Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Traditions Come Full Circle

I spent last weekend in Portland for a holiday benefit concert. Side note- it was amazing. In one evening we saw Matt Nathenson, Amos Lee, Augustana and The Pretenders. Yes- I live a charmed life.

The next afternoon my sister invited me out for some traditional holiday shopping and lunch. My initial response was- "do we have to?". I get a little scared thinking of the holiday crowds, parking, crying, yelling, etc. etc. That's why I love shopping online ( ).

I succumbed and met her at the downtown Macy's. I was "conveniently" 30 minutes late so she had picked up what she needed from Macy's and was ready to eat. Where to? She suggested "The Nines" for lunch. She kinda mumbled that it's the new hot spot in Portland- but would suit our needs since we were starved and it was in the same building.

Immediately upon entering the lobby my holiday frustrations dissipated and my mood turned for the best. I knew simply by looking around I was going to enjoy this lunch. The lobby had a very distinct design aesthetic that I loved. The elevator took us up to the 8th floor and we entered the restaurant- which was smack dab in the center of the hotel. All the rooms look down into the open and airy restaurant. We were immediately greeted and seated.

At this point a memorable and delicious lunch followed. We each tried something recommended by our waitress and paired our lunch with some holiday cheer. An hour later and bellies full we were not quite yet ready to leave and join the holiday crowds- so we unanimously decided on ordering more holiday cheer. We got the banana cream pie with a side of espresso ice cream paired with champagne.

The rest of my afternoon was a blur- a blur of pure holiday bliss. That amazing and wonderful lunch put my holiday stress aside and allowed me to savor the season. It was just what I needed. A lovely and long holiday lunch in a wonderfully inspiring atmosphere.

I later spoke with my mom about my lunch excursion and she giggled in a very knowing way. It's wasn't long ago she herself would look forward to holiday outings at that same Meier and Frank (now Macy's- but then M&F) to have tea at the Georgian room and visit the Toyland.
I asked my mom to share her experiences in her own words:
"The Meier & Frank Georgian Tea Room holds special holiday memories for me. The linens were exquisite, the service superb and the food fabulous. The best part of the whole experiences was the Tea Room's ambiance.
The elegance and formality was magical, especially as a child. Women would never consider entering the room without the proper attire and heels. Men, of course wore a tie and coat. The little girls like myself put on their very best dress with a petty coat, socks with ruffles and patton leather shoes!!!
After our elegant luncheon on the 10th floor my mother and I would pay a visit to the Meier & Frank Toyland. A visit to Toyland was a tradition that I insisted was met every holiday season. The room was breathtaking with toys, twinkling lights, The Cinnamon Bear and the eagerly anticipated "Toyland Train". I think my love of trains had it's beginning in this magical room. The train would travel around a track that circled the ceiling, whistling and chugging as it ran it's course.
Gone now are the tearoom, train, Cinnamon Bear and Toyland. However- the beautiful holiday memories will remain in my heart forever." Jeani Stevens

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Final Frontier: Facebook

by Jenelle Landgraf

I tried to avoid joining Facebook for a long time. My friends and family constantly told me that I need to be on Facebook so I can know what's going on with everyone and get in touch with long lost friends. I was just fine calling my friends on the phone to catch up or sending good old-fashioned emails.

After awhile I started feeling like I was the last person to find things out because everyone posted their updates on Facebook. For example, when my dear friend Angela (aka Mapel's top model) got to interview Tori Spelling down in LA, I didn't hear about it for awhile. My girlfriends were talking about it and I was like "What? When was this? I didn't know Ang got to interview Tori, my old BFF from 90210". Well she posted it on Facebook....yeah, didn't you see her update on Facebook?.....I read about it on Facebook, didn't you?.......

Fine - this week I decided to join Facebook. I was so not excited about joining that I asked my husband to fill out my profile so i wouldn't have to move from my comfy spot on the couch. I was a little more interested when it came to choosing my profile picture. Decisions decisions - should it be a group photo, a couples shot, a close-up of my face, or a full-body shot? I ended up decidng on the one to the right.

After posting, I wondered if it looked too posed? Or if that's really the best lighting and position for my features? Or if I shouldn't have cropped Jaime and Allison out it? And, whatever happened to that photography company that was so popular in junior high - Glamour Shots ? Maybe I should get my profile picture taken there and then my hair would look nice and fluffy and my makeup would be nice and dark, and they could sort of blur the photo so I look sexy and not at all like myself.....hmmm, something to think about.....

