Creative Escape Projects

After spending much time on Pinterest, and reading several crafty and baking blogs as a result, I was really appreciating the visual goodness “eye candy” if you will on some of these blogs. I’ll be the first to say I don’t think my crafty stuff is all that good, which is why I seldom (read: never) post it anywhere, it seldom leaves the confines of my crafty room. So, call this a leap of faith if you will, or maybe someone will enjoy the visuals beyond just text to page.

Ali Edwards – 5 Moments Worth Remembering

In classic Ali Edwards style, we created a mini-album that focuses on pictures and words, highlighting 5 moments worth remembering. The journaling is hidden beneath the patterned papers, and in my case some parts highly personal. I managed to do it on the plane ride home with minimal tears, but there were some.

The project played with some gesso, some clear embossing (yes, I safely used a heat gun and didn’t damage anything in the process), some beeswax and other melted wax, some old sewing patterns and was bound with the Cinch.

Amy Totty – You Are Worth Remembering

Amy Totty designed a fabulous chipboard album cover working with tea-dyed Michael Miller fabrics (GORGEOUS)! I loved that I could play with fabrics and not sew, this is something I’d definitely duplicate as it’s quite easy, but looks and feels amazing – and I’m a mini-book addict so it all just works.  I haven’t done the innard pages yet as I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with them, but I L-O-V-E how the cover and flowers all turned out.

Jenaye and Kelli Collins

The fabric for this class was donated by Heather Bailey, a former CE instructor. For the 2 previous Creative Escapes, the work of Jenaye and Kelli Collins was always on display and for sale at Scrapbooks, Etc. I loved how it looked, but again, fabric, and I don’t sew – or perhaps more appropriately, at the time I didn’t sew.  Well, I got to create some of their creations and I absolutely love them. There’s something so amazing about doing something new that you never thought you’d be able to do, even if at the core it’s a simple crafty project. I have to say, this mother/daughter duo was great! They are super fun people, great instructors, and so darn talented! And for those not in the know, Scrapbooks, Etc. is the scrapbook store owned and operated by the Bazzill family. It’s definitely one of the best scrapbook stores I’ve ever been to in terms of size, variety of products, inspiring classes and service – everyone that works there is just so nice! If you are ever in Mesa AZ, and a scrapbooker, that store is a must!

Yes, I sewed each and every one of those little pretties!!!

Heidi Lynn Schreiber – You Are Totally Welcome

Heidi Lynn is the daughter of “Mr. and Mrs. Bazzill”, so scrapbooking is totally within her blood. The sign we made is a class she teaches at Scrapbooks, Etc. as well as at past Creative Escapes as an extra add-on class.  In retrospect I probably should have modified this project to be a little more “me” based on a suggestion from my friend “Margarita Margie”.  But, when it comes to classes I’m pretty finicky that I want my project to look just like the sample.  My friend Suzy has been trying to gently break me of that habit, and I followed her advice on another project that I finished at home.  Anyways, the long and short of it is we made a welcome sign that could be framed and hung in your entry way, or on your front door as it was spray sealed to protect it, if you were so inclined.

Janet Hopkins – Inspire Me To Create

Janet Hopkins, possibly best known for her work with House of 3, a collaboration with Heidi Swapp and Rhonna Farrer of hybrid scrapbooking goodness. She spoke at the beginning of her class about how important it is to create something daily. I’m not sure I’m at the point where I could make that kind of time in my life, but I can say that I have been more crafty, and it’s been inspiring me to be more creative. She’s right. You can’t rely on others to inspire you, it has to come from within, and that just comes from being your own special kind of crafty!  I absolutely love the shadow box we created using a lot of Pink Paislee products. I did give it a bit of my own touches. This isn’t 100% like the sample, and that’s ok.  I can’t wait to put the hardware on it to hang it – yes the hardware that is in the corner next to the dress form in the pic (so I don’t lose it).

