Monday, November 9, 2015

Bringing you up to date

Hello!  And once again I am sorry for the delay.  All hell broke loose and I wasn't sure what was going to happen but it's all good now and I will talk about it later if anyone is interested.  

So I left off with a recap of last Springs Retreat.  Moving forward from there...

First I want to start with Dan's latest finish.  He's quite proud of himself and I am proud of him.  This wasn't an easy stitch with all the back stitching and the 3 strands of floss on 18 ct Aida but he did it, it's beautiful and it's hanging in our family room.

Scenic Farm - Dimensions kit

 May 18th, 2015 brought the birth of Adam and Marcia's first child, our first grandchild and the first great-grandchild of the family,  Emma Grace.  She weighed in at a whopping 5 lbs. 10 oz and 18.75 inches long.  At almost 6 months she is just about ready to start crawling and weighs all of 13 pounds.   Dan and I traveled out east at the end of May to meet the little darling and they will be visiting here for Thanksgiving this year.  We can't wait to see them all again and to introduce her to her 2 sets of great-grandparents and all of her aunts, uncles and cousins.

Also last spring, Abby approached us about moving home to save money so she could pay off her student loans.  This involved taking down our Christmas Village and remodeling the basement which took my poor husband a good portion of the spring and summer.  It turned out very nice though and will be nice for Adam and family to have that area for themselves after Abby moves out and they come for a visit.  Right about the time Abby moved in she also started dating a young man named Travis.  He lives about an hour away so she really isn't home much and I anticipate it won't be long before she isn't home at all.

Amy is doing well in grad school but is kept so busy we rarely speak to her.  I feel honored if she manages to send a quick text saying she is still among the living.  We haven't see her in forever and it is looking like she will not be coming home for the the holidays this year.

So that leaves the only other piece of information that might interest you.  A year ago at this time we started looking into purchasing the framing & stitching shop that I have worked at for the last 14 years. Little did I know what a monumental task that would turn out to be.  The twists and turns, the ups and downs.  The stress.  Don't get me started about the stress.  As with everything in our lives, nothing comes easy and I have had to work the hardest I have ever worked in order to achieve this goal but I am happy to say that as of last Thursday I am now the proud owner of Reflections Framing & Stitching.  I am however sad to say that due to the shops landlord being a jerk we are currently homeless.  He went from saying he saw no reason to raise the rent back in July to tripling it by September.  But all is not lost!  I've leased a new space not too far from our old one and once the remodel is finished we will be up and running and it will be better than ever.  I just hope my customer's will be able to find me.  There wasn't a lot of time to spread the news and a lot of them (mostly the framing only customers) we don't have emails for so no easy (and inexpensive, a move was not in the business plan or budget) way to contact them. The landlord does not allow you to put a notice up that you moved so most will assume I just closed.  I'm hoping once we are open again that I can recruit some folks to help me call everyone and give them all the information on how to find us. In the meantime I am trying to get all my little ducks in a row and get business cards printed, accounts set up, paint chosen, and all the other million and one things I never knew I needed to do, done.  I hope you'll join me on this journey and if you're ever in the Omaha area, I hope you will stop in and visit!

Take care till next time dear friends!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Spring Retreat Recap

Sorry for the delay in posting, things are a bit crazy around here at the moment.  Now...where were we??  Oh, that's right, I said retreat was up next.  It's a bit strange to write about the last retreat with the next one looming on the horizon but I'll do my best.

I always start planning retreat by coming up with a theme and an idea for a project.  Then I make sure I can flesh it out and that I can come up with enough ideas to make it viable as a theme.  After that I contact a designer to see if they would like to design something to fit the theme.  I never start the actual process of making or buying things until I have all that nailed down.  Otherwise it's a bit like putting the cart before the horse.  So for our Spring 2015 Retreat I found a quote from an author that called to me regarding roses and thorns.  Based on this quote I named the retreat "Will you accept this Rose?" which of course is the tag line for the reality show The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  I had ideas for for rose themed ort containers, scissor fobs, etc...had it all planned out.  Now you can't just willy nilly take a quote from someone famous and use it without permission so I tracked down the publishing house (the author had no contact information anywhere) and sent an email requesting permission to use the quote in a cross stitch piece.  And then I waited.  I waited some more and then I put my dang cart before my horse and started making the ort containers that I make for each retreat based on said quote.  This is what they looked like:

