Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Love Being A Part Of Your Life

This week is National Customer Service Week, and we have been celebrating it here at The Hamilton Collection by learning more about our customers and how each of our employees thinks about the customer in their daily routines.

I invited our employees to write a note to a customer that was selected randomly, and I have been touched by the notes that have been written. But one note was particular touching. One of our product developers finished her note with the sentence “We love being a part of your life.” I was so moved and inspired by that line because we truly are a part of people’s every day lives. Just as the title of this blog is The Curio Cabinet, your curio cabinet is where many of our collectibles are displayed with honor. Not just curio cabinets – coffee tables, dressers, foyer tables, and on an on. Every room of the house is used to display the collectibles that express your personality. And the fact that we are a part of that expression is an inspiration to me and to the people who work at Hamilton. We have the power and the responsibility to bring you the collectibles that will mean the most to you from artisans from around the globe. I feel like I am writing a PR piece, but this is so true. And that one sentence in the note brought it to the forefront for me.

So, I’ll close this blog post by saying:

“We love being a part of your life.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

There's a Hamilton logo in my box--Why?

Many of our collectibles come with a resin replica of our Hamilton logo in the box. The “H” is there for a lot of reasons that are complicated about weight and balance. Those of you who own our collectibles may have received one or several of these “H” squares. They are unpainted, smooth, and milky white. Their color is exactly the color of our figurines before they are painted.

I never considered that such a little item could hold value; however, since we don’t include one in every box we do receive calls to our customer service department from customers who did not receive an “H” in with their product. I know that lots of our customers like to display the square with the product, and some actually use it as a display stand. When a customer calls inquiring about their missing “H,” we will gladly send them one.

It got me to thinking, though—if customers are missing it, then what do they do with the “H” when they receive it? Do they paint it? Is it a paperweight? Is it cherished by or given as a gift to people whose name begins with the letter “H”? Ironically, we have nobody here at Hamilton with a first name that begins with “H.”

If you have a story about your “H” figurine and how you are using it, please share it with me on our Facebook page!

Friday, May 21, 2010

What does Handmade mean?

In the world of collectibles we use the words “hand painted” and “crafted by hand” along with “hand-applied” and other phrase. We live in a world where things are mass produced and sent down an assembly line – like electronics and cars, etc. But collectibles are still being created by people, and it is a labor-intensive process. Each of our figurines at The Hamilton Collection is designed and then sculpted to match the artist’s rendering. Sculpted from clay! The sculptors who work for us are amazingly talented. We ask for tweaks to be made to the sculpts, and then we approve the sculpt when we have made it look as much like the artwork as possible. Then each figurine is molded and cast into resin or porcelain and painted BY HAND! The amount of detail that goes into each one is unbelievable. You know those little Precious Moments children’s teardrop-shaped eyes? They are each painted by hand. And the eyes are very specific – they must have a definitive shape and be painted in a certain way. It is very tedious work. And what about the scales on our dragons? Each scale is sculpted and painted in the greatest detail.

Nothing about our processes is automated. Each figurine is hand numbered, matched to its Certificate of Authenticity, carefully boxed and then shipped to our customers. We are so proud of the work that we do and that we can offer it at such a reasonable price to our customers.

So, the next time you see that something is handmade, really think about what that means. I know that I have a much greater appreciation for hand crafting now that I am involved with the creation of these beautiful figurines. It is nothing short of spectacular in how it all comes together!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our New Buying Mentality

I was reading an article on the internet yesterday about our new frugality as consumers. It said that Americans are still concerned about buying and have changed their behavior. I know that we have cut back in our household and are really trying to find money savers and cut extra spending. So, when is it okay to buy something? I don’t know. According to my husband, there is never a right time. Food is an acceptable purchase and of course, you have to pay your utilities and gas for the car, etc. But is everything else an opportunity for savings? Can we really just not spend money? It is very hard for me because buying things makes me feel good. Okay, I guess some would say that I have a problem. But it is nice to get out and see the new items at the store or buy some organizational thing for your bathroom or just get a new blouse. I have recently had a few weddings and graduations to attend, so I needed to buy gifts. It gave me an excuse to shop which I haven’t had lately. My family has even skipped Christmas gifts the past 2 years due to the economic climate. It’s not that we couldn’t afford to buy a small gift for each family member – it’s just that it seemed silly to spend money when so many people are in need and have lost their jobs. Since we have all been very lucky by staying employed in this tough time, we bought gifts for children in need.

