Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Aunt Vilma still rules but I must confess Natalia's pierogies were right up there! Yum! Stop by her bistro and get some before they are gone!

We spotted friends in church yesterday that we usually don't see as they normally teach Sunday school (poor souls to my son!). Passing a note down the pew we ended up all together at that famed local institution, the Vienna Inn. 2 chili dogs and a cold beer is not my normal lunch during the holiday season but I have to tell you it really hit the spot and fortified us for our day ahead!

We basically wandered the neighborhood eating, drinking, telling stories and caroling. First an open house at Susan and Paul's where the fireplace was roaring along with the laughter. S & P have a great tradition that I wish I had heard of 20 years ago. When they shave the bottom off their tree before they put it up, they save the stump and write the date on it. So displayed on the Christmas mantle are 20+ years of tree trunks; all different sizes and widths. It's sentimental in the best sense of the word...

Then we went home to rest up for the neighborhood carol sing. I got my miles in. Bob here's your coat. Oh do you need your crutches out of the car? Honey you will never make it around the block, I'll go get your wheelchair. Oh you wanted the foot rests? Ok I'll take the crutches back. I DID catch up with them before they turned the corner but barely.... The kids have so much fun with caroling. Mostly I think they just like pummeling the doors of neighbors they don't know well and jangling the sleigh bells. A little annoying if you are singing "Silent Night" but you have to take it in the spirit it is intended! We finished up the night at Sheila and Phil's for hot soup and fondue and mountains of cookies. Evan, their son (and the kid's favorite baby sitter) was VERY generous and let the little kids play with all of his musical instuments. I thought he was very brave. (I don't THINK any thing got damaged). I have a great memory of our little buddy Andrew trying out the accordian for the first time. Pretty hysterical I must say!

We are at the shop until 2 today and then working on finishing our to-do lists.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the season great. I wish you and yours a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Are YOU Ready?

Ready for Christmas that is! I know I am not. There are things in the shop destined to be Theresa Stifel Christmas gifts unless someone decides to purchase them first! (That is working on the theory that My mom and sister would think that is far more important!) That theory was put to the test on Wednesday when I thought heck I will take home this (fill in the blank) for my sister Robin and the phone rang just as I was walking out the door and it was a customer asking if the lovely (fill in the blank) was still in the shop! I confessed that it was in my bag and told client Jennifer the story where upon I told her that I would be delighted to remove said item from my bag and it will soon be Jennifer's and not Robin's. Sorry Sis! I promise you'll like what you are getting. Really.

Speaking of lovely sister Robin she helped me do the drawing for Stifel and Capra's December gift basket raffle and Susan Sullivan is our big winner! I had a hysterical time trying to write her a congratulatory email this morning because I figured it I wrote "you have won" or "Congratulations" in the subject line the span filter would toss my message! Hmmmm, maybe I should CALL her, eh?

This am has been busy. I started the morning with a visit to my doc as I am working on round 2 of a bronchial infection (Merry Christmas to me!) so more meds for me! Then I stopped into our neighborhood bistro, Natalia's for coffee and a muffin and found to my delight that she has homemade pierogies! For those that don't know Pierogie are little eastern european stuffed pasta (like a ravioli) that are traditional holiday fare among Slovaks like my husband. And as we are not attending the annual Cousin's reunion this year I am thrilled to offer them as a consolation prize. Will let you know if they are as good as Aunt Vilma's!

Tomorrow is the last Saturday that we are open from 9:30 to 5:30 so do stop in if you need any last minute gifts. Avoid the mall, we have hot coffee and free parking! I'd love to see you!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tick, tick, tick

I know I have used that for a title before but that is sure what the month feels like! We had a really nice time on FIRSTFriday. A festive crowd, a chatty crowd, a crowd of men buying things for their wives (YAY!).

I am excited because people are understanding what Stifel and Capra has to offer that is NOT on the walls or the shelves. In the past few weeks I have received print orders out of our artist portfolios, a portrait comission, custom pillow orders and I just finished an angel this morning. I can't post her picture because she is a gift but I will put it up right after Christmas!

My friend Laurie was back from travels to Malaysia and Thailand and brought wonderful jewelry and silk items for the shop. They are going fast. I am sure we will both be sorry that she didn't buy more!

My son just experienced the heady feeling of a large group of people laughing at your jokes. The occasion? Being comic relief in his third grade play! All the kids did a great job but I will say with maternal pride that George does have good timing!

