Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Driveway DONE! A Major Victory for Cheryl and Ethan....

So our small acts of driveway terrorism actually paid off.....Or the cement finally dried and the time had run out....Either way! We can USE the DRIVEWAY! I was the first to drive on it....cough, cough... Yep! I'm sure the message was sent when we cut the caution tape that last time. We were not messing around. So this means I can finally get that cat litter out of the trunk along with all the other heavy items...and I can finally clean the car out....YEAH! In other news, Cheryl and I worked till 4:30 am last night. ( this morning) And Cheryl might be a little cranky...I don't know why....However we did catch up all the weekend felt orders....OH! I forgot to mention that the felt arrived yesterday and was left at the end of the driveway...again! Only this Time it was about a 40 lbs box! Which I had to lug all the way and ended up frazzled and ticked by the time I arrived at the door to our apartment. Good thing Don was not there at THAT time....Well, It's all good now....and tonight I will have to cut a lot of stockings and we can Begin work on yesterdays orders. So far we are only one day behind...but if we stay home tomorrow...I'm sure we can be back on track....We shall see..

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finally ...BUTTONS! And more Driveway Drama.

OK, first the good news: The Long Awaited Buttons have arrived! I feel down right diabolical! Like I could now take over the world! It has been a long trial, but I finally achieved victory! We placed another order for the remaining buttons yesterday, but those are not as urgently needed as these ones were. So...Mission objective achieved! YEAH! Now then the bad news.....The driveway. Seriously it is becoming a problem. The UPS guy will not drive on it with all those "warning" Tape strewn about. so he put my box at the END OF THE DRIVEWAY! It is a good thing it was not raining...or that someone else decided they wanted it! I don't really blame him....I don't like walking that long walk either....especially with a box on my shoulder. It has been 12 days now....they told us 10. I believe we have been more than patient....but we have to carry things to our house from the road. And NOW we can't even rely on deliveries that we desperately need to arrive in the appropriate manner. It's becoming annoying now...and Cheryl and I have begun our campaign of rebellion. ( i.e. Cutting the ribbon in the middle of the night.) It is a small act...but if things continue...I may have to escalate things. MMUHHAHAHHHAAAA! OH! And felt should be arriving today....good thing too because we are rather busy. And we need that as much as the buttons. I plan on cutting them up as soon as they arrive. We have already sold most of the bolts! There is just so much left to do that driveways can not be bugging me. We shall see.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Do I sound a little frazzled? Perhaps. We are selling quite a bit of stockings lately and our supplies are dwindling as we scramble to keep up. IT is all we can do to juggle the supplies, orders and conversations with our customers. WHOOHOO! And to add just a LITTLE more stress ( because that is not enough yet) The DRIVEWAY is still drying! IT has been over 10 days now, and carrying two tubs filled with packages 200 yards to our car on a cold ( COLD) day is not very fun. Not to mention each day we go to Iowa city, we have additional supplies and other things that we have to carry BACK! Ok, I'm focusing on the driveway a little too much because it is just that one extra inconvenience that is really bugging me. As far as was fun. We had turkey, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie. I probably gained 20 pounds! Ok maybe not 20...but I definitely ate too much. Hopefully our eating habits will get back on track as well as our grip on the Christmas rush/ situation. Every sale is a blessing....but as for that driveway.....GRRRR!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When One Room is Not Enough for the Business...

You spill out into the living room, bed room and kitchen! Of coarse! Lately we have had to work in every room but the bathroom! The living room is nice because it has a nice large flat surface. Unfortunately, It is only about 15 inches off the floor! Well, the ironing board is still in use, but at least Cheryl no longer has to sew on it. I use it as a staging area for the names. Don't they look great? Well, Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! We plan on taking it easy for the next couple of days as we are stuck waiting for supplies to come in anyway. Hopefully we won't get too far behind. We shall see...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Putting out the Fires at Allenbrite Studio....

Today was one of those days where you sit back, get out of the kitchen, and grab the Arm and Hammer to put out the grease fires that keep plaguing your cooking. So far it seems we are doing ok on fire control. We had four fires flaming out of control but now are down to two as of this posting...Cheryl is working on the last two. First one was the brakes on the car...Got them fixed this morning. Second was the snowflake buttons. It has been a week since we started the process and hopefully, it has been taken care of. ( fingers crossed) I'm still hoping to purchase more as we are blowing through the few buttons we have left at a breakneck speed! I really will get a better night sleep if they arrive tomorrow. And then there is the felt. Two orders of felt have been delayed because the felt company charged the wrong card at the wrong time. ( FUN!) Cheryl is trying to untangle the mess as I write this. It should be ok, they just have to enter the correct card number for the correct order. I'm not even sure how they messed it up as Cheryl makes sure the numbers match the order when she places one. Well...IN the mean time we continue to sell stockings at our maximum capacity. So that leaves very little time to deal with any problems. Hopefully everything will be straightened out soon and we can navigate the next wave with a clear slate. BUSINESS IS FUN! What a ride, EH?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who Knew Purchasing Buttons could be Such A Challenge?

