Fall Treats

As we enter fall, we know that it starts getting dark earlier and staying dark later in the morning, which can be a good thing because if you're like me, you catch up on all the sleep that you missed when the sun was blaring in your windows at 6 am during the summer and still up at 9 pm when you really had to get to bed! Yeah! More sleep, but with more sleep, somehow in the winter it's also more and more difficult to want to get out of bed in the morning - hey, it's warm under the covers!

So, as most people do in the morning after they get out of bed, you grab a cup of coffee. I personally prefer hot chocolate, but that's beside the point. And whether your preference is coffee or hot chocolate, we recently found these wonderful flavored coffees for the fall and winter season and sipping chocolate for those of you who prefer it as I do. Not only are they a great treat for yourself, because of their packaging, they are a perfect hostess gift as well. If you're lucky, maybe they'll brew it to share while you're at the party! 

To make it more substantial, pair the package of coffee with a decorative scoop a couple sprigs of cinnamon, tie with a ribbon and voila! You have the perfect gift!

Maybe you just want to make it a favor for your Halloween Party or Thanksgiving Dinner. There are special colors and flavors just for Halloween too!

Or you could even make a package an addition to a larger gift, such as some nice hot chocolate, cappuccino or coffee mugs! If you're including hot chocolate mugs, we recommend the sipping chocolate,  adding some marshmallows to the mug and putting it all in a basket together!

Or grab one of the flavored coffees with the biscotti already packaged together and tied with a ribbon! It's ready to go if you're in a hurry or if you need something that's nice, but not too expensive.

Each package brews 8-10 cups of coffee.

Our Halloween flavors include:
  • Broomstick Brew: A Decaf coffee with a combination of Butterscotch and Toffee that comes packaged in purple with a cute witches hat on the front.
  • Spellbinding Brew: A Caffeinated coffee with a captivating blend of Vanilla, Hazelnut, Chestnut and Cinnamon that comes packaged in lime green with a cute witches hat on the front.
  • Bewitching Brew: A Caffeinated regular Arabica coffee packaged in black with a witches hat on the front.
Our Fall flavors include:
  • Apple Pie: Just like Grandma's crisp Apple pie with Vanilla Ice Cream! Packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front. Caffeinated.
  • Campfire S'more: Cozy up to this blend of Caffeinated Graham Cracker Chocolate Marshmallow coffee packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front.
  • Caramel Apple: Crisp apple dipped in rich creamy caramel! Makes you want to bob for apples! Packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front. Caffeinated.
  • Cinnamon Spice: A warm, smooth cinnamon flavor packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front. Caffeinated.
  • Highlander Grogg: A Caffeinated coffee with a blend of Butterscotch, Hazelnut and Caramel packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front.
  • Pumpkin Pie: Grandma's favorite Pumpkin Pie with a Splash of Cinnamon! Packaged in gold with an orange and red leaf on the front. Caffeinated.
Our Christmas flavors include:
  • Both come with an without a Biscotti in gift packaging:
    • Candy Cane: A hearty peppermint taste and aroma. Packaged in lime green with a red and green circle, dot and striped Christmas tree on the front. Caffeinated.
    • Nutcracker: Vanilla, Hazelnut, and Chestnut over a Cinnamon background flavor. Packaged in red with a red and green circle, dot and striped Christmas tree on the front. Caffeinated. 
We hope you enjoy!



Recently, I was walking through Target and stumbled on their aisle of Christmas cards.  There, on the shelf, were three lines of cards that we carry in our store! What?!?  Upon closer examination, they had removed some of the “bells and whistles” that make the cards we sell special, stuck them in a cheap package and stuck a cheap price on them. Same look, cheaper version. Made in China. No one would know the difference unless they'd bought our cards and knew how much nicer they were.

And the neighborhood alder person thinks having a Target at the mall will be good for business. Maybe Target's business.

At Sarah B. Fine Stationery, we take special care to find beautiful made-in-America items such as stationery, cards & wrap. We look for items that are unusually beautiful and often hand-made. They are not cheap, nor are they inexpensive. Some people care about that; others don't. Rather than support a small group of individuals that put their heart and soul into the product they make, some people have a 'this is just as good, and it's cheaper' mentality. Odds are, it's made in China.

