Saturday, October 31, 2015

Filling Your Trick or Treat Bag . . .

In the past, we haven't started this until mid-November -- but a conversation about "trick or treating" led us to put this in your treat bag a little early!


From now through December 16, 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"

Friday, October 30, 2015

Drawing the Red Lite-Brite Peg After 34 Years . . .

I live in a town that is known as “The Antiques Capital of the Midwest” – there were once 75+ antique shops on Main Street – but I am not an antiquer.  I have just a few heirlooms in my house – and each of them has a story associated with a member of my family. 


This is the first one I ever got – a little ceramic bulldog wearing a sailor cap.  It belonged to my great-grandma and I always noticed it when I was growing up.  After she died, her possessions went to the family, with first choice going to the children and then the grandchildren.  So when the great-grandchildren’s turn came, I was thrilled that the only little piece I was interested in was still there.

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Years later when my mom’s parents downsized and moved into an apartment, I picked up the trunk that my great-grandparents “set up housekeeping in” and my grandma’s old Singer sewing machine and cabinet.

But my favorite (and least favorite) story of family heirloom furniture started in 1981, a few weeks after my dad’s father died (his mom had died four years earlier).  Dad and his three siblings gathered to disperse the furnishings before Grandpa’s house was sold.  In the interests of fairness, my dad brought along four of my brother’s old Lite-Brite pegs – three clear ones and a red one.  As the kids went to each piece of furniture, if more than one wanted it a Lite-Brite peg for each was put into a bowl – which was held high as each pulled one out.  And whoever got the red Lite-Brite peg won the prize.

Since I was about a year from getting married, Dad asked me if I was interested in any of the furniture.  There were only two pieces that I really wanted – the old console radio in the spare bedroom, and to a lesser degree the china cabinet in the kitchen.  With my interest in broadcasting, the radio was fascinating to me – a huge floor model that stood about four feet tall, with pushbuttons to switch from AM to FM to shortwave to TV audio (which was amazing to me since TV didn’t exist yet when it was built).  Alas, Aunt Jean got the radio and Uncle Orris got the china cabinet.

I didn’t think about it for years – but one night Dad and I were talking about those Lite-Brite pegs and I mentioned how much I had wanted that radio.  The next day, he called Jean to tell her in case she ever decided to part with it – and found out that two days before she had pulled it out of the barn loft (seriously?) and donated it to her church rummage sale.  Oh, I was crushed – even considered trying to track down the buyer to see if I could get it back.  I didn’t – but to this day I still regret not voicing my interest sooner.

All of this brings me to Tuesday of this week, when Dad called to tell me that Orris and his wife Patty were downsizing and wanted to know if I was interested in the china cabinet.  They live about three miles from our mail center – I was there within an hour.  The cabinet was in a part of their house that I had never entered when I visited – but it looked exactly like it did the last time I had seen it 34 years ago.  During the process, I learned more about its history – it originally came from the Sears Roebuck catalog (in the days when you could order a house – and practically anything else – from Sears) and was assembled by my great-grandfather, who died before I was born.


Last night, I loaded it into our company truck and it came to my house – where it fit perfectly into a corner of the dining room.  It didn’t come with a red Lite-Brite peg, but I am thrilled after all these years to have a part of my grandparents’ heritage in my home.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Her Hiking Trails Aren’t Blacktopped Anymore . . .

My mom loves to walk.  Not hike – walk.  On asphalt or concrete.  When Blake and I go out to Arizona, the goals are to keep up with Dad on the hiking trails – and with Mom on her walks around the park where they live.  Both are a challenge.

But last spring, in the couple of months between our visit and their return to Ohio, Dad started sending us pictures of Mom at spots that we had seen with him on our hikes – and some of them weren’t easy to reach.  And yet, there was Mom in her Keds . . . and I shared those pictures in a blog post in April.


This was one of those pictures – in front of a pile of rocks that I have scrambled atop several times over the years.

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Yesterday, he sent me this – which sent me searching for a similar shot he took of me several years ago.  Needless to say, I am impressed – and again, I wish I had been there to see it.  Looks like Blake and I might have another hiking buddy when we go back in the spring.

Monday, October 26, 2015

You Need a Chauffeur Like This . . .

One of the things I treasure most about my business travels over the years is the acquaintances I have made along the way.  Everywhere we go, there are faces that I simply have to see before “all is right with the world” again.  And sometimes I see enough of those faces that acquaintances become friendships.

