Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tomorrow is October? Seriously?

I know.....I know.....I didn't blog about the second half of the week.....I'll post the pics - I promise!

But - in the mean time, if you click HERE, or on the photo above, you can download this cool photo to be used as a texture or overlay on your papers, photos, etc. When I saw these gorgeous trees on the hillside, coming down out of Provo Canyon last week, I immediately thought of my Spraground friend, Veevs, and her love of textures. So far, I've made several papers that will surely show up later in a Christmas themed kit.

So - enjoy the texture - take a deep breath & relax.....or at least that's what I keep telling myself after I realize that tomorrow is OCTOBER - holy cow - when did THAT happen?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wed, part 2

So, after lunch - where we all ate too much - we took a fun group photo - Gary has it & he'll be posting it on his blog (link to that on the right side of this blog). Then the group sort of divided between those that wanted more retail therapy and those that wanted to go back to the hotel & enjoy the precious few moments of peace and quiet that we can only get when we have a hotel room to ourselves! I'm sure that the shoppers had an amazing time and I can only imagine that invading a mall with the likes of Jess, Liv, Kari, etc., would have been a hoot and a half! They did come back with quite a few goodies and showed them off to us all - cute!

Since we didn't eat lunch until almost 2pm, we bumped dinner up at Los Hermanos to 8pm. We met in the Timpanogos room at 7:45 and proceeded en masse down the sidewalk to this adorable little Tex-Mex restaurant right on Center Street...the restaurant never knew what hit them.

Imagine roughly 20 or so Sprague Festers - all excited to see each other and enjoying just sharing each others' company....loudly....all at once....and these two sweet little boys who drew the short straws and had to wait on our table - yes, they put us all at one huge long table in a back room - guess they knew we'd be trouble! You have to feel sorry for the two guys - first, there was Kari with her "half Diet Coke, half Cherry Coke with lots of limes" to drink and then everyone's was amazing that we got fed at all - much less that it was what we ordered (or at least close) and pretty OK food. Some of it wasn't hot but I have enough chef friends to know that serving 20 different dishes at the same time & having them all be hot is next to impossible. But can I tell you - I have found the next best thing to nirvana: Bavarian Cream stuffed churros. Oh my...imagine a churros - you know, those fried dough sticks covered in cinnamon & sugar? Now imagine it hot, just out of the fryer, and stuffed with delicious vanilla cream....just wow.

The two waiters were so sweet - of course, we were all talking - loudly - all at the same time - laughing...and these two guys had to try and take our drink orders, our food orders, then bring condiments, then dessert & then divvy up 20 some-odd bills (yes, they actually let us do separate checks!!) and each time they had to interrupt somebody (OK, everybody) who was talking...they looked completely overwhelmed...hope they recover soon.

After dinner, we waddled back to the hotel where Jess said that she had a little "somethin' somethin' " for us all....what?! Doesn't she know that her gift to us is that she gave up precious time with her family (after they had all been sick for a week) to come be with us for a few days before DSE? And sweet Liv - this amazing woman who is so nice and so funny and one of the absolutely most genuine persons I have ever met - who came even earlier from halfway around the world to be with Jess - good thing since Liv ended up playing nurse to the Sprague family as they were all sick...and then had a major hand in the goodies that were handed out...but I digress...

So - Jess gets up and starts giving this amazing speech about how grateful she is for our coming to Sprague Fest & how much it means to her to have all of us be on & the forums, etc. and made us all cry. It still blows my mind to see how humble Jess is - when she has every reason to be the Diva....she almost seems surprised at the success of Some days I just want to tell her: "Jessica - this is what happen when you give freely of yourself and your God-given talents....God returns it to you ten-fold!" She also gave some hints of some digi goodness to come in the future - stay tuned!! Then, she handed out these cute gift bags with fun little chipboard albums, chipboard embellies, these yummy chocolate lollipops - that she and Liv made themselves - where did they find the time? But - the coolest part is this amazing frame with this very cool quote: "Friendship is a sheltering tree" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge......yes, Jessica & Liv, you are so right - and thank you for being a living, breathing example of that to us and for the gift of your friendship.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sprague Fest - Wed - part 1

It's Wonderful Wednesday! Gary, Gail and I slept in until 8am (10am ET) and then grabbed a quick breakfast in the Concierge Lounge - thanks, Bennett!!

