Friday, November 20, 2009

...And May Allllllll Your Christmases Be Short.

Hey *Mocha*! You know. That's pure genius. I should have timed one of the boy's birthdays to be on Dec. 1. One month of Christmas and that's *it*.

Would you believe that when we got married, I "demanded" that Carol have any and all Christmas decorations down by Dec. 26th? Daunted by the prospect of such a tight deadline, we spent the first three years together with only two stockings on the fireplace and a creepy looking nutcracker on the mantel. Not even a tree! It was heaven.

But in the fourth year, a gust of "Who-the-hell-are-you-to-be-harshing-my-Christmas-mellow?" blew into the house. And the tree went up. And the wreath went on the garage. And cinnamon scented pinecones went on the heater vents. And none of it came down until around New Year's.

I admit I appreciate it now with the kids. Thanks, dear.

But anyways, Mocha, with your $50 credit to the JunkMail Etsy Shop, you can get your Christmas cards, maybe some bulk packs as Christmas gifts and even a birthday card for your son. (Though you might not want him to "screw the happy", y'know?)


The rest of you, thanks for entering! Make sure you're a fan on Facebook and possibly you could win the same thing as Mocha, but only one card at a time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reader Giveaway : O' Christmas Tree

This year's prize?

A $50.00 gift certificate good toward anything in our Etsy shop!

That could be a quite a few holiday gifts scratched off your list.


Answer one question: When do you start decorating your home for the holidays? Do you start one minute after Halloween? Or do you wait until the day before you have company over for ChristmasHanukahEidKwanzaSantaLuciaDay?

Post your response and we'll announce the winner on
Friday, November 20th.
Winners will be chosen at random
***Photo courtesy of Awkward Family Photos

Saturday, November 14, 2009


For a very limited time only:

We're clearing out last year's designs and are offering this holiday pack of ten cards for $5.00! Yes, that's only .50 a card! I did the math myself! With a calculator! Shut up!

This generous set of 10 matching cards features the following HateMail favorites:





You'll pick your own combination of quotes to make up this fun set. If you have a favorite and would like the same quote on all cards, please let us know in the 'message to seller' when you check out.

If you'd like a larger number of cards, shoot a convo our way and we'll make it happen for you.

Awesome. I know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pipeline Dreams

We've got a slew of new products making their way down the pipeline this winter. The release was actually supposed to be during the summer, but this whole stay-at-home-and-work-from-home-with-two-toddlers-literally-clinging-to-your-legs thing is a lot harder than it looks.

For me.

Don't judge.

So, here's a little sneak peek at a couple new designs gracing the Etsy circuit right now:

And They'll Vote Howie Mandel As Their King...

Leaving the pediatrician's office, we got on the elevator with the product of swine flu mania.

We walk up behind this guy, his wife and their brood of three, as they're making their preparations to leave. Alcohol sanitizer up to the wrists and hands held up in front of their faces to let the goop dry.

"Don't touch anything!" he yells at the little one, who looks to be about 3ish and probably has a long history of touching (and eating) things he shouldn't. When the green arrow dings, the five board the elevator like a crack team of surgeons; scrubbed and waiting to be gloved.

The smell of the citrus and rubbing alcohol is strong in the elevator and I wonder if the guy is concerned about the superbug he's creating with his enthusiastic use of hand sanitizer.

I find the idea of a superbug a totally fascinating concept. It's like Darwinism at its finest. Only the strong survive, so eventually we're left with only the ultimate of the species.

Then a thought hits me. What if neurosis is the ultimate trait for humans? What if I'm sitting here mocking this guy's paranoia and *I* end up being the guy who gets knocked out by H1N1 on some random elevator button because I wasn't phobic enough? What if the ultimate specimens of our species, and therefore the only survivors, are knuckle-bumping sleeve-sneezers who use Clorox wipes for Kleenex?

How silly.

But I've started washing my hands whenever I can. Just in case.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Next Year, I'm Giving Out Silverware...

As the big one comes back with bags of goodies, I feel almost cheap for giving out only four of the snack-sized chocolates to each of the trick or treaters who've showed up at our door.  But quite frankly, I've been cursed with small hands and four boxes of Milk Duds pretty much constitutes a handful.  And I don't think I could give out a handful and then one more.  It would have to be two handfuls.  Which seems creepily generous.   Suspiciously generous.  What-are-you-trying-to-prove/hide generous.

I'll stick with my four.  So far it's been sufficient to appease the little thugs enough to avoid any kind of vandalism.

We're not getting many kids this year.  We're not even getting close to touching the "emergency bowl" of candy.  (The stuff I've set aside for personal consumption, but leave close to the door just in case the regular stuff all goes.  In the past four years, a Reese Cup has yet to cross the threshold in the wrong direction.)  

The big one makes three return trips, each time dumping a full bag.  I do the "floor sort".  I'm 26 years rusty, but it's like riding a bicycle and the muscles fall into that familiar groove.  Chocolate in one pile, chips in another, good gummies and candies in a third, then two more unclassifiable piles; one good and one bad.  When we were kids, the black-white-and-orange "witch" candies, toothbrushes and raisins got put in the bad unclassified pile.  Caramel apples, McDonald's coupons and money went into the good unclassified pile.  The McDonald's coupons didn't really belong in the good pile, since no one ever used them, but there was just something good about anything from McDonald's.

This year's unclassified piles were rather odd.  A full size can of warm Coke.  LOTS of full size chocolate bars (which are excluded from the regular chocolate pile based solely out of sheer respect for the awesomeness they represent)  A few KoolAid Jammers.  And a clock. 

A clock.  The kind that tells time.  And hangs on the wall.  I'm not sure how it compares with a caramel apple, but it was definitely at the top of the good pile and the kid was bananas about it.

With my tiny little hands, I can't beat that.  That's worth two handfuls for sure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Or What About "You'd Better Recognize..."

When our first child was born, we worried about normalcy.  We compared against everything: percentiles, checklists that our doctor gave us, kids of friends now, memories of kids of friends in the past, what our moms told us that we used to do, etc., etc.  (I was apparently a very early bloomer, by the way.)

With the second kid, not so much.  We've learned that everything comes eventually, every kid is different, and that there's enough to get grey hair over without seeking it out.  (If tapping dinky cars on LCD screens is a milestone, our kid's got it covered.)

But if we're comparing, with language the little one is definitely behind where the big one was at his age.  He's really only clung to and used about five words for the past six months.  Everything else is communicated with a violent head and body wagging which means "no".  I'm guessing that since 93% of what he wants to say is "no" this has been particularly effective for him.

