just k

All My Days To Be Sunny...

It’s another beautiful day here in Wisconsin. My geraniums are still blooming on my front porch. In November. I could take this weather forever (or at least until April, then it can warm up).

 I think it’s amazing how much weather can affect us. Give most of us a sunny day & we think we “have the world by the tail”. Likewise, gloomy or rainy days can really bring us down, making us feel like we don’t really care if we accomplish anything or not. If only we had a machine of some sort or a spray we could use for the days that aren’t so sunny to get rid of the gloom/rain. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe, maybe not.

If we only had sunny days & nice temperatures, would we lose our appreciation for what we consider a good weather day? Would we start to think, big deal, another sunny day? Would we grow bored & start praying for a crappy weather day (you know, one of those, I just want to lay on the couch all day watching weepy movies & drink a little coffee with a lot of Baileys in it kind of day)?

I think my life (& probably everyone else’s) is something like the weather. No one wishes for anything bad to happen in their lives, but do the bad things, the drama, the days that aren’t so sunny, give us a bigger appreciation for the sunny days? I certainly hope so, because if they don’t, I want all my days to be sunny…k

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November 16, 2016

Posted 104 weeks ago

Start All Over Again...

Here we go….it’s time to decorate for the holidays at Sisters. Every year we try to hit a happy medium, don’t put it out too early or we’ll irritate some folks,  (even though some people start asking us as early as July, when?) don’t put it out too late or the customers will have already spent their money somewhere else. And so it goes…

Anyway, we’re now in the decorating mode, much of it getting done after hours so we don’t have to worry about boxes being in the way or not hearing a customer come in because you’re digging out cartons of stuff in the storage area.  Lots of thought goes into where everything will go. Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out where to put the trees because our shop is kind of long & skinny. Sometimes where we choose works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

We’ll get everything out, all of our favorites ordered at the market in January, stuff that rolled in to the shop in June, was marked & put into storage until we were ready for it in late October. Then we hope our customers like everything as much as we do so it finds a spot year after year in their homes or is given as a gift to be cherished by the recipient.

Then, if we’re lucky, we can start all over again at that market in January…k

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October 27, 2016

Posted 104 weeks ago

Sometimes I Wonder...

Our home renovations have always been the source of two things for me. Pain, as in the work that it takes to strip off old wallpaper, refinish woodwork, haul out garbage that other folks leave behind, etc., etc., etc. Since we choose to renovate a home every few years I think we could agree that the pain is somewhat self-inflicted.

Those same renovations are also a source of pleasure because I always look forward to when we reach the point where I can start to decide on paint colors, cabinets, countertops, light fixtures & all the other things that you need to make a house your home.

In all of the homes we’ve renovated, I have always used wallpaper somewhere in the house. Usually I only do  a wall or two in a couple of of rooms (although I once used a lot of paper in a lot of rooms in a wonderful old Victorian) to add some pattern or texture but mostly I use it just because I love wallpaper.

Wallpaper has been around for hundreds of years & like a lot of trends, goes in & out of style. The last couple of years has seen a resurgence of wallpaper, mostly used as an accent on one wall in a room. There are so many beautiful patterns available it’s sometimes difficult to make a choice. 

My most recent wallpapering was done in my downstairs bathroom where I chose to do all four walls (which meant lots of trimming around sink, shower, windows, etc., yes, I’m crazy) in a big floral pattern that I fell in love with. 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the wallpaper I love or is it that it reminds me that it was my Mom that taught me how to paper years ago in that wonderful old Victorian…k

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October 12, 2016

Posted 104 weeks ago

I'm Pretty Happy...

Every once in awhile someone will ask me when I plan to retire. My answer to that is usually something like “"when I die.” I readily admit to being a workaholic & I am sure that I would be terrible at being retired. I know many people love not having to get up in the morning, get dressed, go out & be what they feel is stuck at work all day. I say, good for them, that they can retire & enjoy it but I’m just not ready. 

