And the decision is…..

We had our second admitted student day last week at Knox college.  Beautiful campus – small to the eyes of this Big Ten girl, but full of trees, green areas, and old, history-infused buildings.   Stand out moments:

  1. We toured campus and saw the spot where one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates took place, as well as a chair that Lincoln (and more recently Obama) sat in – available for prospective students to sit in as well.    Very cool piece of history in that.
  2. The library at Knox is my personal idea of heaven.  Large comfortable furniture, wooden paneling and built in bookcases and glass fronted cabinets.  Enough modern conveniences to be useful.  And a special collection of rare books including Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald.  I want to know if they need a professor of entrepreneurism.
  3. The students are quirky.  In a good way, but clearly, marching to the beat of your own drum is not only accepted but encouraged here.  Clothing styles from early American hippie to modern punk, buttoned-up preppie to relaxed casual – we saw it all, and not in clumps but rather mix and matched.

We were impressed with much of what we heard and saw.  So, we were down to decision time.  Drake or Knox?  Really….no bad choice here.  We felt comfortable with the quality of education and life at either school.

  • While there seems to be somewhat less of a focus on internships at Knox than at Drake, there is a very high focus on interaction between Professors and students.
  • Drake is larger, Knox is closer.
  • Drake is blue, Knox is purple.

Final choice – Knox.  Why?  Just felt right.

Good as any other reason when weighing two equal options.





Passover starts tonight, and in my house that means a full house, a full table, family and friends.  As holidays go, it isn’t my personal favorite – a little too structured for my taste.   But it is certainly a holiday that stands out, defines our household as Jewish, and that is good.  And it continues the traditions from both my and my husband’s families.

This year we are a little on the smaller side – we are seating 30 (it was 29 until a few hours ago when we added one…).   I say smaller because last year we had 45.  This is quite the feat when the entire house is under 1500sf.   Furniture goes to live in the garage, tables get arranged, chairs are borrowed.  But I wouldn’t cut back on our guest list for the world.   Both sides of the family – everyone in town.  Friends who ARE family.  And always, always, those  who for one reason or another have found themselves without a table.   There is always room for one more.  (Well, last year we managed the one more, but only because one left early…..)

While the dinner might not be what my great-grandparents’ served, and the service is decidedly more relaxed, one thing has not changed.  There is always room.  There is always enough food.  Guests are always welcome.   Seder or just Wednesday dinner, that is a perpetual truth at our house.

And for that, I am grateful.

For those of you who celebrate, may you have a holiday of family, friends and joy.   Smiles.


Journey to Space….

After picture – see below for before!

So, last April, it became painfully obvious that our 400 square foot work space was no longer going to cut it.   I had 3 to 4 people working in here at once, and while we were all quite chummy, there are limits to what can reasonably be accomplished when space is that tight.  Add to that the chaotic condition of the garage and you have a recipe for disaster.   So I undertook to expand my space.

We considered digging out additional basement – not only was this cost prohibitive, there were definite structural issues for our 60+ year old hose there.  We looked into renting space, but if I wanted to stay within half an hour of home, I was looking at annual rents of over $25k a year – plus utilities and build outs.  So the most reasonable option was to refinish the garage.

We started by renting a moving pod and emptying out the garage.  First time in 16+ years that it had been completely empty.  Found things that I had forgotten about, found things from the previous owners that i never knew were in there.   (I did however finish my oldest son’s baby book – BEFORE his 18th birthday.  I count that as a win!)    In any event,  that process has been a large impetus for our clearance sales….

We had the garage rewired, brought out phone and internet, new lights.  Insulated the entire thing and HVAC.  I painted it all a bright white.  Laid a new attic floor as well as a new concrete floor.  Moved shelving around, bought some new shelving.  Sandi built a handy-dandy box holder on wheels for me.  Rigged up a pulley system to store our packing peanuts above the garage door, and while we were at it, we insulated the garage door.    Of course, the garage door opener went kaput during all this, so we installed a new one.