But in the last week, it's been an explosion.   He's been repeating everything.  And those words that don't sound like they're supposed to are used consistently enough in context to determine what they are.  Case in point:

Carol:  I love the fact that Sammy says "thank you" every time you give him something.

Me:  But he doesn't.  He says "gai".

Carol:  Yeah, but he'll say "peeez" and you give him what he wants, then he says "gai".  It means thanks.

Me:  You can't be sure of that.  It could mean "go to hell"  or "haha, I got you again, bitch".

Carol:  You're a jerk.

Me: Gai.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leave Me Alone. It's Like The Scariest Frickin' Movie Of All Time.

I remember watching some benign show where they happened to use the "stabbing violin" track for some purpose.

My niece, who was 4 at the time, totally freaked. I was surprised since she was too young to be socially conditioned into thinking that sound was scary. Therefore there must be something inherently stamped into our wiring that tells us that stabbing violins are a scary sound.

Or the Grudge sound. (Now, I wanted to put a clip here to remind you what that sounds like, but jeezus, they don't have youtube clips without shots of the girl's face and frankly, I can't take it. And to put it up and have to see it every time I come here would be too much. But here's a stand-in. You get the idea.)

Along the same lines, there's another sound that brings a bit of panic: rattling doorknobs - that sound of someone trying to get into where you are.

Wanna know what makes that sound really well? Little hands spinning those childproofing doorknob thingies. And even though it happens at the bathroom door at 7:15 every morning, I have to admit, it still freaks me out a little bit every time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JunkMail Greetings. This Is Lee. How Can I Help You Today?

I think I first started really using the phone in fifth grade.  Maybe that's when you realize that other people have lives outside of yours and that maybe you'd better call before showing up at their door shouting, "Can John come out and play?"  I think it was also the first time I had a real friend who was not in my neighborhood or school.

My parents were real sticklers for phone etiquette.  Much like a telemarketer selling vinyl siding, I had a set script to open every conversation with.

"Hello Mrs. Brown.  This is Lee calling.  Is Ricky available to come to the phone?"

No alterations except the substitutions of names.  My parents hated picking up a phone and having some kid blurt out, "Lee there?" and forbade me from ever doing it.

This made me sound like the biggest dork, but endeared me in the hearts of all my friends' parents who were also sick of picking up the phone to "Tammy there?"  It also probably groomed me a bit for my stint in the business world and my briefer stint in telemarketing. 

The other day, watching Law & Order SVU, Benson opens up her phone and says, "Benson. Go."   And it sounds so natural.  Like that's the way people should answer phones. So I thought I'd give it a try.  

Ring, ring.  (actually, my personal ringtone for Carol is the little snippet from Newcleus' Jam On It, where the little guys are yelling "Wiki, wiki, wiki, wiki... Shut up! Yeah, we know, we know."  Mind you, it's a personalized ringtone and Carol's face pops up on the screen and Carol is the only person who calls me, so I'm fully aware who's calling.)

Me:  "Lee. Go."

Carol:  (pregnant pause)  "Um.  What the hell was that?"  

Me:  "It's the way I'm going to answer my phone from now on.  Go."

Carol:  "Um, no?  You know who's calling and I know who I'm calling, so you just sound ridiculous."

Me:  "Okay, then what about, 'Your loving husband. Go.'?"  ( I don't know if that punctuation is right. I started getting lost when I started using apostrophes for quotes.)

Carol:  "Quit telling me to go.  You keep answering the phone like that and if you don't already know who's calling, you'll know it's me because I'll be the one hanging up.  It'll be like "Ring, ring.  Lee. Go.  *click*  Oh shit, now I gotta call Carol back.""  (again, sorry about the quotations.  I just figure they travel in pairs.)

And thus went my attempt to break from the ranks of formality and join the ultra-efficient world without cellphone hellos and goodbyes. 

I'm still going to use it on the telemarketers though.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekly Contest Rules

So we thought we'd institute a running contest.  Every week, we grab a name off of facebook and send them a free card.  Simple, right?  

But in order to make it seem all official and stuff, we thought we'd better set some ground rules.  (This part is especially difficult since we don't really want to commit to anything, y'know?  We don't want to miss some promised draw date and have you sending your lawyers after us.)


Once a week, probably on the Monday or Tuesday (But maybe the Wednesday or Sunday.  Never a Friday.  Except in emergencies.) we will open up our facebook page and look at the little box that shows our fans.  Whoever happens to be on the top of the list gets a card!

Easy, right?

We'll practice reverse-discrimination and if you happen to be someone we know or see at least twice a year, we won't send you a damned thing and we'll move on to the next person on the list.  It sucks, we know, but we figure our friendship should be reward enough.  And you get cards from us anyways.  It's called Christmas.  (Except last year.  Sorry, we were busy.)  

No other rules.  

Sound good?  


Sunday, August 2, 2009

If I Was A Cop, I'd Just Park At The End Of A Taco Bell Drive-Thru Starting At 11 Every Night...

As we drove home from a day of Home Depoting, Lowe'sing and Harbor Freighting, we stopped to get a bite to eat.  

Not knowing the neighborhood, we grabbed the first thing we saw; Del Taco.  The big sign says "39cent tacos from 11am to 11pm".  So, being cheap,  I order 4 tacos.  Carol orders a combo.  Carol's order involves all sorts of extravagance as well as fries.  This apparently was too difficult for the people working, so they just shoved 7 tacos in the bag and sent us on our way.  By the time we had sifted through the bag of cheap meat and wilted lettuce to notice that all the items were exactly the same, we were too far to turn around.  Cost of gas versus the cost of tacos, it would've been like 3 tacos worth of gas to go back and complain.

And who likes spit in their food?  (You can't see, but my hand's not up.)

So we continued on our way, with our eyes peeled for something that might replace Carol's quesadilla.  The options were crazy and it struck us that if you don't mind eating crap these days, crap is plentiful and cheap.  $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza.  3 buck Whopper Jr meals.  2 for $4 subs at Arby's.  A buck for something which is apparently crunchy and covered in bacon and cheddar at Checker's.  (The meat wasn't specified.  I'm not sure if they're hoping that some people will eat anything covered in bacon and cheddar?)   

I'm just finishing my $1.56th taco and starting on number five when Carol pulls into White Castle. 67 cent sliders.  Minus pops and fries, we could manage to make two adults grotesquely full for less than five dollars.

And as we pull back out into traffic, I scan the array of food and wrappers in the front of the car and pray that we don't get pulled over for any stupid reason.  Cuz the drug dogs would be getting a call for sure. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

From Wikipedia's Pacer Page - "A Jellybean In Suspenders"

Growing up, we were all about the road trip.  Not that we were averse to flying, but if there wasn't an ocean in the way, chances were we drove.

