We are finally bidding farewell to January 2011. I couldn't wait to see it go...until I saw the weather update on the news this morning. So, apparently, February has it in for us, too. If I am hearing them correctly...and I will continue to hold out for the possibility that they are wrong (again) I think we have approximately 48 hours of ice and sleet (with a little snow mixed in for the fun of it..) to look forward to!! Now...I guess we can dwell on this nightmare that is the Winter of 2011...or we can look forward to the Spring and all the promise that it brings. I, for one, am sick of the Winter Blues and the dreary attitude that comes with it. The daffodils that I planted in the pots on my windowsill are starting to come to life. This is a good sign!! I will continue to put the new Spring merchandise out and plan all of my "new ideas"...and I know everyone is anxiously waiting for the Spring class schedule to be posted. I am, also, hoping to get to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show, this year. This year the theme is "Springtime in Paris"...I'm in!! February has some great celebration opportunities, too. Valentine's Day, our wedding anniversary, my oldest daughter's birthday and my grandson's 1st birthday are all right around the corner. Winter...this, too, shall pass. New month~~new attitude!! The sooner we get February started...the sooner we can tell it "good bye"....come on April!!!
This just looks like "Springtime Under Glass"...I spent the afternoon, yesterday, doing a little re-arranging in the gift shops. I will admit that I put out some more Spring...I did warn you!! There are more flowers, mushrooms, garden items and even bunnies. I did not give in to the temptation to go full blown Easter...but they are calling for more of this cursed weather...so I make no promises!!! I am not alone, it seems, because this "Spring fever" merchandise is selling....that tells me that everyone has it!!! I am still waiting for new merchandise to arrive...and when it does I think the last traces of the Winter merchandise (which I am, already squeezing further and further into the corner...) will be invited to join the Christmas merchandise in the "Christmas Shop"...it's nothing personal...all of my snowman collection is in place at home...it's just that I am so sick of this weather and I want it to go away!!! I have no control over that...but I do have control over what goes on in the gift shops!! Today...I will wait, as patiently as I can, to see if the anticipated merchandise comes. I am, also, fine tuning next weeks Afternoon Tea Menu. "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."~~Iris Murdoch ~~I don't know who Iris was...but I agree with her thought. I am doing everything I can to provide you all with the continuous small treats...I think there is a gnome looking for a good home in the gift shop and I am pretty sure I smell chocolate mousse cake...or maybe that's scones...either way, we are here for you!!
If Winter comes...can Spring be far behind? Yup. My daughter has been trying to convince me that this Winter is almost over. I listened to her reasoning...but I am not sure I agree with it. My son says that the worst is almost behind us...we just have to get through February...then we can handle whatever March throws at us...because the end is in sight. Again, I hear it, but....??? I think this is all just a defense mechanism that we all have. We are trying to cope with this AWFUL weather, so we reason with ourselves and try to convince ourselves that it can't go on forever. Of course, that is a given, because it can't. Spring will come, the flowers will bloom, the trees will wake up, the grass will grow...and then need to be cut and the sun will shine...and then get hot as @#$$ and we will have something new to complain about!!! In my infinite wisdom, I have determined that THIS just may be the reason that the seasons and Holidays are "rushed". I mean, let's be honest, the big box stores "rush" things to get your money...and small independent guys like us have to keep up with them so that we can survive. But, maybe, there is more to this...I am going to be honest with you...I am SERIOUSLY considering putting ALL of the Spring and Easter merchandise that I have in stock out...right now...today!!! I don't think there is any "money making motive" behind this feeling...at all. The big box stores and the department stores might have their merchandise out because they are hoping to get your money....but I am thinking about this as MY defense mechanism!!! Maybe if I can go to work every day and see Spring...we can survive this Winter. Now...if only that would make all of the snow that is piled up outside of the shop go away...Oh...wait...that's what the plows are supposed to be doing...no comment!!