I sent a second and then a third email requesting permission and still didn't hear a thing.  Finally I had to reach the conclusion that this theme was going to have to fall by the wayside.  I was running out of time and the designer was running out of time.  But now I had 40 rose themed ort boxes ready to go (this is where the cart before the horse comes in) and I didn't want to just toss them aside so I needed to come up with an idea that incorporated the already made boxes.  And while I was standing in the shower pondering the issue, inspiration struck! (I come up with the best ideas when I'm in the shower, give it a try sometime!)  The ort boxes already represented a reality show so what if reality shows were the theme???  And that my dears is how Reality Bites came to be, it described how I was feeling to a "T"!   I came up with the idea for a sampler that had different motifs in it that represented Reality TV shows past and present.  But I didn't want them to be obvious to the casual observer.  I wanted it to be like a secret code, similar to the quilts that were used to direct the runaway slaves to freedom or the hidden meanings behind Quaker motifs or different types of flowers or the hidden messages that were stitched into needlework by POW's in WWII.  Here's an excerpt taken from an article by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian Sept. 2, 2011 that talks about the POW's if you haven't read it already.  It's very interesting!

I was quickly able to come up with 18 different motifs to represent 18 different reality shows.  I was then able to come up with ideas for the rest of the items for the goodie bags we give to the retreat attendees and before I knew it I had it all ironed out and was able to contact our designer to see if she could work with the idea.  Thank God she was able to roll with it and she designed a beautiful sampler that perfectly fit the theme!  Thank you Beth from Summer House Stitch Workes! 

After months of planning, plotting and production it was finally time for Retreat!

When the ladies checked in at retreat they were each given a pizza box.

Why a pizza box you ask?  Did you know there was a reality show about an Italian restaurant and pizzeria called the Capones?  Me either until I did my research.  Inside the pizza box was the Reality or Illusion chart, fabric and floss to stitch it and a tray (made by the mister) for mounting the finished sampler.

If you look closely there is a little microphone charm attached to the fabric that represents the reality show called The Voice.

Also upon check in our reality stars received a name badge. I think this one is pretty self explanatory.

Finally, they also were handed an Amazing Race envelope which contained an explanation of the theme and also included a list of 36 different Reality Shows. The ladies, if so inclined (this was an optional activity) needed to figure out which 18 of the 36 shows were represented in the sampler.  I heard a lot of grumbling about how "I don't watch Reality TV"  but for a bunch of ladies that don't watch Reality TV, they sure did well guessing which motifs went to which shows!

Timsey and Shannon with their stuff
Goodie bags were given out Friday night after everyone was checked in.  

This year the goodie bags held a Needlebook that was made by Sue V., one of our retreat attendees.  The map fabric represents The Amazing Race.  Thanks again Sue!

The bags also contained scissors, a scissor fob, a highlighter, stitch starter, candle snuffer, cupcake candle, stick pins, emery board, mug mat, needle threader,  and a bottle of water.

Some of the items represented reality shows:

Candle Snuffer ~ Survivor because they snuff your fire when you are voted off the island
Stitch Starter ~  stamped knife fork and spoon for all the cooking shows
Emery Board ~ represents a nail file which one needs when one is Escaping from Alcatraz
Cupcake Candle ~ Cupcake Wars
Bottle of Water ~ can’t survive Naked and Afraid without water!
Scissors ~ Project Runway
Mug Mat ~ The fabric had a Television Set on it

Some of the items (the scissors, stick pins, needle threader, highlighter, and stitch starter) were meant to be placed in the Needle book.

Here's a better look at the scissor fob.  I took a picture of the finished sampler and used portions of the picture for the fob.  

I made the stick pins to go in the needlebook but couldn't figure out how to keep people from poking themselves until that happened so I made the little matchbook to hold them.

 Saturday morning we held an arm knitting class taught by Jolene (in the pink shirt)  When class was over we had a finished infinity scarf.  In theory anyway!

Plenty of stitching was done too!

There were some finishes too!

Shannon even finished the retreat piece!  Over achiever!!!!

