Friday, November 15, 2013

Losing Consciousness, Gaining Perspective. A personal post.

It's more than possible, more's probable.
At some point, as any kind of business owner or overachiever-y, go-getter-y sort of person...
at some point you will have a wake up call.
It will come at the most ridiculous time, you will hate the crap out of it. And if you are very, very, lucky it may not kill you.

I realized just this very minute that aside from a blog post I wrote for a paint company, I have been silent here on the blog. This is not an indicator of how many words, stories, and anecdotes that are running on a loop in my brain as that loop is constant.

But since June, the last time I posted here, this little shop of mine has been motoring full speed ahead. I won't bore you with the daily details or constant stress of what it means to run this business the way it is run. 
If you are running a physical shop currently, you already know.
Everyone is counting on you.
Your amazing customers, your fantastic designers, employees, family.
Every email must be answered NOW.
Every custom job must be completed YESTERDAY.
The store must be full, so you must find, and buy, and fix, and create.
You must sell enough to live.
Your shop is your sole financial support.
Events must be planned and executed.
Money must be spent that you don't have to spend because you don't believe in credit cards.
You have to make miracles happen and you have to do it with a smile.

And there are unending rewards to this 24 hour a day work. 
Laughs, friendship, being able to pay basic bills, giving back, living a passion. Even winning an award.

Then suddenly, without warning and like Ralphie as an adult narrates in A Christmas Story:
Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it's zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.

Oh it was not unthinkable really. Or even a disaster.
It was this:
Monday we were on television, winning Best of Western Washington...over the moon.
Friday I was in the emergency room...FML.
I had been having dizzy spells, falling over, dim vision, confusion...and I thought my bum neck was giving me fits, so I went to see a trusted family friend that happens to be a Chiro. He says to call my doctor. My doctor tells me to not bother coming in but to call an ambulance immediately and go straight to the ER.
Now. I know my bad neck is causing my issues. But there is a little bit of worry in my head now. And even more so, I am irritated at the hiccup in my super overly filled day.
 SO instead of calling the ambulance, I called my husband to pick me up where I was...a decidedly cheaper and less ridiculous option. 
Moments later I found myself with an IV in one arm while making lists for the next day's holiday open house on my cell phone with my other hand, going over staffing and organizing the logistics with my mom and my husband who were in the room with me.
What? There's sh*t to do! (This is me not "getting" it)

The tests start and they wheel me in to have my MRI. In the claustrophobic nightmare that is the MRI machine, during the clanking, bonking, and visions of how I was going to do six hours of missed work in the morning...I nodded off. 
First time I rested in over a year.
Then I woke up, was sat up slowly by the large MRI tester dude, and promptly passed right out. Cold.
Then the CT scan. Super short, easy peasy test.
A nurse on either side of me, they sat me up.
The room spun and I passed out. Again.
And then...panic. I cried my eyes out. Not because I was embarrassed, well maybe a little. 
I was not in control.
And that was not ok.
I started to think very bad thoughts.

Regardless, I was sprung from the hospital a few hours later with some pills, some referrals, thankful of course...yet no less worried about the event in the morning and the hours I missed by being a jagaloon stuck in the ER.

 The event was awesome, thanks to the help of my buddy Denniel, who also stopped everything to work while we were all having our little surprise hospital interlude. I owe her a lot. I owe a lot of people a lot. Thank you to Denniel, my Mama, the husband, and everyone that answered my frantic call for help to keep the shop open while we were gone.

I am telling you all of this because gaining perspective could have come at a much higher price, and I am sort of just now "getting" it.
Self care is last on my list, and I am sure I am not the only one of us who can say that.
Your brain never stops but your body makes the determination that stopping is all that can be done.
I have control issues.
Sound familiar?

Creating boundaries between work and self is hard when your work is your whole self. 
My drive comes from wanting to create something that makes people happy, and more so to support my family. More than ANYTHING I want to be able to take care of our folks when they get old. Help the designers and contributors to the shop support their families. That's why I can't stop. That's why I have to control and be IN IT every single second of the day. 
Because it's too important. Too important to lose. But that means I gotta get right.
I want to enjoy every blessed minute of it. But I need to choose those minutes more wisely.
So, I am making myself accountable by writing down some things I know I must work on and will share them with you. Maybe there are things here you may find helpful, or ridiculous.
Either way.

1. Don't stop working hard. But do it during set work hours, whatever you decide those hours are.
2. DO NOT WORK during one full day a week.
3. Create rules for health, and keep them. Mental health included.
4. Exercise. (PS: I NEED A PERSONAL TRAINER. That will work for, um, painted furniture? )
5. Ask others to be respectful of your choices and your time.
6. SAY NO. Sometimes. And kindly.
7. Communicate your needs and trust those who are there to work to do the work.
8. Fulfill your dreams and goals in a way that won't kill you.
9. Create genius things even if you are the only one that loves them for no other reason than the joy you get from seeing them come to life.
10. Never stop thanking God and those you love.
11. Love the living crap out of everyone of all kinds of kinds.
12. Once in a while just blow your own dang mind.
12. And just calm the F down, already.

Thank you for being awesome and reading this. Thank you to the moon for your friendship and support of not only the shop, but all of us in it. Without you, there is absolutely no us. Thank you.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Looking to Consign in a Shop? Read This.

