Friday, June 20, 2008

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Gordon and I did something completely spontaneous tonight. He was able to come home early from work due to summer hours. He brought lunch home but we didn't get to eat it until about 2 P.M. With us eating so late, when it came to dinner time neither one of us was too hungry.

So I suggested we feed the dogs, throw them out, and head over to the theater to eat popcorn and watch Indiana Jones. His response? When's it playing?


There weren't too many folks out watching movies tonight so I got to stretch out across several seats. It was great. The movie starts off a little slow. The real action takes a bit to get warmed up. Once it does, though, Watch Out!

The plot was sort of predictable, but I found that to be the endearing part. It was like I knew the characters and how they would react. This made the movie more enjoyable because it was like watching old friends. Karen Allen had a much more interactive role in this one. Loved that smile she had on every time she got the better of the bad Russians.

Even Cate Blanchette's goofy accent didn't deter from the movie. I do think she got what she deserved though. Ask and she shall receive, eh? hee hee

Overall, I loved the movie and thought it was a lot of fun for a Friday night.

Friends who Lunch

I had a really awesome lunch yesterday with my friend, Krisy. She is watching my dogs while I am off to Hawaii. I had to give her the keys, so she suggested we meet for lunch. She had the perfect place in mind. It was in the downtown square. A great restaurant called McRary's Tavern. The best part was to be that we could eat lunch up on the roof. It was a perfect day for it too. The temperature was excellent and the sky was bright blue. Unfortunately we weren't the only ones to have this idea. The roof was packed when we arrived at 12:05. We were first told the wait would only be fifteen minutes so we sat on a bench under a shade tree. We were chatting away like magpies when the hostess came out and told us the wait would actually be more like an hour. WHAT? Krisy, with her amazing brain, suggested that we eat lunch inside and then after the lunch rush passes through that we go upstairs and have a drink. I mean we did come all that way just to sit out on the roof. That's just what we did. The menu was really interesting with an appetizer of gorgonzola potato chips with bacon and tomatoes. YUM! I also ordered the smoked salmon with roasted pepper panini. Krisy had her favorite portabello sandwich.

It was nice to see the downtown area so active. Reminds me of something Gordon said. He was talking about how the gas prices are going to start changing the way people do things like travel and entertain themselves. The idea of a central area where people will congregate, like a downtown, will probably start picking up. It might not all be bad if that happens. It might invigorate the 'small town' feel again. People would get to know and interact with their neighbors again. What's wrong with that?

Anyway, I digress. We finished our lunch and headed up the long twisting flight of stairs to the rooftop patio. Awesome view of the courthouse and churches. I got some great shots. Here's one of Krisy enjoying the day:

I will probably be going back to that restaurant soon!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sprague Day - Day 4

Album track time! Got out of bed when the alarm went off at 8, instead of the regular 6:30. Goes to show you how intensive this event has been. I’m sleeping better now too. I don’t think any of the excitement has worn off, maybe it’s just that I am here in the thick of it all. I don’t have my mind wandering off on all the possibilities. I already have stuff to think about.

We got to the room with ten minutes to spare. New record for us. But then we blew it. Dropped off our stuff, set up the computer and then gave Jessica her apple for teacher. Which in this case translates into a box of Jelly Bellies (I made sure there was buttered popcorn in it!). Then we ran to Starbucks. Class had already started when we returned, but it was just passing out the dvd’s for class. Jared had burned some and Jessica had burned some. There were tiny differences to go over before we could begin.

Jessica got us started on the first project. The second page of the book used just one large photo of us. That was easier to show how to work with than the Title Page, so we began there. Good thinking. There were four TA’s ready to wander the room and help out at a moment’s notice. And work they did! Folks had so many questions at the beginning. This started to peter out as we progressed though. Once you do the steps a few times, it becomes second nature. Those that weren’t familiar with the basics for Photoshop were becoming much more comfortable by the second hour.

