Sunday, February 28, 2010
For the first time in weeks, we weren't snowed in or afraid to go too far due to weather this weekend. It hit the 40s both days and the sun actually came out on Saturday! We caught a few glimpses of that bright light in the sky today but in between we were showered with some rather "substantial" flurries and some really heavy looking clouds. If it had been colder, we'd have been worried again.
Though the weekend got off to a slow start on Friday when we simply stayed in and watched the Olympics on TV, we did get an early start on Saturday. For weeks I've been craving a good seafood buffet. Unfortunately, we don't have one nearby. Don't get me wrong, we have some fantastic seafood restaurants but I wanted to sample a little of everything. (It's a very common winter urge around these parts - sort of like a withdrawal symptom or something.)
If we could travel "as the crow flies" (in a straight line, so to speak), we would be able to make it to the ocean in an hour or so. However, the fact that the Chesapeake Bay lies between us and the coast is a slight deterrent. We either need to travel about an hour South and use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or travel about 40 miles North and cross the C&D Canal and then track back down the coast to the beach resorts of Rehobeth, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland. The northern route is a little shorter, much less hectic and a fair bit faster. It's still about 145 miles one way but a true Marylander will go a long way for great seafood!
We brushed the snow off the car (We had a light dusting through the night. Again.) and headed out. It was a peaceful, uneventful ride with a lot of snow-covered scenery. The closer we got to the beach, the less snow was around and by the time we drove into Ocean City, it felt like we'd left that winter world behind! (There were a few mounds left on corners and parking lots where they'd been plowed but you had to actually look for snow.) It honestly felt like a weight was lifted from my soul !
It was sunny and breezy on the boardwalk and we needed to wear our heavy coats but it felt fantastic !! Considering it is February and chilly and most businesses aren't open until late March or April, there was a fairly decent crowd on the boards. What a mood lifter!
We took a long stroll up the boardwalk and had an order of french fries at the most famous fry stand in the state (Thrasher's) and a small bag of caramel popcorn (Fishers, of course) which we shared with a few friendly pigeons (much to the chagrin of some nearby seagulls.) We sat on a bench here and there and people and dog watched for a while. One of my favorite shops was open and The Big Guy bought me a Jan Hagara figurine for my collection as a late Valentine's Day present. We even played some good old-fashioned pinball in one of the arcades.
When the restaurant opened, we were the first folks in line (Yes, there was a line waiting for them to open the doors.) We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and then began the trek back home to the Western Shore. The further North and West we went the more snow cover we saw. I must say, it was a bit depressing after that bright sunny snow-free day to drive back to this white (Okay, now it's sort of dirty white) snowy world.
This morning we went to breakfast and then to the casino for an hour or two. We drove in heavy flurries for a fair part of today's trip.
I do feel rejuvenated by that bit of beach and boardwalk though. It's given me encouragement that Spring is coming. I'm hoping it's enough to get me through the snow that's predicted for midweek.
I hope y'all think some "beachy" thoughts this week, too.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I came back with, "Well, I just ran in for an entire grocery order. You were there when I went in and there when I came out. What'd you do get a 5-course meal?"
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
With over 700 exhibitors, this is the largest juried indoor craft market in the country. Taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center located in downtown Baltimore, only blocks from the Inner Harbor, the doors opened for wholesale buyers yesterday and today and will open for the retail market tomorrow through Sunday. This is truly an elite event, or as The Big Guy would call it a "La De Da Craft Show." All of the merchandise available is of the highest possible standard and is displayed in a manner befitting any shop you might find on Rodeo Drive.
The Baltimore show is the flagship of the ACC's shows and is considered a MUST by gallery and shop buyers from around the country. It is highly competitive, very tightly juried, strictly monitored for quality throughout the show and features artists and craftsmen from all over the United States and Canada. The attendance figures for 2009 were 1,100 registered wholesale buyers and 19,000 general (public) attendees. It should be noted, public buyers pay a rather hefty admission price ($15) for the privilege of attending.
I highly recommend attending at least once in your crafting career. The quality of design and the expert execution of each piece is breathtaking. You can not help but be in awe of these great artisans.
It is NOT a show most of us will ever be able to consider doing. Acceptance is EXTREMELY competitive and your work must be gallery quality both in design and workmanship. Here's the catch, you've got to be able to produce in volume even if your work is each a one-of-a-kind piece. You've got to be able to fulfill wholesale orders in a timely manner. In 2008, wholesale sales totaled $7,500,000 ! Not impressed yet? How about public sales of $6,500,000 ? Even spread throughout 700+ sellers, that's a lot of merchandise!!
