Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the party's over . . . no just beginning

I don't how to change the date, but I'm actually posting this on June 18th.

Here comes the weekend . . . no weekend in particular--just one more opportunity to get some chores done, run the errands, watch the kids soccer game and so on, and so forth.

So when it's all done--the "honey do" list is shorter, but ever present--what are you looking forward to? Why not throw a party? It doesn't have to be huge, it doesn't have to have a reason (ie.: graduation or Memorial Day)--it just needs to happen. You deserve it, as do those lucky friends you'll invite!

Make it easy. Offer one or two meats and drinks, ask friends to bring the side dishes. Now, I'm a bit of a prig on this subject--I use my everyday china, flatware, and cloth napkins, but I do not insist that you do the same--as if my insistence would sway you! I just find it easier--I know I've always got them; I don't have to buy extras as the grocery store. Fill a wash tub with ice and add beverages. Pull out the citronella candles--arrange some votive candles in a collection of glasses or mason jars. Wash the patio furniture and you're ready! Okay, there's a little more to it, but don't over do it.

Here's a favorite marinade I gleaned from my cousin, Stacy: 1/3 C soy sauce, 1/3 C brown sugar and 1/3 C bourbon. It's great on beef or pork--start marinading the night before. If you want to get a little more involved, buy corn on the cob. Clean it and butter it before wrapping with foil. Roast on the grill. (Stir in a little of the Chipolte Seasoning from Gourmet du Village with the butter for extra flavor. I know where you can buy some . . .) I've also recently added a no-bake margarita cheesecake to the offerings from GduV, too. In fact, there's something to take you from appetizers and drinks to dessert and coffee! I'll have a sampling of their offerings at each of the First Thursday Art Walk and Wine events (not above bribery . . .)

I'm thinking about adding some workshops or demonstrations in the coming months. Any ideas? Is there anything you'd like to learn? I figure if I don't know how to do it--I can find someone who does and we can collaborate! Suggestions are not only welcome--they're downright necessary! Table setting? Flower arranging? Party planning? I'm open.

Thanks for your indulgence.

the trials and tribulations of shopkeeping

Be prepared, I'm going to rant! But hear me out, there's good stuff, too.
Well, I'm scooting through day seven (7) without a shop phone. While I intellectually understand it's been a conspiracy of Vonage and DHL to keep me from having productive days (tongue waaaaaay inside of cheek . . .)--I can't help but wonder if Bellsouth, excuse me "The New AT&T," doesn't somehow have a hand or DSL modem in this!
After much research (asking fellow shopkeepers what they use) and wringing of hands, I decided to dump Bellsouth/AT&T and their $185 phone bill in exchange for Vonage and their $60 charge. It's simple math, right? Wrong--first I had to factor in the charges for breaking my contract with B/AT&T. I figured out rather quickly that the savings would pay for itself in one month! No brainer. What I failed to figure in was the hours of lost time while trying to get my Vonage system to work--time is money! Then the enormous cell phone bill for the hours of communication with the Vonage technical assistants--thank goodness that call to Monrovia is transparent--except for the minutes used! (186 of them to be exact!)
Well, Vonage did their part--they got a new "device" on it's way to me within 24 hours. This is where DHL enters the picture. They failed to deliver within 2 business days. Then when they decided to attempt delivery Monday (but Paige, aren't you closed on Mondays? Why yes I am--thank you for reading the posted hours) and found me closed, the driver decided it would be fine to just leave my expensive Vonage device by my door! Guess what wasn't by my door when I came into the shop Tuesday morning?
Well, I wish I could say that Vonage is distraught over my troubles, but at least I've convinced them to send another device and credit me for the down time. I gave Josh--customer service, Level II--a lesson in why he should NEVER use the word "irrelevant" when communicating with a dissatisfied customer. I also told him that I look forward to a long, happy, money saving relationship with his company . . . if I can ever get and stay connected to the outside world!
Just a taste of some of the issues that shopkeepers face in their daily operations--going to market, fun; working with customers, great; dealing with phone companies, no thanks--you do it! Truly, however, the good WAY outweighs the bad.
I know there are many of you who hope and dream of running your own shop. If you have questions, want to discuss your ideas or want help figuring out where to start, please contact me. If there's one other thing I enjoy about what I do, it's hearing about your dreams--if I can help . . . all the better!

Friday, May 11, 2007

It's easier than you think!

While trying to determine my next blog topic, I was approached by one of my customers about how to go about painting a piece of furniture she has. So, there you go . . . my "next blog topic."

It is really much easier than you think. I usually start by sanding (if I've got the time and the room to work) the entire piece. I then wipe-off the residue with a lint free cloth, dampened with mineral spirits. On this project, however, I didn't want to fill my bedroom with dust, so I opted for method #2 of preparation. I mixed-up a solution of TSP (tri sodium phosphate) substitute--pulled on my rubber gloves and gave it a good wash. Once you've cleaned the entire piece, allow it to dry thoroughly. (I was in a hurry so I turned on the fans!)

Now, for the paint I simply use satin wall paint. Often I just use white, but sometimes I pick-up other colors on the "oops" section of our local home improvement store. I use a good quality paint brush to apply the paint. I usually apply two to three coats. Wait between coats--even after it appears dry, give it a few more hours. If you want a smooth, even finish you should probably sand between coats, too. (Clean as instructed above.) If you plan on "antiquing" your finish, just skip that extra step. If you want to antique the finish--start by taking a sanding block to the edges and around areas which would achieve natural wear (ie.: the knobs, the surface and edges of the drawers). Don't get carried away--you want it to look natural! If you want to keep the nice, finished look you may wish to finish with a top coat of polyurethane. I usually skip this step--mainly because I'm impatient and will lose interest in any project that takes longer than 3 days--but also because I like for the piece to continue to "age" with our wear and tear.

There you have it! Any project that takes less than three paragraphs to explain is worth trying!

Again, I apologize for the length of time between my postings. Life is getting busier!

Thanks for your indulgence!
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