Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tim Holtz Alaska Cruise May 11- May 18, 2008

Thank you for all your wishes and promptiing (for me to get back online and write this) and emails and get well wishes. It is now just over 2 months since I got back from my awesome trip to the USA and a Tim Holtz Cruise to Alaska with Scrapmap and Jim's team.

Oh boy where do I start.

Well on the morning of the cruise Jackie and I could not wait, we were up bright and early getting ourselves preened, 12 midday was the checkin time and boy were we there right on time, well other people had the same idea and there were already hundreds lined up to board...me and my 3 suitcases (yes it's unbelieveable but I already had 3 suitcases with me after 2 weeks in Seattle) most of it was gifts I'd brought from Australia (mainly Tim Tam Biscuits-I saw them selling at the airport for $56 for 12 packets) and of course I was given a lot at the Stamping Retreat run by www.pennywisearts.com.


The Norwegian Pearl is huge when you are walking alongside it, 13 floors high, made me dizzy just looking up at it. Of course there is the obligatory photoshoot as you come on board, you'll be walking happily along when a camera and mascot jumps in front of you and before you know it 'flash' and you're on candid camera courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line .

It was a blustery day so I was anxious to get inside. We wind our way through the instructions on how to get where and wait for our cabin to be ready, of course we took a peek at how big it was....it was tiny, just enough to walk in and out, although the bathroom was big by ship standards. Our cabin was located inside so there were no windows, well I found out very quickly that I am claustrophobic, for the first 3 days I could not stay in my cabin for long without getting all hot and sweaty, I needed to get in there and shut my eyes.

We toured the ship as best we could and got lost many a times, they had food galore for us as it was lunchtime which impressed me, I would have been quite happy to be moored at Seattle harbour for the whole week. The crew were from all over the world which was so lovely to see, most of them spoke English well and they were very polite and helpful. The band played by the poolside while we enjoyed our lunch and went back for more (already see myself putting on 3 kgs right here). On enquiring I found out there were 1100 crew from all parts of the world which was really impressive to me that NCL employs people from little countries unknown to most of us.

Then at around 4.30pm they put on a farewell party for us or was it the welcome aboard party LOL (can you tell I still haven't recovered!!). The crew started up a dance line beside the pool and everyone was welcome to join in. Then it was off to our welcome party from Scrapmap and Tim Holtz at 5pm.

Scrapmap had an open bar for us and nibblies. We were given a bag to hold all our goodies, a passport pouch that hung around our neck, the picture which was designed by Tim and consisted of his one off rubber stamp he had specially made for this inaugural stamp cruise.

There were 17 restaurants on the cruise ship and we didn't get to eat in all of them. Some charged a cover charge of $20 and others were free, we ate at the Teppanyaki one one night and at the free ones the rest of the time. We loved the garden cafe because the choices were so wide and varied for all meals and the atmosphere was friendly and every table had a view to the ocean.

Monday saw the first of our classes with Tim, they were 2 hour slots and ours was the first at 9am, by this time we had sailed or motored out to the big ocean in order to get back into the Alaskan passage, well the boat was rocking-n-rolling by this time and my eyes were rolling in my sockets and I dared not look out the window as my stomach was churning, I just barely got through the first class. By lunchtime I could not eat a morsel and at 2pm I rushed back to the cabin which still gave me claustrophobia, threw up, took a dramamine and went to bed, slept for 15 hours and woke up next morning in time for the next class.

The first class was the longest, from there on they were an hour and a half. Tim and his crew were very accommodating and Tim was very entertaining as well as amazing to say the least, I was blown away by his knowledge and the fact that he is out there with the manufacturers for us and knows what where and when we use products and what we want.

Each class we attended was awe inspiring, not to mention all the gifts he gave us, which was very impressive, whatever we used in class he gave to us, well most of it anyway.

I was not so impressed by the cities of Alaska that we stopped at as they were very touristy IMHO plus I don't like the cold too much even though I live in a cold city.

Juneau which was the capital was basically one strip of shops with a few side streets. Skagway I did not even see as each attempt to leave the ship was greeted with rain, rain and snow so we gave up. Glacier bay was great but very very blustery and cold which did not help my persistent cough that I had acquired before I left on the trip and came back again, much to my annoyance and everyone else?

Ketchikan was a quaint fishing town that I had a look around and got some goodies to bring home.

