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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Memories

Christmas is very important to me. I'm not very religious, so for me it's more about family and traditions and making memories. Every year at work, when we choose vacation for the coming year, my first priority is to make sure I have Christmas Day off. I worked a day shift once on Christmas Day when I was a new grad. It wasn't good:-( I have been very fortunate to have been able to get vacation or do a switch to get the day off every year since then.
Here are some of my Christmas Memories. Feel free to post yours!

1) When I was about 7 or 8, I got a Baby Tenderlove doll. The best part was that my mom sewed a doll wardrobe for her, (including matching pajamas for me and the doll) and made a box full of 'baby care supplies' for me to go with it. I still have that doll.

2) I think I was 9 when I got a 'new' bike for Christmas. I remember there weren't many gifts for me under the tree and then Mom or Dad said "I think Santa left your gift next door" and my dad went out and came back with my bike and brought it right upstairs into the living room. I didn't know it then, but it was a used bike that my dad spray painted himself and added new pedals and a new seat. I was so excited! It was orange with a sparkly yellow banana seat:-) Even though I had a cast on my wrist (fell out of my brother's tree fort) I took it out to the street for a test run.

3) One year my sister was sick on Christmas Day. I think she either had a terrible migraine headache, or something like mono. I just remember her being in bed and missing Christmas morning completely. I felt so sorry for her but she was so sick I don't think she cared much.

4) My sister and I used to share a room and at one point we shared a double bed. I remember waking up with her so early one Christmas morning because we were so excited. We knew we couldn't get up yet, so we turned on the radio and listened to someone reading a Christmas story. I remember it was still very dark, so it was probably about 4:00 AM. I think we held out till 6 or 7:-)

5) Every year when I was still at home with my parents, we had Denver sandwiches for Christmas morning breakfast. Now, I make a breakfast casserole and baked french toast so that there's no morning prep work, but Denvers (with ketchup!) always mean Christmas to me.

6) My dad used to get my mom a new Christmas ornament every year and he'd attach it to her gift, which was always beautifully wrapped in expensive paper (probably by a store clerk!) with a pretty card. I don't know where he found those gorgeous ornaments, but they were usually very unique and probably handmade. He wasn't the best at choosing gifts (a microwave oven one year--yikes Dad!) but those ornaments are treasures.

7) My mom's Christmas baking: Butter tarts (my favourite), shortbread, Paul Bunyan sugar cookies, rice krispie squares, nanaimo bars, mince tarts.....mmmm...

8) We always found a mandarin orange in the toe of our Christmas stockings.

9) In 1989, Alison was born on December 23rd. We brought her home from the hospital on Christmas Day. It was the only year of my life that I didn't have a Christmas tree and we didn't even exchange gifts. We got the most precious gift in the world instead:-)
My ex-husband's friends brought over all the food and made Christmas dinner for us. I just remember...all I wanted to do was sit and gaze at my baby. It was a wonderful Christmas.

10) My saddest Christmas was 1998. My dad was terminally ill. We all gathered at my parents' place and tried to have a normal Christmas for the kids and for my dad. He wasn't able to stay out of bed for long, but he watched us open presents for a little while. We helped him open gifts that we knew he would never use.

11) The first year Jon was here over Christmas, he gave me a digital camera. It was the best gift- a gift that preserves memories. 7 years later, I still love my camera and use it all the time.

12) I n 2004, we sold my townhouse in November and moved in to the apartment while we were looking for a house. It was the only time I have ever spent Christmas away from Alison. She was living with her father in California that year. I really missed her, but we had fun in the little apartment, with the Christmas tree squeezed into the living room and the 2 dogs causing havoc. Buster stole a chocolate orange off the coffee table when we weren't looking and we caught him hiding in the bedroom eating it! Frantic searching on the internet followed to determine the amount of chocolate that could hurt and 10 pound dog. Luckily it didn't seem to affect him at all.
Jon created a scavenger-type hunt with clues for Devon to follow to find his big gift. Each clue gave a letter and all the letters together spelled "dryer" which was where he found his Nintendo DS. It was so much fun watching him de-code the puzzle to find his present.

