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Our logo of a black, white, and orange calico cat sitting in a dark gray circle with the name The Calico Cat Quilt Shop

The Blog Project

Because we ALL need another project, right?!
I have no idea right now how often I'll be adding to this page, but sometimes stories are too good not to share!  And I'm going to at least start out by calling it a blog for complete lack of a better term.

Sometimes in the adventure that is my life there are stories that just beg to be documented and shared.  It's the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a human, being a quilter, being a crafter, being a mom, having a small business (a very small business), and being alive.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Huh?  You just can't make this stuff up..

Ever wonder about the new AI technology?  Is it even correct to call it technology?  I'm a little unsure on that, maybe you just call it AI and that's it.  I'm sure somebody much more tech savvy than I could shed light on everything AI, but that's not actually the point at the moment.

I've been hearing tons lately about how businesses should be using AI to their advantage in all sorts of ways.  Evidently AI and social media platform algorithms are in cahoots with each other or something to that effect.  AI is evidently "good" at getting people's attention in a way that people engage with more than a human that lacks tons of marketing skills.  Obviously there's a draw to someone like me that wears lots of hats - be it time savings, lack of said marketing skills, whatever.  I'll take whatever help I can find and hope for the best!

So in trying to take some of that advice about leveraging AI, I've dabbled a bit in using it but I don't really feel it's been significantly helpful.  I could be wrong and may take the time to ponder this more in the future, but it's today's experience that I feel a need to share in case anybody needs a laugh.

I was trying to get my monthly email started and was looking for an "easy way" out or help or a short cut or something so thought I'd see what my handy-dandy AI would come up with.  Granted, I realize it's labeled as a "Facebook Post Generator" but I seriously thought there would be a possibility I could glean a tiny morsel or thread of thought to help me get started.

Let me set the scene for you.  There are lots of things coming up I wanted to talk about in the email and wanted a good, engaging subject line and opening.  Again, realizing I'm using the Facebook Post Generator, I plugged in the phrase "so much going on!" just to see what would be generated for me.  Seems harmless enough.  First I tried a "casual" tone of voice.  It was a little too casual - I don't even remember what it said, but it was not even words I would use!  Scrap that idea.  Let's try a "conversational" tone.  Bam.  I get hit with this. 

What the heck?!  Ok, this is either the danger of giving AI four words with which to generate a post or the danger of free technology!!  But thanks for the chuckle today...  I think.  Of course, I had to read the whole thing so here it is for your enjoyment...?  Word for word I quote, "Hey Facebook fam! 🤗
I don't even know where to begin, there's just so much going on in my life right now! 🙈
First of all, I finally got that dream job I've been wanting since forever! 💼 It's been a long journey but I'm beyond excited to start this new chapter in my life. 🎉
But that's not all, I also just booked my tickets for a trip to Bali next month! 🌴 I can already feel the warm sun and the salty sea breeze. 😍
Oh, and did I mention I'm planning my best friend's bachelorette party at the same time? 🎊 It's going to be epic! 🥂
But amidst all the excitement and busyness, I also took some time to reflect and appreciate the little things in life. 💕 Like a good cup of coffee in the morning or a warm hug from a loved one. ☕️🤗
Life truly is a rollercoaster ride and I'm just holding on tight and enjoying every twist and turn. 🎢 So what's new with you guys? I'm all ears! Let's catch up in the comments below! 👇"  End quote.

Ok, I really don't know where to begin!!  So many questions...  How does AI know so much about me?!  Ha!  If I knew how to put a laughing so hard there's tears emoji in this spot, there would be one!   Does the AI know if I'm a woman or man?  Because it would seem odd to me to be planning anybody's bachelorette party if I were a guy, or is it just me?  Regardless, I think I'm quite beyond the days of planning anybody's bachelorette party, epic or otherwise!  *I'm almost rolling on the floor laughing by now*

There's at least good truth in reflecting and appreciating the little things in life.  However, anyone who knows me very well knows I don't drink coffee.  Ever.  It's always water in the cup I often have with me.  I also agree life is a rollercoaster ride, so better hold on tight and enjoy the ride.  But the first part would appear to be facts.  Who's facts, I certainly couldn't tell you.  Shouldn't the AI be fact-checking my life?  Or does it know things that I don't?  *much laughing again*  Maybe I will start using AI more and call it my new Magic 8 Ball! 

Really, enough said...  Either I need to find better AI, the AI I found needs to learn a little more, or it's time to scrap AI unless I am only looking for entertainment value...!  Lesson learned on my part:  If I would have skipped the AI and just gone with me, I'd probably be done writing the email by now!  It might not be as "engaging" to readers, but at least it would all be true!  *more laughing*  But then I wouldn't have had a hopefully entertaining post about AI to add today...