The papers from KPertiet’s Botanical line and all of the rest that were included with the kit were so gorgeous. The sketches that Jessica produced for the templates were beautiful. I can already tell when I print out this book, it is going to be AAAAWWWW-some!

People were plugging along and we barely noticed the time flying away from us. It’s so easy to lose yourself in selecting papers to use for the template, rearranging elements, typing the journaling, and playing that time goes bye-bye pretty fast. As I worked through the pages I started to realize a boo-boo, though. Jessica probably mentioned this. I was in the zone and might have missed it. It dawned on me that two pages next to each other would open up in a book format. Therefore I had to make sure that the pages flow together. I had to go back and tweak a few paper choices or colors to coordinate facing pages. But that was easy to do.

I didn’t get much accomplished during the morning half because I was paying attention to what everyone was doing. I tried helping out with questions and stuff, but the TA’s were pretty efficient. Oooh, I met Kathryn Estry (nee Mhire) from! I had no idea she was going to be there, so it took me a moment to place her. Once I figured it out it was like talking to an old buddy. I kinda listened in on her advice to the other students. Of course, she’s an old pro with Elements and gave great technical and design advice! Hi Kathryn!!

Lunch came, but I didn’t want to stop working. Besides lunch was a repeat of the Thursday with the ham and cheese croissant. They changed out the cookies for a brownie. I had such high hopes for that brownie with its thick layer of chocolate icing. So sad that it wasn’t up to par. I quickly ate and got right back to my station. I was really pumping them out now. As you become more familiar with the paper choices, it’s easier to plan them out. At this time I was coming across the Two-fers. Those pages where the layout spread out over two pages. It was a bit to work with at first. But I figured out that if you had both open at the same time it was easier. This way you could drag a paper onto the first side and then drag it again to the second. Much easier to coordinate this way.

Can you believe that the time started going by even quicker after lunch? It was crazy, but I had only done about 8 pages by then. Only three hours left. Only an hour and a half. Only an hour. AAAAHHH. I got 11 pages done by the time class was officially over. Jessica said that we could stay as long as we wanted. Meg and I took her up on that one!

Jessica ended the day with a speech that touched us all. She related how empowering we were for her. Sharing our lives and our journeys with her gives her strength. It was a tearful time for many. We thanked her with our applause and shouts of “We love you!” Oh, that last one might only have been from me. I couldn’t tell. HA!

It’s 5:30 and our stomachs are rumbling. Wolfing down half the lunch probably wasn’t a good idea. We went upstairs to drop off our packs and talk about dinner. Meg mentioned that she saw this Asian noodle shop near the Godiva kiosk. I’m all about that! This turned out to be the perfect choice. The atmosphere of the restaurant was so calming and serene with its soft music in the background and its décor of cherry blossom branches hanging from the ceiling. What a great change from the hustle and bustle of the mall experience. There wasn’t any loud blaring music where you couldn’t hear the person in front of you. Excellent way to decompress after three days of frenetic scrapbooking!

For some reason, Meg and I thought that commencement started at 7 and ran to 8. So we took our time over the Shu-Mai and Pad Thai. When we finally arrived in the ballroom the group was watching the slideshow. We stood in the back with Michelle Van Etten and said goodbye to her because she was flying off to teach in Dallas. It was fun to see the pictures that Paolo took throughout the event. Meg and I were in several so it was fun. Once it was over we rushed to find a table somewhere near a plug so we could continue working on our albums. When the slideshow was over they called out the album tracks and had us throw our graduation caps in the air. Then we could pick up our diplomas. Whoo HOO!

Meg and I looked at each other and realized that we had made a mistake. We asked around and commencement had begun at 6. Ooops. The raffle was already over but neither of our names were called. I don’t feel too bad because I really enjoyed dinner so much.