And the 70's were a great time to be road-trippers.  Cheap motels with pools, greasy mom and pop diners and the total absence of seat-belt laws made for an atmosphere that embraced the Britney Spears in all of us.  Or maybe we just spent too much of our time travelling south.

My dad had actually considered buying the AMC Pacer as our family car, purely for the "fishbowl/greenhouse".  He wanted us kids to spend every minute looking out and taking in the world.

Thankfully we dodged that bullet and got a full-sized Chevy van instead.  Fully carpeted interior, floors AND walls. (Don't come a-knockin')  The ceiling had cork tile with a roof vent.  The middle was empty, but the back had two facing benches with a table in-between.  (Therefore, passengers in the back rode sideways and would knock their heads against the wood banisters marking the ends of the benches, if the driver stomped on the brakes too hard.)  On long road trips, we would actually throw one of those cheap foam sofa bed into the middle section, open it up and just roll around for 1400 miles.  

The amount of distance between the driver and the back allowed for more "experimentation" as well.  I remember making a kite out of McDonald's straws and napkins and trying to fly it out the back window doing 70 mph on I-75.

We sold the van before I got to driving age, as the family trips dwindled and it became less practical.  But now, almost a quarter of a century later, things have come full circle and we find ourselves with a van (though mini) again.  And I'm absolutely amazed by it.  There's absolutely no selectiveness required in packing for trips.  If the thought crosses our mind that it might come in handy, it gets thrown in.  Three strollers for two children?  Why not?  

And now that we're potty training, we've designated one back corner as the literal port-a-potty.  And when he gives us the two minute warning of "I gotta pee" it's just a matter of pulling over, unbuckling him and getting him into the back.

My biggest love?  He sits so high with those huge side windows and spends every minute looking out and taking in the world.

And yelling "Mighty Machines!" whenever he sees a truck.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Retro-Bloggage : Oh, Why Bother...

Originally posted on July 29, 2007
I've never been one for small talk.  I think it's the insincerity of it all.  Meaningful conversation or nothing at all.  Very rarely do I actually care how you're doing when I ask "How are you?"  so why bother?
In addition, I've mentioned that I have nine friends.  Nine friends is enough.  There's guys in there I haven't spoken to in 8 months.  I can barely keep up with the friends I have, so I'm not at all in the market for any more.
This all adds up to a frightening degree of anti-socialness.  I like to think I put off an aura like a hissing cat.  Strangers don't approach me.  (Carol on the other hand, seems to invite and welcome all kinds of *witticisms" from people who pass within five feet.)
So I'm standing in the return line at Marshall's, in my cocoon of don't-talk-to-me, when I hear, "Excuse me.  Excuse me."  And since it's so odd for strangers to approach me, my mind doesn't even register the possibility that someone's talking to me.  Then I feel a punch on my leg.  I look down and there's a sweet little girl, about 1 or 2, looking up at me.  Now she's not the one who's talking, so I look up at the mother, and she asks me, "Don't it look like she got a touch of the pinkeye?"
I'm not sure if it was the flipflops, four days scruff, or the fact that I'd been waiting 20 minutes to return a $9.99 shirt which made her think I was a pediatrician, but what could my response be?  I decided to give it my best shot.  I knelt down and said, "Hey sweetie, have you been rubbing your eyes too much?"
She gives me a big smile, licks her hand and punches me again.  (After some observation, it became apparent that the hand licking was a *thing* she did.  Which might not explain the pinkeye, but would be my first suspicion if she had any other ailments.)
So I tell the mother, "There isn't any discharge, and even the tearing doesn't seem abnormal.  I wouldn't worry too much." 
To which she replies, "Yup, looks like the pinkeye."
I went back to my cocoon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's A Good Thing I'm Not A Profiler...

The lady slid into the seat in front of us and stared intently at where the speaker would come from.  She looked to be in her mid 40's and had on a rather nice white suit jacket, a pair of those jean/capri things with the wide cuff and those slipper shoes everyone's wearing these day.  She had an olive-ish complexion and a straight, mid-length brown hair.

Well, almost straight.  There was a fist-sized shock of it standing straight up out of the back.  If you were looking down from the top, and her nose was 12 o'clock, it would have been at around 7 o'clock.  And absolutely perpendicular to the rest of her head/hair.

And it made her look crazy.  Not metaphorically crazy.  But not mass murder crazy either.  Just that hint of too-many-cats, government-conspiracy, voices-that-don't-say-to-kill-him-,-maybe-just-trip-him kind of crazy. 

And I couldn't get over it.  She was well-dressed, apparently clean, and for all I know, she just couldn't see the big clump in the mirror.  But something in my mind had her chalked up as absolutely nutty.  When she turned our way, there was a pre-judged whack of "crazy" that I could see in her eyes.

So I scanned the crowd.  What other characteristics make a person look unstable?  And my eyes settled on the guy with the perma-grin.  What the hell *was* he smiling at?  Didn't he realize that the problems of an adult life should be prominent enough that random grinning was not allowed?  I regret that unjustified happiness should count as a sign of skewed perceptions, but frankly, it does.

So.  So far, bed-head and smiley-faces are quick visual cues pointing towards mental instability.

Aw, hell.  My kids must look nuts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Eyes! My Eyes!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm completely addicted to The Superficial. It's a guilty pleasure. Shut up.

This had me...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Who Invited Pauly Shore?

It's ironic (in a non-ironic Alanis Morissette kind of way) that when I didn't need a lawn, I had a great lawn.  But now that I have kids I get grubs and moles and big-ass picker weeds that grow 3 feet tall.

I once considered covering the entire property with astroturf.  What an incredible expense, but in the long run I think it would pay off.  Coincidentally, this was also the time I was considering shaving my head and wearing wigs, and pulling out my teeth and getting dentures.  I was going through a real "pro-artificial" phase in my life.

I've just read a story about people in the UK using wallabies as lawn maintenance.  And I thought to myself, "Why aren't we doing this?"  Well maybe not wallabies.  But sheep at least.  Currently, I mow the lawn and bag the clippings and let them compost.  I could be saving on gas, time AND getting a big mutton by the end of the year.  This really flows with my whole "hyper-efficient' philosophy.  It would be even *more* hyper-efficient if I actually liked mutton. 

I could potty train the sheep to only poop in one corner and then have a whole pile of fertilizer to work with.  Which would go back into the grass, or into the garden to help grow tomatoes and cucumbers.

I know that goats make feta, but is there a special lamb cheese?  I'm trying to work things towards the ultimate goal of ending up with a gyro-and-greek-salad biosphere.  Whilst wearing wool socks.

