Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Lesson ...

I am reminded again of why I married the man I did almost 36 years ago. This week, whenever we can fit it in, Lou is teaching me to operate the machine we have to cut our stencils and vinyl for the signs we make. He is patiently showing me how to use the program, CorelDraw, to design and layout the wording, and then to send it to the cutter which is like a printer, but cuts the letters instead of printing them. By mastering this, I think it will help speed things along in our prodution process.


I went kickin' and screamin' into using a computer while my daughters were still in high school and the girls tell me all the time how amazed they are at what I do now. But I am still timid about trying new things with the computer...afraid that I will lose information. So it is slow going in teaching Pat how to work the cutter. Lou just shakes his head and smiles when I ask him the same question over and over and calmly shows me again what to do and why.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowy Snowy Night...

Just came down from the shop...Lou helped me, as it is snowing like a son of a gun, and I am a clumsy person and have fallen on my butt more than once on that hill coming from the shop to the house. Once I even just sat down and slid. Although soaked to the skin, I thought that was better than breaking an arm, leg or my neck.


I have creamy chicken noodle soup heating on the stove and cornbread in the oven. A wonderful dinner for a snowy night.


The weatherman got it wrong and right. This morning we were suppose to get rain, sleet and freezing rain with snow starting in the afternoon. Woke up to 4 inches of snow this morning. It stopped for several hours and around four this afternoon snow started again. It's windy and snowing heavily, but at least the prediction is 5-10 inches tonight and that's nothing when
I remember the 40+ inch snow storms we had last winter.


To all living tonight in this winter wonderland...stay safe and remember, when in doubt, there's no shame just sitting down and sliding on your butt.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friends

I had the pleasure of attending a bridal shower for a lovely young woman on Saturday afternoon. She is the daughter of one of my dearest friends and the bride and her husband to be will be getting married in February.





In the photo with me, is Bonnie, the Mother of the Bride and another longtime friend MaryAnne. Bonnie and I have known each other for over 50 years. Bonnie met MaryAnne while she was in the 8th grade. I then got to know MaryAnne through Bonnie and all through our teens we were always together. I know somewhere I must have an old photograph of the three of us and I'll have to keep digging through piles of old pictures.


I did find this picture of Bonnie and me, taken probably in 1958 or '59. That's me on the right, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. Bonnie's mother always had her in pretty clothes.




This one, of MaryAnne and me, was taken in Ocean City, MD in 1969 in one of those photo booths on the boardwalk.


Make new friends but keep the old ones
One silver but the other gold



Thursday, January 20, 2011

If You Think Dogs Can't Count...



When I painted this sign, little did I know how true it was. Yes, my dear Lucy girl can count. Seems she knew there was one more treat in the
pocket of the old hooded sweat shirt I wear to the shop.

When Lou came in this afternoon, he asked if I knew where my cell phone was. I replied that it was in the pocket of the old grey sweat shirt. He said, "I don't think so. I just found it in the grass, out in the yard." I had tucked my phone in the pocket as I ran out the door to go to work this morning. When Lucy couldn't figure out how to get to the last treat last night, she neatly chewed a hole through the inside of the pocket. It was her treat after all. The phone dropped out on the walk to the shop. How can I be mad at such a cute, smart girl?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saddest Day Of The Year


Heard on the news this morning that today is considered the saddest day of the year. It is mid winter and many of us have been living with cold, grey, dreary weather. Snow and ice has hit so many areas of the country and folks are stuck inside. Of course shorter days, less sunlight, may have something to do with it. Also, holiday spending may be part of the problem...the bills are coming in.


One can only hope that means tomorrow will be a little bit brighter and spring is on its way.


Dylan just wants his Mom to stop giving him snookie curls and making him look like a girl!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back to Baskets

Many years ago, at a local craft show, I met two ladies who were selling Longaberger Baskets. They asked that I design some tie on ornaments for them, which I did. At the time I was cutting and painting small cut out shapes. That request changed my product line completely. I started participating in shows that catered to Basket Consultants and their customers. Lou and I ended up promoting The Basket Accessories Roadshow which had other crafters who made merchandise specifically for Longaberger Baskets. We traveled to basket loving areas on the east coast, from MA to FL. We always planned the FL shows for the middle of February to get away from the winter here in MD. Of course nothing lasts forever and eventually the "Basket Frenzy" played itself out and we stopped doing the shows.