So you have been painting for a while and have decided to take the plunge into consignment.  
This is happening out there quite a bit apparently, as the number one question that I get asked on a daily basis is some form of this:
"How do I consign in your shop?".

There is nothing wrong with asking this, of course, but as we all's not always what you say but how you say it.   
I can't speak for other owners, but here are some tips from the other side of our counter.

The thing to have foremost in your mind is that you are attempting to sell yourself and your product.  Act like it by treating the conversation as such and following some of these guidelines:

1.  Introduce yourself.  Whether via email or in person, introduce yourself!  Who are you?  
2.  What do you do?  Again, whether by email or in person, show your product.  Have your portfolio ready.  Send it if you are emailing your request to consign.
3.  Show interest in the shop you are asking to sell your product out of.  Know something about the place.  Come in a time or two.
4.  Be polite.  ...Duh.
5.  Check your timing.  Ask if this is a good time to discuss your line.  For example, a busy special event is not the best time to approach a harried owner about what she can do for you.  Introduce yourself and express your interest in coming back at a more opportune time.  This goes a LONG way.  Trust me.

Now these five things seem extremely basic but literally these things have happened only a handful of times.  In all of the times I have been asked.  Not surprisingly, those few people are now designers here.  

Every shop is different.  We, for example, don't do typical consignment.  I personally have three main furniture designers aside from myself that contribute to the shop and a rotation of local artists that contribute their wall pieces, jewelry, soap, and other items.  Our lineup of contributing designers are part of the family, and I like to keep it small.  Our shop is small, and we want to invest in a few people that we know well.  It's about the stuff, of course, but even more so about the relationships we have with our family of contributors.  You can have the prettiest stuff in all the land, but if you don't show, don't follow up, and show no interest or support in the business we are thanks!  That may sound harsh, but this is not a one way street.  It's a partnership, and will be no matter where you go.

When you start hitting the shops looking for a place to call home, make sure you are prepared and do your homework.  This is a business, ya'll, and there are a lot of people doing it.  Make sure you talk to others that consign, get a feel for the general environment.  Set your sights on where you want to be and set yourself apart from the crowd by following the five tips.  Build your brand on a foundation of not just great work, but your business prowess and willingness to be a valued member of a shop's family.  

Now, get on out there and wow 'em!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bullies: Turds in the Punch Bowl

Disclaimer:  I use the word TURD in this post.  If the title has already upset you, please do not read on.

You and I both know, it only takes one person to ruin it for everyone else.  I call this unwelcome person "The Turd in the Punch Bowl".  You may call them lots of things, and the word "bully" might be one of them.  

I will spare you the majority of the gory details behind why I'm choosing to share this post, but if you're a painter you might guess.  For those of you who don't know, a paint company is claiming trademark infringement on many small businesses and painters for using certain descriptive words.  Um.  What?  Can you imagine losing your livelihood over something like that?  Those two five-letter words rhyme with "talk" and "saint" and describe the texture or nature of a type of paint with certain additives.  For that, you must PAY.  Apparently.  (UPDATE:  this is not happening to us and God forbid it does, but it is something happening to many folks and we wish it wasn't.)

This is not something I will discuss further publicly.  I'm not saying the words.  I am not even typing the words.  I mean, my husband and I work here.  This is all we have.  There is no other job to help support us.  People are getting their Facebook pages taken away, their blogs, their Etsy stores...their businesses are being taken away from them.  This is actually happening to people.  For the use of those two five-letter words.

I have run into a small-time bully or two since starting this business and even they suck the life right out of you.  You are swimming in the calm cool blue waters of the awesomeness you created, your very soul poured into every minute your eyes are open each day,  and out of nowhere you get kamikaze jellyfish stung by a turdy bully.  It could be someone you trust, a total stranger, or even one of the big names of the decorative painting industry.  It happens in this and in any business. It happens all over the place all the time.  People have insecurities that lead them to a life of turd-dom.  They try to squash others with their clout, money...sure, they CAN do this thing in order to help themselves but SHOULD they?  When it destroys others?  

Let me share a personal story about being bullied.  Gather around.

Way, way, waaay back before Mean Girls was even a glimmer in a director's eye, I was tormented and bullied in high school.  From the middle of Junior year on.  I was not unattractive.  Didn't bother anyone too much.  I was a Diamond Girl for the Seattle Mariners for crying out loud.  That just made me more unlikable to these people.  Like these businesses, my sheer existence was enough to make the bullies mad.  The very idea of me was was apparently so horrible to others that my mom had to use her sister's last name on her checks (remember when people had checks?) for fear people would recognize our last name and find out where I lived.  By the end of my senior year, a school counselor walked me to my afternoon classes.  That's not horrible at ALL.  Thanks to the administration taking these ridiculous steps and my true friends I graduated high school...though I missed more school than I attended.  But I didn't ask for the way I was treated.  These innocent businesses aren't asking for it either.  Was I called names because I was darker skinned, was my hair pulled because I looked a certain way?  I don't know.  I do know that it scarred my whole life for many years and the way I viewed others for a long, long time.  Not to mention the way I viewed myself.  Still do sometimes.

