Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Visit Our New Blog!

Our blog has found a new home and it's address is http://blog.thecordialcricket.com
Please visit and take a look around soon. Add it to your list of favorite website or your blog reader and share it with your friends.

You may always return here to view our archived blog posts and articles.

Thanks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Holiday Open House Sneak Preview

We hope that you can join us tomorrow, Saturday, October 23rd from 10-6 for our annual Holiday Open House. We will unveil all of our new holiday merchandise and cards, and will accept donations for the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother Program. Your donation for this worthy cause will get you 20% off your entire purchase at our event! What could be better than helping provide Christmas for those in need while getting a jump start on your holiday shopping! The list below are some of the items specifically requested by the families who will benefit from the Christmas Mother program this year:

Baby Doll
Football, Basketball or Soccer Ball
Bike Helmets
Mens & Womens Socks
Adult Size Gloves
Umbrella
Queen Size Blanket
Men's & Women's Pajamas (All Sizes)
Men's & Women's Slippers
Canned or Non-Perishable Food
New Children's Books & Toys
Board Games
CD Players
Hand/Body Lotion
Art Set

Watch our video clip below for a sneak preview of just some of the goodies you'll find at our Holiday Open House tomorrow. We look forward to seeing you there!

video

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Blog Interview: Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home

We are pleased to introduce Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home as our guest blog feature today. Chris began entertaining and planning parties 14 years ago and fell in love with the idea of making it a career. She later launched her blog and website, Celebrations at Home, and hopes to inspire others with her creative and unique party styles and designs. Her specialty is designing beautiful showers, birthdays, and other celebrations, with unique style and unforgettable details. Her newest endeavor is Petite Celebrations, an upscale children's birthday party package with predesigned themes, decor, and activities for small intimate parties. Now, here's a little more about Chris...

The Cordial Cricket: What is the most creative/unique party theme you have ever worked on?

Chris: That's tough! Because, as a party designer, you try to make every party as creative and unique as possible. However, I am working on a "Moroccan-style baby shower, with a monkey infusion" right now, which is interesting.

TCC: If you could plan any type of party, what type/theme would you choose?

C: I am really loving the vintage vibe right now. It's such a trend in weddings. I would love to create a bridal shower with the theme "The Key to My Heart" based on vintage keys and details, or "We're Making Beautiful Music Together" with the use of vintage instruments and sheet music.

TCC: What is your number one tip for hostesses to ease the stress of party planning and entertaining?

C: Hire me, of course! Seriously, organizing lists and planning ahead is the key to success. Aside from that, do what you can and hire out the rest.

TCC: What is your most budget friendly decor idea to make your party stunning on a tight budget?

C: Invest in basic pieces, from white dishes, to pillar candle sticks, to bud vases. You can get white stoneware plates from The Dollar Store and use them for outdoor cookouts, or Christmas dinner! Pillar candle sticks can hold candles, of course, but they can also act as risers for serving platters. Add a couple of glue dots to hold the plate secure and you have instant height and interest to your buffet. Finally, a collection of bud vases is a great budget-wise investment (about $1 per vase). Never underestimate the power of flowers to add elegance and a 'complete' look to an event. Bud vases are small so you only need 1 or 2 stems in each one (as opposed to a full floral arrangement that can be quite costly). But, when you line several of them down the center of the table, it looks like a million bucks!

TCC: What do you think is the most important aspect of a party or event (i.e. the food, the decor, the entertainment, etc.)?

C: The MOST important component of an event is the people! Other than milestone events, like weddings or birthdays, where you will invite people from many corners of your life, smaller events such as dinner parties, luncheons, or cocktail parties can be made or broken by the guest list. These are usually intimate affairs where conversation really needs to flow. Be mindful of the people you bring together, and make sure you have "talkers" as well as "listeners" to create a balance. If things go silent, it's nice to have one of those Conversation Party Boxes to help get things rolling again.

TCC: Tell us something about you that we would find surprising!