So, where does that leave me? Well, worried. Worried that not buying things is making the economy worse. And worried that buying things is irresponsible when others are suffering. I think that is the situation so many Americans find themselves in. So, we all just wait.

Hopefully, we will start to feel better as summer comes, and we can take vacations this year and maybe ease back into spending.

Monday, April 5, 2010

From My Book Shelf: What I am reading this week

I am an avid reader of good fiction – maybe even some that is not so good. My book club read “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese this month, and it was excellent. It is long – you might even say epic at more than 600 pages. It spans decades, continents, careers, political upheaval, etc. I couldn’t put it down. It is about the children of a nun and a doctor born in Ethiopia at the mission hospital they serve. Both boys are brilliant doctors but take very different paths in life.

Over the weekend, I read two books that were quick reads but very enjoyable – and funny. Adriana Trigiani is writing a trilogy about an Italian family, the Roncallis, who are shoemakers in New York. I enjoyed these very much and can’t wait for the third. The heroine visits Italy in the first book, “Very Valentine” and Italy and Argentina in the second, “Brava Valentine.” All the while, she is struggling to make her family’s custom wedding shoe manufacturing business profitable. I learned quite a bit about shoes that I never knew.

I started “Shoot the Moon” by Billie Letts last night and had to read a bit before work this morning. The story sounds interesting – a young mother is murdered and her 10 month old son is missing and presumed dead. Thirty years later, the grown up son returns to the town to find his mother, having no idea that she is dead or how he came to live with the parents who raised him. Billie Letts tells a great story, and the people in her novels always seem very real. And they are generally Southern, which makes the stories all the more interesting to me. Anyway, I am excited to get home and get settled in to read tonight.

So, give one of these a try if you’re looking for something to read. And let me know if you are reading something that I should put on my reading list.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Person Can Really Run 9.4 Miles in 43 Minutes?

This weekend there was a big community event in Jacksonville, Florida. It is called the Gate River Run, and it has been happening since 1977. I thought this was just an event for locals to participate in, but apparently it is quite an international event. This year there were 16,000 runners from all over the world. One of the coordinators was quoted as saying that this run is “the most competitive non-marathon road race in America.” That’s really great for Jacksonville. There is $85,000 in prize money available. Lots of people do it just to stay fit and have something to train for year round.

Three people from our office ran in the race on Saturday. Congratulations to them. Their finish times were 1 hour, 30 minutes; 1 hour, 31 minutes; and 1 hour 32 minutes. Pretty evenly matched. The winner finished in 43 minutes – unbelievable!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What’s the Deal with Women and Shoes?

The joke in our office is that shoes made of chocolate would have to be the ultimate woman’s product. It is pretty crazy how many pairs of shoes we own. I am not really a shoe fanatic, and I probably own 80 pairs. I remember when my husband and I were shopping for a new house a few years ago, the closets were the most interesting areas of the houses. One lady had her shoes in the original shoe boxes with a picture of the shoes taped on the outside of the box. I have never seen anything like it, but it was a great idea. My shoes are not very organized and I end up very frustrated most days when I can only find one of the shoes I want to wear that day.

Anyway, shoes are such a big part of the fashion statement you are making. But one woman has taken it to a new level. There was recently an article about a lady in California who has over 12,000 shoe related items and has set the Guinness Record. Click here to read the article.