Then came the hard part. Moving everything back in.  I was bound and determined to make decisions about what was coming in – sorting through every box, selling, tossing or giving away things that were no longer needed.  (A work still in progress….).  The result?  Our new space has a work desk for shipping baskets – building too if need be.  The attic is full of silk flowers, carefully labelled so we can find what we want.  We added a computer desk so that we can create shipping labels on the spot.  Because we are climate controlled, we are able to store foodstuffs without a problem.

The difference is amazing.  While I still spend the majority of my time in the basement, my guys are able to work upstairs and not crash into each other.  We actually have a space for staging packages waiting to ship out.  All lovely and beautiful.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and see it!.

I know that in the newsletter I promised more pictures here, but that just didn’t work, so I have created a full album on our Facebook page – check them out!  (This link will take you to the first picture….)

In any event, it has been quite the journey and I am glad we finally made it!

Smiles all!


inside garage


Spring Cleaning


Table of books and containers to go away

I’m not a big one for spring cleaning.

Let’s be real.  I’m not a big one for cleaning, period.   However, several things have come together to make spring cleaning a thing around here this year.

I need to get rid of the moving pod that has been taking up space in my driveway – so I need to sort through everything in there.  And then I need to make a place to put anything I am keeping, so I need to sort and clean out other spaces.  Sandi asked me for a list of all the books I have from my favorite author – so I cleaned out the bookshelves and got rid of 20 or so books (this is a major accomplishment for me….).  And I found a bunch of fun new items at the Housewares show that I want to bring in, but I need space, so I am listing excess inventory on Amazon. (check that out here).

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Now that all said, what it means in practice is that everything is a bit more of a disaster.  While the bookshelves are a thing of beauty, there are several stacks of books waiting for a new home.  There is a stack of stuff to be listed on Amazon or Etsy, stuff waiting for me to sort…..stacks everywhere.   Slowly but surely I am working my way through everything, and that does feel good.

So if you are looking for a deal, check out my Amazon, Etsy or Clearance page – generally there are different things on each page.   I hope you see things you love.  If you see many things you love, I am happy to combine shipping for you.

Now….if only it would FEEL like spring.




Now is the winter of our discontent…

“Now is the winter of our discontent” – Richard the Third

I know, I know.  Out of context, not what he meant or was talking about.  But seriously.  I feel like George RR Martin had it right when he kept telling us “Winter is Coming.” Got it.  We’re good.  Can we move along now and try another season?

I am so over this winter – and I LOVE winter.  I usually feel GREAT in the winter.  Healthy.  Cold, but healthy.  But I’ve got a case of ennui (or maybe SAD, but definitely not cabin fever)  that I can’t shake – and I am not the only one.  I talk to people every day who are feeling the same way – take a look at your Facebook stream and I am sure you know plenty of folks in the same boat – if you have managed to avoid this feeling I applaud you and would like to know your secret (those of you living in warmer climes or on vacation at same need not reply….)


  • I choose to believe that winter will not last forever.
  • I choose to believe that someday I will not need my gloves.
  • I choose to believe that the grass will be green again and not just muddy grey
  • I choose to believe that someday I will wear only one pair of socks.  (Please!)
  • I choose to believe that one day, in the not so terribly distant future, I will wake up and the sun will be shining, I will not be able to see my breath and I will want to spend more than 10 minutes outside.

And because I believe, I keep moving forward.  I hope the same for you – may tomorrow be the day that we wake up to sunshine.

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Shelley






Housewares Report

So the show wiped me out more than I expected and  I’m running a day late, but here is my report on the Housewares Show – most of these things are not items I will be carrying, but they are things that caught my eye for one reason or another.


I posted this on my FB page, but the FoodPod by fusionbrands amuses me to no end.  It looks to me like some alien craft or creature, but is used to cook and drain foods in one step. (Picture copyright, fusionbrands)



Hobby Holster – ok, no great surprise that I like this little gadget.  These are silicone holders that will cling to a smooth surface without adhesive.  What I REALLY like is that I can put my hot glue gun right into the pocket or onto the flat surface without an issue and (I’m told) any glue that drops onto it will peel right off.  I’m sold.  They also make a more general line – Lil’ Holster.   Considering making these available, just because I like them so much – what do you think?  Let me know.

