Friday, May 29, 2009

Snotty Birthday Greetings

Inside: Any girl can look glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid. Hedy Lamarr

Inside: Aren't the 'good things that come to those who wait' just the leftovers from the people that got there first?

So, here are the beginnings of the birthday collections. I'm fairly happy with these two and I did have a third one posted but I have just pooh-poohed it off the collection. I just hate it too much.

I consistently mess up about one-third of my drawings. Not really. But I do mess up about 10% or I pooh-pooh them because I hate something about them. The one I hated of these three had a weird shaped ugly face. I'm always cutting those chins short and this one I cut until it looked like some stupid little goldfish. I just couldn't stand it. After all, even though I have very little pride, I do have some standards.

These cards will have humorous quotes inside and sell in packets or individually. I wish you'd buy some and buy some right quick before I get desperate and get that goldfish out of the trash!

A cleaner, safer studio... !?!

David (my hubby) got home much earlier than usual last night because all the games around here were rained out (he's a sports reporter as well as about a hundred-ca-billion other things) and he got his pages done earlier than ever.

I was working like a dog in my little studio trying to quickly put together a 10-card line of birthday Hot Snots before I send out catalog requests from the NSS. He comes in and says something like, "well, you look happy out here surrounded by all your stuff." And I says, "what do you mean? I can't even get the dogs to stay out here with me. I'm mad at them." And he says, "I mean all your stuff. It's all around you."

Well, like every other woman on the planet, I was really offended. I said how dare he and stuff like that and said I needed help to clean up my studio because it was too crowded and I made a lot of nonsensical accusations.

This morning, I went back out to finish the first phase of my drawings and I had never seen such a mess in my life. Nothing had changed. I just hadn't looked at it. Every nook and cranny was piled with VERY IMPORTANT projects I had abandoned at one point or another. Even my sister's birthday present which I started about two years ago and never finished (it was just TOOO hard!) was still laying there. Good night America.

So, instead of working on my drawings and doing what I said I would do, I spent the morning and all afternoon cleaning and throwing away. I even threw away some of my big projects that I know I'll never complete. As my little friend Lynne knows, that is VERY hard for me to do... I always think I'm going to rescue some abandoned thing but I guess, unless it's a dadgum cat, I never do.

During the course of my cleaning, I decided to put a few little abandoned cards into little abandoned frames and I think I kind of like them. I'm going to take them to the shop and incorporate them into our display for Hot Snot cards.

We spent yesterday working on the layout for the display at the shop... and as usual, we made everything harder than it needed to be because we refuse to spend money on anything. We are making the display racks (I am NOT going to pay two- or three-hundred dollars for stupid display pieces from China!) and so now that will take me at least a week because everything has turned out to be harder than I bargained for. I get so sick of me I could vomit almost all the time.

Anyway, it was Erica's idea about how to do the birthday cards. Actually, she had a more elaborate concept than I am willing to bang out in time for the catalog, but she had the idea about the little birthday hats. All the Hot Snot dolls wear things on their heads so I didn't know what it would be like, but now that they are well on their way to being ready for drawing, I pretty much think they are cute. If they dry thoroughly this afternoon, I will try to finish one and post it to see what you think.

Lastly, I am really grateful to have everything I need, to do everything I need to do with my Snots. Many times in my life (and still many times now in other areas), I feel I struggle against not having the resources I need to adequately do what I want to do or need to do. When I was little, we had a series of Childcraft books and, as I have told my daughters to their eye-rolling laughter several times, BOOK NUMBER NINE was my favorite. Book Number Nine was the Craft book and BOY! Did I ever want to make EVERYTHING in that book! It all looked so premium.

Alas, I never had the supplies. We had the standard things a kid should have: notebook paper, glue, scissors, crayons, pencils. But that was it. I wanted real bad to make a cardboard hide-out like in the book out of big appliance boxes. But nobody ever brought big appliances in boxes to our house. And I REALLY wanted to make a pair of sandals for school. I did make them too. But notebook paper sandals that are glued together (we didn't have fancy tape to waste on our crap... that was for my mom!) won't even hold up all the way from one side of the living room to the other.