13) Last year, I wanted to send out pictures as a Christmas card. I found some really great ideas on the internet, and ended up coming up with this. The kids had fun with it, and everyone we sent the cards to had a laugh. Couldn't think of a better idea this year though.

Merry Christmas Everyone, and be careful out on the roads. I think this Christmas is going to be remembered as the 'Year of the Big Snow'

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 Reasons It Sucks Being a Teen's Mom

I could probably think of way more than 10, but I need to vent a bit tonight, and I don't want to slide over into complete and utter depression, so I'll stick with 10. I should probably be trying to think of 10 reasons that I LOVE being the mom of teens. It would likely be more productive, but I feel like whining. Feel free to join in. You know what they say about misery.

1) They think you are old, no matter how young you are.

2) They despise helping out around the house. It almost seems like you're causing them physical pain when you try to ask them to do anything.

3) They like to eat crappy food and they criticize your cooking. They view vegetables as if they were raw sewage (ok, maybe that's just my son. My daughter likes most veggies)

4) You cannot force them to do ANYTHING. Homework, studying, sleeping, eating well....yes, you can encourage but if they really don't want to they will find a way around it and thwart all your efforts.

5) They don't respect anyone else's property. They figure if it's in the house, it's fair game to be taken out and left at friends' houses-- never to return.

6) They think laws that they don't like are "dumb" They have no concept of the risks of things like driving without seatbelts or having 5 friends in the car with you when you're a brand new driver.

7) They lie....alot.

8) They don't crawl up your lap anymore and give you hugs 'just because' (not that you'd want them on your lap, but you know what I mean)

9) They stay in the shower too long and don't hang up their towels. Let's also throw in using too much shower gel and shampoo and never re-filling the dispensers. I don't think they know how to put the toilet roll onto the dispenser, never mind taking the empty one off.

10) Because looking at them reminds you that your sweet, cuddly babies are gone forever:-(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Only 9 Days Left!

I'm not really panicking. I've shopped for the most important gifts, and the tree is up and decorated. We aren't having Christmas dinner at our house this year, so all we have to do is bring potatoes (mashed for my kids, roasted for Jon) I've made the Christmas pudding (my first attempt)
So, why do I feel anxious that there's only 9 days left then? I think it's just mandatory to feel stressed in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. My daughter is having a stressful week too. She's been trying to plan a party bus and dinner for a HUGE group of friends, to celebrate her birthday and her friend's birthday. They are the last 2 in their group to turn 19. Look out-- they're all going to be 'legal' now. Why is she planning her own birthday, you ask? She says if she doesn't do it, something will go wrong and it won't happen. It has taken a lot of work to get money from each of her friends to come up with the deposit for the bus. I just hope they don't let her down after all this trouble she's gone to. They want to have a bunch of kids over here prior to the party bus for hot dogs and least I'm not working this weekend, so I can try to help and supervise a bit.

I've been wondering what happened to my sales in my Etsy shop for the past 10 days, but then I realized today that I've been getting emails from local buyers all week. It's actually been my best week of sales so far, and that's all overflow from the craft fairs I did, people who picked up my business cards or saw one of my items that a friend bought. It's been great! Even got a second order today from someone who received her first items and wanted more (thanks C!)

I'm working on plans to open my second Etsy shop soon. Jon is building me a light box because the first sets of photos he took weren't up to his standards:-) This next shop will be really fun because it involves doing something I really enjoy. Juicybags is fun, but I got a bit burnt out from all the pouch cleaning and sewing. I will keep it going, but on a smaller scale for a while- listing items on Etsy that I have in stock rather than doing custom orders.

