Friday, February 8, 2013

Check List Highs and Lows

   I am sitting on my sofa with a pile of used tissues, a cup of coffee, and and two old smudged glasses of water sitting beside my laptop....I am sick. It is raining outside and I've got  Kelly and Michael on the TV. Oh! there is Joe Flacco!....let me pause..... OK... I'm back.... I swore that this year I would do better with posting our  Blog. I meant it too...but somehow as it always does January got away from us. February is well on its way and I am starting to feel the nudge of the stress that aways plagues us when we are caught chasing our goals from behind! I have made list upon list.  That is something!  I obsessively go to my reminder checklist, and just like the last time, there is a very long one awaiting my attention! But in all fairness, if I go to the list of things checked off, it is pretty impressive too!
   Shawnette and I went to the Atlanta Gift market in January...That was when she was sick. I am sure it is all just a miserable blur to her.... as I dragged her sniffling and coughing through the multitude of showrooms asking her opinions on endless small Santa accouterments....only to be answered by a pitiful blank stare! She was a champ!  Now that I have her ailment I know it was all in the Karma.
   We have been agonizing over fabrics for our new 2013 Ltd Edition Santa...and fortunately... or not... we find ourselves in the position of liking too many of our initial choices.  I am staring at them everyday trying to make the final cuts!  I think it is going to come down to Eeny Meeny Miny Moe! Really!!!
   We had some great sales appointments in January! We are already filling wholesale orders for 2013! How Great is that! Feel the accomplishment! Now feel the stress! Blow my nose...look at the list again....lay back down. I finished the blog! Now I can check it off the list.
   As I check it off... feel the accomplishment!.... the next empty check box I see is Taxes! Ughhhh....feel the stress!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why can't I just stay home and bake cookies?!!

I am having one of those days... fighting a chest cold...and feeling overwhelmed by the many unfinished tasks laying around my house in messy piles, and the zillions of scribbled notes on unofficial pieces of paper... demanding my immediate attention. These do not even begin to address the many still unformed ideas cycloning through my brain fighting to get through to a final audition!

Our armies of unfinished Santas stand at attention on and around my dining room table which is really no longer a dining room at all. They stare at me accusingly... begging to be finished, numbered, tagged and boxed for their final journeys to new homes. I speak to them every morning and promise them that their time is close. They tell me to remember that there are hundreds more that have yet to be started!

Shawnette has the same scenario at her house and is feeling as overwhelmed as I do!! So now is the time for action right?? Now is the time for the tough to get going! Yes it is! But first I must take this moment to feel a little sorry for the mess I have allowed to form around the edges of every room in my house... and fantasize about winning the lottery and being able to pay someone else to clean up and organize my messes!... and continue the fantasy that the toughest decision I might have to make today is what to fix for dinner tonight and what kind of cookies I might like to bake... and what exotic vacation I need to plan for next year...and...and...

My phone is ringing now... that double distinctive ring that tells me that Chesapeake Bay Christmas beckons. I must say that I still feel a surge of adrenaline every time I hear that ring... because CBCC is the result of a 17 year labor of love. It has been... a labor of love... like raising a child. We can be overwhelmed and we sometimes lose the forest for the trees... but we are so thankful for our families and this little business that has slowly grown and blossomed and is now like a teenager, somewhat independent but needing us more than ever to escort it into full maturity!

The cookies will have to wait... maybe I will tackle that pile on my kitchen table first! Maybe not... the Santas are calling my name... I'm coming... let me plug in the glue gun first! Oh yeah...I have to answer the phone!!!

Thanks for reading...

Lynn McPherson

Bringing the Chesapeake into your home and Holidays!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Falling Short

Setbacks regularly present themselves in our personal lives and in our business lives, so why are we never prepared to deal with them! We get lulled into a false sense of security by our successes and the predictability of our routines ... only to be blindsided by the one thing we should always count on....that nothing stays the same

We just suffered this fate on Monday when Shawn and I found out we did not get accepted as vendors into the Neptune Festival at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk the last weekend of September. This is a show we have done for 14 out of the past 17 years and it is the show we count on each September to kick off our current Holiday season. It is our annual Boardwalk presence at Virginia Beach where we present our newest Ltd Edition Chesapeake Santa to our most loyal beach customers! Some words that come to mind when describing what this show means to us are.... Traditional... Seasonal kickoff....Loyal customers...Predictable income... Unpredictable weather... Fun... Exhausting...Exhilarating! It is one of our flagship shows... And this year for whatever reason we did not get juried in.