I finally had a moment to finish yesterday’s blog and got that posted. Sorry for the long delay. Meg and I sat working on our pages. I managed to get 15 of them (out of 22) fully completed and organized. I am thinking I will work on a few more during the plane ride. I had called up in the room for Super Shuttle and had to reserve a 7:50 AM pickup time. So Meg and I called it a night around 10:30. With a brief stop to talk to Josiane (Evolution with Ali) and Carol (Remember with Margie) about their beautiful albums. Josiane did a great take on Ali’s idea. She was going to turn it into a travel album. The gal sitting at their table (I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name!) did the same thing. She wanted to give it to her husband for Father’s Day, so she was really cranking to get it done. It was gorgeous. All about Rome.

Our experience with CKU has come to a close. There is still the airport shuffle tomorrow, but the interaction and constant scrapping has finished. It is sad and exciting all rolled into one big package. I feel like I’ve been away long enough to feel like a vacation, but it all went by so lightning quick. Meg and I discussed if we would return to do another CKU. We’ve come to the decision that we’d probably do the CPR photography retreat before another CKU.

We also are in agreement that CKU should design an entire event around a digital frame of mind. Meg mentioned this to Annette – a CKU organizer- as we were picking up our diplomas. Annette got this big mischievous grin on her face and said, “Be Patient. You might be surprised soon.” We immediately asked, “How patient?” Her response was to be very patient. So we’re thinking something is coming down the pike next year. Maybe?? Could be??

Whichever, I am there!
Here's Meg trying to get her suitcase closed after all the goodies!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Random Acts

During the Friday Night Crop Meg and I were just sitting there cutting and pasting. Definitely not causing any problems. Minding our own business in fact. When Ali Edwards walks by, followed by the other instructors. At the very end of the line is Jessica Sprague happy as can be. She had just come back from shopping and wanted to share her wares. Who does she stop and talk to like old pals? US!!!

She was sharing this great breezy shirt she had bought for Jared because Raleigh is experiencing a record heat wave right now. She also told us this funny story of how her hubby so subtly let her know that he was indeed finished with his ‘plaid’ phase.

Next she pulls out a beautiful boxed set of cards from Papyrus. They have this gorgeous blend of turquoise and orange colors. It had an Asian garden feel with cherry blossoms and peacocks. Real pretty. Out of nowhere she says, “Would you guys like one?” Jessica Sprague then proceeds to write out a personal note. One for Meg and one for me.

This is not even the amazing part. Do you understand how absolutely thrilling it was to have my personal hero walk right up to me and start a normal every day conversation? It is as if Lance Armstrong pulls up alongside you on your 12 speed and asks if you want a swig from his Gatorade.

Jessica provides inspiration on a daily basis. And she loves it! Reaching out and being there to help others find their way. There’s not enough of this going on. Plus she has such a fun and creative outlook on life. I like that about her.

I’m going to stop the gooey-ness here. I just wanted y’all to know how special someone made me feel today.

Class Blocks

I am so behind schedule right now. Yesterday was a busy day, but it went by really quickly. At this very moment I am sitting here listening to Jessica Sprague explain how to use brushes to create your own embellishments. The entire class is alive with noise as people’s heads explode with such an AWESOME idea. But I digress, this isn’t what I am supposed to be telling you about.

Day three was our Class Blocks. Four different classes set for an hour and a half each were scheduled throughout the day with an hour in between for lunch. Meg and I were in class block A. Again you were able to select the blocks that you wanted. This way you could make sure that you sit with your friends all day.

The first class was with Tim Holtz. Can anyone say, “Whoo HOO”? This was the class I am most excited about. He is pure technique and working with really cool tools. I will not bore you with an explanation of every tool again. But I do have to say I was extremely glad that I didn’t go ahead and buy all of the implements I shared yesterday. Tim surprised us at the end of class. Shhh! The class was really fun and lively. It was a project I would never have chosen to make simply because it is more home décor and not for a scrapbook. I do like how it turned out.

Our next class was in a FREEZING classroom. Little Yellow Bicycle and their gorgeous Vita Bella line paired up to create an acrylic album. I am using it for my brand new niece’s album. The foiling on here is so eye catching, I just love it. Meg and I were going like gang busters to finish this project. We managed to get close to finishing.