The best part of biodome living?  The grubs and moles wouldn't be allowed.  Well that, and the fact that I could walk around telling Carol, "Hey, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," and it would actually be kind of double entendre-ish.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga Part 4

What's left to say? This'll be the last in my long-but-rushed 4 part series about the NSS.  ( I'm sure we'll have more little stories to add later.)

At opening on Sunday morning at 9 am, along with the last exhale of stress, anxiety and pressure went the last bit of energy that we had.  

We were starting to visibly slump by 9:10 and despite my warnings regarding how unprofessional coffee breath can be, Carol went off in search of coffee.  She missed our first most excellent visit of the morning/day/show as the ladies of Sealed With A Kiss dropped by.  Seeing the dumbfounded look on my face as they asked if they could place an order, they kindly suggested that they could drop back in later.

Stationery people are so nice.

I spent the rest of the day trying to find patterns in how/what/why people made visits.  Pseudo-psychoanalysis is my specialty, with a side of sociological cause determination.  And a minor in filling-in-gaps with inference and bullcrap.

So, from my extensive random sample of one, these are the conclusions I came to:

Sunday seems to have more independent stores and owners.  They are there bright and early and someone mentioned that they go straight to those booths they know or know they want to see, before doing any wandering.   Most of the morning was spent with people who knew we were at the show.

Random passers-by judge you in less than three seconds.  The sea of booths in the Javits seemed ultra-overwhelming to me and I can't even imagine giving every booth a fair shake.  You have to have something there to let them know what you're about *immediately*.  We didn't.  To most we must have been just another "pretty card" booth.  The next day we printed up some signs that simply said "the HateMail collection" and I was astounded at the difference this made.

Monday seems to be more of the business-type buyers.  And they show up late.  Things were quiet until about 11, but came in big rushes after that.  I think a little of that "go where you know first" mentality still applies.

There were some things we thought we had to bring.  Business cards, swag (in our case, some of our "And To Think..."  as postcards), order/line sheets, buyer info sheets, press kits and catalogues.  We almost got them all.  Except the last one.   And frankly, for a *paper* industry, I was pretty shocked at how forgiving and open everyone was to getting a PDF catalogue.

Carol thought a bowl of chocolate would be a good idea, but honestly, it only seemed to attract crabby people who wandered in from the ICFF show downstairs.  And they would grab *handfuls*.  Maybe they were Type 2 and going through lows.  That would explain both the crabbiness and the need for chocolate.  See?  Master of sociological cause determination.

Neither Carol or I are really excellent at high pressure sales.  While other people were standing at the entrances of their booths, we sat at the back.  When people came close to the booth, we found that saying "good morning" actually took their attention away from the cards, as their eyes turned to you to reply.  Three seconds is all we got, and we weren't going to waste it saying "good morning".  If we passed the three second test, then we moved into the 2 minute stop, at which point we would say "good morning", hand out the business card and post card and ask if they'd like to be added to our list to receive a PDF catalogue (which actually ended up being a good way to get their business cards).  Anything after that was gravy.  We made up a "show special" which made for an easy segue of suggesting an order without sounding pushy.

And thus went Sunday and Monday.  I left Monday after the show to catch my flight back home.  Two boys and a day job awaited.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga Part 3

I wrote up this whole, very long, very specific thing about the steps I took to create our booth at the NSS.  Then as I read it over, I realized that no one would care.  (But if you reaaaaallly want to know the specific dimensions and stuff I did for the booth, just drop a note.  It was sheer genius I tell you.)

I used about $90 of materials to create the booth.  In addition, there was about $350 of household furniture (still not "commercial goods" regardless of what U.S. Customs says), $180 worth of curtains and curtain hardware, $75 for the rug and about $40 of lighting.  Oh, and we paid our good friend Roger $100 to make the sign, which is waaaaaaaaay less then we could ever even think about  getting it for anywhere else.  $835, almost all of it is coming back home and you might see it again in these blog pages as Carol finds new places and uses for them around the house.

We won't be bringing home the walls though.  There's a part of me that's sad, because they're just so kickass, but then I realize what a huge hassle it would be to get them back home, PLUS what the hell am I going to do with 4 fake wall panels at home?  Hmmm... maybe I could make my own ghetto version of a panic room.

Setup took us four and a half hours.  And that wasn't to completion.  We left with no signs up, no cards up and everything piled in the back "alley".  But our eyes were crossing.  We needed sleep.

The next day we got up bright and early and stopped at the deli next to the hotel (Travel Inn: ghetto hotel but I would never ever stay anywhere else ever because of location and free parking with in and out privileges).  I can't remember the name of the deli, but it is AWESOME.  It's like the Cold Stone Creamery of bagels.  You ask for strawberry cream cheese and the guy takes a wallop of fresh strawberries and chops them up with the syrup jam stuff and folds it into the cream cheese.

We were back at Javits by 8 and put up the sign and the cards and the finishing details by 9.

We were ready for business.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga, Part 2

This will be the portion of the blog of no interest to people never planning on doing the show, and of some interest to those who might plan on doing the National Stationery Show some day.  This section discusses some of the regulations/logistics we were concerned about as first time exhibitors.

We rolled up to the Javits Center slightly before 4.  The literature sent has mentioned that there are specific loading zones, and that we shouldn't be using the front doors.  We can't find any loading zones and the valets in front tell us to go through the front doors.  Perhaps because it's so late, it is easy to get a spot in front.  There are other people unloading as well.  I can't even imagine what this place might've looked like at 10 am.

The literature also bans certain dollies and carrying items which require two or more people.  Again, you see all kinds of violations of this. 

Lastly, the literature tells you that the show prep closes up at 5.  We unloaded our last piece at 5.  We set up until 9:30pm.  When we left, other exhibitors were still there setting up.  Apparently, on the last night before the show, the carpet crew lays new carpet down for the show and works until 2 or 3 in the morning.   They're very nice and have no qualms if you're there too.  

Our booth was an 8 by 10 in the section where the ceiling goes from low to high.  Ideally, I would have preferred to be in a location with all low ceiling or all high ceiling.  The lighting seemed lacking in the transition area.  If you're in this area, I would recommend strong lighting towards the back of the booth.

There were a couple of items which I designed flexibly in our booth in order to compensate for any inaccuracy in the setup.  The booth provided consists of a "pipe and drape" setup.  They specifically say to make a 3 inch allowance between your pipes.  I built our booth in multiple parts, with adjustable steel brackets and found them to be very necessary.  There was roughly a two inch discrepancy between our left wall and our right wall.  If I had made the booth exactly, we would have run into serious complications during setup.