We are staying very close to home for the holidays this year. Bob is bemoaning the loss of attending his family reunion this year (he has 27 first cousins, most are married with kids so it is quite a shindig!) so if you want to come hang out by the fire with my pathologically social husband, do call, we could use the company!

I am at the store the rest of the week from 10 to 2 and on Saturday from 9:30 to 5:30 so stop on in! We have new items arriving daily. I will post some new photos of the shop soon!

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Library

The tricky thing about being a collector is not knowing when to stop! Case in point our Christmas Book collection. It has overflowed the alloted shelf in the family room. So I decided to make a Christmas Library in the dining room! It's been enjoyable. The kids will take their after school snacks and hang out with the books and read. Of course the standard after schhol snack of cheese and fruit doesn't quite compare to sugarplums dancing in your heads so I have received many more than normal requests for cookies. But heck it's the holidays!
Speaking of sweets George went to a fun party this last weekend. His friend Luca's brave parents had a gingerbread decoarting party for 10 kids! The kids did a great job with the candies and frosting to make quite lovely centerpieces to bring home. Although I must say George's looks more like the "before" picture for a home renovation at this point. I think he has picked off all of the trim!
Ashleigh and I have swapped all hours all around this week; the kids and spouses are taking turns being ill. Ugh. We seemed to have escaped so far. Must be those Mommy vitamins we take!
The shop is open 10 to 2 during the week and 9:30 to 5:30 on Saturday. We are announcing the winner of our Christmas themed gift basket raffle on Monday, so stay tuned for the winner's name!

Hope you can join us on FIRSTFriday!

On the First Week of Christmas My True Life gave to me... Twelve boxes of ornaments out of the attic, eleven strands of lights that don't work, ten new double strands that do, nine party invitations, eight more presents to design, seven special orders, six evergreen sprays to build, five doctor's appointments, four elves to find, three credit card receipts to iron out, two trees bought and put up, and one whole inch of snow!

I was wondering why I hadn't written in my blog this week and then looked at this list and it doesn't count the three extracurricular activities taxi rides and uh, running the shop! Weeeeeelll, I must say I tried to do one thing at a time and stay present during each activity! Even if that includes watching the light turn red, green, red while coming off Haycock Road!
Taking care of business first: It's the first Friday of the month and that means FIRST FRIDAY in Falls Church! At Stifel & Capra we are extending the time of our Happy Hour/Artist's Reception. From 5 to 9pm we will offer refreshments, a free gift basket raffle and selected sales on seasonal items. Hope you can join us! If not Friday then we are open Saturday from 9:30 to 5:30.

The kids are being such great elves this year; I don't know how Bob & I would manage without them. The kids got ALL of the Christmas boxes out of the attic without breaking anything and with the help of some kindly neighbors got the fresh Fraser Firs into the house and up in their stands. Of course the sourpuss mom noted that tidying the house of debris FIRST might have made it easier to decorate but c'est la vie. After wrestling all of the strands of lights into submission we got the trees decorated with enough ornaments left over to trim the bookcases and our "little" clock! Then it was on to rampaging game of "find the elf!". They tend to like hanging out in the kitchen just like most of our guests...

On the doctor's appt side we will all live. I had some complications from recent oral surgery and being a wee bit twitchy about infection these days (!) have been circling back a lot to the surgeon but all is well for now. Bob received an early gift from his psysiatrist [in a stranger than fiction truth, Bob's leg doctor is named Dr. Shin!] recently: a prescription for a "c"Leg. Thate is the super high tech prostetic limb that has a receiver implanted in one's bionic knee that receives signals from a transmitter on your other "good" leg to mirror you gait, etc. This type of leg can enable you to crouch or walk smoother on uneven terrain. There are a lot of neat things about it but the not so neat thing is that everyone agrees that it will need to wait until after Bob's hip replacement surgery next year. No sense in fitting a "super leg" on a body that is changing so they say.
Bob did great in the slippery mess. Translation: he didn't fall. Hope you slide through your weekend with aplomb, comfort and joy!
A special thank you to the street elf that shoveled for me this morning. (Henry I assume that was you!)
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Friday, November 30, 2007

A wise man I know gently pokes fun at the prevalent disease/brag/badge of honor that most of us carry these days. "How are you?" "Crazed", "Busy", "Slammed", "Run Ragged" are some of the responses to the question. My main mission as a parent is to not get caught up in all of that. Running from event to event, never actually experiencing the moment. I am sure that you are thinking "Yippee, profundities from Theresa about how she makes her candy canes from scratch". Well, uh, no what I am thinking is heavens to Murgatroyd it's NINE days past Thanksgiving, the house is trashed, we don't have any decorations out OR up, the calendar is crammed with events (yay!) and I feel completely bemused what I have actually done with myself for the last month.... I was explaining to the kids that Advent seems soooo long when you are 8 because when you have lived less than 100 months , one month is a long time but once you hit 550 plus months, December seems to fly by in a blink!

