Wednesday, December 31, 2008

holiday rewind - part three

December 26th brought yet another family gathering - this time with Larry's side of the family, many of whom have migrated from NJ to Colorado.

We met Krissy's husband, Rob, for the first time. They were married on Maui only a month before Kate and Brian were married last year, and the timing just wasn't right for us to travel then. Here they are with our LA daughter, Marnie, in the middle:

We also met Caroline, Rob and Krista's daughter, who is the same age as our grandson. (Yes, it's confusing. Brother and sister Rob and Krissy married Krista and Rob). Here's a shot of the 3 younger cousins, including Trinity, Caroline's older sister:

There's a famous family picture of first cousins Marnie and Rob sitting in a chair together, ages 4 and 5. Here they are again, 33 years later:

And here are their kids, wiggling into the same pose amidst lots of laughter:

Later in the week, we even were able to fit in some grown-up time by going to the movies and to see "Jersey Boys" in downtown Denver. It was a jam-packed week of holiday and family time and we loved every second of it. We flew back yesterday, only slightly delayed going through Cleveland, and were happy to crawl into our own bed last night. This morning we woke to 12" of new-fallen snow. I unpacked and Larry plowed the driveway. It's good to be home, safe and sound. But it was even better to be with our family for the holidays. We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2009!

holiday rewind - part two

Christmas morning dawned bright and early, but Nana and Poppy tried to sleep in as long as they could!

Once we all were up, the morning's activities began with much laughter and screams of joy from a certain three year old. He was amazed to see that Santa and his reindeer had enjoyed their snack and that there were lots of presents under the tree:

We opened stockings first, all of which were bulging with goodies. Even Bella and Murphy had their own stockings (note new paint try-out patches on the wall):

Breakfast followed, a yummy egg/sausage casserole made by Kate, and then it was time to open presents. Not surprisingly, 90% of the presents were for a certain three year old. Some really heavy ones had even been shipped out to LA for his LA Christmas with his father.

Then it was time to get ready for Christmas dinner with Kate's in-laws, who all live nearby. She made a wonderful dinner, roast beef, ham and all the trimmings. (We were still feasting on leftovers several days later). The table was lovely and Kate and Brian were able to use many of their wedding presents:

It was great to visit with Brian's family again, and to meet his cutie nephew, Derek, and his grandfather, John. Here's a shot of Brian's mom, Madelaine, with her grandson and ours:

holiday rewind - part one

It's been some time since the last post...but with good reason!

We had the marathon run up to Christmas at the store, interrupted on Friday, Dec. 19th with a big, dangerous snowstorm. Then it was back to work for a few days before packing up and heading off to Denver for Christmas. Suzanne held the fort at the store on Tuesday while Larry and I had an unplanned visit to Texas. Our flight to Newark arrived late, it took over 20 minutes to retrieve our gate-checked carry-on bag and we had to take a bus to the other concourse for our flight to Denver, but we got there before the plane had left. Unfortunately, they had closed the flight and had given away our seats.

Off to the service counter, where we were told there was no way we were going to Denver that night, but we could get on a standby list for Houston, with a confirmed flight from Houston to Denver on the 24th. The girl at the desk told us we had "a better chance of winning the lottery" than making the flight....but she was wrong! We got on and had even better seats than we had reserved for the Denver flight. Arrived in Houston without a hitch and went to the airport Marriott to sleep in a bed rather than on the airport floor.

We had an uneventful flight to Denver on Christmas Eve, arriving 24+ hours after we had left home. Not a good beginning to our trip...but we were there! Our LA daughter and her son had arrived on time the previous day and our Denver daughter and her husband were there to greet us. Finally, we were all together.

The house was beautifully decorated and the tree was up:

There was even a Colorado reindeer in residence, who looked suspiciously like Bella, the queen of the house:

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care, with hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. We even provided Santa with cookies and milk, along with some carrots for the reindeer (Bella-deer excluded):

Then it was time for bed, not only for a 3 year old, but also for his exhausted grandparents!

Friday, December 19, 2008

two inches an hour

This time the weather guys got it right - major, heavy snowfall coming down at 2 inches an hour. We opened on time this morning, actually 15 minutes early as we had an expected customer come a few minutes before the opening bell, but made the executive decision to close around noon. By the time we put everything back into the safe and swept off the car, another 2 inches had fallen. Then it was a do-or-die drive home on country roads. Fortunately, the "do" part worked and the "die" part will be another day. But it was waaaay scary and I am glad to be safely home. Next up - a big cup of steaming hot chocolate, maybe two. And hey - it isn't even winter yet!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

leap of faith

This is only our second holiday season and last year was its own special case -- we were new and lots of people were still checking us out. This year we're dealing with an extraordinary financial climate, one which is not being kind to retailers. We really don't know how to evaluate our holiday business so far, except to say that it hasn't been awful and we're still making new friends and seeing repeat customers.

But what we're hearing on the street is not good. One established retail shop owner has been to the emergency room with chest pain, but feels so stressed by the downward trend in sales that he doesn't want to have any cardiac workup done til after the holidays. No news is good news, or rather, no news means not having to deal with the news.

Another longtime women's wear retailer has seen a significant drop in her local sales. She's still doing ok with sales at another location and on her website, but she hasn't seen such poor holiday sales at her downtown location in a long, long time.