Then it was lunch time. Today was a chicken salad and sun dried tomato sandwich wrapped in a spinach tortilla. I had to stand up and dance around while I ate in order to keep my fingers warmed up. Otherwise they would be numb from the cold!

After lunch, I ran by Jessica’s class with a little “Pick Me Up” to see if she needed any teacher’s assistants. She was fine, so Meg and went and found a table for the Piggie Tales Cutie Pie slide book. These albums with sliding reveal windows is a cute idea if you are thinking an ABC book for kids. I liked the train set she had for us to look at.

Finally, we were back in the frozen tundra area for our last class. Michelle Van Etten was teaching us how to create these graduated frames. She had some delivery issues and only got half of the materials she needed for the complete class. So she set us a challenge. What could we come up with using these two papers, flowers, and some bling. Go Nuts Time. People were folding, ripping, cutting, painting, and just plain creating with what they had. There were dragonflies and intricately cut out swirl patterns. It was an interesting class. Meg was not pleased with the orange and blue combos (it seemed that orange just haunted her the entire weekend). But she got really creative and figured out so many different ways to make it work for her.

Today’s pace was much easier on us. We didn’t sit in one spot for very long and the movement helped keep our brains awake. I didn’t feel exhausted at the end of the day like I had yesterday. We were going to meet up with the Yahoo group at Cheesecake Factory for dinner. It was so fun to sit Rose and Nancy and Wanda, the Katy gals Kate and Jane??? , Leslie and Lynn. The restaurant was super busy and we were on a tight schedule. Apparently Margie Romney-Aslett was to do something special for us tonight. We hog tied our waiter and made him give us our checks as soon as dinner came over. It was a good thing that I found out only today that Tim Holtz’s assistant, Mario, got sick at this restaurant on Wednesday. None of us got sick, thanks be.

We rushed back to the room to pick up cameras and cropping supplies because we had two more bonus classes tonight, plus a talk with Cropper Hopper people. The night started with a ton of free product handed out at the door. Do you know I even got a free mini tote caddy. It’s pink, but I love it! The cropper hopper folks were upbeat and loved to give away stuff.

After an hour of that, we were treated to Micaela Zoeller showing us the ways through this cute month-by-month coaster book. It was strange being back into paper scrapping. I felt the urge to spread! Don’t ask me why. Picture a whole table of similar minded people and you got our group last night. Product and trimmers and little bits of scrap everywhere!

The last workshop was run by the Rusty Pickle people. They were making a Pirate page from their Captain Jack line. Lots of cutting, that one.

Around 11 o’clock, we came to a good stopping point. So Meg had a great idea. We knew that our album track tomorrow would probably not be product heavy (Hey, it’s DIIGI, no mess!!!). If we packed tonight we could relax on Saturday. We spent an hour going through all of the tools, stickers, paper, brads, metal, ribbon, stamps, books and etc. Yes, an hour. I had to organize it all into piles, figure a way to pack to within an inch of my life and then see if it all worked. On a good note, it did. I won’t have to leave anything behind like a sad lost sock. Bed was calling by 12:30. I left Meg up to read and I passed out!

Dear Mr. Anonymous,
This is a message from your wife. She says she'll be home tomorrow. Until then make sure you keep your feet clean!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Day Two

A Full Day of CKU!!

Apparently yesterday was only a trial run for a day at CKU. Today was the first full round of classes and events and crops and pictures and goodies and and and. I can see y’all now covering up your eyes so you don’t have to read any more! But I am going to torture you. MWAHAHAHAH.

Not really. I thought this over and decided not to take pictures of all the projects and cards and classes and stuff. Part of the fun of CKU is oohing and aahing over all the cool papers and acrylics and sketches. Right?

But I will tell you how the day progressed. I can tell you that I started at 6 AM blogging about the first day. I couldn’t sleep and hadn’t had a chance to blog at all. So I got the writing done. I didn’t post it until later when I could catch a break for 20 mins and post. Sorry for making you wait so long.