Karen Burniston – Creative Escape

Every year one instructor gets the task of developing a class for a Creative Escape mini album. This year it was Karen Burniston. This class was amazing. I loved playing with one of her pop-up die cutouts. I also loved playing with clear acrylic and have made a few of these clear minis before. I also have to say the instructions in class were the most clear that I’ve ever seen at any Creative Escape, which was great working with some intricate pieces. That said, when I got it home I missed a few vital steps and bollocks it completely up. And working with my ATG gun, there wasn’t a hope in heck I could fix what I’d already glued. In any event, the album is complete save for pictures.

Right page is a cute photo spinner. Love pages that are interactive like that. The jeweled die cut page slides in and out of the pocket created by the spinner.

I have no pics of the Vicki Boutin project because I a) didn’t love the layouts, b) already knew how to mask and use glimmer mist and resist techniques, c) I needed to figure out a way to get the Janet Hopkins project home safely because it’s quite big and delicate, d) I wasn’t feeling well from my spider and mosquito bites as well as a newly developing headcold, e) I wanted to shop at the on site store to get some stuff that is hard to get here at home. So I took that class off and may or may not ever finish those layouts.  Truth be told it happens every year that there is one project that simply is not to my style and never really gets completed.  I’m ok with it.  It’s an otherwise great event with a lot of great projects.

The Last Escape

I’m barely home from what is reported to be the sixth and final Creative Escape and I still have a hard time believing it’s all over.  The end of an era, if you will.  I’ve attended the last 3 Creative Escapes hosted by the amazing Heidi Swapp and Bazzill Basics Paper company, and the last 3 were held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler Arizona.  Every year that I’ve been fortunate to attend it’s been the last week of August, and always deliciously HOT!!!  It is a dry heat, as they say, but honestly you have no idea what it is like until you experience it.  The event has been termed the “ultimate scrapbook indulgence”, and in my experience so far it is definitely true.  I have attended 3 CKU’s prior and they don’t even begin to shine a candle to Creative Escape.  Heidi and Bazzill really do all the important things right.  What I also find I can’t appropriately describe is how inspired I feel when I’m there, and when I get home, and how emotional the event can be for me.  Sometimes in all those projects, learnings and fun, a glimmer of perspective and real life shines through.  It’s amazing how something like that really does put life, and what is truly important into focus when you least expect it.  This year was no exception and did not disappoint.  This post is mostly just going to be an event and travel recap. I will do a project recap once they are all finished, and for the first time ever they are all either complete or close to it (or as close as they’ll ever get).

So first of all, the lovely state of Arizona. Wow, what a special place. I keep trying to get to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but I never seem to schedule enough time to make it happen.  This year was no exception.  Next time, honestly next time.  The scenery in the Phoenix area is completely beautiful.  Buildings and homes tend to be lower rise and in hues of brown because of the heat.  Premium parking isn’t necessarily closest to the door, but in the shade, and some places do have shade constructed in the parking lots.  I used to think I’d love to live in that area and that the heat would help my seasonal affective disorder, which I’m sure it would, but I learned on this trip that I need to live in a bigger city.  That said, and this is totally shameful to admit, I do blend in Scottsdale, and could easily live within that lifestyle.  Just to show how everything in Arizona is different, I snapped this pic of the McDonald’s closest to the Wild Horse Pass.  

Incidentally, for a cactus to grow arms like this one has, it needs to be at least 50 years old. That is one mighty old cactus!

The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass.  I have such mixed feelings about this resort.  It is a beautiful and serene property.  It’s very secluded and isolated, which just adds to the nice vibe.  Service, however, is so hit and miss, and there are so many irritating annoyances.  The first year they kindly placed me in a room overlooking the very scenic parking lot, and extremely far away from the conference centre where Creative Escape was being held.  The second year, after several battles, I was still an inconvenient country mile from the event, but at least had a nice view.  This time, while view was of the river the water shuttle uses, it was super convenient to the event.

