Sunday, February 27, 2011

I am still here, just awfully busy (I guess that is normal for me, right?)

In the stitching part of my life...
First, lets talk about stitching and some new stash I got from Valerie-FogCity Dweller. On Friday, I got home and there was a package in the mail; I guess that I was a runner up for a give-a-way she ran last May...but I didn't remember, so it was like getting a Christmas present or a Birthday present :) What did I get, you ask...well, first I should apologize that I can't take any photos because my camera is out of batteries and I was going to "borrow" some photos from stitching websites, but I can't find the patterns she sent. So, I will have to describe them:

By Shepherd's Bush...Scissor Fob pattern - "A,B,C...All is fine". I know that Valerie was a lucky duck who went to a retreat in Utah and visited the Shepherd's Bush store. This pattern is one that she had completed and passed it onto me so I can also stitch it.

By The Drawn Thread...Garden Recipe pattern/kit.

"Bits & Pieces - A Stitcher's Journal" From Blackbirds Designs, Barb Adams & Alma Allen...this is a little spiral bound journal that contains photos of Barb & Alma's quilts and other designs; and lots of space to keep track of all my projects!

Vikki Clayton hand dyed thread - Blueberry soup and Garnet.

Thank you so much Valerie, you made my day on Friday! I love all my new stash!!!

Continuing on the stitching theme...I had some ample time on Friday, when I was sitting at Speedy Oil Change, to get in some stitching on the ornament I am making for Sharon from the Ornament Swap group. It is coming along nicely, and if I didn't have plans for this I probably would be finishing it off and keeping it for myself. I am hoping that I can finish this up because Family Sampler is calling my name, but I don't want to be late getting Sharon's ornament in the mail for I felt bad about being late with Lori's. I don't want to be known in the exchange groups as Late :(

In my other facets of life...
Hockey continues to keep us busy. Matthew's (younger son) team is up to 4 practices a week as they get ready for a couple of hockey weekends in March. The 2nd week of March, they travel to LA to play a Czech Republic team and the Jr. King PeeWees...the 3rd week it is off to Arizona for a tournament. Robert's (older son) team is trying to make up for all the practices we have paid for but haven't had (this is a sore subject for all the parents regarding the club dues we pay and the lack of ice time the team gets) as they gear up for the Pacific District Championship which is this coming weekend. Starting Thursday, teams from Alaska and Washington, as well as one from Southern California come to San Jose for districts. Our club is hosting the event, which means...yes, I did volunteer...I have been busy helping get ready for the event. As a member of the district tournament committee, I have volunteered to help with admissions and getting together all the badges for the teams as well as the admissions tickets. It isn't a cumbersome job, just had to deal with printers and graphic designers to create the team passes...but it is almost done, which is a good thing for we have to have them ready for the team managers/coaches' meeting this Wednesday.

Then there is life at *The Store*...unfortunately after Valentine's Day several people just didn't work out and left, so we are a little short handed right now (anyone out there looking for a little work?) And I think that DH is wearing down by working there from open to close 7 days a week. So, I have been put on the schedule to work on Saturdays and go in when I can in the afternoons to help out. On one hand I love being there and helping out - but on the other, there are times that having our own business feels more like a burden. I hope that we are able to get in some more help soon!

Other everyday issues...well, the washer is fixed; but my car is now making a horrible noise, so now I have to figure out when I can squeeze in time to take it to the dealership so they can take a look at it. It is always something, isn't it?!?!?

Well - life might seems crazy here, but we all seem to work together - DH, Robert, Matthew and I - in order to get things done. That is what is important!

I hope that things are going well with you and yours...until next time...

Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trying to get back into the swing of things

It is nice to have the washer fixed! While we were lucky to have an alternate way of getting the clothes clean, I missed having the ability to just "throw a load in" and get it done while in my pjs. In fact, DH has been wearing the same pair of jeans for the last few weeks - dirty. According to him, they are the only ones that fit and it was hard to figure out a way to get them washed without wearing them. Glad that the washer finally got fixed, or those jeans would have just got up and walked to the laundrymat by themselves very soon (if I didn't throw them away first).

Since I really couldn't leave the repair men (yes, it took two to totally take apart the washer and reassemble it with the new parts) by themselves and I didn't feel comfortable getting on the stationary bike...I got a great opportunity to sit and stitch...perfect way to pass the time, don't you think? This allowed me to get even further on the ornament I am making for Sharon (aka "daffycat") from the Ornament Swap Group. I am definitely having fun stitching this. I learned from my mistake that caused the delay of Lori's and I am using the same piece of evenweave linen from my stash to stitch Sharon. The threads just lay so nice, flat and even, which makes it perfect for these ornaments I am making this year for each of the group members. Lori just posted photos of all the ornaments she received during her month of January...visit Ornament Swap to see!