Most of us would have trouble swallowing the booth, expense too. A 10' x 10' is $2,000 with a 20' x 10' going for $4,000. (20' x 5' are available for $2,800.) Want a corner? Add $400. All booths are also assessed a $65.00 facility fee by the Convention Center. There are quite a few other incidentals associated with booth set up, too. If you are not local and must stay in a hotel, be forewarned, hotels in Baltimore are quite pricey.
Way back, oh about 31 years ago, I did check into doing this show. It was a local event for me. It was a new show and it looked like it might turn out to be quite successful. (I had a retail shop at the time so I had attended the first few years as a wholesale buyer.) It was a pricey venture way back then, too. After obtaining all the paperwork and prepping my application, I chickened out. I was definitely not sure I'd be able to handle the volume at that point. (My merchandise line was completely different from what I do now.) I knew it would mean giving up just about all other shows for the year and letting my shop suffer. I settled for continuing to just go and shop the event. I did that for many years. It's been a few years now since I went and I probably won't make it this week either. There's always next year.
If this has caught your interest, check out the show's website here or for specific information about applying to this show, or any of the other ACC shows (Atlanta, St. Paul and San Francisco), joining the ACC, or to just review the elaborate rules handbook that should be read carefully before applying, check out the Craft Council's site, here.
If you live in the area and decide to attend the show this week, be prepared, not just for the $15/person admission charge, but know that most parking in the area will be $20 for anything over 3 hours (and there's no way you can see this show in that short of a time period), a cold beverage at the Convention Center will run you $2.50. Wear really comfortable shoes and layer your clothes. The Convention Center will get hot!
I recommend driving in, even with the high fees for parking. There are a number of garages within 4-6 blocks of the Convention Center. If you choose to park in the Northwestern suburbs and take the Light Rail (the Eastside does not have Light Rail access), realize you will need to walk a few blocks and the weather should be cold and snowy this weekend. Mass Transit is laughable, especially on weekends.
I hope you do get a chance to attend one of the ACC shows. As mentioned above, they also have shows in Atlanta, St. Paul and San Francisco. They are not quite as large as this one but just as nice. It will give you a chance to see how the top of the industry does it and you will truly appreciate the creativity and workmanship.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Photo by Cepia
I'm really sorry but I got totally bogged down by family life and other necessities yesterday and by business demands today. (The latter is a GOOD thing.) I didn't want to just throw the post together as I want it to be worth your read.
I've actually been working on several posts for this week (another Working the Shows Wednesday is coming out this week) and I hope to be on track again by tomorrow. I'm designing a new Marketing Series to start in the very near future and I've got an interview or two just waiting for pictures to attach.
I've also been trying to actually produce some new designs for my Spring sales. I'm expanding on the adult-size merchandise, home decor pieces and some great toys. I'll be telling you about these items as they actually come out. Most of February was a bit dry for me inspiration wise so I'm eager to go with the flow since getting some of my mojo back.
Hope you're getting some Spring inspiration, too.
See y'all tomorrow!!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I've been spending the week finding out what's new in the toy world. The 107th American International Toy Fair has just wrapped up in New York. This is the annual event where toy manufacturers from all over the world get together to introduce new products for the coming year and flaunt their successes from the past season.
Zhu Zhu Pets were voted the Toy of the Year!! (Yeah, that was a big surprise, wasn't it?) [That WAS sarcasm]
Ultimately, I find this information helpful to me as a crafter selling my work as I see what direction things are going. Where they think the trends will go and what colors, animals and such will be "IN" for the holiday season. (Yes, I DID have hamster shirts for sale for this past holiday season. I only wish I'd seen them coming sooner.)
Of course, there are some duds each year. I mean, there are over 1000 manufacturers at the fair and not all are going to have a good year. But it's interesting to see what they've come up with and how they plan to market those creations. A little business like mine can learn a lot from the Mattels and Hasbros out there.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I know we all understand (or think we do) what our own furry buds have to tell us but come Fall, Mattel's new Puppy Tweets will find it's way to a store or pet shop near you. (Amazon has already signed on as a distributor.)
Ultimately, we still won't know Spot's true thoughts just merely a possible thought like, "Woo, Woo! Check out that perky Labradoodle!" (generated by a woof, woof coming from Spot himself) or, (should Spot stop and scratch) "Hey, I've finally caught my tail!" But then, I've received less relevant tweets, haven't you?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I mean, how are we to feel good about ourselves when a woman we grew up with and spent all our free time with is still tall with an hour-glass figure and blonde that goes all the way to the roots. Stay with her 24/7, 365 days a year and you'll still never see a dark root, a gray wisp or even one tiny chin hair. There's never a dark bag under her eyes, chapped lips or even smudged lipstick. She's always cheerful with a smile literally plastered on her face.
Did I mention she turned 50 on her last birthday?
