Saturday, January 30, 2010

Freezing N Stitching N Writing N Things

It's Cold ... like 2 degrees cold! No ice though, so I can't really complain. Did I mention it's cold?

Damn heddle loom .. still giggling at me and my frustrated attempts to make it work so I can become all zen-like. I will NOT fail at this ... I'm a tenacious impatient perfectionist ... and I WILL prevail! Besides, I KNOW it's something that I've done in threading the loom ... I just have no idea yet what it could be!!

I did felt two more wool scarves on Wednesday though. One, while really cool and out of merino wool mixed with silk (aka incredibly soft and silky looking), is not quite what I was looking for .. it needs to be a bit more glam/flashy. So will try another in the same or similar colors but with more glitz added to it. When I have time, that is. I so LOVE working with the Artfelt paper technique of felting ... just do your layout and wet it completely down and ... throw it in the dryer for a couple of short periods. Pour boiling water over it .. stomp it dry in a towel and then hang to finish drying. Makes life so much simpler and saves on those back/arm muscles. Though, in summer weather, doing wet felting the 'old fashioned way' is very ZEN and nice being outside with the singing birdies!
I realized the other day that I'd not shown you the 'doll' I'd made for mom for her Christmas/Birthday present. Please remember these dolls ARE meant to be characterizations rather than actually lifelike ... no matter how I tried, her face refused to be changed! LOL Mom just loves her .. she sits on the ledge that separates her kitchen from her living room. I think what mom loves the most is that they BOTH have the same shawl!!

Tonight more stitching on my agenda .. and tomorrow as well, after I take mom grocery shopping (IF she remembers that we're going grocery shopping, that is!). Then I expect a package from Maureen Appleton of The Heart's Content. I'm going to stitch a silk gauze model for her for the Nashville Market. Maureen wrote me that ... "Two of my model stitchers recently passed (cancer), and another just took ill earlier this week, and I am left hanging. I am terribly sad about this horrible disease, as it affects all of us. Too sad to lose two great friends."
While I'm stitching that for her, everything else in my life will have to come to a complete standstill .. Maureen's project will take center stage!
Ok .. LouAnn brought me a hot beverage on her trip back from the bank this morning .. time to go drink that, get a bit warmer, and start the work day properly!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Printing N Printing N ...

Printing off page after page of Camp Stitchalot agendas, class brochures, coupon tickets, fee reminder tickets so I can get all of the Camp Packets off in tomorrow's mail. I've only been at this since 10:45am and it's now after 2pm (without a break AND with a screaming sinus headache) and .. I 'think' the end is in sight! Or rather, the 'printer sound' is nearly through!! I need access to a high speed printer that is free. (sigh)

Yesterday had the day off work and spent the whole time with Dave, his daughter in law Sally, and two of his grand kids (Sierra, the attorney and Sam the automotive engineer), and one of Sam's friends. We went to the Detroit Auto Show first. I'd never been to one of those events before. It was fun, not really something I'd die if I couldn't ever do again, but guess it would be something I could cross off my 'bucket list', if I had one. Did find about 4 cars I'd really like to have .. two of the concept cars and at $221,000, a bit out of my price range. LOL What am I saying? I own my own business and Dave is retired from self-employment ... I do NOT have a price range! I have no money! My trusty VUE-hical had better run for the rest of my life!

Then we went to the Plymouth Ice Festival .. where they do all the ice carvings and stuffs. COLD. I was cold, but the sculptures were melting .. it was around 35 degrees out. People! Mass amounts of people! Perhaps more that the amount that were at the Auto Show, and there was enough people there to populate a small country!! I did get lost at the Auto show a couple of times and it was too noisy for Dave to hear his cell phone ringing .. so eventually after standing in one spot slowly rotating (like I was a car on display) in circles, I was found. I kept a death-grip on Dave's coat tail at the Ice Festival.

Then we all went out for pizza afterwards and to warm up, and then it was time to head home. A terrifically fun day was had by all! And I had no problem falling to sleep AND staying asleep last night!

