just k

More Projects...

Oh dear….its been more than 3 months since I’ve written anything. In my “defense”, I got a little backed up with life!!! Allan had surgery to replace the bottom half of his nine year old knee replacement because it broke ( only he would have that happen), I’ve been trying to finish up my house projects (one room to go) and it seems as though I’ve been spending a lot of time on store “stuff”. Translation: between one thing and another, I was tired!

With Allan now on the mend, most of the house done and catching up a bit at the store, I should be good to go until the next time I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all feel comfortable taking a break from things when we’re feeling like we just can’t get it all done? Instead we tend to feel guilty that we need to take a step back and regroup. Of course in my case, I’m my own worst enemy as I’m admittedly a workaholic. I also like my home to be clean (dusty doesn’t count as dirty) and for the most part, things picked up and put away.

I think my next goal should be sitting on the sofa, relaxing, while going through my big stack of magazines I haven’t taken the time to look at over the last couple of months. The trouble with that is, I know I’m going to find more projects that I “need” to try…k


May 23, 2016

Posted 349 weeks ago

Hope I'm Right...

I have been lucky to have the opportunity to attend a number of productions at the wonderful Overture Center in Madison. When we lived in Darlington, the Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation did chartered bus trips at least a couple of times a year in order to raise funds for their scholarship fund. It was a good  way to go, donate a little money to a great organization, have someone else drive and see lots of wonderful shows that you may not otherwise take the time to go see.

I’m even luckier that my daughter-in-law asked me awhile back to join a small group here in New Glarus that chooses a handful of productions over a year’s time to see at Overture. Recently, we saw The Sound of Music. Having seen the movie a couple of times, I knew the story of the brave von Trapp family and how they escaped the Nazis during World War II. I really loved all the beautiful singing (oh, if only I could carry a tune…) and it was interesting to see how they took the most important lessons of the movie to a live stage.

Looking back, I have to say those bus trips from Darlington were really fun, giving me a great way to spend the day with family and friends along for the ride. I also have to say that when I said I was even luckier when my daughter-in-law asked me to join her group in New Glarus it was because it made me feel like I had accomplished one of my goals in life, to be a good mother-in-law (because who wants to spend time with a lousy mother-in-law?). I sure hope I’m right…k


February 12, 2016

Posted 364 weeks ago

Gambling Of Another Sort...

I am sitting in the airport in Madison waiting to board my flight to Minneapolis. Once there, I will be going on to Las Vegas. Am I going on a fun trip to Vegas to lie in the sun by day and gamble by night you ask? Not quite. I’m on my way to the Las Vegas Market, gambling in another sort of way.

I’m going to check out what the Las Vegas Market (a wholesale gathering of thousands of companies that sell gift and home accessories to shops across the country) has that we might want to put in Sisters. In years past Suz and I have visited Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and most recently, Minneapolis in search of goodies.

I am literally flying solo this time, Suz opting to “hold down the fort” while I go “gamble” on new items that we hope will sell well in the shop. Just like at the slot machines, we hope to “win” by finding things that you won’t be able to live without!

So do you see what I mean about gambling of another sort? You spend your money, hoping for a good return (so you can go again and spend more) but quite honestly, I hope I am better at shopping for Sisters than most folks are at the slot machines, otherwise I probably should have stayed home…k


January 23,2016

Posted 366 weeks ago

Believe Every Word...

As I watched the news tonight, the reporter talked about how nasty the campaign for president has gotten. It seems as though some candidates will say anything to bolster their numbers in the polls. I’ve been reading articles in the New York Times and The Washington Post (a habit I acquired when I flew…passing the time by reading newspapers left behind by passengers) that check on the truthfulness of candidates’ statements. The scale seems to run from true, mostly true, somewhat false, false and finally to “pants on fire”.

I find it very frustrating to listen to these folks say whatever pops into their heads, true or not, if they think it will get them a larger following. I find it even more frustrating to see others share “pants on fire” candidate statements on Facebook and other social media without actually verifying the statement’s truthfulness. I am well aware that lots of folks think that “if you read it on Facebook, it must be true”! Really???

To think that we have ten more months of mud slinging, name calling, acting like a spoiled teenager behavior by our presidential candidates is just about enough to make a person go buy the latest issue of The National Enquirer and believe every single word in it…k


January 14, 2016

Posted 367 weeks ago

Out Of My Funk...

It was nasty cold today…you know, cold enough to, as they say, “freeze my *** off”. Must not be cold enough because I still have it! All joking aside, it WAS nasty cold today. I made Al stay in the house because he has his long time ticker troubles and I don’t think he should be out in this cold weather. Of course he pouted like a kid (for about 30 seconds) but since he’s retired there’s no reason he has to go out on a day like today…lucky him.

I spent my day working at the shop, cleaning, marking some stuff down and doing a little rearranging to get ready for new inventory coming in. The store always seems so empty to me in January. I know that’s the “goal”, to sell well during the holidays (so we can pay for Spring and on and on it goes) and clear out the remaining holiday merchandise as soon as possible. Still, every year after the trees are put away, the glitter is vacuumed up and one more holiday season is put to rest, I always feel a little bit sad…another year pouf! gone, gone, gone.

Lucky for me, there’s a new year in the making and my little bit of sadness is gone in short order.  It’s time to start bringing in lots of fabulous vintage finds I have been out hunting for. I love the door opening to let the UPS or Fed Ex guy come in with a nice big stack of boxes full of new stuff. All of it pulls me out of my funk quicker than you can say I love Spring! I know it’s still says January on the calendar but my heart says April…k


January 7, 2016

Posted 368 weeks ago

Check It Twice...