The Hamilton Collection has introduced many miniature shoe collections, and the lady in this article has some of our products – you can see them in the picture.

Post pictures of your shoe collections on our Facebook page – either real shoes or miniatures/collectibles. We’d love to see them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Puppy Love

As a follow up to the blog a few weeks ago about pets, I heard this story on the news today and couldn’t resist posting it! Seems the dogs win out in almost every situation.

Does Your Loved One Miss the Dog More than You?

Have you ever had the feeling that your loved one misses the dog more than you when he or she is away on a business trip? You may be right.

A third of Americans admit to pining for their pooches more than their partners when out of town. But maybe that's because nine out of ten of them feel their pet is more pleased to see them after a hard day at work and is even more likely to notice when they've had a bad day.

Your partner's relationship with your dog may be closer than you thought and it might be going on behind your back. Around one is seven dog owners say they have "shared a look" with their dogs at least once and even more than that claim to be able to read their pet's facial expressions.

And ever wondered what's behind the long gaze into pooch's big brown eyes? Your partner may be one of a third of dog owners who swear it's an entire "conversation" without words.

And it doesn't stop there.

Many Americans turn to their four-legged friends for solace before friends and family. Nearly two thirds believe their dogs are more dependable than their closest comrades and over 70 percent would rather go for a walk with pooch when feeling uptight than hang out with their best buddy.

These are the results of a survey commissioned by dog snack maker Pup-Peroni that questioned over 1000 U.S. dog owners about the feelings they have for the pup in their life. The hold dogs have over their owners' emotions is striking.

Over two thirds say they feel more guilty about leaving their dog behind when traveling than leaving friends or loved ones. A majority say their pooch makes them feel happy, loved and relaxed.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

Friday, March 5, 2010

What’s in Your Curio Cabinet?

We call our blog the curio cabinet because that is where most of our figurines and other collectibles are displayed in people’s homes. Anything really special to me is displayed in my china cabinet, so I thought I would share my cabinet, what’s in it and what it means to me.

I have items from both of my grandmothers and both of my husband’s grandmothers in my china cabinet. My grandmother had lots of figurines and porcelain items that we played with as children—not knowing that they were valuable. I have a very old ceramic bowl with a lid that belonged to my mother’s mother. I have my father’s mother’s china that was bought from a door-to-door salesman when she was newly married. I also keep my cat collection in the cabinet along with some antique books, my grandmother’s rolling pin, some figurines from Hamilton and some sea shells and shark’s teeth. While all these items are just things, they mean the world to me because they were collected by these women that meant so much to me and to my husband. I think that grandparents worry about their legacies. What will happen to their things and will anyone appreciate the items that they valued in life? I certainly do, and even though I don’t know how each of these items was acquired, I love them all the same and hope to pass them to the younger generation in my family someday.

Here are some pictures of my china cabinet:

Also, a lady in the office shared her curio cabinet and collections. She has a lot more than I do, and it looks like she displays her collectibles all over the house.

Please send in your curio cabinet pictures and tell us all about your items that are important enough to keep behind glass.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Clean Desk vs. Messy Desk

So, it is the universal question—should you take time to clean your desk to be more efficient or is it more efficient to keep it all out on top of the desk?

I would like to say right up front that I am a messy desk person. No matter what I do to get organized, it all ends up on the top of the desk again. I make lots of excuses like, “I am working on multiple things at a time.” Everyone knows you can’t really do that. Or there is always the old standby, “I know exactly where everything is.” Sometimes I amaze myself by finding something in just a couple of seconds, but more often I am very frustrated looking for something I know is here. Then I will uncover it a month later in an unrelated stack. Here is my desk, and this is not staged. It is just a particularly bad week.

