Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shopping At Market!!

     What a fantastic time I had at the St. Charles Market!!  Not just because I had the best roommates a gal could wish for (Penny Franz from Ewe Count in Wyoming and my BFF since 9th grade Sharon from Missouri), but just the Market itself.
    I think it was one of the best Markets I've attended in a long, long while and wish that those shops who didn't attend could have experienced the same 'shopping/friendship joy' that I did!  Apparently there were some shops who did not attend as Shepherds Bush, Blackbird Designs, Jeannette Douglas Designs and R&R were not going to be at St. Charles this year.  There was a time scheduling conflict and these designers were involved in SB's annual stitcher's retreat. Since St. Charles is a relatively 'new' show and since we (The National Needlework Association) do not have enought 'senority points' with the hotel site, we are still be shuffled around date-wise.  It takes minimum 5 years of booking the same hotel space at basically the same time of year each time before you can begin to get the dating scheduled just to where you want it to be.  SB DID try to change their retreat date when the Market date was announced, but they were locked into it at their end, and Just Nan also was not there because of scheduling differences, so .. there we were!  As one of the designers said in the member meeting re shops not attending because the 'big guns' weren't going to be there  - "what are we? chopped liver?".  I think I personally made up for those who didn't attend with my own shopping purchases!
     Arrived on Thursday early afternoon and got settled in the room.  Penny arrived later in the day.  Did dinner, and chatted at 'happy hour' with some of the other 'early birds' already in attendance.  EARLY Friday morning Penny dragged me, somewhat kicking and screaming, down to the exercise room and planted me on a treadmill while she enthustically worked on a stair climber or whatever they're called.  Now I have a treadmill at home, at least that's what I think it is .. there are boxes on it and a jacket or two .. but it's no where as techie as this one was.  Took a few minutes to figure out HOW to start it, and then minutes longer to make it go a bit faster and faster and faster until I felt I was at the level of walking speed I'm doing when Nick the Golden takes ME for a walk.  I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing until I noticed there was a place where it showed how many calories you were burning, and I found out that after 15 minutes I could now safely eat 2 blueberries without gaining weight!  Linda and Alan from Lizzie Kate came down and were working out too .. they could converse with Penny, I was able to speak, but only in gasps.
Then went to breakfast .. did the official registration and got our show guide that let us know what designer was in what room and what new stuff they 'might' have with them.  We then figured out our plan of attack for when shopping began the next day.
     From noon till 3pm, Penny and I took tickets for one of the classes we were both in - A Visit With The Designers - with Patti from SamSarah, Judy from JBW Designs, Sharon from Crescent Colours, Linda from Lizzie Kate, and Linda from Erica Michaels.  They each had about 20 minutes where they introduced themselves and talked about their companies or whatever, and present a special kit to each class participant.  A fun get-to-know the person behind the design name and how to either do the stitching or present the kit and stuff like that - and the class received rave reviews from all who attended with demands for more classes like this at other markets!   Then Sharon arrived and I got to greet her before it was time to get to the next class.  From 3 till 5pm, I was part of a panel (with Sharon from Crescent Colours, and Matt and Katy from Norden Crafts - major needlework distributor) on "Using Technology In Today's Business World" - think social networking.  This class also went over very well according to the participants reviews turned in, and also with requests for another class like this in the future.  (when I got back to the shop and told Debbie - computer/e-mail Debbie - that it was successful, she said ... "that's great .. wait a minute .. YOU were on the panel?" .. I guess she was referring to my own techie skills and that the only way I know how to get a photo off my phone and ON my computer is to throw the phone AT the computer!  That evening we went out to dinner and then ... THEN there was 'early bird' shopping from some of the designers who opened up early!
