Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Request for Some “Magic” for Amy . . .

A lot of you remember Amy Harpool from Amy's Magic – she was on the show circuit for years and made several visits to our store.  Amy told me several years ago that she would eventually do shows again, and four weeks ago she and her daughter Ashley had a booth at the show in Springfield, MA – it was so good to see both of them.

It had been nearly ten years since I had seen Ashley – like many of our kids, she grew up at shows.


Amy's world has shattered and she really needs your prayers – Ashley died suddenly last Friday.

I talked with her this morning and asked if she would like notes of encouragement and support – she would. You can send them to or through her Facebook page (Amy Delphine Griffith).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Friendships That Started at the Same Place . . .

The most valuable benefit of my travels is the friendships that I treasure – and this story is about some of those.  It all began at StampFest Orlando in 1998 – in those days, the show was still at the old Sheraton World on International Drive. 

We needed a demo person – preferably someone local – and our friend Sue Rothamel from USArtQuest suggested Anna Ely.


This picture of Karen, Anna and me was actually taken in 2000 and at that point those shirts were new – by then, Anna had worked several shows with us including our one and only foray to the west coast.  Over the years, she has continued to work with us and our friendship has grown – and we have watched each other’s kids grow up.


Last Friday night, Anna was working the Make and Take at StampFest Summer in Lakeland – and wearing that same shirt from 16 years ago.  Mine died years ago.

At our first Make and Take in Orlando back in 1998, I stuck my head into the room during the evening to see what was going on – at that point this stuff was still relatively new to me, but even then Karen and Anna knew enough about my lack of crafting skills to keep me away from it.  I was about to leave when I heard a voice behind me asking the question that would haunt me for years – “Do you have any ferret paper?”


That was my introduction to Judy Uchida and Jane Clark – twin sisters from different mothers (I still can’t tell them apart) who were working the Make and Take for Debby and Rick at Just for Fun.  Judy owned a ferret or two – or three – or maybe more – at the time, and Jane was in the background laughing while Judy began our friendship by teasing me (and I took her seriously at first).

Judy ended up traveling with Just for Fun for a few years – my wife still remembers buying her a cake one year when Judy spent her birthday at a show in Cleveland.  Jane ended up raising a second set of children – she and Nick adopted two adorable girls from China.  We have shared many milestones over the years.

And Judy never stopped asking me about that ferret paper.  So this year, I decided that it was time to turn the tables on her – and I created two sets of paper, one for my entertainment and one for hers . . .

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I gave her the “Ferret Face Paper” first – you’ll understand that if you were as much of a fan of M*A*S*H as I was.


And I do believe that she enjoyed them as much as I did . . .


Gotta love those friendships that endure . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Coming Soon to a Classroom Near You (if it’s not near you, you could come here) . . .

We start getting calls and e-mails in the spring – “What’s going on in the store the week leading up to the Cincinnati convention?”  And we don’t have a clue – at that point, we’re barely working on the schedule for the Spring Spectacular at the end of April.  We realize that Connie and Kat work far in advance and have the class schedule for Cincinnati set up months in advance.  But we never have.

That said . . .


We take great pride in announcing that Ken Oliver will lead off the Stamping Gala in our store with two classes on Monday, August 1!

The classes are Stitched Watercolor Cards (10:00-1:00)  for $47 and Color Burst Journal (3:00-7:00) for $52 – and if you’re going to be in our area that week, you’ll want to sign up quickly!


And if you’re going to be in lovely Dayton, Ohio this weekend, the store is having a Summer Spectacular, with specials every day (including Sunday!), and three classes with Anthony Gilbert from Anthony’s Paper Craft.  Anthony has set up a class for almost every taste . . .


Interactive Stamping Using Stamps by Judith & Heather on Friday, June 24 from 3:00-5:00 ($25)


The introduction of Anthony’s new Geometrics Collection on Saturday, June 25 from 1:30-4:30 ($25)


And Stampscapes Scenery Stamping on Sunday, June 26 from 1:00-3:30 ($30)

Now I’m done and you can get busy checking out these great classes – if you want to go to one page on our site where you’ll find links to all of them – try this one!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stories from the Road . . . and Home

In the past four weeks, it feels like I have been everywhere.  A weekend in New York . . . Memorial Day Weekend at home . . . a weekend in Massachusetts . . . a side trip to Maryland . . . a weekend in Minnesota.  Here I am at home again, with lots of untold stories that I need to get out of my head and out of my cell phone camera.  I planned to give each event a separate post – but if I do that, I’ll already be in Florida for StampFest by the time I’m finished.  So here is a hodge-podge – if you’re interested, you can read all the way to the end or scroll through and hit the highlights – and if you aren’t, there is always that big “X” in the upper right corner . . .