But some people have clean, nice desks. They seem like perfectly normal people, and they get their jobs done. How can this be? I am sure that I am intellectually superior or more able to multi-task or whatever thing makes me feel better about myself—I am definitely kidding about the intellectually superior. So, how do they do it? Or, more importantly, why do they do it? Here are some desks from our office that are unbelievably clean to me:

This is actually how a person works.

And here is a kindred spirit to me:

So, which is better? I think this will be debated until we stop printing things out —although even my Windows desktop is cluttered. I am hopeless.

So, just do what works for you. Or what your boss will let you get away with. At some point, a really disgusting desk attracts rodents.

Send us a picture of your desk—my preference would be the messy ones. I look forward to seeing how others manage with clutter. Please share with us your messy (or clean, if you just happen to be one of those people) desk stories on Facebook.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We LOVE Our Pets!

The folks at Hamilton love their pets so much that the stories and pictures keep coming, so I thought I would share them all.

A story about Cathy’s Weimaraner:

We adore our 70-pound Weimaraner, Georgia. She's devoted to us, good with cats and children, protective of our home, yard and 11-year-old twins. However, she is what we euphemistically describe as "high-energy." An average family of four cannot possibly exercise this dog enough to calm her down. So, following the advice of the dog whisperer, the year before last we purchased a used (human) treadmill on Craig's List. We run the dog on it every morning at 4.5 MPH for half an hour. This is just enough to prevent her from tearing our house down or leaping through the front window to kill the mailman, but still leaves her alert enough to frighten strangers away and, sadly, devise new methods for getting into the garbage. If I could just train her to put ME on the treadmill daily at 4.5 MPH for half an hour, my life would be perfect!

Here's a story and picture from Debra about her dog, Taxie:

I have a mixed breed dog, half Golden Retriever, half Cocker Spaniel..I know, some mix. We adopted her when my son was only 6 years old, and I left it up to him to name her. Out of the blue, he said "her name is Taxie." Of course I said, “What a wonderful name,” but I was thinking—hmm, different. She used to escape from the backyard, at which time, my son and I would roam the neighborhood yelling "Taxi! Taxi!"

Cassie and Rhett’s cat:

Here comes Trouble!!! She is a feline with a cat-itude all her own. Laid back without a care in the world is how she rolls. She sports a black coat with the purr-fect touch of white accents. Piercing green eyes that draw you in—just the way she likes it—all eyes on her. This diva even has a beauty mark by her lip, just proof that she is all about glamour.

Mary Ann’s dog, Diesel:

Here are a few photos of my baby, Diesel. His name sounds like he's a large and mean dog. On the contrary, he's the sweetest pet ever. At least, ONLY TO ME! :) My family thinks he's the meanest one they've ever met, that's because he loves to protect Mama (that's me!)

He broke his leg last year and he was a 3-legged Beast (as my family would call him) for a month. But he still remained the feisty little dog I know. Always by my side to protect me whenever he feels I'm threatened. On one occasion, he bit my husband on his face and the only thing he did was try to give me a kiss on the cheek. Trust me, he never tried that move again, my husband I mean! Diesel is just so over protective that no one can get close to me when he's on my lap.

He's so spoiled! He eats and sleeps with me and if it was my choice, I would take him everywhere with me. My boys think I'm crazy because I treat him like he's human but what can I say...I love him! He doesn't disobey, he doesn't talk back, and when I need him to comfort me, he's always by my side.

Amanda’s story about Magnus:

As a newlywed, my first mission was to get a new puppy for our new family. We found the cutest little cotton ball dog that seemed to be the calmest in the store. That day, we started a whole new adventure with our little "tranquil" puppy. His name is Magnus, and he is a Samoyed who is now about a year and a half old, weighing in at 45 lbs. He is not as peaceful and quiet as he appeared in the store but still just as cute. His nickname when we bought him was "Sweet Boy," now he is the "Roaming Disposal." I have never seen a dog in my life that can eat and chew through as many things as he has and survived. He has eaten everything imaginable from cell phones, socks, carpet, chunks out of my wood dresser and, yes, even holes in our walls! He has torn through every "tough" toy we have brought home in record time and no plush animal is safe. He can power through chew bones in minutes so we have to buy specially hard ones that can slow him down and occupy him for a few days. He is a sweet dog, but turn your head for a moment or leave anything on the floor, and it's history. But, he is still our good boy, and we will always love him. Just look at his cute face and "innocent" eyes!