My first day on Facebook was a little lonely - I only had 2 friends and nothing on my wall, and I wasn't even really sure what a wall was or what should be on it. My sisters and husband quickly rescued me by requesting that all their friends add me as their friends. In a matter of 24-hours, I had 86 new friends. Wow - I don't think I've ever had that many "friends" in my life. And I found so many cute pictures like the one below. Facebook was already doing amazing things for my social life, but there was more to come...

Now that I had all these "friends", I decided I should start communicating with them. My first mistake was that I didn't fully understand how Facebook communications works. I posted a note on my sister Jillian's wall, thinking she and her friends would be the only ones who could see it. I wrote something about Baby L, even though I had only had a chance to tell my closest friends and family about my pregnancy so far. To my surprise, I started getting lots of "congratulations" messages on my wall and my cell phone. I wondered how everyone knew that I was pregnant, and then someone informed me that when I post something on someone else's wall, all my "friends" can see that I've posted a message on someone's wall and what it says. Okay, got it.
Once I figured out how to properly use Facebook, I found that I couldn't get enough of it. On Monday I probably spent more time thinking about Facebook than anything else (don't tell my boss - she's a real firecracker). This was more addicting than crack - not that I would know - it's been a few years since I've done apple jacks (kidding. I actually had to google "slang for crack" to find that one). Before joining Facebook, I didn't really understand how people could find it so entertaining. But now my eyes were opened to new and fascinating things - for example, I learned that this guy I was "sort of" friends with in high school was on his way to buy eggs at 4:53pm on Tuesday. Wow - I had always wondered if he was an egg-eater, but now I know for sure. Oh, and another "friend" had just finished painting her nails at 11:34pm on Wed - I thought FOR SURE she was someone who went to bed early. It's a good thing I joined Facebook or I wouldn't know what a crazy cat that girl can be.

I have now been a member of Facebook for about 5 days and I still have some questions about proper etiquette. I'd like to start posting more photos and some videos, but not sure if I have to get my friends and family's approval first. I have this adorable video of my friend Allison learning to swim at the villa in Italy a few months ago. I'm sure that everyone would love this video, including Allison. So, I'm checking with her first. I checked and it's a go. So here it is...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Say You????

In an effort to entertain my blog readers while simultaneously promote Mapel I am continually thinking of what my next blog topic will be. (your welcome). This week while rattling through various ideas in my head I was reminded of a marketing concept for Mapel. Forever ago I put together ideas that would shorten the distance between customer and proprietress and allow the customer to connect with Mapel and feel like they had an integral part of our growth.

One idea I had was to create a survey or voting system online where our customers could "vote" for the brands, styles, colors, silhouettes, etc. etc. they wanted to see at Mapel. We would then use this info to make stronger buying decisions.

I still love this idea to pieces (hope you do to) and I am still researching how to efficiently and productively pull it together.

Anyhow- this week I have created a mini "voting" system as our trial run.
This is how it works:
Jenelle gives me a specific amount of money to spend on specific vendors during specific months. It's now time to order more handbags. Given the amount of money I have to spend and the amount of bags I love.... I must reduce the below 6 cutie bags to 3 stellar bags.

This is what I need from you.... take a look at the below bags and retail prices. Choose your fav'sies 3 bags and either send us an email or leave a blog comment to cast your vote.

A: Quilted Frame Bag $54

B: Multi Zipper Tote $58

C: Bold Trim Zebra Tote $48

D: Ostrich Shopper $68

E: Tall Multi Zipper Tote $64

F: Black Patent Tote $68

What say you? Cast your vote via blog comment or @

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I had initially planned on writing this weeks blog about my 30th birthday bash. Just today I sent off the snapfish album and had over 180 photos to choose from for my write up. However (and unfortunately) an occurrence of unmeasurable despair has occurred and I feel it's more valuable to issue a Public Service Announcement instead of carry on about my fabulous Birthday Bash.

(Tune in next when when the despair will of likely dissipated and I'll be ready to share my Birthday Splendor).