The best thing I have been doing is making Christmas gifts for other people! (think maybe I should get started on my own shopping?) I just finished this pillow and when Anna came to pick it up this morning she actually clapped! Now that's the kind of reaction I like to see. I love to do special family pieces-
Please remember that the shop is open from 9:30 to 5:30 this Saturday and from 10 to 2 during the week. Stop in for a cup of coffee to warm your bones after you hit the Farmer's Market.
ALSO: Mark your calendars! FIRSTFriday, December 7th , Artist's Open House, with wine, munchies, a gift basket raffle, all of those cheery souls with Santa Hats will win a free prize. So come play!Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Happy Thanksgiving Eve to you all! I am sitting here counting my blessings. An intact family, a new business and a sunny day. It's a wonderful life! That said my beloved husband's appointment with the hip specialist wasn't exactly what he was looking for. The 2 associates took one look at his MRI and said "Dude you need a hip replacement asap!" Ok, maybe that is not a direct quote but it serves to convey the information. Needless to say after a multiple month hospital stay and losing a leg Bob isn't too hip (ugh, bad pun) to head back to the OR anytime soon but it looks like he will need to have this done to be able to walk properly. As an interim move the docs have injected him with a painkiller/cortizoid concoction that hopefully will take the edge off for the holidays at least. It's good to know that there IS a solution to the problem even though it is not one that one wants to hear. I'm still thankful that Bob is on the earth bum hip or not!

We are heading off to Bob's cousin Terry's for Thanksgiving supper and festivities. Can't wait. We are getting geared up to for the three hour drive to.....Fredericksburg. Yes, I know it's less than 60 miles from Falls Church but that is the average time it takes us to get there on Thanksgiving. It's all worth it however!

Valerie called and she is going to be my go-to donut girl for Friday so stop by when you need a respite; I'd love to hear if anyone really went to Kohl's at 4am(eek!). I am here from a civilized 10am to 2pm on Friday and 9:30 to 5:30 on Saturday. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Deb Easter- Artist of the Day

Deb Easter, formerly of Woodbridge, Virginia lovingly pieces, quilts and sews these beautiful yet sturdy stockings together by hand. No sewing machine, just a comfortable chair and VERY good light! Deb constructs her stockings from velour, velvet, and holiday themed cottons. The stockings are fully lined so the treasures don't get trapped inside!

We had a fun Saturday. Steady stream of folks from the Farmer's market and clients that have been in before. Sunday Bob, the kids and I took off to West Virginia to spend an early Thanksgiving with my folks and my sister's family. So first batch of tryptophan languor! The sad part was THEN we had to get off of our duffs and drive home!

I am a grand time in my studio today working on custom orders. I really enjoying designing the various elements and putting them together to make a coherant whole. I like it even better when I am stuck, call a client with a question and they say "Oh, I'll defer to your judgement." Being on the receiving end of THAT statement is a cheap thrill. Doesn't happen much in the Land of Mom...

I'm starting to feel trapped by the calendar. The holiday "craziness" takes on a whole different flavor when it dawns on you that, uh golly, I am a merchant, a retailer, one of those people. Well, I must confess that I am putting my own spin on getting ready for Christmas, "Black Friday" or no "Black Friday"! We will continue to be open from 10 to 2 Monday through Friday during the week and from now until Christmas we will be open Saturdays from 9:30 to 5:30. On Thursdays please look for our ads in the Falls Church News Press for sale and event info. Please remember the shop WILL open by appointment so if these times are NOT convenient and you want to pop in- CALL ME, I'm happy to come open so you can shop. I haven't figured out a way to be in the studio, at home and at the shop at the same time so am happy to oblige your schedule.
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Friday, November 16, 2007

Today's artist - Jennifer Cortese

In keeping with our seasonal rearranging of the store (as opposed to the seasonal hanging of the greens!) we have moved Jennifer's lovely stone necklaces up front. Jennifer uses sterling silver, gold vermeil findings and the most lovely, substantial semi-precious stones to make her jewelry. Quartz, Tiger Eye, Turquoise and Jade are among the jewels adorning one of Lani's "feather" trees.