On to the good stuff. Meg and I started out with a Venti Vanilla Latte each and trotted off to our Homeroom. A little explanation is needed here. Each person selected their homeroom assignments when they registered. The choices ran from A-G. Meg and I chose G for “Georgia”! Then we settled into this one room to spend the entire day creating an album of our experiences here at CKU. All of our materials were in the tote that we received on registration (YAY ME, I called it yesterday). So the instructors didn’t have to drag around all of these boxes of materials with them. They did however bring all of their own favorite tools for each of us to use. The teachers in charge of the first and last pages of the album start off with Homeroom A. Second page in B and so on. We were in G, so we started with our last two page spread for the album.

It was taught by Margie Romney-Aslett, the longest name in scrapbooking. She had this cute journaling idea where the page folded over for a flap element. She also had us tying ribbons onto big conchos. Of course I poke myself within five seconds of the class. You would think after four years of scrapping I would know better. I don’t. Ouch.

The second class of the day was given by Brandon from Piggy Tales. She was showing off her new product called Barn Doors. Really cute idea for an interactive element on your layouts.

Then came ALI!! Of course I was out blogging with y’all. Which made me late to class. You would not believe the look I caught from the teacher. OOOOH, I was in trouble. HA. Ali was more like, “Where have you been, Mister?” Ali’s layout had us making this cool journaling block.

Tim followed right behind her dragging all of his really cool tools with him. I have a shot of how a working station would look like. I have to explain all of these cool tools so I can put them on my wish list. He started off giving out these craft mats that were like Silpat mats. You can ink, stamp, glue, adhesive, emboss, and heat on them with craft irons. Those are like $20 for one. I wonder if the $6 Silpats will work as well? Of course he had his Ranger inks, but he came with a blending tool where you had to pat onto the ink pad. Start in a circular motion and work onto the paper to blend in the ink. It was so awesome to watch how the more you rubbed the darker the ink would blend onto the edges. As you worked further into the paper, the effects became more subtle. Ultra cool! That tool is $6, but you have to buy extra pads for it. I hope I am not boring you. Here’s one more and then I will move on. Tim has this little round tool with notches into it. Set inside each notch is a titanium blade. You use it to distress the edges of papers or ribbons, or chipboard. These are like $5.99.

One of the funniest moments of the day came when I went to hunt down DiAnn and Dave to give them their name badge holders. I found them in their homeroom and didn’t notice what Dave’s hat said right away. As I got closer it dawned on me. It read “I’m not GARY!” That is awesome! See, the thing is, with all of my swaps and stuff with the Yahoo group any male scrapper at CKU this time was mobbed with tons of questions. There were four other men scrappers here at Houston so the ladies had a lot to chose from. Poor Dave and ‘the other’ Gary had to suffer through constant streams of people coming up to them saying, “Can I give you my cards now?” “Did I already pay you for the badge holders?” “Are you Gary?” So naturally Dave needed to wear a sign that said, “I’m not Gary.” And wear it he did, all day.

Here I have to stop and discuss the lunch. CKU provides lunch for us each day of the event. I wasn’t expecting much, having been at a lot of school conventions. But let me tell ya! The sandwich was a ham and cheese on croissant. Really good. They served ice cold lemonade. The usual chips and banana was included. What won my heart though were the TWO large chocolate chip cookies that had been dipped in chocolate. GAAAH!

After lunch we had Lisa Bearnson come in and help us put together a two pager that uses a fun stamp. It was shaped like the female character on the restroom. I was able to turn it into the male by skipping the edges of the skirt. Hey, it worked!

Our final class of the day was actually our first cover page for the album. This was taught by Stephanie Kropp from Little Yellow Bicycle. Better known as Deja Views. Well, LRB is a division of DV that markets to the independent stores. She was showing off her new product line with this cool metallic accented paper.