I met someone briefly at the 'Best of 604' event last week. She's a local blogger with a very interesting story and I'm enjoying reading it. I especially enjoyed this post. It's a list of 20 memorable moments of her life. I thought it was a great idea, so I tried to write one myself this morning. Maybe because I've got about 15 years on her-- but my list is really LONG already and I'm not done. I keep remembering things and adding them into the middle. One thing I noticed while reading it over...sadly it seems to be the negative things that stick out in my memories the most. I must try to balance it a little before I dare post it. Everyone will think I've had a horrible life and that's definitely not the case!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Custom Order

Just finished this little mini backpack purse yesterday for a customer. It has adjustable shoulder straps, a drawstring top and buckle closure. There is a little denim pocket inside for her phone. The lining is made from soft flannel fabric. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. (even though I had to actually BUY Koolaid to get enough pouches for this:-) My supply of pouches is down at the moment-- not enough Blue Raspberry left.
Today I will finish another order and get that into the mail. Then I really have to get my Christmas shopping done! Yikes-- time is getting short.

I'm also working on something completely different, new and exciting!
Keep checking the blog as I'll be posting all about it soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Down With Big Box!

I have to whinge today (my husband is British- it's means whine and complain and be all cranky about something, it's a good word:-) about the crappy customer service at Big Box Stores. I'm gonna name names too!
The other day my friend told me that Future Shop was having a one-day-only Customer Appreciation Sale: 10% off everything (except Ipods of course, nobody discounts the mighty Apple, perish the thought)
So, I log in and find the cutest PINK Canon Powershot digital camera for my daughter's birthday. On sale already, plus the 10% off, cool.--- ok, I log in and order it. Ohhh....and LOOK- you can set it for pick up at your local store to avoid the shipping charges. Perfect. We have a Future Shop within spitting distance from our house. Oh, Not Perfect. They are out of stock at our store. That's ok, find another store about 25K down the road that has it listed in stock. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great!
Next morning I wake up to an email saying my order has been cancelled due to the camera not being available at that store. It says my credit card has not been charged and I need to start over and order it again.
But wait...that was only a one-day sale! So, I call up the customer service number on the website. Nice, friendly call centre guy says "no problem, just order it again and call us back and we will credit you the 10%' Ok, that's a bit annoying, but it will work.
Back to the website. Ordered it again, this time at a store downtown. We had plans to go to an event near that store 2 days later (last night) so I set it for pick up there. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great! This time, I get a "your order has been filled" email. Yes!! We're all set. It says "you have 3 days to pick this item up at the store" Perfect.
I call the customer service number back. "I'm sorry ma'am, but we can't apply discounts for online purchases. It will be up to the store to decide if they want to give you the discount" He says he will call the store for me and find out. He comes back and says "ok, they agreed to do it if you bring in the appropriate flyer mentioning that sale" I figure the flyer must be in the pile of newspapers I have waiting for recycling, so I agree. (of course, the flyer was no where to be found) I figured I'll just argue for the discount in person.

So, last night we get to the downtown store and line up in the (long) line at the Customer Service counter. I show the printed copy of my "your order has been filled" email, and the worker bee goes off to the little room around the corner to find our camera. We see an empty box for the same camera behind the counter and the other CS guy says 'this is what it looks like' and puts the box on the counter. We discuss how we are going to carry that around all evening (ridiculously large box for a tiny pocket camera) Our CS girl comes back out of the room empty-handed, smiles at us slightly as she walks by and out into the store "I'll be right back" she says. I realize she's going out to the camera dept to try to find one on the shelf and I KNOW she isn't going to find one. The website showed low stock and very few stores with any left.