Charles Viancin – these are some super nifty silicon lids that create airtight, water-tight seals and can be used in the microwave, stove top and refrigerator.  They are all nature themed and beautiful.  I am absolutely in love with these.

SnapIt screw – this is a great idea for any of us who wear glasses.  An eyeglass repair kit – the screw is extra long with the bottom unthreaded, so it drops through and holds in place while you screw it in.  That way you aren’t struggling to keep the screw in place.  Brilliant.


BluApple is an interesting idea. This little blue apple holds a replaceable packet that is designed to absorb ethylene gas for 3 months, thereby extending the shelf life of your produce.   I am trying one out now.  If it works, it is a great money saver.  I will let you know!

Ok – there are more fun things that I will post as I keep sifting through everything I brought home – and things I am absolutely going to be adding to the product line.  If there is something here that you would like me to carry, let me know!


International Housewares Show

This coming weekend I will be attending the International Housewares Show at McCormick place.  I love this show for so many reasons.  There is a Gourmet Food section, which lets me find new products. There is the tabletop area – fun mugs, teapots, trays, bowls – I always find something that I want to try as an alternative container for a gift package.  The organization area – I am both organized and terminally messy.  I describe my workshop as an organized disaster and despair of ever being able to keep my desk neat.  The electronics area  – a few years ago there was a massage chair in this area that wrapped around you – you felt like you were being swallowed by the chair, but I can’t deny that the massage felt great.

That said, this year I have another reason to be excited to attend – I will be doing one on one consulting to small business owners on “Planning for Profits.”   This is the second year that I am doing this, but last year I was a last minute fill in for someone who had to cancel.  Apparently my ratings were good and I was invited back this year for another round.  I find this to be incredibly satisfying – I’ve received so much help from others in my business that I can never fully repay, this allows me to pass those gifts forward.  And I have found that I really enjoy one on one consulting with other small businesses.    So win-win.

So, should you be coming to the Housewares Show, I still have some open slots – you can sign up here.  Or, just pop me an email and let’s try to connect for lunch or a quick meeting.  For those of you not in the industry, keep your eyes here for my report(s?) on all my finds or let me know if you want me to find something for you!



College Visits…..


Photo Courtesy of Drake University

Photo Courtesy of Drake University

This week my husband and I took our eldest to visit Drake University – I am typing this up on our way home.  They had a fully scheduled day, packed with tours, lectures, Q&A sessions – even during lunch!  I’m struck by several things –

  1. Drake is a small school – 7000 students including their law and graduate programs.  After attending the University of Illinois, this was a pretty dramatic change for me.  Seriously – classes five minutes from your dorm?  What is that all about?  I am sure I walked at least 3-4 miles a day in Champaign. That said, this was decidedly a college campus.  It never occurred to me to look at schools this small when I was in high school, but it is clearly a great size for many kids. (There is a nutritionist on staff who came out to talk to Joel and gave him her card!  That would NEVER happen at a Big 10!)
  2. There was a serious focus on internship opportunities, study abroad and knowing the administration.  I can absolutely believe all of those things enrich the college experience and better prepare students for success in our increasingly global economy.   I’m glad that schools are offering these opportunities to their students – I think it is good for all of us. 
  3. I don’t feel old enough to have a college student.  College was over 20 years ago, and yet in so many ways feels like yesterday.  I’ll be honest – being in touch with so many of my friends from high school and college goes a long way toward keeping that feeling alive.

There is something very special about the friends you make in your late teens and early twenties – we are all changing so dramatically as we morph from children into adults.  Those folks who take that journey with you can make a very profound difference in your life. I feel very lucky to have been able to maintain friendships with so many of you – including those folks I just get to connect with on Facebook.  Thanks for sticking with me.