C: I'm pretty quiet until you get to know me. I'm not very good at small talk or telling stories, but I've always got a funny one-liner to throw into a conversation!

TCC: What are some of your favorite party and event planning design inspirations (blogs, sites, magazines, people, etc.)?

C: I am extremely influenced by colors and textiles, as well as home decorating items. I think it goes back to my fashion background, and love for interior design. I love to incorporate home decor items or decorative vignettes into a party space. I also love to keep up with wedding trends. My favorite designers to follow are those that incorporate their clients' personality, while adding in unexpected touches. Jesi Haack, the ladies at Lollipop Events & Design, and Gloria Wong are wonderfully creative. As far as party bloggers, not only am I inspired, but truly amazed at some of the creations they come up with! Some very clever designing women are Jenn of HWTM, Amy of Stem Parties, and Marie of Sweets Indeed, just to name a few.

TCC: Tell us about a unique budget friendly favor for guests to take away from a party that you have used successfully with your clients.

C: My favorite go-to favor item is food! It is consumable so your guests don't have to worry about what to do with it, or find a place for it at home; You can make it yourself to ease the budget; It can be sweet or savory; It can reflect your personality (favorite childhood treat, family recipe, etc.); It appeals to everyone!

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about Chris, her blog and her website Celebrations at Home. Please visit her blog and website and leave us a comment here to tell us your favorite party design or tip you found. Stay tuned for our next party planner guest blog post soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

These Little Guys Make Me Happee!!


You can now find these awesome little clips at our store! Stop in soon to get yours and clip whatever you need to just about anything!


Finally, products that grip to stainless steel refrigerators, mirrors, glass and more! Many stylish designs from which to choose.

• Leaves no residue
• Grip and re-grip again and again



Sunday, September 19, 2010

We're A Jane Marvel Retailer!


As seen in Lucky magazine's October issue, on news stands now and now available at our store, Jane Marvel believes it is every woman’s right to have great style and not go broke getting it.

Their bags are made of laminated canvas or nylon; the lining is polyester.

Their products are completely 'vegan' which means they don't use leather in our bags. That means that the handles and trim are made from several different materials so depending on which bag you order, the trim and handles are either cotton webbing or PU (Polyurethane). These features make their products:

lightweight
virtually waterproof
easy to clean with mild detergents
They also include a free gift in every bag!
Each free gift comes in an FAA-approved clear
zip pouch for all your travel
needs.

And did we forget to mention, they come in some of the most stylish patterns we've ever seen. Here's a peek...come in soon to select your new Jane Marvel bag!



Friday, September 17, 2010

We Have THE Best Customers In The World!!

We have the BEST customers in the world!! Why do we say this, you ask? Because once again this year they came out in droves to support and show their love for our business at our Annual Birthday Party Event on Saturday, August 28th. They were anxiously awaiting our opening in line more than an hour before we opened the doors and the first 50 customers were rewarded with SWAG bags full of awesome free merchandise and special offers. They were treated to wonderful desserts made by Richmond's own Petites Bouchees and Candy Valley Cake Company. So much fun was had by all and the customers shopped the day away at our largest sidewalk sale ever and took advantage of 20% off all merchandise inside the store! It was a wonderful event and we are truly grateful for each and every customer who joined us to celebrate that day.

Our biggest FAN, Frances Warnick was the very first to arrive and camped out with a little school work to keep her busy while she waited! Such a productive gal she is and the sweetest too!

Many of our favorite customers, 50+ of them to be exact, waited patiently in line for us to open our doors!

Adorable and amazingly good Cake Pops from the wonderful Candy Valley Cake Company awaited our guests! We only serve the best treats you know.

The cutest cookies ever with our logo on them! Another special treat for our guests from our dessert artist special guests.

And the most wonderful, yummy Parisian Macarons you have ever tasted in your life! Made by our friends at Petites Bouchees. Thank you for treating our customers to such a "treat" for our birthday!