Once the repairmen left...and the first load of laundry was put in the fixed machine (can you guess what it was???? If you said Hockey underarmour you are correct:)), off I went to the grocery store to restock the pantries and refrigerator. I know that I left Matthew and DH behind over the weekend - boy, did they eat up everything in sight! The store manager at the grocery store was even commenting on the amount of food that I was purchasing...but he knows that I have 2 growing boys and a husband at home I have to feed.

It feels good to be getting caught up on things and getting back into some sort of schedule. But I know that it will not last! We still have some hockey tournaments coming up - Robert's Pacific District tournament is here in town the first weekend in March, Matthew's team goes down to LA to play a team from Czech Republic the second week and then to Phoenix the third week. Technically the season is winding down, but already spring teams and summer clinics are showing up on the website and the boys are hinting at what they what to participate in. Yet the spring and summer activities aren't as involved as the season ones, so we do find a little more down time starting in mid to late March.

Well, my blogging friends, time to sign off on another posting. Until next time, remember...

Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Home from Michigan

Well I am home from Detroit, for what will probably be the last travel tournament for Robert and his hockey team for the season. They have Pacific District coming up in a week and a half...I am hoping for a good outcome, but...

The weekend was pretty good. The boys did fair...they made it to the semi-finals, but lost to the Motor City Metal Jackets with a score of 4-3. It was an exciting game as they were down 4-0 in the 3rd period and started to battle back, but the game ending buzzer rang before they were able to tie it up.

Aside from hockey, we had to deal with the excitment of a winter storm which dumped 8+ inches of snow on the Detroit area on Sunday.
The view outside my hotel window on Sunday afternoon when the winter storm started
Of course, the California boys were ready for a snowball fight :)

We got home after 1am this morning and I have taken today off from work to catch up on household things...after the washer repairman finishes up with the washer. They are here right now installing the new parts - basically rebuilding the whole thing - as I type this. It will be nice to have this fixed, as doing laundry is a big part of my daily routine :)

On the Stitching Front...I have started the ornament for Sharon for the Ornament Swap group. I like what I am stitching and it is coming out nicely. It was the perfect thing to work on while on the airplane.

That is about all for now...until next time, remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time to catch up!

Phew...what a Valentine's weekend! It was fun but exhausting! Especially my, 40 hour day that started at 5:30am on Sunday morning and ended on Monday at 9:30pm. I did catch a few catnaps when I went home Sunday evening to put the boys to bed; Monday morning when I came home to wake up the boys & get them ready for school and later on Monday after I picked them up from school. Crazy, I know! But very happy with the way Valentine's was handled in our store and the way that our employees helped to get everything produced and delivered. Sure, there are always things that store owners can do better and there are alway customers who aren't satisfied...but after hearing that some of the other franchise stores weren't able to make all their deliveries on Valentine's day - I feel very good that we did.

Now, back to reality and "routine".

Catching up on my blog reading I found out that Lori received the ornament I made her for the Ornament Swap, so now I can show you what I stitched:
"Snow Wishes" by The Victoria Sampler
Designed by Cathy Jean
Just CrossStitch 2009 Special Christmas Issue 
Stitched on fabric from my stash (which didn't have the count information on it) and substituting thread (but keeping true to the colors called for). It was a fun project to stitch and I was so glad to hear that Lori received it! Now it is time to figure out what ornament I will be stitching & finishing for the March recipient...mmmm, time to pull out all the ornament specials again :)

Six days until the repairman to return to fix the washer. We have received all 3 boxes of parts to replace the bad ones. We are making due with washing the clothes through other means, but it is a hassel - lugging the dirty clothes to the car...but it has to be done. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well next Tuesday and we will have a working clothes washer :)

That is about it for now...just catching up as well as getting ready to leave for Detroit, MI with Robert & his hockey team for a tournament during President's weekend. So, until next time...

Take care and remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch Often!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day...the "last minute" holiday

Hi all...well, I will tell you right off that I have not touched a needle and thread for several days as I have been in *The Store* working, trying to do what I can to assist DH to keep him relaxed...and helping out in the "kitchen", jumping in the production line where ever I can to assist our wonderful staff. For Valentine's Day weekend has been very crazy & busy...and if we do everything "successfully" it will be a very, very good holiday.