Saturday night is always shop night at spring retreat.  After supper and before the shop was opened we tallied all the sheets that had been handed in by those participating in the guessing game of Reality Shows and had a non-participating person pick a number between 1-40 just in case of a tie. Surprisingly, given the number of people that said they couldn’t possibly get any answers correct, most guessed at least 10 correctly! With 15 correct answers each, we did end up having a two-way tie between Roxy/Denise (they worked together) and Timsey with the tie breaker going to Timsey. She received a $25.00 gift certificate to the shop.  

Sunday we opened the shop up again for an hour or so before we began packing it back up. Last minute purchases were made and then everyone stitched and visited until lunch. After lunch the out of town ladies began the process of packing up and heading home. It never seems possible that four days have passed so quickly. By 3:30 pretty much everyone was on their way home and we were packing up the extension cords, the leftover snacks and loading our cars. Another retreat over but the fall retreat is looming on the horizon and it won’t be long before we are all together again! 

The project when finished :

And for those that might want to try their hand at guessing the shows here is the list given to the attendees. 18 of them are represented in the sampler. 

19 kids & Counting...the Duggers
American Pickers
American Chopper
American Idol
Big Brother
Cake Boss
Dancing with the Stars
Dirty Jobs
Dog the Bounty Hunter
Dog Whisperer
Double Divas
Duck Dynasty
Fear Factor
Gold Rush
Honey Boo Boo
Iron Chef
Jersey Shore
Kate Plus 8
Pawn Star
Project Runway
Real Housewives of Atlanta
Real Housewives of Orange County
Real Housewives of New York
Say Yes to the Dress
So You Think You Can Dance
Storage Wars
Super Nanny
The Bachelor/Bachelorette
The Biggest Loser
The Celebrity Apprentice
The Voice
Toddlers & Tiaras
What Not to Wear

I gotta get some cleaning done so have a wonderful Sunday Everyone!

Take care till next time!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

After the Holidays...Recap 2

After the Holidays were over it was time to knuckle down and finish up retreat plans.  Four months might sound like a lot of time but in reality...not so much.  The stitching of the retreat piece needed to be finished so any tweaking needed could happen in a timely manner.  Lots of other projects needed to be done for retreat too so pretty much most of my free time was spent on that.  Also at this time I was slowly working on getting caught up at work with the framing.  I have since come to the conclusion that being caught up with the framing is a dream that I will never achieve!  Seems like I see the light at the end of the tunnel and then whammo, more framing comes in.  This is not a complaint just a statement of fact. I don't work as fast as I used to and I need to rest my neck now too or I regret it but I still feel bad that I make my customers wait longer than what I feel is good.  Luckily, I do happen to have the world's best customers and they are all very patient with me.  So you can understand how frustrated I was when after a long day of painting frames for retreat I woke up a few days later with extreme pain in my wrist.  According to the Doctor, I had a repetitive motion other words I strained something on the side of my wrist and it required weeks of wearing a wrist brace and directions to not use it at all.  Insert many expletives here cuz I pretty much said them all!!  I'm still babying the dang thing, I wear the brace every night, ice it regularly and try to avoid over using it.  I refuse to get a shot of cortisone in it.  Nope!  Not gonna do it.  No way, no how! My name is Julie and I am a chicken shit.

During this busy time Abby broke up with her boyfriend (YIPPEE!!) and moved into a friends basement.  We told her we'd pack up the village in the basement here and fix it up for her but she wasn't interested in doing that cuz we live so far away from everything. While I don't believe that's true, she's 27 and can make her own decisions so we let it drop. At that point I was just praying she stayed broke up so we dropped everything and helped her decorate her friends basement so she'd be comfy and not miss the jerk she left behind.

Went to the Nashville Market in February.  Mary Ann (the boss) stayed home this year so just Connie and myself went from the shop but I knew we needed a third person if we were going to get to all the designers so we took our good friend Doreen with us.  She was a ton of help and she can't wait to go again in 2016.  It was different going without the boss.  A lot more pressure on me since I was now in charge of the money and staying on budget.  I did okay I think.  At least I hope I did because it will all be on me again come market time.  More on that later. We had a great time seeing all the designers and the new designs, catching up with people we only see once a year and just getting away from home but it was nice to come home too.  Don't tell Dan (wouldn't want him getting a big head) but I miss him when I'm away from home, not to mention missing the pups.

