Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher, Part I


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Kiki
Lowenstein and Penny Pincher: Part I

 

By
Joanna Campbell Slan

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: The
Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series features a scrapbooking mom whose creativity
isn’t limited to papercrafts. Part I of Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher first appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Chicagoland Scrapbooker. Now we’re sharing it with you!

“I
saw this online and bought it for the store. I thought it appropriate,” said my
friend Clancy Whitehead, as she handed me a wrapped present. In her tailored
brown slacks, ivory silk blouse, and camel-colored cardigan, Clancy was the
picture of elegance.

Meanwhile,
I’m still wearing my maternity pants with the elastic panels. Although I tell
myself that eventually the weight will come off, it’ll probably take forever.
I’ve been a little down lately, feeling a touch of the post-partum blues. That’s
probably one reason that Clancy bought me a gift.

 

My
low mood is silly, because I have so much to be thankful for. My name is Kiki
Lowenstein, and I own Time in a Bottle, a scrapbooking and crafts store in St.
Louis. I’m the mother of three adorable kids, including three-week-old Tyler
George, whom we call “Ty.” And my other half is a hunky cop, Detective Chad
Detweiler.

 

Life
is good, mainly.

 

Tonight
starts the first of our Double-Dip Classes. Like the old Doublemint Gum
commercials, we’re offering not one but two fantastic learning experiences. I’m
excited about the projects I have planned for our scrapbookers. But I’m also a
tad worried, because Iona Lippman has signed up for both classes, since she can
be a bit rough around the edges.

 

“Go
on,” prompted Clancy. “Open the gift.”

 

After
my fingers carefully pried apart the pink polka dot tissue paper, I discovered
an adorable sign nestled inside: “All our guests please us. Some by their
coming, and some by their going.”

 

“Iona
is definitely a ‘goer,’” said Clancy. “You can’t please her, Kiki. She’ll
always find something to complain about. That’s who she is. So just relax about
the classes tonight and try to have fun. Don’t let her ruin the evening.”

 

“Thank
you,” I told my friend, “for everything.”

 

“You’ve
got all your prep done?” she asked. “Anything I can do?”

 

“I’m
fine,” I said. “First we’re doing the Keepsake Recipe Album. The assignment was
for each scrapbooker to bring in a recipe that her family enjoys. A main dish.
She should also have a photo of the food. Of course, if that’s not possible,
we’ll work with just the recipe and leave a place on the scrapbook page for the
photo. I assume all of them have been in to choose their albums?”

 

“Yes.
Iona came in Friday. She doesn’t like the 8- by 8-inch size. She also didn’t
like the color of the album cover.” Clancy pulled up a chair across from my big
desk. Resting her face on her hands, she shrugged. “I told her you might have
suggestions for customizing the cover.”

 

“I
do.”

 

“What’s
the second class?” asked Clancy.

 

“It’s
called Tips from Interior Designers,” I said, withdrawing my handout from the
bottom desk drawer. “Many interior designers use a 60-30-10 rule when working
with colors. The dominant shade should cover 60 percent of the page, then two
other colors would be 30 and 10 percent. I’m also showing the scrapbookers how
they can ‘translate’ a photo of an interior design into a scrapbook page
layout.”

 

“Fascinating
idea,” said Clancy. “I’m glad I’m staying for the evening.”

 

“I
am too,” I said.

 

As
it happened, Clancy was a lifesaver. Two hours later, after listening to Iona
complain non-stop about her album, I was happy to have someone there with a
positive attitude.

 

“Not
only do I hate everything about this album,” she said, “I don’t want a recipe
book full of main courses. My specialty is dessert.”

 

I
gritted my teeth. “Good. Since Valentine’s Day is next week, your assignment is
to bring your favorite dessert and its recipe.”

 

“I’ll
bring red velvet cake,” said Lisa Ferguson.

 

“No
way!” shouted Iona. “I have my great-great-grandmother’s special red velvet
cake recipe. It’s been passed down from the oldest daughter to oldest daughter.
No one outside the family has ever seen it.”

 

“Whoa!”
I spread my hands in what I hope was a placating gesture. “You can both bring
your red velvet recipes. Since these are your personal cookbooks, duplication
won’t be a problem.”

 

“There
won’t be any duplication,” sniffed Iona, as she tugged her sleeves over her
hands. Her fingers were chaffed and red from the cold. “My family recipe is
simply the best. It’s never been copied. Not even close.”

 

“Suit
yourself,” said Lisa, as she adjusted her cowl neck sweater. The weather had
been unseasonably bitter. Most of my customers wore boots and gloves. Lisa was
no exception. She’d arrived bundled up in a parka.

 

By
contrast, Iona had worn a lightweight wool coat and kept her bare hands shoved
deeply into her pockets.

 

The
two women couldn’t have been more different. Iona bragged about every aspect of
her life from her husband’s upcoming retirement plans to her own free time for
crafting. Lisa had said nearly nothing. I knew she’d come straight from work,
and she kept checking the time because her babysitter had to leave promptly at nine.

 

“Now
that we have the matter of next week’s recipes settled,” I said, “Let’s turn
our attention to Part Two of our Double-Dip. If you’d open your page kits,
you’ll see I’ve already chosen your embellishments and paper for this cute
scrapbook page. Clancy is passing around a copy of HGTV Magazine with a picture
of the room that inspired this page.”

 

“That
does it,” snarled Iona. “Kiki, every layout you do involves expensive
embellishments.”

 

“She’s
right,” added another customer, Avery Ailes. “I love scrapbooking but, gosh,
it’s so expensive. I’ve priced these embellishments. They aren’t cheap.”

 

Clancy
shot me a look over the heads of our customers. I could read my friend’s
thoughts as easily as if she’d spoken to me: “Great…now what?”

 

Part II will appear in the Summer 2014 issue of Chicagoland Scrapbooker. Later this summer, we’ll also post it here on this blog, so be sure to become a “follower” of the blog. To find out where to pick up your copy go to Chicagoland Scrapbooker  (www.ChicagolandScrapbooker.com)

2 thoughts on “Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher, Part I

  1. I love the story and so relate to the comments. Yes. It can be expensive, but it can also be reasonable! It's a matter of taste and priority. I'm an empty nester who teachers full time and has 5 kids and 7 grandchildren. I don't have daycare or other kid expenses. I buy a lot of scrapbook stuff! I can relate to those who must watch what they spend!
    It's the memories we preserve that matters–not the amount we spend or the embellishments we use.
    I love Kiki!