Stay tuned for more information about what our guests found in their awesome SWAG bags...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guest Blog Interview: Courtney Dial of Pizzazzerie

We are pleased to introduce Courtney Dial as a featured guest on our blog today. She is the style genius behind the entertaining blog Pizzazzerie, which she launched as a guide for entertaining inspiration. Her goal is to spark the imagination of her readers and help them create unforgettable parties. Courtney has always had a love for entertaining and creating memories, and she began hosting many parties and events while studying at Vanderbilt University. She continues to work in digital communications and grow her fabulous blog Pizzazzerie, while also planning parties and events for friends and family.

Photo by Kate Whitmore Photography

The Cordial Cricket: What is the most creative/unique party theme you have ever worked on?

Courtney: Actually, this is one I'm currently working on! I love anything vintage and wanted to find a way to incorporate this into a summer party. The theme is "Berries and Bellinis" and incorporates a vintage bicycle theme. This is fun because the guest of honor is also a new triathlon queen, so it's fun to find a way to tie the theme into the birthday girl. We are having a "build your own berry cobbler bar" and mini raspberry vanilla cupcakes. And of course, delicious bellinis as well!

TCC: If you could plan any type of party, what type/theme would you choose?

C: This is a hard one :) If I could plan any type of party, I would want to plan an old Hollywood style engagement party. I love engagement parties because you can be super creative with lots of fun twists. There really is not a lot of "traditional" with engagement events. I love traditions, but I also love events that allow for lots of original ideas. Old Hollywood with a black/white/red color scheme would be a lot of fun!

TCC: What is your number one tip for hostesses to ease the stress of party planning and entertaining?

C: The number one tip is do not try to do everything yourself. It takes away the joy of the planning when you can't even stop to breathe. There are fabulous vendors for printables, signs, favors, etc. Use them! Sure, you could do it all yourself. I usually do about 50/50 with vendors. For example, for an event, I might print my own favor tags but order in water bottle labels because some things are easier handed off. Time is valuable, and it is also neat to connect with vendors because they can give you lots of great ideas!

TCC: What is your most budget friendly decor idea to make your party stunning on a tight budget?

C: Your printer! You can make any party look fancy by printing a menu, using one of your own frames, and placing it on the table. And favors! These can be as simple as a cookie wrapped in a cellophane bag with a bow and a simple label. Everyone thinks you spent hours preparing all the details - but not only was it quick, it was also budget friendly.




TCC: What do you think is the most important aspect of a party or event (i.e. the food, the decor, the entertainment, etc.)?

C: It's all relatively important. The party can have the best food you've ever tasted but if the decor is drab, people won't be impressed. I think finding a happy medium of serving great dishes, using creative and fun decor, and saving for entertainment is all important. My favorite of these? Decor!

TCC: Tell us something about you that we would find surprising!

C: I used to be a career counselor at my alma mater, Vanderbilt University. I type faster than anyone I know. I am not married (I did not think this one was surprising but lots of readers ask how old my kids are or what my husband does, I giggle, I'm 25 and not married).

TCC: What are some of your favorite party and event planning design inspirations (blogs, sites, magazine, people, etc)?

C: Oh, I could go on forever. But, top are Style Me Pretty (Abby is a fellow Vandy grad), Amy Atlas, Jen Sbranti of Hostess with the Mostess, The TomKat Studio, Eat Drink Happy, Get Married Magazine, SweetsIndeed.com, and of course, Martha Stewart!

TCC: Tell us about a unique budget friendly favor for guests to take away from a party that you have successfully used with your clients.

C: Sweet treats from simple lemon cookies to mini banana muffins. Place in a cellophane bag. Tie with a ribbon and adorn with a favor tag. Easy as pie!






