Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Feet Are Aching!!

So much to little time. My day began with breakfast as usual (thank you Hampton Inn for the great, free breakfast), a quick ride on the CHA shuttle, and then a fast one-hour run before my 10am make & take. As I approached the booth I could see the chairs filled and lines behind each one. YIKES!!! Ask me if we had fun today. Go ahead and ask. My 10 am make & take was still going strong at 1:45!!!!
Then I was off again at a fast trot, hoping to cover the entire floor from one end of the convention center to the other. Go ahead and laugh with me; we knew it wouldn't happen and of course it didn't. I'd run into friends, including new friends who'd joined me for my make & takes, and time quickly slipped away from me.

Almost all the booths had activity. Seemed like lots of people like me trying to see it all, though lots of booths are telling me the foot traffic seems slow. Cute m&t's at some of the booths. Displays were lovely, inspiring, and would sometimes bring me to a quick stop.
As in past years there are lots of scrapbooking booths, yet not as many anymore. The big guys are surviving and perhaps the little guys are as well, but they aren't renting a booth at CHA this year. There's still lots of grumbling about the summer show being moved from Chicago to Orlando, and even more discontent because it's including a consumer show. Guess we'll see if that show shrinks even more than this one has, but you know I'll be there no matter what happens.

I should mention that yesterday was incredible but hectic. My morning demo went past noon so at 2pm I combined the beads and pendants into one make & take, which was a huge hit. I also skipped the Indie Crafting booth both yesterday and today. Priorities...
Last night we dined at the most fabulous Italian restaurant right here beside our hotel. They served the food family style, meaning the small items served 2-3 and the large served 4-5. We ordered a small salad, a large entree, and one dessert for the 4 of us, and didn't finish any of them.
Tonight Kelly wanted to go to Downtown Disney so we walked from the convention center and then had to walk all the way back to our hotel. A really long walk and the temperatures had dropped but the food was good and we did have fun. My dogs are barking!
Now for some fun products from Tim, Ranger and more. Not only are there now 24 new colors of alcohol inks, but they've added a new refillable pen for them. I got one and can't wait to get more. The best news about them is that you fill the pen as you count aloud 1,2,3,4,5. Seriously, not 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi,... just 1 to 5 and stop. Tim says he filled his back in June was was still using them at the show without a refill. Yee Haw, that's great! I don't think anyone will buy one for each color, but I can certainly see one for your favorite blue, yellow, pink, green and red. Tim says the first pen you should fill is one with Blending Solution so you can lighten your colors as you're applying them, but also to create your own eraser. Now how clever is that? They've also added Memory Capsules to fit the Memory Frames. Today's m&t was with Tim himself as we assembled a piece of wearable art using the frames, the capsules, and some of his hardware from the Idea-ology line.

Now in addition to his brads & washers, swivel clasps & trinket pins, he's got ornate plates, metal foilage (tiny flowers , & leaves), itty bitty paper clips that are too cute for words, and book D-rings for those fat books we love to create. There are new mini masks, new rubber stamps, a new Tiny Attacher (itty bitty staples are used in this full size stapler), and of course new grungeboard as well as grunge paper. Have mercy.
I can also tell you that the metal storage tins and the textured grungeboard are being discontinued (get them while you can).
Clearsnap has new molding mats (we used them today to rubber stamp our bangles), new Design Adhesives, and a new product called Smooch. Talk about fabulous!!!! It looks like a snazzy bottle of nail polish, but instead of bristles on a brush applicator it has a hard foam tip for painting. 8 gorgeous colors like Sugarberry & Siren, and I'm bringing them home with me from the show. So for all you gals who love to stamp an image and color it in, now you can paint it with vibrant, shimmering kisses of color. Use them on paper, cardstock, glass, clay and so much more.
7 Gypsies has so many new things I'm breathless at the possibilities. I also discovered some new products like a packaging tape with patterns and colors. I can already see my bangles inked and then wrapped with these gorgeous tapes for a finished look that will dazzle everyone.
There are new books (I got one), and I've seen all the new Stampington publications that aren't yet on the shelves. Ooh la la!!! You know how I love those.
Tomorrow is the last day of the show and it ends at 2pm, so I'll hit the ground running at 9am and won't slow down til it's time to dismantle the booth.