The feeling when I got the email was so surprisingly emotional. It hit so hard and at such a personal level! "What!?? I must have read it wrong... No that is what it says! Are they crazy?! We are always one of the busiest booths at the show! Our sales there are through the roof! They are crazy! Am I crazy? There goes 10% of our annual gross income!! What will we replace it with? How will we survive?" But the last and most devastating thought was "FAILURE"!

"Failure" is a tough thought, word or concept to deal with. How we deal with it is key. How Shawn and choose to deal with it is to first eliminate that word from our vocabulary because it suggests an end or a defeat. Next we shift our perspective... Look at the situation from different angles. What could be good about this new development? What new show or experience can we substitute in on that weekend? ....If we cannot be there maybe there will be a hurricane that will hit VA BEACH and deal our revenge!!! ... Oops ... Sorry a slight lapse in changing our perspective! :))

After all it is just a show and nothing more. Our not being there will not be an end... Maybe it will be a beginning... Another door swinging open to start another long tradition in another place. The unchosen path ready to be travelled.

We are slowly digesting this news and will continue to adjust our attitude and perspective. We already did a little damage control and contacted the show management to ask to be put on their wait-list. But now we are in move forward mode. We will work hard, book a new show or many new ones to make up for the loss. We will count our blessings for all that is good in our personal and business lives. We will chalk it up to change being inevitable... not to falling short. We do not fall short!!... We work hard... And maybe just maybe we will adjust the finish line just a little.... Because life is just too fall short!

Thank you for reading!

Lynn McPherson

Bringing the Chesapeake into your Home and Holidays!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Studies, Politics and Polls

Are you as tired and frustrated as I am with "our culture" of truths based on lies and lies told as truth? Do you have any faith left that anything you read in print or hear thru the media has been properly invesitgated and sourced or has any any merit? If I hear one more study result that refutes the same study done last week only to be replaced by another study that dismisses the other two altogether I think I will scream! If one more political add touts the evils of the other candidate only to be followed by the other candidate quoting the same propaganda but drawing 180 degree different conclusions about the evils of the previous candidate....I am screaming!

And what about  politics in this great USA?! For the love of God and Country how can we have any respect for the two political parties in this country when they operate with such rage and malice toward each other and with no obvious regard for the truth! Are we doomed? Where can we go to pursue  our own personal truth! Studies? Politicians? Media? ...

OMG what am I thinking.... The truth or should I say the lack thereof HURTS! We must not let our major media outlets, politicians and the insane privately funded studies and polls work their divisive mojo on us... Their truths are as false and toxic as malicious gossip. Truth without malice is out there somewhere .... we just have to turn off the TV, tune out the talking heads and studies, and start using our own intellect and common sense to reconnect with it!  We will inevitably find different answers...we are human...and we can have different perspectives and remain civil.

 Above all we should seek information that is  unbiased, learn to listen as much as we speak and treat differing opinions with respect... After all this country was built on the fundamental right of each of us to have and express each our own opinions and truths without shame or fear of reprisal... as long as they have not been formed bought and paid for by someone else!

Thanks for reading,

Lynn McPherson
Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co

Bringing the Chesapeake into your home and Holidays!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wind...Rain...and Heat!

Well we had the Event Friday!!! We have been dreading it... planning for it... Praying it away... but knowing that it had to come... Eventually. We avoided it for 17 years with luck and by paying careful attention to weather conditions....but Friday night our eventually got here... Boy did it ever!

We knew we had a miserable weekend ahead... Two shows in one day, a day forecasted to be 104 degrees! But Shawn and I are stubborn and we had payed for our spots and would not back away. So when Saude Creek Winery offered their vendors a chance to set up Friday night for their wine festival on Saturday we were all in! So Friday afternoon in 104 degree heat we set up our tent loaded in our tables and inventory and secured and tarped everything....well! We then went home to get ready for the farmers market that we would do Saturday morning before the afternoon Wine Festival. I reloaded the truck ... ribboned and tagged new ornaments... checked my list... then fell into bed for a 4 am wake up call!

At 11:30 pm I was awakened by the sounds of screaming wind! I got up to check it out only to hear something very large hit the house! Five minutes later we were without power wondering what had just hit us? Then I remembered the tent! The tent with at least 50% of our business' inventory.. The tent in the middle of a large unprotected field ... The tent that we knew would be caught by Mother Nature's fury one day! That day had come!