Those early experiences and later experiences with negative turds in the workplace drove me to cultivate a positive business of my own.  I would guess many others have done the same thing for similar reasons.  When I opened the shop I thought, "I refuse to let anything that is not positive enter this space".  Easier said than done but we try.

My heart hurts that people may lose their livelihoods for using two five-letter words.  The decision to do this comes from the top, and puts the retailers of the product who are also small business owners in a weird space.  They do not get to decide these things and should not suffer the repercussions.  This decision comes from a place of ugliness.  Not business.  And it needs to halt.

If bullying of this or any kind is happening to you:  most importantly, you must know that you are worth far more than silence.  ALSO REMEMBER THIS:   before you ask these people if they ate bowls full of paint chips as children, or before you become the hysterical lunatic harpy no one wants to be around, use your adult words. And honestly, I am guilty of not always using my adult words.  Like, really guilty. Example: the excessive use of the word "turd".

There are so many wonderful people in this business and in this life and in this world.  I have reached out to so many...asked them questions, answered theirs.  Do the same.  Don't let one bully ruin you, tarnish your view, stunt your life.  Reach out to the others.  I did and I owe so many so very many thanks.  I am consistently surprised at the goodness and kindness of others, and just as surprised when people are not who they say they are. I could and should be more adept at reading people but I'm not. I believe people are good.  And I won't let my "I was a bullied kid" past change that.  Don't change your positive ways either...just don't say the word TURD, it's disgusting.  Or two five-letter words that rhyme with "talk" and "saint".

If you are being bullied, no matter your age or circumstances, please know this: It is not your fault. Reach out for help.  You'd be surprised who has been there and is willing to lend a hand. 

Keep being awesome and stay out of the punch bowl, k?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Paint Dating and Finding THE ONE

Over the last year I have made it a point to date every paint.  Experienced and experimented with every brand on the market.  Was a total paint ho.  I even dated brands that weren't on the market yet.  All in the interest of using and perhaps even selling the very best I could find.  Marrying a line, so to speak.
I dated so many hardware store brands, fancypants brands, totally unheard of brands.  I tried them all.  I dated their waxes, their topcoats, their glazes.
There were a few that I liked and dated off and on, more that I settled on, and many more that were a one-time thing.
I mean, Persnickety's is our name and when it comes to products...well, the name fits.
Persnickety's paint test checklist:
Must cover evenly and quickly with no more than 2 coats (3 for whites, yellows, and reds).
Must be true, vivid color in a rad palette.
Little to no prep required.
Must be hearty and very scratch resistant.
Beautiful luminescent finish, no latex gumminess allowed.
Wax must spread easily and be easily buffed.
There are more requirements but I won't bore you with those.
I went from shop to shop and read everything there was to read and invested time into each paint's ingredients and MSDS (material safety data sheets).

So while I found lines that worked well in some ways, they didn't work well for me in other ways.
The pie in the sky dream was to find THE ONE.  The marrying kind.
One that had all the aspects of other lines that I liked but ALSO was all natural, with no VOC's (volatile organic compounds), no cancer causing agents, no toxins, and was no stank.
The stank of the waxes, man.  
Like Stetson, Drakkar Noir, and gasoline mixed together.
I needed something I could paint and wax with during store hours and in client homes.  Before you ask if I've tried this brand or that brand of this paint or that wax the answer is yes.  Yes, I have, and didn't like it.

And then...and only then, through absolute happenstance and an introduction from a mutual happened.
True.  Love.

I tried it.  It coated an unprepped antique piece in a vintage white (Home Plate is the color name) in one coat with a little touch up.  Unheard of, I thought to myself.  Ok.  So I started waxing and held my breath out of pure habit.  Then I breathed in.  Stuck it up my nose.  Made out with it a little.  Just kidding.  Kinda.
The wax.  Has. No stank.  Beautifulness.
Mom kept pointing at things in the shop.
Wax this, she said.  Now wax that.
I did.  It was amazing.  Even Mom (who is admittedly not easy to impress and believe me I know this is a proven fact) was amazed.
I did the fingernail scratch test.  The paint does not scratch off prior to wax, is even more hearty post wax.
It's all natural.  Waxes included.
Somebody get me a settee and some smelling salts because I am SWOONING.

I'd have been happy to buy this from a local seller, but no one close was selling it yet.
Um.  Do we take the plunge?  Go all the way?
We talked about it, prayed about it.  
Quickly, because I like it fast.  Ahem.
The baseball obsessed husband looked at the color palette and in his ever awesomeness said, "They have a color called Home Plate and one called Home Turf.  It's meant to be".
Well, there ya have it.
Persnickety's is bringing in this line of amazingness!!!!

The color palette is amazeballs rad.  It's made of chalk, clay, and minerals.  Non toxic and all that jazz.  
AND there is a true black.  
Waxes in clear, light, and dark.
A water resistant top coat for even more protection (tabletops, ya'll!).
Gilding agents and cleaning agents to come soon.
We'll be carrying the entire line and it is coming REALLY SOON.
Like, a week'ish.
Quarts are 34.00
Sample pots are 8.00
Wax and Topcoat Prices TBA
We will also be carrying wax brushes Prices TBA
The line will also be available in our online shop as soon as we get it in!
If you think, ooh that's kinda expensive, check this out:

I painted this dresser with one and a half sample pots.  And not one moment of prep.
Time saver.  Paint saver.  No stank....oops, fan me...I'm swooning again.

