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Fall Comes To Willow Station…. Again

September 16th, 2015

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I think I first smelled Fall in the air three weeks ago. We were experiencing a week of unseasonably cool weather for Nebraska in August and I remember walking out the back door of the YNT (that would be the newspaper that I work at) and stopping in the middle of the parking lot and just taking in a deep breath. There it was. Fall. It was in the air. That cold, crisp smell tinged with a bit of smoke. The smoke was surely the result of someone grilling steaks for a summer cookout but I decided to pretend it was someone in the neighborhood firing up their fireplace.

I love Fall. It’s my favorite. And while standing there in that parking lot enjoying the first whiff of Fall I was content, for just a minute I was calm and relaxed… and then it hit me like a freight train… “Oh holy crap! I only have two more weeks to get everything done for Willow Station!

How many weekends do I have left? (I measure my time in weekends when show week rolls around since they are truly the only time I get anything accomplished due to my full time job) Which one of those Saturday’s am I going to have to give up in order to make a supply run to Hobby Lobby? Can I get away with just going to G.I. or am I going to have to make the dreaded trek to Lincoln this time? Drat you Hobby Lobby (said while shaking my fist in the air) why do you have to be closed on Sundays? Do the Design Assistant’s have the proper supplies? Crap, did I get a text from Mike about picking up letters? Dang, I need to go out to the storage building and pick out some wood for the Old Man to use… I’ll have to go in the morning before work so I can actually see what I’m picking out…. spin…. spin…. spin…. my mind kept spinning the entire drive home.

By the time I had pulled into my garage I had stopped spinning… temporarily. Of course all of this spinning wouldn’t be necessary if I could just shake this “Procrastination Bug” but I haven’t found that cure yet.

The first project I worked on for the Fall Sale was in fact a direct result of that “Procrastination Bug”. I had planned on making some “Days Until” chalkboards for the Christmas Sale. My Design Assistant had cut the boards and everything, but I ran out of time and was missing one key ingredient. A cutting machine. I ordered myself a Silhouette machine sometime after the Spring Sale… hooked it up to my computer while dreams of making stencil’s of my designs danced in my head. Then everything came to a screeching halt. An additional program was needed, something had to be done involving “firmware”, a software update was necessary, yada, yada, yada. I solved all of these issues by simply turning the machine off and shoving it to the back of my desk.

And then approximatly four months later my sister Kris showed up for her Summer visit with all of this Silhouette owner/operator knowledge practically oozing out of her so you better believe I took advantage. But alas, she had never encountered my machine. As she told more than one person, “My Silhouette showed up in the mail, I bought one additional program, plugged it in and went to work.” Getting mine to work soon became a battle of will… Man (or in this case Woman) vs. Machine. I wish you all could have witnessed that sweet moment when she was finally victorious… Ang and Tara know what I’m talking about.

After Kris had returned home to melt in the Texas heat I finally took a shot at making a stencil…

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It required a few desperate phone calls to Kris, but eventually I got it to work and was pretty pleased with the results…

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and then I got cocky…

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I had been wanting to make one of these for a long time, but was once again waiting for the arrival of that pesky cutting machine. I think I bit off more than I could chew for just my second project. It involved piecing togehter a large stencil and then dealing with said stencil tearing constantly while I was laying it down. And take a close look at the picture… see all of those “letter innards” by that I mean the inside oval of the letter “O”, the inside triangle of the letter “A” and on and on. Well all of those “innards” stayed stuck to the stencil paper and my rapidly aging eyes had difficulty finding them all since they were… you know… clear. Talk about frustrating.

And then once I started painting the paint immediately seeped under the stencil. Arrrggghhh!!! Let the Googling begin. I searched “how do you keep paint from running underneath a stencil” (I’m always amazed when that Google machine actually spits out an answer) Soon I found a handy tip, when you are sticking a stencil to a rough surface just Modge Podge over the entire stencil to seal it and then paint…. wow… it was like magic.

Next up were my “Trim Signs” they ended up being way more time consuming than I had intended. First I had Mike cut out “Happy Fall” and “Give Thanks” with his giant and oh so amazing wood router…

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Design Assistant No. 2 was soon given the privilege of painting all of those wooden letters, that is after No. 1 sanded them all down and primed them.

The “Trim Signs” involved a variety of different styles of chair rail, some old pieces of chippy white wood and a patterned piece of wood.