We knew getting into this business was going to take a lot of preparation and sustained hard work. What we didn't know was that our leap of faith was going to have to be an Olympic-sized long jump.

Friday, December 12, 2008

a balancing act

We love these level necklaces from Judi Patson of Vancouver, BC. Made of acrylic and sterling silver, they come in a variety of colors - one must be just right for you! Watch that bubble float back and forth. How is your balancing act? Are you on the level?

Talk about conversation-provoking joolz!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a potpourri of pins

For your viewing pleasure, a potpourri of pins:

18K and sterling silver pin/pendant with Chinese writing stone and garnet, by Michele LeVett, Durham, North Carolina

Textured sterling silver stickpin by Reiko Ishiyama, New York City

Sterling silver and 18K bi-metal Rectangles pin with iolite, yellow aquamarine, specolite and garnet, by Ashka Dymel, Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, December 7, 2008


There's been a whiteout on 2 fronts.

We're currently having snow showers coupled with 40mph wind gusts. Our gorgeous lake view is "now you see it, now you don't." Our house is on the downslope of a hill and when the snow is really flying, we feel like we live in the clouds.

The other whiteout is the change I've made to the blog layout. The pale grey background is gone and has been replaced with white. Easier to read and much more like the interior design of the shop: white walls, black trim and lots of red accents. Hope you like it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

our newest artist - taysha palmer

Taysha Palmer walked in the other day and asked if I'd like to see her handcrafted jewelry. Originally from Niagara-on-the-Lake (one of my all time favorite spots), Taysha had moved to Canandaigua after her recent marriage and was looking for galleries to carry her jewelry. She told me she is also a painter and a writer but especially loves making jewelry.

I asked to see a selection of her work and chose some earrings to have at JOOLZ. Taysha's jewelry is understated, has great lines but makes a statement at the same time. She uses inexpensive metals and unusual stones, making for a very affordable but unique product. I love the simplicity and clean lines of her earrings, seen below:

Friday, December 5, 2008

goodies from craig hagstrom

I'm the first to admit that I know nothing about photography but I really want to be able to show you the kinds of joolz we have available, especially as the holiday season approaches. There's LOTS of new inventory in the store, so I got the camera out today, set it to macro and went to work.

Artist Craig Hagstrom of Sequim, Washington has sent us lots of new pieces. Craig is a master goldsmith who has been in the business over 30 years. His pieces are 14K gold and he chooses really vibrant stones. Here's just a sampling:

The 14K yellow gold Mobilia pendant has a 3 ct amethyst and a .07 ct diamond. The matching earrings have 3 ct total weight amethysts and .04 ct total weight diamonds. The Mobilia collection features a hinge mechanism in each piece, allowing the jeweled part to move freely.

These 14K yellow gold Galaxy earrings have 4 ct total weight green tourmaline cabochons, pink tourmalines and .08 ct total weight diamonds.

This ribbon stickwork pin is also a pendant. It is made of both white and yellow 14K gold, and includes a garnet, a tsavorite and a .06 ct diamond. We also have the matching ribbon stickwork earrings.

Just a small sampling of Craig's work now in stock. Other pieces include colored diamonds, aquamarine, peridot, topaz, blue zircon, plus lots more amethyst and tourmaline pieces and several rings. Craig's become a favorite of our customers and you'll see why when you see his work in person.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

our sign saga

One of the myriad of decisions I had to make when getting ready to open my business was about signage.

What kind of signs would I need? Who would I get to make my signs? Did my plans meet all the city's rather strict guidelines? Would we have good visibility on the street?

I decided I wanted a sign flat on the building - a sign of our JOOLZ logo, which is black with white lettering would stand out against the yellow brick building. My request met the city's requirements as to size and materials. But the Planning Board refused my request and asked me to have a hanging sign, as they felt that would be more esthetically pleasing. I felt visibility would be less but had no choice other than to agree.

Brent Gillette of Bristol Signs and Neon came recommended by a store owner whose sign I admired. Brent worked with me to create both a sign for the outside of the building (now needing to be finished on both sides) and a sign for inside the store. Both signs were ready to be hung around our opening in May, 2007.

In December, 2007 our outside sign blew down in high winds. No one was injured, but that was only a matter of luck. Rather than repair and reinstall the hanging sign, I gathered my courage and went back to the Planning Board, asking again for a sign to be flat against the building. Customers had told me it was very hard to see the hanging sign and hard to find me. And, of course, I wanted to avoid any kind of potential injuries to pedestrians.

The Planning Board agreed to my request almost without discussion - and Brent worked to repair the damaged sign and convert it to a one-sided sign that would hang flush on the building. He also constructed an A-frame sign to sit out on the sidewalk.

Now we are much more clearly visible from the street and there is little chance anyone will be injured by a falling sign. And Brent is so proud of his work on our signs (and rightly so) that he has featured many shots of his JOOLZ work on his new website. Be sure to take a look...and be impressed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

holiday hours are posted

We've just posted our holiday hours, adding to our regular Tuesday through Saturday schedule.

We'll be open extra days on
Sunday, December 21 from 11am - 3pm and
Monday, December 22 from 10am - 5pm

Last chance to buy Christmas joolz will be on Tuesday, December 23 from 10am - 5pm.

Then it's vacation time, and we will be CLOSED on Christmas Eve, reopening on Tuesday, January 6, 2009.