Another Adventure!?!

We just spent the past weekend at the Quilters Unlimited Show in Chantilly, VA.
On the upside, these are the NICEST folks! The ladies who were in charge of vendors did a wonderful job! They had a check-in desk and we always knew where to find them if we had questions (which we really didn’t because they were so nice). But, they also had “Vendor Tenders”.

This is a terrific concept if you are involved in a local quilt show. The Vendor Tenders wore a blue apron with these words embroidered on them and went around several times a day to each booth asking if the vendors needed anything. A lot of vendors are by themselves so getting a bathroom break isn’t easy. These lovely vendor tenders would watch a booth for a few minutes while a vendor got that quick break. They also offered to go to the food court and pick up drinks or lunch for the vendors who can’t get away. That is such a lovely touch and was really appreciated. Even if yours is a small quilt show, this kindness for the vendors is a great touch!

Since Becky and I travel together, we don’t usually have a problem with getting lunch or other breaks but vendors all around us were there by themselves and I can tell you that they found this service so helpful. It’s nice to know that the management of a show cares that much for their vendors!

The show itself was lovely. There was an exhibit of quilts depicting National Parks and if that comes to a show near you, I highly recommend going to see it. The quilting techniques really set off some fabulous scenes from our National Parks!

Now, if you have been around with us in the past, you know that we always have a story to go with the good stuff! Well, this year was something new. At 1:45 AM Sunday morning, the fire alarms in the hotel went off. That’s an extraordinarily loud pulsing noise combined with very bright flashing lights in every room and in the hallways. We couldn’t smell any smoke and our hallway was clear so we took a couple of seconds to grab our purses (with the car keys) and a couple of really important items and headed down the hall to the fire exit.

Most people were a little groggy and a bit confused by being awakened like this but there was no panic or anything like that. We were on the 5th floor so we had to go down a ways but the hotel backs up to a hill so the stairwell we were using actually opened out at the 2nd floor into the back parking lot of the hotel. Unfortunately, it was raining and we were all in pajamas. It was so warm that I hadn’t taken a coat or jacket on the trip and we didn’t have umbrellas.

We ran into another vendor with whom we had become friends during the show and he had a tiny dog with him. Becky was waiting out back with him and I said I would walk around to the front of the hotel to get our car so we could get in out of the rain. Of course, if it’s our story, you know something else silly had to happen. The way the hotel was landscaped, we had to walk about the length of two city blocks to get around the hill behind the hotel and then about that same distance to get around to the front of the hotel, where I promptly realized that my car was on the far side of the parking lot (about another two city blocks lengths away). I was just a bit damp (drenched?) when I got to the car.

Then of course, I realized that if I had walked the other way around the hotel, I would have gotten to the car in about 100 steps! Duh! At least I could snap a photo from the comfort of my nice dry car!
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We were outside for about an hour before the fire department gave an “all clear” and we were allowed to go back inside. It turns out that there was NO FIRE! Apparently a sensor in the monitoring equipment malfunctioned and set off the alarms. As annoying as all of this was, I’m really glad that was no damage and no one was hurt, or really even threatened.

I did think it was a bit odd that no one from the hotel came around to tell people what was going on to or to provide any kind of support. I felt bad for a family I saw with small children standing out in the rain (but they eventually went to get into their car too). There was no one at all providing any service to the hundreds of people standing out in the rain. I guess if this had been a real fire, someone might have called for police or the Red Cross or someone. But an hour, outside in the rain in your pajamas, seems like an awfully long time when it’s happening.