And here is the most talked about little girl in our office these days—Shannon’s new dog, Piper:

Well, those are the pet children of The Hamilton Collection. It took two posts to get them all in. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and stories. You can see these photos and even more on Facebook, where we've created a photo album of all of our favorite pet friends. Please send us your favorite pet pictures, too!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pets Are Our Children

Wow, ask people around here about their pets, and the flood gates open! Pictures and comments are pouring in. There is just something about our pets--I guess because they love you unconditionally, and they don’t disagree with you. There’s no fighting or uncomfortable conversations with our pets. And ultimately they just accept you for who you are as long as the food, water and love keeps coming.

I am a cat person. I think you would have picked up on that by now if you read my blog. It’s not that I dislike dogs. I am afraid of them. I have no idea what a dog is going to do when it comes up to me. But a cat makes me smile every time. So, I’ll start by telling you about my own cat, Lefty. He went to Kitty Heaven in 2006. I miss him all the time, but I don’t really miss the litter box. He was a beautiful, loving, mischievous cat. And he was a helper! If I was working on anything—planting flowers, reading, typing, you name it—he wanted to help. Here’s a picture of my sweetie. Isn’t he pretty?

Now I’d like to introduce you to some of the pets of the folks at The Hamilton Collection. There have been a lot of new pets this year. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Kathy’s cat, Riley, was rescued after she was found covered in fleas. Her flea bites were so severe that she had to have a blood transfusion.

Laura’s dog, Buffy, was adopted from The Humane Society one year ago.

Ruby is an 11 year old DIVA Yorkie who was kicked out of her two previous homes. She doesn't mingle well with people or other critters. Her owner, "Yankee Girl," is pathetic in that she falls prey to Ruby's "Divaness" and has stuck by the pooch for 7+ years. Ruby has a number of sides to her personality—she's quite the little vixen and a sports fan, too (New York Yankees)—hence her wardrobe choices.

Amy has 2 dogs, Ozzie and Casey. Here are her comments and pictures.

We had Casey first, then got Ozzie 2 years later. At first Casey wasn't too fond of Ozzie...didn't want to have to share the attention with anyone, but now they are inseparable. Ozzie is VERY hyper and happy all the time. We call Casey our moody teenager—he's very loyal and loving one minute and the next he's grumpy or off pouting somewhere.

They act like two brothers and are always up to something. Casey is funny because he uses a bait and switch move to trick Ozzie into giving up his seat on the couch. He'll wave a toy in Ozzie's face and Ozzie gets all excited that Casey wants to play with him so he jumps off the couch to play. Casey half-heartedly plays for a second, then jumps up and steals Ozzie's seat. Poor Ozzie just stands there looking confused while Casey is all cozy and curled up on the couch. Poor Ozzie!

This is Ozzie...

...and Casey...

Lashunda has a new puppy. Here’s what she had to say about her new dog.

We have had Lucky (our Beagle) for a month now, and Lucky is quite the handful for a puppy. Lucky needs a lot of attention, and he loves people and other dogs. My husband named him Lucky because he said, Lucky was lucky he got bought. Lucky is spoiled rotten already and he knows it. He is very picky with toys and food. Now if we can get the potty training down pat that will be great. Every time we go to Petsmart we get so many compliments on how cute he is. Here is a picture, you judge for yourself.

