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Sunday, 25 February 2007

Shop 'Til You Drop

Well it seems I'm closer to achieving the new challenge of posting every day than I was to the weekly one LOL and here is my second post in as many days. I have to tell you about all the yummy stuff I found at the trade show AND my great day with Sara Naumann of HOTP but I don't think I'll get it all into one post - so I'll leave Sara until another day - I'm sure she wouldn't mind LOL

So anyway, shopping!! Many of the companies I eventually chose to do business with were the ones where the service was good! I know I bang on about it a bit but I really, really HATE bad service!! Sometimes I accept it if it is the only way I can get a particular must-have range but the show for me was all about finding something different. Auntie Jane was my designated driver and shopping buddy for the weekend and was completely useless at reigning me in ;o)
which meant I got to buy lots of yummy stuff & AJ took care of the photos.

The new HOTP was already on order - we've known about it since before CHA- so we didn't have to worry about that. It should be coming in tomorrow & will hopefully be on the online shop within a day or two (the paypal buttons were prepared several weeks ago).

I've been wanting some new buttons for a while now and found just the thing at the show - big bags of colour themed buttons in a wonderfully eclectic mix of shapes & sizes. Just begging to be put into little bags like pick n mix sweets. I also found some brill primary coloured big buttons - marketed for children but oooh! the possibilities! AND a bunch of sweet little hearts, squares & flowers in mixed pastel colours. Then there was the gingham ones - small, round and in stacking pots just like a little cosmetic stack - sometimes the packaging does it for me. Which brings me nicely on to the randomness of a 4.5' giraffe!!

OK so this isn't necessarily something we would normally have gone for but there was this giraffe being decorated with decopatch and I HAD to have it. Donna gave me a bit of a look when I told her that we'd have to find space for it in store - but you know how it is when you can't resist - fortunately, she likes the products so I didn't get told off too much ;o)
Tim Holtz has one of those voices that you could just listen to all day. I had planned on finding a supplier for his range but was lucky enough to meet the man in person & watch him work his magic. Terrible photo of me - but then most of them are - there is a reason why I don't scrapbook photos of myself LOL. Anyway, found the supplier & have the first range coming in before opening day sadly, I couldn't run to them all so we are starting off with one range of distress inks and powders plus a few of the essential accessories. Will definitely be more to come though!
Spent a serious amount of time drooling over the new metal stuff demonstrated by Megan Darrow of Ten Second Studio. They had the most gorgeous canvases, covered journals etc all using embossed soft metals. I think I could save a fortune on metal embellishments by making my own. Sean (number one son) is really fired up about this range and can't wait to try it out. He'll be demonstrating it at the opening if it's here in time - but it's more likely to be the week after - something to look forward to ;o). And the packaging on their CD/DVD was sooo yummy that I had to have those too - just so that I can display one. I've made sure I have a spare canvas ready to have a play myself - so now it's just a case of waiting!!
We've also got fab new papers - loose, 12x12 & 6x6 stacks plus border strips in the Garden & Siesta collections coming in, Rock Hard Fairies decoupage & image sheets, ribbon spools (at a brill 99p!!) and soooo much other stuff I can't remember what I've bought now (that's the sign of a v. successful shopping trip LOL). Might have to lay off the shopping for a little while - at least until I've had some fun with this lot.
And after I got back I had a call from Rachael at David & Charles publishing - I won the champagne draw so there's a liquid freebie on it's way. Guess I'll have to go to these events more often then ;o)

Saturday, 24 February 2007

New Beginnings

Much excitement in the air at the moment. We are finally in the new shop and are busy finalising everything for our grand opening event on Saturday 3rd March - just one week to go!! It hasn't all been plain sailing (as you might have gathered) and I've not kept to a single one of my resolutions as yet.

I've not been back from the trade show in Birmingham for a week yet and all the new goodies are starting to arrive. This really is going to be a time for new beginnings - a new store, new products from our favourite suppliers (so that will be lots more HOTP then LOL), new suppliers for some exciting new goodies, big clearance offers on all our discontinued lines and it all kicks off on Saturday with a fabulous day full of offers and more freebies than you can shake a glue stick at LOL. Read all about our opening event here

Of course there is tons still to do - lots of make n takes and demo projects to organise, sample projects to make up from all the goodies collected at the show and at some point I suppose it might be a good idea to put out some stock LOL

We had a great day out at the show (well, 2 days at the show & a HOTP Retailer Training Day) but more about that next time. The highlight has to be the HOTP day & finally meeting Sara Naumann - my absolute favourite designer ever, with whom I have shared an e-mail relationship for about 6 months (and if I couldn't call it business that would probably make me a groupie - or worse, a stalker LOL). And although not photogenic I just felt the need to add a photo as proof (that I have met her & that I can add photos to my blog).
There is just too much to tell you all that I couldn't possibly fit it all into one post - so my new challenge, having failed spectacularly on the posting weekly challenge, is to post DAILY - so wish me luck!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Cover Me With Shades Of Disbelief ...

