Tuesday, November 27, 2007

good times

Peggy Bonnington is amazing! Not only did she work until 5 p.m. at her regular (paying) vocation as a special education teacher on post at Ft. Campbell, KY--she then worked until 9 p.m. at my house teaching us how to create one-of-a-kind journals! She lugged about 50 lbs of paper cutters, punches, scissors, ephemera and a dremmel tool from her house to mine. All in an effort to teach us some "trade skills." You see in Peggy's parallel life, she's an incredibly talented artist. She works with paper, pens, water colors and pastels (too name a few) to create works of art. She gathers bits of this and that--which inspire her to action and art. What a good sport she was to share her talents with us.

Our efforts resulted in personalized journals with unique covers. Peggy had pre-cut papers for the "guts" of the journal, as well as the book board for the covers. Class participants rifled through piles of papers, ribbons, stickers, stamps, keys, buttons and more to choose the items to create their journals. I was surprised at the individual appearance of each of their creations. A few of the ladies were making their journals for personal use, while the others intended to use theirs for gifts. Regardless, each of the ladies walked away with the know-how for making journals.

We're now looking forward our next "How Do They Do That?" program, which will be hosted by Jane Burney, of the Lovin' Spoonful Cafe, and myself. This will be a party planning, menu suggestions, drink mixin' good time on December 10th, at 6 p.m. Call or email for reservations--this one will fill-up quickly!

Don't forget to join us for the parade, entertainment and late-night shopping this Saturday, Dec 1st. The parade starts at 5 p.m., entertainment will follow on Public Square and at the Court House Plaza and shopping until 8 p.m.

Monday, November 26, 2007

do over

I've spent nearly a week trying to upload the post I started before Thanksgiving--to no avail. I'm not sure if it's user error or what, but my connection keeps timing out.

I can't even remember what I was writing about. I'm sure I had included comments about our plans for "black Friday;" about our open house event last Sunday; about Thanksgiving plans.

Well, now that all of that is passed, let me just revisit some of these topics.

Our Annual Downtown Clarksville Open House was a huge success! We had a record number of Sunday shoppers--not a difficult mark to achieve, as we're not usually open on Sundays! Really, it was a good day. It's wonderful to hear the kind comments about our decorating efforts; about the inventory we've selected and carefully arranged; about ideas and inspiration achieved. Thanks to those of you who made the trip downtown--especially those who ventured into Hodgepodge.

Then there was "black Friday." I just heard a report on NPR which stated that the term "black Friday" has only recently become common terminology outside of the the retailing world. It became commonly referred to about the same time as "cyber Monday" joined our everyday language. The ideas are different, just unique to retailers--"black Friday" applying to brick-and-mortar stores; "cyber Monday" applying to virtual stores. Hodgepodge has recently entered the realm of "cyber boutiquing," so I'll be interested to see how Monday pans out for sales. I'll tell you, however, I'll take the brick-and-mortar business over cyber reality any day-twice on Fridays!

Thanksgiving was wonderful. I spent the day in the kitchen, preparing the annual favorites. I really love cooking and have very little time to dedicate to menu planning and prep any more. So days like Thanksgiving, which are set-aside for family, friends and food, are welcomed! I used to spend a month thumbing through cookbooks and magazines for new recipes, but have become reliant on the old standards. Kendall and Ryleigh came early and helped me prepare. Kendall made her first apple pie--receiving rave reviews and many requests for seconds. Terry and Bellamy joined us later for dinner. Then Taylor and Chuck dropped in to watch us eat--they had already enjoyed dinner with Taylor's mom. It was a wonderful day. I am so blessed.

Today, I'll be heading out to help Judy decorate her house, running back to take over the shop from Kendall, then back to the house to host our journal making event!

Well, that wraps it up. I hope to be able to post this and I promise another note tonight.

Thanks for your indulgence!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Did I turn off the lights?

As I was locking up and looking back into the shop last night, I had to double-check to ensure I had turned off the lights--it's so bright in there! The lovely glow is thanks to the 3,000 little white lights illuminating the scene. Then there's the windows! The shop is really standing out on the street--especially last night when the street lamps were still off (they were repairing/replacing the lights on First Street, so ours have been off for a couple of weeks).
I hope many of you are planning to join us downtown for our Holiday Open House event on Sunday. We'll be open noon - 6 pm. Hodgepodge will have refreshments and special opportunities to win one of four $25 gift certificates.
Here are a few pictures of the process--well, maybe not, my buttons to add photos are gone! ARGH! I've been trying to edit this for about thirty minutes. WhooHoo! Success.

The "upload photos" option has magically appeared and I'm able to save changes. Now remember, these are pictures of the process--not the finished product. More the "storm" than the "calm." We had fun--in spite of the hard work. Enough explanation--here are the pics!
Thanks for your indulgence!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

oh my, oh my!

Okay you guys--I know I was there at market to select it all, but I assure you, it's as though I've never seen it before! It's all so beautiful! I tell you, no one does Christmas like Midwest--Seasons of Cannon Falls, Two's Company and TAG.

A team of dedicated friends and I started the process at 1 p.m. on Sunday. As usual, the biggest consumption of our time has been placing price tags on all of these beautiful items. It's, by far, the least fun job, but oh so necessary. The only benefit of this time suck, from this proprietor's perspective, is hearing all of the comments about the good pricing on such unique items. Sure, there is the obvious benefit of consumers being able to find pricing, but it really helps to hear that your inventory is fairly, competitively priced.

There is the usual amount of silliness and fun that surrounds this type of activity. We're having fun and getting into the holiday spirit. Christmas Cd's are playing; white lights are illuminating everything and then some; pine bows and berries are bedecking the proverbial halls .