Now, I hear she's embarking on, not one, but two new careers. C'mon, it's time to consider retirement plans. Hasn't AARP tracked her down, yet?
Yep, that danged Barbie! Now she's becoming a Computer Engineer AND a News Anchor Woman, too!! (They are careers No. 125 and No. 126.) I bet she carries a handheld digital copy of her resume. I mean just how many pages does it tke to list all those past jobs? I'm sure she'll make computer geek look tres chic. I guess she's figuring Barbara Walters can't hang in there forever so she might as well be waiting in the wings.
Personally, I think she should check out some of those property deals now available in Boca.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Janet Evanovich is one of my favorite authors, particularly her Stephanie Plum series. So, I was really excited to score big on Evanovich on my last visit to Half Price Books. She was featured on the dollar rack that week. I bought everything they had of hers that I hadn't read yet. Who knew she was so prolific! I rounded out my collection of the Plum series and loaded up on a bunch of her other stuff.
Overall, they all make for a quick, pleasant read. They've all got some Evanovich trademarks like tall, dark and handsome leading men. (Stephanie does have both Joe and Ranger.) The leading ladies all have wild hair that needs to be tamed. Each tale includes a pet of some sort. (Yes, Stephanie has Rex.) Little old ladies attached to our heroines is also a recurrent theme (Stephanie has Grandma Mazur.) although the quirky"old" lady role is replaced with just a young really ditzy relative in Full House. The character serves the same purpose, though, to kind of round out our leading lady's character and to help move the plot along in a little different way. Janet also seems to believe in love afirst sight in these romance novels. Surprisingly, it usually seems to be the guy who melts first!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The guys thought this one up for themselves. Believe it or not, they actually picked what could be classified as a chick flick. So you think maybe they just wanted to score points?
Yep, they took us to see Valentine's Day. This one features a lot of well known stars from various age groups, Ashton Kutcher, Shirley MacLaine, Kathy Bates, Patrick Dempsey, Julia Roberts, Emma Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Garner, George Lopez, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx and more.
The basic premise is celebrating Valentine's Day through the eyes and actions of a variety of couples and singles living and working in L.A. The whole movie encompasses just one 24 hour period. Ashton is a florist who, on the busiest flower day of the year, takes a major step forward in the name of love and finds his world thrown for a loop. Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo are an old married couple (51 years) caring for a young grandson (a 5th grader who's in love with his teacher) but who, ultimately finds a Valentine closer to his own age. There are high school sweethearts, young marrieds and even a lonely hearts club group involved. Some of the relationships are solid as granite, some crumble as the day progresses and a few surprise us but, all in all, it's a light-hearted, feel good flick. We all enjoyed it and left smiling.
Then we crossed the street to a favorite pub. We used to eat there every Tuesday for years but in the last year or two, we haven't gotten there as often. We miss it and it felt good to be " back home."
We had a great evening. What a nice respite from dealing with the weather.
Hope y'all had a good evening, too.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Love is in the air but there's a lot of smog out there, too!
In addition to all those chocolates, roses, cookies, fudge, etc., maybe we could all use a little "couple advice" . What better opportunity than Valentine's Day ?
I recently came across this excerpt from an actual wedding ceremony. These are the words of the pastor to the couple:
"[Mary] look at [John], [John] look at [Mary]; Neither of you is marrying Mr. or Mrs. Right. Keep that in perspective, work out your differences, and all will be well."
Another minister cautions all couples, "Marriage is not easy." He then follows it with a few tips for a happy relationship. I recently found his "scared straight marriage speech" on line. It was, well, quite basic. I preferred the interesting advice given in the many comments from readers. Check some of these out:
1. Watching television does not count as "spending time together."
2. Never, ever, introduce your current spouse as "my first wife" or "my first husband." Your spouse will not think it is funny.
3. Don't ever tell another person in the presence of your spouse that you are training him or her.
5. "I'm sorry" should not REALLY mean, "I'm sorry...until I do it again."
And these are specifically for my male readers (Ladies, you may want to show them to your man.) :
6. Don't ever call any pair of jeans your wife is wearing a "really nice pair of mom jeans."
7. Never ask your wife if she is PMSing.
8. Don't make pig noises while your wife is eating. It's NOT funny. EVER.
I'm not sure where I found this tidbit, but it does give one food for thought:
Think about what your spouse is living with. How easy would it be to be YOUR spouse? Now, treat them accordingly.
So, go out there and have a great Valentine's Day!!!!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
I choose to hibernate. While hibernating, I'm cooking, playing on the computer and reading. I've read five books in eight days!!
