March Stick-It-Down Feature Reveal

Hello and Happy March!

I am thrilled to be back with Stick It Down this month after missing last month.  Thank you to the wonderful team at Stick It Down for being so supportive as I looked after some family matters.  I did eventually complete February’s layout and will post it at some point.

March is also the month where I am the featured designer for the Stick It Down double page team! (no pressure!)  We have a really fun layout for your double page scrapbook inspiration.  Once again I took a few liberties with the sketch and had a little bit of fun with it.  I opted to stick with photo and embellishment clusters like in the sketch, but used a bunch of journaling cards and changed the sizes of the elements to work for me.  I worked with the Fancy Pants Summer Sun collection that I picked up at ScrapFest last year. I just love the dreamy colour palette and all the fun embellishments that are great for building fun clusters.  The paper is also an amazing weight and texture.

So here is what I created for this month:

March Feature 2a

I used pictures from our amazing January trip to Playa del Carmen and Cancun Mexico. I added in some misting (Heidi Swapp and Tattered Angels) and inking (Tim Holtz), as well as a few fun rhinestones from Recollections.

Here is the sketch for March:


So now it’s your turn! Hop on over to the Stick It Down blog to view the sketches (single page, card AND double page!) and be inspired. To see what the rest of the double page team has created you will want to go back on Monday the 6th to see their reveals!  Make sure you share your creations with us by the end of the month for a chance to win a prize AND to be a featured designer for May!  I can’t wait to see what you create!

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.

A Suitcase of Memories

Life at home is resuming to mostly normal. I’ve sifted through my luggage and have decided what needs to be washed and what can be just put back away. One of these days I will adhere to the mantra of – “Look at what you want to pack, and then take only half”. I’m pretty sure that’s almost what happened to me, except I took everything, and only wore half. That said, Murphy’s Law would dictate that the one thing I left behind would be the one thing that I needed. Alas, I’m a girl, I pack a lot of things and I’m unapologetic about it.

I promise I won’t spend excessive time raving about how awesome Le Blanc is. And in many ways, no amount of raving would ever give that resort proper justice. It’s truly something that needs to be experienced to be understood. The beach is beautiful, the property is so serene and peaceful, the spa is spectacular (easily my favorite), the food is amazing and so fresh and they are extremely cautious about food safety… You get the idea.. But the biggest thing that sets Le Blanc apart from anywhere I’ve ever been is the stellar service on every single level. You are treated like royalty and family all in one. No request is too great, and if you hint you like something they will go above and beyond and deliver. I’ve now taken 4 trips there and I’d be perfectly happy to only vacation there. I’m definitely not as happy anywhere else, and I can’t help but compare everywhere else to here. It’s truly set the bar.

I’m fortunate to have traveled enough that I’ve already done pretty much every excursion resorts offer, so I don’t tend to venture off the resort much anymore. It was not a trip of wild adventures. It was a trip to relax, recharge, refuel. Mission mostly accomplished. I don’t bring home tacky souvenirs anymore. Many trips ago I would bring home the obligatory sand and cheap bottles of tequila, blankets and maracas (ok, maybe not maracas). I did pick up something equally insane this trip and it still makes me laugh that I did in the first place. I was shopping in the spa and ventured over to the obligatory cellulite cream section and discovered they had weightloss cream and breast firming oil. Now, I quickly dismissed the weightloss cream as not possibly working because really, they’d put the entire diet industry out of business if it were only so easy to just slather up in lotion and watch the pounds melt away. But breast firming oil?! Now we’re really talking! Who needs expensive plastic surgery when you have a $23 bottle of oil?!? You guessed it, I bought it. Low cost risk for potential high reward. Lets be totally fair here people, I needed the weightloss cream more. After buying it, I was standing in the pool with my husband enjoying a peaceful quiet moment when I announced, “I just bought snake oil didn’t I?”. His instant reaction, without hesitation was, “Ya think?!?!?!”. Evidently he’s a non believer. Fool!

My suitcases, now empty of clothes and breast firming oil, are full of so many wonderful memories. Priceless memories. Until the next time we meet again Le Blanc, thanks for the memories.

Rainy Days and Mondays

Here I am, reporting live from my ocean view bed at Le Blanc Spa resort in Cancun Mexico. For some reason vacations have me early to bed and early to rise. At home I’m more than content to stay up to the wee hours and sleep til at least 10. Here seems to be the opposite. I’d like to think it’s because I enjoy being out and in the sun that much.

Today marks day 2 of rain. Yesterday I went shopping to escape the rain. I had high hopes of buying a Louis bag but the prices here are so inflated it’s crazy. Ditto to a white strapped watch with crystals around the face. I tried to buy new Havaiana flip flops and they were out of my size. Needless to say it was a fruitless trip but a good way to pass the time.

I’m happy to report my wet feet have not slipped on the marble floors, and I have not given any additional money to Palace Resorts. In fact, I’ve never left a member update meeting so angry in my life. I may just be a medic and not overly business savvy but there are a few things I know and have learned about negotiations along the way….

1) It’s generally helpful if the vendor knows your contract as well as you do so they aren’t trying to resell you the same things over again.
2) It’s also helpful that if I tell you I have something in my contract, when it’s clear I know it better than you, don’t tell me no I don’t.
3) Pressure sales tactics don’t work on someone who has already bought in to your company.
4) If you promise to make something right, make sure you follow through with your promise whether I invest more or not.
5) Mr. Salesman… EVERYTHING is negotiable if you want the sale bad enough and you enter into the negotiations with a clear intent to make a deal; realizing both parties will need to compromise to complete the transaction.
6) Removing currently enjoyed benefits and replacing them with worthless ones will not get a deal done, unless you’re dealing with a sucker.
7) Knowing your client and understanding their why will get you very very far. At this point the art of the sale is not about you, but about tapping in to your clients needs and satisfying said need. Chances are, if I need a coffee maker but you’d rather sell me an oven, a deal will never be reached.

The storms here have been crazy. I’ve never seen the ocean so rough. We had a huge water leak through the night in our room. I hesitated to tell our butler in fear we’d be moved to a crappier room but there really is a huge puddle in the living area. Someone drowned in the rough waters on Saturday night at the resort next door. To be fair, red flags were flying everywhere along the beach, so it was an unfortunate result of his misadventures. Cue the media uproar.

I’m going to spend my afternoon in the spa and hope for sunny days ahead!