We hope you have enjoyed learning more about Courtney, her party planning style and her blog Pizzazzerie. Please visit Courtney's blog and leave us a comment here to tell us your favorite entertaining tip or party inspiration you found on her site. Stay tuned for our next party planner guest blog post soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Personalized Pewter Gifts Have Arrived

We are pleased to announce that we are now a Salisbury, Inc. retailer and have a beautiful selection of their reputable gifts in our store. Salisbury, Inc. is a family owned company of proud and dedicated artisans who recognize the importance of preserving our heritage while creating new and exciting products that are sure to become tomorrow’s treasured heirlooms. They have been producing fine, hand-crafted silver and pewter products since 1979. All of their items are made in the USA and their facilities are located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with manufacturing facilities in Salisbury and Easton.

We recognize the value of giving heirloom gifts that the recipient will treasure for a lifetime. We are happy to show you the many personalized items that we have in the store such as baby gifts like dumbbell rattles, baby cups, bent baby spoons, porringers and other gifts such as Jefferson cups, Chippendale trays and much more. Monograms, dates, names or sentiments can be engraved on most items in a wide range of engraving styles. Each item comes ready for giving in their gorgeous signature keepsake blue gift box. Please remember to visit our store for your next heirloom gift purchase.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 ICON Honors Awards Results

During our recent trip to the Atlanta Gift Market last weekend I had the wonderful honor of being recognized at the first annual ICON Honors Awards event sponsored by AmericasMart, Home Furnishings News and the Gift & Home Trade Association. It was a very exciting night as you can see from the photos below. Read more about the results of the awards ceremony here.

I extend my deepest gratitude to the sponsors of the awards, to AmericasMart and to the judges. I would also like to thank my wonderful staff, customers, family and friends for their support of my business and congratulatory sentiments about our success and recognition.





Monday, July 12, 2010

Scenes from Our Latest Bridal Show

We recently attended our first bridal show of the summer season. We debuted a gorgeous new booth design that attracted lots of attention from brides and wedding industry vendors alike. We are very excited about working with the many brides we met at the show when they come in soon for their wedding invitation consultation appointments. We have many new custom invitation vendors work to showcase. Take a look at some scenes from our new bridal show booth below. Enjoy!
















Monday, July 5, 2010

Wedology 101 - The Reality of Being a Bride


If you're a bride in the Central Virginia area, you don't want to miss this upcoming event which will be bringing Style, Sanity and Swag to brides. Read more about this one-of-a-kind bridal seminar below.

WHAT IS WEDOLOGY 101?

Wedology 101 is a no-holds-barred, honest look at the reality of being a bride. Presented in a seminar format by top wedding professionals Jennifer McBride and Meghan Ely, Wedology 101 tackles the issues at the top of every bride's to-do list, in a format that is engaging, inspirational and fun.

WHEN IS WEDOLOGY 101?
Wedology 101 will take place Sunday, August 15, 2010. Future 2011 dates will be announced at a later date.

WHERE IS WEDOLOGY 101?
The four diamond Wyndham Virginia Crossings will be home to Wedology 101 in 2010. The full service property offers premier event space in Glen Allen, Virginia. Visit www.wyndhamvirginiacrossings.com for more information.

The Cordial Cricket is the exclusive wedding invitation and stationery sponsor for Wedology 101. Owner, Elizabeth Howard, is also the featured wedding invitation and stationery expert presenter for the event and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and tips to help brides make the most of their experience when shopping for their wedding invitations and stationery. We look forward to meeting many wonderful brides at this one-of-a-kind event!

Find out more about attending Wedology 101 and purchase your tickets here or read about the event and some of its featured "Been There, Done That" brides on the Wedology 101 Blog here. Leave us a comment here to tell us why you're a "Been There, Done That Bride" and your advice to other brides, or why you're a bride who would like to attend Wedology 101 to bring some sanity to your wedding planning. We look forward to reading all that you have to share!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway!

One of my dear friends Mindy Lockard of Manner of the Month was cordial enough to give our new children's book The Cordial Cricket a review on her blog today. She even had her two young daughters chime in and share their thoughts. We are very appreciative to Mindy and her girls for their cordial words about our book! They are also giving away a copy to one lucky reader who comments on the book review post. Check it out here. You can purchase a copy of our book here in our online store.

