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!
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 –
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!)
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.
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.
There are a few things you should know about me. I’m Jewish, was raised as a Reconstructionist (not many people can say this), and I believe strongly in one of its core tenants, the principle of Tikkun Olam, meaning “repair the world,” as in, one of my purposes in life is to work toward making the world a better place for everyone.
Repairing the world takes many forms. For my family, it means a lot of volunteer work. My grandmother was a life member and volunteer for Na’Amat – her calendar was bursting with meetings and events well into her late 80s. My mother and father were tireless volunteers for the City of Hope – every Thursday night for over 20 years my mom was busy running a bingo game, and the twice annual Lox Box projects were full family events lasting a week or more, and of course there were the casino nights we helped run.
I was a member of Camp Fire growing up and spent many hours volunteering on community service projects. I married a man with similar beliefs who is currently the Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 67in Northbrook. We both volunteer for the countless needs of our synagogue community. And of course, we’ve raised our two boys to volunteer as well.
So, it should come as no surprise to you, that when the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce needed volunteers to help with the annual silent auction and other projects, I stepped up to help. It was just one more thing to give back to those who have helped me, no big deal. However, this year they’ve decided to present me with the Volunteer of the Year award – I am being presented with this on Monday the 3rd – and I am moderately terrified. Getting into the trenches and doing the work – definitely my skill set. Standing up in front of 200 people I don’t know – not so much. Wish me luck!
Several years ago, pre-Katrina, Sandi and I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans in the weeks before Mardi Gras. We stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, visited a float factory (who knew?), wandered around the French Quarter and took part of much of what New Orleans had to offer.
This year, I have created a Mardi Gras basket, hearkening back to that trip. It has beignet mix and chicory coffee from Cafe du Monde, Hurricane mix and jambalaya mix. We pair that with a wide assortment of celebration worthy snacks for a festive off season gift. This is a great way to send that thank you gift that you may have overlooked during the holiday season. Mardi Gras is Tuesday March 5th this year, so don’t delay!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Packing peanuts hanging from the rafters!
Did you know that BasketWorks is green? Not with envy (although watching folks’ exotic vacations on FB does cause some of that) but rather ecologically green. Really!
Tissue paper – all of our tissue paper is made in the United States from 100% post industrial recycled fibers,
Packing peanuts – We have been using packing peanuts in the bases of our baskets for 17 years – since the day we opened our doors. We have never, in 17 years, purchased a single packing peanut. EVERY packing peanut we use is recycled, either from incoming shipments or from community members who don’t want to just toss them out. We verify that they are clean and then happily use them.
Cellophane – Our cellophane is made in the United States of 100% Polypropolene. It is entirely BPA free, contains no heavy metals or environmentally hazardous substances. It is not biodegradable but is completely recyclable as code 5. Additionally, we use our scrap cellophane in the bottom of our gift baskets to supplement our packing peanuts.
Boxes – All of our incoming boxes are either reused (we give the larger ones away to folks who are moving or storing things. Need some? Just let us know!) or recycled with our friends at Shred Spot. We do use new boxes for shipping our packages out – but they are at least 40% recycled material – the national average is 35%.
Wrapping paper tubes – Tubes are regularly given away to preschools, art teachers, scout leaders – virtually anyone who would like them. Wrapping paper tubes are great for art projects of all sorts (some of our favorites are here at the Crafty Crow). Around here, they become swords and light sabers! Ask and ye shall receive.
Ribbon Rolls – Empty ribbon rolls are useful for creating Rube Goldberg machines, racing vehicles, or simply storing ribbon or yarn lengths. Also available for the asking!
Styrofoam sheets – We use Styrofoam sheets for centerpiece bases, to stabilize large designs, and for vertical structure. Almost all of our sheets are cut from Styrofoam coolers.
Ribbon scraps – This is perhaps the oddest recycling we do. We have lots of ribbon scraps – sizes from a half inch to several feet long. Tulle, the occasional silk flower. All get tossed into our scrap box. Like the tubes and rolls, these are favorites for anyone doing craft projects – especially mosaic type projects.
If you can use some of the items we have, drop me an email. I am happy to get these items to folks who can use them!
So I know I said I wasn’t going to be publishing daily, and honestly, I’m not, but something happened in one of my networking meetings this morning and I needed to share.
We were discussing auto-phone attendants, and folks general dislike of them. Comments were made about how frustrating it is to go through a never-ending menu, or to enter all of your account information just to be asked for that same information again when you actually got through to a person. I mentioned Gethuman.com in an off-hand sort of way, assuming everyone in the room was aware of the site. Apparently not.
So GetHuman is a fabulous site that helps you to navigate through automated phone systems to actually get to a real person. There is information on what to press at each prompt, how to get a call back, average wait times. Fabulous site, enormous time saver!
Just for the record, when you call BasketWorks you will either:
Get a live human (that would be me)
Get asked for your name and then put through to a live human (again, me) or
Reach our voice mail – which apologizes that you didn’t reach a live human. I’ll call you back as soon as possible. 🙂