I would always plan out my projects in my head before I made them too. So, after looking in the Childcraft and seeing how good it all looked, I was always so surprised that MY sandals were pieces of crap when I was done with them. I just KNEW they were going to be beautiful leather sandals when I was done. But they never were. Not even once. I always lived with a series of letdowns. Nothing ever matched my imagination.

Thank you to my hubby and to my God for giving me what I need to make my pretties. Now, if only one or the other of you would help me kind of keep that stuff cleaned up, I would be mighty appreciative. After all, I can't do everything around here.

Love, d.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Creek sa Rising

With thunder so far in the distance that the computer never winked and the satellite TV never stuttered, it frog-strangle rained for I don't know how long with just me and dogs here at home.

After it was over, I went out to feed the cats and found mist tiptoeing up the holler (that's Ozark for hollow). In the distance, the Gasconade River was traceable by its little snake of fog and down at the bottom of the drop off in back of our house the mostly dry-bed creek was running so hard it sounded like the ocean. All that water will make it into Springcreek and then all that water will make it into the Gasconade. By morning, some cows will be standing in it all cool and still as cucumbers

It was pretty near dark when I took these pictures. Dogs were barking at the neighbors like they do almost 100% of the time but they live all the way across the woods - about half mile or more the way the bluebird flies. Couldn't hear a whippoorwill yet but I bet I can now and some kind of frogs that sing almost all night long every night unless its too chilly for them

Time to settle down and turn off this America's Next Top Model rerun and listen to whatever I can hear. Time to hear those words: "what am I doing here

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the
presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was
not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in
the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here,
Elijah?" I Kings 19:11-13

Congratulations Alicia!

Congrats to Baby Alicia, my younger daughter, on her graduation with a BS in Business Management / Entrepreneurship from Missouri Western.

At this point, she and hubby Josh are beginning the process of relocating to Silverthorne, Colorado where Alicia will operate their own Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Josh, a mechanical engineer who is now working in St. Joseph, Missouri, will be looking for a new job out there and this may be tough, so keep him in your prayers.

My main concern is how is Buster, their wiener dog, going to do in all that snow? His little short legs! His little shivering long body! His being so far away from home!!!

The Shopping Cart Button!

This little stinker is finally ready and working on our Chocolate Panache wholesale website and, believe it or not, on The Frame Shop's site for retail! That means you can now buy Hot Snots (greeting cards and prints) on-line, both wholesale and retail!

I know it doesn't look like much but, dog, it was a job.

I used Paypal's shopping cart because it was easy (as with everything I do, I am also a hack webmaster and I do everything myself... so I've got to be able to figure out what to do) and I also think people may tend to trust it more than other shopping cart sites because it is familiar. I know I do because I ain't been done wrong yet.

Anyway, I'd been hearing it and hearing it and hearing it that I needed to get my shopping cart working on our website but I needed a couple of days to sit and work on it. I have to do everything twice because I always screw it up and lots of unanticipated things happen in the progression of any of my big projects - that's why it takes me so long. I spent all day and night for two days and then a few hours today trying to make sure it works. I still need to get the View Cart button to work on the retail site, but I'm too exhausted (I'm never tired... I'm always exhausted) to figure out what its problem is today.

I still think The Frame Shop's website is lame looking. I don't know what to do. I have remade it about four times in the last seven years but I always think it's inferior. Using such old software is one problem but that's not the REAL problem. The real problem is that I just don't have a vision for what I want and even if I did, I probably wouldn't be smart enough to do it. I often find that the imagined outcome of any given project is severely adversely affected by my own brain-power. I do not know what can be done about this and believe me, the older I get, the worse its getting as my expectations are ever-increasing and my brain-power is ever decreasing. Plus, I have less will-power than ever and zero pride. This makes me lazy and the prospect of being humiliated no longer impacts my decisions. Combined, this makes for a negative life experience that is spiraling out of control. Thank goodness for the comfort and familiarity of mental illness.

Surprisingly, both websites have seen a little bit of activity, even before the National Stationery Show. I don't know how people find you but they do. That's like when David and I used to do Davesports... I was always astonished at how many people were out there looking at that thing. Of course sports people - I have never understood them. I spend all my on-line time on Etsy.

