Sunday, September 27, 2009

DSE Day Three / SpragueFest

Sigh, our last day at DSE. How has it come this quickly? And why? I must struggle through this fog of despair and tell you about the fun we had today.

That full night of sleep has definitely helped. I felt refreshed and ready for the day of Digi Love. We ate some of Meg's hot pockets for breakfast and of course had coffee. Then headed down to our home for this event, the Bryce Room. When the nice lady, Pam started handing out huge boxes of the new Bamboo Fun, my mouth dropped. I assumed this must mean we get to keep these things, take them home, enjoy, love, thrill... But NOPE! Even though I held my fingers crossed the entire class we didn't get to keep them. Not even a door prize was given out. Pooh.

April Oakes, hmmm. Umm, well, yeah. She taught us about tablet techniques. She did that. But felt it necessary to have our undivided attention on her without once removing our eyes the entire time she was talking. She kept reminding us of this, a lot. I can say I know how my eight year old students feel now.

Perfect timing, Anna Aspnes just ran BACK by me. And I am about to blog on her class of the day. It was Digital Supplies extended. How if you buy one kit, it can be used over and over indefinitely. Tweak a color, change the hue/sat, place an overlay, place a second paper on top of another and play with blending modes. It's all good. I really liked the way she showed how to place a patterned paper over elements and combine the two. Very cool idea!

Lunchtime again. Already? Today was a different sandwich and salad, but still good. Meg was calling up the Chinese restaurant to order our dinner tonight. Shhh, don't tell anyone but we are going to have a surprise dinner and dessert for Candice's birthday after classes tonight!! Gail, Meg, and I sat outside in the sun again and took pictures of the flowers behind us. Had to head back for more classes, of course.

First order of business was Keeping it Real with Tiffany Tillman. She was incredible today. Not only did she serenade Candice for her birthday, but she brought down some excellent advanced techniques. Showing us some mind blowing ways to make our elements look more realistic on the page. I especially love the idea of giving an element a drop shadow and then moving that effect to it's very own layer so that you could warp and manipulate it to show off depth! Plus, she had some more incredible brushes to share with us. Loved the layout we created too.

The moment that Cell Block 4 has waited for has arrived. Class time with Jessica Sprague!! The second she walked in the door, she was greeted with intense applause, shout outs, and whistles to beat the band! She smiled through it all, even with a bloody nose. Apparently the last class tackled her and did a pig pile or something. I dunno. NO! Not really. This dry Utah air finally got to her and her nose decided to wreak havoc on her outfit. We spent about five minutes taking the Spragueground Group Shot.

Then it was onto class materials. That durn projector was not playing nice today. It kept blinking on and off during her speech. Which, by the way, was one of the most well thought out and easiest to understand lessons of the entire event. She was discussing the elements of design and how to manuever your layout viewers to see what you want them to see. Eventhough I've taken many an online class with Ms. Jessica, it was just different listening to her in real life. She is always so funny, down to earth, and attentive to her crowd. She even got Kristen to entertain us with some interpretive dance. All too soon, it came to an end. We had to let her go to her last class of the day. NO! Say it isn't so!!

OUR last class was with Laura Vanderbeek on improving your photography. She had some good advice, but her teaching style was slightly slower than I would have liked. Although, she did let me play with her wide angle lens so I could get a cool shot of what an event table looks like AFTER an awesome digital event. Box of Krispy Kreme a la Kari and all~

We had to rush out to the lobby directly after class to pick up the Chinese delivery. Gail and I dragged all our stuff upstairs to the room then headed back down to the amphitheater for Candice's surprise party. You should have seen all of the food that we had spread out for the twenty or so Spraguers. Oh, wait. I can insert a picture of it later on. Watch out for that!

But even the food couldn't compare with the luscious cupcakes that Kari brought in. OH MY! They were good. There was red velvet, lemon meringue, mint chocolate chip, german chocolate, strawberry shortcake, and many many many other goodies to try. I love me some cupcakes.

Next, we had to rush into the Grand Ballroom for the closing ceremonies. Prizes were given out, mostly to Kendra who won for one of the page contests, and to everyone at my table except me. But I was not sad. Lori Anderson found me and gave me a special treat all of my own. A Tim Holtz grungy alpha CD. Oooooh! Yeah.

Kristen came and tapped us during the slideshow so that we could sneak out and make it to the Comedy show that was known as the Thrillionaires. Jessica and Jared sprang these free tickets on us for all the love we give to them. Wasn't that way too nice? Yeah, I thought so too. We took over the tiny theater and monopolized the entire improv show with our shouts and suggestions. They were freakin' hilarious! Can I just tell you how funny it is to hear them sing, "Be nice to me, or I'll Crop you out"???? Hee, hee. Yep, it was that funny.