And the neighborhood alder person thinks having a Target at the mall will be good for business. Maybe Target's business.

At Sarah B. Fine Stationery, we go to great lengths to offer exceptional customer service. We pride ourselves on knowing many of our customers by name. We go out of our way to order items for customers when we can, notify them when an item comes in that they've been waiting for, assist with gift selections, beautifully wrap gifts, accomplish same-day personalizing when possible and appreciate every customer that comes in our store.

And the neighborhood alder person thinks having a Target at the mall will be good for business. Maybe he's right.

Sarah B. Fine Stationery is a proud member of Dane Buy Local and the350project.net

William Arthur Personalized Holiday Cards


Tips to Help Make Selecting Wedding Invitations Easier

As you are planning your wedding, you will discover there is more information that you could've imagined, so here are a few tips when you are ready for selecting invitations:
  • Timing: You should be ordering wedding invitations 4-6 months prior to the wedding. You don't need to start looking a year in advance unless you are looking at save the dates or intend to order. If you are looking too far in advance, you may become frustrated because companies change designs and pricing, and sometimes get rid of whole albums (selections).

  • When you look the first time, we recommend going by yourself, with a mother or a girlfriend. We don't recommend you go with your fiance unless you think he will be extremely interested. You will need at least 30-45 minutes to look the first time and get a good handle on what you're looking at. It will be overwhelming for you, even more so for your fiance. Most brides bring back their fiance after they've narrowed the options to a few selections and then ask his opinion.
    • Also, don't come with a large contingent of people. There isn't always space available for them to sit and it can be more stressful for you if a lot of people are trying to give their input.

  • If you have an idea of what you want, that's great! But, be open to ideas. Often when you see ideas in a magazine, the prices either aren't revealed or they may be priced only for the invitation, not giving you an accurate idea of the cost for the suite that you will need. Keep in mind, the expensive invitations can't be duplicated inexpensively because 1) what gives them the beautiful aesthetic is what makes them expensive, whether it is the printing process, multiple colors, multiple layers or any other design feature, and 2) the designs you see are copyrighted -- these designers put their heart and soul, so please have some respect for the hard work, time and creativity they have decided to share with you.

  • When working with your stationer, give them feedback while you are looking. It helps us to narrow the selection for you so you don't spend hours looking only to get overwhelmed. We want to help you find what you're looking for and maybe you don't know. But it is helpful to point out things you like as you are looking. We can't help if you don't tell us!

  • Taking pictures: Do not automatically assume that it is ok to take pictures of the invitations you see. Please ask before you do so. As previously mentioned, the designs that you see are copyrighted and most companies do not allow pictures. You may draw it so you can remember, but if you need to show someone, bring them back with you another time. Remember, the invitations you see are created by designers who have put their heart, soul and lots of time into their work.


United States Postal Service

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I like Andy Rooney -- sometimes his features are quirky, but sometimes they're perceptive too.

I couldn't agree more with his insights about the United States Postal Service and sending letters. In reflecting on my own history, I can see how things have changed as I've grown older -- not that old mind you. I also remember when computers were becoming a mainstream piece of technology. It was a time when AOL was the preeminent player for getting online and you paid for it with minutes as you now do cell phones. I remember when I was a child and you wrote letters to keep in touch with people because it was too expensive to call long distance; now it's included in the phone plan. Yes it is easier to keep in touch with people than it once was, but as we rush to complete the tasks of the day, so do we in the communication with those we really care about and should take more time for. I know I'm guilty! And I'm trying to get better about it. I recently remarked to my mother as I was putting stamps on bills that I have not ever in my adult life (at least that I can recall) used up a full sheet of stamps. This was the first year I had done so by sending cards to friends and family (and now I'm out of stamps for those couple of bills I have to mail)!

It's important to take time to connect with those that are friends and family and for them to know that they're important to you, that you took time to think about what you wanted to say and about doing something special for them -- not just quick for you. I hope you'll join me in sending more letters to your friends and holiday greetings to those you need to reconnect with too!