Anyway, thank you to my beloved and darling husband, David, who works so hard day-in and day-out (literally - he's a 70-hour-per-week reporter and also our cutter/joiner at The Frame Shop) to allow me time to piddle with all this stuff and never says a mean word plus he cooks hamburgers and hot dogs and ribs and chicken and steaks and roasted ears and french fries and the world's nastiest baked beans for us to eat. There is no one on this earth like you and certainly, no one else could tolerate all the things you put up with.

Now, that being said, how great you are and all: Will you please bring home the dolly and empty my burn barrel so I can burn trash? I want to do it so bad! If you empty my burn barrel, I will give Frankie and Lucy (our wiener dogs) a bath!

Love, d.

The National Stationery Show in New York

Thought I'd go ahead and share a few of our NY pictures from the NSS.
Here's my daughter Ashley and her husband, Matt. We were down in the subways being mortified by the rats. Okay. Really, we were looking everywhere for rats and when we'd see them we felt - well, secretly - thrilled, I think, but freaked out. It's a complicated thing. Most women can understand it.

At the Javits, our boxes had already arrived when we got there and we made an arbitrary decision to try to be finished with setting up the booth by 2:00 p.m. so we'd have time to run the roads. We got done at 2:15.

Here's my beloved son-in-law Matt. You can't use step ladders at the Javits because that requires a Union Carpenter and the paying of the accompanying wage for a minimum of one-half hour. So you either have to wobble precariously on a little stool trying to install your lights and curtains or you have to bring a big, tall, handsome, darling, sweet boy from home. I love Missouri boys. They work hard and never expect a thing for their work except supper. Well, mostly just supper.

Ashley Fawn worked on our press kits. I don't know what good it did, but we left about 20 in the press room and at the end of the show they were all gone. I thought they were pretty cute but David (my own beloved Missouri boy) thought they looked homemade. I told him the term is HANDMADE and that was the goal. Sometimes these Missouri boys don't know when to be quiet and just shake their heads in approval. Seems like they ought to know that that is what they need to be doing ALL THE TIME!

So in about five hours we were set up and everything was working the best we could do it within our budget and shipping opportunities and talents.
We were delighted to be asked about our beautiful cornices (the little black frilly doom-a-flatchies at the top of our curtains)... they are cheap plastic garden fences - four bucks a piece - and we used them to hold up our curtains in what, I informed Matt (who is an engineer), was a brilliant piece of engineering by yours truly. As usual, he only pretended to be impressed by made my pre-engineering efforts but, as usual, with a few little pocket tools and some wire, he made them work like a dream once we were on-site. Thank you, Matt. But a little humility on your part would be most becoming. What a show-off!

So here are a few shots of our booth. We moved stuff around after the first day. And we moved stuff around after the second day. And the third day. We moved stuff all the time.

Here's the baby Ashley. I'm mad for my Ashley. She's spectacular.

Here we are in our fancy little girly dresses. I had a pink dress, a yellow dress, a green dress and an old ugly black and white dress. New Yorkers, apparently, don't know that you can wear colors - but they seem to like them. I got a lot of compliments on these dresses and I was really proud about that because my clothes are usually pretty much "less" in every category; however, no one admired my shoes. They were the ugliest shoes on creation and they hurt my feet too. I had pretty shoes, but I always dumped them by 10:00 a.m. because they hurt my feet even worse than the ugly shoes.

My advice to New Yorkers: wear some color. You all look very pale. And very serious. And sort of boring. And the black-makes-you-look-skinny thing like one woman told me (she was from Jersey)... get over that. Everyone can tell if you're sort of fat, even if you're wearing black. Might as well be sort-of-fat in pink.

My yellow dress. Alas, no picture of the green one.

Here's our Bump Watch: Hot Tots and Snots that was a finalist for the New Products Award in Social Stationery. We didn't win. Dang it. But the display did bring some traffic to our booth. If we'd have won, I would have had this at the TOP of this posting!