First off Valentine's Day is basically a "one day" holiday...meaning that everyone wants their fruit bouquet on Valentine's Day and to be delivered on Valentine's Day. As of right now, we have 300+ orders for Monday - fruit arrangements, boxed chocolate covered fruit and long-stemmed chocolate covered strawberry boxes. Thank goodness for our wonderful employees and all the preparing DH has done to get us to where we are right now, yet today will be the real test of preparing and organizing all the orders to be ready for delivery and pick up tomorrow. It is going to be a long day & night tonight, but I know that we can do it!

Second, it is also a "last minute" holiday...meaning, we are getting those desperate husband and sweethearts calling now. The phone call go something like this:

Me: "Thank you for calling *The Store*, how can I help you today?"

Customer: "I am looking for something for my wife...I am looking at your website... I know that she likes chocolate and you have anything like that?"

Me (trying to keep the sarcastic tone out of my voice, especially since this has to be the 20th caller to ask this question): "We have a wonderful assortment of arrangments containing chocolate dipped fruit. If you are on the website, is there anything that catches your eye that your wife might like? or, if you would like to tell me what her favorite kind of fruit is, I can give you some options."

After walking the customer through a few of the options that best match his thoughts, then it is time to close out the sale...

Me: "Will you be picking this up or will you like us to deliver it to her?" (this was a question asked prior to Saturday, as we have had to stop taking orders for Monday deliveries...only pick ups)

Customer: "Can you deliver it? Maybe to her office? Best to have it there exactly at 2:45pm...she has meeting in the morning, then appointments outside the office, then goes to lunch...she might even have a hair appointment before she takes the kids to soccer, but I am sure that she is around there exactly at that time...or maybe you should have it taken to our house between the hours of 6 and 6:15 because that is when she brings the kids home and helps get the kids around for soccer before leaving at 6:15...or..."At this point, I step in - trying to calm down the husband and offer a couple of options, which make it easier to settle on the delivery option, in order to close the sale and move on. 

Valentine's Day seems to have always been that kind of holiday...last minute, full of desperation. I know that florist go through it too, that is why they create the "grab and go" bouquets. And when I worked in my family's party-goods store...the red-heart mylar balloon was the popular item.
At the party store, we would advertise this balloon at 2 for a $1 (currently Party City is advertising it at 69cents each if you purchase a dozen...99cents each if you don't). We would offer all sorts of incentives for customers to pre-purchase prior to Valentine's Day so that we could have their order blown up and ready for them to come in & pick waiting in line. While that did work for the most part (I remember going into stores at 2am in the morning and blow up close to 1000 balloons or more to full fill orders as well as be ready for people to come in and purchase), there were always those customers who waited for the last minute and demanded their 3 dozen red heart balloons right now, not wanting to wait for them to be blown up and definitely didn't have the time to wait in the line to get the sale rung up. And God forbid if we should have run out of them!

Well, anyway...back to the present...I am up early, getting in a good sweaty spin on my stationary bike to make up for the one I didn't get in yesterday. I have to get up Matthew at 4:30am so that he can eat breakfast before getting picked up for an early morning hockey practice. As soon as he takes off, Robert, DH and I will head on over to *The Store* where I will start melting the chocolate - prep the apples and strawberries for dipping before the first couple of employees come in to help out. Robert is coming in early to lend a hand where he can to get things ready for a full day of prepping and production of Valentine's Day arrangements. It will definitely be a long day...but when all is done and out for delivery tomorrow there will be well worth it!

So, my friends, if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, just know that I am fine just up to my elbows in chocolate.

Take care and remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch Often!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mid-week already

Well, we find ourselves in the middle of the week and, while I don't necessarily want to rush it, I am glad that has arrived.

It has been a crazy week already - especially yesterday due to the visit of the washer repair man. Don't you just dispise the "window of time" that you get assigned when you set up an appointment with a service man? The four hour window - either 8am-12pm or 1pm-5pm - where you have to sit at home waiting for this person to come and determine what ails your appliance. Thank goodness that DH stepped in to be at home to wait so that I could stay at work in order to visit with my boss who was making her yearly visit to my office from the UK. DH arrived at the house at 1pm and waited...and waited...and waited. I got home around 3pm after picking up the boys from school and took over the "waiting station" while DH made a couple of fruit arrangment deliveries. Because I had to leave for the boys' hockey practice, DH came back to wait. Let's just say that this whole thing made for a very stressful sllituation, especially after I had called Sears and the local company they contracted to service our washer to find out what the timing status of the visit would be...