So it is with Brenda Carbon and her husband, Bill.  For years, I saw Brenda at shows in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan – always with her husband in tow, often wearing his touring cap.  Bill usually brought a book along to read, but would always come in to visit for a while during the afternoon.

A year or so ago, they moved to a town near Nashville – and there aren’t a lot of shows within shouting distance.  But Brenda and Bill came across most of Tennessee a couple of weekends ago to the show in Sevierville – and it was so nice to catch up again.


Brenda wanted a picture before they headed home – and I asked her to send me a copy.  When folks ask if I like what I do, an image like this is a much better response than any story I could tell.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Two New Spellbinders Collections and a Look Behind the Scenes . . .

First business, then frivolity . . . I’m on a time schedule today.


Spellbinders has two new lines of dies – Woodlands and Amazing Paper Grace.  Some of them you just might find very useful, especially this time of year.  And if you click on the graphic above, you’ll go to a page where you can see all of them.

And now the friv0lity – the following has been waiting on my cell phone for me to have a few minutes to give it life.  I walked into the York show building on Sunday a couple of weeks ago and discovered Sarah Justison from The Paper Cut and Mitra Friant from Impression Obsession practicing their jump rope skills behind Mitra’s booth (which was right next to mine, so I couldn’t miss it).  So I shot some video to share with you.  Sarah and Mitra are very creative – they are also very athletic (they have both done a number of walking/running events) – so I suspect that with time they will be experts at jump rope.  But not quite yet . . .

If you get this blog by e-mail, you won’t see the video above – but you can watch it by clicking on this link . . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scenes from a Smoky Mountain Weekend . . .

So many of you go to the Smoky Mountain Wonderland of Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville, Tennessee in the fall to explore the mountains . . . watch the leaves change . . . hit the outlet malls and tourist traps.  And for the past few years . . . go to the rubber stamp/scrapbook show!  So many came from long distances – I talked with customers from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and I probably missed a few states.

Since one show pretty much looks like another, I have reached the point where I just post images that strike my fancy or are a bit off the wall.  As such . . .

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The picture of the masses waiting to enter the show on Saturday morning is one thing – but the shot of those who were standing behind me, moaning because they were left out of the shot, is quite something else.


Poor Suzanne – this is a terrible picture, and I was so busy on Saturday that I only took one shot of the demo table and didn’t look to see how it came out.  Suzanne Reed lived in Fort Worth, Texas all of her life and worked in our booth in Grapevine for more than ten years and two pregnancies.  Alittle over a year ago, her husband Aaron was transferred to East Tennessee and Suzanne was uprooted.  But that “uprooting” put her within an easy drive of this weekend’s show – so while Aaron and the boys were at a baseball tournament, Suzanne spent the weekend in our booth and had a ball working with a whole new batch of customers.


My favorite image of the weekend was this young lady, who couldn’t stop giggling after she said that the Bird Crazy Dies packaging looked like what you would see “if Angry Birds went to a mental hospital…”  So I had her lean up toward the display so I could get a decent shot of both of them.

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The Sevierville Golf Club is part of the convention/hotel complex (the 18th green of the Highlands Course is right next to the convention center – and I could see it all weekend as the door was opened to the hallway).  So I simply had to take time out during the afternoon of a busy setup day and play 18 holes.  The view of the Smoky Mountains in the distance was really impressive.  The last thing Steve Lindeman from Toomuchfun Promotions told me before I headed out was “Get a hole-in-one!” (yeah, right).  The picture at right was as close as I got to one – about eight feet (and of course I missed the putt for birdie).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Pics (and a Video) from York . . .

Pat Larson from Heirloom Productions emptied his camera a couple of days ago – he got a few good shots of the booth and the giveaway on Saturday in York, Pennsylvania . . .

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Free stuff really does draw a crowd, doesn’t it?

And then there was this.  Last Friday was my birthday – I didn’t make a big deal of it, but apparently a few caught wind of it and decided to serenade me before the giveaway started.  And Pat seems to have been able to switch his camera to video mode just before the singing ended . . .

If you are not able to see this (on the e-mail feed of this blog, often there is a black box instead of the video), you can see it by clicking on this link . . .

It was fun – thanks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

So Far Behind and So Little Time . . .

