Saturday, July 26, 2008

Merry Christmas in July!

Today's the day!

Normally I love it when you read this blog,
but shouldn't you be at the Christmas in July Tea?

It is on Arizona Avenue between Ocotillo and Queen Creek.

Today, Saturday July 26th.

2 - 5 PM

Friday, July 25, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas in July

So tomorrow's the big day! I hope y'all are as excited as we are.

Something I was pondering on earlier was just how fortunate we are. (In fact I'm feeling so grateful that I suggested to Miss Jeannie that we have a Thanksgiving in June get together next year in addition to our Christmas in July. Then her eye started doing that funny twitch thing and somehow the subject got changed.)

But seriously - there is much to be grateful for. We have the encouragement and support (and donations) from big companies like Wrangler and Le Creuset. We are meeting people from small start up companies like
The Winkee and Girlfriend Galas. We are the recipients of the generosity of the best Tejano Band in Germany. (I wish you all would quit laughing when I say that. These guys are fantastic!) When we recieve handwritten notes from these folks wishing us well I literally get a bit misty eyed. We just recieved a donation and a sweet note from a Mr. Shane Soldinger who is putting out a new CD and just recently got married but still found the time to help us out.

People are basically good, and some people are fantastic!

I bet even those people who buy black Christmas tree ornaments have some good in them. So far, not a single person I have talked to has liked the black ornaments. And I know some sleek and sophisticated people! Oh - that reminds me. I was going to tell you about the football thing. Maybe later - Christmas is so much more fun!

We reached the point with our Christmas in July Tea that we were turning consultants and vendors away. Oh boy. With all the rejection we endure (and I am speaking of fund raising rejection - not personal!) it is very hard for us to say no.

One of the people that approached us was a professional Santa Claus. Because we were out of room and because this is not a child oriented event we had to say no.

That's the reason we gave - and it's true, but the biggest reason is that Jeannie is Claus-trophobic!

It turns out that we are not the only people with Christmas on the brain. I was in a great little Mexican Seafood Restaurant in Albuquerque last week and saw a kid wearing a t-shirt that read, "Dear Santa, I can explain."

Of course it is too late for us to get some printed up before our Christmas in July Tea but it did make me laugh!

We had wanted to do some more shameless plugging for our incredible vendors and our generous sponsors but we are running out of time and space. So instead we will leave you with one of our favorite Christmas jokes:

Q: Why does Santa wear pink underwear?
A: He's a man. He did all his laundry in the one load.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stash that instant tea under the counter!

I am a coffee drinker. I'm not saying that other beverages are unpatriotic - I have gotten over that whole British tea scam from 1773. Mostly. But tea is usually my second choice.

Except when it is 112 degrees out. There is only so much water and beer a person can drink on a summer day before that icy, amber colored elixir starts to beckon.

Now, I have nothing at all against Lipton Tea. I grew up in Arizona in the 70's, we didn't drink soda pop or individual bottle of water - we drank sun tea made in gallon jars with Lipton tea bags. And we liked it! It may have been bitter at times - so you add a little lemon. It may have been cloudy - but so was our water!

I also enjoy Luzianne Iced tea - with sugar. When Hank Jr. sang about 'corn bread and iced tea' I know he was talking about sweet southern tea. And you can damn sure bet the corn bread had real butter on it!

And yet. . . . sometimes you want something a bit more refined. Especially if you are hosting a Christmas in July Tea. And who rides in to the rescue? Our favorite Tea company - Stash!

We are so tickled to be able to serve this high quality, great tasting, cool and refreshing tea. We also have a Stash Tea Gift Certificate for one of our lucky guests.

I was going to post a few pics here of the fabulous selection of Tea Ware available from Stash but I couldn't decide which would be most enticing.

You like floral English garden sort of stuff? They have it!

You like sleek and elegant? They have it.

Need a Japanese tea pot that could double as a work of art? They have it.

They also have strange and wondrous accessories for tea that I have never seen before.

Their clearance center has Christmas in July gift sets significantly reduced!

One other thing that bears mentioning about Stash tea. In addition to all the great summer teas they have, that we will be serving at our event - they also make hot teas for the cooler weather. Naturally they have seasonal teas. And yes they have specific 'Christmas' teas. Look at these teas. Notice anything?

That's right - they are packaged in real Christmas colors! Bonus points for that!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

algorithm and blues

One of the many things one can do with a website is track how many visitors one has and where they come from. I don’t mean that we can tell you were born in Connecticut (damn yankee) but we can tell that 6 people came to us from the East Valley Tribune site and 8 people came here from the AzCentral site. We can also find out which search terms people use.

One would think that if you were to enter an exact term that matched us that google would point you in our direction. Not so much. Try to google “Ladies of Perptual HOPE” and you will get three pages of “Ladies of perpetual Help” before you see any mention of us. It’s not that google has anything against us. It’s these algorithms that they use. Algorithms are little demons that the voodoo gods of the internet use for their own purposes.