There are those that travel whenever they can & that’s great. Since I was a flight attendant for 20 some years, I have been to more places than most (plus, I happen to have a husband who hates to travel) so that isn’t something I aspire to do at the moment. Others like to play cards with their friends, go out to lunch, garden, volunteer or any number of things to fill their time. Some like to sit around & watch tv. Again, good for them, but not for me. 

I guess some people would think that it’s strange that I’m happy to go to work when I’m of an age that I could walk away. My answer to that would be when I have a reason to retire that is better than my reason to continue working, I’ll think about it. In the meantime, for the most part, I’m pretty happy here at Sisters…k

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September 20, 2016

Posted 104 weeks ago

They Look Fabulous...

It always amazes me how the popularity of different antiques and collectibles along with things like architectural salvage change over the years. Years ago, I remember my Mom, along with a lot of other folks, paying what I thought at the time was a small fortune for antique dishes. These days, at least in our shop, we have trouble selling dishes. For years, we sold lots of oak pieces and then oak fell out of favor for awhile. Now, oak furniture seems to be making a comeback and we are selling it again.

 Salvage is another example of how the antique and vintage market can change. Architectural salvage, as in vintage doors and windows, old hardware and so many other wonderful other “"house parts” used to go on the burn pile or in landfills.

Having renovated seven homes in the last 40 years (yes, I said seven) we have always tried to keep as much of the old as possible in the houses we’ve redone. When we first started trying to locate items we needed to keep the vintage feel in our homes, we could buy doors, hardware and other items for not much money. Not so today. The salvage market has exploded, along with the prices. Leaded glass windows, corbels, French doors and other salvage are being used as home decor and are commanding big prices.

Over the years, if I came across something that I thought I could eventually use somewhere in a home, I would buy it and store it. Case in point, some ten years ago, I bought the corbels that are now gracing my kitchen. They were fairly cheap because no one wanted that kind of stuff at the time (including Al, who uttered his usual “"what in the hell are you going to do with those?”). They look fabulous, if I do say so myself…k

August 29, 2016

Posted 107 weeks ago

How Bad Do You Need Something...

I drove to Darlington today with a long list of errands to run. I usually go over once a week to check on our section in Mathys Ace Hardware store (& Di is kind enough to check it once a week to save me a second trip) straightening things & restocking if necessary. I had both a personalized box & signs to pick up from the fine folks in Darlington that take care of those things for us. Since I had a deposit & needed change for the store, I also stopped at the bank. As you can see, I try to make the most of my weekly trip.

When I arrived at Mathys not only were the usual cars & trucks in the parking lot but also an Amish buggy with the horse tied to a post. There are quite a number of Amish families making their home in the Darlington area so it’s not unusual to see their buggies around town. If you are in the right spot (or the wrong spot, depending on how you look at it) on a Sunday afternoon, you may follow 20 to 30 buggies heading for home after their all day church services.

When I saw that buggy today, I happened to glance down at the list I had made before leaving home ( because if I don’t have a list, there is NO way I will remember everything I need to do) & the thought that popped into my head was, if you’re Amish, how bad do you need something before you go to town? Between having to get the horses out, hook them up & the slow (sometimes cold & wet) journey into town & back, there are probably no trips made for a single item. 

I would guess no matter how organized I think I am or how much I can accomplish in one trip, I have nothing on those folks…k

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August 1, 2016

Posted 113 weeks ago

Snowmen That Have No Glitz...

Christmas is coming, literally. In the retail world we do most of our ordering for the holiday season in January. The cartons of holiday merchandise start to roll in about now as most companies want it out of their warehouses and into the store even though we don’t want to put any of it out for at least a couple more months. If we ask for later delivery dates, most sales representatives for the companies we choose to order from tell us that by doing that we will risk not getting what we want as it’s “first come, first serve”.