This is all coming together, as I mentioned earlier, thanks to my dear friends (sure, some of them are the "paid" variety, aka "employees") Hodgepodge is becoming a holiday inspiration for all. Everyone takes on their own tasks: the windows, a tree, price tags (the precious price tags!), a dining table and arranging the extra ornaments and accessories for ease of selection.

So why do these dear people take time away from their families and schedules to help me accomplish this yearly task? I can assure you it's not the constant up and down on the ladders, the searching for an available outlet--or extension cord to reach it. It's not the precise placement of price tags. It's not the insidious Styrofoam peanuts. Although they each claim to have their own reasons for assisting, I'm convinced that the main reason I get so much help decorating Hodgepodge for the holidays is the opportunity to have first dibs on the selection of ornaments.

I don't care why they do it--I just care that they care!

So "THANK YOU!" Thanks to Kendall (my sister), Jennifer, Kate, (a surprise appearance by) Michele, Tonya, Taylor, and (the newest member of our family), Patty; oh, and Meagan (hope I spelled that right)--a friend of Michele's. You guys are gems and give me much to be thankful for all year long, but especially at this time of year! I am so very blessed!

I'm going to go ahead and post this--I'll add photos later.

I hope to see you on Wednesday--if you can't make it this week, please stop by for our Open House on Sunday, Nov 18th.

Thanks for your indulgence!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shop Clarksville

Well, the news this week is rather bleak--gas prices are on the rise again. Not only do we have to fill our tanks to get to work, get the kids to their activities, to do our grocery shopping--we also need to fill them for the extras. Extras like dining out, shopping for clothes and home goods, entertainment, and more. With the Christmas season arriving even as I type, what are Clarksville consumers going to do?

Statistically, a great many of you will head to Nashville. You "think Nashville" for those extras. You head to the malls, the specialty shops, theatres, restaurants and even grocery stores! (Frankly, the last one blows my mind, but you do it.) The fact is that every time you spend $100 in Nashville, you give that city $2.25 to use for their infrastructure, schools system, and other municipal expenses. $2.25 doesn't sound like much, but we all know how little numbers quickly add up to big ones. Do you think Clarksville could use that $2.25? Do you think we could use better roads, sidewalks, schools, sewer lines?

Now, as a local business owner, this all probably appears to be self-serving and to that I respond, "You're darn straight!" I want you to shop at Hodgepodge, but I also want you to shop at The Meandering Stitch, Rogate's Boutique, Yesterday's Antiques, Betty's Antiques, Traditions, Posh and Joy's Jewelers; eat at Lovin' Spoonful, Blondie's, Benne's, The Front Page Deli and The Blackhorse; go see several shows at The Roxy; relax and rejuvenate at Oasis Spa.

Okay enough for the gratuitous downtown plug, but you were expecting it.

I do encourage you to shop downtown, but if you can't find what you need downtown, feel free to shop elsewhere in Clarksville! We've got many local shops for your needs--furniture, clothing, toys and electronics. I know many of you are loyal to your local merchants--you are appreciated! I encourage you to tell your friends and others about your favorite places to shop in Clarksville. Word of mouth is the best advertising a business can have. Endorsement from a satisfied consumer is better than a month of ads in any publications! Especially during times of low consumer confidence, the little guys will suffer. If you like a locally owned shop and want it to be there next year--let others know about it.

I'll even go so far as to encourage you to shop at "the big guys," as long as they're local. Leave your tax dollars here in Clarksville!

If you have to go to Nashville, at least buy your gas here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Surrounded by Talent

There are days when I feel so fortunate to be located in a city with so many talented people. I often tell people that my talents (with the shop) rest solely in the ability to surround myself with talented people.

Each month, when Hodgepodge hosts an new artist beginning with the Art Walk and Wine, I'm reminded how much talent we have in Clarksville. Not only do I learn about my feature artist, but I also learn from those of you whom visit with us--that night and throughout the month. You've found ways to express yourselves and to share it with others. I really admire artists--the risk they take putting their hearts on display for critiquing by the masses is extremely brave.

This month, I reached outside of Clarksville for an artists--actually, she reached toward me. A customer from Nashville, Joan, mentioned Hodgepodge to her artist/friend, Maggie Troutman. They traveled to Clarksville to visit my shop and me! (What?!? Yes folks, people from Nashville shop in Clarksville! Hmmm.) Lucky for me, Maggie had one of her Silver Plated Spoon shadow boxes in her car--it was on its way to a collector's home. I mentioned our Art Walk and Wine and Maggie agreed to be my featured artist for November.

Her work is now on display at Hodgepodge and I hope you'll make time to stop in to see it. These pictures will only give you a taste. You really need to view these amazing creations in person! The detail in the shell work around the mirror is absolutely incredible. The topiary is formed completely of shells--they are not attached to another form! I love the natural look and texture of the shell work.

Maggie specializes in 17th - 19th Century prints, which she sells; she will also make a custom frame to perfectly compliment the prints. Custom work for your own prints or mirrors is also available.

My favorites, however, remain the Silver Plated Spoon shadow boxes. Unlike the silver plated flatware you'll find on tables throughout Hodgepodge, Maggie shines her spoons to a perfect glimmer. The reflective qualities of this art work will add a wonderful dimension to your wall.

The Downtown Clarksville Association and Pal's Package Store sponsors the monthly Art Walk and Wine. Various artist display their work in the retail locations downtown. The Downtown Artist Co-op is an association of local artists--they host an "art talk" with their currently featured artist the evening of the Art Walk. If you are an artist or you can recommend an artist to participate in our monthly Art Walk and Wine I encourage you to contact me via email. Please type Art Walk Artist in the subject line and attach photos of your work.

Thanks for your indulgence!

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