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That ugly pic at left is how my trip to Syracuse started – thankfully, I was in the parking lot behind our store when I saw it.  I think it was the cap from a pipe, but it was hard to tell even after our tire guy came by and pried it out – and thankfully, he was able to get to me less than an hour after we called.  The delay made it possible for me to witness the sun setting over Lake Erie as I crossed from Pennsylvania into New York on I-90 (I held up my phone and blindly shot half a dozen pics – this was the best one).

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I love the Syracuse venue – this is the events center at Onondaga Community College.  Some of the vendors can drive in to unload (as long as they stay on the track), and there is a loading dock for me nearby.  It’s one of the few places where we actually get to look outside and see what’s going on.

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However, that track makes it a bit challenging to try to get the booth straight . . .

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I got a kick out of the people on the walkway on the main level above us – they would stop and lean over to see what was going on.


From the Friday night make and take event – the ladies from Craft-Dee Bowz were posing as construction workers . . .

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A fond farewell to our friend Joel Bechlem from Heartfelt Creations – he did another show in Orlando after this one, but now he’s off on his own and starting his own business.

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Short and simple – this is the best walking cane I have ever seen.

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I love working with the talented design team folks from Faber-Castell – Jen Matott lives in Syracuse, and Margie Higuchi flew in from Chicago to work with me in Springfield.


My nephew Conner enjoys one of the benefits of the amount of change that passes through my hands – I am always on the lookout for coins to add to his collection.

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I got home from Syracuse in time to spend a day working in the yard – you’ll note that my supervisor is smart enough to stay in the shade.  The next day was Zoe’s birthday – my baby girl is now nine years old, but forever my puppy.

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Memorial Day Weekend featured my 40-year high school reunion.  I spent three glorious days with the friends of my youth.  Some still live nearby, but others have spread out all over the world – one came from New Zealand!  I took lots of pictures – but these are the only two that included me after I handed my phone to someone else to snap a picture.  Someday, I hope to see the hundreds of pictures taken by others over the course of the weekend.

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A few days later, I drove to Hartford, Connecticut (I usually stay by the Hartford Airport for the Springfield convention) – but I got there a day early so I could fly to Washington, DC on Thursday morning.  The last time I was in National Airport was in 1978 – and at that point, Ronald Reagan was best known as a B-movie actor and former governor of California.  I had heard and read horror stories about the TSA security lines at airports this summer, but the pic at right is the worst line I saw on Friday morning on the way back to Hartford – it only took 15 minutes to navigate.


I flew to Washington so I could rent a car and drive down to Lexington Park, Maryland to watch my firstborn niece, Alex, as she graduated from high school.

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My niece Mary also had a part in the program – she is a sophomore and was in the orchestra.  My youngest niece Natalie just finished the eighth grade – but could have passed for a senior in Alex’s cap and gown.

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Back to Springfield for setup – where my first dilemma was how to construct a booth around a pole.  Thankfully, the carts are adjustable and the sign slipped nicely under the water pipes.


If you are ever near the Hartford Airport, take my advice and make a stop at Dairy Cream – just north of the airport on Ella Grasso Turnpike.  This ice cream shack has the best peppermint . . .

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Springfield was our first experience with Gel Press – Sally Lynn MacDonald drove up from Connecticut with a Prius full of their products.  Didn’t take many of them back with her . . .

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She also brought a sign – wouldn’t fit next to her demo table, so I got creative and found a place for it . . .

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I quickly learned that Sally Lynn knows everyone – people I have known for years ran past me to greet her.  But Sally Lynn’s day started with the same person both Saturday and Sunday – the vendor next door.

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The usual crowd assembling in Springfield before the show opened on Saturday – and the usual crowd in our booth shortly after . . .

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Caught my good friend Cal Ruger doing a little coloring on Sunday afternoon.  His wife Dee was shocked to see me eating and insisted on taking a picture of the experience.


I was home for only a day or two before heading to Minnesota – this was so shocking to me that I had to stop and take a picture of it.  Nala and Shadow hate each other – actually it’s more like Shadow hates Nala and Nala thinks it’s fun to tease her.  This is as close as I have ever seen them without tension involved.


Quick stop in Madison, Wisconsin on my way to Minnesota to drop off a wedding present.  The second of my “honorary sister” Tyra Smith’s three children gets married this weekend – less than 20 miles from where I was in Minnesota last weekend.  Couldn’t work out the logistics to get back there, so I left the present next to the front door of her daughter Kara’s condo.  Bad timing there as well – I missed Kara by an hour.


Picture in my room of old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota – home plate is now in the middle of the Mall of America.  I had forgotten that the third base stands at the Met rotated for football . . .


We were in the Expo Center at Canterbury Park in Shakopee – really nice horse track and complex.  I was so busy that I didn’t have a chance to take pics as often as I like – and didn’t have a demo person so I set up a “self serve” demo.  Love it when the youngsters get involved – they are the future of our business.


Funniest thing I saw all weekend – and this was not staged – this is how a customer got part of her purchase to my cash register.

And with that, I think we’re caught up again – just in time for Fathers’ Day Weekend.