Monday, August 31, 2009

The Unfamous

It was another great time at Creative Escape in Arizona this year. I feel a bit jaded because I don't share the new love enthusiasm that I keep reading about. Instead its kind of like old married love - sure and steady and warm. That's good too. It was great to see my friends - it is so easy to be with them and laugh. We had dinner Thursday night at Macaroni Grill and laughed. Gosh, did we laugh. Wednesday we shopped like raving maniacs at Melrose Vintage, Creative Quest, then Mystic Paper (my new favorite), then SAS Fabrics. The ribbon is like $0.25 a yard at SAS... just unbelievable. I spent $11. We also went to Scrapbooks etc. - the flagship store for the event. On Thursday morning we went to ANOTHER SAS and Scrap Happy Sisters... Am I forgetting anything? No, I don't think so. I didn't really buy that much. Really, I didn't. It felt good too - to be choosy.

Thursday afternoon was the trunk show and technique boutique. It was alot simpler this year, thank heavens. I was intrigued with the chipboard number that we painted black and sanded, for Paula & Deb's 7 Gypsies class. With the 4 brads added and the swatch of _____ behind it (I can't think of the stuff - nubby heavy fabric) - anyway - it looks way cool. That wall art project turned out to be my fav. But not by much because Lynette Carroll's wall art was just my style. Loved it too.

Sorry for the interruption but I realized, before the night got any later, I needed to pick my classes for Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion workshop. Registration is tomorrow at lunch, so I wanted to have that all figured out. Looks so interesting - artist of fabulous caliber and different ranges. It will be quite nice to attend. It's going to be an expensive day tomorrow... Donna Downey's Inspired also registers... AND we were able to register for 2010 Creative Escape after the event closed on Saturday night. Whew. That's alot of workshops all at once!

Okay - back to the event at hand. Friday we started off with the 7 Gypsies wall art project and like I said - loved it. I really sucked at taking photos and I'm having a hard time finding photos from others so just bear with me. Our second class was a bird book with Heather Bailey. I was disappointed that she didn't do a fabric project. I think she really missed the mark here - but what can you do? After that we had Tim Holtz and of course, it was genius and fun and we learned something about Ranger products. And our last class for the day was Carol Wingert. Picture is blurry - my bad. I loved her explanation of how on Christmas morning her daughter made tea for her - the tea bag was this shape and she had just a couple of days to design her project and poof - there it was. I also liked the other ideas for the project - with feet or Christmas tree inside. I could definitely make another one - and will, once I finish these 8! I was kicking myself when I saw kits of hers that I haven't bought. Book of Lists. Oh, too cute. I wish there was a black market for Carol Wingert kits... ha. There was a nice sit down dinner Friday night and Tanya and I slipped off to the pool and jacuzzi for a relaxing bit.

Back at it again on Saturday with Lynette Carroll's black wall art, that I just loved. Loved her style and her teaching and the project. Nice surprise, because I knew nothing about her before the event. She's an Aussie living in Boston (where I'm going in two weeks!). Our next project was a cute CE book with lots of Debby in it. I made an Anthropologie album for my friend, Heather who celebrated a birthday a few days before mine. Fun stuff! In the afternoon we had Marah and even with her drill sargent manners, I liked her - she was take charge and bossy but charming. I slipped out of class to get some class kits that went on sale at 2:45. And I scored 5 Tim Holtz! Yikers... The Chicago girls needed them and I didn't want them to be disappointed. We missed you, Jeanne! Our final class was Heidi and it was cute and fun to make - easy too. I don't know if I'll make it but it was definitely cute!