      Hit La D Da first .. LOVE Lori's designs and she always has some neat limited edition specials - picked up three of one, then changed my mind, thought no .. I'll just get one for me (it was a wool scissor sheath kit and no picture and decided it would be my treat to myself!  (Someone called yesterday to see IF I had any of the scissor sheath kits coming in, and like I almost always do, gave a DEEP SIGH and told her I only had one coming, it was to be for me, but I'd sell it to her.  I've Got To Stop Doing That!!!)   Then hustled over to Val's Stuff .. also LOVE Val's designs and of course she had limited edition frames packaged with some of her new designs that I had to have!  Trying to remember now just where else I went that night ... the whole trip quickly becomes a blurr ... and I know there were other designers we shopped from, heck .. we walked all 4 floors to see 'who' was open!  Got back to the room around 9pm and the three of us chatted until we couldn't stay awake any longer. Penny and I had a Counted Thread Group Meeting at 8am the next morning before the 'official Market' opened for business.
    Saturday morning early, grabbed breakfast, off to the meeting, then out of the meeting to stand in line at the elevators to get to the show floors.  Sent Sharon off to The Primitive Needle (what a madhouse was going on there with Lori's specials and all!) and I was off to Shakespeare's Peddler with my list of gotta haves!  Of course to Amy Brueken's room because even though I'm on her auto, I had to see her stuff 1st in person.  Check out ONE of Amy's new designs here -- the cover photos for her new 'stack of' series doesn't show that it was framed in a Olde Colonial Designs Mirror where you could pop a design out with each season -- so I had her position herself so her reflection in the mirror would show!  As far as my shopping plan there was 'some order' to the places I had to get to first, depending on the amount of requests I had for a designer or if they had something special I didn't really know about and had to check out; other than that, we'd do a few places on one floor, then up or down to another floor to shop at one or two, then down or up to another floor, and on and on and on.  Sharon dragged me back to the room around 2 to eat something (she needed to, I didn't want to)  Many of the places I'd place my orders and then, rather than wait with all the selling confusion going on around us all, would make arrangements to come back 'later' to pick up my purchases and pay at that time.  Sharon would pack as much as she could carry into her big Stitches N Things teal/lime tote bag, and then with other bags in hand, would leave me to take those purchases back to our room.  That night, the ONLY way I could get to my laptop on the table in the corner, was to crawl OVER the table .. underneath and around the table were nothing but bags and bags and bags, and more bags!   That night, feet aching like you wouldn't believe, we ordered pizza in, drank Sharon's bottle of wine, and started going over stuff.  I took some pictures to put on my website, but lighting in the room is so terrible most of them just didn't come out .. so that would have to wait till I got back home and to the shop where I'd have my scanners going non-stop.  Penny started pricing her purchases; Sharon had brought cardboard boxes to me and we started packing product so it could be shipped home.  Then bed .. Penny and I had another early morning meeting that next morning.
    Early breakfast and then off to the TNNA Members' Meeting .. then back in line at the elevators for the final hours of shopping (9am till 4pm).  Today's plan was to get to every designer I hadn't been able to get to on Saturday and go back and pick up purchases from the day before that I'd not gotten back to yet.  Rather than wait for elevators, Sharon and I took the stairway to each floor - but on the return trips to the room to stash the goods DID take the elevators .. somehow going from floor 4 to floor 9 on stairs just didn't cut it for me!  Sharon had to leave to go back home around 1:30pm and I was so sad to see her go .. we have such few chances to get together.  She did go back home much poorer, as she'd purchased some of the new stuffs from me in our room.  Her biggest regret over the shopping was that Homespun Elegance was not in attendance at this show and she's a huge fan .. actually, that was also her biggest joy too as she MUST have the "Year Of Halloween" that Sandra is doing and would have found her wallet in serious trouble if she had been able to get into that room!!
     You can see some of the pictures from Market here .. courtesy of The Needlework Retailer
     After Sharon left, I walked the floors, into each room again.  This time to check out needlepoint places that were there to see if I could find any little gidgies or gadgets that I had to have for my shop, and also for more extended visit time with designer friends old and new.  Of course, that got me into PERSONAL trouble at one room ... in the show book a company called The Cooperage (who does the most wonderful little punch needle designs) was to be showing some of their designs converted into cross stitch!  Got in there and found that the cross stitch part just didn't happen the way they'd planned and they still only had punch needle to sell.  So .. there I was .. looking at punch needle and found 3 or 4 new designs that I just HAD to have for my own punching pleasure, and as long as I was going to punch them, would have to have extras for the shop as I'd be displaying the finished pieces there!  My Last Check was written there - you can see their blog and a picture or two here