Time to start getting ready for bed, empty my suitcase of all today's loot in preparation for tomorrow's gatherings, and soak my poor tired feet. Come back to see me...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day One and What a Day It Was!!!

I have photos but no way to download them, so be patient and they'll be here soon. In the meantime I have tidbits to share.

I had one hour to walk the show floor this morning and went almost immediately to 7 Gypsies. As Mindy was showing me all their new goodies (and there are SO many) my buddy Gary Burlin walks up and shopping went right out the window. 30 minutes later I was booked to teach at his event again this September in Cleveland and running to the DIY Bangles booth to get to work.

My 10am bangle make & take that was to last 45 minutes was still going strong at 11:45 when I chased off the people waiting for their turn. I was scheduled to start a second m&t on beads at noon for goodness sake! So I ate a snack bag of Goldfish crackers for lunch as I walked the 2 aisles nearest our booth.
When I finished my second m&t I was off to watch Tim Holtz demo. He made me a sample using the new colors of alcohol inks and said he'd brought me up in their marketing meeting, telling them "Lovely Linda's gonna go crazy over these". And of course he was right! They're deliciously fabulous and I can't wait for you to see them. Because he was making a sample for me I was late for my 2pm pendant m&t, but the ladies were seated and patiently waiting for me, thank goodness.
As I'm wrapping up this event cameras and lights are being set up behind me. I had time to freshen my lip color and then moved supplies to the clean table they'd set up where I joined Ana & Megan Araujo of "When Creativity Knocks" to tape a segment for their show. I fretted over my accent but they assured me everyone would love my "southern belle accent". Somehow I'm less sure. Megan began the segment saying "We're here with the lovely Linda Crofton", so I'm thinking that's pretty close to my Lovely Linda moniker and I can live with it. When she asked me how I was and I replied "peachy" she laughed out loud. Should I be embarassed?
We each made a bangle and they tell me they'll edit the 15 minutes down to about 5. I still think it qualifies as my 15 minutes of fame, don't you? I'm not sure when it will air, but I'll keep you posted on that.
Tomorrow the plan is to do the bangle m&t for 2 hours, and then combine the beads & pendants at 2pm, giving me a longer window of opportunity to actually eat lunch. Do I dare take time for food when there's so much show to see? I'm thinking I'll make that call tomorrow. I have decided to skip the demo at the Indie Craft booth tomorrow, but I'll be there on Tuesday for a longer demo to make up for it. I've got to decide what techniques I'll demo, and then get photos taken of each step so we can have them up on the big screen while I demo. Several vendors have given me colorants they're hoping I'll use, so I've got homework to do. Told you this was a working vacation!
We had an update on our puppies today. Mini Cooper chewed the clasp on Mercedes' collar and managed to get it off her. By the time mother returned from church it was history. A criminal in the making. Note to self: buy that puppy a new chew toy to dangle from her sister's collar so she'll leave the new collar alone.
I'm pleased to say we went to Outback tonight for dinner again, and may I say that more than made up for the missed lunch. Then we walked Kelly back to her hotel...5 very long, cold blocks each way, so I feel confident I burnt a few of those calories.
I'm watching a rerun of Two and A Half Men as I type this, but I should really be in the shower. It's midnight and tomorrow's going to be another very long day. Barb, if you're reading this, I wish you were here. So many goodies, so little time. They're calling for rain tomorrow so John Freida, I'm counting on your Frizz-Ease to tame my new perm.
Today's make & take at the Ranger booth was a tiny house pin using Claudine's acrylic paints and sticky back canvas. Too cute. Tomorrow Suze will be leading us in something fabulous, and Tuesday Tim will be in that hot seat. I'm pleased with the 2 samples he made for me today but I can't wait to see what he has planned for Tuesday.
I'll be back tomorrow night with more details of new goodies. Come back to visit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

So Much Fun!!!