Or when they struggled to find a cure for the dreaded new disease, Scrapitis? The symptoms range from blurry vision, to weak wrists, to anxiety when not able to get online. Very scary indeed. But all was solved in due time and of course the end results was photographed and documented for the world to enjoy!

The actors were so nice that they even took many many photos with us afterwards. Dave, the big tall guy, had his mom take all of the shots. My favorite was the Spirit Fingers shot. Love it!

We wandered back to the hotel and into the lobby. Jessica told us her thinking for the next Spraguefest (no details yet) and how she was already looking forward to it. Joan presented her with a beautiful metal plaque from a nearby hotel display and we had Candice take a group shot of us all from above. Oh, I didn't want it to end.

DSE Day Two / SpragueFest

Can you believe I completely forgot to blog about Friday's adventures??? Beth M and I figured it's because we are having THAT much fun!!

I'll catch you up now.

Getting up at 6:30 A.M. on vacation is not fun. But we had tons of digi stuff going on to make up for it. We made it to our first class of the day with Amanda Rockwell. She taught some simple, yet eye popping ways to grunge up patterned papers. And how to make some shine on your stuff. Now I can get closer to my favorite real time paper Basic Grey. You should see what we can do with our gradient tool!

Next came Layer Masks with Anna Aspnes. How cool is it to learn about clipping from a teacher with an English accent? Actually she just jogged past me in the lobby. HA! I am off topic here. She is in the same frame of mind as Ms. Jessica. NEVER crop photos again if you know how to use your clipping feature.

Our minds were being fed with digi knowledge, so it's only right that we feed our bodies as well. DSE provided lunch for us. A huge hoagie with ham and cheese, a great pasta salad, cookies (with M&M's) and an apple, oh the soda too. We were all feeling kinda chilly so we sat out on the patio to defrost. Meg, JeninSF, Kendra (Terebene) and I sat out there and chatted. We may have hatched an idea for a possible class. Shhh!

After lunch we headed back in for the awesome-ness that is Tiffany Tillman. She of the strut and songtracks in her head. Funniest digi girl on two legs! She was here to let us play with Brushes and more Brushes. The floral framed brushes she handed out were so intricate and wonderful. I am going to be using them over and over.

Next was the quick mini album with Lori Anderson, my new favorite person in the world (mostly for her gracious attitude, thanks again!). I think I might be turning this album into a DSE book. I have tons of pictures to use.

Our final class of the day was Typography with April Anderson. Poor thing was so sick. Yet she hung in there like a trooper. She talked about how to attract attention to your titles with different weights and color. How to stay away from swirly fonts for entire journaling boxes, too hard to read. Which I found out when I was making that bridal shower invitation last month. She also discussed placement of fonts. Such fun.

We had plans to meet up with the Spraguers for dinner. 21 of us headed en masse down the street and descended upon Gloria's Little Italy. They never knew what hit them. I think we were louder than the band. Ask Joan about them, it seems they are from California. I managed to make a toast to Ms. Jessica, thanking her for giving us a home on the internet. She made a toast to all of us thanking us for supporting her. As if we could do anything else! Food was good when it finally arrived and we ended up taking some back to our little fridge.

I was very eager to be getting back in bed early. Going to bed past midnight and getting up at 6 is not my style. So I crawled into bed with Julia Child (hmm, that sounds dirty) and read more about her life in Paris. Such a hoot this girl is, let me tell ya!

Friday, September 25, 2009

DSE - Day One/ Spraguefest


I am sitting in my first DSE class!

Oops, sorry, wrong day.

Okay, Okay. So yesterday was the Kick Off for DSE. For those of you who aren't in the know, DSE stands for the BEST Digital Scrapbooking Experience. But, the goods didn't start until 2 P.M. or so. Which gave us the entire morning to jusy be lazy lay abouts. By 10:30, after reading in bed for the past three hours, my mind was going stir crazy. I had to get up and do something. You won't believe what my head came up with.

Work out? On Vacation? Uh-huh, that was me. Here's a list of my activities: Rode the stationary for ten minutes, lifted weights and such for 20, walked for 10, swam four rotations, sat in the hot tub for 15 (totally sinful!), the sauna for five (it was hot in there), then a shower. It was great.