We got back to our room about 2:45. The noise of the fire alarm had been shut off but the blinking lights (which are extremely bright flashes) were still blinking in all the rooms. Apparently none of the hotel staff knew how to turn those off. They finally figured it out about a half an hour later. So at 3:30 AM, with our Adrenalin still pumping, we could now go back to sleep (NOT!). And this was the day we needed to be up early to check out of the hotel. Since it was the last day of the show, at the end of the day we have to take everything down from the booth, pack it up and load the car and then drive home. This is a little tough to do when you have only had a couple of hours of broken sleep. You can see that we have a lot of “stuff” to pack up! LOL
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I do try to look for the good (or the funny) in any situation. In this case, as we were checking out, I was handed a copy of the bill for a full 3 days stay. I casually asked if there would be some accommodation for what had happened during the night and the manager came right over and said “absolutely” and had the clerk deduct the entire cost of the last day from the bill. That was a very nice surprise! He also apologized profusely for the inconvenience (which was very nice considering that he wasn’t even there during the incident!)

On a serious note, next time you go to a hotel, take a second to glance at the info (usually found on the back of the door to your room) and look to see where the evacuation route is from your room. I admit I don’t always to do that but this hotel wasn’t laid out in two long hall ways (it wrapped around a bit). So I did look at that map just out of curiosity this time. If there really had been a fire, we would not have had time to stumble around looking for the stairwell. And, Becky and I agreed that we are always going to take some kind of jacket or wrap with us to grab if this type of situation ever comes up again!

With all the craziness, we didn’t even start to unpack the car when we got home last night, so guess what I get to go do now! LOL That’s okay though. In spite of the “fun” at the hotel, we had a great time at the show. We met up with old friends and made some new ones and that is always great. We also got some great suggestions from folks who are looking for specific designs so we have plenty to work on.

Happy Embroidering!
GiGi

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A New Toy!

I got a new toy over the holidays and it’s something that any embroiderer who uses embroidered blocks in quilts can use.
Olfa Rotating Cutting Mat
This is an Olfa Rotating Cutting Mat. I had one of the very first rotating mats years ago but the turntable portion of the old one was like the bottom of a lazy susan (very thick but only under the center of the mat). When I tried to cut on that old one, the outer edges were not supported so it was pretty wobbly. The last thing you need when you are using a razor sharp rotary cutter is a wobbly cutting surface!

What’s terrific about this new rotating cutting mat is that the “turntable” underneath the mat is no thicker than the mat itself, AND, it is big enough that you can cut 12″ square blocks with no “wobble”!
cutting mat

The bottom side of this turntable under the cutting mat has a non-skid surface so it won’t slide around while you are trying to use it. The other thing that is very nice about this mat is that it is very light weight – if you wanted to take it to a class it would be easy to carry in a tote bag. It also means this will be very easy to store and take out when I need it.

When I cut embroidered pieces into quilt blocks, I love to use Trish Bowman’s templates. Here is a complete blog post about these wonderful templates. Using Trish’s 5 1/2″ template on this new rotary cutting mat means that I whipped through trimming 12 embroidered blocks in just a couple of minutes.

Before I got the rotating cutting mat, I would position the block and the template and cut two sides. Then I would have to turn the fabric around and reposition the template, line everything up again, and then cut the other two sides. Odds were that I would have to retrim at least one side of each block since I didn’t get it lined up just right the second time.

I just tried the new mat and discovered how great this is. DSC_0994

I placed the sewout on the cutting mat and laid Trish’s 5 1/2″ template on the block positioning it exactly where I wanted it. I cut the right side and the top (since both of those strokes with the rotary cutter would be going away from my body and not crossing my hands over one another – a very important safety tip for using a rotary cutter).
first cut

Then, instead of moving the fabric or the template, I simply rotated the cutting mat.
rotating mat

That put it in the perfect position to cut on the right and top again but I never had to move the fabric or the template.
second cut

With this mat you can turn it just a little bit so that you can make a straight cut instead of having to twist your body. And since you don’t have to reposition the fabric or template, your accuracy is greatly increased (along with your efficiency!).

What this means is that block trimming goes much more quickly and is very accurate! The mat turns very smoothly so it is unlikely that your fabric or template will be bumped. I’m really delighted with this new toy and can see that it will get a lot of use in my sewing room! By the way, there is a 17″ square version of this mat but I don’t think I would use anything that large so I’m delighted with the 12″ square one!