Three days after being convinced I solved our button supply problem, we are still without buttons and I have to call the company AGAIN. ( This will be 4 times total) I'm not sure why we are having this hiccup, but I'm very close to mailing them a money order or driving down there in person and purchasing them face to face. I'm actually not angry, just frustrated. We are on the downhill side of a snowball and are running with untied shoes! If we take too long to tie them....well, squish! So I have to call again this afternoon and HOPEFULLY everything will turn out.. Now the felt store is giving us a problem as well....go figure. The Price of Business is far higher than the price tag at the market. To all those folks who wonder why prices are so is one of the many reasons. Well...enough of this rant. Time to roll up the sleeves and get those buttons! OH! And we sold 30 stockings today.....Cheryl is beginning to panic a little. I don't want to overwhelm her too much . She is the sewer after all. And I will soon be laid off if I can't cement my position as Chief Button Sewer in the Allenbrite Business. We shall see.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Crazy work with the New Singer Tradition

We put in a late night last night finishing the orders, but are now all caught up. We happened to find the right sewing machine yesterday and returned the more advanced "Esteme" back to Target. Lucky for us, JoAnn Fabrics had the Singer Tradition in stock and we bought that. Buttons have never been as fun! Cheryl had to break it in for me, because new machines always have their quirks when you first get them running. As do just bout everything. Well, I didn't take any pics of the names or the pile of stockings and packages, but the willingness to blog after a late night should be enough for me. The driveway is finished now and just needs to cure up. That Walk in the dark and cold is really going to strain the relationship we have with our neighbor. But we will solder through. Hope everyone is having a happy Friday. OH! And I managed to hit a home run in the department of the buttons! I was able to score at least 40 bags at wholesale prices! I'm very excited! The snowflake buttons are always in short supply. I may even be able to get even more! We shall see next week Monday when We will have a little more money available.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Singer Sewing Machine....and The Continuing Driveway Saga.

Well they started pouring yesterday, and got only about half way done. this morning they were back at it with the remaining half. My guess is that they will be done with the difficult part by tonight. Then there is that 10 day curing process that I can't wait to be over. I had no idea the inconvenience of walking from the road to the apartment would be. It is a LONG walk. and if you have stuff to carry ( and we always do!) It is even more so. Anyway, to help Cheryl along, we finally purchased a new machine. ( and had to carry it the 400 yards next to the driveway!) Only to realize that it was not what we had hoped it would be. I wanted an automatic threader, but this machine can not do buttons. ( not easily anyway) So I turned it over to Cheryl. Cheryl has a dial set for a certain stitch she likes, but this machine is "MORE advanced" Which means she has to set 3 dials and lengths and widths to match her previous dial. AND the machine did not like going through 4 layers of felt. So She wanted her old machine back. Go figure that the new, expensive, advanced, all the bells and whistles machine was not the one for us. We are trading it back for the simpler version, and I will simply have to struggle with threading the needle manually. Not really a big deal since I can sew the buttons on much faster than with that machine. SO....30 more sales today so Cheryl and I will be working another all-nighter in the shop. YEAH! I love sewing on those buttons. I can't explain's just fun and challenging. Hope everyone is having a great day. I wonder how the garbage man is going to pick up our garbage now that our driveway is under construction. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Names, Driveways, and Even MORE sales!

Are we feeling the Christmas rush yet? I guess so. We have had to put several 8 hour days in the shop just to keep up, but we are keeping up. I'm very happy! Take a look at all of the names I got to put on! So far so good with the cards, tags, snowflake buttons, and stocking names. It took me almost an hour just to put on these 25 names! We are getting low on cards so I might have to make a few more. Anyway, Things are looking UP! The Driveway is being paved today and it will force us to walk all the way around from the road for the next 10 -20 days! BUMMER! Because there are no lights between the road and the apartment so it gets VERY dark. I will be happy when it is over. I never really had a problem with the road/driveway to begin with. But the Neighbor closest to the road seemed to think that the dirt driveway interfered with his beautiful yard. Well, We are back at the Mall and Cheryl is smiling at the sales. Here's to another great week of MONEY! Money makes life happy! Hope everyone is having a great Mittwock.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flat tires, Crazy sales, And An Iowa Secret revealed!

The sales were crazy this weekend! But Cheryl and I have caught them up and everything is looking rosy. And then.....We come out in the dark to see that another tire has deflated. This coming on the heels of the misty dawn Subaru dying. It puts a new importance on this year's sales being better than ever! And Adds a car to our wish list. Well, in typical fashion, we got it fixed straight away this morning. But that is not the really fascinating thing. All this time I have thought that the broken leg fashion statement here in Iowa was due to the leg getting caught in a Combine during the harvest. WELL! The truth is revealed yesterday when one of the locals was telling a story about him smashing pumpkins and twisting out his knee as he tried to kick them! So Another Darwin award should be honorably bestowed to these people who kick pumpkins and break their legs! I'm not sure if this is universal here in Iowa, But there are a LOT of leg casts walking around here. More than I have ever seen before anywhere else.


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