Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We Like to Do Birthdays in My Family . . .

Yesterday was Mom’s birthday.  Her 79th – I have been around to celebrate 60 of them.  I always enjoyed having young parents – and I cherish still having them around.

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Birthdays are always a big deal in my family – honestly, any excuse to get together is a big deal in my family.  This time, we celebrated Mom’s birthday on Saturday because it was the only day we could get all of the kids together at once.  Blake grilled burgers and chicken, and Lisa filled their kitchen counter with veggies and such.  Being the family dessert guy, I made homemade ice cream, chocolate pie, snickerdoodles, and gluten-free dairy-free chocolate chip cookies for my niece Jordan – I think remnants of all of them are on Mom and Dad’s plates.


Last night on her actual birthday, we did what has become another family tradition – we took Mom to Graeter’s for ice cream.  Graeter’s is a Cincinnati institution that has spread out a bit over the years, so there is one very close to us.  Mom got her love of ice cream from her dad – and so did I.  I have fond memories of childhood Sunday nights eating homemade ice cream on my grandparents’ porch. 

I would love to have done play-by-play last night.  Mom was between Dad and me – I had a sundae, Dad had a cup filled with ice cream.  And Mom had a spoon.  Whichever way the conversation turned, Mom dipped her spoon into that treat and got a bite – and it went on that way until both were empty.

It was some of the best ice cream I have ever had.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Stampaway USA Goes Back to the Fabulous ’50s . . .

It always seems like it would be easier to do a show in my own area, but the week of Stampaway USA in Cincinnati (aka “The I Get to Sleep in My Own Bed Show”) is always one of the most grueling of the year.  I know that part of it has to do with only being 40 minutes from the convention center – if you forget something, you feel obligated to go back and get it.  At most shows that are several hundred miles from home, we work with what we brought.  It could also have something to do with the Stamping Gala in our store all week long, but I was only in the store three times all week – the rest of the time I was in the mail center or in Cincinnati.

That said, what follows is a pictorial review of the week as I observed it, starting with the costumes . . .

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These were ours – mine was a rerun (which seemed fitting) from the M*A*S*H theme in 2006, Sally Lynn MacDonald from Gel Press was doing Beauty School Dropout from Grease, but I told her that she looked like a distant relative of Beldar from Remulak (for the youngsters, think Coneheads), and the Marco’s Creative Crew (Donna, Lisa and Chris) probably looked the most like 50s of all.

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Vendor shots.  Seems like only a couple of years ago that Margaret’s son Billy (top row, second from left) was just a little boy running around at shows.  Same with Ted’s daughter Katie (bottom row, second from left).  Ted seems to be channeling his inner Mafia don (bottom row, third from left).  And most of you may not know her – or may “know” her but haven’t seen her, but over the past couple of years Suzanne Dowst has become the behind-the-scenes glue that holds all of this together.

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And some shots of the shoppers – I think the Coca-Cola twins at top left won, but I wasn’t out in the lobby for the judging.

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I made Chocolate Mint Cookies and brought them along to share with the vendors during the three days we were at the convention center.  Ended up using some of them to tempt/tease Rick Holland from Our Daily Bread Designs, who was in Arizona getting special treatment for his best friend, Murph.

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Even got Phil Krebs from Art Impressions and Rick’s wife Kelley to play along . . .

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Marco’s Creative Crew drawing a crowd at the demo table both Friday night and Saturday . . .

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So was the Beauty School Dropout.  I titled the picture at right “Demo artist from Connecticut using weeds from Ohio to make art for the world” – she actually went out in the parking lot during the show and pulled some greenery to create backgrounds.


Youngest attendee I saw . . .

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A couple of looks at our classroom at the store from the two mornings that I was able to get there – along with the lady who was there and waiting 30 minutes before the first make and take project started each day . . .

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Last but not least, the highlight of my weekend . . . I was passing out flyers Saturday morning before the show and this nice lady told me that she had something for me that she thought I would like . . . wow, was she right.  The faces on the card she created are my parents.  I have shared a lot of my family through our company blog, and when Mom had lymphoma you were all so supportive.  You still are . . .

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Big Boats, a Bridge, and a Sing-Along . . .

Last weekend was my first visit ever to Port Huron, Michigan – and the closest I have ever been to Canada without actually crossing the border.  The town is well-named – most everything I saw there had something to do with the lake, the river, or the bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada . . .


This was my first view of the bridge – it is huge, metal, and loud.  The little building underneath is a museum – apparently Thomas Edison lived here as a boy and rode the train from Port Huron to Detroit every day selling newspapers.  Over time, he got so good at it that he hired two other youngsters to sell papers on other trains – and this is how he earned the money to do his first experiments.

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There is a Doubletree hotel attached to the convention center (or vice versa).  It has been at least 15 years since I have stayed in a Doubletree, but they still make a big deal about greeting you with warm chocolate chip cookies at the front desk when you check in.  And so they did . . . handed me a bag straight from the warmer under the desk . . . but then I asked if they had nuts in them . . . "Oh yes  . . . walnuts . . . but we have a nut-free alternative if you prefer that."  So she went back and dug through a drawer and pulled out these . . . and as she handed them to me . . . "They're also gluten-free . . . but they don't have much taste."  Yum . . .

From my room – can’t remember the last time I saw a phone in the bathroom . . .

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Before and after setup – the Blue Water Convention Center is really nice, and anyplace that has a loading dock so I can avoid using the liftgate on the truck to load and unload is all right by me.


Couldn’t resist taking this – the promoter is branching out – “Heirloom Productions and Bike Rental”


The barges, fishermen, outdoor music and such naturally draw you out to the river in the evening – there always seemed to be something going on.

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The demos in our booth were “self serve” – but the customers were quite willing to help each other.  The nice lady in the middle was there for the better part of 45 minutes and drew quite a crowd.

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Back to the river on Friday evening – took a walk as far as I could in both directions from the convention center.

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Even though I never crossed into Canada, apparently my phone was pinging a tower on that side of the river – Verizon thought I was there, and my directions started appearing in metric . . .


How to keep your kid occupied while you shop . . .

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Another crowd at the demo table.  I see these t-shirts at practically every convention in Michigan – finally told them what goes through my mind when I see them . . . “We represent, the Lollipop Kids . . .”

Another bunch of customers sat around a table and did a sing-along by reading from cards provided by one of their group.  There were more than seven dwarfs, and I didn’t have time to figure out how to make it appear here, but if you click on this link from our Facebook page, I think you’ll be able to watch it . . .


While we were tearing down after the show, this bunch was right outside in the hallway.  We thought it was a wedding reception, but found out later that the open bar was getting these folks well-lubricated before the wedding.  Made us all wonder what might be shouted out when the minister got to “speak now or forever hold your peace” . . .