There were two things I was unprepared for.  The provided drapes do not remove easily.  I thought they would just unhook and be ready to be packed away.  They're not.  They're of the variety with the sewn pocket that the rod slides through.  We had to work around them if we wanted to strap any of our own items to the pipe.  The second thing was that you share the pipe and drape with your neighbor.  I had expected each booth to have its own setup.  Depending on how you or your neighbor choose to decorate your booths, the backs of certain items may be peeking through or over.  I felt bad zip-tying to the pipe as the zip tie was clearly visible on the other side.  Placement of light clamps would also fall under this.
The pipes have about 6 inches of travel at the top end, which makes the walls seem flimsy, but I can't see any risk of tipping.

The back of the booth had a 2 foot "alley".  We stowed some of our stuff there and took little snack breaks back there.  There was a mouse running around during one of those breaks.  The power source was back there.  Javits uses weird plugs, then provides one long extension cord that ends in one standard three-prong female.  We plugged our power bar into this and then snaked everything we needed from there.  

The existing floor appears to be black painted concrete.  It's sticky.

The required fireproofing spray we purchased was never checked on.  Nor did anyone hassle me as I pulled out my cordless drill and worked on the setup.

The ultimate lesson?  All the rules don't really apply to the little guy.  I bet if Hallmark tried to break them, they'd get busted, but no one cared about the little guys in the little booths.  That is very YMMV of course.  We still followed most of the rules and would probably do our best to follow most of them in the future.  But like I've said, I have that fear of Teamsters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga, Part 1

Our trip to NYC began at midnight on Friday.  Our original plan of leaving at 4 on Saturday morning was scrapped and replaced with a plan of leaving at 7 on Friday night.  I guess midnight was just the compromise.

Our border crossing experience involved one tunnel crossing, one denial of entry into the United States, an armed escort by two border patrol officers carrying stop strips, a bridge crossing and two discussions with customs officers that an ottoman from our living room and a breakfast table from our sunroom shouldn't really count as "commercial goods".  Thank god the second guy bought our argument.

Time Spent: 3 hours.  

The lightning began just as we breathed our sigh of relief at having made it through customs.  Then the deluge came.  The kind that makes you use the double time setting on your wipers, but it still does no good.  

Detroit highways are currently a mess of construction and detours and bad signage.  I think about how we sometimes give very important jobs to the lowest man on the totem pole.  I think detour signage falls into this realm.  With the rain and the lightning and the disorientation combined with the passing of the same area 4 times, the night started to take on a strange "Blairwitchy" kind of feel.

Then there were the accidents.  The first one happened directly in front of us.  One Explorer travelling at a pretty good clip and changing lanes, rear ends another Explorer who is already probably doing about 50 mph.   Hard enough for the back tires to come off the ground.  After we shake off the initial "that could have been us", we creep around the scene just slow enough to see that everyone is alright and exchanging information.

As we continue on, a transport next to us slams on his brakes and starts to swerve into our lane.  Carol slows down as we come up on another accident.  Four cars, bad damage, two spun around.  None have their lights on and none have their hazards flashing.  Just four random cars crashed and stopped in the middle of the night on the interstate.  In all, the next forty minutes has 24 cars involved in various accidents and leaves us paranoid and shaky.

We finally travel about 45 minutes out of our way to catch another southerly highway and get back on track.

Time Spent: 2 hours  - a total of five hours have passed and we're still only about 45 minutes from home.

The rest of the trip is fairly uneventful.  We roll in front of the Javits Centre at about 4 pm.  

Time Spent: 11 hours  Total Time for trip: 16 hours.  Total time since "head on pillow" sleep: 34 hours.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Except I didn't say "Fudge".

I don't know why I like things customized.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm a control freak and I want everything *just* my way.  I don't know if it's because my needs are peculiar and unique and not met by standard, off-the-rack items.  I don't know if it's because I'm cheap and think that I can make things my way for less than the going rate.

But I like things customized.

And the best way to get it done your way is to do it yourself.

Which for an overambitious DIY'er can get you in a bit of trouble.  

So.  When Carol mentioned that she needed a setup for her booth at the National Stationery Show, my mind whirred.  Visions of LCD screens, track lighting and real furniture ran wild.  I wondered how big of a stereo I was allowed to bring in and whether the neighbors would complain.

I wanted to get a projector and shine a logo on the floor.  Like Oprah does.  OPRAH.

But then I read the restrictions.  Fireproofing.  Of *everything*.   Electrical costs *per plug*.  Teamster rules against what I was allowed to carry in, how I was allowed to carry it, who could do the carrying and what I could carry things with.  And no tools.

Suddenly, some of the sparse displays we'd seen last year started to make sense.

Three hard walls fell to two.  Then to two halves.  We retained most of the original ideas, but lost most of the electrical.

But I was determined not to lose the wall shelving.  "It's okay,"  Carol insisted.  "We'll find another way to display the cards."

"Fudge that," I growled.  "This fudging thing would have a fudging fireplace if it was up to me, but there's no fudging way I'm losing the fudging shelves."

Can you imagine how cozy a fireplace would've been?  And I'd offer a nice cup of hot cocoa straight from the microwave.

And I bet a crepe griddle would really bring in the customers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lee's gonna be so mad...

...when he finds out that I used his special breakdancing cardboard to spraypaint our booth sign.

We leave for the National Stationery Show in NYC next week and things are getting hectic around here. Still so much to do, but we can't wait and we'll take a bunch of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Miss Cake.

There's a phenomenon out there which I call "second year med student disease".  Essentially, it's where second year med students start to get very hypochondriacal (made-up word, I call dibs) about all of the things that they read about in their textbooks.  I know the condition has a real name.  Perhaps a second year med student out there could enlighten us.

With the rise of the internet and webMD the condition has spread far beyond the range of second year med students.  Everyone now has the capability to be hypochondriacal (still maintaining originator claim and rights) or at least attribute everyday symptoms to rare and exotic diseases.

On that note, convinced that we have Celiac disease or wheat allergies or both, our house has gone gluten free.

At the outset, I made the stipulation that no products explicitly labeled "gluten-free" were to be purchased.  I wasn't going to pay 6 bucks a loaf for some pseudo-bread.  So we've been doing pretty well with rice, potatoes and corn.  In some ways it almost feels like Atkins, but with french fries.  And Doritos.

But the one thing I've come to realize is that in a world of convenience and portability, gluten is often the edible wrapper that holds it all together.  Pizza, hot pockets, sausages and burgers all rely on gluten to keep it all together.  Anything remotely considerable as "car-food" comes bundled up in a gluten package.  Even chicken strips.

Taco Bell has been my sanctuary as I learn to adjust.  The hard corn shells are the last refuge in a wheaty world.  But even that selection is minimal.  Tacos is all.  Everything else comes in a flour shell.