The nice part is that this template is available at Joann’s but I got mine at Connecting Threads for a lower price! You can click here to see Trish Bowman’s fabulous templates.

Having the right tools makes any job a lot easier to do!

Happy Embroidering!
Gigi
http://www.CharmingStation.com

Update: I just saw a similar product by Fiskars on Amazon at an even lower price. Be careful to check for size though, I did see a 12 x 12 but I also saw one that is only about 7 inches square!

Your Smile for the Day

Usually this is a post about one of the little ones in our family. This time, however, it’s something different.

Sirius XM (the satellite radio company) has devoted 2 of its channels to Christmas music (playing now).
winter
Personally, I could listen to Christmas music all year long so I’m happy as a clam. If you look closely at the picture though, this is the dashboard in Becky’s car. They are playing “Winter Wonderland” in November in Philadelphia – – – where the external temperature (to the car) is 79F! Just for the record, the average temperature here is usually 20 degrees cooler than this at this time of year!

Have a great day,
GiGi
http://www.CharmingStation.com

Why use PayPal or other third-party payment systems?

Lately we have been getting some terse emails from people who don’t want to use PayPal to make their purchases. We have two additional options available for those who don’t want to use PayPal. Just look on the left side Nav Bar for “Ordering” and you’ll see all the details about the other options.

But please take a minute here to read the info below. It might just change your mind about what you choose to do.

PayPal is what businesses call a “third-party payment system”. You want to buy something from me, but I have you make your payment through PayPal. They take your credit card information and get your payment on my behalf. They charge me a fee for doing that. When the transaction is completed, you get a receipt from PayPal and I get an email notifying me of the transaction.

It seems that some folks want to cut out the middle man and pay us directly. We wish we would do that but that means that you would have to give us your credit card number, your expiration date, the security code on the back of your card and the zip code for your address. With that information, we could do all kinds of nasty things with your credit card (yup, charge you for things you didn’t buy, sell your information to hackers, allow the information to be stolen by hackers, etc.). You have absolutely no guarantee that your information is safe with us – or anyone you give the information to!

I know this from personal experience. I got a brand new debit card on a Saturday afternoon a few years back. The first (and only) purchase I made with this card was over the phone to the local Pizza Hut. Less then two hours later, my bank account was emptied and charges were coming in from France and Australia! I called the bank’s 24-hour hotline and they immediately shut down the account. I got phone calls for more than six years from Visa Fraud asking if I had used that number to charge goods all over the world (even though the account had been closed)! In my case, because the card had just been issued that same day, the bank refunded all of my stolen money and refused payment of all further charges that had come in. But if you don’t catch it quickly, you have no idea which merchant (online, on the phone or at a store) may have stolen your info.

There are a set of requirements that were developed in 2006, designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. If there is any kind of data breach, any company (large or small) can be fined thousands or even millions of dollars. Small businesses like mine could never meet all of the requirements necessary to be compliant with these regulations. So we have to use third-party systems that do meet these requirements.

Why PayPal? For one thing, it has been around longer than most other systems. That means that many people already know about and use PayPal quite successfully. The fees that PayPal charges the seller are fairly reasonable. I would love it if there were no fees at all but this is how PayPal stays in business. There are other third-party systems but the fees are considerably higher than those charged by PayPal. If someone uses another system, the higher costs are being passed on to you, making what you buy more expensive.

Another reason that I use PayPal is that you can call them on the telephone and get help with specific problems. Some other third-party systems don’t have any live help at all so if there is a problem, the seller or the buyer is just plain out of luck!

The main reason I chose PayPal is that I never see the buyer’s credit card information. I only get a note from PayPal saying that a transaction has been completed. Therefore your credit card info can never be stolen from me! I only get your name, your email address and your phone number (to call if there is a problem sending your designs by email).