We had time one afternoon to go down to Ground Zero and see the construction at the Twin Towers. It's smaller than I imagined (my imagination is almost always bigger than anything that is real), but it's hard to get any sort of perspective. Matt tried in vain to explain many things to Ashley and me while we were down there but we always just pooh-poohed him and thought we were right no matter what (Matt is a construction engineer and not only designs but builds buildings for a living... we, on the other hand, are experts because we just know something. Matty, it's really stupid to argue with people who just know something to be so.)

After the show was over, the take-down was incredible. The floor went to this condition in 12 minutes. It was astonishing.

The fork-lift guys were incredibly rude and silly, however, and not even good looking. Obviously, none of them had mothers or their mothers would have slapped the crap out of them. The exhibitors on our aisle were all appalled... because none of us were from New York we didn't know it was even possible for men to be so lazy or so dumb. I, personally, had never seen it before. They don't make boys like that in the Midwest or South. Thank our loving God!

We got our booth down in record time. Matt worked like a champion (he's from Mexico, Missouri, so he knows how to work and he never complains and he doesn't quit until everything is done... he's a man, you see, and his mother raised him right) and got everything in the boxes despite the stupid way Ashley and I threw everything in them because, you see, we were tired. Matt even contended with our cheap, glued-up scissors and didn't even complain (although Ashley and I did). Thank you so much, Ashley. Thank you so much, Matt. I love you both more than you'll ever understand.

So we flew home the last night of the show. We were sooooo happy to see our beloved homes.

Now, about real men again. This explains what I mean about those wussies in New York. When we got back to St. Louis, it was close to midnight. We waited for our shuttle because we'd parked in long-term off-site parking. When our van showed up, the middle-aged-slightly-overweight driver hopped out of the bus, grabbed our suitcases and those of some other travelers and stowed them into the luggage rack. He then drove cheerfully to the lot and delivered each of us to our cars -- where he unloaded each person's bags. He even rolled our bags to our car because we were the last ones to get off. Now THAT'S A MAN! He didn't expect a tip. He didn't expect anything from us. He was just WORKING - like men do. Like good men do.

How could anyone ever accept anything else after living here? Nothing compares.

Thank you, God, for bringing us home safely. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Home Again Home Again Lickidy Split

Good night America.

The National Stationery Show is over and let me tell you, those are the longest hours I ever spent in my life - standing in that booth.

Two things I learned. I really dislike New York. And I really dislike standing still.

But we did it and thank goodness we are home and done with that racket. Thank you Ashley and Matt. You are my heros. I NEVER could have stood it without you.

About New York.

I've visited the touristy parts of New York before and had a higher opinion of the place. But this time we were in Midtown and we weren't being treated like tourists (except that everyone did constantly want our money). It's dirty, expensive, smelly, garbage-infested, crowded, noisy, cold, wet, clogged with traffic, clogged with people, and clogged with rats... yes, rats. Our old and rickety three-hundred-dollar-a-night hotel wouldn't go for 39 bucks around here - and you'd have to have a refrigerator and microwave to even get that price! I am really shocked and appalled at what our brave New Yorkers consider to be of some sort of quality. The entire joint is sorely lacking.

Okay. About the rats. We only saw about 5 or 6. But that's more rats than I needed to see.

Here's what's positive about New York: Manhattan still has a lot of little independent shops, especially delis and restaurants. There are few box stores and so the independent retailers are thriving. It's terrific. There is a small town feel there - even among all those buildings and people and rats - that I fear is lost forever in most of rural America (thanks to Wal-Mart, I suppose).

Since I've been home all I've done is work on show follow-up. I'm still not nearly through it. More info on that later, too.

I think most of the wholesalers thought the show was a BIG FLOP and I agree. After doing market in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago, I gotta tell you that this show, by comparison, was a flop. The NSS website is still claiming 1000 vendors when they actually only had 699 (I counted them because I have OCD). Also, the majority of the people wearing "retailer" badges seemed to be artists plying their wares (we didn't want any.. we got our own). I believe that Trade Shows are in decline just like everything else. At least this one is. Word is that even the NY Gift Mart is suffering the same fate as the NSS and is becoming an increasingly regional show with easterners preferring Atlanta. I certainly prefer Atlanta if I gotta go east.

Anyway, I'll tell about it more later and post some pictures.

Love and kisses to all, especially Martha and Little Ashley. Thank you for the prayers. God bless.