Newsletter Notes….

world cloudAs promised, notes on my newsletter.  I am fascinated by etymology (the history of words and how they have changed).  This week, as I was typing up my newsletter, I realized that I often have an odd turn of phrase (stop laughing!).  So I decided to look up some of those phrases and give a quick history of how they came to their current meanings.

  • Take to task  To scold.  This term, dating from the mid-1700s, at first meant either assigning or challenging someone to a task.  I found references that its current meaning came about in the late 1800s.
  • All the news that’s fit to print  Originally coined by Adolph Ochs owner of the New York Times to set the the paper apart from more sensational competitors. This slogan is still printed on each addition.  Many sources said that the slogan has been adapted to “All the News That’s fit to Click” but I was unable to find that anywhere on their online sites.
  • There you are. The Cambridge Dictionary Online says that this is used when giving something to someone, usually after a request for the thing.  While you might have requested my newsletter, you probably didn’t request everything in it.  And yet the use of this phrase is exactly the way I would use it in speech.
  • Brave new world  From the dystopian novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, this phrase has come to mean either a future world or a current situation caused by something new.  A recent development.
  • Picking up steam Starting to be much more effective or successful.  I was completely unable to find a reliable source for when this phrase appeared in language.
  • Flash sale This is an internet phenomenon, originally started by the folks over at and quickly picked up by other retailers.  As an ongoing business model, it is a bit iffy, but as a way to offer our regulars a great price on inventory we want to move, we think it will be a big winner.
  • By the way This literally means ‘by the side of the road’.  It is used in The Comedy of Errors, (Act V, Scene i), with this meaning.   Oxford English Dictionary cites Its figurative use of  ‘as a side note’ as early as 1556.   That said, there are also those who will argue that it is a religious reference  – the way as God, so literally “by God.”   

In the process of researching all this,  I found several sites that I am sure I will now be visiting regularly – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, Today I Found Out, and The Free Dictionary.  All had fabulous articles and fun information (at least for a word junkie like me!)



March Newsletter

logo for verticle
newsletter header
It’s been ages since I’ve sent out an e-newsletter, and recently several clients took me to task* for that and so with promises to do better, here I am once again.  So here is all the news that’s fit to print*, and probably some that isn’t, but there you are.*If you haven’t been to our website lately, surf on by – we have completely revamped it, added new items, and continue to make changes and additions every week!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!



March dates to Note

  • ​​March 9 – Day Light Savings Begins – spring ahead!
  • March 14 – Pi day (3.14.) – math people love this.
  • March 16 – Purim (we have Purim packages!)
  • March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day

and just because everything is in the first half of the month

  • March 25 – Pecan Day
NL coffee break lg
Upcoming eventsFrom March 15 – 18 I will be attending the International Housewares Show.  I go each year looking at new gift and housewares trends, finding new food items and packing my brain with a thousand different ideas.

This year I am honored to be invited back as a small business consultant, helping people with their business planning.  If you are attending, and would like to meet with me, sign up here.  If you want to meet for lunch, just drop me an email!

Keeping in TouchIt’s a brave new world*, and as such there are a myriad of ways that I am working to keep in touch with our clients, friends and business partners.   Clearly, this newsletter is one of them and I sincerely hope you will keep yourself on our mailing list.  (If you don’t want to receive this anymore, there is an unsubscribe button below).  Also:

Facebook – my Facebook page has been picking up steam, and I post both the fun and frivolous and occasional specials out there.  I post clearance items to Facebook  first, and I am planning on doing something akin to flash sales*, listed on Facebook first.

Blog – after years of being told I must, I finally pulled the trigger and have started a blog.  I publish about twice a week, aiming for Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Interesting and useful (I hope) tidbits from my universe, upcoming events, and, well its new, so I am not sure what else will end up there.

I can also be found on LinkedInTwitter and Google+
I sincerely hope you will join me in one of my social media outlets.

spacer.gif* By the way*, to find out the history of all those words with *,  visit our blog tomorrow!