I do however still paint on baskets for awards for several of the local consultants and have painted some of my own and sold those at shows. I found tub full of vintage Longaberger that I had used as display pieces when we set up for those basket shows.
I decided to paint those and add them to the Country Workshop website.
Sooooo, I was able to get a few painted and up on the site.


While doing the basket shows, we had a non selling website.
Couldn't seem to get a shopping cart installed so we just used it to let customers know where to find us and directed them to selling venues where we had our merchandise for sale. It was an abbreviated spelling of Country Workshop as the full spelling was already taken. Way back when only .com was available. We closed that site down last year when we put up the new website and eventually it just disappeared. About once a week, I do a google search for Country Workshop, just to see where the shop or merchandise may have been mentioned. Imagine my surprise last week when the old site popped up in Japanese. I of course clicked on the link and found that it is now a Japanese porn site featuring pregnant woman. Can you believe that? Can't understand why they would choose that name except that it was a working website for 15 years and they are hoping to trick our old customers into taking a look. Whoa! I looked so I guess it worked! At least I haven't gotten any emails asking if we've gone into a new business.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hearts and Love and Snowflakes...

Here on our little spot of Baltimore County, we again missed the bulk of a snow storm traveling up the east coast. But we did have several inches of the white stuff fall over night. Just enough to make it pretty but not so much that the roads stayed covered today. The snow plows/salt trucks were out in groups of 5 or 6 last night as Lou and I were making our way home from Marley Station Mall. We had gone to Jennifer Crafts, an arts and crafts shop, to restock our area for the first time after the holidays. The winter storm started out as sleet and freezing rain so we waited a while before heading home and took advantage of 1/2 price Pasta Night at Rocky Run. By the time we got on the road, it was snowing big, fluffy, beautiful flakes and the highways had been cleared of ice. Didn't need the 4 wheel drive until we reached our road and driveway.



This morning was cold and windy but we had this beautiful blue, blue sky. I snapped the photo below as Lucy and I headed up to the shop.





The time has come to start thinking of Hearts and Love. I took some Valentine goodies to Jennifer's last night and have been adding "Signs of Love" to the website.














Hoping all of you who are located northeast of here and are getting snowed in with inches and inches of the white stuff are all snuggled safely inside until the sun shines for you tomorrow.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shipping and Lucy...

I've been thinking alot about shipping the past few days as the Post Office raised prices on Priority Mail the first of the year and I am sure I'm going to be questioned about the cost of my shipping, especially on ebay (where customers are used to getting free shipping from companies much larger than my Country Workshop). It will now cost $10.20 for me to ship a sign that weighs between 1-2 pounds from Maryland to states located on the West Coast and there is no way for me to get around that. I stopped adding a handling fee the last time rates were raised. So folks, if you do any mail order shopping, plan on spending a bit more for shipping.
This morning I had orders to be shipped.

Had the signs ready to go, paper work in order, the table set up with the foam and corrugated cardboard used to wrap each item, monster tape dispenser and Priority stickers at hand and one of the best tools my husband ever talked me into, my new super duper rotary cutter.


Lucy always goes to work with me. She usually settles down quickly on one of 3 blankets we have located in various locations in shop and studio for her. Today she must have been bored out of her little mind as she started out pulling paper towels out the trash can in the bathroom. Then she started on stealing the boxes I have stored on a low shelf for shipping larger items.


She quickly has this box shredded into pieces.
Then she began jumping at the door to go out.


It was a beautiful day in Baltimore County so I figured ok Toots, if you want out, I can tie you up outside to give Mom a break and give you some time to sniff the air. I do this often in the warmer months, but Lucy is an in the house dog and shivers if it's too cold outside. I wrapped an order and then took a peek out the door to see what she was doing and I see she has something in her mouth. I run over to take a look at what is hanging out the side of her face and am appalled to see it is something furry. I scream at her to drop it and thankfully she did. It was a long dead, dried out chipmunk. I am glad Lucy dropped it...I wouldn't have wanted to pry it out of her mouth.
I called the vet to see if I needed to have her checked out but was told that since her rabies vaccination was up to date and it didn't appear that she has actually eaten any of the rawhide like chipmunk, just to keep an eye on her.