There are ways to improve your chances of getting listed higher on the google page. Messing with search engine optimization is much like practicing Santería. It can be dangerous but people who live by it swear to it. We have done nothing here at H.O.P.E. H.Q. to optimize our search rankings. Maybe we should – but we have other fish to fry right now. Boy, a nice batter dipped filet with extra tarter sauce would be so yummy right now.

Sorry – back to topic.

Our friend at BrainCheese gets many more visitors than we do. She also gets many strange visitors. I smugly assumed it is because she has a potty mouth and is slightly sick and twisted. Whereas we here at H.O.P.E. are models of decorum and dignity. Then I decided to see how people found our site. Most folks that come here are people who are in some way related to our team members. That makes sense. I imagine some of our sponsors check in to see what sort of nice things we might be saying about them. The very first person to find our site via a search engine was searching for non-cal vodka mixes. Okay – we had a few vodka drink recipes in our early days, makes a degree of sense. Here are the latest four results:

"how to fake it at christmas" sent 1 total visits
"free baby hat knitting" sent 1 total visits
"pictur of lades brest" sent 1 total visits
"benifits to ladiesof water melon" sent 1 total visits

Gee thanks google! You really thought this was appropriate? The person looking for the baby hat left quickly, as did the person wondering how watermelon benefits ladies. The person looking for pictur of lades brest stayed awhile and looked at more than one page. Is it not abundantly and immediately clear that we are not a porn site?

Hopefully any of y’all reading this were not expecting a different site. If you were I’m sorry but the fault lies with the little algorithm demons. There is a Santería ritual we could do for bringing needed people to us, but it involves candles and we are not going to waste one of our Gold Canyon candles on voodoo!

(Ha! You thought we were going to miss an opportunity to shill for one of our Christmas in July vendors? Silly people!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I promised y'all the other day that I would share my special secret never fail way of saying no.

I was going to wait until after our Christmas in July Tea because when you come shopping with us I want you to say, "Yes, yes, yes! More, more, more!"

But then I thought - what if you really want to come to our event but you are afraid to because you've never been able to tell a Tupperware Lady, "no"?

First of all, Tupperware Ladies are a kinder and gentler breed than when our moms were selling it. And if you don't come and stop by the Tupperware table you'll miss your chance to order this:

It's their old standby cake taker - with added deviled egg server! I'm simply beside myself here!

(No, that wasn't sarcasm - what's wrong with you people? I am truly coveting this!)

So anyway - do not fear the tupper!

No one at our event is going to pressure you into doing something you don't want. But if someone out there in the cold cruel world (or the hot and muggy world) does want to pressure you I can help.

First of all - most of us are trained to explain ourselves, especially when we are giving the 'wrong' answer. So when the hypothetical Chia Home Decor & Nutritional Supplement Consultant asks us if we would like to host a Chez Chia Party we say, "No, I'm sorry, I have my 90 year old uncle living with me in a hospital bed in the living room."

You can bet our Chez Chia lady has a built in answer for that! I think that there is a company in New York that does nothing but think up ways to say no and then formulates arguments. I imagine their rates are outrageously high, partly because they already know the answer to, "Sounds good but I'm not sure we can afford it"

The company used to be based in Minnesota but the local workers have been taught since birth to respond with, "Not a problem. So sorry to bother you."

But I digress. (Okay - everyone surprised that I did not stay on topic raise your hand - I have some Chia seed for you!)

So when the Chez Chia lady (or even scarier - the president of the PTA - approaches you with a request you don't want to fulfill you say, "No."

Yep, that's the whole secret. "No."

The hardest part of this is stopping at the period. You say, "No."

You don't say, "Oh I would love to but. . . ."

You don't say, "No. If there was any way I could.. . . "

Try this on something easy - you need to practice because it is way harder than it sounds. It is almost impossible in the beginning for those of us raised with strict manners. But it works!

One thing I do just to keep it interesting and to keep from feeling like a monster is to add stuff at the beginning,

"Oh, aren't you sweet for asking. No."

I like to use that one on phone sales people! Especially when they are telling me I won something.
The trick there is to make sure the little fluff bit dosen't weaken your "no".

The difference between, "Thank you for thinking of me, no" and "Oh, I'm just too busy, no" is the difference between having fun lunches with your girlfriend and spending six weeks distributing overpriced wrapping paper.

If you want to help the PTA sell wrapping paper than do it and enjoy it. But don't be the one doing it because you didn't have a good enough excuse!

And if you happen to have some of that left over Christmas wrapping paper in your closet then you simply must come to our event and buy fun stuff to wrap!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Pink Expose!

They almost had me!

I was just one step away from signing up to be a Mary Kay lady.

Granted I couldn't sell anything if my life depended on it. And it's true that I do not usually wear makeup - and when I do it's too much. And I can't be bothered with a 'skin care system' when I have a perfectly good bar of soap. So why would I even consider signing on? Is it because their people are just that persuasive?