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The patterned piece of wood involved me piecing together several pieces of patterned scrap book paper and then getting out the old Modge Podge again and slathering it on. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. I found several cool paisley patterns but had to piece together three pieces of paper and could not, for the life of me, get those patterns to match up. Again, Arrrggghhh!

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The Old Man and I finally had one prototype sign laid out and were ready to start mass production and then he went and found me some awesome pale blue bead board while digging through The Mill in Marion, Kansas with Kris and Steve. Oh how I love that blue bead board. It was the perfect addition to the “Trim Signs”, soon production was underway.

While No. 1 was working away on those “Trim Signs” No. 2 was continuing to paint tiny little letters until her fingers practically bled…

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I threw in some medium size letters for good measure…

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and I finally went to work on some canvases…

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Far to soon the week of the sale rolled around and it was time to set up.

Which means the Old Man and I had to go get the Sunday School Divider (Remember the Sunday School Divider? The one I scored for free from my church and use as a display piece?) out of storage. I was immediately nervous. You see, we store The Divider in my brother-in-law’s building out in the country about three miles from Willow Station. And why, do you ask was I nervous? Well because, before the last sale we were transporting The Divider (it comes apart into three pieces) along a gravel road in the back of the Old Man’s little red pickup when suddenly… it was no longer in the back of the Old Man’s little red pickup.

It was a windy day and when we turned the corner… yep, you got it, the wind just took that baby. Up, up and away went all three pieces. The Old Man saw it all go down in his rearview mirror and slammed on the brakes. I immediately jumped out of the pickup while he threw it into reverse and I had to scream at him to stop before he backed over the one side piece that was laying in the road directly behind the pickup. Once I got that piece picked up and moved out of the way I scanned the scene and saw the other side piece laying further back down the road but where was the all important center piece? I soon saw it… at the bottom of the ditch… of course it was at the bottom of the ditch… but miraculously all in one piece. I scrambled down into the ditch and started pushing it up toward the road and between the two of us we got everything loaded back up and hit the road again, this time at a snail’s pace. Once we got to Willow Station and were able to inspect everything we discovered a few cracks in the wood and a whole lot of mud… but that was it, we were good to go.

So after that long-winded explanation you can see why I was nervous about the upcoming Divider Transportation. We headed out and loaded everything up, and for good measure added two tall, skinny metal shelves to the mix. Shelves which the Old Man insisted on standing up-right directly behind the cab, the perfect target for Old Man Wind. He then proceeded to take off, in my opinion, like a bat out of hell. “What are you doing? Slow down! Don’t you remember our last outing?” He just laughed at me and claimed he had only “just put it in gear.” “Right, just put it in gear…” I mumbled under my breath. “Well take it slow once we hit the road.” I then continued to remind him at numerous intervals to slow down. Finally, after creeping along for three miles, we made it all in once piece and got everything set up and called it a day.

The next day was Product Transportation, which involves packing my SUV to the brim (with the much appreciated assistance of my sister Kelli)…

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and then unpacking it all once again. Now all that was left was set-up, again, with the assistance of Kelli. I tackled The Divider…

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while Kelli took inventory of the giant box that had arrived just that morning from Texas. Kris had sent some amazing felt pennants…

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some burp rags and baby blankets and piles and piles of…

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pumpkins. Which, I must say, went like hot cakes, or actually, hot pumpkins. Oh, and by the way, she is now currently on the lookout for anyone with a stash of either old wooden spools or wine corks so she can make more piles of pumpkins. Drop me a line at kerrip21@gmail.com if you are that person.

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It’s hard to believe that this was the FIFTH time I’ve put on a show. Last year’s Fall Open House was our Grand Opening and I remember JoAnn saying to me the night before “I just hope my friends at least show up.” And they did… and more. In fact we had at least 8-10 women (and one husband with very specific instructions… what a guy Berg!) waiting for us to open our doors at 9:30 a.m. on the dot.

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We’ve changed a few things here and tweaked a few things there trying to come up with the perfect recipe for a successful sale. I don’t think we’ve reached perfection yet but we will continue to try.

And we continue to be grateful for all of you amazing women (and a few men and some babies)…

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who have made the trek out to the farm…

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in search of the unique products we continue to offer. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now… Onward Ho! Towards Christmas! That sale is right around the corner on Nov. 12-14. Hope to see you all there!

One Response to “Fall Comes To Willow Station…. Again”

  1. Justine Says:

    Evie will be absolutely thrilled to see she made the blog post!

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