So - the group kind of went in different directions for the morning & the 3 of us decided to do the Provo Canyon Loop - about an hour+ of amazing views, loopy roads & just lots & lots of beauty.

First stop - Bridal Veil Falls - pretty little waterfall - but it was freezing cold to we thin-blooded Georgians. This nice family agreed to swap photos with us so they took ours first. We were so cold that we dashed back to the car & almost drove off before we remembered - oops - that we needed to take theirs too!

Next was Sundance - yes, that Sundance. Surprisingly small place on a tiny barely 2-lane road - can't imagine how crazy it gets when the film festival is there.

We wandered a bit & took some gorgeous pictures....I couldn't get enough of the pretty flowers and plants they had growing everywhere - such color!

As we continued around the canyon loop, the aspens were just amazing. Even thought the leaves were still green, the bright grey/white of the trunks gave such a depth of light to the forest - it was unlike anything we had ever seen, being more used to darker forests with the deep brown of the oaks & pines.

The group met back up at a book store (surprise, right?) and we decided on The Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch - seems quite a few of us share a love of mizithra cheese!

But for me, the best part was talking & laughing - IN PERSON, with all these amazing people.

While we were there, Kari started ragging on Laurie for not posting the last few times to make Digital Superstar status on Laurie, always up for a challenge, whipped out her cell phone & crossed that task off her list! We all got to cheer - IN PERSON! Got this pic to celebrate the moment:

Oh - I forgot to include a fun picture of Laurie from yesterday - isn't she the cutest thing in the world? Just love the tiny baby bump - have you ever seen a tinier or cuter preggo?

Tuesday - Sprague Fest is finally here!!

Tuesday - Sprague fest begins - woo hoo! The event that we've been waiting for for literally months is finally here - we get to hang out - IN PERSON - with all these amazing people that we've grown to love through just the typed word and their gorgeous photos & cool is this?

The plan is to meet in a conf room that Jess reserved for us at 10am. So Kari & her adorable 2 1/2 boy, Cougar, Laurie, Deb, Amy, Tori, Jeanne, and I all meet up in the Timpanogos room...and wait...and text Liv & Jess....and wait...and call Liv & Jess...finally, Liv comes down (can I just tell you how awesomely amazing it was to finally meet this fabulous woman in person??) and tells us that Jess is sick....such a bummer! So sorry that she feels under the weather & can't come play with us today....but she needs to rest & save her voice for speaking & teaching. We sent up some emergency Diet Mt. Dew & lots of hugs.

The group wandered down to Gandolfo's NY deli and had some a-ma-z-i-n-g sandwiches - yum! Then, we finally got it together enough to make it to Temple Square in SLC by 2pm. We managed to find parking and find each other (it's a pretty big place!) and took some time to stand outside the square & just absorb the beauty of the architecture & the love that so obviously went into building it all. We wandered around the North Visitors Center and the gardens of the Temple Square....taking lots of pictures - gee, ya think? Tori and Laurie graciously and patiently answered my barrage of questions about LDS history & practices. We got to see the inside of the Tabernacle (where that little singing group hangs out sometimes...) and then we went up to the top of what used to be the Utah Hotel but is now a beautiful place for receptions and lunches and has a eye-level view of the top of the Temple - just wow. Liv gave us all these beautiful silver necklaces - so thoughtful and so very Liv - who else would think of bringing gifts like this when you have to travel around the world??