By this time it is 3:45 and we’d been going for six hours. I had to nap because of all the tossing and turning I did last night. I went upstairs and left Meg to roam around in the mall. I had to break the news to her after she returned with gifts for her kids that she had a present in the room. Her hubby sent her a special bouquet full of Peruvian Lillies. Did I mention that he already stuffed her suitcase with a daily note of inspiration for his wife? Oh, and hid a pack of rainbow twizzlers and skittles in her craft case. I officially hate him. I need to have him write out a primer for some people.

We discussed dinner for a bit and decided to find a Tex Mex restaurant. The concierge recommended this place called Escalantes about a mile away. Meg warned me about the Texas heat, so we cabbed it over. The food was really good. They will come and make fresh guacamole tableside. Some of the plate combinations were interesting. BBQ ribs and enchiladas. Hmm? I ordered an empanada, enchilada with Chihuahuan cheese and bacon wrapped shrimp. The bacon had this amazing grilled crust on it. Oh, forgot to tell you about the Pomegranate Margaritas. It was a great meal.

We cabbed back and rushed upstairs since it was already 6:30. I had to grab all of the gift boxes for the instructors, plus the boxes of Christmas card swaps, my supply case and my camera. Then we got to hang out in the hallway waiting for the elevators. Ugh, definitely something to put on the worst part of the trip. We squeezed in at the Rhinestone Crop Girls’ table right before the speeches started. Meg and I grabbed our camera and went to sit up front on the floor for better angles.
They started the festivities off with the Dorm Contests. We were treated to a rounding rendition of ‘We are the Scrappers’ by the Isle of Scrappers. And then came a skit by the SPAGA group (Super Paper Artists Galactic Alliance). They were being harassed by that evil, naughty, awful Ms. Purrfectionist. We had to decide through the Clap-O-Meter which group would take home the grand prize. The Isle won by a slim margin so everyone got a goodie prize.

Next Tim came up and introduced Ali (as if we didn’t know HER). It was sweet though. Ali talked to the whole group detailing what she has come to realize about her reasons for scrapping. Part of her slideshow included a shout out to all of the instructors. What she did was really cute. She put up a baby picture alongside the instructor. I am definitely going to have to do that with the Peaches!! It was a touching moment for all of us as we shared in her personal memories and learned more about why we scrap as we made connections to what we were seeing on the slideshow. All of us scrap for different reasons, but we all scrap to celebrate life.

Then Lisa came on stage to walk us through this album that focuses only on us. What are our stories, what are our favorites, what are the memories we don’t want to forget. I ran into a problem here mainly because the album and papers were mostly done in pinks and oranges with flowers everywhere. If I am really going to make an album to showcase me I am going to have to wait and work on this at home. I think I’ll cover the album and pick a different paper line, but use the sketches because the idea is well done.

Right about now it is 8:30 and the Yahoo group had planned to do their group photo together at that time. I went up front and asked if we could use the stage for this purpose. It took a bit of doing, but we got about 50 people up there. Problem. We are all scrappers and we all came armed with our cameras. I promised to create a Snapfish account and upload these pictures to there for the group to access. I am writing this to remind myself of this one last responsibility. ***THING TO DO***

The last Bonus workshop of the day was given by Stacy Croniger from Paper Crafts. She of course had us working on a card pack. I am currently trying to make up my own collection of card ideas because I am always making cards for some reason or other. I pulled apart all my old CK mags looking for card ideas and by the end I had a huge stack. These card ideas tonight were really great and can be adapted for almost any occasion.

Right now it is 12:18. Meg is still working on finishing up her Lisa Bearnson album. Remember she has small children and actually completing this when she gets home is probably slim to none. The gal from CKU events team is up on stage calling out names for door prizes. Apparently we have to scream really loudly if she calls our name in order to claim our prize. I have not won ….yet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


It is 6:30 A.M. on Thursday. Meg is still asleep, so I won’t tell you where I am blogging from.

I have spent an entire day getting here to Houston in order to Meet and Mingle with some of my favorite people from the scrapbooking world (Sorry Peaches, y’all know you’re still Number One!).