I'm in love and that does not happen easily.  I'm persnickety, don't ya know?  Ask my actual husband.

Stay tuned on our Facebook page for updates on the line, you'll know the minute it arrives!!!

Got questions?  Shoot 'em my way!

PS:  My love is my own as are my opinions on other paints.  There's a paint out there for everyone and everything.  True artists are not one trick ponies.  I will always utilize the paint called for by each individual piece and every specific job.  American Paint Company is the line I choose to offer after 365 days of dating dozens of potential suitors.  This is a huge decision and not one taken lightly.  I cannot wait for you to try it and see for yourself! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Luka and Lara.

There are eleventy-hundred things to price in the shop, and eleventy-hundred more things to do but while  loading pieces and helping lovely folks, my mind and heart are stuck.  I gotta write it out.

Here's the long and short of it.  I have a friend named Lara.  We met while volunteering for the same dog rescue a few years ago.  She is the most passionate, true to her word, down and dirty, heart of gold, snarky, opinionated, driven, selfless, smart and kind person I have ever met.  The hardest working twenty-something I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  She works and lives dog rescue 24 hours a day.  Everyday.  It's just who she is.  Through and through.  

Ok, so Lara has four dogs.  Two are rescues she adopted.  These guys:  
They are darling, no?
Well, Lara has these two other dogs that she is the full time mama for.  
She rescued these guys.  Because of her, they are happy and loved.
Meet Churchill on the right, and Luka on the left.
They are also adorable, no?
They are also dying.

His heart is too big and he will not live a long time.  So he has a bucket list.  Here he is with Lara, enjoying #11:  Eating at a restaurant.  
Fortunately, Church has no known pain or symptoms from his illness, he just has to be pretty lazy and thankfully, that's no prob for him.
Unbearably and unfairly his life will be cut short.  But Lara and Co are making sure he has the best time during his time and many people have joined in to help.

Luka is a bit different.

And I mean on top of sleeping on Lara's head nightly...
At his vet appointment today, Luka was diagnosed with stage 4 renal disease.  He is only 17 months old.  The best times in his life have been spent with Lara, the times he has felt the love and devotion that every dog deserves.  And now she must lose him too.  
He also feels sick sometimes, is not well without help, and she must watch this.
This is so bad and makes me cry constantly.
He may have less time than Church.  He needs much support and on the double to extend his life by a year, two, or three.  He needs proper nutrition, and his fluids are 60.00 per day alone.  This is the post I read on Luka's page today:
My fluids alone at $60 a day will be around $1800 a month, not including my special diet, medication, and continual blood work (every 2 months.)
My people are very very sad today, but I'm just happily laying on my bed chewing on a bone - giving kisses to anyone who comes in the office.
As my health declines my medical bills will increase, and my friends could really use some help taking care of me.
Even if you can't donate please share my story, every dollar helps!!

This is what I saw on Lara's facebook today:
Breakin my heart, kiddo.

I can't stand it.  My heart is broken for Lara and Luka.
Can we do something please?
For them??
Here is a list of things you can do in 3 minutes or less:
Like Luka on Facebook:  click here.
Share Luka on Facebook.
Share this blog post.
If you can, please donate.
Donate any amount of money...1 dollar, 5 Luka's care.

Luka has never met a dog he didn't love.
How many of us can say that about our fellow people?
Will saving Luka or helping him live the life he deserves change a crazy, messed-up world?
But it will change his world.
And you will feel good about this.
And you will be happier for doing this good thing.
And you will inspire someone else to do a good thing.
You will help a rescuer have hope so she can continue to change the world for all of us that are weak and cry at their desk while writing a blog post.

Lara has no idea I am writing this.

This is because I love her and who she is and what she does.  
I get positive reinforcement all day long from the sweetest people in the world:  you guys.
I want all of that to go to Lara.  
She is a hero.  I just paint and sell stuff and write silliness on Facebook.

Be a hero for Luka and Lara today.  Please?
Luka and his buddies will thank you:

Me too.


August 16, 2014

Lara's Luka made the trip to heaven in the early morning hours of
August 15th, 2014.

Peacefully and surrounded by his mama and aunties who loved him so.

I was so lucky to get to meet this boy who stole my heart this last 
I cried all the way home, thinking his time was near.

7 more months he rallied. His kidneys failed him but he had the heart of a champion. 

Thank you for the generous donations and love you sent when
Luka needed them.
Please send your good thoughts, condolences, and strength to 
Lara and 
The Churchill Foundation family as they continue their amazing work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The New Kid and Retail Realities

Not unlike pre-Miyagi Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid, I'm the new kid on the block and feeling it.
Those of you who moved a lot in your adolescent school years know what I mean...You may have been the most popular kid at your old school but you may as well just hope for the apocalypse the first few days/weeks at your new school, as it's quite possibly a more acceptable option in that moment than the feeling of being "new".