And then it was time for dinner. With dessert first of course. And lots of free gifties - of which, my roomie, Ronda won one! Very nice scrapbook frame box - forgot who makes it but it was very cool and I thought about sneaking it into my suitcase, but didn't. I bought several raffle tickets for the lamps, especially Pam Blacks. Oh man oh man, did I want to win that lamp. Our new friend, Shelly Berg did, so I can't be too sad. I also bid on Tena Springers and Heather Bailey's - but no such luck. The auction for Heidi Swapp's lamp yieled $8200. Our gang thought for sure it would all be under $4,000 - what with the economy and all. Ha! fooled us! Tracy Keith from By Design was bidding heavily for it - I really wish she could have brought it to Houston. But it wasn't meant to be. The bidding for Tim Holtz's lamp started fast and furious and ended at $29,000. Wowza. I think the word was vahklemped - he was teary eyed and speechless. It was really magical to be in the room and witness it. Just like last year. A girl from SF Bay area bid it, Nicole, who we met Thursday morning during breakfast. There were 6 girls in their group, first timers - outgoing and friendly. So that's $45,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And as a person who lost a brother to Hodgkin's disease, I was glad for this! Sorry but I don't remember the Key Note speaker's name. She was pretty and funny and interesting but ... well, I just wasn't in the mood much. So, I'm glad she got off the couch and ran a 1/2 marathon for her friend and we'll leave it at that.

It was another great event, I'm glad I went, I'm glad I spent the bucks and I signed up for 2010. I feel lucky being a 5 timer! And now I'm a sleeping girl because I'm off to bed. Nighty night.

Birthday Celebration.

I had a birthday... on the 24th... it was fun. I was surprised and had alot of nice people at my house that are also called family. And we ate alot of nice food called spaghetti pie that is an old family recipe. And I opened alot of nice presents. And then I went to CE. I didn't get any pictures because a) it was MY birthday b) I left my camera on the plane from Rome to London. Yeah. I suck. But so does the douchebag that didn't turn the camera in when they found it. I must be getting old because a while back the word "db" used to offend me. Oh well. I'm a year older.

I'm making this story short because I want to talk about CE... But I also want to remember the surprise. My husband woke me up at 8:45 am on Sunday with the offer of birthday breakfast at the Egg and I. Who can turn that down??? Not me, that's for sure. I love that place. We went to ACE Hardware and wasted an hour or so and then not one, but two Half-Priced Books. Right then and there I should have realized something was up - for my husband to say, let's go to another store - across town. But I was unsuspecting... And on the way home, I said, let me run into Lane Giant and get some unmentionables... I'll just be a minute - wait in the car. And when we pulled onto our street I noticed my brother's car still at my house. He visits my Mom on Sundays so I was excited that he was still there... And then I noticed Nancy's car and then my stepdaughter's car... and then it was Oh! duh! There's a party for me... Yipee. It was very nice to be waited on - and my sweet niece did all the work of preparing not one but TWO Spaghetti Pies and a cake and fixins... My husband surprised me with a gift card from Crate and Barrel for a kitchen table - whoot! and a baby Dell so I can sit on the sofa and read blogs. Secretly, I think he got the computer so he could look at gun stuff... but we'll just keep that to ourselves. Okay - birthday over... on to Phoenix! Oh, here's the only photo...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fair is Fair

I had several coffee-spitting laughs over Julia's blog post adventure of obtaining an acceptable passport photo (she's going to London this year). And in my haste, I said I would post my passport photo if she would post hers.
She did so now I will, being a girl of her word.

I get a bit of a pass though, since the holographic is on top of my face...

I'd rather post a photo of me when I was 6, so I will.

So Linda, its your turn. Have a good Sunday everybody! We're going to Mardi Gras Cafe on Shepherd for a birthday luncheon for my mother's 86th birthday. Only problem is I have to find something non-fried there to eat! Good luck.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I just returned from a 10 day business trip to Roma and Rotterdam. Yeah. Sometimes even I can't believe my own luck. I handle insurance for a corporation and we join with others to buy certain types of insurance - that's called a captive. Our captive has board meetings twice a year, always outside of the US and 3 years ago they set the location as Roma. It was a smaller turnout with the downturned economy but my boss graciously allowed me to go and cancelled his spot. So, that's how I got to go to Roma for a business trip - I added on 3 days because you don't travel 10 hours in the plane and stay for 3 days... You just don't.