This trip has given me the urge to go on more cruises, I can't believe I have missed out on cruises all my life. I came home and went to a travel agent and got every brochure I could on cruises LOL.

For some reason that flu has really hit me which I got the day I disembarked the ship and stayed for the rest of the two weeks I spent in Phoenix Arizona. Phoenix as usual was very hot so it didn't help the body adjust to the changing climates of such varying degrees in temperature.

So in a nutshell that was my cruise, love the cruise itself. Alaska-ho hum. It was great to get bakc home.

Friday, May 09, 2008

WLSBP-Worlds Largest ShoeBox Party-Seattle

(Seattle Friday 2nd May - Monday 5 May, 2008)

Friday night saw me attend my first and hopefully not last World Largest Shoe Box Party stamp camp. Every attendee brings a project for everyone to complete, this year there were 35 of us so we got to do 35 projects, I completed mine in the nick of time, I was doing a lot of talking, bonding, napping and got 2 massages in as well.

After meet and greet, Theresa Dalzell-Wells escorted me up to my very sparse room of barely 18inches between the two single beds, with my 2 suitcases on the floor, there was no leg room at all, no time to unpack or anything. Down stairs to meet Michelle A-Z for registration, get my Las Vegas purse with goodies in it like gambling chips, name tag and more play money. Put my name in for the gorgeous Brooke Box lucky draw (that woman can bead). Collect my water bottle with my lovely hand made name tag on it.

Photoshoot against giant playing cards coming out my ears (can't wait to see all the photos). Off to be introduced to people and find a seat. Have no idea whats in store at this stage. Tables are set out with projects and decorated with a Las Vegas theme of playing chips, cards and confetti in the shape of hearts, spades and diamonds (someone did a lot of shopping).

Elvis impersonator Kelly Morrison from PWA did a grand job with pillow help and that twitch of her Elvis mouth and gyrating hips and deep sexy voice (boy from looking at her photos I had no idea she had such a husky sexy voice).

Then the real Elvis came on (I mean the one thats alive), another deep sexy voice, I had no idea he had a lisp but he sang really well. It was great to dance with him, wasnt game to jump on the table to dance but have always wanted to do that, I wanted to enjoy my holiday without a visit to the hospital at $1000 a pop. Debbie Warren and I gave him our room keys while he was serenading Ann Margret (Karen Slusher) I think, she was not a happy gal and nearly tore my eyes out especially after I gave Elvis $50 Australian Dollars, the funny guy thought I was seriously giving him money to keep, but after he realised it was foreign money he said "I can't take this". So I got $50 more to spend.

Debbie Warren and I were the first to tackle 2 projects around 10pm while everyone else was playing casino games. Then it was off to bed to get some sleep.

Food was ok, still not used to American style breakfasts, tried to eat as little as I could and eat more salads with my favourite Ranch dressing.

Saturday got stuck into projects with organised games and raffles in between. Multi tasking with projects and bonding was awesome. Got a 1/2 hr massage from Linda Greenwood which was awesome, got some of that travel stiffness out.

Saturday night I demonstrated the decorated CD to everyone and showed them how to use the O'So sticky using the cuttlebug and nestabilities shapes. More projects completed and off to bed at 10pm, I discovered that I was over stimulated each night and I could not get to sleep straight away with all the noise and voices in my head, after 4 hours of tossing and turning I managed to get to sleep at 2am only to wake up at 5 or 6 am each day and it wasnt because Debbie Warren snored in the room beside me.

Sunday was more projects and another 1/2 hr massage for me, more games and prizes, bonding with other attendees. Then at 5pm it was sad goodbyes. Vicki Chow, Michelle McCarthy and I had Japanese for dinner and about 24 of us tootled along to Friends and Company www.friends-n-company.com who organised a make and take done by Diane Radishat (it was great to finally meet you Diane). Got myself a bargain scorpal which is just awesome and so light, $30 instead of the usual $40. I was so happy to get it I almost peed in my pants.

(after 5 days here my stomach is still not well, not sure if I am missing home or husband and girls or jetlag is having my stomach do turnovers)

Now I swore before I left Australia that I would not do inchies, well after coming here and seeing all the samples in the shops I am hooked, especially when they make the inchies from board in black and white all ready to decorate on. So I bought a box of each colour, a few pages to hold inchies I am going to swap on a personal basis with new found friends and play with all the new inchies stamps I bought.