Enjoy your day your way!
And God Bless!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Get a free gift certificate, a funny story, and another apology?

The story is a bit long and continues to evolve, but it is pretty funny because you just can't make stuff like this up.  Hang around to the end and I’ll tell you how to get a free gift certificate for yourself if you haven’t already gotten one.

At the recent quilt show put on by the quilt guild in Sioux Falls, everyone who attended got a $20 gift certificate to The Calico Cat Quilt Shop.  On the back were coupon codes to get a discount on an order on our website and free shipping as an alternative because I know not everyone attending the show would want to drive to Pipestone to use the gift certificate but I still wanted to offer something on the website.  It was great and I think people were as excited to receive them as I was about giving them out.  Little did I know how much grief I would cause, at least for myself anyway…

Now mind you, my system is quite robust with zillions of features and settings that can be activated or deactivated.  In addition, the software/system is always in development so new options get added and others get changed all the time.  Which is a good thing…  But that means there’s a constant learning curve and sometimes a re-learning curve.  There are times I’m sure I’ve seen an option but the trick is figuring out where it was!  I was sure there was a setting to allow more than one coupon to be used, but when I made these gift certificates do you think I could find it?  Of course not, that would be too easy!  This wasn’t supposed to be complicated for anyone but it wasn’t looking very good.  So I tested and found a method to get the system to take both coupon codes.  It seemed to work great so I wrote up and posted directions on the website, hoping it wouldn’t be more complicated than I intended, which it already was.  And then confidently let hundreds of gift certificates go out with these two coupon codes on the back.

Everything was great until it wasn’t…  It turns out that not all people use the same web browser as I do.  And the one I use is the ONLY one that my “complicated but fool-proof” method works with.  Of course!  So what to do?  There are still hundreds of gift certificates out there with two coupon codes on them that it seems can’t be used.  Ack!  Still can’t find a system setting that allows the use of multiple coupons, such a thing must not exist yet?  How fast can I come up with another solution?  How about this:  change my shipping rates to be sure that anyone using the coupon will get free shipping automatically.  And put a video on Facebook apologizing for the mess and letting people know that my new solution is they don’t need two coupon codes to get free shipping.  Because the idea was to keep it simple for everyone!  Then I should send out a few more gift certificates with just one coupon code and the promise of free shipping.  Note to self:  I need to be careful not to hurt myself when I try to pat myself on the back for coming up with a good solution so quickly!

Skip ahead a few more days.  I’m excitedly thinking through the process for the Phenomenal Friday Bundles for the end of this week.  Only to realize that if I need to ship out any of these bundles, which I have done before, they will be shipping for free because of the changes I've made.  Understand these bundles are generally about 15 yards of fabric, give or take.  That amount of bulk and weight will probably cost closer to $20 to ship than the usual $10 I charge so shipping them for free doesn't seem like a sound idea.  The only way to fix this issue is to undo the new mess I created when I changed the shipping rates to fix the last mess I created.  Talk about a no-win situation...  How deep can I dig this hole?!

As I'm changing the shipping rates back the way they were, I stumble upon my original objective - the elusive setting to allow multiple coupons.  *blinks slowly twice and smacks forehead in disbelief*  Was that here the whole time?!  Ugh, you have GOT to be kidding!

So can I summarize the double coupon fiasco?
Give out hundreds of gift certificates with two coupon codes on them thinking they will work.  Publicly apologize on Facebook and promote a solution to fix the original problem that wasn't supposed to be a problem but cause a new issue by fixing the first issue in a round-about way.  Find what was supposed to be the original solution to the original issue in the first place and cause issues for the few people who hold the "new and improved" gift certificates.

The moral of the story: No matter how far ahead you try to think about potential issues, the issues will always be at least one step ahead of you!  And that was my version of October 2023 Whack-A-Mole, in real life.

Therefore, to everyone who is currently holding a gift certificate as of 10/31/2023:  I'm sorry it's gotten so complicated!!  I apologize that you all have ended up being my "guinea pigs" because this wasn't supposed to be an experiment!  The online coupon codes are now working completely as they were intended.  To the few who didn't get BOTH coupon codes, if you need them, they are coming up shortly.

If you haven't gotten your free $20 gift certificate, all you need to do is message me on our Facebook page or email and get your mailing address to me.  I'll send you a gift certificate with coupon codes on the back that now work!  But it's still one per customer, please.

Here's what the current version looks like:


Yes, this means that if you want to use the coupon codes you don't actually have to do anything because you can use the codes you see above ^.



    • The Calico Cat Quilt Shop
      (507) 562-2554
    • 124 West Main Street
      Pipestone, Minnesota  56164
  • MON-FRI: 10 - 6 | SAT 10 - 4, Closed Sunday