include images of the winning projects from a couple of contests held during the Fall Fest at our store in Dayton last week, along with an intriguing piece of Thanksgiving headgear.  Look for that in the next day or two.