I don't just embrace change I actively seek it, so the pre-Miyagi phase of moving the shop to a new town has swept the leg, Johnny.  Crept up on me like an unwelcome Karate Kid reference.  Since the hubbub of a successful warehouse sale, the truly amazing Hope Helpers event, the move, the setup of the new shop, and an overwhelmingly awesome grand opening has ended, now I am left feeling...less than regular.  It's slow.  AND it's new.  SO.  It must be that it's slow because it's new, right?  That equates to feeling unsure and uneasy.  Add that with a lot of painting to do and a slow week of sales and here I am sniffing my armpits and asking, "Does this smell like desperation to you?"

This is when I get "super sensey-poo", as my husband calls it.  I can't control the volume of my voice when I say hello, I think everyone hates my stuff.  You see, as a retailer trying to grow and support a family...when I'm not balls to the wall busy, I start to think a lunatic's thoughts.  You suck, no one loves you, why are you so repulsive to others, here's what you could or should be doing differently, your ideas are dumb, you're weird, all of your clothes are ugly, you're a hack.  Not thoughts:  it's the week prior to taxes being due.  The weather sucks.  Others are slow this week.  It's RETAIL, stupid! know this!

And I do.  I have been here before.  Let us travel back in time to Memorial Day weekend 2012. The shop had been open for a couple of weeks and I had planned a big 3 day extravaganza for the holiday, starting on Friday afternoon with Happy Hour.  Mom and Denniel were there, we had the wine out, the food out, the store all cute...and know how many people showed?  Think less than one. Zero.  I cried.  It was a sense of disappointment and embarrassment I had not experienced since I was a little kid.  And by little kid, I mean high school (high school was awful).  I cried at the shop, I cried in the car on the way home, at home, and I cried on the way in to work on Saturday.  On Saturday, not one person walked in the door. 
So I closed the shop and kept it closed for a few days.  Surely no one would miss the rest of my Memorial Day spectacular.  They didn't.
The next week?  We had a wonderful new customer come all the way from Marysville, she bought out the place and became not only our savior, but a very good friend.  The next week?  I sold my first big painted piece. Met two designers that became integral parts of our shop, painted out and got a ton of gorgeous inventory in, we were featured in a blog, the shop started to look like something.  Looking back on it now...that's when lots of good things started happening.

The point is, retail is a fickle broad.  She will start out with a slammed door in your face.  And then smother you with kisses to make it all better right before she kicks you in the chest.  It's a roller coaster ride.  And it takes time.  It really does, even when your bills are like, "yeah, you're kinda outta time".  Or your family is like, " is THIS gonna go"...just keep on going.  I know all of these things.  But being in this new and totally better location still gives me pause.  I catch myself wondering if I would be busier IN MY OLD LOCATION BETWEEN A POT DISPENSARY AND A GHETTO HAIR SALON.  Lunatic thoughts.  See?  Told you.

So though I would rather it just be easy, I know it was hard and it still is.  The friends, the godsends, they make it worth it.  The "I brought you wine and a custom order" sweethearts that own your building that you love like family already, the "I left my shop and came down to your shop because I know you needed a laugh today" love of a friend, the sweet words and encouragement of others, the texts, the husband dropping off the Antiques sign I've wanted for months (that my auntie bought for the shop), there's so much that is good.  It doesn't pay the bills during the slow times, but it makes you feel rich.

So maybe this weekend will be another Memorial Day 2012 massacre.  Can't help it.  It's retail.  It's a slow week.  I'll survive somehow.  I don't suck, I'm weird in a good way, and ya know what?   Sunday I am taking the whole day off.  Hopefully not to cry all day, but hey, we'll see what the fickle broad brings us tomorrow!

I sure do love this place, and you guys.  You're all Miyagi's in my book.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stuck Like Bruce

This is Bruce.

Yes, we have a dog named Bruce.  He came to us by accident from Taiwan.
Three years ago, a few months after adopting a Taiwan street dog puppy into our home, I went to the airport to pick up a foster dog named Bruce that didn't have a place to go.   His name alone made me yearn to bring him home, and the reluctant husband reluctantly agreed I could do so.
There were about 10 dogs that made the flight to be adopted and 9 of them were sweet and cute.  The last one was covered in scars, foaming at the mouth, chomping like he was working a piece of bubble gum, and growling at everyone that came near.  The tag on his crate said "Bruce".  
The thought in my head was "oh, shit".