It's official, I'm a tourist. Yesterday was the BEST day ever of this vacation. We returned to the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar for the guided tour of the building across the street. Basement level: cars. First floor showroom of cars was made to look like a true dealership from the early 1900's. Green marble on the floors from Vermont. Black marble on the floors from Italy. Pink marble on the columns from Africa. Just amazingly glorious. Second floor was antique furniture, more hood ornaments, etc. Third floor was functional musical instruments which they played for us as we toured a glass cabinet filled with the most incredible doll collection, and they were made completely from paper yet looked like porcelain; a gold egg from Mr. N to Mrs N for their 50th anniversary, and so much more. I'm telling you, this tour is a MUST if you ever come to LA.
Next we were off to Hollywood and the Walk of Fame. Yes, I was tickled to see the handprints & footprints and all the stars on the sidewalks. And I'm pleased to tell you I wasn't the only person walking around with my head down reading them as I stepped over them all. Like a kid in a candy store.
Then we were off to Long Beach, which was beautiful. I could see myself retiring there if I won the lottery. Just loved the tour and yes, the Queen Mary was one of our stops. I'm telling you, I was a true tourist.

Today we awoke to our first day of rain. Little excited kids downstairs in the hotel at the breakfast buffet with moms fretting about the weather. And then we were off on foot in the rain to the Anaheim Convention Center to start setting up the booth. I'd love to tell you it's all done and ready, but of course there's still so much to be done. The carpet's down. One of the displays is assembled but pieces were missing from the second. They were to be delivered to the hotel by 5pm today, so wish us luck for tomorrow's assembly of our mural of bangles.
Tomorrow my day begins with a 2-hour class with my buddy Tim Holtz. We passed him on the sidewalk tonight after dinner; he'd just left the convention center and we'd already eaten! And then it's back to the DIY Bangles booth to complete the displays and set up for the show.
The 2009 Winter CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) Show begins on Sunday morning. I'm not sure how much fun I'll be having. I'm scheduled to lead make & takes of bangles, beads, and wooden shapes at 10am, noon, and 2pm for an hour each. Then from 4-5 I'll be doing demos on all of the above at the Indie Craft booth. Do the doesn't leave a lot of time each day for walking the show and seeing all the new goodies. But trust me; I'll find the time and cover as much ground as possible each day.
The show ends on Wednesday and we'll spend the balance of the day taking down the displays and booth. Thursday I'm back to being a tourist again before flying home to NC on Friday.
Last night we played a few games of Gin Rummy. I won handily the first round (565 to 315) before losing the second time around by 70 points. We played til 2am so I slept til 8:30 this morning. All fun and games for me. As it should be. This is a vacation after all, even if its now become a working vacation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who are all these people & why are they on the road?

This is no joke. We left the hotel in Anaheim at 10:20am and didn't get back to the hotel until 7:30pm. We spent 2 hours at the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar and one hour eating dinner.
Do the math...that's 6 hours in the car!!! We're talking 8-12 lanes of traffic on these roads, bumper to bumper in all lanes, going at best 55 mph, but mostly 25. So my first question: why do people choose to live in California? And the bigger question? Doesn't anyone work in this state? Have they heard about the 9-5 workday? Do they know it exists? I think not.

Monday we visited the most dreadful car museum and paid $28 to walk through it. Today we visited the most INCREDIBLE museum that is FREE and fills 2 buildings!! It was so fabulous that we're going back tomorrow for a guided tour that's also free. Far too much to talk about, but I have to mention this. You know how expensive cars like the Rolls Royce has a hood ornament/radiator cap finial? They have multiple glass cases filled with these in metals and crystal. And we spotted a little Scottie!! Way cool baby!!
The building we went through today was filled with 100 cars. But the building across the street has cars on the first floor, furniture and musical items on the second and third floors. Hence the return visit tomorrow for the guided tour.

This photo is from the building we'll see tomorrow. Marble from multiple places all over the world, as are all the collections of the Nethercutt Museum. And a train car out back that was built to spec in 1912 by a 65 year old woman. We watched a video that had such amazing stories about the family that we can't wait to hear all about it tomorrow. Now you know I'm excited or I'd never consider getting back in that rental car again!!!