Having explained that, I just want to say that I feel like Suz and I have “worn glitter” for a large part of our lives. Under one name or another, we’ve been in business more than thirty years and this is how our year generally goes in regard to the amount of glitter we deal with. January and February we work at moving out what’s left over after the holidays (just once, I would love NO leftovers) and March brings continuous vacuuming to get rid of the glitter that seems to still be everywhere. April, May and June gives us a break from all the shiny stuff and then we are right back in the midst of sparkles between our toes, a bit of shine in one eyebrow and a trail of fairy dust leading across the carpet.

We could order ornaments that don’t sparkle like the stars in the sky when your lights hit them, garlands for your mantle that haven’t any shine even though you put your flickering candles amongst them, Santas and snowmen that have no glitz (or personality) or all sorts of things that just sit there with none of that messy glitter. Not happening…k

July 14, 2016

Posted 125 weeks ago

No Matter Which Way It Goes...

My daughter Allison recently sent me a Fitbit as a gift. If you’re not familiar with the item, it’s a “bracelet” that keeps track of how much you walk in a day, among other things. The goal is at least 10000 steps a day. I wish I could say I make that every day but I don’t. I actually try, and I used to think it wouldn’t be that hard given that I’m not much of a sitter and I have steps at the shop. I have passed the goal a few times and come quite close lots of times (that counts doesn’t it) but a lot of days, I just don’t make it.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how much we think we move around in a day’s time. In my case, apparently I stand behind the counter at the store a lot more than I realized. Obviously, I need to get moving if I really want to take those 10000 steps every day.

We all have good intentions in regard to our small goals, whether it be those 10000 steps, eating a little less (or in my case, a little less sugar), going to bed earlier, maybe drinking two cups of coffee instead of three. Those are the small things in life we can do, not huge life changes, just things that might make us a little healthier, a little thinner, a little less tired.

It’s the big goals that are so much harder to accomplish, like quitting smoking (we’ve all watched a loved one struggle with this one), losing a substantial amount of weight, working less, or the opposite, working more in the hopes of making a business succeed.

We all have goals, big and small, some will be met, some not. No matter which way it goes, as long as you do your best, you’ve accomplished something…k

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June 28, 2016

Posted 127 weeks ago

Those People...

It was Polkafest time in New Glarus this past weekend. In conjunction with that, Saturday was the Beer, Bacon and Cheesefest (or as a couple of customers referred to it as the “Heart Attack Fest). There was also the Canoefest in Darlington (their 50th anniversary, WOW!) and the Summer Frolic in Mount Horeb. So many festivals, so little time…impossible to get to them all (or since I worked all 3 days, didn’t get to any other than hearing the bands play outside the shop).

Festivals are great way to highlight a community, bringing in tourists and locals alike to spend money (which is how a community survives), but they are also a terrific amount of work especially for folks in a small town. A smaller population means a limited number of people to help with the multitude of tasks that need to be done to insure a successful event. It’s amazing how people pull together to get all the details taken care of, spending countless hours at meetings when they have already put in a day’s work. Making sure everything is ready to go down to the slightest detail is no small amount of work.

I have one thing to say about those people that put aside their obligations either at home or at work to help out because they love their community so much and that is, thank you…k

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June 14, 2016

Posted 129 weeks ago

The Next Big Thing...

I spend a bit of time looking at “trade"magazines. If you’re not familiar with the term,they are magazines that are published for shops such as ours that tell us what the designers think are the latest design trends, popular color choices and products. They come out with phrases like Upcountry Home, Rustic Chic, Ranch Style or Bohemian to describe what they think will be the next big home decorating hit.

Sometimes when I read the articles I do take to heart what they have to say when I buy inventory knowing that I have customers that will actually want that particular style. For example, lots of our customers are interested in the trendy industrial look so whether it be new or vintage, we have some of that in the shop.

There are some trends that we tend to skip over, thinking that we don’t necessarily have the customer base that is interested in it. The first one that comes to mind is Bohemian, with its colorful pillows, throws and other items associated with that look. I like it, but I am just not sure that it is a good fit for our shop. Since there’s not enough room or money to even begin to carry everything the designers are promoting as ” the next big thing", that old saying, when in doubt, don’t, works well…k

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June 4, 2016

Posted 130 weeks ago