As many of you know, I'm into reading what are known in the literary world as "culinary mysteries." Culinary mysteries, part of the genre I like to call "murder mystery lite," involve the food world in some way with the mystery (usually a murder). One of my favorite authors in this arena is Diane Mott Davidson.
Diane's culinary tales revolve around the hectic life of Goldy Baer Schulz, a caterer and personal chef. In the earlier books in this series, Goldy Baer is a newly divorced single mom struggling to get her new catering business (Goldilock's Catering - Where everything is just right!) off the ground and simultaneously struggling to establish a stable home life for her young son. Somehow, she frequently finds herself caught up in a murder investigation. (Some people just have one of those lives!) Later in the series, Goldy marries homicide detective, Tom Schulz, and against all of her spouse's advice still seems to find herself tangled up with what seems to be a fair number of murders occurring in her small Colorado mountain community. Throughout all the books, Goldy shares recipes with us. I've tried a few and they're pretty good!
This week I've read two of her books.
In The Cereal Murders, Goldy has been contracted to provide refreshments at the College Advisory Dinner for Seniors and Parents at her son's exclusive prep school. Wouldn't you just know it? The class valedictorian bites the dust, I mean, snow (It IS Colorado!) (Snow was a nice touch for me this week. How appropriate!) As usual, Goldy discovers the body, and, to complicate matters, a teen in her care, and living in her household, stands to benefit from the tragedy. Yep, the authorities find this suspicious. Of course, Goldy gets overly involved in the investigation and does help resolve the mystery in her own special way.
Among the recipes included here, I recommend the Chinese Beef Stir Fry, the Nacho Schulz and the Cereal Killer Cookies.
So, with another 12"-18" of snow set to start here tomorrow afternoon, I've got another stack of books lined up to get me through the storm!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
It didn't look any better looking out the front windows, either.Seriously, there were about 7" of snow there at 9:00 last night. At 6 a.m., The Big Guy measured 21". When all was said and done about 4 p.m., we had about 26" in my neighborhood. Some other nearby areas had 30." Not a bad total for only 26 hours of snowing! ? (Pretty much all of the snow from Wednesday was gone before this came down. The streets and sidewalks were clear and there was less than 2" on the grass.)
We have not seen a plow yet today. (One came into our court last night about 9 p.m. and cleared the first 6"off. The street behind that Hummer in the last picture was clear at that time.)Hopefully, by tomorrow night they will have at least run through the main street in the neighborhood and by Tuesday, they will most likely plow our street. Only 3 cars even attempted the small hill going by our house today. None made it.
I am NOT a winter person. I do NOT enjoy snow. I HATE the cold. (It's 12 degrees!) I AM NOT HAPPY TODAY.
We're expecting more snow Tuesday night.
I HATE GROUNDHOGS!!! (It's Punxatawney Phil's fault!!)
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
OMG, what to do? Before I could slam the door shut and double bolt it, they had shoved their way in. They marched straight up the stairs, down the hall and into my room. There they confronted my closet and all my clothes neatly stowed in my dresser. (Okay, they perused the pile of laundry still sitting in the basket waiting to be ironed and folded. It was easier than trying to wade through what was tightly jammed in the dresser drawers. Oh, and some of my hanging items were on hangers hanging from a hook on the outside of the closet, easier to get to, of course.)
Before I could blink, Stacy was tsk, tsking away and Clinton was shaking his head. My lip began to tremble and I started to mumble about comfort and ease. I tried desperately to wake up.
In the distance I could hear a steady beep, beep. I just knew it was a dump truck backing up to the door to load all the clothing this team deemed wrong. Oh no, Stacy was calling for back-up! They wouldn’t be able to handle it alone. I heard her leave voice mail for Dr. Ruth (Dr. Phil was unavailable) and I think I even heard Niecy Nash mentioned with regard to closet clutter.
“Okay, I get the Niecy call but what’s with Dr. Ruth?” Clinton glanced me up and down and, with a shake of his head, said, “You stand there before me in black knee-hi socks, turquoise knit jammie pants and a long red t-shirt style nightgown that “used” to have an applique on it which seems to have half-peeled off and you wonder why we’ve called in Dr. Ruth. How could you possibly be having a wild and crazy time at night in that outfit?”
Good, they don’t seem to have found my Jockey for Her drawer yet !
While Stacy was grabbing from the closet and stacking a discard pile, I ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I realized they really weren’t there in my room (just in my head). I went ahead and pulled on those warm, knit comfy pants and that great, heavy gray turtle-neck sweater that I’ve literally had for years. I may not be stylish today, but I’m warm and comfy which is good when there’s a blanket of snow outside.
Wait. There is a knock at my door. Do you think maybe it’s Rachael Ray or Paula Deen there to make me something good and tasty to ease my nerves?
I’ve got to start reading more and watching less T.V. !!