For the buyer, perhaps the best reason to use PayPal is their Dispute Resolution system. If you order something and it never arrives or you get it but it is broken, not what you ordered or substantially different from what was advertised, you can use the PayPal Dispute system to register a complaint. The seller has an opportunity to respond and it can go back and forth between the seller and the buyer (with PayPal monitoring everything). In the end if PayPal decides the buyer is correct, they will refund the money you spent, taking it from the seller’s account.

I can vouch that this system really works. I once purchased a lamp for $29.99 and never received it. I wrote to the seller but got no answer. When I complained through PayPal, the seller never responded so PayPal decided in my favor. The seller, however, had no money in their account so PayPal notified me that they could not send a refund. But — the seller reopened their account 2 YEARS LATER and as soon as some money went into the account, PayPal sent me the refund I was owed!

Here are some other things to be aware of:

  • Did you know that if you give your credit card over the phone, someone could be listening in electronically and steal the information? Bad guys are doing it all over the country – it’s illegal but few are actually caught. Besides, you don’t know what the person taking down your information is doing with it. They may be typing directly into a machine for bank approval but they may also be writing it down and storing it on a post-it note where anyone can see it! If they are writing it down, are they shredding it when finished? You’ll never know!
  • Did you know that email is not encrypted in any way so you should never, ever put credit card information in email as that can easily be breached?
  • Did you know that fax transmissions are not encrypted in any way so they are very easily intercepted and the information copied with no trail to show that anyone else has seen it?
  • Just because a website can take your credit card information, there is no guarantee that it will be stored securely. Hackers just love to break into weak systems and steal the data. Even big companies like Target and Home Depot have been hit.

On our sites, when you make a purchase you place items in a “shopping cart”. That information is stored on your computer. You are never asked about your credit card or anything personal while on our sites. When you click on “Check Out”, the information in the shopping cart (about what items you are buying) is transmitted to PayPal. Then PayPal collects your credit card info (or uses the credit card info stored on their system) to process the payment. That takes place entirely within the PayPal system and the credit card info is not shared with us in any way.

If, when you get to PayPal, you are required to create an account, or they say your password is not working, you have to contact them directly for help. We do not have any control over what they require or how they set things up. We do not specify that you have to have an account – that is their policy.

When you go to the PayPal system, you are logging into one of the most secure data systems in the world. If your password is stolen, it is more likely because of the computer or network you are using, not PayPal’s system. If, however, you use the same password on a lot of online accounts and one of those other accounts is hacked, the first thing the hackers try is using your login name and password on major financial systems like PayPal and large banks. If they get logged in, they take everything they can and get out before you even know what’s happening. In that case, it’s your fault for using the same password everywhere!

Please understand that small businesses need companies like PayPal in order to stay in business. There are protections there for the buyer that individuals can’t offer. Your data is much safer with PayPal than with a lot of different individuals who may or may not be storing your information safely.

If, however, you still don’t want to use PayPal, be sure to check out our “Ordering” info (on the left side nav bar) to find out other ways that we can do business.

Thanks for reading!
GiGi

Something New in Mylar Designs!

If you have tried mylar designs in the past, you know how neat they look when you are finished with the embroidery and how easy they are to do. You just use the regular polyester or rayon thread you already have and you don’t need any special stabilizer (just whatever works with your fabric).

You may also have noticed however, that there tended to be a hint of pink in the designs when you tried to take a photo of a sew-out (particularly if you used a flash). This photo is a white snowman sewn on white fabric but it has a definite pink tinge to it in the picture:
01
To get around this, I often would take things outside in the natural sun light so that I didn’t have to use flash. But if it were even a little bit cloudy, the photos had a completely blue tinge to them that really didn’t show what a design looked like to the naked eye.
MylarPandas01
And, of course, in the winter, I was freezing by the time I would get done photographing a dozen designs when the wind chill factor was about 20 degrees! On the other hand, today it is 90 degrees and for me that is worse than the cold air! (As my mother used to say, “you can always put on an extra sweater when it’s cold, but you can only take off so much when it is hot!”)