Jon Stewart's Pregnant Gourmet Bride Magazine

So, I love Jon Stewart! I think he does a great comedy routine on just about every subject he covers. And with Conde Nast closing down a few of their magazines -- 2 of them bridal, he had the perfect centerpiece. I hope you get a kick out of this one!



Totally off the subject of stationery, we take you to the subject of life and Reinvention!

If you've never read More Magazine, you should. They celebrate all women over 40! However, I just turned 30 (boy, even that's hard to say, since it's an unfortunately recent occurence that I'm not yet used to...) and I have stolen every issue from my mother for the past few years (sometimes I try to steal it before she reads it!). I think I even introduced her to it and definitely introduced my aunt to it! It's a great magazine! I love it because it isn't a fluff magazine. Though there is information in there about fashion, it touches on issues that are pertinent to life at 20, 40 or 60. And the articles are interesting.

So more to the point. This year, as they have for the last 3 years, More Magazine hosted their Annual Reinvention Convention. There were over 500 attendees, not including the press! The convention was at a cost of $295. Registration began at 7am followed by breakfast and also included lunch and morning and afternoon snacks and ended at 5:30. There was also a book store where you could pick up books by each of the speakers and later have it autographed. Upon registration, we were provided with a Reinvention Convention booklet of information with the schedule for the day and bios for the speakers, along with a nicely bound More Magazine lined journal for our use throughout the day. Each attendee was given a bedazzled More t-shirt, was free to take Jean Chatzky's book "The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times", and a favor bag at the end of the day.

This was the first year mom and I attended and it is also the first year they are taking the convention on the road -- previously mentioned to Washington, DC and Chicago, IL. Since we work together, we enjoy stealing away to New York -- any excuse is a good one. Usually we go for business, but this time it was personal. We needed some inspiration. And we certainly got it! There were some great speakers in attendance -- Laura Bush, Nora and Delia Ephron and Mika Brzezinski to name a few, each talking about ways in which they reinvented their life or career. If you're into finance information, Jean Chatzky who is often featured on the Today Show was there. If you're into health and fitness issues, Pam Peeke was there. If you're into fashion, Giorgio Armani was there with makeup brushes in hand and Talbots sponsored a booth showcasing scarves and how to tie them. There was also a Tarot Card reader!

My all-time favorite speaker was Barbara Corcoran. If you're not familiar with her, I'll give you some background. During her high school and college years, she got straight D's. She had gone through 20 jobs by the time she turned 23. But, soon after, she borrowed $1000 from her slick boyfriend and become one of the most successful people in real estate today. She eventually turned her $1,000 loan into a $5 billion dollar real estate business and eventually sold it for $70 million dollars! She was hilarious and insightful!

Every issue that can come up at some time in your life was covered in one way or another -- finance, health, sex, life and career change, fashion & beauty, social media and giving back to the world around you. I highly recommend this convention to you. It covers not only career change, but personal change is highly emphasized. Sometimes, we just need some help.

This Convention was well worth the $295 dollars we paid and the $205 we didn't pay, not only for the insight of the speakers present, but also because this was a great networking opportunity. There were many people there who had previously been employees of companies, are currently or that currently head up large companies as well. I certainly would've paid more and recommend that if you have the opportunity you go to one of the shows in Washington, DC or Chicago, IL. And when you do go, don't forget to take your personalized calling cards with you to help make those connections long-lasting. I don't yet know that they will have the same speakers at each convention as this is the first year they've taken it on the road. Though they don't currently have information about the upcoming schedule, I can tell you both venues are to be in 2010; you should take a look at their website and keep an eye out for further information: www.more.com

I should also point out that they will be hosting a 1/2 Marathon in April 2010, though the date hasn't yet been announced, so I imagine is subject to change. But something to keep in mind if you want to get in shape or want to take a vacation. Though I am loathe to admit it, I have gained more weight than I care to admit to myself or the world, but am aiming to prepare for it -- no easy task as exercise isn't my friend. I hope you'll join me -- I can always use the support as I think every woman can!


Engagements Lead to Weddings!

It's now October -- boy how time flies! Followed shortly by the fall season -- football, school starting and leaves falling -- comes the sometimes never-ending winter season (at least if you're in the midwest region) -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, burning fireplaces, hot chocolate, snow falling and shovelling and Engagements!!