I made it back to the room just in time for lunch break. Good, I was starving. As we were walking around we picked up Kendra, then Candice and Michelle Van Etten. Sushi was our mission. Somewhere along the way we lost both Candice and Michelle to DSE instructor duties. We compensated for some of the worst service available to us in Utah, and she blamed the Miso. Umm, it's powder you pour in chicken stock???

By this time it is 1:45 and we race back to the hotel for our first class, Tips and Tricks in Illustrator. I don't know how Carina Gardner did it, but 50 minutes passed without me noticing. None of us in the room were very familiar with the program so that took some doing to familiarize ourselves with the tools and such. I could have spent an entire day listening to her, the program is so awesome. Sadly, we had to leave for our next class.

Little did we know that we could have stayed for another half an hour with Carina. After listening to the Memory Mixer Calendar lady for five minutes, I wish I had. She rambled and backtracked and stumbled through her OWN program. Yeah, we never even touched the idea of making our calendar. Good thing I only paid $5 for this. Left early to register the DSE.

Racing back up to the room to change and get ready for Candice's class was fun. Thankfully we caught her in the hall and asked about bringing our laptops or tripods. Nyet on both. We get there in plenty of time, but then Laurie asked us for our class tickets. Grrr. I book it back to the room to grab both of ours and my hoodie as well. It is freezing in the class.

Then passed the next hour and ten minutes of absolute goodness I could imagine. I know for certain I could follow Candice around for an entire day and not feel a bit of guilt! Just listening in on her thought processes and the little tweaks she makes and the directions she gives to the model and how cute she is. Wonderful.

Meg and I practiced a little afterwards and then headed back upstairs to grab all of our equipment to have it ready for the Kick Off. Joan was so awesome to have brought us packed a most delicious chicken artichoke pizza from Brick Oven. It was great chewing and listening to Jessica introduce all of the characters we'd see this weekend.

Jessica's Kick Off speech was, as always, very moving. She reminded us why we do what we do. I love listening to her stories of how things come about, especially that tattoo! When she got to the part about the connections, I so wanted her to give out kudos to the awesome-ness that is the Spragueground. Disappointment is easy to take with Ms. Jessica. Her train of thought made total sense too.

Afterwards they gave out prizes. I love prizes, don't you? But I never seem to win good stuff at these events. It's very sad. I tell ya. Especially when they give out a wireless printer all-in-one, or a cricut with SIX cartridges. GAH!! My name was called for something. It was a paper pack of actual paper. I wasn't in the room for it, though. V. sad. We all got some time to explore the Digit-alley of sponsors and booths. That was cool.

To end this perfect day, we went out for incredible gelato. We ended up in the bar sipping merlot and chatting about our day. Off to bed at 12:30 to be up for 6:30 A.M.

Fun, Fun, Fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SpragueFest Day Two

A glorious day. One full of sight seeing, freezing falls, tours through the canyon, pristine aspen groves, a little Sun Dance, an autobiography, three hour lunches with an amazing group of people, a Fly Girl, naps, dinner with an amazing group of people, special surprises and churros filled with Bavarian cream!

You're probably wondering how all of this fits together. Let me back up and fill in some details.

The alarm went off at 7 A.M. MST. This translates into 9 A.M. EST, but it just didn't feel like it for some reason. Showers and breakfast in the concierge lounge. Terrific perk, by the way, thanks Bennett! Then it was time to meet up with the Spraguers in the lobby. Little pockets of groups wanted to go every which way, but we made plans to meet up for lunch.

Meg, Gail, and I really wanted to do the Alpine Loop tour and see the foliage changing in the canyon. The drive wasn't that far away and we started with Bridal Veil Falls. There are three of them which cascade down a sheer rock face. At this time of the day the whole area was in shadow. We took one step out of the car and about froze into popsicles. I am so thankful that I decided not to wear shorts today. Weather Channel said to expect high 70's all week, so I only brought one pair of jeans. I might need to go shopping later on. But I digress, we finagled another family to take our picture while we shivered in front of the falls, then we raced back to the car's warm embrace totally forgetting that we had promised to take the family's picture! Meg jumped out and saved us from purgatory.

On up into the canyon we drove. The next stop was Sundance. Yep, THE Sundance. The one of the film festival and Robert Redford and all. It was pretty up there with the ski lift looking all forlorn. The grounds crew was busy setting up tents for next weekend. We run into another Sprague group of Amy, NanaJeanne, and Joan S. Mix and Mingle then head out for a drive through this beautiful twisty turning road full of those white aspen trees. A forest of white birch is truly something to see (pictures inserted later).