I waited til all the other dogs had been released from their assigned kennels and approached Bruce, cutting off the rope tied around the kennel.  He didn't growl.  Good deal!  Ok, the real test is opening the kennel door,  because that means I have to put the leash on before he tries to bite me or bolts through Sea Tac.
I opened the door while sitting astride it, and without eye contact, clipped his leash to his collar.
Then he walked out and looked up at me.
He hadn't peed in his kennel which means he needed desperately to have a potty, so I started to walk.  Bruce, though, was stuck.  He stood there, paralyzed.  I petted him lightly and talked to him a bit.  Nothing.  Pulled a tiny bit.  Nope.  Then I had an idea.  I told him, "Let's go for it, buddy".  And I booked it toward the door, running as fast as my chunk would allow.  
It worked!  He ran right beside me.  Unstuck.
Right through the scary slippery floored airport, through the horrifying automatic doors, out into the cold night air with bellowing buses all around us.  A long pee later, we walked back into the airport together and went home.  As it turned out, Bruce was a foster fail...which is dog rescue speak for "we kept his crazy ass".  That's a longer story.
Bruce had distemper as a puppy, and somehow lived through it even though he was likely abandoned when he became ill.  The residual symptom of the distemper is the gum chomping jaw tic, which is constant.  How he lived through distemper, I haven't the first clue.  How he lived for years through the likely hell that was his survival on the very mean streets of Taiwan, I also haven't a clue.  Though the scars (and missing part of his ear) tell some of his story, we all know appearances are easily misjudged.
We kept him.
Even though as we left the airport he took the poop of a lifetime in the passenger seat of my car as I was paying for parking.
Even though three years since that day he still gets stuck sometimes, when he feels scared or something is new.  He is our weird wacky awesome Brucey boy.  He still foams at the mouth at times.  He sheds fur like it's his one and only sole purpose in life.  He, in the last six months, has really begun to play and enjoy toys.
When he bursts into the room and throws a disembowled stuffed animal in the air it's a joy to see.
He likes the beach...
even when his face gets muddy.

Bruce has a little brother

 and a BIG older sister

and parents that love his imperfectly perfect self.  

We all gladly accept his quirks, even when he does things like this:

And it was possible because he bravely took that first step, that forward motion toward his new life.  
And he trusted me.

I spent today feeling stuck like Bruce was three years ago, because the slippery airport floor leading to the new shop's opening has so many obstacles and work, and craziness, and, and, and.  So much to do, more than I could ever fully describe, so many more worries than I could ever admit to, all keeping me right outside the kennel door and afraid to make the run toward my own new life.  Making me stuck like Bruce, because it's all kinds of scary on the way there.  Now I have a long way to go in a short amount of time.  And I have to trust me, too.  
So.  Writing is my outlet, I feel better now.  And my weird dog is my hero.

At this very moment Bruce is on the recliner with me, staring at me and chomping away...waiting for me to be done with this.  Well, buddy.  Let's go for it.

The last day we will be open at our Pacific location is Friday March 22nd, and then you can find us at Hope Helpers on March 24th, and in our new Sumner digs on Thursday, April 4th.
See you!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Seeing Beyond The Dot

There's so much going on with the shop move and all of the meetings, emails, planning, and oh yeah, painting, that I am feeling a bit like a spaz.  Going with the flow is crucial as is compartmentalizing and scheduling priorities, but to be completely honest here...I've been feeling a little like this:

In times like these I revert to my nighttime vigil.  I'm a reader.  Instead of downloading a good book on the Kindle, I instead lay there in the dark and research everything til a million o'clock in the morning.  
Lately it's Google Fest 2013.  I will Google anything and everything, reading blogs of others in this business, products, self-help tips, whatever my all-over-the-place brain wants to see.  Like, it's sick.  
When Google is your life coach you may need to re-evaluate some things, right?  Don't judge (wink).  
My vigil usually ends around 3am or so, once I am full to the brim and feel like I learned something new or saw something from a different perspective.
I've needed some perspective lately as we are building toward the crescendo of moving both our residence and the shop in the same month.
But, when opportunity knocks you don't squawk about the timing.
  You answer the door and greet the challenge.
And now that the time is coming and it's inner voice is being kind of a jerk.
Doubt is creeping in.
Am I good enough?  Can we do this?  Will we be ready?  What will happen?  Will everything be awesome?  Will it look like amateur hour?  Will we make friends?  Am I worthy?  Am I making a mistake?  How will it be?  
And let us not forget:
People are counting on you, so don't screw this up.
*I know that there are many people that think those are thoughts best kept to myself.  But I'm a regular person with fears and doubts.  I'm not going to hide behind the "I'm a fearless business owner" thing.  Or some asinine idea that I'm perfect, always have the answers and am without flaws. That's not me. I identify with real.  I identify with others that know themselves and are true to that.  I'd much rather be imperfect than boring, after all.*
 Back to my nightly Google vigil.  I found something (that I'm sure a jillion people other than myself are familiar with) that resonated.
I'm paraphrasing it, but basically the idea is this:
A professor stands at a chalkboard in front of a class and wordlessly makes a dot on the chalkboard.
He then asks the class what they see.
In unison, everyone says, "A dot!".
He asks if everyone agrees.  And they do.  Because it's a dot, right?
He then asks if they see the classroom, the chalkboard, the person in front of them, the ceiling, the floor....
Simple.  But blew my mind.
I have to see the big picture, not what my jerky inner voice tells me, not what is put right in front of my face, not the distractions, not the doubts, not what someone else wants me to see.  The whole picture.  
Pretty simple, right?
Seeing beyond the dot.
I can get with that.
Here's part of the big picture:
The new shop will be located at 1117 Main Street in the amazingness that is Downtown Sumner, Washington.
Opening weekend is the first weekend in april.
Our hours will be Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12-4
Typing that just made me smile.  
The picture is getting clearer and I can't wait to see all of you in it!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Oregon Coast Pickin' and Regrouping

Things have been pretty awesomely wild and crazy the last few weeks here at the shop.  
I signed the lease at our dream location on Main Street in Sumner (grand opening April 5th-7th!), which is the thrill of a lifetime and I'm so excited to get there!  Lots to do and plan.  The warehouse clearance sale we had was an unexpectedly fantastic success, and we've had quite a few painting classes as well.  At the same time, we're packed to the hilt with more custom orders than we've ever had at one time, and on top of trying to stay on top of those and restocking the shop...things are, um, BUSY.