We donate $2 from the sale of each book to the Richmond SPCA, a charity that my son year old son Will chose as animals are very close to his heart. To date we have donated $222 to the Richmond SPCA. We also received a very generous matching donation, bringing our total donation to $444!

Best of luck with Mindy's blog giveaway of our book!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Beckons You?

My family has been vacationing for the last few days in the wonderful, quaint beach town of Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We rented a beautiful home, whose owner has worked hard to create an atmosphere that's just like home. Because both my husband and I are entrepreneurs, we lead really busy and demanding lives. So we really need to get away now and then in order to disconnect and enjoy some quiet family time. Upon entering our vacation home we found there was a very cozy game room, stocked with lots of family games to enjoy. On one table in the game room was the beginning of the puzzle above. Evidently the guests before us, or maybe the guests before them, or even before them started the puzzle and left it for the next vacationers to work on. I must say, as much as my family and I enjoy working on puzzles, especially since my son is 7 years old now and really getting the hang of it, we just don't do it enough.

This puzzle has quietly and unassumingly beckoned each of us to the table to work on it, both individually and together, at least twice a day while we've been here. It has been peaceful and relaxing to work on it. When we depart tomorrow, I will miss it a little and wonder how many more families that come behind us it will take to complete it.

I think our sunroom at home is calling for a permanent puzzle table...maybe it will beckon us to take a minute everyday to think about nothing more.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

To Market, To Market...

Many of you have probably heard of or even attended the "market" as it's referred to by store owners. It's the largest gift trade show on the east coast and takes place in Atlanta, every January and July. Amazingly, in my five years as a boutique owner, I have yet to attend this particular market. Between attending the New York Gift Show and the National Stationery Show each year, being a mom and owning a retail business, 4 bridal shows a year, throw in a few speaking engagements and seminar related travel and there just hasn't been anywhere to fit the "market" into my schedule. This year will be different though!

I am very fortunate that our store has been nominated in four categories of the inaugural AmericasMart ICON Honors Awards this year. The award winners will be revealed at a gala event during the July gift market in Atlanta. Just being nominated for an award of this type in our industry is certainly enough recognition for me to make room in my schedule to go to "market". I look forward to finding lots of great new merchandise for our store, meeting new friends in my industry and re-connecting with those I haven't seen in a while.

Will you be going to "market" this year? If so, leave me a comment so that we can possibly connect while there. For all of my friends who won't be able to join me at the awards gala in Atlanta, I will be sure to share the results as soon as I know, if the suspense doesn't kill me first. Thank you to everyone for your undying support of my business!

Interested in finding out more about the ICON Honors Awards, click here to learn more.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My New Favorite Petite Party Dessert

Today has been a very good day! No, we didn't win the lottery here, yes, the store's been busy, no, it still isn't any cooler than 98 degrees outside, however...we were the lucky recipients of samples from local pastry artist and dessert extraordinaire, Veronica Perez, with Petites Bouchees. In our industry, we get to taste lots of treats. Call it a perk of working here, my staff sure does!

Veronica started her company Petites Bouchees out of her love of bite-sized desserts. Her specialty is Parisian-style macarons and beautiful special occasion cupcakes. We were fortunate enough to be able to taste some of her wonderful macarons, and words really cannot even describe how good they are! Seriously, I've never had anything quite like them. I have a huge sweet-tooth myself and have always been a lover of cupcakes. I now must say that these petite parisian-style macarons may just be my new favorite dessert. They are just the perfect size and the flavor combinations are beyond incredible. We sampled Hazelnut and Salted Caramel, Pistachio and Bittersweet Chocolate, Chocolate and Espresso Buttercream and Rose Lychee. Of these, I would say that our staff most loved the Hazelnut and Salted Caramel and the Chocolate and Espresso Buttercream, but they were truly all very delicious.