But I'm finding other work-arounds.  Today I had a cheesy beef and rice extravaganza and ate that thing like an oversized Go-GURT tube filled with Mexican goodness.

Necessity.  The mother of invention.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Only One Ripped Cover So Far. I'm On A Streak.

I've always been a sucker for games of chance.  As much as I might hate them, I'm drawn to them, with that grand delusion that I'm luckier than the average human being.  That somehow luck is a skill which I've honed.  Or I have ESP.  

(On a very long side note, did any one else go through about a 4 year period in their childhood where they believed that they had ESP?  Or at least the childhood version of ESP that includes telekinesis and anything else cool that you could possibly do with your mind?  And would you spend hours staring at spoons and glasses trying to get them to move?  And then finally give up and try to mentally summon the local poltergeist to come and just move the shit for you?  No?  Just me? )

The problem with games of chance is that you have to be prepared to lose.  And you should never bet more than you're willing to let go.  And the fickle hand of fate that deals winnings is the same that deals the losers.

Last week, when I got home from the library with the big one, I realized that taking kid's stuff out of the library is an awful lot like roulette.  We open up Richard Scarry's Mr. Paint Pig's ABC's and the "lift-and-look" flaps are all hanging precariously.  Will my child be the one who overexuberantly seeks out what happens as garbage truck backs up?  Or will the worn paper hold long enough to make it to another house?  So that another sheepish parent can go up to the librarian's desk and mutter, "My kid wrecked this book.  How much do I owe?"

My hands sweat and shake at bedtime storytime.  

Shuffle up and deal.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Secret To Life

Almost ready for the store...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Vote "Stupid"...

When I was little, long before the onset of political correctness and Bugs Bunny bans, we played a game called "Guns".  Essentially, it was a ghetto version of paintball, but without the paintballs, so therefore based rather heavily on the honor system. 

And thinking back, the game didn't have much to do with aim either.  It was actually more like a game of visual tag.  All we really had to do was sight someone and yell, "Bang!  Got you!"

I can't tell if we counted as imaginative or just stupid. 

At first, I was going to make fun of the fact that we couldn't come up with a more inventive name than "Guns", but then as I was comparing it to "paintball" I realized that maybe shooting games just don't need fancy names.

I remember on one particular occasion, we were informed midgame that someone had called animal control on one of our dogs.  (Are we starting to sound a bit "Little Rascal"ish yet?)  The game stopped and all the players of both teams, dead or alive, came out to set up an "armed" barricade.  We hunkered behind bushes and garbage cans, just waiting for anyone to dare try and take this dog.

Again.  Imaginative or stupid?

I wonder what would have happened had an actual person shown up.  But we never got to find out.  Hours passed and eventually moms were yelling from porches.  We trickled off with our plastic chromed six-shooters and spared some unsuspecting dogcatcher a story he'd tell his grandkids.

And as I read about these Somali "pirates" , I can't help but see some similarity.  4 guys in a lifeboat versus the U.S. Navy.

Imaginative or...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Maybe We'll Get To Meet Disney When They Thaw Him

I've always wondered what it would be like to travel into the past.  Primarily, I wonder how I would exploit it for my own gain.

There are some things that are no-brainers.  Invest in Microsoft.  Pick up a few first edition comics and rookie hockey cards and tuck them away for safe-keeping.  Don't buy an 8-track tape player or a Beta VCR.

I'm not that technically or mechanically inclined, but I wonder if I could "invent" a Blackberry or a Roomba.  

Anyways, I think Ray Kurzweil is from the future.  He's a rather nutty computer/artificial intelligence guy who makes these predictions about the future.  His track record has been decent, and he's made a few million bucks in the process.  And according to the wiki, he's friends with Stevie Wonder.  Who could ask for more?

But I was listening to an interview with Ray yesterday and he predicts that in the year 2045 we'll essentially be able to overcome the limitations of the human body through nanotechnology.  We'll have little robots flowing through our bloodstreams, fixing whatever's wrong and making things generally better.  Reversing aging, curing cancer, zapping sunspots, etc.

2045. He's very specific about it being 2045.

It's a 36 year wait, people.  We just have to make it another 36 years.  And then we'll be around for eternity.

Try not to die in 2044, okay? Man, would that ever be a gyp.

Friday, April 3, 2009


As anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter or facebook, knows we've had a rough winter when it comes to illness in the house. Jack's got a lovely case of Strep that is sucking the life out of me, let alone him. But it really is amazing how one moment, they can be a rousing bundle of energy, and then when nighttime comes, they're sweaty, feverish and crying in your arms about how they're "soooooooo hot, mommy".

I've devised a system of jelly-bean rewards since Jack's taking so much medicine. When he sees me drawing up a dose of evil antibiotic, he automatically puts his hand over his mouth and his eyes get really wide. The jelly-beans make it a bit more tolerable. The downside to this technique (besides the awesome nutritional profile, of course) is that if you've got a kid that won't eat anything, but is still managing to get some sugar-bombs in him, he turns into a complete maniac. One minute running loops around the house, the next minute, laying in a heap on the couch. The joys of parenting.

I'm hoping to get posting a bit more in the next week or so since we've got the Stationery Show approaching quickly. Hope everyone's staying healthy and happy and if you've got any advice for a streppy-toddler, pass it along!


Sunday, March 29, 2009


The baby's had a fever of almost 105 for three straight nights, so I've spent a lot of time trying to cheer him up. I know it's not really JunkMail style, but I figured everyone else should suffer right along with me:

That kid sure is a trooper with all of the knocks on the head he's getting. Clearly, daddy's going solo on baby duty here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Retro Bloggage - Please Don't Be Vegan

Originally posted July 24, 2007.

Dialogue today:

Carol: I think the baby's not getting enough vegetables.

Me: But I fed him zucchini last week.

(I'll admit the kid doesn't get much in the way of veggies, but I do stuff him full of fruit.)

Carol: People always talk about how their kids hate vegetables and won't eat them. This is where it starts. I want our kid to like vegetables.

Me: But imagine what a pain in the ass that's going to be. We don't eat vegetables. So the kid's going to be five and liking/demanding vegetables and we'll have to specially prepare vegetables for him. Or send him over to grandma's to get his broccoli fix on. Or just tell him to shut up and eat his grilled cheese sandwich. Or convince him that corn chips are vegetables. Aren't potatoes supposed to be Canada's favorite vegetable? Put ketchup on fries and we'll call it a salad. I've yet to meet a kid who's complained about ketchup and fries.

Carol: Um...

Me: Okay, I'll dig up that bag of peas out of the corner of the freezer.