The kicker for me though is as a rewards member I’m supposed to be given a complimentary room class upgrade, which I’ve never received, but have watched others in line ahead of me get no questions asked.  I think it’s ridiculous most higher end hotels make you pay for internet, when the lower ends give it for free.  But, what makes it worse here is that it is for pay, and wired, and the wire never reaches overly far to where it would be comfortable to be, just a firm chair and desk though the bed and comfy chair are in view. So close, and yet so far.  I also find the resort highly buggy and get several insect bites if I try to sit in the lobby or lounge and use the free wifi, and 2 out of 3 years I’ve managed to get some pretty nasty spider bites there too… as if I’m not terrified of spiders enough…  That said, here’s one of the amazing views I love at the Wild Horse Pass – sunset from the lobby, looking down onto the lounge and out to the pool, golf course and beyond. Stunning.

On to the fun stuff!

I stopped at Nothing Bundt Cakes on my first day in and picked up one of my fav flavor bundt cakes; white chocolate raspberry!  Yes, they sell nothing but bunt cakes, and I’ve tried most of them, and they are completely amazing!!  And the staff at this location on Ray Rd. are super super nice.  Don’t even question it, just know, you NEED to go.

I reunited with friends Gretchen, whom I first met at CKU Nashville in August 2007, and Dee, a friend of Gretchen who attended CKU Provo in August 2008. We of course had to dine at Arriba because it’s tradition, and the food is amazing, and so are the drinks, and it’s unbelievably inexpensive.

Wednesday began with shopping at the amazing LSS run and owned by the fine Bazzill folk, Scrapbooks, Etc.  The store is massive, but here is a glimpse at one small part. And of course, they have the latest and greatest, as well as a huge fabric section. Clearly having some klout pays…

And if that wasn’t enough, it was followed by shopping at the Bazzill warehouse where I got my yearly fill on Bazzill goodies.

Speaking of Bazzill goodies, one of the things I love most about shopping at Scrapbooks Etc. is their lollipop wall! 🙂 So so yummy! 🙂

Wednesday evening led to dinner at the amazing Rawhide Steakhouse.  18 of us ladies from the Yahoo group traveled over for dinner together and had a fabulous evening.  We definitely could have had more join us, but Rawhide capped our table at 18.

Last year I actually tried rattlesnake there, and it really did taste like a salty popcorn chicken.  This year there was apparently a shortage on rattlesnake! Who knew?!  I settled for ribs, overcooked steak, shrimp and a delicious prickly pear margarita.

In case I didn’t have enough fun while out and about, I made sure my room was set up for fun times at all times as well!

Friday I got to watch a dust storm threaten to roll in from the distance, but it never really seemed to amount to anything.

Friday evening led to some fun times with friends, and some casino losses at the nearby casino.

After 2 days of classes and the bazaar on Thursday, Creative Escape was coming to a close. I loved listening to Heidi Swapp speak as the closing keynote speaker.  I loved getting to spend some last few moments with friends from years gone by, and getting to know others even better this year. I shopped for Jody at CKU Nashville 2007 as her secret sister and we’ve met up every single summer since. She’s an awesome lady and a lot of fun to be with, and I have tremendous admiration for her strength.

Add in the Michigan and UK connection and the good times just amplified. Sarah from the UK reminded me so much of my good friend Suz back home it was almost like having her there with me.. except I wished she was actually there with me.

2 quotes I loved from Heidi’s keynote, that had me in tears I’ll have you know (the speech, not the quotes).

Some of the aftermath of projects and shoppings…

Sunday I partook of some much needed relaxing at the amazing Aji Spa. It’s probably my 3rd favourite spa behind Le Blanc Spa and Aventura Spa.  I treated myself to a treatment called “Bahn” because you can have a massage or facial at any old spa and I like to try things that are unique to that spa.

bAhN (Blue Coyote Wrap) Symbolic of Coyote’s coat turning the beautiful color of Bluebird, our proprietary Azulene mud is applied to the body. Unlike prideful Coyote, as the blue is removed, your skin will feel more radiant, soft and beautiful. The entire experience is completed with a hydrating cedar and sage oil full body massage. Your therapist will give you a copy of the Bluebird and the Coyote Legend for you to take home and share with your friends and family.