As we get ready to go on the road again to a quilt show in Syracuse, NY, I talked with our mylar supplier – the wonderful Sharon Curtis from HeirloomsBySharon. She asked me if I had tried the new “blue opal” mylar that she has begun carrying and I had to admit that I hadn’t. She sent me a couple of sheets to try it out and all I can say is:
!WOW
This new version of mylar is just as washable and dryable as the regular opal iridescent but what a difference it makes! This is a photo of two sew-outs of the same snowman using exactly the same thread on the same piece of white fabric.
DSC_0372
As you can see by this photo, the one on the left is done with the regular opal iridescent that we have been using for years. The one on the right has been done with the new blue opal iridescent that Sharon sent. I’m thrilled to say that the pink tinge is gone! This photo was done inside with a flash and the white still looks white!

I’m really excited about this because it gives us much nicer finished designs. Your designs will reflect the colors of the thread you are using more accurately and this will allow you to take photos that show your work in a much nicer way too!

Remember that we don’t sell the mylar – we are just very happy customers of Sharon’s. If you are interested in purchasing this new mylar, use one of these links to Sharon’s website:

On any of these order pages, use the drop down box to select “Blue Opal”. And be sure to share your photos with us! We love to see finished projects. Email us at: Customer Service at Charming Station (just click the link!)

If you would like to see our travel schedule, please click here. If you will be near one of these venues, please stop in. We would love to meet you!

And just in case the whole concept of mylar designs is new for you, please click here for a complete explanation.

Hugs,
GiGi

July 14 – Update
You guys are so great! Sharon told me this morning that she has sold out of the blue mylar TEMPORARILY! If you see a notice that says “temporarily out of stock”, please just wait a couple of days and place your order then!

Thanks,
GiGi
🙂

Buying Embroidery Designs Online

There are a lot of very good digitizers whose entire business is online. Some of these sites have automatic download after a purchase and others send your purchases out by email once the payment transaction has been completed. If you want to make a purchase, it’s really important for you to know how a site works and when and how you will receive your designs.

Automatic Download
Many of the digitizers who sell online use software to run their websites that allows you to place an order, pay for the order and then immediately get a link to download that order. While that is convenient for some customers, it is not very secure for the site owner. The site owner has to have all of her designs loaded on the site for instant download. Since it is possible to hack a site like this, there is the constant danger that piracy will put that site out of business.

Some of these sites have a “history” feature that would allow you to go in and re-download your order if something happens to your computer. For security reasons however, most sites give you a limited few days and a few attempts to do your download. If you return a year later, that link is no longer valid. In most cases, the site owner would need to re-activate the links for you. You need to be aware that, depending on the site’s policies, there might be a charge for re-activating the links. The information about how long the links are valid and how many times you can download should be posted on the website for you – please be sure to make a note of it when using a site with automatic downloads.

Orders Sent By Email
To avoid the possibility of hacking, other site owners prefer to send designs by email after the payment transaction is completed. To be fair, you have to give small business owners a little time to respond to your order. I live on the East Coast of the US so if an order arrives late at night, Eastern Time, I won’t see it until the next morning. I frequently get email from people moments after they place an order because they don’t see an instant link – usually at 2 or 3AM my time!

Here are some tips for purchasing from sites that send orders by email:

  • BEFORE YOU PLACE YOUR ORDER, look for ordering or purchasing information. Some sites have a link for “Shipping”. Our main site has a link on the left side navigation bar for “Ordering” and there is a line on the top of every single page that says “All orders are sent by email”. If this is your first time on a site, take a moment to find out how your order will arrive. It will save you (and me!) some headaches.
  • BEFORE YOU PLACE YOUR ORDER, check to see if the site has a specified time for sending out orders. Our site tells you that we usually send out orders between 4 PM and 9 PM (Eastern time) each day. If you need something immediately, send an email first (our contact information is on the bottom of every page of the website). If I am at the computer (and I spend a great deal of my time on the computer everyday!) I will be happy to respond to you and help you out. Otherwise, please don’t expect immediate service 24 hours a day.
  • WHEN YOU PUT SOMETHING INTO THE SHOPPING CART, slow down and look at what you are doing. PayPal recently had a glitch where they were not emptying out the shopping cart after a purchase. That means that the item bought last week or the week before was still showing in the cart when a new purchase was initiated. YOU need to check the cart and make sure that only the item(s) that you want to buy now is/are showing. Otherwise you are paying again for things you already bought. That charge goes on your credit card! I happily give a refund in PayPal when this happens but that may not go to your card – it may go only to your PayPal account. That means you are paying interest on your card because you didn’t remove the extra items!
  • WHEN YOU PUT SOMETHING INTO THE SHOPPING CART, slow down and check what you put in! Are you supposed to select a format? Are you supposed to select a size? Make sure that you have made the right choice(s). If not, remove that item from your shopping cart and try again. If the item goes into the cart wrong when you are sure you selected the correct options, STOP and contact the site owner! It’s much easier to fix a problem before you buy something than to buy the wrong thing and have to straighten it out later. In our case, we will receive the name of the item, the format and the size and that is what we will send. It really helps if you correct any mistakes before making your payment!
  • WHEN YOU PUT SOMETHING INTO THE SHOPPING CART, you will see a button at the bottom of the cart, that says “Continue Shopping”. If you want to buy more than one item, please click this button to return to the website and order something else. If you order and pay for each item separately, that’s a lot of extra work for you and us. Did you know that PayPal charges the seller a fee for each transaction? If you put all of your order on one transaction, the seller only has to pay the fee one time. This helps digitizers keep the prices on our designs down since we aren’t paying unnecessary fees.
  • WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CHECKOUT, double check the items in your cart. Is the item name correct? Is the format or size correct? Is the amount you are being charged correct? Once you click on the button to “Check Out”, the total amount is sent to PayPal (or whatever third-party payment program is being used). If something is not correct, it has to be fixed before you get to the final checkout.
  • WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CHECKOUT, double check the QUANTITY of each item in your cart! Make sure there is just “1” listed. If you clicked “Add to Cart” twice for the same item, PayPal will do exactly what you ask it to – put the item into the cart twice! You will only see one listing by item name; the quantity (and the total price for that item) will be doubled (or tripled, etc.)!
  • WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CHECKOUT, double check the DESCRIPTION of each item in your cart! If you have something marked “Wholesale” but you are not a reseller business on file with us, we will not be able to accept your order. If you are a business and have not registered with us, please contact us first before placing the order.
  • WHEN YOU ARE READY TO CHECKOUT, click on the button to “Check Out”. In our case, that will take you to PayPal where you will login and complete the transaction.
  • WHILE YOU ARE AT PAYPAL, please double check the email address that you have on file at PayPal. PayPal will send us a transaction notice that includes that email address. If the address has been misspelled or is no longer valid, we have no way of getting your designs to you!
  • WHILE YOU ARE AT PAYPAL, there is a place where you can add a “Note to Seller”. If the email address on file with PayPal is NOT where you want your designs to be sent, please use the Note to Seller to tell us where to send the order. If you send us an email separately, we often don’t see it until the order has been sent out.
  • AFTER YOU COMPLETE THE PAYMENT, you will receive a receipt from PayPal at the email address on file with them. If you don’t receive this receipt, odds are that the email address on file with PayPal is wrong or misspelled. You need to contact us directly at that point so that we can have a valid email to send out your designs.
  • AFTER YOU COMPLETE THE PAYMENT, keep the copy of the PayPal receipt that you receive at least until you have received your order and confirmed that the order is correct. The fastest way to find a lost order or to correct a mistake on the order is to forward your PayPal receipt so that we can track it. Just sending an email requires us to write back asking for the receipt. By the way, if you create a folder and keep all of your PayPal receipts permanently, you will have a “history” of what you have purchased. This way if you want to know if you already purchased something, you’ll have a list of your purchases at your fingertips.
  • WHEN YOU RECEIVE YOUR ORDER, please take a moment to confirm that you received what you ordered. We sometimes go too fast, or misread an order and send the wrong thing. We are happy to fix any mistake we make – you just need to let us know what happened.
  • AFTER YOU CONFIRM YOUR ORDER IS CORRECT, consider storing the zipped files somewhere permanently. That way if you accidentally lose your instructions or a design, you can just unzip it again. One way to do this is to save the email that delivered your designs in a folder. If you save things on your computer, be sure to back up this area to a backup device or service in case your computer crashes.
  • IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE YOUR ORDER, please do us the courtesy of contacting us directly. There are times when PayPal does not send the transaction notice so we are unaware of the order. Most of the time, however, we have sent the order and have the delivery confirmation information that it was received. That means that your email carrier received it but did not put it in your inbox or received it and sent it to your spam filter. We will be happy to resend an order and/or send it to another address if necessary. Those who go directly to a PayPal Dispute without contacting us first are flagged and removed from our customer list since every single such instance in more than 10 years in business has been the fault of the buyer – never us.

