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 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.

Artwork by Andrea

Andrea Danner-Schultz is a Richmond based jewelry designer and artist, who graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995. Her work is inspired by nature. Her love of birds, sea creatures, and plants is apparent in both her paintings and her jewelry. Both her jewelry and acrylic paintings on small canvases can be found in many local shops and galleries as well as a few gifts shops around the country. We are honored to have Andrea's beautiful handmade silver jewelry and small paintings now on display for sale in our store. Here are just a few images of her unique designs.

Do You Regreet?

Don't just receycle - reuse and reduce with regreet! regreet is an exciting new way to continue passing on greeting cards you receive from friends. We are thrilled to now carry regreet supplies at our store! This is one of our favorite finds from the National Stationery Show. Click here to read more about how regreet actually works.

Ellen Murphy Jewelry

Many of our customers are already familiar with local jewelry designer, Ellen Murphy, whose beautiful lampwork glass bead jewelry we have featured during Friday for the Arts and during trunk shows at our store. We are happy to share that we will now have a nice selection of Ellen's handcrafted jewelry for sale in our store all the time! So whenever you need a unique gift, a pair of Ellen's earrings or a set of colorful stretch bracelets would certainly be a great idea!

Fandangle Jewelry

We are pleased to announce the arrival of Fandangle Jewelry to our store. Fandangle Jewelry designs are beautifully crafted statement pieces, created by local Richmonder, Claiborne Mason.

Claiborne was gracious enough to share her store with us here:

It all started when Claiborne spent a cold, windy, rainy “girls' weekend” in the mountains of Virginia. Skiing being out, she and her girlfriends ventured into town and happened upon the local bead shop. And the rest, as they say, is history! Her newfound hobby quickly became an obsession, and suddenly the dining room table became bead central! She soon found herself with more necklaces than her neck could handle, and began to wonder what to do with all those beads. Thus, Fandangle was born.

Since that weekend in 2003, she has created hundreds of unique styles, using glass, stones, semi-precious gems, silver and more – from sources all over the world. Her customers know that Fandangle always offers a vast array of fun, affordable, stylish jewelry – all handmade right here in the Richmond area and now also at The Cordial Cricket! Here is a sneak peek at some of the Fandangle Jewelry for sale at our store.