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Market & Dieting & Stitching, oh my!

  How did it get to be the last day of summer?  How did it get to be time to leave for another Market?  Sitting here at the shop, wrapping up some stuffs; will be back here sometime tomorrow to get my 'shopping lists' all together for taking to St. Charles with me so I'll know what I absolutely MUST buy for the shop or else never ever come back here again!!  And I have to get my hair cut tomorrow and I have to go over to mom's to do her shopping for her (she's not left her apartment to go outside in over 2 1/2 months!).  Then make sure I have my suitcases down from the attic; make sure there are no left over squirrel nut stashes in them; get my clothes together and pack one suitcase inside another one!  That way I'll be able to bring some stuff home with me on the plane on Monday, even though paying for another piece of luggage, without having to wait for it ALL to arrive via UPS sometime the middle/end of next week.
My BFF Sharon will be driving up to help me out over the weekend, and she'll be bringing empty boxes so I can pack stuff up.  I wonder if I can talk her into bringing a 'bathroom scale' with her?  That way I can make sure my suitcase is under the overcharge limit (not like last year!!!).  I can weigh me on it too!  LOL

 So far have lost 3 1/2 pounds and have to admit I'm not at all hungry on this Medical Weight Loss diet ... er, excuse me ... beginning to my new lifestyle!  The thing I have the most problems with is exercise .. my body was not made for exercise.  "They" say that exercise energizes you ... no even remotely true ... I can work out for an hour and drop right off to sleep!  Exercise puts me into a little panting puddle of limp bones.  Nick has been working out with me twice a day this past week (for the most part, some days only once a day).  We're going for 'fast brisk' walks .. he's loving it!  I give him his head, let him be Alpha and take the lead .. he drags me in his wake tripping and stumbling and gasping for breath.  Funny thing though .. we go about 23 - 40 minutes a walk, and by the time we're a third of the way back home, Nick is ready to heel perfectly!  He's sleeping really well too!   I'll be packing my 4 time a day 'shakes' and 1 time a day 'protein bars' in my suitcase too .. and trying to ignore dessert and eating out and ... oh gwad help me ... wine in the evenings!!!!!!!

   Then the stitching pressures begin.  It's not like I don't have enough to stitch at home, much less here at the shop in my 'box of stash' in the back room.  And there are things I wanted to stitch from Nashville that I don't even remember what they were now!  So I'll be in and out of rooms, seeing charts I must do now or die, and finding fabrics for them, and planning which one I'll do first.  Then I'll get back to the shop, start adding everything to the website and totally, in my panic to get everything done, most likely forget which ones I wanted to do!  Maybe I should make a plan for this year:  actually STICK THE CHARTS ASIDE so I won't forget them!!!!!

  Downloading a couple of books from to my Kindle so I can listen to books while traveling on the plane and sitting in airports.  Like stitching where I bring 3 projects for a weekend trip, I've got 3 books downloading right now. Can you say 'over achiever'??  I won't have time while in St. Charles for stitching, reading OR listening to books on tape.  Shopping will take all of my time .. and then some.  That's why I'm so thankful that Sharon is going to meet me there.  I'll give her a credit card and a list or two and send her on her way to places I have to get to first ... while I'm getting to the others I have to get to first (and still, fingers will be crossing that we get there in time for limited edition stuffs that must be purchased!).  She'll get into trouble there too .. she's a huge Primitive Needle fan, and wait till she sees Prairie Moon's crypt club stuffs .. she'll be cussing me out, but with a smile on her face!

   Downloads are nearly done .. then I'll have just enough time to get home, harness up my personal trainer to his leash, and get a bit of a walk in before it's too dark.
Tomorrow is another day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do You Remember?