I got up at 9 yesterday and did some yoga and exercised because I knew I’d probably get no where near a gym for the rest of the week. Before I knew it, 10:30 rolls around and I have to leave if I was going to make it to Meg’s by 11:30.
Made the required stop at Starbucks for an iced Vanilla Latte and then hit the road.
Meg was hugging and kissing on her kids and mom as I pulled up. We loaded all of her stuff in the back of my Jeep, took one look at each other, giggled, and drove away!

We had some lunch and spent some time just hanging out trying to decompress from the real world. We chatted over chicken ceasars and contemplated ordering hard cider. We passed on the latter, but the conversation was great. I can’t remember when I’ve had a long conversation with an adult.

Anyway, I am keeping you from the stuff you really care about! The plane ride was uneventful except for the fact on this really tine airplane two people also going to CKU sit right in front of us. Marie and Michelle were so funny and we bantered back and forth quite a bit on the ride. During the hour and 38 mins in the air, Meg watched two episodes of Weeds. I couldn’t hear the dialog, but I could see the monitor screen. That show is risqué! She was giggling away though. We landed in 30 mph crosswinds so it was kinda bumpy.

As we got off the plane, I called Michelle A who was already at baggage claim for Southwest. We were going to meet up with her and share a taxi ride to the hotel. Well, Michelle and Marie came through as our cruise directors and spotted two other people who also needed a ride. Little beknownst to us but one of them was Michelle Van Etten! The designer for Prima and one of our instructors this week! How cool is that? Being the Beta Boy that I am, I swooped in and saved the day by securing an entire van from Super shuttle for $15 a person.

45 mins later we arrived at the Westin Galleria. We all check in and promise to catch up with each other later. Meg and I lug our stuff up to the ninth floor and dump it all into our rooms. The rooms are pretty nice. The beds have those thick crisp sheets and loads of pillows. There’s plenty of room to move around in and a nice long wide desk for us to organize stuff for the day. I overheard someone say that the rooms are usually $300 a night (EEK!) so the price we paid for them being at CKU is a steal!

Both of starving since it is now 6 o’clock our time. We head down to the mall. Right outside the entrance we spot a Starbucks and a Godiva Chocolatier. Could this be heaven? We were drooling over the smooth coconut truffles as the counter girl, Lola (love her!) started asking us what we wanted. We shyly respond that we probably needed to put some food in our stomach first, but that we’d be back for dessert. She highly recommended the Kona Grill for its great sushi. Plus they are right in their middle of their happy hour pricings!

We quickly ordered margaritas and a plate of the most yummiest pot stickers. Do you know when you bite into food and you can taste all of the ingredients in it? These were beyond great! We debated over which kind of sushi rolls to order and just decided to get one of each. I would have taken a photo of the California, Atlantic, Spicy Tuna and the shrimp but we were so hungry.

Then it was time to run back to the room and get ready for the Meet and Mingle. We briefly stopped at Lola’s spot and ordered truffles to go. I had to pull all of the name badges and the card swaps and grab my binder with the lists of orders together. Snatch my camera and we were off. GUESS who we saw in the elevator??? Tells me how this entire weekend is going to go, but we step on and there is LISA BEARNSON just hanging out. Both Meg and I are tongue tied and barely got two sentences out to her. We saw her later and had a more intelligent convo so it was much better.

We had to go to the usual A-C, D-H, M-S lines to get our registration packets and then head upstairs for our goodie totes. I will let the pictures stand for themselves. But let’s just say it was chock full o’ stuff! I believe all of it is going to be used tomorrow in our Inspiration stations to create the CKU album. I could be wrong.

Meg and I plopped ourselves down at one of the available tables and just waited. I told everyone on the Yahoo board that I would be around to pass out the name badges. Stand there and they will come. Mob City! Thank goodness I had Meg there. I pressed her into servitude when folks started throwing money and Christmas cards and gifts my way. It was bedlam, I tell ya! When it finally calmed down a bit I managed to take a peek around.