During the many years we've been in this industry, the engagements during the holidays are inevitable and we love them! The soon-to-be brides are excited to set a date, pick out and order their wedding gown and really have fun planning a blow-out wedding!

So, I thought it beneficial to point out something and give you a few tips to help you too! This is just the beginning! You have so much work ahead of you to plan this event. And a lot of special details will go into it. The decisions are endless, and there are more to be made than you ever thought possible. Now, I'm not trying to dampen the mood, but just want to point out that you may need some help and to suggest that in trying to get that help you visit your local stores for bridal gowns, wedding stationery (save the dates, invitations, thank you notes, programs, menu cards, table/place cards, etc.), favors if you prefer, photographers, dessert confectioners, caterers, facilities, event supplies and florists. While it can sometimes be advantageous to shop online, this is one of the biggest times in your life where etiquette will be important so that you don't offend someone by accident and therefore have to start a new relationship off in an unfortunate position because all you had to do was ask for help to begin with. In addition, you can do a lot for your local economy and for the environment too! In the end, this benefits you. Your local vendors can also help you in ways you can't imagine by presenting you with all the options and helping you stick to your budget. They will be knowledgeable about all the products available and help to educate you along the way. Our goal isn't simply to make money -- it is also to develop rapport with you so we can help you in the future.

As a stationer, we've had many couples who have never sent out invitations before and don't know the first thing about doing so. We help them navigate the necessities of what they'll need, what the printing methods are that are available and why you would select one over the other, understand pricing and etiquette, placing their order and taking care of any issues that may arise. Our customers make the decisions and we do the work. As a result, we have many customers return to us for their paper needs for 1st Anniversaries, their children's birth announcements, baby and wedding showers for friends and families, occasion cards, wrapping presents for their special occasions, holiday entertaining and gift needs, and ordering their personal stationery! In turn, we aim to support them when we can should they ask for a donation to the charity they support as well as by having staff available and well trained to help with the personalized service they've come to appreciate.

Here are a few tips when working with vendors:
  • If a vendor has spent a lot of time with you, place your order with them. It shows that you appreciate their help and value the services they provide. Likewise, if you don't intend to order from them, do not continually use them as a resourse. There is nothing more discouraging to a small businss owner to help someone, find out later they placed their order elsewhere and not know why. 
  • If you know what you want, or at least have an idea, be able to communicate those ideas. If you need to bring pictures or samples to help you do so, that is absolutely fine and much welcomed! 
  • Know what your priorities are, but be willing to work with your vendor. What you have your heart set on may not be available at the price you want, so know whether price or what you want is more important; and if price is more important, provide them with a budget and be open to other ideas so they can make suggestions.
  • Don't expect to match colors across vendors and products (i.e., bridesmaids dress swatches need to match the ink color you're incorporating into the invitations or table linens). You will make yourself crazy as well as whomever you are working with. Coordinate colors so they look nice together. You'll achieve a nicer effect and remove some of the stress from your life.
  • Don't expect discounts. In the world of online shopping, a lot of people have the expectation of getting discounts for the same product. If you are shopping at a retail store, have the understanding that they are providing you with a place to review the options in person, helping you to narrow and make a decision, place your order, in addition to helping you with the proper way to do things and taking care of problems if and when they arise, each of which take a lot of time, both with you and in educating their staff to be able to assist you. But, in the majority of case, you will be happy you had the help (believe me, we've heard horror stories)!
  • Remember that each piece of your event is just as important as the others. Your guests will keep mementos of your wedding; the invitations/programs/menu and placecards for their friend or child who will be getting married or just because you're that important to them; the photographs of you dancing the night away; the restaurant and confectioner you used to cater the event for their next party. It is all important and serves to give them a cohesive experience as your guest. Remember as well that this doesn't have to be over the top. The wedding speaks as much about the day/night you will remember for the rest of your life as it does about you as a person and a couple. 
  • Most importantly, enjoy this moment!!! You will never do it the same way again, but you will remember and share the experience for the rest of your life, whether with each other, your children or grandchildren.