September 11, 2001 - my generations' Pearl Harbor

    That morning I had reported for my first day of jury selection and after being excused from one case, was accepted to be on the jury for a another trial.
    We had been sent into a little room awaiting the beginning of the trial, and one woman from the jury knocked her purse off a tall cabinet where she had placed it.  Checking inside to make sure her cell phone was ok, she told us of a 'scrolling report' going across the screen that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Assuming it was a small plane, like a 4 seater or something, we were all trying to figure out how a pilot could fail to MISS the tower and decided that it must have been a student, but then .. why would a student be flying in that area, so maybe the pilot had a heart attack at the controls.
    The room we were in was off a hallway in the courthouse ... and we started hearing people getting louder and louder, and .. since no one told us we had to 'stay' in that room, walked out and into the next office where workers were gathering, they had a tv.  That's when we found out about the 1st tower.  The bailiff came in, found us in our 'new room', and told us we were going to begin in about an hour.  So we were allowed to go down to the cafeteria if we wished. That's when I went running for a phone .. called Dave to find out what the hell was going on and heard about the 2nd tower at that time.  So I'm letting everyone in the immediate area know what was occurring -- we're all in shock but cannot get to anywhere we could hear or see the news and know anything more.
    The trial began .. so our attention HAD to be turned elsewhere (and that was not an easy thing!).  Broke for lunch .. but we were not sequestered .. so I went running for a phone again and called Dave.  While we were on the phone, the first tower began it's collapse.  That I 'yelled' out to anyone and everyone that was in the court corridor.  Had to repeat it, and then everyone started running for the doors.  There was a 'shopping mall' across the street .. and they would have banks of tv sets on in one of the electronic stores!   I didn't leave the courthouse.
    Then, we're excused early due to what was happening (we hadn't heard about the other incidents yet), and I'm in the car going home with radio on .. no music playing anywhere, just news reports and reporters trying to make sense of what had happened/was happening.  That's when I heard about the Pentagon .. and burst into tears behind the wheel as Dave's granddaughter was interning with the FBI in Washington DC and had been going back and forth to the Pentagon.   (she was fine)
    Got home, ran into the house, and sat glued to the tv in shock for the rest of the evening.  I don't remember eating, but I do remember calling Betsy Stinner as her daughter worked in that area of New York city.  (she heard from her the next day - no way to get calls through on day 1.)
    The next day trying to get INTO the courthouse was quite the event ... everything was on high alert.  The trial went on an extra 2 days as the main witness was coming from California and of course .. no flights .. he had to drive.  And from the second day on, we were sequestered and not allowed to talk on cell phones while on breaks there OR leave the building.
    All in all, I was in this trial for a full week .. 2 days of it was spent totally in deliberation as we could not come to a verdict easily (at one point we jurors were yelling at each other so loudly they could hear us up and down the hall and the bailiff had to come in to see if everything was ok .. we were stressed to the max!).

   It was so surreal.  I think it was because we were 'outside' of our normal lives during the whole tragedy. Nothing seemed real  - I was home glued to the tv by night.  I was in a courthouse in close proximity with 11 other strangers during the day, no one we knew and outside of our work/home surroundings.  We actually grew quite close to each other, yelling aside, and even had hugs and tears when jury duty was finally through.

   The things I've really noticed since 9/11 ...   we don't fly flags and show patriotism like we did for those days; we don't look out for each other (strangers) like we did for those days (at airports, etc); we don't pay attention to details like we did for those days;  we no longer 'come together' as a nation like we did. 

Apparently this will never happen again.     ??????? 
Do you remember .... OR .... did you forget

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer Vacations and Lost Minds!

    Had the best time going with Debbie to the Michigan Fiber Festival over in Allegan the weekend of August 20-22.  First time I've been camping there .. we took Debbie's pop-up camper and were able to park across the 'drive' from our friend Ree. Our feet were beat by the end of the weekend, but we really had a blast.  Of course, I spent more than I planned on spending .. even after I did an inventory before I went of all the wool I found I still had in stock (who knew?) .. but did spend my monies on wool I got a really great deal on and some hand-dyed silk blanks for doing nuno felting scarves on.
    Got back home and asked Dave if he wanted to see my 'finds', and being the great guy he is, of course he said sure (not very enthusiastically of course, but it was a positive response!). So I'm putting all the wool out in front of him, and telling him all about each batt and why I had to get it (two balls of wool were totally Debbie's fault .. she MADE me make 'eye contact' with them!), or why it was such a bargain,for me not to pass up, and showing him this and that, and, and, . Of course he's paying total attention to every word coming out of my mouth, not.  When I get done with my little 'show', I ask him ... "so what do you think?".  He looks at me and with a huge smile says .... "OMG!".   After I finished laughing and choking, I went upstairs and put it all away.