Yes...I know this is a Halloween picture....no...I have not lost it completely (yet!! Hahahaha..) The Board of the 1803 House had their dinner meeting at the shop, last night. They had all kinds of business to address, but there was one piece of business, in particular, that I was interested in. They voted on the possibility of having a Halloween Show at the house this Fall. It was passed!!! This is going to be a juried Halloween artists show. We are hoping to find local talent and will feature their Halloween art in addition to other, fun Fall activities. This is all still in the planning stages...but the Board approval was one big step. I envision this becoming an event that I can, finally, be proud of. I have seen so many "ideas" come and go, in the 16 years that we have been in Emmaus. Some of them were good ideas that either never came to fruition... or took a wrong turn (or two...) somewhere along the line...some of them are just awful ideas all the way around!! I feel, very strongly, that there is a lack of focus...you have to have a goal in order to achieve a goal!!! I pitched this idea because I love the 1803 House...I think it is a very important historic property and I would love to see it become the focal point (and, consequently, the benefactor of the funds raised...) of a "not to be missed" event...(or eventS...one thing at a time!!!) For all of you Halloween enthusiasts...and I know there are MANY...this is going to ROCK!!! For any of you who may fall in the "Halloween Artist" category....please get in touch with me!!! This IS going to be a juried event and space~~at least at first~~will, more than likely, be limited....but we would love to see your work and have you apply!!! I am very excited about this!! I know that Halloween is many, many months away...but it takes a long time to create...something awesome!!!!! I would love to hear some comments!!!!!!
Winter weather...snow...cold...wintery mix...cold, Cold, COLD....enough!!! It's all we think about, it's all anyone is talking about...I say enough already!!! Today is Monday...the only day we are closed. The house is clean, the laundry is done, it would be a perfect day to go on an adventure....but it is like 6 degrees outside...who wants to leave the house?? This lousy weather really puts a damper on everything. But I, for one, am going to rebel. I am going to go and clean out the refrigerator (it's trash day...) and start a pot of soup. I think I'd like to make some bread...I haven't done that since Christmas...and maybe some sort of tart or crisp or cobbler (got a new cookbook..) But, you say, where is the rebellion?? I mean those are all Cold-Weather activities...Right?? Well, when the soup is simmering and the bread is rising and the dessert is in the oven...I am going to plant the last round of bulbs that I bought for the garden...the ones that never got in the ground because we had such LOUSY weather....I am going to plant them in pots, and put them on my windowsill!!! So help me there WILL be some Springtime in my world one way or another!!!! And then...when that is all done...I will, probably, sit and watch a movie under a blanket. Let's be honest...there is, really, only so much you can do to rebel....that Mother Nature is one tough broad!!!
There is an old saying that "if you can't beat them...join them". I say if you can't beat them...start your own game!! We are in our 16th year of business. We have been called a "Tea Room" from day one. I am not a Tea Room. I am anti-fuss, anti-pomp & circumstance, anti-rules. What I mean by that is everyone has a preconceived notion about afternoon tea. Tea must be served in a pot, there should be silver and fine china involved...probably some lace, too. It needs to be served at a certain time of day...include certain kinds of food...no thank you!! So, from day one, I did my best to establish myself as a restaurant...not a Tea Room. We serve all kinds of meals...Lunch, Brunch and our Supper on Friday and Sunday Nights...We do our very best to make sure that the food is awesome, and the atmosphere is wonderful....and, even though some of our Ladies would prefer it otherwise, that men feel comfortable...(excluding them was NOT part of the plan....ever!!!) However...we offer a "Tea" if you are having a special event...like a shower. We, also, find ourselves doing quite a few off-premise parties that include our tea fare. I have to say...deep down inside, I love the IDEA of tea. I love the idea of sitting and relaxing (and we all know it is JUST an idea for me...) and enjoying some delicious little tidbits. No pomp...no fuss...no silver...no pots...no lace!!! I picture whimsy....I see Winnie the Pooh and friends around the table in the hollow tree, I see Peter Rabbit and family with carrot cake and blackberries, I see Alice in Wonderland. I am beginning to see that this just might be a new offering from Sweet Memories. I think I have put in enough time, that I have enough "seniority" that I can do this my way and be trusted to deliver a fun, whimsical, special, wonderful time without the RULES...this is one (Just one...) of those things that I have up my sleeve...any thoughts???