Shawn ventured out at 4 am (she lives across the street from the winery) to check on our poor tent. I got the text shortly thereafter... tent gone... all lost! I cannot really describe that feeling... It was definitely hit me in the gut... but just for a moment... then slowly a new reality started to take root...after all it was only stuff. No one had been hurt..and we knew it was coming one day! Right?! Right! It had come and gone... taken our tent, tables, some Santas and ornaments, but amazingly as we sorted through the mess early that morning, we realized how much had been spared!

As we realized that it was not a 100% loss but maybe only a 25% loss we decided since everything needed to dry out we would carry on and set up for the show! Why not.. it was going to be a lovely 100 better to dry out! So one spare tent and two spare tables later we were back in business!

When we finally looked up from our own personal experience we realized that everyone around us was doing the same. We had been one of about 25 vendors that had met the same fate that night and all were busy picking up cleaning up, buying new tents, assessing damage but not quitting! Everyone was rallying!

Saude Creek Winery set the example... They replaced all of their lost tents and equipment after a 4 am trip to Wal Mart... and were right there that morning to say how sorry they were for our loss... and how could they help? They hauled off all of our debris offered us helpers to clean up!! They set the example to pick up and carry on! We all took a terrible situation and turned it around!

As a God gift...the aftermath of the storm was a cool and beautiful morning to recover our goods and our spirits.... and at twelve noon the festival opened on time without anyone suspecting the chaos that had gone before!

I am choosing to remember this event that we had been waiting for for 17 years as a good one! The wind!.. the rain!... the heat! had all converged on that field and given us the perfect storm... and we all stood back up, set back up and said to ourselves "This is the day that the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!
The festival went on and was a lovely event. It was hot but not was good and our spirits stayed high all day!

Now we can reset the clock for our next event! ........I am knocking on wood right now!

Thanks for reading

Lynn McPherson
Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co

Bringing the Chesapeake into your Holidays and Home Decor!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co and our Great Big Gypsy Summers!!

    Since the 2008 recession The Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co, like so many small (micro) businesses, has had to adjust to the marketplace by working harder to keep our revenue stream from declining. As a seasonal business we have always worked all year designing and producing our product line and then in September of each year we would start our Holiday selling season with vigor and pull in 85% of our revenue in the months of November and December
     Not anymore! Chesapeake Bay Christmas now hits the road in April and does the Northern Neck Farmers Market circuit along with several other wine festivals and holiday markets...every weekend rain or shine, heat or wind, in sickness or in health...we are there!! Shawnette and I have become Gypsys with our own traveling road show. We can put up a tent in mere minutes and turn it into a cute coastal gift shop within an hour! We do our farmers market selling for four hours and then we pack it all up and load it back in the SUV ready to do it all over again in a few days! We have good days and not so good... But most of them are remembered by whatever weather element mother Nature decides to put in our path. Wind and rain give us our biggest challenges closely followed by excessive heat and humidity! But we are usually up to the challenge! Shawnette is an expert at staking, bungeeing, tarping and tucking while I am good at always expecting the worse....and being very grateful when it does not actually happen.

     We have survived 40 mph winds, 105 degree heat, out of control children, out of control dogs, and weather so cold you cannot feel your hands and feet! But the key is to survive the worst...and then we so appreciate those perfect days we are also blessed with! We always love our face to face time with our wonderful and loyal customers! They are what keep us going week after week...traveling hither and yon.., tent up...tent down, Santas out... Santas in, packing and unpacking, sore backs, sunburn, and smiles....lots of smiles and lots of laughter! We love it .... and we hate it... Like all things in life the good and the not as good... but always a challenge to meet, and a stranger to become a customer, and a customer to become a friend. Maybe we could become our own reality show!! Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co...a Big Beautiful Gypsy Business!

    Once again thank you to all of our customers that we meet out in the fields, streets and parking lots. We love you for loving what we do! We are so lucky to be in such an awesome business and we know it! Check out where we will be from now until Christmas on our calendar at

Ouch... My sore back!

Lynn McPherson

Bringing the Chesapeake into your Home and Holidays!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Painting Pirates...and other Sweet Stuff

     Today the majority of my day will be spent painting  skulls and crossbones on a small army of our crab pirate ornaments.... then a ribbon and a tag... some tissue paper, a box, a UPS label, and they will be on their way to a charming shop in Hilton Head, SC. There they will hopefully charm their way into tourists hearts as a remembrance of their coastal vacations!
    This is a day that I so appreciate what an awesome job I have! Just me and my paintbrush.... bringing my whimsical friends to life to find their way onto hundreds of family Christmas trees... Reminders of happy times and happy places... Sweet Stuff!

Thanks for reading...
Lynn McPherson

Chesapeake Bay Christmas Co

Bringing a little bit of the Chesapeake into your home and Holidays!