Doreen at her very first Market
Speaking of pups, we had to say goodbye to Gracie after the Holidays.  Her liver and kidneys were shutting down and she was in pain.  We joke that she was living on borrowed time once she hit the ripe old age of 12 as none of our dogs have lived beyond that age so she did really well making it to 14.  I was happy that Adam was able to see her at Christmas since she was really his dog.  It's always nice to have closure.  We still miss her everyday but I know she is up there with her sister Missy and all the others that have gone before her.  RIP Gracie Lou Freebush until we meet again.


Some stitching was done during this time but not a whole lot between getting ready for retreat, going to market and the bad wrist.  Mostly I finished projects or small pin keeps.

I started stitching A Sisters Garden from La D Da at our Fall 2014 retreat and managed to get it finished and framed right before Spring Retreat.  I actually had the stitching done for a while but couldn't find a frame I liked.  That is until one day, HE walked through the door of the shop.  Not through it through it, you can really get hurt doing that, I mean like opened the door and walked through it. HE was a frame rep.  Now I've been with the shop for over 12 years and this was the first time a rep from this company had graced us with his presence.   When something like this happens, a person (me) just wants to say... Hey, you've ignored us for this long, take yourself right back out that door.  BUT...being the moulding whore that I am I couldn't do it.  I let him sweet talk me into looking at his samples and I have to say I was instantly taken with what I saw. I couldn't wait to hold and fondle his goodies.  And then I saw it, the moulding I had been holding out for.  Not too blue, not too green, rustic looking and with a profile I could live with.  Soooo...I made nice with the rep and we're now in a relationship and I'm happy cuz I could finally frame my piece!

This next piece was one I fell in love with at Market.  Stacy Nash had the most adorable animal series she was showing at market and I fell in love with them.  I bought 'em all!  The pig is my favorite so far and I've named him Arnold.  My dad's name is Arnold and since I was a child we have teased him about Arnold the pig from Green Acres, the TV show from the 60's so it seems appropriate that my stitched pig share the name.

And finally I finished and framed a piece I designed.  The saying came from an antique sampler from the 1800's.  My mom didn't teach me to stitch or sew but Connie's mom did so I designed it for her.  I'm not a designer, I only play one on TV so be nice please.

And with that I will end today's recap.  Connie and I are taking Doreen out to dinner in an hour and I need to get ready.  Doreen's daughter and grandson who have lived with her for I'm guessing 5 years moved to Florida this week and she's feeling a wee bit down.  We're gonna get her drunk and see if we can cheer her up!  At the very least if we get her drunk enough she'll forget for a little while!

Take care till next time, I think retreat will be on the menu then.




Sunday, August 2, 2015

Today...recap number one

Happy August!

Today is the 35th anniversary of my wedding to Dan.  And they said it wouldn't last!  I don't know about him but I am looking forward to another 35 years at least.

Today is also the day our daughter Abby starts her move into our basement.  We'll talk about that later.

And last but not begins the first installment of a recap of the last 8 months because that is apparently what most of the 9 of you that commented on my last post would like to see.

So sit back, grab an ice cold something and let's see what sort of things come to mind.

My last regular post was Halloween!  Shortly after that Dan and I found out that we were going to be grandparents!  Adam and Marcia were expecting their first baby in May.

Thanksgiving arrived with a visit from Amy who if you remember is away at grad school in Ohio.  It was wonderful to have her home but we didn't see much of her.  Short amount of time and lots of people to see.

Christmas came next and we were thrilled that Adam and Marcia were spending it here in 2014.  Amy was also home so we had a wonderful family Christmas.   The "kids" decorated cookies...

and ornaments...

and we had a Christmas Eve game taken from Minute to Win It.  All ping pong balls had to be removed from the kleenex box or they couldn't open  their Christmas Eve present until the next day.

Now we know how Marcia got pregnant so easily! LOL!!
I finished Tuscan Rose by years end as planned but just by the skin of my teeth!

And I framed ABC-XYZ from Poppy Kreations

Think that will do it for this post.  I need to run some errands before making supper so I best get my get along going or I won't have time to browse and we all know I like to browse!

Take care till next time!