When you look at this picture what do you see? More than likely you see an opportunity to sit and relax....I, on the other hand, see weeds to pull and roses to prune and some "empty" spaces that could use a little color. I am 100% convinced that that is why I own my own business. We are in the horrors of January....I hate this time of year because of all of the weather concerns. But we are past all of the Holiday excitement...it should be time for a little "relaxing"...well, there is no such thing when you own a business, but compared to the last few months...this time of year should be a little calmer, anyway. However, every year, at this time...when things calm down....my mind starts to race. I see the weeds and the pruning and the empty spaces that need a little color. I have never been one to rest on my laurels...and I don't think I will be starting any time soon. There is no doubt in my mind that we are a success...but that is not good enough for me. I have a habit of reaching a goal, and then setting a new, even higher, goal. That is what I am in the process of doing right now. So...stay tuned...there is some great stuff up my sleeve!!! Just forgive me if I look pre-occupied, or if I don't realize that you are talking to me...it's part of the process!!!!
We had a slight delay in our removal of Christmas. We took the truck and followed our youngest daughter out to her new part-time (long story) apartment with some of her belongings, last Monday. That put a one week delay in the removal process. It was starting to make me a little nuts to still have some of the Christmas decorations out...but now it's all done. All of my snowman collection is keeping us company for awhile! The house is clean and looks all pretty, again! BIG job done...yeah!! This does not mean that I am embracing Winter...just accepting that which I cannot change!! I might not be able to change it...but I can do my best to make it as painless as possible!! We are slowly but surely feeding in the Spring merchandise and I am expecting some great new stuff any day now...refreshing your home is a great Winter past-time...and buying new things to make you happy is "retail therapy"...like I said I am doing my best!! I just placed an order for some great new stuff including the newest designs of the measuring spoons that everyone loves!! Also ordered some more new baby things to add to our little ones section CUTE, CUTE, CUTE....if you haven't seen the baby bibs we have for Valentine's Day yet...you should!!! I am expecting new jewelry, scarves, lamps, framed prints, and some more garden things....you might not be able to beat it...but no one said you had to join it, either!! So if you feel yourself starting to catch the Winter Blues...come on in and see us....if the "retail therapy" doesn't help...we have cake and cookies...enough said!!
I am not using this picture to be mean...I am putting this on my blog in an attempt to keep my sanity!! Under normal circumstances, I enjoy the Winter months....oh, don't get me wrong...I DO NOT love them...there is not even a strong affection. Once we get through all of the craziness that is the Holidays, life sort of slows down a little in the Winter. The shop is still very busy...but when we come home at night there are no gardening duties, the grass doesn't need to be cut, no pruning, watering, weeding...you get the picture. I have a little "down time"...time to read a book or watch a movie. Like I said...under normal circumstances. There is nothing normal about this Winter!!!! I am sick of the cold...sick of the salt....sick of the snow!!! I don't remember ever feeling this strongly, this early in the season!! A few days ago, we had a couple of ladies come in and they seemed surprised that we had the Valentine's candy "out already"....really??? After all, it's next month, so that was, really, a silly comment. But the fact of the matter is....I am ready to put out the SUMMER merchandise...that's just HOW ready I am to see the backside of this Winter!!!! I am not one to "rush" the seasons. I work very hard to make sure that the merchandise you can see, while you are eating in the dining rooms, is appropriate to the current season or Holiday. But, after this week especially, I am seriously considering hanging beach balls!!!! As if the lousy weather isn't enough to make you cranky....and border line crazy...."they" did the snow removal yesterday. Yes...it stopped snowing Wednesday morning and "they" just did the snow removal yesterday. Unfortunately...they forgot to remove the pile in front of our store. It is, literally, the ONLY pile left in town. I use the term "forgot" intentionally here...it's nothing new. But, the fact of the matter is, I don't think they forgot at all...I am pretty sure that squeaky wheels are heard...and then punished!!!! So...to sum up...if you are coming in to see us any time soon...use our completely plowed parking lot....and bring your flip flops. Maybe we can pretend all of the "salt" we are using (to get rid of the ice) is sand!!!