The rest of the canyon was great, but please don't stop frequently to take pictures on the side of the road! We got yelled at several times.

Drove through American Fork and down through Cedar Hills (can't get away from school, can I?) then back to the Riverwood Shopping area. This is where we found Jessica and the crew hanging out in Borders. Beth and I debated the virtues of Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. Laurie and I tried to convince Tori she TOTALLY needs to finish Time Traveller's Wife. Then Liv saw me looking over "My Life in Paris" and combined it with her Buy One, Get One Half Off stash! Yay! Can't wait to read Julia Child's autobiography.

About twenty happily chattering woman and me head over to The Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch. Thus proceeds the greatest three hour lunch as I sit directly across from Jessica Sprague and Candice Stringham. Could I go to Heaven now? At the end of the meal, we all scramble into the trolley car with Provo-Orem on top for a group shot. At this time it was discovered the many past lives of Ana Cabrera. She has trained the executive chefs of PF Changs, she has danced on In Living Color as an actual Fly Girl BEFORE J-Lo, she has worked with TuPac, sung on Arsenio, and has a design life as well. So when we asked her to climb up on the table to get in the shot, she was right there! So cool.

Back to the room, without having visited the Rocky Mountain Candy Factory, for laying around and napping.

For dinner we walk over to the restaurant called Los Hermanos just down the street from the hotel. We had been giggling and preparing for those delicious adult beverages. Our hopes were dashed when the 12 year old waiter, Kyle, hands us the menu with the words Non Alcoholic above the margarita list. Huh? What? Jessica explains that we can just ask and they will add some for us. She got my hopes up for nothing when I asked blondie to add some rum in my Peachy Rico, he denied my request. Huh? What? Hmph.

Dinner was okay, but the best moment came when we ordered the churros. Oh, My, God. They were warm and filled with a luscious cream and came in this tall shot glass that collected all of the dislodged cinnamon goodness. We debated on whether or not to lick that up too. They were so good!

Back to the hotel lobby where Jess and Liv surprised us all with a heartfelt and teary eyed speech about how wonderful we all were. Friendship is a sheltering tree! She gave us goodie bags that had some wonderful gifts in there. Then we broke apart and headed to bed.

Was that enough detail?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SpragueFest Day One

Good morning,
I am here with my good friends Meg and Gail as we stumble around getting ready for the day. By Utah standards it is only 8 A.M. so it's still kinda early. We didn't get in until 12:30 last night.

Let's back up a bit so you can hear all the ADVENTURE I had yesterday.

It seemed like so many things were conspiring to keep me from Provo. And gosh DARN it I wasn't having none of that! Of course the flooding of 2009 in Georgia was the first obstacle. Schools closing because they are under water would be an obstacle for anyone. They closed school again on Tuesday, which turned into a brilliantly sunny warm day. Go figure.

Thankfully the flood waters had abated for the most part. So I leisurely ate lunch and read my book. Around 1:45 I headed to Gail's house. The first road blockage came at the on ramp to 285. The next came at the on ramp to I-75. Then Gail is calling me frantically because we can't find Bennett who was driving us to the airport. I arrive 15 minutes later than I expected and lo' and behold, there is Bennett waiting in his driveway. Ta Dah!

We head over to get Gail and hit another snag. The on ramp to 285 is closed here too. None of us has a GPS to reroute us. Bennett drives around on instinct and eventually finds us an entrance to the highway so that we can manuever to the airport. At this time it is about 3:30 and he casually asks, "When's your flight again?" Umm, at 4:25.

His eyes widen incredulously as he steps on the gas pedal (Gail's contribution) and manages to get us to the airport in ten minutes. We scramble out of the car and race over to the curbside baggage. They take one look at our tickets and tell us we are too late to check. Huh? What? Apparently there is a rule that says if you don't arrive 45 mins before your flight leaves, you can't check. Therefore you'll have to be BUMPED to the next flight which isn't for another two hours!!

He tells us to go to the gate with our bags and check them there. We make our way inside and start going through the security when one of the attendants pulls Gail aside and makes her check her bag in one of those overhead storage size thingies. Yeah, it doesn't fit. She kicks us out of line and back to the front desk. Standing around for a bit we manage to get to an attendant who tells us to just try a different checkpoint. Which we did. No problems until...

Gail gets stopped again for having liquids in her bag. They search it and pull out her toothpaste, hair spray, face wash, and various other accoutrements. And hand her back her bag. Glumly, we proceed to the terminal.