And while we are on the subject of Talk Talk (Geddit?) it seems my broadband is not already live, my new modem will not be delivered within 48 hours, or indeed 7 days, as promised by the very polite but, it seems, not entirely honest people at the call centre. Now I'm told, the new go live date is February 9th - three months from ordering and going by previous experience not a guarantee!

Not surprisingly, I have now had enough. One quick call to NTL & I have a connection date booked for a fortnight's time, confirmation of that appointment in writing within 48 hours and a couple of guys to lay the outside cable 5 days before connection is due. I have but a few short days to see whether NTL can deliver where others (or one other at least) cannot. The only problem is that my telephone number has to change - this is not an NTL problem it seems but rather when one takes a BT number to Talk Talk, they don't let you take it with you should you wish to change supplier. Oh well, you live & learn.

Other than that, a busy couple of weeks again. The new premises were viewed and snapped up the same day. Heads of terms are with the solicitors and we expect to see the paperwork next week. There's a little bit of decorating to do and the timing is not great! I'm away at the NEC, Brimingham for the trade show in a couple of weeks so February 24th is looking good for the grand opening (to be confirmed). Before that, we have to decorate, refit and restock - but then we moved and reopened in 48 hours last time!

I now have the first 4 parts of 'Get knitting' and have completed all the squares so far. I was particularly impressed that I managed to knit the last one! It has a small blue diamond in the middle of a white square, with a garter stitch border. It might not sound much but it means that I knitted in pattern AND added colour without messing the pattern up or having a load of holes around the colour changes, which is what happened last time I attempted colour changes. Granted, that was about 12 years ago - it was one of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle picture knits (in 4 ply wool) that were popular back in the 80's that I knitted for my eldest son (then about 5). I had to sew up the holes around the colour changes but he loved it & it fitted him for about 3 years - so I guess it was OK really.

Made a gorgeous altered book this week, with a secret drawer. I used the HOTP Earth's Palette Cardmaker's Creative Pack but, predictably, used the mauve & blue shades. I'm a bit obsessed with purple - from the palest lilacs to the deepest, almost black shades - I love them all & probably use them far too often. But it's what I like & I was very pleased with the results. It also gave me a chance to use the HOTP Artsy Collage metal collection (I wanted a lock & key) all I needed to add was a few fibres, blue glass beads and a black ink cube (is there a crafter anywhere that doesn't have a black ink pad of some description).

My only other make this week is a wintry layout for Saturday's class project. The great thing about scrapbooking is that, although it allows me to create something beautiful with all those old photographs, it also reminds me to take the photographs that I might otherwise forget. This is particularly poignant with my youngest (almost three now!) With the older boys, I tend to have only school, holiday, birthday & christmas photos. I take lousy photos anyway and didn't used to bother much.

And now the boys are older I wish I'd taken more pictures of them. So fish (the baby) has his every move recorded for prosperity. Last week we had snow. For one day only. Fish went out to investigate with his dad & together they built a snow cat (there wasn't enough for the whole snowman). Fish beamed while I took pictures of him throwing snow at the neighbours and with the finished snow cat.

So I had to do a snow cat layout & I know alot of my class ladies will have taken snowy snaps too, so it's a 2 birds, 1 stone sort of solution. I picked some yummy pastel pink and powder blue papers, ultra fine glitter (you could hear the cat sigh as he looked for somewhere glitter free to sleep!) and loads of die cuts as we've got some brilliant deals on Sizzix & Ellison dies this month - I've just treated myself to a new die cut alphabet set - which cuts chipboard beautifully. The easiest way to cover chipboard die cuts with papers is to cut a second die cut from the paper and just stick it on. You can then ink, paint or sand the edges - lovely!

I just wish I could load some photos here - and from next time it should be possible!

On the technical front - I've now learned how to resize photographs to put into my newsletters. I can't actually load them (a long and boring story involving some software that I can't download without broadband - trust me, you don't want to know) but I can get them in the body of an e-mail (one at a time) over to Gandalf the Crafty (my webmaster). I must say, I'm rather pleased every time I discover something new that I can do. I don't suppose I'll ever become a technical whizz-kid but it is nice to be a bit less phobic. Gandalf really helps with that I ask how to do something and an idiot proof e-mail with instructions or a useful link usually follows.

Happily, the improvements to the company I use for the HTML newsletters were just that! lots of great new facilities for me to use. I'm much more confident with it all now. So much so that I've decided to use it for the Member's Only Club monthly newsletter and I'm planning to start a regular one for the Personal Shopper subscribers/HOTP fans too! I know the next PS kits are due in v. soon - I can't wait to get mine. And if you've no idea what I'm talking about, pop over to & click on the personal shopper link. There's also some brilliant images of the cardmaker's kits in the gallery ;o)

I guess I'd better stop burning the midnight oil (it 2 am so I don't suppose there'd be much oil left anyway LOL) and get some sleep before tomorrow's class. And where can you buy candles that burn at both ends??

Still Loving Cosmo Cricket!