I decided today it might be a good idea if I made out my Christmas shopping list. I tend to buy a few things and then decide what else I still need to get. With three kids, five grandchildren and my daughter-in-law and my penchant for wanting to keep things “even”, sometimes I have to be a bit creative in my gifting. Like everyone else, I have resorted to gift cards or even cash although I think it’s more fun to open an actual gift. On the plus side, gift cards and cash never need to be returned.

Having been in the retail business for 40 years (how is that possible? I started out when I was eight) I have seen Christmas shopping for lots of people go from an enjoyable holiday tradition to a stress-filled, absolutely have to have, standing in line at the mall just to buy the same thing everything else has marathon. Speaking for myself, I love the Christmas season and try really hard not to fall into that line of thinking.

Maybe it’s because I have owned a small business for so long that I choose to buy as many gifts as possible at small local shops. I’m not criticizing those who prefer to buy at the mall if that’s your thing, I just really like shopping at small stores. I hardly ever have a problem finding a parking space, I rarely have to wait in line, I find things you can’t find at the mall and I know the owner appreciates my business.

So as I make out my list, check it twice (or maybe even three times), I think about the local shops that I’m going to visit to do my shopping. And when I’m done wrapping my treasures, I’m going to put my feet up and pour myself a glass of wine from the bottle I just happened to pick up while I was visiting one of those wonderful shops…k


December 18, 2015

Posted 372 weeks ago

No Paint Cans...

The holiday season is upon us and I admit I love this time of year (I’m not enthusiastic about cold and snow but so far we have a wonderful lack of both). I love decorating for the holidays both at the shop and at home, I love spending a little extra time with family and friends and I love that most folks tend to be a little cheerier.

It takes a fair number of days to decorate the trees and display the holiday items at Sisters. Every once in a while one of our customers will ask if we have the inclination to decorate at home after we spend so many hours on displays and the answer for me is, absolutely!

At this point I must “confess” I didn’t decorate my home for the holidays 3 or 4 times over the 44 years we’ve been married because we were in the middle of one renovation or another. I just never thought a nicely decorated tree looked good sitting in the middle of paint cans, unfinished floors and heaven knows what else!

This year I am decorating our old farmhouse for the first time (yep, last year we had almost every room in the house ripped up…what IS the matter with us?) and so this year it was fun to figure out where I wanted things to go. After I finish up sometime in the next few days, I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor, no paint cans allowed…k


December 5, 2015

Posted 373 weeks ago

A Better Place...

It is Veterans Day today. This is a day to honor and thank all veterans past and present for their service to our country.

Today I stopped at the Veterans Memorial in Darlington. It’s a beautiful monument to the area’s veterans, names etched in dark granite listed in no particular order under the name of the war each veteran fought in. I took a few minutes to locate the names of family members, Allan’s brother Lee, my brother Frank, my grandfather Renzo Flannery, my uncles Donald Flannery and Frank Sauer ( and you thought there was only one Frank) and others.

As I searched for those names, I saw other names that meant something to me, many that I was familiar with but didn’t have a personal connection to and many whom I did not know.

I have no idea how many names are etched into that Memorial but what I do know is that every single person listed gave us so much to be thankful for, our freedom to be who we are (good or bad) in a country that is a great place to live. Do we have problems? Of course we do but just as our forefathers did, we all need to work together to move past our problems.

I believe that the best way to honor and thank our veterans, is for each and every one of us to do our part to make the country our veterans fought for a better place to live…k


November 11, 2015

Posted 377 weeks ago

Buy Local...

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood (remember Mr. Rogers?) and in most of Wisconsin today. Seventy degrees in November, what’s not to like about that? I spent most of my day outside working but it was so pleasant that it hardly seemed like work.

I had a handful of projects sitting in the garage (Al HATES it when I have “store stuff” in the garage) that needed to either be cleaned up, hardware put on or some other minor thing done to it before it I could take it in to the shop. Thanks to the great weather, I managed to get quite a bit done.

As I worked on my projects today, I was thinking about this year’s holiday shopping season getting underway and making sure the shop is well stocked for our customers. Of course we have items that we have ordered from our tried and true companies and of course many of them are “made in China”. Do we wish that wasn’t so? We do. Can we survive without those products? Unfortunately not. We have however, tried very hard to “buy local” just as we hope that you will.

Here a few examples. We have great corrugated tin letters, personalized signs & boxes, pillows, table runners, wreaths, frames, signs and jewelry all made in Wisconsin. We have candles, signs, calendars, repurposed vintage pieces and cards all made in the United States. Do we wish we could do more? Absolutely! And we will…k

November 4, 2015

Posted 378 weeks ago

The Most Valuable Thing...

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, a bit crisp but with the sun shining and still some color on the trees, the makings for a pleasant Fall drive. 

We are on our way to Sun Prairie to deliver an antique table and general store cabinet to our niece Mallory, who recently bought a home there. She wanted a large table for her dining room and something for her kitchen that she could use for an island. She has the same taste that I do, mixing old with new, not concerned that everything “matches”. She trusted me to find her the right piece for the size of her kitchen and I had to hunt for a bit to find one but I think she’ll be happy with what I found.

I love looking for a specific piece for someone, (if it’s for someone special that’s even better) checking all my favorite spots for just the right thing. Sometimes I may have to look for awhile and check a lot of places (some of them a couple of times) but that’s one of the parts of my job that I like the most. I often tell customers searching for a special piece that “the hunt is the best part” of looking for something.

It’s a good feeling to know that customers (related and otherwise) feel that they can trust me to find them what they are looking for at a price they are comfortable with. They also know that they are not forced to take what I find if they have changed their mind for whatever reason.

My sister Suz and I have worked hard for many years to not only gain that trust but to be shop owners with integrity, to always try to do the right thing by our customers. In my opinion, that’s the most valuable thing we have at Sisters…k


October 25, 2015

Posted 379 weeks ago