I would like to take a moment and say hello to all of you who are following and reading this blog...Hello!!! In the past few weeks I have met, and spoken to, a whole bunch of you who think enough of me (and what I have to say...) to follow along with this blog...(including the young lady who came for lunch, yesterday...) but as nice as that is...you, also, made a point to find me and TELL me that you follow along with this blog...that is SO nice of you...(and a bit of a relief too... sometimes, you feel like you just might be talking to yourself!!!) You are more than welcome to leave comments either on here or back on my facebook page...I try to answer everyone!!! Anyway...Thanks again!!!~~~Now...to a different subject...I was, recently, reading a magazine. In that magazine there was a picture of a cake and in the caption they used the term "boutique bakery"...I thought "THAT'S what we are!!!" What a great term...not only does it describe the uniqueness and creativity that is us...but it, sort of, gives me the permission to be different!! I know I don't need permission...but sometimes we are "challenged" in our "different-ness"...Let me explain. There are times when someone wants to buy a whole cake out of the bakery case (for example..) and cannot understand why we won't sell it to them. No matter how we explain that you need to order it ahead of time, and that the desserts that are in the case are for our dining customers...they just refuse to listen and try to stuff me back into the "mold" that everyone else is in. If you can walk into the grocery store and buy a whole (frozen) cake...why can't they do it in our place? The answer to that question is that we are a "boutique bakery" and make everything fresh, on the premises and to order. I love it...I am going to use that term from now on!!! I am sure it won't make any difference...we will still have to explain ourselves again and again...but it makes me happy!! (Now... to all of you who know me very well...the answer to the question you are thinking of is "Yes"...it HAS been one of those weeks and I have found myself challenged over and over...and "yes" I am, once again, using this blog to do a little ranting...I mean discussing!!!)~~~ Thank you, again, to everyone who is following along...and also to everyone who "gets it"...you guys ROCK!!!
The Gourmet food order that I was waiting for arrived!!!! This area is all nice and full, again!!! It was funny, within an hour of it's arrival, three customers came in and purchased something from this display...it was like radar!!! It is all SO good and so popular...it's not unusual for it to sell...but it was funny that they came in when they did...like they had a look-out waiting for it!!~~~We, also, got all of the brand new Byers' Choice pieces in. A Nautical Mrs. Santa (to go with the Nautical Santa...) The Williamsburg gardening family, The Valentine's Day boy and woman, and the new Easter boy and girl for 2011. They are all great...I'll try to get some pictures. We, also, received some new things for our "baby" area...it was a productive day!! ~~ We spent the day, on Monday, roaming around Carlisle. We went into all of the shops that were open (many are closed on Monday...but so are we...so I am not complaining!!) and it was very interesting. It's a college town, so there are some "funky" shops that appeal to that age group. It, also, has a big courthouse...so there are a lot of professionals and lawyers. The whole downtown is a "historic district" so there is a lot of pride in the buildings. I always think it's such a shame when you have an area with a lot of old buildings that DON'T have that. You can always tell where the property owners are only interested in making a buck...it's sad, and I think it's partially the local governments fault. We have an old building next door to our shop...literally right next door...somewhere along the line some idiot said it was OK for the old portion to be added to...and the owner built as much "rent-able" space as he could. They are having a problem (I think it's with water pipes...) right now...the lady who lives in the apartment where the problem is, is in her 80's. They are ripping it all apart...she is going to have one heck of a mess!!! They are using jack hammers and it sounds (and feels..) like they are coming through OUR place!!! That addition never should have been put on to begin with. It's such a contradiction...we have this little historic "Mayberry" town...and it seems like nothing is being done to preserve that. I hope the jack hammering is all over with...I don't know how much more I can take!!! I think some cookie baking is in order...cookies fix everything!!!!
Indulge me. I am going to spend the next few minutes ignoring the weather forecast... (and the approaching snow)...and the brutal cold and think SPRING!!! I want to go out in my garden and "plant" more magical mushrooms for the fairies and gnomes to play around!! I ordered a whole bunch of new ones, again, this year...and more fairy doors and some of the funniest gnomes I have ever seen!! I am very picky about gnomes...I know they are "kitchy"...it's part of their charm, but I don't think they have to look cheap and junky. I found some that are very charming and full of personality. They make me smile every time I look at them. Judging by how quickly they are finding new homes...I am guessing they are making you smile, too. We are selling an interesting mix of things, right now. We are selling Spring~~but we are, also, selling snowmen and snowflakes etc.~~actually, we are still selling Christmas!! January is a funny month...you don't quite know what you want!! I love my snowman collection...and, frankly, I can add to my Christmas collection at any time!!! But, right now...with the weather the way it's been...and will be by the end of the day, today...I want flowers and fairies and gnomes and magic mushrooms and herbs!!!! OK...I'm done whining...thank you for indulging me!!! Hey...I think I saw some tulips at the grocery store...and one of these gnome "pot huggers" would look too cute hanging on the side...like I said before...a lot of little treats will make you happy~~and that will make the Winter go faster!!!