Me: "Hello, can you tell me when the repair tech will arrive?"

Customer Service: "Well, we send him a message to call you to give you an estimate."

Me: "That would be wonderful, but this is the 4th time I have called and asked for this information. Each time I was told that I would get a call back, but that has been 2 hours ago...I just want to know so that my husband and I can plan what we are going to do."

Customer Service: "Oh, madam, I apologize for this inconvience I will send another message to the tech to call. But you do know that he will be there between the hours of 1pm and 5pm."

Me: "Yes I know, but after being inconvienced since 1pm and sitting here at 4:30pm, it would be nice to know if he will be coming today before 5pm or if I need to make other arrangements."

Customer Service: "Yes, I understand...looking here it appears that there are 2 more appointments ahead of you and that he is still scheduled to be there before 5pm"

Me: "So, you are telling me that it is now 4:30pm and the tech still has 2 more appointments before he gets to me AND he is still going to be here by 5pm. This is definitely not good because my husband needs to be back at the store at 5pm, which obviously isn't going to happen is it - - - but I guess that is ok with you all because he will have "arrived" by 5pm, well within the window of time."

Customer Service: "So, do you want me to reschedule since this is obviously an inconvience...mmm...we can reschedule your appointment for next Monday."

Me: "You are kidding, right? We have waited here all day, waiting for this appointment which we scheduled a week ago - irritated because we have been calling to get the status of a tech who hasn't called back - stressed because it is close to 5pm and if we would cancel and reschedule we would have to wait another week to see the we will wait."

I left DH at the house when I had to leave with the boys for hockey...the tech finally showed up exactly at 5pm and diagonosed our washer as pretty sick :( It needed lots of new parts, which had to be ordered, which of course would take 10 days to arrive. So, we have a new appointment set up for Feb. 22...sometime between the hours of 1-5. AHHHH! Oh, well...we will deal - especially with trips to the laundromat or the neighbors is an inconvience, but it definitely is not the end of the world!

So, aside from this - I do want to announce that I FINALLY got Lori's ornament in the mail for the Ornament was due in the mail on or before the 31st. I feel so bad, as I don't like to make committments if I don't/can't follow thru. I am grateful that she and the group understand :) As soon as I hear that she received it, I will be able to show you what I created. The next one is due in the mail on/before March 31...I better to get thinking what I want to do and start stitching!

Hope all are doing well!
Take care and remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I wake each morning with the thrill of expectation
and the joy of being alive.
And I am thankful for this day.
~Angela L. Wozniak

I finally got around to snapping a photo of Family Sampler to show you my progress. As you see both trees now have leaves, the vine above the house is complete and the box where the letter "D" will go has been stitched as well. Before I move to another row, I will need to finish off a few more little things in the "house row".

Do you see the beginnings of the little birds in the trees? Red was not the original color called for in the pattern - that was a personal choice. I thought that Cardinals would be the perfect birds to have perched in my trees, looking over my house. Cardinals are the birds of St. Louis, Missouri - the city my grandparents use to live before they moved to South Carolina (my grandfather, who past away 2 years ago, is buried back in good ol' St. Louis while my spunky 92 year old grandmother still carries on in South Carolina); St. Louis Cardinals baseball team was my grandfather's favorite team and...St. Louis is where I went to college and where DH & I met over 24 years ago. So, I thought the red Cardinal would be the perfect bird to grace my trees on the my Family Sampler. It is fun to take something like this and add personal touches to make it your own, isn't it?

Yesterday, after taking Robert (older son) to his early morning practice at 6am, after my 2 hour nap and a spin on the bike....but before a 3.4 mile jog with my two boys...I planted my bottom down on the couch and just about finished the Lori's ornament for the Ornament Swap. Today, sometime, I plan to take the stitched piece and ornamentatize  (that is a word, right?) it so that I can get it in the mail ASAP. It is only 7 days late. However, I am so glad that I started a new design for her...I like the way that this one stitched up and looks...and proud to send it to her (although it would look good on my Christmas tree next year...mmm, might have to stitch it again, I guess).

Hope you all have a great Sunday...oh, yea it is Superbowl Sunday for those of you who are watching the "Big Game"; we typically turn it on to watch the interesting commercials and pull out the stitching :) Anyway, have a great day and remember...

Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Oh, Lord, I thank you for the privilege and gift of living in a world filled with beauty and excitement and variety.
I thank you for the gift of loving and being loved, for the friendliness and understanding and beauty of the animals on the farm and in the forest and marshes, for the green of the trees, the sound of the waterfall, the darting beauty of the trout in the brook.
I thank you for the delights of music and children, of other people's thoughts and conversation and their books to read by the fireside or in bed with the rain falling on the roof or the snow blowing past outside the window.
~ Louis Bromfield

Friday, February 4, 2011

I wear you?