They not only taste wonderful, they are a cute as can be, would make a gorgeous display on a stylish dessert table and Veronica's packaging is top-notch. These photos give you just an idea of how perfect these petite desserts are. Visit the Petites Bouchees website and place an order for your next party, but don't wait until then to try these, go ahead and get some for yourself to try sooner than later. Trust me, you will be singing their "sweet" praises soon and you will be the hostess of the year for serving them! Be sure to tell her you found out about them here. If you call and we don't answer, it's because we're in a sugar coma :)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Did You Use An Invitation Expert?


I recently read a wonderful article written by a fellow stationer that explained in such an eloquent and realistic way why brides & grooms should work with an invitation expert on their wedding invitation and stationery needs. The information in the article could not be more true and I could never have said it better myself. If you're a bride, or maybe a mother of a bride, mother of a groom, maid of honor, or anyone involved in helping brides make their wedding exactly what they dreamed, then you should read and share this information too.

It was originally featured on the My Kate Parker Wedding Blog written by our industry friend Samantha Finigan of Gus & Ruby Letterpress.

Tell us what you think about this advice? If you're already married, share your wedding invitation purchase experience with us by leaving a comment below. Did you use an invitation expert to assist you or venture out on your own? Were you pleased with the end result? If you're a current bride-to-be, leave us a comment to tell us if this information will influence your wedding invitation purchase process. We look forward to reading more about your experience and results!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Our Book & My Son's "Notable Gift"

As many of you may already know, I published my first children's book at the end of April and my 7 year old son, who loves art, illustrated the book's cover. Our family discussed giving a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book to a charity and we allowed my son to choose the charity that he thought most deserving. He chose the Richmond SPCA as he is a true animal lover, like most kids his age. We were thrilled with his decision as we know that they provide a wonderful service in our community and educate many people about pet adoption, training and care. We decided to donate $2 from the sale of each book to their organization.

We were recently invited to come to the Richmond SPCA for a story time and book signing for their patrons and staff. We had a wonderful time at the event and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of their state of the art facility. We were even more impressed with the organization and it's staff by the time we left that day. The highlight of our visit was my son present Robin Starr, the CEO of the Richmond SPCA, with a check for $222 from the sale of our books thus far. We are so fortunate that he has a giving spirit and is already learning the value of giving to those less fortunate. Here are a few pictures from our event. We will continue to sell our books and donate $2 from each to this wonderful place! You may purchase a copy of our book online here, and the shipping is free. You may also read more about my son's donation in the "Notable Gifts" weekly column of our local paper the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Our family with Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA and Waggles their adorable mascot!

Will presenting Waggles with a special thank you gift from the Richmond SPCA.

Will presenting his donation check to Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA, from the sale of our books.

Will with our wonderful tour guide and new friend Sarah!



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Personalize Your Cupcakes!

A few months ago we wrote about our wonderful friend Marie from The Paper Menu sending us the most adorable personalized cupcake wrappers with our store logo on them for our Spring Fling party. Those who attended the event LOVED them and everyone has been asking where they can get some of their own personalized cupcake wrappers...so we now have them in our store for sale! Available in many colors, designs and personalization options they will add a wonderful touch to your sweet treats and you'll be the talk of the town! They are very affordable and arrive in 7 business days. Here is some eye candy of some of the designs.







Little Lamb Designs

Another of the fabulous new vendors we formed a relationship with at the National Stationery Show. Little Lamb Designs albums for birth announcements, labels and note pads have already arrived at our store. They do gorgeous work at very affordable prices! Their custom wedding invitation album is also on the way and we expect to have it in the store by July 1st. Take a look at some of their work below.
Breathtaking photo birth announcement cards, with photos printed on both sides at no additional charge!
Personalized Vinyl Waterproof Labels for Kids Gear

Wedding invitations, save the dates and ceremony programs to suit every bride's style and budget.