It's a good thing frozen foods don't have expiration dates.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Free Greeting Card!

For today (Monday) only, make any purchase in our STORE and receive a FREE single greeting card of your choosing!
Just be sure to mention your choice in the 'notes' section when you check out.

You're A Hot Mess

Available for purchase here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Much Appreciated

Everyone has been sick in this house. And I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. I can't even begin to tell you how tired I am of hearing that hacking cough.

Even with the plague surrounding me, I did manage to make up a new set of thank-you cards. Available in the shop now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Retro Bloggage - All For One

Originally posted July 22, 2007.

I have these theories which oversimplify life's problems, but give me little standards to live by which become etched in stone.

One of my first was, if you have roommates, only have one thing of milk in the fridge.

When I've had roommates in my life, I can honestly say they were the most excellent. And we would always share everything. Hence the one thing of milk in the fridge.

Then I would visit some friends, open their fridge and see four separate milk containers in the fridge. The psychology which occurs is astounding, yet so predictable. One person is inevitably less responsible than the other three. He wakes up, wants cereal, but hasn't gone out to replenish his milk supply. He innocently "borrows" someone else's milk, quite sure they won't mind.

But oh, they do mind. It's such a small thing, but once it happens a few times, it's like that little irritating sore that drives you nuts. You know it's coming and you almost revel in some sort of twisted satisfaction when you're proven right. And the irritation turns to pure unbridled hate. God help us all if he actually has the gall to "borrow" some cereal as well one day.

And when I bring up my theory, I used to get all kinds of excuses. "We like different milk." "I don't drink much, and he eats cereal like six times a day." Blah, blah, blah. And I would look at them in my very judgemental way and declare,"I give this whole arrangement ten months. Tops." And I was usually right.

But today I opened up my own fridge and saw two things of milk. Whole and skim. The ends of the spectrum. One for the kid, one for the wife. Me, I could care less.

Boy, I really hope they can make it more than ten months.

Monday, February 16, 2009

We Probably Have Different Answers To The Question, "Where's The Hoe?" Too.

The only test I ever failed as a kid was totally unfair.

It was a test on toast.  I remember it very distinctly.  It was in the first grade and the teacher was testing our knowledge of the toast making process.  There were four pictures and we were to put them in order; put the bread in the toaster, push the bread down, toast pops up, butter the toast.

There were two facts that made this unfair:  She hadn't actually taught us about toast AND I didn't own a toaster!  For whatever reason, my parents were both fry-pan toasters.  Butter, fry, eat.  (personally I still prefer my toast this way.)  But I got the test horribly wrong and my college scholarships were in jeopardy because I wanted to butter my bread bfore putting it in the toaster.

Ever since that very traumatic experience, I've been rather sensitive to cultural biases in society and interactions.  Those little things where your upbringing has really shaped the way that you think and approach life.  Sometimes we automatically assume that all people should pretty much think/behave in similar ways.  And sometimes it really smacks you in the face that people from different backgrounds really see the world from different perspectives.

Yesterday, as Carol and I drove through a somewhat questionable neighborhood, we both saw something lying on the side of the road.

Carol:  Haha, did you see that wig on the road?  Can you imagine the story behind that getting there?

Me:  Oh.  I thought it was a cat.

Apparently, where I grew up, cats were the roadkill.  Where Carol grew up, weaves were the roadkill.

Either way, it's an uncomfortable conversation to have with the owners once you've gotten out of the car.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love = heart-shaped biscuits

The boys were happy this morning. All of them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Start The Car!

I felt like I was in that Ikea commercial a few days ago when I scored these:

Regularly $12.99 a piece (yikes), they were on sale for $2.99. Pure awesomeness. As Office Renovation 2009 comes to an end, they're a welcome addition. Before and afters of the office will probably be ready in a couple weeks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Or Like Picking Sitters Using "Eeny Meeny Miny Mo".

As I was walking with the kid down the sidewalk yesterday, something odd struck me.  When I was little, I don't remember ever having any friends on the other side of the street.  Despite the abundance of kids across the street, I never befriended a single one. I remember one house in particular where there would often be three "children of the corn" looking kids intermittently pressed up against the windows or circling their tricycles on their driveway.

But the road was a divider.  It created an invisible barrier of inconvenience.  Robby and Sandy, two doors down, only required a hasty scramble across two driveways.  (One gravel, one asphalt.  Both painful on barefeet on a hot summer day.)  The albinos across the street would involve asking parents, holding hands, looking both ways, etc. etc.  Too much.  

It's funny to think that as adults we can have all kind of criteria for friendships: honesty, loyalty, humor, kindness.  We look for people with similar interests, similar tastes, similar beliefs.  And we have certain minimal standards in hygiene and manners.

But as kids, it was as simple as geographic proximity.  Across the street or around the corner became major obstacles to friendship. Later, when we became school-aged, arbitrary class lists determined our friendships.  God forbid your "best friend" be in another class.  Who would you look to when the teacher said "partners"?   And would you be expected to do wheelbarrow races with a stranger?  The horror.

It's scary how simple the selection process is for who will surround us during the most formative years of our lives.

It feels almost like trusting your destiny to a game of "One Potato".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hump Day

Wednesday is kind of a big deal in our house. For me, it means that I only have two more nights of sleeplessness before Lee takes over baby duty for the weekend. It also means LOST, y'all. We usually wrestle the kids into bed (literally) a few minutes before 8:00p and then proceed to break out TV trays, popcorn, beverages and laptops (only if required). It's a beautiful thing, I tell you. Only 6 hours and 8 minutes to go...

A couple newbies in the shop later today:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Light Reading

Because I suffer from OCLRRD (Obsessive Compulsive Living Room Rearranging Disorder), I decided to move a couple bookcases around and subsequently ended up rearranging some books.

I asked Jack what he'd like to take with him when he went down for his nap thinking he would want some loud toy or something. Nope, not this time - he wanted a book. Fair enough. I told him to pick out a book.

I'm not even kidding. He was clamoring for this book. I think it was the rainbow. I bet he's reading 'The Man Who Loved Corsets' right now...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Retro Bloggage - You Say Hello, And I Say Goodbuy

Originally Posted September 12, 2007 - I just felt it was an appropriate retro entry, considering Carol's confession of her love of Targets.

After a crapload of years together, a lot of places have joint memories for Carol and I.  Which makes referring to them easier, since we'll both know where we're talking about: this especially comes in handy with Targets, since Carol and I frequent almost every Target within a 75 mile radius of the Big D, and aren't that great with street names.

Case in point:

Carol: Any particular leanings for supper tonight?

Me: Um. Baja Fresh? Always a winner?

Carol: Sure, which one?