Aahhh...January. The quiet, peacefulness of a frosty morning. The beauty of softly falling snow. The cozy evenings spent by the fire....you do realize that I am being sarcastic...right? I am sick of this weather, already...seriously sick of it!!! I do find that this month is good for something, though. After all of the responsibilities and craziness of the Holidays (which starts in August and goes right up to January 2nd...) I find that I can think beyond the "right now"...and I, usually, have spurts of creativity. My family would tell you all about how much they fear this...because it usually means "rocking the boat" in some way...either extra work or extra hours...or both!! But I enjoy change...it keeps us fun and interesting...and that keeps us successful. I have a few ideas cooking even as we speak. I can't spill the "beans" until the ideas are fully "cooked". I examine things from every angle and try to make sure they will go off without a hitch...but when I am confident that the "soup" is ready...you will be the first to know!!!(Do you like all of my food references???) In the meantime...I am heading downstairs to bury myself under a blanket!! Aahhh....January...the annoyance of having to scrap the frostiness OFF of your windshield....the terrible driving and plans ruined by the snow...the evenings spent by the fire because you are freezing to death!!! Hot chocolate anyone???
The Valentine's candy has arrived!! I don't know what took so long, but I am thrilled to have the "candy shop" looking wonderful again!! It is a focal point. It is a magnet. Everyone, young and old, head straight for the candy. All week it has been just empty jars waiting for this shipment!! I expected it on Tuesday...so it was a long week!! I put this order in months ago....the candy needs to be ordered way ahead of time (the Easter order was in before Christmas!!) or you run the risk of not getting what you want. My Rep for this company is really good about "gently" reminding me to get the order together. I have gotten into the habit of writing it up as soon as I get the catalog...that way I know I've done my "homework" and my order is safely in the computer system. Although I did all that was required of me for this, particular order...I am still missing a whole bunch of the candy!! I need to make a phone call on Tuesday and find out if this will be on it's way...or if they are already sold out of those items. I thought I was guaranteed to receive my selections...I guess there are no guarantees in anything. I am wondering why we make such a point of getting the order in so early if I am not going to get the merchandise anyway!!! Oh well...I am happy with what DID come in...it looks great. Now...where the heck is the gourmet food order that should have been here by now?? I am sounding a bit like a Diva...must be the yucky Winter weather (I have to blame it on something!!!)
I have a whole bunch of new pictures!!! I love when I have a whole bunch of new pictures to use on here!!! A picture is worth a thousand words...and it sure makes it easier to tell a story!! This picture is of our newest cupcake flavor...this one is "hot chocolate"...guaranteed to brighten up the dreariest Winter day!!! They are calling for some snow, tomorrow....I hope they are wrong. This, really, isn't a far fetched hope~~after all, they are wrong with some frequency~~snow just makes everyone scared to leave the house (except to fetch the required milk and bread...) The first job my son had was in a grocery store. He doesn't have a lot of "people patience" but he had to start on the registers just like everybody else. After a particularly long day, I was waiting in the parking lot to drive him home. He looked tired...but also extremely agitated when he got in the car...I asked him what was wrong and he asked me if there was snow in the weather forecast....I saw where this was going...I said "Yes, why? Did everyone need their milk, bread and eggs?" He went on a very long tirade about how...although we all know that we are not going to be "snowed in" and will...in fact...be able to get "out" almost immediately...he can see some logic behind the milk, bread and eggs...but what he could not figure out was why he was checking out SO many bags of potato chips and boxes of donuts!!! It was a very entertaining ride home!!! He is very quick, dry, sarcastic and, sometimes, acidic with his humor and when he sinks his teeth into a subject it makes for a very entertaining story!!! Now, whenever they are calling for snow, I remember his story and wonder just how many bags of potato chips and boxes of donuts are being stock piled!! If you are heading out for "supplies" I recommend the "hot chocolate" cupcakes...they are MUCH better than potato chips!!!