The Monday night following my Birthday Bash my Jetta (pronounced with a think German tongue 'yetta') was violated. While parked in front of my parents Vancouver WA condo minding it's own baltic green self some nasty hamburglars decided to smash in my rear drivers window. They not only left heaps of glass in and outside of the car- they also got away with my Mapel holiday decors. Those selfish assholes. I had just spent all day Monday (along with a sweet and even tempered accomplice (that is until about the 11th hour)) shopping all over Portland for holiday decors. Being the savvy business owner that I am I knew I had to take advantage of no sales tax before returning to Seattle. (Yes- I had every intention of passing those "no sales tax" savings onto our dear Mapel customers).

The rest of my day was spent talking with my insurance company, Mapel's insurance company, glass repair shops and the stores I had purchased my holiday decors from. After 3 hours of waiting and $100 in repairs my 'yetta' was back in shape- alas my heart & peace of mind had not yet repaired.

What confused me was the ?why? and ?what the hell? of all this. I had Never had anything like this happen. My parents parking lot has video surveillance and is a quiet & safe area.

After a little Sherlock inquiry session with the local business' and residents we found out a number of other cars within a 5 mile radius had been broken into. Upon further investigation the window repair shop told me the below statistics (here follows my Pubil Service Announcement):
-On average they receive 5 calls or jobs for window repairs a day
(this does not include chipped windshields)
-That number slightly spikes after Thanksgiving & through the holidays
-Within the last month or so their average # of calls or jobs has increased to 20+

Well- there's my ?why? and ?what the hell?. I can only assume it's the #$%&* economy again. I vote we start a petition to turn this economy around. It's getting really depressing and annoying.
In close I want my dear readers to take heart and know that as per my usual M.O. I will not simply take this sitting down. Economy or not - breaking into my baltic green 'yetta' is uncalled for and reasons for retaliation. My even tempered shopping accomplice and I will be performing a sting operation before months end. No Joke. If necessary I will issue a citizens arrest.
You can't hold me (or my Mapel holiday loot) down. Those assholes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Upon turning 30 I received numerous "best wishes" and "words of wisdom". All of the W.O.W. (as in words of wisdom- come on... keep up) had to do with being content in who you are and laughing at yourself when necessary.

Essentially my girlfriends and I have been saying the same thing for years- however we've summed it up by saying "Own It". If you have read at least 2 of my blog postings you've likely read me referring to the power in "Owning It".

The turning of 3 decades got me to thinking about what I have learned with time about myself and others, how to be content, the power of owning it and laughing at yourself when necessary.

Before I start sounding like Oprah I wanted to recap a few things
my friends and I have come to love about ourselves:

To have that last cupcake that has been sitting on the lunchroom table at work. If nobody sees you eat it, the calories don’t count.

To indulge yourself in “bad” (but it’s sooo good) reality TV…Rock of Love, Flavor of Love,
I Love Money, Top Model…

To make an absolute & entire mess out of a hotel room you are sharing with girlfriends for the weekend. (Meaning- it's OK to live like a pig when away from your own home).
To wear a shirt with no pants – and call it a dress.

To have that 3rd glass of vino….it makes the decision to order the 4th, so much easier.

To pretend that you just can’t get that jar of pickles open, just so your big strong man can come to the rescue (he loves it)

To think that the only time a woman should NOT be wearing heels, is when she is at the gym or asleep (and that is even up for debate) – it’s also okay to think that heels under 4” are not even worth the bother…you might as well wear flats.

To spend at least 30 minutes of your work day online shopping at – and still billing your time to the client (your clients expect you to look nice right?)

To carry mini bottles of alcohol in your purse – just for emergencies.

To do "yard work" as an excuse to get together with friends and gossip on a long Sunday afternoon.

To indulge in retail therapy – nothing can turn a winter day blue quite like a pair of new velvet skinny pants

How about you?
What are your "Owning It" moments?
Leave us a comment with your W.O.W!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Orleans

This week I am celebrating 3 decades of existence. As a gift (and excuse to distract me from obsessing over what I did or didn't do with those 3 decades) a "friend" surprised me with a trip to New Orleans (here on out referred to as NO). I've never been. I have however been to Las Vegas and before arriving assumed NO was the Vegas of the east coast. My reasoning for assuming they were one and the same is that you can openly drink on the streets and necessary evening attire mandates at least 7 pieces of "flare".