Monday morning was the bus tour shopping trip organised by Penny Wise Arts that is always on after the shoebox. 7am start and no breakfast (hopefully some weight will be lost prior to the cruise so I can eat cruise food that people say is so awesome). First stop was Starbucks for those coffee drinkers then it was onto Stampin in the Rain www.stampin-in-the-rain.com which is such a cute little shop in a cute village, the sun was out and it was a glorious day. Did a make and take and found some awesome cute stamps that used vegetables and were designed to look like clothes. It amazes me how many new stamps I can see that I have never seen before back in Australia, one could go mad shopping here if one had a bottomless credit card. I also found a stamp that said CREDIT CARD HAS LIMITS mine certainly has reached its limits LOL.

Lasting Memores www.lasting-memories.com was the next stop, more of a scrapbooking store but I found mats for my cutting machine which was $5.99 compared to $22 back home, what a bargain so I bought the store out, also found cutting blades for it so bought that out too which was $5.99 compared to $15 back home.

On to lunch at a Teriyaki place that wasnt even open but the door was, I almost had to go into the kitchen to cook for us. So it was Hawaiian lunch for us, I had ribs which was yummy and the yummies cold slaw which had an awesome creamy mayonaise on it. Then onto Jo-Anns where I found my Gelly Roll pens which I fell in love with after doing Theresa Dalzel-Wells project of inchies (lady you got me hooked you know - with inchies and gelly roll pens).

Off to Creation Station http://www.creationstationinc.com/which is the equivalent of a Reverse Garbage back in Australia, I got some miniautre mirrors to put on my inchies.

Amuse www.amuseartstamps.com another make and take of a cute box but I had to leave mine flat so I could transport it, have instructions to finish it off at home. Got a wondeful finger scalpel knife which is so easy to use and a lovely edge punch which looks like theatre curtains, more inchie stamps and wonderful ribbons.

Archie Mcphee's http://www.mcphee.com/ was next, I bailed out, was over tired and did not want another thing to buy so I figured if I didn't see it I would not want it. Stayed in the van and had a good bonding talk with Kathi Hall and Nicole Gunther.

Off to dinner at Johnny something (forgot the rest of the name), had a hamburger but wasn't the same as a real hamburger I had tasted when Michael took me to in Arizona or Texas.

Impress Rubber Stamps http://impressrubberstamps.com/ was the next stop and I saw some gorgeous stamps I had never seen before as well, there was a make and take but I was all crafted out and just wanted to look and run, well a basket full later I was done (beginning to talk American now because I never say I'M DONE, its always I'M FINISHED or I'VE HAD ENOUGH must be all that ranch dressing I've consumed).

So by concensus we decided to cut the bus tour short by 2 hours which was welcomed by all especially our wonderful patient and diplomatic driver Kelly Morrison and her partner in crime Annette Lanker, tour entertainer. They both did a wonderful job keeping us in line. I highly recommend the bus trip, no matter how tired you are (Georgia Wood are you listening!).

I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to WLSBP, I hope I can come back some day to do it all again. For those of you who live here, you don't want to miss it. I would be coming every year, not for the projects as much but for the friendships you forge and the entertainment and excitement of biding at auction (I reckon I bid too high for the stamps sets that no one else wanted LOL, I've just realised that now that I've woken up to my stupidity but you know I have always wanted that SU set which is only a hostess gift in Australia and no longer available).

What was fun was putting faces and personalities to emails that do not give a hint of what a person is really like, surprises for me were Julie Imsland and Lisa Heusler, your emails come across to me as being quiet and demure hee hee. Georgia Wood and your cheeky emails belie your quiet nature. Kelly Morrison what a closet queen you are, that deep husky voice and all those antics up your sleeves, you are a born leader.

Thank you to Vicki Chow, Michelle McCarthy, Theresa Dalzel-Wells, Debbie Warren, Leola Johnston who looked after this beddraggled, jetlagged lost sheep and kept an eye on me constantly so I would not fall over from lack of sleep and pure excitement. To those of you who shared your breakfast/lunch and dinner table with me and kept me informed and welcomed constantly as if I lived there. Linda Greenwood's wonderful therapeutic massage hands.