My sister had given Dave a HUGE bag of paperback novels for Christmas .. so I've begun reading some of those INSTEAD of using my Kindle. I had to report all finances to my accountant for tax purposes and in going over my MasterCard statements, was astounded at just HOW much I'd spent on Kindle download books!! Still ahead of the game with my Kindle costs vs new books at a news counter, but still! (don't even let Dave know!!!)

Just finished reading "Plague Ship" by Clive Custler .. one of his Dirk Pitt novels. I like them .. but wonder, since in every novel Dirk Pitt briefly actually meets a guy named Clive Custler, why doesn't he remember meeting CC each time he does? Dirk IS a very intelligent character after all!
And am nearly through with a book by an author my sister introduced me to ... Harlan Coben. It's one of his Myron Bolitar novels. Amusing and not hard to get into but I will have to read a couple more of these, or perhaps even a few from a different series to see if I really like his style or not. Right now it's like the author doesn't have to say anything thoughtful or substantial as long as he has his main character wise-cracking nonstop. In a way, this one reminds me of Paul Levine's Solomon vs. Lord Novels - like "Kill All The Lawyers" ... but THAT one (and the rest in the series) was FANTASTIC!

Printer is through! ta da ... and so am I!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finally Awake ....

... now that my California market trip has faded into the background of my mind, that is.

I arrived back at Flint Bishop airport at 11:59PM Tuesday night and thankfully, Dave was awake and waiting for me. By the time we got home and what little adrenalin I had left had faded away, it was after 2:00AM on Wednesday morning. Slept until 9:30am .. went back to bed at 11.30am. Woke up at 3pm .. drifted off to sleep in my chair on and off between 5 and 7pm. Stayed awake long enough to watch "Mercy" and then back to sleep I went. Got back into the shop on Thursday ... shop was still standing, shop still looked the same, and I still have the same work waiting for me. sigh
The only 'shock to my system', other than jet lag, was when I met my flight in Milwaukee WI and had to WALK out to the tarmac and into the plane .. with no coat!! I had a lightweight wool poncho on and my winter coat was in my suitcase in the belly of a plane somewhere .. knew I wouldn't need it for Long Beach!

I had the BEST time! Not sure what all made it all go so wonderfully .. perhaps the weather, the classes I took, the people I was spending time with .. I don't know .. it was just so MUCH FUN! Even in the 'postage stamp' we stayed in (the people at that hotel were so nice!!). Penny flew out on Monday afternoon so I had LOTS more room that night. Karen Aho and I spent Monday afternoon at the Aquarium Of The Pacific as she wasn't flying out until Tuesday like me. THAT was fun .. love "Nemo and Dorie", and saw fishies I'd never ever seen before up close and in person. I refused to "pet" a shark or "sting ray" however ... not me, no how! We then had a nice pizza dinner and talk.

Mom had given me money for Christmas so I spent that on my Loom and all kinds of felting wool and yarns and my personal travel expenses, so that worked out well. Still, I DID give my shop checkbook and CC a bit of a workout. Not like Nashville, but !

I did have to spend some time in airports showing off my Kindle. Karen got to play with it before her plane took off; she'd just seen one before but not operated one. And while in the Phoenix airport while drinking my Chai Tea Latte with ESPRESSO, one of the guy staff wanted to know what it was all about .. so I didn't get much reading done while at Starbucks waiting for my flight out. Had no problems with it on the plane though .. and spent all my flight time there and back listening to an audio book "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry ... which I totally enjoyed!!! I didn't really want to stop and wait for the return flight to continue it. A great read, er .. listen!

And then Nashville will be coming up ... Feb 19 - 21 ... and Dave will be going to that Market with me as my trusty pack mule. Luckily for me, NASCAR Speed Week and Daytona will be the week before we go instead of actually during the Trade Show. It's so hard to drag him away from the TV then to come and get packages to haul back to the room for me.
As soon as Nashville is over, Camp Stitchalot will be 3 weeks later. I think I get to breathe again in late April!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

LONG BEACH .... I'm Here!!!