Now that I’ve had it, it was nice, but I can’t say the mud was outstandingly amazing for my skin, but love the steam capsule, and it did help my nasty spider bite.  If I should make it back to Aji, I will likely just stick with the less expensive massage, but I’m glad I tried the Bahn all the same.  After that I had an amazing lunch and cocktail and spent the rest of the day enjoying the spa pool and the rest of the facilities. It was hard to leave because it’s really up in the air if/when I will be able to return.

As the sun sets on the final Creative Escape I am filled with nothing but gratitude I was able to go for so many years. Gratitude for finally making it to the beautiful Arizona. Gratitude for meeting so many fantastic amazing women. Gratitude for learning from so many great talents in the industry. Inspired to go home and create more. Thank you to all for so many amazing memories. Until we meet again, I treasure all the moments that are absolutely Worth Remembering.

Five-ish Things

I made the decision last week to attend my 3rd and the final Creative Escape in Arizona in August hosted by the lovely Heidi Swapp and Bazzill Basics Paper.  If you’re not a scrapbooker, those names will mean nothing to you.  But, it’s serving as good inspiration for today’s post.  One of the projects I’ll be working on at Creative Escape requires me to “bring five photos featuring things/people/events in your life that evoke special memories”.  I spent last night sifting through iPhoto trying to pick the 5 best, and thought I’d like to share them here as well.  I may share the project when complete, but I really don’t think my work is all that good.

Unfortunately, I’m up to 18 defining photos, so I’ll need to pare it down quite a bit. Here are some selections from the pared down list:

1. Cindy and I. Cindy was my trainer some years back. I was just starting to work with her when this was taken. She pushed me to places I didn’t think I could go. I definitely reached my greatest overall fitness with her. Already as I write this I know this photo won’t make the final grade because I also have a lot of negative feelings and disappointments around it too as our goals seemed to be very different, and mine never reached.

2. My Girls, Socks and Matisse! I love those two little sweeties so much.

3. Steve and I, on the eve of my 30th birthday on my first trip to Le Blanc. This night was a fabulous night that began with a 9 course tastings menu with wine pairings by the Sommelier on the 3rd floor terrace. There was just us and one other couple, and a saxophonist. We went to the lounge just inside after and spent the night sampling several different martinis made by an amazing bartender, who also made a point of getting me special cakes from downstairs when he heard it was my birthday eve. Very very very special night.

4. My sweet cousin Katie and I, at my 30th birthday party. I have so many memories surrounding this birthday. It was the worst birthday I’ve ever had, and yet in the middle of it all I had some bright pockets of just feeling so loved. It meant the world to me to have her there for my party.

5. The Malecon, Puerto Vallarta. We had a great day on the town in Puerto Vallarta, and by serendipity found this amazing cafe where we sat on a balcony overlooking the malecon, watching the sunset, sipping the most delicious lattes I’ve ever had. It was an amazingly special and impromptu night. We had our share of adventures trying to make it back to our resort as a result of staying out too late and enjoying the night too much. I was just getting the hang of the settings on my camera and happened to catch this magical photo, and it’s probably the one I’m the most proud of.

6. Sea Turtles! On this night we walked 10km down the beach to release sea turtles into the ocean. 2 years prior I had to do this magical event on my own. This year Steve was healthy enough to take the long walk with me. It was an amazing moment to get to release these turtles again, and it was an even bigger accomplishment for him.

7. Goal weekend in Chicago. I’d just shed over 90lbs, had a great roadtrip with Mom from Toronto to Chicago to get there. I was at such a great place of feeling amazing to be me, in an amazing city, celebrating my cousin Ben’s graduation from high school.