Here is Michelle’s new puppy:

This is the newest addition to our family. Her name is Mia. She is just shy of 11 weeks old and is as spunky as they come. She has recently discovered herself in the mirror and spends time doing laps with her reflection. As you can see by the picture she is quite fond of her tail and is not at all modest. She keeps us on our toes and we look forward to the many adventures to come.

And here is a great cat story from Adrienne:

Chopin was a 17-lb. apple head Siamese. He was, by far, the biggest kitten in his litter. Soon after his arrival, he established himself as the head of the household. He was extremely vocal, as all Siamese are, and always in our business, but when company came to the house, he would disappear, leading many to question out claim that we even had a cat. There are many stories about my cat, but here is one that stands out most in my mind...

One night, Chopin decided he would have some fun in our kitchen. He opened all the cabinets and got into the kitchen trash, which he dumped and scattered all over the kitchen floor. Then he got into my mom's baking stuff. In a low cabinet, she kept huge 5-gallon containers of flour, sugar, etc. He got into the flour--tore the lid off the container with his teeth (and these were not easy lids to pry off). I only wish I could have seen him in action--all we saw the next morning was the result of what he had done. There was flour EVERYWHERE in little paw prints. The floor, kitchen counters, stove top, kitchen table and even parts of the dining room were covered with little white paw prints. And on the floor, those paw prints seemed to move perfectly around all the trash mess. When my mom came down in the morning and turned on the kitchen light, there was Chopin sitting right in the kitchen sink, one of his favorite places to hang out (he was not allowed to be there but that is where we always found him). My mom grabbed a broom and chased that cat all over the house. She cornered him in a closet, where they proceeded to have a hissing match. Well, then she kinda got freaked out, so she shut him in there to let him "cool off" for about an hour. When she opened that door, he was just like a little kitten all over again, and he never did anything like that again.

See, cats are so much fun!! Anyway, those are some of the pets of our office. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Please post your pictures or stories. We’d love to hear them!

I have lots more pet pictures and stories to share--stay tuned!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Winding Road of our Careers…

When I think back to my first job, it seems hard to imagine how I got to where I am. At 15 years old, did you ever imagine your life would turn out the way it has? I can’t imagine anyone would say yes. It is a twisting path of people you meet and decisions you make without really thinking about the ultimate consequence. This is sounding really heavy, and it’s not meant to be. I always thought I would be an accountant (which is what my degree is in), and I thought I would be a partner in one of the big accounting firms. This was back when those firms had reputations above reproach— “the most trusted profession in America.” Or so the experts said.

My first job was pretty normal for that path—bookkeeping for a local business. Then when I finished college, I worked for an accounting firm and got my CPA. All the logical steps, right? And now I am in direct marketing selling these beautiful figurines and beloved collectibles. I love what I do, but it’s a path that I didn’t expect. I became more of a general business person instead of an accountant. Well, it got me thinking…what are other people’s stories? You work with people every day, but you don’t really know what led them to their current place; probably the same twists and turns that you had.

So I asked people here at Hamilton about their first jobs, and I’ve received a lot of responses. I have laughed and teared-up reading some of their stories. What I found out for sure is that these folks around me have a strong work ethic. They started working young and not at terribly glamorous jobs—everything including fast food order taker (with polyester uniform), trolley driver, soldier, dental assistant, photographer, lifeguard, trashcan guy, shoe sewer (?), you name it. How did we all get here?

The best story was about one of our co-workers who worked at a veterinarian’s office. I am going to put her story here just as she sent it to me because it is so touching:

“I worked in the back room and boarding area as head dog washer, cage cleaner and pooper scooper! The veterinarian was an eye specialist, so many of the cats and dogs were unable to see for the few days after surgery, and I worried about them being scared.... so I sang. Badly I'm sure, but the animals were peaceful and quiet while I was there singing. Except for one beautiful, blonde, fluffy, show quality Cocker Spaniel, who had been abandoned with us because she had developed early cataracts, and was of no further use to the owner for breeding purposes. The owner brought her in to be put to sleep. The doctor wouldn't do that, so he fixed her eyes instead and she stayed in the back room kennel with me during her recovery. When I sang one certain song, “Layla,” by Eric Clapton, she would howl like a basset hound and start every other dog howling and barking. I learned not to sing When she was fully recovered, I adopted her and named her Layla.”