   Got back for one day at the shop and then left for Cheboygan and the wonder of Northern Michigan .. to be spent primarily in one of the huge stock barns at the County fair grounds 'sorting used clothing' from 40 gallon trash bags and huge cardboard boxes with my sister. Here I am .. the one who (will not go alone and who) cannot go into a Salvation Army store without holding my arms tight against my sides so I won't 'touch' anything .. willingly driving 340 miles one-way to put my hands into these bags and boxes without knowing exactly 'what' I may pull out along with clothing!  It's for the animals  .. I keep repeating .. it's for the animals ... and besides, I get a NEW tee shirt from the Humane Society for doing this!  And I'm such a tee-shirt whore .. I'll do just about anything if I'm going to get a tee shirt out of it!
   Up at 7 each morning to be at the fairgrounds by 9, then out to dinner with family or friends and then, back in bed by 10 back at my sisters house so that we can start the day all over again the next morning.  Feet aching, hand sanitizer, hot showers, but lots of laughter and actually 'some' fun! 
   I reached into this one trash bag of clothes, and under some jeans and shirts and socks, grabbed hold of ...... satin?????!  Pulled a bit and looked at it ... yep, satin, white satin with lots of jewelled sparkly stuffs embroidered on it.  Carefully pulled the rest of it up.  It was a wedding gown.  You probably already figured that out, right?  But did you think that it would be a brand new wedding gown that still had the price tags attached to it?  And did you think that it started out priced at $895.00 and was sold marked down to $703.00?  And that it was in impeccable condition,  other than somewhat wrinkled.  The storage bag was crumpled into a much smaller bundle beneath  the gown ... can you say this was "probably one really ticked off bride not to be"???!!! 
    Everything that is sorted and put out for 'purchase' is sold by 'donation only' .. whatever you feel it's worth, and hopefully knowing that the monies go directly back to the animals at the Humane Society, you'll donate generously.  There is one barn that is a 'priced' barn .. where the better items are assigned a small price instead.  We put the bridal gown in there rather than in the clothing barn with a $30.00 price tag on it.  I don't think it ever sold!  Long train, was 2 years old - so not that out of style.  If I could have fit into it, talked Dave into getting married again, and could convince people I was ABLE to wear white once again,  I would have had it in a heartbeat!!  It was so lovely! 
  Ok, so I was saying .. donation only.  One lady came through with two older daughters ... bagged up 3 40 gallon bags full of clothing (you couldn't close the bags) AND 2 huge boxes of clothing.   Gave us $5.00 for the lot.  There's people with a lot of gall out there!
   I decided to stay one day longer since they were short handed and really needed the help, and apparently that was my one day longer than I should have stayed.  That morning my throat started hurting.  That night I couldn't get to sleep it, and my left ear, hurt so badly.  I took a sleeping pill hoping to be able to sleep ... and around 2:40 am wanted to get in my car and quietly, without awaking my sister and Ken, drive myself in to the hospital.  Only problem .. I was sick.  I'd taken that damn pill and was woozy from the effects of it.  My cell phone didn't work  out where I was staying, so I had no way of calling the state police to tell them  I was on the highway somewhere heading 20 miles towards the hospital (or so I hoped!) and to come find me before I crashed.  So .. stayed in bed tossing and turning and moaning softly to myself.  
Managed to make it the 3 1/2 hour drive home where I collapsed into bed as soon as got there.  Went into the DR on Monday, severe ear/throat infection  calling for antibiotics and tons of water and lots of rest. 

    Tuesday I suddenly realized that I'd never made arrangements for my Camp Stitchalot 2011!  What WASN'T I thinking?  I guess that Ken Stinner's health crisis was weighing on my mind more than I realized .. and as soon as Camp was held  and over, I lost my mind and didn't realize I'd not scheduled anything for next year!  I LOVE Mary at The Comfort Inn ... called her and asked if I'd blocked off rooms for next year and she laughed, said no, but that she had made the block arrangements for me anyway!  LOL
    Now to find a designer/instructor who doesn't have anything already scheduled on her busy calendar for that weekend in March 2011.  Got a feeler out to one, and Debbie just gave me a good idea for a possible backup.  This is almost like the first year or so I was in business and doing retreats and didn't realize that you really needed to do the scheduling a year or so in advance instead of in 3-4 weeks.   sigh
   Going back into the shop tomorrow .. first time in what .. nearly 2 weeks?  Feeling better but still wipe out easily .. will take it slow anyway.  And will finally get my delinquent newsletter out on time .. with the end of summer holiday upon us all!