Lastly Suzanne Glazier and her wonderful elves for making this occasion each year so we can come and enjoy it, you did a wondeful job and I am impressed. This has set a precendence for me as a stamp camp and as my first one thats a good thing.

Goodbye Seattle, my next post will be about the Tim Holtz cruise from May 11 -May 18th and I will be posting from Phoenix Arizona in about a weeks time when I get internet again.

Love you all PWAers www.pennywisearts.com

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Seattle April 29-May 2nd-2008

(Seattle May 2nd-2008)

I think I am nearly caught up with jetlag now after 3 days, I hope someone invents something to get rid of jetlag without having to get it first.

So the last two days I've been cooking for my aunt's friends, about 8 people each night, keeps me busy. Made prawns (they call it shrimp here)in my famous sauce, pork in black bean sauce, curried split pea soup the first night. Last night we had chicken night, buffalo wings which I havent tried yet, chicken in Baja lemon seasoning, chicken in black bean sauce.

Today I may get to ride on a brand new Suzuki 1300cc motorbike which belongs to my aunts boyfriend, I sat on it and boy it feels soooo good, powerful and light but sturdy, will post a picture of me on it soon.

Going to get my haircut today, and off to the stamp camp in Issaquah tonight, check it out here http://www.pennywisearts.com/annualretreat.html like me maybe you'll make it to this awesome retreat someday, I say its awesome even though this is my first time because I've seen reports of it for the past 3-4 years and have always wanted to attend.

So until the next time I can get on the internet again, keep smiling and stay safe.

(Seattle April 29-2008)

Well what a journey it has been getting to Seattle.

First they charged me excess baggage when usually they honour the baggage allowance for your international flight which in my case was 2 cases each weighing 23kgs each.

Secondly they lost one of my bags from the Canberra to Sydney trip which was only a 45 minute trip after charging me $20 excess baggage, what a cheek!!. It's a good thing I had 5 hours between connections to find it.

Then in Sydney we got lumped with passengers whose flights to Canada and New Zealand were cancelled, so they were very irate and rightly so, so that check in took about 2.5hrs, well there goes my 5 hours of leisure and having lunch which I missed out on.

So finally we board the flight from Sydney to San Francisco and holy canoly we get a woman who is travelling internationally for the first time and she talks all the way and decides that she wont sleep on this flight, there went my peaceful journey of trying to get some shut eye.

So 25 hours later wide eyed and not bushytailed we get in San Francisco, at customs they take your photo and take the index finger prints on both hands.

All goes well until I go to check in my bags and they notice that one of them has lost its tag to Seattle, it's a good thing the guy was on the ball and saw that it was missing as my bag would have stayed right there and not been sent on any flight at all, so back off to the checkin in desk to find a replacement luggage tag. I'm getting stressed out because I only have 1hr and 48 minutes to clear customs and recheck in again.

By this time I am so pumped on adrenaline or something through lack of sleep I fall asleep lining up for the San Francisco leg and everyone in the line ahead of me had moved on, the people behind me didnt say a word or moved me along. I fall asleep promptly as soon as I put on my seatbelt and didnt even wake up for the take off which is quite a whoosh and sometimes can draw your eyes back to your ears with the force of take off. I wake up half way through the flight not knowing where the heck I was. This has been the worst jetlag I have ever experienced in my 30 years of flying.

In Seattle they take you on a train to get your luggage, well I had no idea thats what they do so I just follow all the other passengers and hope they are not leading me astray, collect luggage and wait for my aunt who of course is parked halfway around the corner. Safely in the car we drive to her place which is an hour away and although the journey was lovely through all the trees and countryside to Enumclaw I am about to throw up in her car from all that motion sickness.

Sleep finally grabs hold of me at 6.30pm which is 1am in Canberra by my body clock and I wake up at 9.30pm ready for dinner. I finally get to bed at 1am but toss and turn until 5am to finally fall into another exhausted sleep but woke up at 8am feeling like I have a hangover.

Off to get some supplies for hubby and get back home and cook prawns, black bean pork, curry split pea soup and a meddly caserole for the neighbours and my aunts friends.

It is now 10pm Seattle time and I must be ok with jetlag because I am still wide awake so maybe I'll get a decent nights sleep.

Check out the stuff that Tim Holtz is packing for us for the cruise, and I thought I had a lot of luggage!!! http://www.timholtz.typepad.com/

That's it for today folks.

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