I am so far behind.  In many ways, it’s my own fault – but every fall it seems that several shows and my golf trip all seem to come up at the same time.  And it did again this year.

This was my schedule for the past few weeks . . . on Friday, October 2 I drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana to set up for the show there.  Then I drove home that evening to announce the high school football game, and drove back the following morning.  Did the show Saturday and Sunday and drove home.  Spent Monday, October 5 unloading and loading the truck for the following weekend’s show.  Left my house at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday and drove to Winchester, Tennessee to play golf for three days (somewhere in the middle of which I found internet access at a marina nearby and did e-mail).  Got home at 8:00 on Thursday, was in bed by 9:30 – got up at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, October 9 and was on the road by 3:00.  Drove to York, Pennsylvania and set up for the show there.  Pat and Dave from Heirloom took me to dinner for my birthday after setup.  Did the show Saturday and Sunday and started the drive home Sunday night – until I blew a tire (again) and spent the night at a nearby motel.  Got the tire replaced on Monday morning and drove home.  Which brings us to today, where I am at work on a relatively normal schedule for the first time in almost two weeks.  That will last for today and tomorrow – on Thursday morning, I’m off to Sevierville, Tennessee for another show this weekend.

And some of you are sitting there and thinking, “He thinks HE is busy . . .”

What all of this means is a lot of new items released over the past couple of weeks and I simply haven’t had time to tell you about them.  Now I realize that some of you check our website regularly to see if anything has changed, but others wait for me to spread the word.

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Like this – the October Distress Color of the Month is Carved Pumpkin (how fitting).  It was announced on October 2 and I am finally getting around to posting it here on the 13th – and it will arrive here from Ranger today.  All weekend long in York, people asked whether the October color would arrive in time for them to do their Halloween projects – and I found out Saturday evening that the answer was YES.  And we’ll have some at the show in Sevierville this weekend.  Well done, Ranger . . .


Lots of other new items from Ranger were announced the same day – they aren’t here yet but should arrive soon.  New Stickles colors, foil sheets, Glitter Dust, a Paper Mosaic Kit, and more.  And of course all of this is 20% Off the MSRP with Free Shipping in the Continental U.S.


Real Time Correction – as I typed that last paragraph, the bell on the front door dinged, and the UPS driver came in with the October Color of the Month and more than half of the other new Ranger items!


And Spellbinders came out with a new Platinum machine (that will cut up to eight layers in a single pass).  It cuts over 40 different materials including wool, balsa wood, chipboard, craft metal, leather and so much more.  And there is a whole new line of dies.  Check it out!

I’m probably missing something else, but now I need to help with shipping those Carved Pumpkin sets so you can get started on your Halloween projects.

A few images from York and the golf trip to clean out my cell phone camera . . .


There was no way I was going to win on the last day of the golf trip when one of the guys had superpowers . . .


But this golf ball deserves mention.  It was my faithful friend for three days – 63 holes – on a heavily wooded course – it went into the woods multiple times, and even in the water once – and I didn’t lose it.  I sometimes lose two or three balls in nine holes.  So now it goes on to a well-deserved retirement . . .


I found this ball in the middle of the 2nd fairway on the last day of the golf trip – I suspect it had been clipped by the mower . . .


From York – my friend Dee Ruger has been getting around on this contraption since she tore her Achilles tendon six months ago.  And it struck me that every girl needs a bell on her bicycle – so I went out to Walmart after setup and bought one.  Her husband Cal and I put it on the scooter when Dee wasn’t looking – but she noticed it as soon as she hobbled back.  I heard that bell ringing off and on all through the weekend . . .


And the obligatory “Cal asleep at the show” shot . . .

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Staying Connected Is Sometimes a Challenge . . .

It has been a hectic week – a very hectic week.  The Fort Wayne show was last weekend, and afterward I spent most of Monday loading/unloading the truck to get ready for this weekend’s show in York, PA.  Because in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, I headed south to play golf with friends for three days at Tims Ford State Park near Winchester, TN.

All of this meant that by Wednesday afternoon, I had not been online to check e-mail since Sunday morning – and there is no internet access anywhere in Tims Ford.  But the folks there told me that I would probably be able to get online at the marina nearby.


So this is the view as I finish e-mail and type this blog post.  I have been in much worse places – the weather is gorgeous, the friends are top-notch, and even my golf is OK.

Hope to see many of you this weekend in York – or next weekend in Sevierville, TN . . .