I had a whirlwind morning. Went to visit my vivacious friend Maria and her lovely mama at Tiara Day in Kensington. (What's with the name you ask? Well, according to Maria, "Every day should be a Tiara Day!") My envy over Maria's shop was one of the factors I used to decide to sign the lease here at Stifel and Capra. I had been reading Julia Cameron's classic "The Artist's Way" and in it she urged the reader to pay attention to the green eyed monster, jealousy, and use it to propel you to action.... But I digress! Maria is having her annual holiday open house this weekend and the store looks great! I bought some great pieces to make into pillows and a loopy little off-white chenille Chritmas tree because I couldn't resist adding it to my creamy living room!

Then it was off to my daughter's Elementary school to partake in the annual Parents-Invited-Thanksgiving -Day-Lunch-Special. Boy do those green beans take you back to cafeteria days! At least they didn't have mushroom soup and the little crunchy things on them (with apologies to those of you that actually LIKE green bean casserole). Of course my darling daughter didn't "invite" me until Wednesday to this fabulous feast so I COMPLETELY wasn't thinking I wouldn't be in the store so when my friend Amy came to call at EXACTLY the same time I was pulling into the parking lot. Ashleigh got to make excuses for me. *sigh* (I am SO sorry Amy! Would you believe me when I say you would beat out jelly cranberry sauce and soggy beans any day??! "But Moooommm, YOU ALWAYS come on Thanksgiving...." Duty called.)

Had a fun afternoon at the store however. Got lots of new merchandise in and we are as ready as we are going to be for the holidays. So come by! I will be at the shop Saturday morning from 9:30 to 12:30. Hope to see you then!
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Elizabeth Geers Loftis- Oil Pastel & Mixed Media

Artist of the Day - Beth Loftis!
"I'm inspired by patterns and primitive works. I love using oil pastels because it puts me close to my work- I'm happiest when my hands are dirty." Beth begins with a pencil sketch and then layers on the color! She favors earthy, ethnic combinations that refer back to her international travels while her husband was in the Foreign Service. After Beth is happy with her colors she applies a layer of watercolor to provide a nuetral base for her composition. Beth has both framed and unframed pieces in the shop and can be tapped to do custom pieces as well!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pat Swinsky - Porcelain Ornaments

Local artist Pat Swinsky lives in Fairfax, Virginia. I am a BIG fan of Pat's from way back. I first met her at the local Northern Virginia Handcrafter's Guild Craft Shows and begged her to put some her work in the store. Each of her dozens of designs are signed originals painted freehand by Pat. The raised designs are tectured glazes that are applied with a tool that resembles a hypodermic syringe. The ornaments are then kiln fired. The porcelain is lovely. It has a matte finish reminicent of Wedgewood.

We have gotten more of our "Custom Creations" online as requested so you can now order personalized items direct from the web.

Bob got the good (?) news back that he does NOT have bone chip floating around in his hip. On one hand no surgery to fix THAT but that means they still don't know what is causing the sharp pain in his hip. On to the hip specialist...
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Characters of Mary Ann Graham

Hope everyone enjoyed their Veteran's Day and remembered to say "thank you" to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines both past and present. If you haven't- It's not too late! Do it today!

I met Mary Ann Graham at the Northern Virginia Handcrafter's Guild when I joined years back. She makes wonderful, whimsical paper mache' and paperboard ornaments with loads of handpainted details. We have a tree loaded with quite the assortment. Tell me which is your favorite? (I am partial to the bald Santa, myself!).

Speaking of characters, one of husband Bob's FAVORITE CHaracters, Bill Mac Donald got married this weekend to his lovely bride Jenna. We traveled to lovely Ridgway , PA sans kids (thanks Grandma & Grandpa!) to attend. The town really is beautiful, nestled in the hills, lots of nifty architecture , NO McMansions and lots of personality. The wedding was a CRUSH. The bride and groom have 80 something first cousins between them so it was a huge event; we felt honored to be invited. Bob noted that half the groomen were from his firm (PPC) and was tickled that such lasting friendships are too be had at the company. As the groom constantly calls me "Mrs. Stifel" I just felt old!