Charming Station Embroidery actually has two different sites:

  • We also have a site for sale items that has hundreds of individual text designs along with some design sets.  This site DOES have automatic download:  http://www.CharmingStationSpecials.com/.

We want your purchase experience to be as easy as possible but we need your help. If you just take a few moments to confirm how your designs will be delivered and what you put into your shopping cart, things will go very smoothly. And, if you have any questions, please be sure to let us know! Our contact information is on the bottom of every page of our regular site and on the side navigation bar of our Specials Site.

Hugs,
GiGi

 
 
 
 

Whose Bright Idea Was This Anyway?

This is the third year that the Philadelphia Flyers (hockey team) has held a 5K run for charity. This charitable activity actually start in February of 1977 when the Flyers wives got together and held a carnival where fans could meet the players and have a lot of fun while raising money for charity. Later that year, one of our beloved players, Barry Ashbee, died of leukemia and the Flyers’ Wives Carnival had a new focus. They have continued to hold a carnival for fans each year and it has become the most successful one-day event by any sports team! Through this event and other fund raising activities, they have raised more than $25 million dollars for hundreds of non-profits in the Philadelphia area.

The 5K has always been held close to Halloween so, in addition to running, there is a costume contest as well. The first year, my daughter Jennifer ran the 5K. Last year, Jennifer and my granddaughter, Jess, ran it together. This year, someone got the brilliant idea that we should all participate: Jennifer and Jess, Becky and Sammie and Jennifer’s daughter, Ali (who is the same age as Sammie). Oh, and yeah, me!?!

Now let’s be totally honest here. Truman was president when I was born. I spend 8 to 10 hours a day at my computer. I’m not exactly the “running” type. But, Jess was bringing Dennis and I got dibs on pushing the stroller so I figured, “what the heck”.

Then came the 4 week discussion about what kind of costumes we should wear. I said no to the net pettiskirts – I am wide enough at the hips and don’t need to accentuate that aspect! There were several ideas tossed back and forth by email and they all settled on PacMan. Do you remember that old video game from the early 1980’s? (me neither!)
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However, the kids and grandkids all thought that was a great idea. Dennis, in his stroller, would be PacMan and we would all be the ghosts. I said okay as long as I could be orange (the Flyers colors are orange and black and I wanted to at least be a Flyer’s/PacMan ghost). So Becky made shirts (of course) for each of us to be a ghost.