What a great story! After a story like that, you wonder how this person became a graphic designer. But we’re glad she did.

If you have a great first job story or if you wonder how you got where you are in your career, share it with me here or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you. Talk to you again soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

When: Always January 31st

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day celebrates art and the effect it can have on your heart. Art is valued and appreciated for all sorts of reasons.
Look at a piece of art and ask yourself: What is it telling me? How does it make me feel? What emotions is it evoking (if any) within me?

I am not a connoisseur of art. I had my one obligatory art history class. But I know what I like. And art, in any form, causes us to have an emotional reaction. And isn’t that what life is all about? Those emotional responses to beautiful things give us a little buzz. In my role here at The Hamilton Collection, I see so many beautiful things. I am inspired by the artists, product developers and graphic designers who work for the company because I don’t have any creative talent. These folks can take an idea and turn it into a beautiful product that touches thousands of people’s lives. I don’t think they understand how special that gift is.

The Hamilton Collection is in such a unique situation to create lots of different emotions through art: our pieces are fun, whimsical, beautiful, charitable, sassy, touching, you name it.

By the way, my personal taste in art leans toward the abstract. I like to see what I want in the art, not have it be so literal. The best story about my taste in art is when my mother-in-law saw the prints I purchased to go over our sofa. She said, “Those prints look like the landfill.” And you know; she was right. That’s what she saw—not too inspiring. But that’s the beauty of abstract. You can see what you want it to be. To me those prints were pictures of beautiful mountains and streams and lakes.

Before I go, I am going to talk about another form of artistry I love that inspires me: the written word. I read a lot—mostly fiction. So, I thought I would tell you what I am reading. I just finished Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. It is a novel with what seems like three separate stories that become intertwined in the last three pages in a surprising way. It was pretty good. Now I am moving on to a book of short stories called Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle. She is a North Carolinian, so I am excited to see how she uses the South in her stories.

Until next time,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meet "Yankee Girl"

In our office we’re talking a lot about movies since The Golden Globes and The Oscars are coming up. Our local theatre has been running a $5 special for any movie all day on Sunday, so we’ve been taking advantage of that great price. I saw The Young Victoria last week with Marianne, our director of marketing. She loves all things British and takes her vacations there quite often. She also is from Connecticut, and around the office she is affectionately known as “Yankee Girl.” So, each time that a palace or garden would come on the screen during the movie, she would tell me that she has been there or that’s the wrong building. I do think it makes a movie or any event different if you have been to the place. I have never been to England, but I was inspired by the costuming and the beautiful women in the movie. The Hamilton Collection has introduced Victorian era fashion ladies over the past few years, and our collectors love them. So, I thought it would be nice to have Yankee Girl write the blog this week specifically about the Victorian era, England, and her experiences there. Here are her thoughts:

I guess most people would identify me as an Anglophile. I have traveled to England many times. I love the people, the beautiful countryside, palaces, manor houses and gardens. When I’m back here in the States, I watch a fair amount of BBCAmerica and PBS to get my England fix—I’ll watch most any costume drama movie because the clothing and buildings are usually unbelievably lovely.

Just last week, I went to see the recently released Young Victoria movie with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The movie was set just prior and in the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign. I knew Victoria’s history before seeing the movie, but as it’s a timeless romance and coming of age story, I never get tired of it. The movie was entertaining and beautifully shot—and the costumes and locations were gorgeous. As the movie got rolling, I became consumed with the locations and realized I’ve visited a number of the buildings and gardens on prior visits.

