Tag Archives: staples

chestnut honey, mountain views, secrets things and places, and other sweet things about living in the Italian countryside

The only way to see Italy is with an Italian, or someone that has lived here for many years. We are still discovering secrets about Italy everyday.

As most of you know, Frank and I have lived in Italy now for over 15 years, enjoying our summers here with family and friends. You have also heard me say that Italy is like an onion. Most tourists only scratch the surface, so when reading all these travel guides, keep in mind the best stuff (just like the olive oil) is reserved for Italians.

The only way to see Italy is to see it with an Italian, or someone that has lived here for many years. We are still discovering secrets about Italy everyday. It’s actually one of the many things I love about Italians. Unlike Americans, Italians are not over-sharers. In Italy you have to earn trust, and then the world opens up to you like an exotic flower. The treasures here are endless, and the rewards of putting your time in will be the exquisite payback for your patience. Finally, right about now, I am starting to feel like I have a few Italian secrets of my own to share. It only took 25 years, LOL.

We lived on the Italian Riviera for 15 years, and now we are living the countryside in a very unknown region called Lunigiana. We live on 27 acres with a working vineyard and giant ancient fortress that has kept me on my toes for just about a year.

I will say country life agrees with me, and I can see growing older here watching the changing seasons in mountain range that is our view. The life is slower here, the people are authentic and friendly which is a big difference from living in a bustling vacation destination like Alassio where people only appear each summer.

People here stop by and drop off eggs from their chickens, chestnut honey from their bees, freshly jarred preserves from their fruit orchards, and olive oil from last fall’s harvest. It’s pretty much what I expected in my fantasies, but the reality is so much richer.

Everyone eats local here. Hell, we eat out of our garden: lettuce, eggplant, zucchinis and herbs. Tomatoes abound; they literally sprung out of the earth as soon as we planted them. We have sour cherries and figs, and our plum trees and grape vines are maturing as well. Unlike in the US, in the country here in Italy, it’s no big thing to eat off the land everyday. So yes, I love it. Milk comes from the cows and goats up the mountain, and beef comes from the steers down in the valley. You can smell the steers as you drive by the butcher/slaughter house everyday.

One of the things that surprised me was that when we lived in Alassio, there was so much pressure to dress in the latest fashion and look presentable everyday. I would never go out on the streets without the “right” look. Here it is easy, and the feeling of fashion pressure is gone. It’s more laid back and therefore much more livable. I have slowed down. Enjoying nature is something that is a daily routine. What’s in my closet is an after thought.

I will continue to write about my experiences here in the Italian countryside this summer.

As you know, I am in the middle writing a book of our story here in Italia.

Stay tuned for more updates, and for now I will relish all the gifts from my surroundings, the people that live here, and all the secrets Italy has to show me. The secrets I have patiently waited for.

ciao xx

Photo credit: Frank Joseph MD

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Holiday Prep for Small Business : Steve McKenzie’s + Staples

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jill of Steve McKenzie’s helps customers complete their holiday wish list with custom postcards & a desktop poster.

I am back again to help you prepare for the upcoming holidays with Staples Print and Marketing Services! This time with my favorite partners in crime – Steve and Jill McKenzie, of Steve McKenzie’s . This super chic gift boutique and interior design studio is located on the trendy Westside of Atlanta, Georgia. Steve is a seasoned professional with vast experience in business.The truth is that you should be preparing for the holiday season now if you own a retail store. Steve and I are here to walk you through three great promotions that you can easily achieve with the help of Staples.

It’s no surprise that I enlisted his expertise once again. You may remember him from last year. Of course he knocked it out of the park again. Steve and Jill are a natural choice because Staples Print and Marketing Services has been their go-to resource for years.

This year we wanted to be extra creative; wait until you see what we have up our sleeves. With the help of Staples, we could be creative and make our holiday promotions super cool.

Steve and I created three impressive store programs with Staples. If you’re a small store owner, listen up. Steve and I have some very important information to share with you to make you look like a total pro during the holiday season.