For some reason, over the past month various people felt it necessary to share their Italy gypsy horror stories which scared the socks off of me. My hubby doesn't like international travel so when I ran into my former neighbor, H two weeks before the trip, and I knew she had just gotten her passport, I offered an invitation and she accepted. And oh my gosh, did we ever laugh and talk the entire trip... til 2 and 3 am sometimes. We were neighbors for 18 years and her family was so good to my (single) self, always - including me on holidays when I didn't go home to NOLA. So, off we went, H and I on our Roma journey. After the first week, she stayed in London (to see her brother) while I went to Rotterdam for work - the scheduling worked out very well.

I wasn't quite prepared for the heat of Roma - it's just like Houston yet there we were expected to go trapsing around in it. Even the bus tour around the sights was exhausting since there was no a/c and scorching sun up top. We toured the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was totally amazing. We ate pasta and pizza and drank many cappacinos late in the evening. And talked.
The only unfortunately note is that I left my little Sony camera on the plane and just learned this morning that it hasn't been turned in, so half of my photos are gone. I don't know, maybe it will show up... I can always hope. When people do bad things, like not turn in lost property, do you ever wish bad things for them? I do. Don't they believe in karma?

The meetings went very well and we were treated like royalty. Every evening the dinner was spectacular, only to be exceeded by the next night's event. The ballroom of the Westin Excelsior was transformed with tromp loeil to Italian street scenes and a buffet that included a pig's head. I want to remember how sweet the canteloupe was in Italy. Monday night we had dinner at Piazza next door, Borghese at this restaurant. It was a fantastic evening, but unfortunately, very warm (while wearing elegant cocktail wear). And the final evening, topped it all when we had opera singers serenade us after a 7 course meal at the hotel. Unforgettable. I had never been in the room with an opera singer. They reach right in and touch your heart.

So anyway, Rome was interesting and hot and the food was very expensive. $7.50 for a Coke Light. But it was also amazing and fun and hot and I would go back, ... only during winter. I would have liked to go to Florence on the train, but you have to leave things to do for the next trip.

On Saturday we flew back through London (we flew British Airways) and Harriet stayed in London with her brother and I went on to Amsterdam and then Rotterdam by train. The weather was so nice and cool in Holland. I stayed twice at the Renaissance Hotel in Amsterdam and just loved it. BA delayed a bag so I had to wait around Sunday morning for it and the hotel staff was very helpful. I got a crappy iphone photo of the central train station in Amsterdam, which is an amazing site to see - bicycles in all directions. thousands of bicycles. everywhere. It is so cool how people of all ages use this mode of transportation.

Sunday I spent the afternoon with a colleague in den Hague (see, I can speak Dutch!) at Madurodam, which is a park with miniature replications of the various sights of Netherlands. With the economy, many folks are staying close to home so it was busy and the weather was sunny and cool. We then headed to the beach and had dinner, which was v. nice. Monday and Tuesday were meetings, which went very well. My Dutch colleagues are really good people and I am enjoying working with them more and more. Monday night I had an amazing dinner at the restaurant at Euromast, which is a needle that goes high above Rotterdam. The food was excellent and the views are expansive with a great look at the various canals of Rotterdam. It is within walking distance of our office with a gorgeous park next door. We had lunch both days at a restaurant in the park.

On Tuesday afternoon, I left to visit the northern part of Netherlands, the home of a colleague in the small village of Driehuis, which is just amazing. It is so green and peaceful and tranquil. I fell in love with it. It is near Ijmond and Velsen, which I visited earlier this decade when I worked for Reliant and we operated the power plant there. So funny how life evolves. Did I think that 10 years later I would be standing on the banks of that canal? Anyhoo, it is a magical town and I will have to go back and visit. We had a wonderful dinner overlooking a bluff, outside and by the last night of my trip, I was so done with food. Imagine that.
I'm over the jet lag and happy to be home, this weekend. It was a great trip and I have great memories and a few pictures.