I finally finished wrapping the signs and Lucy had such a rough morning, she napped all afternoon.





Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stinky...Stinky...Stinky

About three or four years ago, during the winter, I started noticing bugs, like the one pictured above, hanging on the curtains in the living room. Every year we have a battle with ants, but these were something I had never seen before. I would carry them outside and set them free. Well seems that was a mistake. Every year there have been more and more of these brown Asian stink bugs sneaking into the house and shop.
Seems that they were first sighted in Allentown, PA in 2001 and are now being found in MD, NJ, NY and VA and are invading homes and destroying crops. They have no natural predators and the are no chemical recommendations for home use.
One evening this past summer, I came down from the studio and when I entered our bedroom, the curtains were covered in these ugly brown bugs. We have an air conditioner in one window of the room and I can only imagine they were able to sneak in around that. I started picking them off , and yes they do stink when you scare or smash them. I ended up pulling out the vacuum and sucking them off the curtains, then quickly removing the vacuum bag and taking it outside to put in the trash. However, I was finding them all over the house so that isn't the only place they are coming in. As the weather started getting colder, I was finding more in the house, many were dried up little carcases, lying on their backs with their creepy legs sticking up in the air. I guess they came in to die. However on New Year's Eve, as I was in bed watching tv, the darn things were dive bombing me. It's creepy enough to see one crawling across the ceiling or hanging on the curtains, but they were hitting me and landing on the bed. I ended up turning off the light on the night table as I think the light was attracting them, they really weren't attacking me. But I still don't know where the little stinkers were coming in.
As horrible as it is for homeowners, we can at least try keeping doors and windows closed and filling in cracks and openings that may stop the bugs from getting in. I've heard that Dawn dish detergent and water sprayed on them will kill the creepies. But farmers in Maryland were hit big last summer. I believe I read 20% of crops around Frederick and Thurmont were lost due to this pest. I know my daughter lost her tomato plants in her backyard garden. Stink bugs just sucked the life out of them. This infestation could really affect our food supply and there doesn't seem to be a way to stop it.
So what will the summer of 2011 bring? I plan on doing my part. I certainly will not set them free, like I did when I first started noticing the brown bugs in the house. I am going to spray them with Dawn and water and then flush those stinkers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Something New...

Several months ago, I found two candle holders , thinking I would paint some holly leaves and berries on the lids and put them up on the website for Christmas.

Well that never happened...so I decided that little roses would add
to the shabby look of the candle holders.
There are several glass candle holders listed also under the
Home and Garden Section
I'll be adding some painted Longaberger baskets later in the week. Have them painted but haven't had a chance to take photos yet.
I'm hoping in the next few months to add other new and vintage items to
The Country Workshop Website

Monday, January 3, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Child...

Good Morning...thought I would share these photos of my grandson that my daughter sent me. Dylan's new thing is to spin...he giggles and laughs as he spins around with arms outstretched. As he was was in the middle of his favorite new thing, he noticed the sun streaming in through the window.



He stopped to really take a look. He loved that the sun beams were touching him...this was a new and wonderful discovery.


The smile on his face shows the pure joy of this amazing, new thing in his life.

Thinking maybe we should appreciate the little things that are all around us that we just don't take the time to notice anymore.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

One Ends and So Another Year Begins...


The new year here just sorta slid in... Lucy and I watching old movies (Lucy likes when Lou is not in bed, she always snuggles in on his side until he's ready to turn in for the night) and Last Minute Louie was in the shop, finishing up a vanity for daughter Meagan's bathroom. The vanity is actually a beautiful piece of furniture which just happens to be holding a sink. Handcrafting furniture is what I believe Lou would really like to do full time. Meagan and Erik had a party yesterday, and yesterday, just before the party, Lou was installing the vanity in their newly renovated bathroom.
After my last post I did get to work on getting the studio in order. I decided anything I hadn't touched in 2 years, I really didn't need and should be gotten rid of. Much was tossed. Also started the job of cleaning stencils and putting them in the correct folders. I found I had opened bottles of paint of the same color and so combined those. Some cubbies of supplies need to be gone through but that will be a job for later. Tomorrow will be the start of the new year in the studio.
Wishing all my guests who stop by for a visit a
Wonderful New Year!