Holiday Program 1: Partner with Your Vendors and Create an In-store Event:

Steve created a tabletop program that offers beautiful product at a savings. To enhance the promotion, Steve and Jill ordered banners with exclusive imagery they got from a vendor. Be smart: your vendors have beautiful images, and they want you to use them. Steve uploaded the image to a Staples Print and Marketing banner template, added some clever copy to it, and voila a stunning banner to drape in your window.

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A tabletop trimmings poster hangs in the window while a smaller version beckons guests to the display. 

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Tabletop trimmings post cards are available for shoppers to easily see discounts.  

To support the event even more, Steve ordered table top signs and postcards that customers can take with them. The flip side of the postcard has all the items listed that will be discounted in the promotion. I love the catchy tag line “Tabletop Trimmings”.

Holiday Program 2: Create a Holiday Event for Customers

The idea of a workshop for the holidays is fantastic. Steve has had great success with conducting classes over the past year. He and Jill decided that a Holiday Gift Wrap Workshop would be a fun way to mingle with customers while teaching a skill. Serving nibbles and drinks while doing a craft like gift wrapping is a super way to get to know your customers. Here’s how Steve and his team put the whole thing together:

Steve designed a great postcard invite that he turned into a poster for his store. He framed a poster and placed it on an easel. A fantastic way for customers shopping to note the event and register to attend.

The postcard/invites are also placed on a display table that Steve set up in the middle of the store to showcase the event. This display farm table will serve as the actual wrap desk during the event. But he placed it in the middle of the floor a few weeks before the event, all set up to rally interest and conversation before the workshop event.

On the night of the Wrap Workshop, Steve and Jill will provide the paper and the ribbon and string and demonstrate wrapping techniques. It’s a super way to bring everyone together during the most wonderful time of the year.

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Steve & Jill created a 24×36 poster with Staples Print and Marketing Services for their window display.

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A framed poster gives customers directions while a custom postcard added to each shopping bag promotes the party. 

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Program 3: A Comprehensive Gift Certificate Program and a Wish List Program

Sometimes gift certificates can look ho hum. Steve came up with the brilliant idea of using an invite template from Staple Print and Marketing Services to create a very stylized gift certificate. Check out the beautiful gift certificate he created. Sometimes it’s the little touches that make such a big difference.

The wish list program is a great way for you as a retailer to help customers get what they want during the holidays. Steve and Jill came up with this beautiful sign to promote conversation with their regular customers. This wish list service is an extra touch that will separate you from the rest. Your customers will love this easy way to share what they love in your store. Here’s how it works: customers fill out this card, on the card they write who you should contact, and you take care of the rest. It makes gift giving easy.

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Branded tape measures make cute takeaways for shoppers who complete a wish list. The wish lists are customized rack cards from Staples Print and Marketing. 

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Gift cards created using Staples Print and Marketing invitations are branded with the store’s logo & address. 

3 Great Tips from Steve

  1. Use your vendors for beautiful imagery.
  2. Create holiday events that your customers want to attend.
  3. Make sure your gift certificate program is as comprehensive as it can be. Be creative and use an invite template.

Products used in today’s post:

StaplesSteveMcKenzies2016

 

  1. Custom Photo Postcards 2. Custom Photo Banner 3. Custom Party Invitations 4. Personalized Tape Measures 5. Custom Rack Cards 6. Avery Round Labels 7. Custom Posters

Photo credit: Annette Joseph

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Creating the Perfect Workspace with Staples.

Staples Organization

Let’s face it: you spend lots time at your desk, so making it more functional can make all the difference in your attitude and productivity.

Organizing your work surface can create a sense of calm and accomplishment. Productivity promotes happiness and clear thinking.

Happiness and clear thinking allow you to work more efficiently, and that’s a great goal for the upcoming year.