And if you ever find yourself in the Hollywood, Studio City area, please take time to eat at Jerry's Restaurant and Deli. It's expensive but so worth it! Clayton had pecan pie with whipped cream for dessert and I had the largest slice of carrot cake you've ever seen. I nibbled, Clayton nibbled, and we still brought 3/4 of it back to the hotel with us for a snack. Wish I could say I was ready for it now but I'm still stuffed from the pizza. Talk about atmosphere: they've got a bowling alley attached and you could watch people bowling. Again, just what I needed tonight. Yes, we were lost and stumbled across it, but wow, I'm so glad we did.
The adventure continues tomorrow. There's a HUGE swap meet we keep passing every day on I5, and I'm thinking tomorrow we might be forced to check it out after our 2 hour museum tour.
Stay tuned....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sunny California

We're in warm, glorious Anaheim CA for 2 weeks. Our first day here we cruised Rodeo Drive, visited the Peterson Car Museum, which was so totally nothing special. $8 to park, $10 each to get in and you expect great things. So imagine my joy as we're coming down in the elevator with another tourist who comments on the lack of cars. Little mister businessman in the elevator with us looks displeased and announces that he's the curator. Honey, make a note. Keep your mouth shut in the future if you're too self important to be bothered to listen to the paying guests. You come across as a schmuck.
We also toured the La Brea Tar Pit and Museum. Very informative, even if museums aren't my cup of tea.
Yesterday we went to a taping of the Bonnie Hunt Show. Again, not as enjoyable as I'd hoped. Love my gal Bonnie, but standing in line for hours, then sitting lined up for another hour, then seated and given a plain hotdog & Rootbeer weren't great. But I gotta say, she looks like a normal sized gal on TV but she's actually about a size 2 or 4 in real most a 6. Tiny little thing! So yes, the camera does add at least 10 pounds. The show will air tomorrow (Thursday) with Brooke Burke as a guest (winner of Dancing with the Stars). Another tiny little thing, all skin & bones, who looked more filled out on the monitor. Alice, Bonnie's Mom, was on the show via web cam, and that was good. But we spent an entire day for that "one hour" show. Life's too short.
Today we're off to yet another car museum. If the website can be believed, this one is gonna be FULL of cars and it's FREE!!!! Of course it's also an hour away, but hey, that's why we rented a PT Cruiser for a week.
We've called my mom daily to check on the puppies and she tells me she's got 4" of snow. Mind you the Scotties' legs aren't 4" long, so they're lost in it when she walks them. But she's taken pictures of them playing in it for us. Can't wait to see those. Their first snow and we've missed it. Hard to imagine snow when its 88 degrees, bright and sunny here.
CHA starts with a Tim Holtz class on Saturday morning for me, followed by booth set up. The show itself starts on Sunday, so look for great updates with photos!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I can still remember back in 7th grade when I got my first pair of glasses. Ugh.
It was awful.
They were awful.
Red hair and freckles, skinny and knobby kneed, I was a fright to begin with, and the addition of those little brownish-gray glasses was just the icing on my cake.
And then 33 years ago I got my first pair of contact lenses and it felt like tiny razor blades were cutting my eyes everytime I blinked, but I hung in there for vanity's sake. Sure enough, we can get used to anything because within weeks I didn't even know I was wearing them. Ah, the good life. And so it went until 2008.
Last year I was plagued with allergies and eye infections, forcing me to wear those Coke bottle thick glasses... and adding insult to injury, they were bifocals! So in August when I went to Duke and found out I was a candidate for the new IntraLase surgery, done completely by laser, I made my appointment. $5100 out-of-pocket, but no more contacts and no more bifocals. Right? Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

My surgery was last Thursday and courtesy of the Valium, I slept all day and all night, wearing my goggles as directed. On Friday morning I could see the clock. It was a miracle. And the miracle lasted until we got in the car. I couldn't read the speed limit signs or the street signs. Couldn't even read the license plate on the car in front of us. Panic set in.