In fact, on my last trip to England in October 2009, I visited Ham House, which the film used as the setting for Kensington Palace. Ham House is a beautiful 17th century manor house on the outskirts of London. The house has magnificent gardens which were used in the movie as well. It’s fun to visit the buildings and gardens used in movies. Some of my friends think I’m quite strange to plan my vacations around former movie sets, but I’m not alone. The British Tourist Authority offers a printed map, which is a guide to places in the UK used in film and television.

Here I have posted some pictures of Ham House from my visit this year. You can wander around the gardens and the interior at your leisure (for a fee). Actually, some of these pictures were used professionally for two of The Hamilton Collection’s newest “Pretty Lady” collections. One of my pictures was used as a background photo in the advertising materials (albeit very hazy). Just keep a look out in your mail box—you never know what you’ll find.


Yankee Girl

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just call me Figurine Girl

A funny thing happened to me this week. I was setting up an “identity” on some website this week—you know username/password questions as usual. I didn’t really want to use my name because that is so boring. I see all these great screen names that people use, and I thought what could my name be? I spend the majority of my waking hours talking about and looking at figurines. And if you could see my office and all of our offices here at The Hamilton Collection, you would understand why we dream about figurines on lots of nights. So, I decided that I would be “Figurine Girl.” It’s a very appropriate name. And I am attaching a few pictures so you can see why.

Here in The Hamilton Collection offices we have a sample of all of the figurines created because we want to have an archive, and also we want to see how the collections look together and how they will look in your curio cabinet. We keep things in our offices that we especially like. For example, in my office right now I have cats (which I also collect at home), fairies, frogs, angels, beautiful ladies, Elvis, dragons, M&Ms, Precious Moments, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, and on and on and on. The most of any one thing I have is definitely cats, as you can see from the above photos. Our product developers know that I love cats, and I always get one of our samples in my office. Many are one-of-a-kind sculptures, so I am really excited about those. A lot of mine also have very early numbers in our limited editions. I have lots that are hand numbered below #5, and since most of our figurines are limited to 95 casting days, those are especially valuable. If you own our collectible figurines, check your curio cabinet to see what numbers you have.

So, Figurine Girl has lots of figurines. I hope you do, too. Because they make me so happy to admire and collect, and I am sure they make you happy as well.

Check back in a few days for more news from Hamilton.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

This is the time of year when everyone makes resolutions. Not only is it a new year, it’s a whole new decade! And each year, just about everyone resolves to make their life better in some way, whether it’s to save money, lose weight, spend more time with family or finish those unfinished projects around the house.

I’ve made a New Year’s resolution, too. This year I am vowing to be better about reaching out to everyone through this blog. There’s so much to talk about and so much I want to share with you, but it just comes down to finding the time to sit and write about it.

While the New Year provides the perfect spark for making changes, we all know the really big challenge is keeping those promises we make to ourselves. We start off with the very best intentions, but then as the days and weeks pass, we slip back into old habits and forget what we resolved to change.

There are two well-known sayings that come to mind with all this resolution talk. You’ve heard that the pen is mightier than the sword? In other words, write it, don’t say it. I’m serious this year, so I’ve written mine down. And I’ve shared it with others, too. Second, it has often been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so to make sure I keep my resolution this year, I’ve planned out my schedule and set dedicated time each week just to blog. I’ve made a list of things I want to write about, too. I like lists—they keep me focused.

When it comes to resolutions, I think the important thing is to recognize all the good things we already have – that’s what I tell myself anyway. Because every year I say I am going to exercise and lose weight, and something always makes me give it up. So, this year I am going to say I am going to lose weight but also feel very lucky to have my family, my job, food on the table and a warm place to live. If I feel grateful for all of these wonderful things, maybe giving up chocolate cake won’t feel so bad.

Have you made a resolution this year? Share it with me here as a comment, or if you really want to “put it out there,” you can share it with all of us on Facebook. Together, let’s vow to keep our resolutions and make 2010 the best year yet!