I am going to give you some simple tips to clean up your work space and make it a great place to spend the day.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to take a look at your desk and start making big improvements. Here are my simple tips for updating your desktop using great products from my friends at Staples:

 1. EDIT YOUR DESK: This means clean up your act by tossing objects that serve no function and take up valuable space on your desk and your work space. Just like your edit your home, your desk should be a functional and aesthetically pleasing place. Your desk is not a place for dusty knickknacks. Now is the time to purge and toss things on your desk that serve no purpose..

My rule is if it’s:

– Dusty
– Broken
– Untouched for 6 months

It’s got to go!

Once you’ve purged and edited your desk, now you have a nice clean surface to work with.

Time to decide how you use your desk.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What functions do I perform at my desk?
  2. What are my daily/monthly office duties?

Build a plan around your answers.

Make a list of items you need.

GO SHOPPING.

In making your list, your thought process should be…everything should have a place.

Most used items like pens, a stapler, and sticky notes should be within reach.

Things less frequently used can be stored under your desk or in a nearby closet or shelf.

2.CUSTOMIZE YOUR WORKSPACE: Editing your desk does not mean your desk won’t be aesthetically pleasing and personal. Staples has a beautiful selection of office products that will make your desk functional and stylish.

3.BUY ESSENTIALS: Staples has a great selection of essential office supplies. Their Less List for Business features the lowest prices on 28 essentials businesses use every day. Whether you like to shop online or in store, Staples makes it easy on you with their buy online, pick-up in store option which will have your purchase ready in store within 1 hour. Like these hanging files in green. I have hanging files for everything, invoices, receipts, and resources. You can use a drawer, bankers box, plastic file box, or this pretty wire file holder

Staples Organization Staples Organization Staples Organization Staples Organization

4.GATHER YOUR RECEIPTS IN A DOCUMENT LETTER TRAY: I have receipts in this letter tray for easy access while bookkeeping. Having receipts in one place makes it less likely to loose important documents. I also like this monthly desk pad since I like to jot down notes.

Staples Organization

5.WRITE IT DOWN: Staples has note pads that I love, too. As I said I love to write things down because it makes me remember what I need to do.

Staples Organization Staples Organization

6.EXTRA STORAGE/ FILE BOX: Store active and inactive folders in a bankers box. This box can also be used for printer paper and office supplies for easy storage and access. It fits right under a desk or on a shelf unit. *Note: Using a shelf in your office to store extras or keep files is a great way to de-clutter your work area.

7.SUPPLY STORAGE: Check out this office shelf. Notice you can and should use the same organizational products on your desk, on shelves or in a closet. My post-its are in this pretty wire memo holder for easy access.

Staples Organization

8.ORGANIZE YOUR PENS AND PENCILS : It is a must. I like to store pens and pencils in a pencil cup.

Staples Organization Staples Organization 9.A COMFORTABLE CHAIR: Once you’ve set up your work space, make sure that you have a comfortable office chair. You want be able to spend loads of time working, and a great office chair can make all the difference. It’s a wise investment. Staples has a great selection.

Staples Organization Staples Organization 10.TECHNOLOGY MAKES EVERYTHING MORE PRODUCTIVE: Staples has an amazing array of technology to choose from and a helpful staff.I can’t do without my Epson printer.

January is the time to get your work space in order. Remember to edit edit edit, and buy functional items from Staples to keep you organized all year long. Happy New Year and happy organizing.

This is a sponsored post all opinions expressed are my own.

Photo Credit : me

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Preparing for the Holidays with Steve McKenzie and Staples Copy and Print- THINK LIKE A PRO.

Staples Holiday 2015

Steve and Jill Mckenzie are pros all the way. They’re seasoned retailers always thinking about how to make their brand shine, so when I asked Steve if he used Staples Copy and Print for his home furnishing store’s needs, without missing a beat he said, “Yes, we have been using Staples Copy and Print for years.”

I thought it might be fun to help all of you specialty stores out by showing you how to brand for the holidays by photographing Steve and Jill’s store while they prepared for Thanksgiving.

Lead by example, right? Here is one of the best examples I have seen of customizing all the elements that will make your holiday season great, and your customers feel special. All while promoting your strongest category at the perfect time of year.