Bob is off to the Orthopaedic surgeon this morning to get his latest MRI read. Keep your fingers crossed that there IS something that the medical community can do for his arthritis. It is difficult to watch Bob in so much pain. And the cold weather work exactly help....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ting & Pixie Design - Jennifer Hill

Found my camera cable, finally. As you can see we have done some jusicious rearranging to make room for all of the Christmas goodies! I have put up four Christmas trees loaded with ornaments. Starting today we will do a week day "artist of the day" profile so you can get a real feel for what is in the shop right now.

Today's ARTIST: Jennifer Hill of Ting and Pixie Design (see mannequin-left). Jennifer works at a DC consulting firm by day and wanted jewelry that showed she had a heartbeat under her navy blue suit! One thing led to another and she now crafts beautiful silver jewery that works as well with casual clothes as the aforementioned suit. Jennifer has quite the eye for combining different stones, shapes and types of metal to make an unique first impression. Her jewelry line is on display right by the front bay window. Check it out!

We are still taking orders for custom items: portraits, cookie jars, pillows and more. Please place your orders by December first for Christmas delivery.

Please be nice to my lovely and talented sister ROBIN as she minds the shop tomorrow from 9:30 to 12:30. Stop by we'd love to see you!

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Technical Difficulties...

Well, I'm 90% recovered from my dental surgery. It only hurts when I laugh so THAT's a bit of an issue for me...

We've been busy at the shop. The green room has been designated as "Christmas Central". Tons of vintage and handmade ornaments and Christmas goodies to check out. I am sure you are wondering why no shots of these glorious items. Well, uh, I finally brought in my camera case and discovered the connecting cable is back at the house. Can't exactly send them through the air. (yeah, yeah I know there are those of you that probably CAN wirelessly transfer photos but I am barely in the twentiest century, let alone the twenty first!).

Bob & I are headed to a wedding in Pennsylvania this weekend so my lovely and talented sister Robin is minding the store on Saturday. She will be here from 9:30 to 12:30 with hot coffee to share and treasures to discover! Come by and keep her company-
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Church Arts Auction a roaring success!

Shaun van Steyn was kind enough to forward this photo of the contributing artists that attended the Falls Church Arts Auction on Sunday evening. It was a lively crowd, the bidding was fast & furious, and the recipients were delighted with their winning bids (if jumping up and down and "yippee-ing" counts as such!). One such patron of the arts had the good taste to buy both Beth & Debby's offerings. The betting was so competitive on one piece of sculpture our auctioneer, (Paul Quinn of Falls Churchown's Quinn's Auction House), suggested that the artist make a companion piece so both bidders could win! He joyously agreed and the bidding continued.... Make time in your schedule to go next year. It was grand.

I am having a less than grand time today. Am recovering from dental surgery. Look like Marlon Brando with hair and a bad attitude.

You may have heard the sad news that Lani Phillips from Beyond the Garden Gate has closed up shop. But she is not quite gone from Falls Church yet, she and her friend Carolyn were in this morning with oodles of Christmas ornaments for the holiday season. If you were contemplating either the cute white hoosier cabinet or that nifty tall wooden column they are here; come get 'em before they are gone!

FIRSTFriday is this week so come have fun after your post-Halloween sugar let-down on Friday from 5-8pm. Parking COULD be interesting as they are resurfacing the lot behind us but you can always park across the street or next door so DO come. I'd love to see you!
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Friday, October 26, 2007

It's over!

The drought that is. Of course the kids have NO idea where their raingear or umbrellas are as we haven't used them for five weeks! We've had a steady stream of intrepid shoppers this week even without our signature balloon greeting out front. (they look more than a wee bit pathetic slumped on the ground in the rain don't you know...)

Along with the cobbler's children having no shoes, my son (whose father is a den leader) having no cub scout shirt, I have been taken to task for not having my artisan portfolio put together. So that is the mission for today. To put it together,. To make a plan to put it together. To, aah, think about what I need to make a plan to get it done. Let's just say while I wrestle it in to something suitable for public view you can still order personalized ornaments, pillows and collages in time for Christmas gifts. Just call me or stop in and we will get together and figure out what you need.

I will be here Saturday morning from 9:30 to 12:30 regardless of the weather. Am Feeling a wee bit sorry for the Market vendors across the street but I will give you hot coffee if you come in to see me after you buy your fall veggies!

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