We'll be at the Hope Helpers Spring Soiree Benefit Bazaar on March 24th in full traveling show form, and will reopen at our new location about 10 days later.

I'm over the moon about all of those things and more.
This is not to say I get much sleep or can shut my brain off for even one second...cuz I can't.
There's too much to DO!

So when a wonderful customer presented the opportunity for a stay in her Seaside, Oregon cottage at the exact time I actually had two days off...I grabbed Ma, the customer's hutch, and we were outta here.  Mom and I took off last Monday and had a lovely, rain-free drive down I-5 and hit HWY 30 toward the beach.  A little more than 3 hours after we left, we were there!
I've been to the Oregon Coast in the winter, but never on a weekday.  Seaside is pretty much a ghost town on a Monday in February, and let me tell you what...that's reason enough to go!  It's peaceful and feels much more quaint than on a weekend.
After a recommendation from a trusted source we hit McKeown's for lunch.  This place is a gem, individually owned and beautifully appointed.  Antique buffet as a hostess station?  We felt right at home and had the place pretty much to ourselves for our late lunch.  A really nice bowl of chowder and a chopped Caesar was nicely priced and delicious.  They serve breakfast late and have a well stocked bar and Irish pub.  Lunch for two was right around 20 bucks.  Yay!
Go to here!
photo: tripadvisor
Fed, we were itchin' to get pickin'.  Who knew there were thrift stores in Seaside?  Not us!  This little thrift  was just down the street from McKeown's and situated right on the Necanicum River in a cute plaza.
We didn't happen upon any treasures on our visit, per se, but we did grab a few littles to support their great cause.  All proceeds from the shop help the welfare of area dogs and cats, they provide discount spay and neuter certificates and the like.  The shop survives fully on donations, and the shop is staffed by volunteers.  It's a REAL cool idea and I wish we had something like this here in Seattle/Tacoma.
I also made sure to snap this pic of Ma down by the river (to make her crazy):
We walked toward the beach and stopped into the few shops that were open.  One of which is an adorable place that will remain's amazingly gorgeous and completely filled to the brim with cute.  It's quite expensive and every single thing was made in China.  That bummed us out.  No thanks!
On we went to the famous Seaside turnaround to see the pretty ocean and clear our heads.

 Okay, ocean.  We have work to do.  So we hit the next place on the list.  This fantastically funky little find:
I'm a sucker for a good Willy Wonka font so I knew I would love this place.  And I did.  Mostly it's totally a military/junk store, but there were some seriously cool finds here and all superbly priced.  We took home an old wood waterski, an ornate footed display, some wall pieces, and other little treasures.  The regulars keep the owner pretty busy but she was lovely and super helpful.  They definitely have a ton of militaria, which isn't our thing but pretty cool nonetheless.  Check this place out if you're down for some quirky weirdness (I always consider that a compliment).  It's located right on the main highway near the Outlet Mall.
And yes, we hit the mall...but the only store we actually went into was Eddie Bauer.  Goodies for our husbands were found and great sales meant we took home 4 zip-up pullovers and a couple of thermal shirts for about 50 bucks.  Yay!
Guilt free and happy as clams, we sped out of the lot and down to the beach to catch this sunset:
  Ahhhh.  That's the stuff!

We found out pretty quickly that there aren't a whole lot of places open for dinner on a Monday in the winter in Seaside.  So we hit the main strip and had a nice dinner at Twisted Fish Steakhouse.  It was so wonderful  for us to just sit and reflect on the triumphs and heal some of the tragedies of the past year.  Mom and I work together a lot...but we don't always talk about the stuff that matters, or all our family has been through in the last 13 months.  There's always something to do, after all.  We did some really good open heart-talking during that long dinner and it was awesome.  The food was super.  But the company was the BEST.  This place isn't cheap, but it was worth the price of admission for sure.

Fast forward through a great night of girl time and a great sleep at the comfy beach cottage.  We awoke to SUNSHINE!  And we headed South.  First stop:  Manzanita.  It's our favorite little town on the Oregon Coast, and is about 20 miles or so from Seaside.  The beach there is amazing and so gorgeous.  But first!  Breakfast:
The Big Wave Cafe makes we wish I had more hands, so I could give it more than two thumbs up.  All the way up.  It's, like, amazing.  Their bacon is magical.  I don't know what they do to it, but it's so woah.  Check it out...I had stuffed French toast.  It was the best thing I've ever eaten for breakfast.
There's no bacon in the picture because I ate it in about a nanosecond.  It was too good.
If you go to this place (and you should), no matter what you get...get bacon on the side.  Trust us.

Ok, in a nutshell the rest of the day went pretty much like this:
Manzanita beach

One of the best parts of being at the beach?
Looking like a couple of hooded hobos and not giving a rip!