Not really. I can say no to anyone. In fact I have a secret formula for saying no that I will share with you at a later time. The reason Mary Kay almost got me in her clutches is that she whispered two little words in my ear: Pink Cadillac.

I may not be a Mary Kay kind of person but I am definitely a pink Cadillac kind of person. Here is a review of a Cadillac by some chap over in Britain:

. . . Its gas guzzling must be phenomenal. Still I like it, it is trashy and gaudy and too big but wow! . . .

Sound like anyone we know?

Until the Team H.O.P.E. ladies kidnapped me I never cared much for pink - except for pink Cadillacs. Even when I was a die hard Ford girl I still had a soft spot for Pink Cadillacs. Seriously - what's not to adore:

A Cadillac would be cool for cruising around town - but because they tend to have beefy engines, we could even use it when we went camping:

This one I really like because, even thought the fins aren't as big as they would become in later years, the front end is a work of art. This is the same year as my car and I never tire of looking at that eyebrow shaped fender.

Hello? Clint Eastwood? Cool Car? Handcuffs? (May have said too much there. Instruct the jury to disregard last comment)

So I was in a blissful state thinking that all I had to do was sell a few bottles of cream or lotion or whatever this is and I would have my very own Pink Cadillac!

My mentor saw what I was thinking and reminded me that the Cadillacs are not 50's models - they are new cars. That's okay - I can do new.

Then she showed me the pictures:

Oh my. Okay. So maybe Mary Kay isn't for me. Even though everyone I ever met that sells it adores the company. (And they don't seem brainwashed!)

So why the Mary Kay obsession today? Because as I was tripping along the web I came across a book that I guess uncovers the evil side of Mary Kay. Yawn.

By the way - even if you are not a fan of the Mary Kay business model - you've got to love their Satin Hands collection. I can't post a picture here because the tubes are orange and not pink. But trust me - it's good stuff!

Anyway - it occurred to me that Mary Kay shares alot in common with the breast cancer charity folks. The most obvious of course is the relentless pink. The other is the world wide domination thing.

Now when a company or an organization gets really truly fantastically big - they make truly big targets for anyone and everyone with a grudge.

I have no doubt that some of the complaints people have with Mary Kay and with Susan G. K.
are legitimate. But because I am a cynic deep down under my PollyAnna persona - I can't help but wonder whether all these people are seriously trying to improve the world or if some of them are jumping on the very bandwagon they are denouncing.

If you don't find the MLM structure profitable and satisfying, don't join. Go get a job at a company with cubicles and stop whining! Think more breast cancer money should go for finding the cause and less toward the cure, (or visa versa - I've heard very good arguments for both sides) then write letters to the people who make these decisions or start your own charity.

One of the odd things I've noticed about the anti-MK and the anti-SGK people is that they accuse the people at the top of exploiting the people at the bottom. A valid enough criticism in many ways. But then these same people do not hesitate to direct their scorn and disdain at these so called victims. Nice.

Are we here at Team H.O.P.E. capable of being exploited? Well, many of us are cub scout moms so yes - we have been known to work long hours for no tangible reward. Some folks call that exploitation - some call it nurturing.

This is supposed to be a happy happy happy blog so I will climb down off my soap box now and leave you with a fun little diversion:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yo Ho Ho Ho

Yeah, that's a bit of humor. Yo ho ho - as in a bottle of rum, and ho ho ho as in egg nog season. I make a killer homemade egg nog. Although with all the salmonella outbreaks I worry that it might be killer egg nog so I don't make it anymore. And certainly not in August. Can you believe those ladies are out there walking in this heat? It's good for them - builds character.

So - on to the subject of today's post.

Like all normal women (no offense Daun) I love chocolate. The darker and denser the better. Although I can tell the difference between Godiva oops, I mean
Dove and Palmers - I am not a chocolate snob. I don't really care where the beans were grown and whether they were cold pressed or what. (I think I may be confusing cocoa beans with olives here. Extra Virgin? Well isn't that special?)

Sorry - I must stay on topic. So I enjoy chocolate. But for some reason I've never been outrageously impressed with Chocolate martinis. And I just figured out why. Chocolate martinis are usually made with vodka. Vodka has its' uses but it dosen't really add anything to chocolate. Rum, on the other hand. . . . . .

I was reading the tasting notes from "Bar and Drink Magazine" on Isla ñ Rum and found myself thinking how good this would be with chocolate.

Think about it - Vodka is made from potatoes and Rum is made from sugar ~ which one belongs in a chocolate martini?

I can tell, you're starting to believe! Alas, you do not know where to find a good chocolate martini mix or Isla ñ Rum.

Would we leave you hanging like that? We are here to serve! It just so happens that we have a
Dove Chocolate at Home consultant coming to our Christmas in July Tea. And Dove just happens to sell Chocolate Martini mix.

And. . . .

The generous and kind
US distributor of Isla ñ Rum has donated to our events - so you might just win a bottle. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Boy now I'm thinking about eggnog and rum balls and figgy pudding and . . . .

We may just need to post some Christmas recipes here in the next day or so - stay tuned!