OMG - there's NO snow here! It's sunny and in the low 70's; evenings low 50's perhaps. Sat outside for lunch in the sun in tee-shirt and pants .. no socks! I'm in LOVE!!!
The hotel is about 4 blocks from the Convention Center, 1 block away from a Starbucks in the morning, and past all these great places to eat! Busy populated area = quite safe for walking back and forth.

Now .. the hotel! What can I tell you about our hotel room??????

Your stay at the Varden Hotel will be an architectural and design experience.
It's white. It has art deco type lighting. It's clean. The bed is very comfy.

They call this a European Boutique-style hotel. Doesn't boutique bring to mind a small little shop or sort? If so, then they've hit the nail right on the head with calling it 'boutique-style'. No problem really ... we're only here to sleep!

Our room is about 6 feet x 6 feet TOTAL in size!! I do not lie - I do not exaggerate ... when the hotel guy brought my bag up to the room for me upon check in and showed me where the light switches and stuff were, we only stood in one spot and kind of swiveled from the hip to see each area. It's TINY! I've seen rent-a-night rustic cabins that were bigger than this room .. and there's two of us in here! It's really hysterical!

This room picture was taken from just outside the doorway, standing at the entrance. See that blue chair? That's the side wall .. which is exactly 7 of my footsteps from edge of bed regular sized double bed) to that wall (I wear a 7 1/2 shoe). See the mirror behind that blue chair? That's the sliding wall that closes off the bathroom from the bedroom. There are exactly 2 1/4 Deb-footsteps from the end of the bed to that wall. See at far right back? That's a glimpse of the bathroom .. in which the sink is attached SIDEWAYS to the wall (apparently so it won't stick out any further). The shower is about 4 Deb-steps square with wraparound shower curtain. When you wash your face or brush your teeth and go to lean over the sink, you'll crack your forehead on the glass shelf that is 'just' above the faucet. The cool lighted deco mirror is neat ... however, I have to stand on tip toe to see 'me' in it .. thank goodness for that sliding mirrored wall.

There is a drawer beneath the bed for use, as well as a metal rod sticking out of the wall at the doorway that has 8 holes for hangers on it. Small glass shelf where the blue chair is for putting your laptop on. TA DA ... it's a 'postage stamp'! Penny and I laughed for the longest time ... we're still laughing! Why are we staying here? Most of the hotels reserved for the Market Trade Show were booked AND those that weren't were really pricey. Our LITTLE corner of the world is only $120 a night (and split that two ways and you have a bargain!)

First day of meetings went really well ... we all felt that we accomplished quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the beginning of classes tomorrow. This particular Market isn't that geared toward my shops' needleart needs, but I get so much from attending the TNNA Markets!! That's probably ONE of the reasons I'm still in business after all these years, and still going strong despite Michigan's economy. You're with others in your industry - even though they're in a different needleart venue; you gain so much inspiration and gather ideas from others-they're in the same economic pinch as me; and business tips and such ideas abound. The class tomorrow, the weaving class, is being taken 'just for me' and not for my shop .. I'm not bringing weaving in, never fear. It was offered, we had an incentive of take two classes and get one class free...and that's the reason! I learned drop spinning last year, now weaving .. it's all needlearts!!! Where else could I learn something new for relatively 'few bucks' AND in California in the winter to boot?!!

There are so many shops who sit back and won't attend trade shows and whine about how bad business is and some even close their shops. Those shops who attend trade shows are proven statistically to have higher sales year after year and those are the shops that have 'stay-ability'. (is that a word??) You can wait for someone to supply you with the 'magic elixir' that will bring in customers and increase your business .. OR .. you can make that magic potion yourself by actively working to do the same. That's the reason for Trade Shows .. it isn't about just what you can order/purchase for your shop .. it's about the ideas you gain, relationships you build, classes you take, confidence/inspiration/energy you receive that will see you through these times!!

Am I saying that a shop should go to every trade show? Of course not, but I am saying that those who do attend one or better yet, two a year are the ones that will succeed(and no, you can't get THAT experience/inspiration/energy on a computer!)