The weather Saturday morning was absolutely perfect – about 57 degrees. Well, okay, it was perfect for me, everybody else was complaining about how cold it was. It was bright and sunny so at least we didn’t have to worry about rain. By 9 when the race started, it had warmed up considerably. Jess had Dennis in a winter coat with a winter hat and gloves, along with a blanket over his lap. (It was about 60 degrees by then.) I’m not sure what she is going to do when winter actually gets here! LOL

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He has ridden in a racing stroller before so he was all set. I had taken off my jacket and was in shirt-sleeves at that point. The race started at 9 with the usual instructions: runners going for the best time were at the beginning of the queue of runners; those not as fast were next and those who planned to walk or who had strollers, etc., were last. That was me!

One very nice part about this race is that it was done on the grounds of the Wells Fargo Center (where the Flyers play). This is a sports complex where the Center is next to the Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles football team) and across the street from Citizen’s Bank Park (the home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team). With all of the parking lots for these three facilities all right together, it was possible to layout a 5K run path that kept it entirely within the parking lots and around the buildings (no worries about running near or across any vehicle traffic streets).

So off we go. Jennifer and Jess ran the entire distance. Becky, Sammie and Ali did the power walking and ran in short spurts. All of the runners and stroller people soon left me in the dust and I ended up walking next to a very nice lady named Pat. She lives in South Philadelphia (right near the stadiums) and had come with her brother who was a runner. She was not quite as old as I am but also not an athlete. We had a lovely time just chatting about life, the Flyers and how neither of us really should have been in this “race” but it was raising money for charity so “what the heck!” We walked together quite a ways but did take one shortcut.

Because of the shortcut, we got to the finish line before Becky, Sammie and Ali, but not before I had blisters you wouldn’t believe! My knees have informed me that if I ever think about doing something like this again, they will secede from the union. It was close to 70 by then and I was extraordinarily hot from all the activity. And, since I was outside, my allergies have been partying hard ever since and thanking me for all of the pollen in the air. I ran out a tissues about half way through the walk!

After the race ended, the costume contest began. We entered but didn’t win:
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That’s Jess sitting down front with Dennis in the stroller, then from left to right, Becky, Sammie, Ali (with the blue hair), Jennifer, and me (strategically placed behind the stroller!) The gentleman with the microphone is Bob (The Hound) Kelly, one of the nicest Flyers’ Alumni you could ever hope to meet. By the way, he scored the winning goal for the Stanley Cup for us against Buffalo in 1975 so obviously he was a great hockey player too! I may be old but I’ll never forget that goal! LOL

I decided that I didn’t need any prize for the costumes. I got the opportunity to get photos with several of my favorite players:
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This is Bernie Parent who was our goalie for both of our Stanley Cup wins in the 1970’s. He actually ran in this race!

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This is Becky and me with Bob Kelly. When Becky was a baby, I had dressed her up as Bob Kelly for Halloween one year!

Then I got a chance to have a picture taken with Todd Fedoruk – another Flyer alumni who was absolutely great on our team. Just as Jess started to snap the picture, Becky said “who is he?” The picture capture my horrified response to the fact that my daughter didn’t know who he was! I have seriously failed as a parent if my child doesn’t know every one of the Flyers Alumni!
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After we were all finished with the pictures, we had the opportunity to go into the Wells Fargo Center and watch the Flyers practice. Dennis is my buddy because he and I were enjoying this enormously while all of the rest of the gang was grousing about being hungry.
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Unfortunately for me, Jess said the magic word (“Pancakes”) and Dennis decided he was hungry too.
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So we left to go get some breakfast. Later that night, Becky and Jess hosted a 15th birthday party for Sammie and her friends, while Jennifer and I went to see the Flyers play the Detroit Red Wings. Normally when we score a goal, everyone jumps up from their seat and cheers. I managed for the first two goals but my knees sent a little memo reminding me that they were still seriously annoyed with me for the morning’s activities so I had to sit for the second two goals. My reward however for the sore knees and blisters and everything else from the morning was a win at the game!

And wouldn’t you know it — the darn kids are already planning next year’s costumes!  Whose bright idea was this anyway?  Oh, I guess because I’m the huge Flyers fan, maybe I’m responsible?

Happy Embroidery,
GiGi