Today is "Wear Red" Day, a day to remind all of us women...our grandmothers, our mothers, sisters and girl take care of their heart health!
Cardiovascular disease claims the life of over 500,000 women each year and many weren't paying attention, weren't aware of the signs, dismiss it as a "man's disease". So it is importanat for us to be aware of our heart health, to take care of ourselves...for we are important for so many other people who we are incharge of taking care. Be good to yourself today...wear read...visit the Go Red for Women website for more information.


It is Friday...Yahoo!
Unfortunately...and fortunately...I will be going into work today - my part-time job that is. All week I have been coordinating a photo shoot to take place at my office. It definitely has been an experience trying to get everything set up, working as a middle-person too coordinate it and making sure that all the right papers and background checks were completed. Anyway, the shoot is happening today, so I am going in to make sure that everything goes according to directions. I am looking foward to it, for it has been a long time since I have been to one of these.

The last photoshoot I attended was when I was working in Marketing and Public Relations for my families company in Minnesota. The theme of the shoot was first birthday as it was for our first Annuarl Report and the model was Robert (older son). He definitely hammed it up when he smeared cake frosting on his face. The photo was also used for the cover of the Kid's Birthday Party Planning brochure (pictured below).
What do you have planned for the weekend? While the boys each have a hockey practice in the wee hours of the mornings, we don't have anything else really planned. DH, of course, will go into *The Store* as we are gearing up for the Valentine's Holiday. Chocolate dipped strawberries...either in a box or created to look like a dozen roses in a special long stemmed red rose box. Yummy!

Wouldn't you like to get one of these from your sweetheart on Valentine's day?
Well, I will be there all next weekend dipping away! I can already smell that sweet scent of melted chocolate mixed with the fruity aroma that is always in the air at *The Store*.

However, this weekend, well with not much really on the agenda I am hoping to stay close to home and get a few things done here...things that don't include laundry as my washer is sick and the fixit doctor can't come until next Tuesday. So we will have to deal with laying out the stinky hockey gear in the sun to dryout and let the sun bake out the germs (right?). Oh, well, there are definitely worse things in life.

Well, take care my friends.Hope you have a good Friday and remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Here is a little taste of spring

I know that many of you are digging out from another huge snow storm and experience some bitterly cold temperatures, so I don't mean to brag when I say that we are experiencing temperatures in the low 70s F...that many of our cherry and crabapple trees have started to bloom...which sounds nice but does cause many of us to sneeze and blow our nose (allergy season has begun).

I am HOME - and after all the traveling I have done, this situation is priceless! Matthew (younger son) and I got home very late on Sunday evening and since then I have been playing "catch up", but I think that I am just about up to speed on things. However, the time at home will be shortlived...for I will be leaving, yet again, in a couple of weeks for Detroit with Robert (older son) and his team for the NAPHL playoffs. But 2 weeks at home is 2 weeks that I will make the best of - to enjoy the weather, enjoy the family, enjoy sleeping in my own bed, enjoy the down time when I can find it.

As mentioned while I was in Florida, I have been able to get some stitching done on Family Sampler, which I will try and get a photo up tomorrow. In the meantime, I am very delinquent in sending Lori her ornament for the ornament swap. I don't have much to go...and I did alert them of my bad behavior :) Last night I took it out in preparation for finishing, so I should be able to get it all done over the weekend and in the mail by next Monday at the latest.

Well, that is about all from here...before I sign off I am going to leave you with some readings and thoughts I received and would like to pass on.

Being aware of your true self is the best way to free yourself from the controlling, manipulative behavior of others. You don’t need the right car, the right shoes, the right girlfriend to be complete. All you really need is to be yourself. Your spirit is the real you. Let it guide you. Be still. Listen to your spirit say, “I am, and I am enough.” In the silence, you’ll hear God.
~Melody Beattie

Life is a series of letting go’s—an “infinite” series of letting go’s. All things in life are given to us on loan. Stand face-to-face with life, learn to let go, and whatever comes our way—success or failure, joy or sorrow, support or betrayal, light or darkness—it all blesses us. Once we have learned to let go, we are prepared for whatever life gives us.
~Matthew Fox

The only people you should ever want to get “even” with are those who have helped you.
~John Honeyfield

Take care my friends and remember...
Live, Love, Laugh and Stitch often!