Back in the car and further South on 101 you'll find this gem:
Again, a few littles purchased here for the good of it.  Found a metric ton of embroidery hoops that will be a part of our new shop's first window display and got them for a song.  A completely true not-for-profit that has raised over a million dollars for local charity since they opened their doors, the finds are good but the people that volunteer their time here are even better, so stop on by!

Next stop, Nehalem.  Now, I had heard there were "lots" of antique shops there but there is only one that remains...the rest are full of China-made junk.  Pete's Antiques in Nehalem is a treasure trove.  And Pete is a national treasure.  Please go buy some things from him, we did!  It's a mess in there, to be certain, but in the best way.  We found Pete reading an old National Geographic and he gave us some lovely deals.  Wish we would have brought a rig big enough to haul some of his goods off...some exquisite pieces mixed in there.
Then.  And only then.  We hit Wheeler.

When you pull into town it looks like a half dozen antique shops in a row.  Exciting!
Come to find out it is TWO GIANT STORES. EEEK!
Great finds at Old Wheeler Antiques.
But OMG, you guys.
This place is THE place:
I started to panic a little...because once you get in you get so turned around you cannot get your bearings.
I was junk drunk, panicked, and considered just laying down on the ground to calm myself.  I lost Mom sometime in the first half hour, and just kept finding little rooms and nooks and crannies.  Now, there's some over-priceyness on a few things (mostly items up front) but really, you can find SO many deals.  We bought a lot here, and I would have bought so much more if we had a trailer.
PS:  Please buy me a trailer.

Exhausted and dehydrated, we emerged two hours later with our purchases, and headed back to Seaside for dinner at Norma's, as Mom required much seafood after our exhausting day.  Not one to argue seafood needs, I was right there on the same page with her.  We kinda went crazy and it was a crab crackin' mess.  And it was sooooo good.
Local stuff, nice folks, great food and great service, reasonably priced for seafood too!

We stopped at a few random spots on the way home the next day...nothing of note.
Not until Astoria.
We had a flipping awesome lunch at Fort George Brewery and Public House.  Have the chips and homemade salsa to start and the chicken bleu cheese sandwich.  It's to die for.
Walk down the street and go here:
photo: vintage hardware fb page

There are really no words for the feeling of falling in love.
But I fell in love real, real hard with Vintage Hardware.
Oh my dear lord.  It's 12,000 square feet of an old hotel, full of salvage, hardware, and great old stuff.  There's painted furniture and retail stuff too...but dear sweet Jeebs...the stuff in the back is the sweet spot.
When I grow up I want to be that place.  Until then, I want to shop in it, live it, breathe its lead painted dust, and roll around in the rust.
You will super not be disappointed.  If you are?  Get your eyes checked!
I really needed that trailer.

What a way to end our little trip.  This little break was a much needed regroup and reconnect.  I needed that,  even more than a trailer.  I needed that fun time with Mom where I'm the daughter and she's the momma, and we laugh all the time and give each other crap.  That was the real treasure that we found.  Face time.
Thanks to our wonderfully generous customer, Heidi, we found that time to just breathe and steep in the goodness.  Now we can get through the next big crazy couple of months.

Thank you, Heidi!  Thank you, Mom!  Thank you beach!
Thank you all!

(Look at that cute Mom.  Is she not the cutest?)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's in a Year

A year ago today I was preparing for breast surgery.  I thought it was a really big deal and I was scared.  It wasn't cancer, but losing a boob chunk is never a party.
A year ago tomorrow you could have taken both of 'em and all of my limbs along with and I wouldn't have cared.  Because a year ago tomorrow was the day my grandmother died.
As I write that sentence all I can think of is finding any adjective, any word in the dictionary to accurately describe her and who she was to our family.  To me.  Or the loss we felt and still feel.
The day after she passed, I had the surgery.  The day after that, I got on a plane to be with my family.  The day after that, my father in law had a heart attack (which he has recovered from beautifully).
It was a really, REALLY bad week.
And it was a year ago.
Time is a funny thing...everything that's a big deal feels like forever ago and yesterday.  Isn't that weird?
My grandfather passed a few months later, and there are no words for that either.
Every day I struggle with the fact that I should have been a better granddaughter, that I should have let them know how much they mean to me.
I think of their sacrifices for our family, of their generosity, their humor, their love.  They watch over the shop now, you'll see their picture on a shelf above the front counter.
They built this shop of ours.  Not with their hands, but with the lesson their loss taught me.  Life isn't long enough, so live.
So everything I knew, I left behind to build this place with my family.
And every single day is hard, because that's the life of a hand to mouth small business owner.  And every single day is amazing, because that's the life of a small business owner that is lucky enough to know the people we do.  The amazing people we have met and have the pleasure of meeting.  People like you, and you, and you.
Thanks to my families and each and every one of you, this dream is alive.  This little shop in the middle of not much is still here and growing.  From my soul I thank you.
I could write a book of a thousand pages of what has transpired this year.  So many losses.  So much stress. Oh lord, a lot of work.  A lot of mistakes, a lot of victories, a lot of sleepless nights.  A lot of gratitude.
The support, friendships, kind words, and smiles are a blessing to me.  Every time, without fail.  You are the first warm day after a deep freeze.  Water in the desert.
So much has happened in 365 days.  That's what's in a year.  It started with loss, but look at what we've gained.
I am so grateful.