Penny had another meeting after our all day one and that's why I'm back here in the 'postage stamp' updating you on my day. I'll walk back down to the C.Center in another hour or so and then we'll go off in search of food with some other friends. Super day - See ya later!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Market Bound!!!

Greetings from Sunny Phoenix!! At least, it LOOKS sunny from the airport windows. Two flights down, one more to go and then I have to find transportation to my hotel in Long Beach CA.

Such a small town girl I am! Flew in on Continental and had to change airlines to US Air. That means I flew into one terminal and then had to take a bus to terminal 4. I was falling asleep between Cleveland and Phoenix, so found a Starbucks as soon as I got to terminal 4 and made them add a shot of espresso to my Chai Tea Latte ... love the taste of Chai, needed the kick of the espresso. THEN ... I find out that I have to go through security again .. and of course, can't take my beverage through!! Aaaargh! There went $5.00 down the drain ... almost! A very kind TSA employee told me that since I had quite a wait now between flights, why didn't I just go sit over there in the corner (there WAS a chair there) and drink my 'fix'. THEN I could go through security with no I did it! Now that I'm at my gate with time galore to spare, guess what kiosk is RIGHT NEXT DOOR ... yep .. Starbucks! I don't dare get another! Deb and 2 shots of espresso + boarding a plane = Deb getting thrown off the plane for excess energy!!!!

Being the single minded person I am ... only one thing can be concentrated on at a time ... I did NOT realize until Dec 30th that I would be flying to Market DURING Inventory! I honestly thought I had a couple more weeks to go. Needless to say, Jan 1 - 4 were rather nerve racking for all in close proximity to me! It's not actually the 'counting of items' for Inventory that gets me crazed ... it's the final SEEING on paper just HOW MUCH MONEY is wrapped up in the shop (and knowing that I'll be taxed on it all over again too)! Let's just say that on Wednesday I called my tax people and had them "raise" my coverage amounts! deep sigh

So, in a couple of hours I'll be in Long Beach at The Varden-A Boutique Hotel...about 4 blocks away from the convention center, so nice walking distance. I'm rooming with Penny from Ewe Count in Wyoming. Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be in a TNNA Retail Council Board meeting all day long.

Friday starts classes ... I'm taking a "Learning To Weave on a Rigid Heddle Loom" (keep in mind that I will most likely once again be the ONLY Cross Stitch ONLY shop owner at this trade show .. it's mostly needlepoint & knitting .. and I was the only XS only shop there last year!). Then we'll have the Retailers’ Meeting/Luncheon/
Special Speaker; that evening will be the Sample It ! (where we can purchase a sampling of what will be shown),the Teacher Meet & Greet; Needlepoint Group Event and Fashion Show.

Saturday begins SHOPPING! I also have a class that morning, before the floor opens, another Needle Felting Class ... but I couldn't resist: "punch away on our newest needle felting stress reliever, "My Ex-Husband." Now HOW could I not take a class with that description??!!! Saturday night we have some free time where we can go over to the Queen Mary for dinner .. fun!

Sunday .. another class in the morning before shopping begins, this time "Ewe Don't Need No Stinkin' Dye Pots" when you learn to take yarn from bare to beautiful the Ewe Dye-It way. Chris will teach you the tricks to her ultra low water method using professional acid dyes. Her no mess techniques are safe and use commonly available supplies for gorgeous results on wool, silk or other animal fiber yarns and threads." This technique should cross over to wool roving, and I brought some white merino with me ... just in case! That evening, before dinner is the Counted Thread and Embroidery Group Meeting.

Monday morning is another board meeting and then the final day of shopping .. Market closes at 2pm. I don't fly back out until around noon on Tuesday, so I'll have some 'me' time maybe. Of course, each night is also meeting with friends as well as for networking and dinner and fun!
Since I don't have my power cord with me, I'll cut this short before my battery dies. I DO .. I WILL have to get a much smaller/lighter computer for my next trip! When I got this one, it was the lightest out there - that was probably back 'in the day' and now it's one of the heaviest. Dragging it on my shoulder from flight to flight is a bit more than I ever want to do again! Hope to be in touch a bit later!!!!