She's gone for a while. (we are now late for the event we were attending) The other CS guy says "I know we have one of those locked up" and goes off after CS girl. We stand there for many more long minutes. We see CS girl across the store animatedly chatting to another worker bee. Obviously not work related. We imagine "yeah, I'm going out after work tonight, what are you doing? That's sweet dude, where did you get your nose-ring?" Blah blah blah. We shift from foot to foot.
Eventually, she saunters back over to the CS dept (empty-handed as we expected) and lays our paper on the counter. "It seems to be gone" she says flatly. Other customer service guy steps in as I say incredulously "Are you kidding me?" He starts tapping on his keyboard and brings up a list of stock. Negative 2. I say "someone sold my camera to another customer?" CS girl says "you have 3 days to pick it up" I say "this is day TWO--- here we are" CS guy says, "hmmm, it says there is one at Metrotown store, shall I call them?" I rant and rave a bit about "how could they sell an item that was clearly already sold to another customer?", etc etc. Jon says something about how they get commission for sales made in the store (unlike online sales) CS guy makes the call...."are you sure? No, Charles-listen- the PINK one. The one with case included....not on the shelf? not in the back? It says you have one left (we are now seriously late for the event we were heading to)....can't find it? Oh, ok"
He turns to us with a fake, sympathetic look and shrugs. I say "this is the worst customer service I have ever seen" He looks like he wants to shrug again, but restrains himself. He says "the best I can do is sell you a silver one for 10% off" I say "No. I wanted that camera" He mumbles something about throwing in a $25 gift card as well. I think he was scared that I was going to start shouting soon.

We take our USELESS order confirmation paper and walk out.

Today, we're off to our local PHOTOEXPERT to find the perfect camera. You know what? I really don't care if I have to pay more. I KNOW they will give me excellent customer service and will probably teach my daughter how to use it if she goes in after her birthday with it.

DOWN with the BIG BOX. Shop the little guy stores....they actually care!

Bonus-- Just checked their site and they have the SAME CAMERA there. SAME price as evil big box empire....yeay! Today is a happy day.

Update: Got an email from Future Shop online asking me to fill out a survey about my online purchasing and store pick-up experience. I can't say I've had more fun filling out a survey in a very long time. I'm sure I will not hear back from them, but it was a nice way to vent my frustrations!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Christmas Tree Lights Debate

Every year Jon and I debate our preferred lights for the Christmas tree. I like multi-coloured lights and he likes all-white. Up until he came into my life, our tree was always covered in coloured lights. That's the way it was when I was little, so it just seems 'right' to me. He hates it and thinks it looks overdone, and that all white is the way to go- simple and classic.
A couple of years ago, we noticed that our artificial tree was on it's last legs (last trunk?) and so we went shopping for a new one, armed with a 20% off coupon from Linens 'n Things. The perfect tree awaited us....pre-lit (yes!)....with strings of coloured lights AND all-white lights. It even came with a little remote control so you can switch them on and off easily. The best part though- you can choose to have all the lights, just the coloured lights, or just the white lights- at the simple flick of a button.
This is the best tree EVER. No light strings to fight with, although I do ask Jon to get all the strings plugged into each other properly and set up the remote for me every year. (that's his contribution to the decorating:-) I hate dealing with mini light strings, even if they are attached to the tree already!

So, my dear blog readers. The debate continues. What do you think, colours or whites?
(not the best photography I know....and that 80's is dusty rose? Someday my hardwood, leather or cork floor will come:-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Business Cards Work!

I got an email, then a call from a customer who had seen my bags at a craft fair recently. She picked up my card and ended up making a big order!
(Including a big beach tote like this one)

I just re-ordered my business cards today:-)

They really are great to have. When I'm out and someone asks about my wallet or my coin purse, I always have one of my business cards to give them. It's fun to see the hits to the website and where they come from. Really gives you the feeling that your cards are working!

Today will be spent going to my fave thrift shop that sells the $1 blue jeans to get more denim to make bags, then dropping off the above-mentioned customer's order. Then I've got to spend lots of time sewing. It's so hard to know how the craft shows will go in terms of traffic or sales, but I guess if I make lots of things and bring them home again I'll have lots of things to list in my Etsy Shop. I'm not listing any new items this week. No time! Next week-- listing frenzy:-) depending how things sell at the show this weekend.