GUESS who was at the table behind us about 50 feet away? *Drumroll please* JESSICA SPRAGUE!!! She was looking great, I think she chose to wear green in honor of her new site rolling out today. Isn’t she amazing that she can roll out a new website AND be at this event on the same day? Meg and I had to wait a very long time before the crowds dispersed around her before we could approach and be accepted into her court (HA!). Here are two shots of us together. One, I am doing the Beta Boy ‘save’ pose. The other was more sedate.

I am so ashamed of how star struck I was when I first went over to talk to her. But she immediately put me at ease with this super huge smile. she gave me a big hug and told me how great it was to meet me. HUH? Here I am falling over my own shoes, and Jessica Sprague is glad to meet me. Will wonders never cease? I have to say that Jessica is such a great personality to meet. Someone who is really friendly and down to earth. She even did a little dance to show how excited she was to be at CKU. She and I chatted back and forth about the new site. That girl will not give up the goods on where those fantastic flower backgrounds came from. After coming down from cloud 9 of having met my own personal Super Hero, it was awesome to meet and have a conversation in real life with Ms. Jessica Sprague.

More and more people began to file out and head down to dinner, or to the cropping area. So Meg and I took this opportunity to meet the other GREATS! Here we are with Ali Edwards who was so sweet to remember me from Atlanta. And there we are with Tim Holtz who told me I was too popular because everyone signed my bag. Well, ya know. When you got it, you got it!

The rest of the night was spent cutting, taping, stuffing, and wrapping the gift boxes. These are to be Thank You gifts for the instructors from the Yahoo group. It was amazing how quickly people pulled together and organized this stuff to go in there.

Then I had to go to bed. It was midnight my time and I was ready to crash! After all, tomorrow is another day!

Monday, June 02, 2008


Oh the sweet agony. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to arrive. I have packed and repacked all of my stuff. Gone through the checklist so many times to make sure that I have everything I need. Finished all three of my card swaps and ATC swap. I even organized a collection of items to put in a gift basket for the instructors. Made sure that I had the name badge holders and the card swap materials. I can just imagine the angry mob surrounding me with paper trimmers and tape runners if I forgot those things.
I am going to print out my flight reservations right now. So really all I have to do is sit back and WAIT!!
If you know me at all, you are aware of how much I hate to wait, especially for the FUN. I mean I am so anxious that I mowed the backyard. THREE times - Aside: we have an electric lawn mower that can't cut through thick grass. So I have to cut it down in stages. Not fun, but at least I don't have to worry about gas and pulling that starter any more.
I'm not meeting at Meg's house until 11:30 on Wednesday. This is still too far away, people!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Raven's Cliff Falls

When we went into the visitor's center at Anna Ruby, they gave us a map of all the other area waterfalls. One was the Raven's Cliff Falls. It was a 2.5 mile walk into the falls, so that would be good exercise right?

Oy, what a walk that was. It was a very rustic trail with only a few bridges made up of split logs.

There was one spot off of the trail that was beneath one of the smaller falls. So I manuevered my way down to it to take some pictures. Gordon decides to follow. As he is almost down, his foot slips, water bottle goes flying, and he does a pirouette in the air. Landing...on his FEET! Thanks be to the WII Fit, eh? All that yoga was good for something.

After this, I asked him to take some pictures of me down by the falls. Here's a shot he took. That, if you agree with me, definitely makes up for those earlier shots from the Battlegrounds (see earlier post):

One of the funniest moments from the whole day came right after the slip up. We were walking the trial and then one of the branches on the path decides to move. Gordon had almost stepped right on it. It was this arm long gray SNAKE! You should have heard the boy scream. It wasn't exactly like one of those high pitched things, but more like a WHAAAAOH OH OH. Imagine the sound getting weaker as it continues because Gordon raced down the trail about 500 yards! hee hee
The falls at the end of the trail were actually quite pretty. Worth the trek in, sweat and all. Who knew such vistas were tucked in the woods of North Georgia? Well, other than the guidebook writers.