Staples Holiday 2015 Staples Holiday 2015 Staples Holiday 2015

Steve McKenzie’s was Voted Atlanta’s Best Tabletop in Atlanta Magazine, so you can imagine that table top products are a huge category for them. Steve and Jill ordered everything custom for their 2015 Thanksgiving promotion. They decided to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table in the front window, then hang a custom banner over the table to highlight the display.

Staples Holiday 2015 Staples Holiday 2015 BANNERS- POSTERS- POSTCARDS

Postcards were sent out to their mailing list announcing new merchandise with a Thanksgiving promotional discount offered on all stock.

Notice that the banner and the postcards have the same graphic. Reinforcing the graphic, whether it’s a photograph like this one or your logo, shows you’re a pro.

* Note the photograph is of a dishware line featured in their store. Staples Holiday 2015 GIFT WRAP- STICKERS- STAMPS-RIBBON-BOXES

Customized gift wrap is as easy as a sticker or a stamp. Don’t forget it’s the little touches that make all the difference in how your small business is perceived. I love the use of the bakers string to tie up small boxes and the S sticker on the bright orange bow makes for a beautiful and coordinating holiday wrap program.

Staples Holiday 2015 Staples Holiday 2015 GIFT CERTIFICATES – GIVE AWAYS

Gift certificates and functional take always, like this logo tape measure, are a great way to promote your business and give customers a treat. Having custom gift certificates with your logo is an important component, and this gift certificate with the pretty logo represents the store’s aesthetic.

Staples Holiday 2015 Staples Holiday 2015

Steve and Jill do a really great job. They have shown us that it’s as simple as putting your logo on everything you order from Staples Copy and Print. These touches won’t break the bank and will increase sales during the busiest time of year. Thanks Steve and Jill for showing us how you use Staples Copy and Print to make a statement in your beautiful space. xx Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

StaplesSteveMcKenzies

1. Custom Photo Banner 2. Custom Photo Postcard 3. Kraft Paper Boxes 4. Orange Satin Ribbon 5. Orange Baker’s Twine 6. Custom Stickers 7. Custom Gift Certificates 8. Custom Tape Measures

If you have a store and use custom Staples copy and print to make a statement, please share your photos in the comments section below; we would love to hear from you!

This is a sponsored post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Photo credit: Me

 

 

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Holiday Gift Wrap Program Staples Copy and Print makes it easy!

Staples Holiday 2015 It’s always great during the holidays to find a store that has beautiful holiday gifts, but more important for me is a beautiful in store holiday gift wrap service. It’s these special touches that make me go back every year to shop for gifts for the holidays at a particular store.

When you’re a small store owner, branding is very important.Branding is the only thing that sets you apart from the crowd. Branding and customer service. A great way to combine these two important concepts is by having a beautiful gift wrap program in place. It is a wonderful way to service your customers and make them come back again and again. If you have a gorgeous gift wrap program in place this time saving service will have your customers coming back year after year.

Put a branded gift wrap program together with your partner Staples Copy and Print. Everything you need to create a one of a kind gift wrap program is at your fingertips.

I suggest you pick wrapping paper, ribbon, bags and branded stickers to put on every single gift you wrap.

Staples Holiday 2015

At Staples Copy and Print , you will find gorgeous and affordable products to put your holiday gift wrap program together. Don’t forget the custom Stickers!

Taking care of your customers’ gift wrap needs makes your store look amazing. After all, you’re offering a service that will make their life easier. You’re creating a loyal customer base with this simple service.

Remember gift wrap is not only for the holidays, so make sure you have a branded program in place for all year.

Nothing beats great customer service, remember this small touch and it makes a huge difference in the big picture.

Staples Holiday 2015

Order now and make your holiday season the best it’s ever been.

StaplesWrappingParty

1. Holiday gift tags 2. Grosgrain ribbon 3. Floral wrapping paper 4. Gift bags

This is a sponsored post all opinions expressed are my own.

Photo credit :Me

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