So when Marie, the sweetest gal you'll ever meet, had me cover my left eye and read the eye chart on the wall with my right eye, I was speechless. I could read at 20/20!! As we live and breathe, it was just too exciting for words. But when I covered the right eye and was supposed to read with my left, the good turned into the bad. There were no letters, no lines of letters, not even an eye chart to be found. She consults my chart and tells me I've been corrected with monovision. So she puts a tiny eye chart in my hand and asks me to read it. Miracle of miracles, I could read the 20/10 line!!!! With my left eye!!!! I've never been able to read even the 20/30 line with glasses or contacts, so this was truly amazing.
But what about those signs I can't read in traffic!! Correcting me to 20/200 was not what I agreed to back in August. They assure me that my vision will continue to fluctuate and improve over the next 6 months.
Uh huh.
And that my brain will learn to deal with the new messages my eyes are sending it.
Uh huh.
And I'm to be patient.
Uh huh.
Have these people ever met me? There's not a person on this earth who truly knows me that believes I have patience. My mother has no patience, and I have even less than my mother!!

So be warned. If I'm reading, working on the computer, or working on my art, I can see better than I would ever have imagined. The TV screen is okay on the other side of the room unless I'm trying to find a program on the Guide screen of my satellite provider. That requires me to walk up close to the screen, muttering aloud as I take each step. But if you see me behind the wheel of my car, AVOID ME AT ALL COSTS!!!! Chances are I'm in my soon-to-clear fog and I'm concentrating on the painted lines and the distance to the bumper in front of me. I'm not being rude if I don't wave at you; I simply don't see you.
So what's with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly title today?
I've had my surgery and I can see up close and personal.
That's Good!
I'm living for the promise of the day soon to come when I'll be able to see in the distance.
That's The Bad!
And until I get the okay from Duke, I'm not allowed to wear moisturizer or make up. (Now that I can see myself in the mirror, it's frightening even to me!!) And if you get close enough to have a conversation, I resemble the Bride of Frankenstein because you can see all those little red spots circling around the whites of my eyes where the laser worked it's magic.
That's The Ugly!!!!

So you've been warned. Love me... but from a distance... until further notice.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pedalling As Fast As I Can

Do you ever feel like you're part of a circus act, walking the tightrope or juggling balls or being shot out of a cannon? That's pretty much how I feel on any given day, and I must admit most days I don't even notice. But there are times when I feel like I'm teetering on the edge, balls are falling around me in slow motion, and I've forgotten to get my helmet before climbing into the cannon.
All year long I think of fabulous classes I want to teach at different venues. But when it comes time to pull them together and create the samples, they don't always turn out the way I've pictured them in my mind for all those months. I've had just that problem for weeks and weeks and it makes me doubt myself a little too much and question my talent a little too often.
On New Year's Day two friends came over and they were just what I needed. They loved samples I'd made to submit for a summer convention and offered advice on things I could tweak here and there.
My IntraLASIK surgery is scheduled for Thursday. To say that I'm a Nervous Nellie would be the understatement of the century!!! Today I'm reading, initialing and signing my release form and now I'm on the verge of a real panic attack. Floaters, infections, starbursts, blurry vision...oh my word, what am I thinking? On the other hand, you can't imagine what its like to wake in the night, or even in the morning, and not be able to see where you are, or even see your glasses on the nightstand. To be honest, I don't even see the nightstand!! For the past year I've suffered with horrible allergies that have led to numerous eye infections. I've been forced to wear my glasses more often than my contact lenses, and let me tell you, searching for glasses when you can't see your own face in the mirror when your nose is just 3" away is no picnic. So while I'm concerned about the risks I'm excited beyond imagination to think that I may be able to see the clock when I wake up, and best of all, see my own reflection in a mirror at three inches or twelve.

My schedule is full. My to-do list is ever growing. My insecurities and doubt hover near the surface. The dozens of endangered polar bear commercials I've seen over the last week will continue to air. And yet, I imagine wonderful things are headed my way. I have faith that my friendships will last forever, that my vision will be corrected, the economy is turning, the polar bears will continue to thrive, and we're all going to be blessed in this new year of 2009.
Take a look at this bicycle, loaded with far more than you'd think it could carry, but it's done, day in and day out.
So yes, my plate is full and I continue to take on more. My bike is most certainly overloaded. But it just means standing up on the pedals and knowing that once I get going, I'm on my way, and nothing's gonna stop me.