Me: There's that one near the Target where we almost punched out the manager, or the other one next to the Target where we bought the baby's crib. Remember that? What the hell were we thinking? Were we planning on strapping it to the damn roof of the car? Driving it home like it was some prize buck?

Carol: I'm liking the one near asshole-manager. It'll be closer to the Office Depot and I can pick up some supplies.

Me: Well, if you need an Office Depot, there's always that Target where we got the whole frickin bedroom ensemble for like 13 bucks on clearance. Remember that? I think that's the same one I got my car wash bucket for like a buck twenty-four. I love me my clearance deals.

Carol: You're missing the point. We don't need a Target, we need a Baja Fresh.

Me: OH! You know where'd be good? That Target where you almost killed us in the parking lot.

Carol: Ugh. I hate you.

She doesn't really hate me. She's just usually a very good driver who made one slipup one day and almost got us t-boned, and now she's resentful because she'd like to erase the event from memory, but instead it will forever be commemorated in my description of this particular Target.

But them's the breaks. 

D.I.Why?! (Super-Cheap & Easy Art)

Anyone who knows me, knows that my love for Target runs deep. A couple months ago, I found some little 5"x5" frames that came in a pack of three. I bought a bunch of packs in black, as well as white, with the intention of putting black and white pictures of my sweet, little cherubs in them.

Well, they didn't look as awesome as I would have liked and my poor photo printer was sucking up the ink like crazy. So, I decided to take a piece of 12"x12" paper that I'd been hanging onto for eternity and cut it into nine 4" squares. The result turned out perfect for filling out a wall in the master bedroom:

Lee's a little freaked out that I used tacks to to put the pictures up, but I find that since the frames are so lightweight, it isn't a problem at all. Plus, I was able to easily reposition the tacks to make sure that the frames were perfectly square with each other.

Time: roughly 10 minutes (most of the time was spent positioning the frames on the wall)

Tacks: negligible. Nine tacks out of a package of hundreds that I purchased about 10 years ago. I suppose you could get all fancy and actually put picture hangers for all nine. That would probably run a buck or two depending on where you purchased them.

Frames: $7.50 (for all nine!)

Paper: $0.33 (On sale at Joann's a couple years ago)

Total: $7.83

I also scooped up this super-sweet canvas print in their 30% off sale:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dads Must Clamor To Get Their Kids Invited To Her Birthday Parties.

Stolen from something I came across in my travels.  (Sadblog - The Buzz)

The following picture was submitted as homework to a teacher.

The teacher then contacted the parent to let them know about the picture.

The parent responded with the following:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.
I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Mrs. Smith

Monday, January 26, 2009

Maybe My AARP Card Was Showing.

There are certain milestones in life that very subtly show your age.  Not big ones, like your first steps or 16th birthday, but little social ones that are like little "tells" of how old you are (or how old other people think you are).

I think one big one is when you stop putting "and a half" at the end of your age.  When does that stop?  Sevenish?  I can't think of the last time I heard someone say that they were "thirty-six and a half".  If ever.  

Though I might start.

And I remember a very wise teacher once told me that "once a kid loses all his baby teeth, he ain't cute anymore".  Apparently, precociousness turning into obnoxiousness has something to do with the size of your incisors.

Getting ID'ed for cigarettes or drinks is another one.  Can you remember when people stopped asking?  What exactly was it that triggered that reaction of, "Oh, they're old enough for sure"?

But this past week brought another one.  I was talking to someone a few decades older than me and I mentioned that "old age was getting to me".  

The reaction I got?  "Tell me about it."

"Tell me about it".  Not some patronizing "Oh, you've still got some years" or "That's silly!  You're still young".  

Nope.  "Tell me about it".  Like we were peers in some kind of irrelevant segment of a marketing demographic.  Like we were both members of some senior's club and we were commiserating.  Like we "got" each other.  

Ugh.  What gave me away?  You can't *smell* Metamucil and Centrum on someone's breath, can you?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

D. I. Why?! (Cheap & Easy Memo Board)

I've always hearted DIY projects. Sometimes they're winners, sometimes notsomuch. I'm completely addicted to home reno/redecorating programs --- at any given moment, there's a TV somewhere in the house explaining the intricacies of crown moulding or harping about the latest trends in paint.

I'm also HUGE on doing things myself (in most cases - we won't discuss the plumbing in our master bathroom). You just can't beat that instant gratification when you finish a project - ESPECIALLY when it cost nearly nothing.

So, with this D.I.Why?! series, I'll do the best I can to lay out the costs involved in each project, as well as whether the project was easy-peasy or made you say 'WHY???'

Our first project is a memo board. The 2-year-old has been dragging around a couple pieces of foam board that I bought from the dollar store four months ago. I was going to use them for a signage project at a craft fair, but changed my mind. I needed a new memo board in my office because the old one was just gross and didn't match the decor.

First, I started with two foam boards from the dollar store:

I taped them together to create a thicker board:

I placed fabric over the whole assembly for measuring (came out to about 3-ish feet, by about 2 feet. Depends on how big your boards are. I left about 3 inches of extra fabric on each side, but you probably only really need 2") Oh, and iron your fabric before you get started. (.....duh, Carol)

I stapled the fabric into the foam board because I was in a hurry and wanted to get this done as fast as possible, but I would suggest a more permanent form of adhesive. (Glue gun? Might melt the foam....)

Say 'hello' to the baby on the floor:

This is what it looked like after the stapling extravaganza (again, a quick press with an iron prior to assembly would've helped, but in the end, it didn't matter):

I took thin, chocolate-brown ribbon and stretched 9 lengths across the whole piece securing each one to the back with straight pins.

Then, I placed a dab of glue over each crossover of ribbon and inserted a pushpin to assist in adhesion. A better alternative would have been to use a brad of some sort, or maye even an upholstery nail, but I really wanted this particular color/design combination:

The Divoga pins came in a pack of 30 from OfficeMax and had all of the colors that I wanted to have in my new office layout:

The finished product:

I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. I might have to make some adjustments later on in the pins work themselves loose, but all-in-all, a worthwhile little project.

Time: about 30 minutes (including several stops to entertain the above baby)
2 foam boards: $2.00
4 pieces of packing tape: negligible
Ribbon: .17 (used half of a roll that was originally purchased for about .33 as part of a '3 for $1.00' deal at Michael's)
5 push pins: .65 (5 pins out of a package of 30 that cost $3.99)
Fabric: $0.00 (I used fabric that I found around the house, but depending on whether you have to purchase your own, costs will vary)

Total cost: $2.82 and 30 frenzied minutes out of my life.

Definitely an easy afternoon project.

Party's over.

Time to get back to work! Here are a couple new designs available in the shop: