Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Sincere "Thank You" as 2015 Ends . . .

We appreciate each of you so much – I hope that’s obvious, but I still feel the need to say it.  You are so much more than mere customers – many of you have become friends over the years, even if we have never met in person.

I can’t count how many times this year I received an e-mail that started with “I don’t want to be a pest, but . . .”  And my response started with “You are not a pest – you are the reason I have a job.”

You are also the reason I get to travel – which I love – and the source of so much strength and support for my family (and our pets) as you share our milestones.

So for all of those reasons and more, Thank You.

I end the year by sharing an image that I encountered last night as I was finishing my New Year’s Eve baking . . .

This is Nala’s new favorite spot, no matter where we put it.  Last night, it happened to be in the living room.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Short, Sweet, and to the Point . . .

Something fun for the very end of 2015 and the very beginning of 2016 . . .

One Week Only -- Ends Monday, January 4

30% Off Almost Everything on Our Site and Free Shipping with a $50 Purchase -- online and phone orders only -- go to now!  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to Draw a Crowd for the 1:00 Make & Take . . .

Today was the annual Marco’s Paper Carry-In Luncheon in our store – it’s held after the 9:00-11:00 Morning Free Make & Take Project and before the 1:00-3:00 Afternoon $1.00 Make & Take Project.  I didn’t get there until 12:30 so I can’t attest to the size of the morning gathering.

But there was still plenty of food left and several didn’t arrive until after I did.  But the business of the day continued – Pat Hobson was cutting paper for a customer, and as folks visited the dessert table they got to make a fuss over Marian Henrich’s eight-month-old granddaughter.

Out in the classroom, there was plenty of eating and visiting.  Terri has that “gotcha” look on her face because I was trying to avoid her in the other shot because she was scraping leftovers into a garbage can – but I swung my cell phone around and snapped off a quick second shot.

And by the time Judy Davidson started the afternoon make & take, all of the classroom seating was full and there were folks standing off to the side waiting their turn.  Back in the back, others were clearing off the serving tables – and Karen had already laid claim to the leftovers from the cheeseball I had sent up earlier in the morning.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Holiday Feeling of Distress . . .

Yesterday was so busy – we are just swamped with your orders from the Thanksgiving Weekend Sale (this is a very nice problem to have).  And then I spent quite a while yesterday working on something that I usually put on the blog as well – but I forgot.  So that feeling of distress has a double meaning . . .


The final Distress Color was announced on Friday -- no word whether this will continue in 2016 (stay tuned).  Candied Apple is the twelfth in this year's series, and you can order all six pieces at 20% off the MSRP with free shipping in the Continental U.S. (or individual pieces at MSRP) by clicking on this link.


Reminder -- the release of the final Monthly Distress Color means that the third set of four Minis is now complete and should arrive at the same time as the December color -- you can place your advance order now at 20% off the MSRP with free shipping in the Continental U.S.


For those of you who have held off on jumping on the monthly Distress bandwagon -- and for those who need a great gift -- we are offering full sets of all 12 monthly pads, pads and reinkers, markers, and even the whole set of six pieces for each month.  You can see all of them by clicking on this linkThey are all 20% Off the MSRP with Free Shipping in the Continental U.S.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Coupon Contest Winners

While those of you in the hinterlands spent Thanksgiving Weekend overwhelming us with orders during our sale (and for that we thank you very much), the locals were having their own fun.  They got to make their own coupons to use in our retail store, and the most creative entries won gift certificates.  Want to see the entries?  I thought so . . .


This may or may not be all of them – I leaned back as far as I could in the foyer to get the ones posted on the bulletin board by the front door.


Our own version of Carol Merrill shows off the grand prize winning entry submitted by Jeanette Alley.

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Second prize (left) went to Linda Pritchett and third prize went to Sandy Barton.

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Karen insisted that I get shots of the outside and both panels of the inside of the fourth prize entry submitted by Gloria Foust – surely at least part of the reason was that she is thankful for us . . .


And the fifth prize entry submitted by Teri Grismer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Two-Day Sale Warning, and Emptying the Cell Phone Camera (Including a BABY PICTURE) . . .

First and most important – if you have forgotten or neglected or put off placing your order during our annual Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday Weekend 25% Off Everything on Our Site Sale, this is your reminder that IT ENDS WEDNESDAY AT MIDNIGHT – at least on the west coast – the east coasties get until 3:00 a.m. Thursday – but if you’re on Hawaii Standard Time you only get until 10:00 p.m.


Of course, if you’re a bit of a gambler you may be able to stretch a few more hours – the odds of me dragging myself out of bed to shut off the sale at 3:00 in the morning are extremely remote, so it will probably stretch until I get up on Thursday morning.

But you have been warned . . .

Now on to other matters – I spent the weekend before last at a show in lovely (especially if you love snowstorms and single digit temperatures) Madison, Wisconsin.  Hadn’t been to this show in several years, and it gave me a chance to touch base and catch up with my dear friends Chris Mode and Denise Pernetti (some of you may remember them when they were on our show circuit doing business as The Creative Mode).


This is neither of them – this is my wife’s cousin Carol Pappas.  Carla found out recently that Carol works at a Sam’s Club near where she lives in northern Indiana – and about halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago on my trip to Madison, I remembered this.  Guess who had the classic look of shock and surprise on her face when she turned around at her post at the jewelry counter and saw me?


This is what happens when the promoter tells me to grab a couple of props and stand in front of her “selfie stand” at the entrance to the show.


Faber-Castell generously sent their design team member Margie Higuchi to dazzle the customers at our demo table all weekend.  This was our first time working together and I’m sure we’ll do it again.


This was the view out of the breakfast room window in my hotel on Saturday morning.  Eight inches of white death in Madison – up to 18” 50 miles farther south.  And yes, it did have an effect on the attendance on Saturday – even hardy folks from Wisconsin and northern Illinois are affected by the first snowfall of the winter.


One of the best perks of my travels is the friendships I have made. In the Fall of 1999, I met Roy and Tyra Smith and their three children for the first time (Tyra was demoing for us at a show in St. Paul, MN). Over the years, we have become more than friends -- we have become family.  Their oldest daughter, Shyekara Shroeder, was 10 then – over the weekend she turned 27.  On Saturday night in Madison, Kara and her husband welcomed me, her parents, and her sister Angel into their home.  There, I met their eight-week-old son Parker -- and held an infant in my arms for the first time since my nephew Tyler was born nearly 22 years ago.

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Of course, last weekend was Thanksgiving – a busy baking occasion for me.  The first two of these have appeared on these pages before – Chocolate Mint Cookies and our family favorite Cheeseball.  The last one was a first effort – Pumpkin Cheesecake Lasagna.  I saw it on a friends Facebook page and gave it a shot for my family – it was very well received.  If you want to give it a shot for yours, you can find the recipe here.


And this is just a shock to me – this is what I paid on Sunday and there were no discounts involved.  Here in Ohio, gas is usually higher than it is in surrounding states, so we usually envy you folks in South Carolina and Texas and other states where it is traditionally cheaper.  But last weekend, Indiana and Ohio had the cheapest gas in the country.  A month before, a Midwest refinery went offline and for a few days ours was the highest.  So I guess this is our compensation – until someone sneezes and the price goes up again.