8. Kim and I. Wow. Here’s where I get emotional. This was taken on the last day of my last trip to Calgary. Kim, Amber and I were the best of friends growing up together. I hadn’t seen Kim in probably 20 years, but we were able to pick up like no time at all had passed, despite going through so many big life changes on our own over the years. Amber isn’t physically in this picture. She is by way of love from the two of us. You see, I was there for Amber’s funeral. She was senselessly murdered. I always thought I’d reconnect with her, with the two of them at some point, to catch up on life. I didn’t ever get that chance and I have both nothing but regret it didn’t happen, and gratitude it did with Kim, even if it was over such a heartbreaking event. I still cry for her. I still grieve the loss of her. I still regret every moment that I didn’t reconnect with her. Next week is her birthday, she would have been 34. She was beautiful. She was so fun. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood with those 2, my best friends, for life.

9. My first snorkeling trip. I was so apprehensive about going snorkeling as I’m not a fantastic swimmer, and it was with rented equipment that kind of icked me out. But, I couldn’t justify buying my own equipment when I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it in the first place. This was just a little north of Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I went mostly to appease Steve. I wound up being one of the last to leave the boat, terrified, ready to return in a moment’s notice. However, once I started, I loved every second of it. This was a moment we connected together and snapped an underwater pic of us holding hands. I was the absolute last to get back on the boat and even then it was with great reluctance. Just goes to show you that you never know what you may enjoy until you try.

10. My first ocean splash. July 10, 2005 I woke up in Bucerias Mexico after arriving early that morning to PVR. Getting in that late pretty much just meant going to the room and getting some sleep to get an early start on the day. I also wanted to wait to go to the ocean until daylight when I could actually see it. So that morning, after hearing the ocean rumble from our room, and listening to the waves crash in over breakfast I finally made it to the ocean, got my feet wet, feeling the surf crash at my feet. Pacific Ocean, nice to meet you. Travel bug, thank you for your sweet sweet bite.

11. Muy bonita! What a funny night! We were at Aventura Spa Palace in Puerto Aventuras Mexico, going for our anniversary dinner. I picked to go to La Hacienda, the Mexican restaurant on the resort. He wasn’t overly happy with the choice but went with it in the name of happy wife, happy life. Aventura Spa Palace is a ~2000 room resort, in 10 3-storey high buildings. There are also 2 lobbies where the restaurants are held; the north and south. Our room was close to the north lobby, dinner was at the south. We were taking the quick way to the south, which means outside by the grounds, when on the walk the skies opened up into this HUGE downpour!!! We both got soaked! He was even more unimpressed with me at this point; cold, wet, and hating on Mexican food. Mid dinner, the mariachis came over and serenaded us. One leaned down during the song and whispered in my ear that I was “muy bonita”. This photo was snapped right after he said that.

12. Approaching the finish of the Soldier Field 10 mile run – May 2010. What an adventure! As I was nearing the end of my weightloss journey I developed a bit of a lofty ambition; to run the Soldier Field 10 mile run. It was definitely something I couldn’t have done 5 years prior at 90+lbs heavier, and completely out of shape. I set a goal, I chased it, and the pure joy on my face, even after running for 2 hours says it all. Fait accompli. To add to the drama, as I was on the last half mile they were shutting down the race and ordering everyone to walk due to excessive heat conditions. I almost started to sob because I saw that I was so close and yet so far from attaining that goal. Well, race rules be damned, I pressed on, kept running, kept in contact with a bike medic beside me to reassure him I was fine and not suffering any heat exhaustion and that I was well hydrated and fine to finish strong. He agreed I was fine to carry on, and that is my burst into the stadium. In being fully honest, it was tons of fun, every single mile. I’ve since pretty much retired. I’m not a runner. I don’t love the prep work. But the nice thing about goals, is once accomplished, they can never take that away from you.

13. I gotta be me – my first Tiffany. Because good things come in little blue boxes. In my case it was a beautiful necklace with a skate, in Tiffany blue, pendant. It was a total surprise that Christmas morning, and so very thoughtful. It may not be as life significant as some of the other memories, but it still makes me smile all the same.

And now to pick and print 5 of these fantastic memories! I’m glad I have some time to make this tough decision.