I was wrong. NO completely trumps Vegas. Not only is flare & booze acceptable and encouraged but NO offers history, architecture, music, food and education. When is the last time someone came home from Vegas with a new perspective on the Civil War?

As per the all knowing Wikipedia NO is defined as follows:
The city is named after Philippe II, Duc d'Orléans, Regent of France, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It is well known for its multicultural and multilingual heritage,cuisine, architecture, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz),and its annual Mardi Gras and other celebrations and festivals. The city is often referred to as the "most unique" city in America.

Here follows my concurrence with Wikipedia (and a few attempts at humor so it doesn't get boring).
One of the oldest city in the United States:
Look closely and you will notice the building is tilted down to the right.
So old the storm drains are overflowing after a mild rain shower. I'm not complaining though 'cause overflowing storm drains also serve as drinking fountains. Can't say that in Seattle.
Multicultural and multilingual:

We likely spent 75% of our time in the French Quarter meeting street vendors, artists, musicians, magicians and palm readers.


You've probably heard about NO's social heritage.
Often resulting in lazy mornings dozing off in a doorway in the French Quarter.

I tried alligator and never need to do that again.

I did however love the beignets and K Paul's Kitchen.


There is not enough space on this blog to share all the pics we took of the architecture.
I absolutely loved the intricate iron work, brick buildings and dedication to detail.

Mardi Gras:
Interestingly enough I read in the local paper that a lecture would be given at the museum with a panel of Mardi Gras costume designers. It was one of my favorite memories of NO.


I've saved the very best for last. Words can not describe the energy behind NO's music scene.
A few pictures can not describe the energy behind NO's music scene. Please refer to below YouTube link. We were fortunate enough to stumble across a brass band along Bourbon street. Everyone was "feeling the vibe". Notice the guy dancing with a single bike wheel. Possibly this is a new dance move i'm not savvy to. Also make note of the WUI (wheelchair under the influence).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 8 O'fest Moments of '08

Jenelle and I barely (and I mean B.A.R.E.L.Y.) survived 3 consecutive weekends of Oktoberfest. We both managed to work in the store (with extended hours), host out of town friends & family and get our O'fest on. It was amazing, memorable, record setting & exhausting.

Before we start stringing holiday lights, hanging the mistletoe and ordering gift boxes for the busy holiday shopping season we wanted to re-cap a few of the most amazing (and blog appropriate) moments of O'fest, as quoted by our friends.

Top 8 O'fest Moments of '08

"Taking blue shots with Mom Stevens and Blondie." Sarah Blackmon
The blue shot was courtesy of Donovan (I think that guy might work at Ducks and Drakes), and it took place after watching the OSU kills WSU game while savoring some amazing cheeses from Cheesemongers and a few bottles of wine.

"Getting to interact with so many people due to our sticker mandate." Jason Motland
The word "mandate" should actually be replaced with Guerrilla Warfare, Jason is too modest.

"Meeting the St. Pauli girl." Torrey Landgraf
No joke- this gal is paid to put her hair in braids and walk around the bar taking pics with people. Hmmm.... I kinda wonder if she does other forms of "modeling"- just look at how she stares into the camera with those eyes......

"Having a total "Sex And The City" moment (or at least what I think might be a Sex And The City moment) followed by a Can - Can dance." Cleary O'Farrell

I did a little research and found this pic. I concur.

"Getting Jarred to dance to polka music with me (the only time I can ever get him to dance is at weddings for one song)!" Jillian Derpack
You better start working on your rug cutting skills Jarred- because Very soon you two will have to dance the first dance as Mr & Mrs and all eyes will be on you.

"Getting a pic with THE original member of the Edelweiss band." Alison Wroe
At first we thought he might of been the Mayor, but after a few steins we came to realize he is part of a traveling Bavarian band called Edelweiss and he Lives for O'fest. Our kinda guy.

"Violating the Oktoberfest Mural (!!!TORREY!!!!)." Tracy Mitchell
Look very closely at the head of that little Bavarian girl to the left. Hint- That's not an eye ball.

"Feeding Staci Cheetos while she passed out." Brooke Prince
I don't usually like Cheetos.... but I was hungry and Brooke has such good aim.

Thanks to all our friends, family and customers for their support and lively spirits during our favorite festival all year.