The transformation is complete. It starts at the front door...my husband and daughter changed all of the lighting out on the porch, yesterday afternoon. Now there are red heart lights and big, old-fashioned white lights around the front door and red and white lights over the windows. We have all white "icicle" lights hanging on the edge of the porch roof and big snowflakes in the windows. It looks great!! I had a meeting last night (still can't tell you what is up our sleeve...but SOON!!) so we were there a little later, and could see how it looked all lit up!! They did an amazing job, again!!! The gift shops are all re-done, too!! Valentine's Day, a little taste of Spring, great stuff in the "kitchen" to get you cooking and baking...and when all of the new merchandise we are expecting arrives...we are ready!!! It's a good feeling. Like a clean slate, a fresh start. Starting in the middle of August until the first of January the merchandise for the gift shops is, pretty much, a given. I mean, I decide WHAT I am going to carry...but it is Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once we hit January 1st...at least until it is time for the Easter merchandise...I can do what I want. The "candy shop" and "gourmet food market", downstairs, are all ready, too....for the shipments I was expecting yesterday!!! There are BIG holes where "stuff" belongs!!! Hopefully everything will come today!!! I don't like BIG holes!!! Oh well...I am going to try to get some pictures, too. Give you a taste of what we have been working on... of course, you are welcome to come and see for yourselves!!! Have a great day!!!
I had a moment, today...a moment that I realized, very clearly, what a difficult job it is to deal with me and my ideas. I don't think we are, usually, in a position to see that about ourselves. We go on...day to day...not really seeing that we can be a handful. We spend so much time thinking about how difficult those around us can be...but never really see it in ourselves. Let me explain....one week ago...just one short week...I was HATING the idea of removing Christmas. I was applauding those individuals who were defying the popular way of thinking, and were still celebrating the Holidays. The Hallmark channel continued to play Christmas movies right through yesterday, there were still commercials (yes, I know they are annoying...) with Christmas scenes, the decorations were still up at the malls...and to all of this I was saying "good for you!!!"...I was turning the tree lights on at home, thinking about how beautiful it was and, secretly, wishing this could go on for a while longer. All of those lights make the house so warm and cozy...I just didn't want to put it away. Now here we are, just one short week later...and I want it ALL AWAY!!! When does that happen?? What is that magic moment when your inner self is secure with the thought of change? More importantly...how can you go from one extreme to the other SO quickly??? It came over me SO thoroughly that we HAD to go to the shop and get some organization TODAY....on our day off!!! I just wanted to get a little bit done...just make it a little bit better...we were there a little over 6 hours. We moved furniture, cleaned, changed lights (that had burned out...) moved merchandise, made room for the stuff I am expecting tomorrow (I hope...) and my husband never said a word. Just did what ever I asked of him. I have a vision...always...and it has gotten to the point where he figures it is better to join than fight...and when it is all said and done, he is glad that we got so much done, too. Of course...we still have to pack up our things here at home, but getting started is half the battle!! I am glad to have some serenity back...and even "gladder" to have a family that tolerates my "thoughts and ideas"....Oh...if we move that over there and put these in here then we could do that on top of this and.....
Happy New Year!!! Hello 2011....I am ready for a change. I love the Holidays, but I am ready for some "normalcy" again!! There is so much to do at the shop and here at home...packing and cleaning and re-decorating, but I am looking forward to it. I decided, just this once anyway, to give myself a break and get it all done in good time...instead of trying to do it all at once and exhaust myself!! I need organization and routine back in my life. That is what the new year is all about, after all...cleaning out and freshening up...Right?? I have some great new merchandise on it's way...and I am really looking forward to re-doing the shops upstairs. I decided, since we have made a total commitment to the Byer's Choice Carolers, that the middle room will stay "Christmas" year round. It's silly not to acknowledge the fact that most of the line is, in fact, Christmas. There are quite a few "everyday" or other holiday pieces, too...but the Carolers will always be associated with Christmas. I sell Christmas year round, anyway...Jim Shore and the collectibles that we keep in our "Doctor's cabinet" at the top of the stairs (a great antique piece that was, actually, a cabinet in a doctors office..) sell all year long. There is something exciting about walking into a room, that is decorated for Christmas, in the summer time!!! There is plenty of great non-Christmas merchandise in the rest of the gift shop...but if you love the Holidays, or are a serious collector, you will be able to shop "off season" when the pressure is off!!! In the meantime, we have had some expected merchandise start to show up (of course, it wasn't expected until the end of January....) some of it is garden related...some of it is Easter....and the ride starts all over again!!! But, you know what?? I wouldn't change a thing!!! I think the promise of Spring and thoughts of chicks and bunnies is a great start to a great New Year....don't you???