By now it is 4:10 and we hear the final boarding call. Racing up to the gate we hand in our e tickets and make it to the ramp as they close the doors. GAH!

Being the last person to board a plane sucks. Everyone has already had time to stuff all of their baggage and their grandmother into the overhead compartments. I have to go five seats back to find an open spot for my camera, and then another three back for my bag. Gail? We take her bag all the way to the back of the plane and find nothing. As we stand around wondering what to do, we heard this announcement, "Would the lady with the BIG RED bag please proceed to the front of the aircraft." Mortification sets in as I scramble past everyone with the offending luggage held over my head.

One bright point in all of this? There were TWO open seats right next to me, so Gail didn't have to sit in between two other people by herself. The flight was uneventful. Although coming in over the Rockies was a beautiful sight.

We land and have to wait for everyone to get off the plane in order to retrieve our bags. Not bad when you think we no longer have to stand around staring at that rotating torture device known as the baggage carousel. Carousel implies something fun and jaunty, right? Not so much.

Meg and Joan are waiting for us and we walk right out of the airport and drive up to Provo to drop our bags in the room at the Marriot. Meg is a glorious individual. If you don't already know this, then you will learn when you meet her. Guess what she had waiting back in the room for us? Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade. Perfection!

We meet up with the other Spraguers in the lobby and pack into cars to head to Kari's old working place, The Training Tables, for their famous cheese fries and burgers. Can I just tell you that it is an experience to sit in a restaurant and eat when across the aisle sits Jessica Sprague, Candince Stringham, Ana Cabrera and Liv Esteban. I live the good life, let me tell ya.

Jessica is not feeling well these days. But that didn't hold her back from wearing super cute shoes and eating cheese fries. Get better soon!

Finally back to the hotel for the most amazing German Chocolate cake brownies and much needed sleep!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Provo, here I come!

The long awaited day has finally arrived. It is here. The time has come, etc etc.

What started as a glint in Annette Harding's eye at CKU-Houston when she so inadvertantly let it slip that a 'digi event' was in the works, has come to fruition.

In about four hours I should be at the airport waiting to board the plane to Salt Lake City, Utah. I will have my good friend Gail next to me and plenty of 80's tunes geared up on the Ipod. The flight is on time and no inclement weather is on the radar. So all is good.

I just called Meg, who arrived in Provo on Sunday. She's about to meet up with some other early Spraguers and the Ms. Jessica herself in about half an hour. They've got an entire fun-filled tour of SLC planned for the day. The flight won't land until after 6 P.M. and Meg will swing by to pick us up at the airport.

Then the fun begins!

I'm kinda upset at how all of my planning was in waste, though. When DSE (digital scrapbooking event) was announced and then the Spragueground decided to combine it with this year's Meet and Greet, I debated. Debated whether I could give up an entire week at school. This would entail all of my three personal leave days being used, plus two days without pay. I wanted to keep this trip's cost down as low as I could, so I opted to only take the three personal days. This way I'd be in school with the kiddos for the beginning of the week, have a day of fun with the other Spraguers and be there for the DSE extravaganza.

I felt even better about my decision when the (BLEEPITY BLEEP) furlough days were handed down from above. Surely didn't want to lose even more days without pay.

However, Mother Nature went on a rampage here in Georgia. It rained for an entire week straight. And not just any rain, but down pours. It was yucky, but livable since we needed the extra wetness. Then came Monday morning.

About 3 A.M. I wake up out of a dead sleep to flashing lights in my window. Freaky, I know. But it turned out to be a wacko lightning storm. Ran immediately to unplug the laptop because I definitely did not want that plugged in if a bolt decides to hit the house. (Could you imagine digital scrapping without a laptop??). Back to bed because it is a school day after all.

Get up at my usual time and arrive at school by 7 A.M. As I am squeaking down the hallway to my room, one of the fifth grade teachers says that school has been postponed for an hour and a half. There's been some flooding. Oh? Really? Hmm, okay.

Well, that flood just keeps getting worse and worse. If you haven't seen the news from GA, just youtube some of the footage. Entire schools and subdivisions under water. Very scary.

My thoughts definitely go out to the families that are suffering right now, but you could imagine how upset I was that they cancelled school entirely!

You mean, I could have gone for the entire week and not missed a single moment of Sprague-y goodness?

Oh, it gets better. They cancelled school for Tuesday as well....

Here I sit with nothing to do and four hours to while away until my flight. Everything is looking good for it to be on time with no delays - knock on wood.

So, I will enjoy the time that I was given in Provo and just make up for it by having an even better time!

See y'all there!