Since I had to pick Gary, Gail & Joan up at SCL airport in a couple of hours, I parted with the group - who all went to go shopping - and wandered by myself up to the Great Salt Lake. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed. I think I was picturing this vast body of water surrounded by gleaming salt flats....yes, it's a big lake - but I grew up on the biggest lake east of the Mississippi so I'm not that impressed with large bodies of water. Yes, it's salty - even more so than the ocean. But, it stinks.....and there are no salt flats - just yucky, stinky mud that is just teaming with flies & other bugs. I was surprised to see seagulls - Utah is a landlocked state - seagulls, seriously? But, at least I can say I've been to the Great Salt Lake.

Off to SLC to gather the other 'peeps - it was like the perfect storm - but in a good way. Just as I'm pulling into the parking deck, Joan calls my cell phone saying she's here & has her luggage. Gary & Gail come down to baggage claim within 10 minutes and we are on our way back to the hotel with literally 1 second to spare to get our free 20-min parking at the airport - suhweet!

We head back to the Timpanogos room to meet the crew & Jess has joined the land of the living! She is feeling well enough to make it to dinner with us. Off to the Training Table we go - Kari worked here for 4 years & really knows the drill. She had us in stitches with her ordering techniques & the do' and dont's. Lots of burgers & cheese fries later, we head back for a good night's sleep.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

The fun starts tomorrow!

OK - after an amazing day in Provo where I did literally ANYTHING I wanted - nobody said "Mommy," nobody came to talk to me when I was in the bathroom, nobody tried to kill anybody else the minute the phone rang, no work (maybe the best part!), I ate what I wanted, when I wanted - and didn't have to cook or clean or do laundry or manage homeschool...I even took a nap!! It was awesome.

The bad thing is that that is just Monday....and I'm already missing Bennett and my kids - how can that be? The very sound of their little voices was setting my teeth on edge just yesterday before I left....being a mommy is a funny thing. Plus, it's weird to travel without Bennett - he and I have some amazing adventures together....but I digress.

So - tomorrow, we meet in the lobby at 10am - then we're headed into Salt Lake City to tour around. Since many of our group either grew up here or went to school here, it should be awesome.

Then, tomorrow evening, Gail & Gary arrive - my partners in digi-crime! Can't wait to start running around Utah with some really good friends. Down time is nice - and much needed - but travel is only fun if you have someone to share the experience.

So - it's hummus, broccoli & strawberries for dinner in the room (healthier than a cheeseburger, right?), a good night's sleep and then FUN!

Wow - a day totally to myself!

OK - so here I am in Provo! The flight out was nice - met a lot of people from SLC who all had suggestions about what to see & do - I had no idea that Utah had so much to offer.

So our flight lands about 20 minutes early - which is nice because that meant that I could get my bag, pick up the rental car & get to the hotel before it was to late (I'm still on Eastern time - 2 hours later). We all get to the baggage claim - out of the 4 huge carousels, there is only one that is active. There is a huge crowd - probably 6-8 people deep around the carousel - I can't actually see the carousel, just the blinking sign above that is flashing flight numbers for the - wait for it - TEN flights worth of luggage that are all on this single one! Needless to say, that blew my gained 20 minutes & then some.

Then I realized how spoiled I am to live in a city with a huge international airport- with well-lit and well-marked signage to find things like where the freakin' rental cars actually are! So after wandering around & asking several uniformed people, I found it - across two streets in this dark and un-marked building. Maybe the nice SLC'ers don't really want to many tourists clogging up their pristine National Parks, etc.?!

Got the car, piled in all the luggage & headed South to Provo. They are doing work on the highways so traffic - even at 1opm (MT) was really clogged.....sigh.....

Found the hotel - it's not in the greatest of neighborhoods - but at least I have a rental car. Heather at the desk - maybe the first Goth Mormon I've ever met - was extremely nice getting me checked in.

So - here I am - it's 6:30am (MT) and I'm off to the Concierge Lounge for coffee and b'fast. Then I may do some yoga or swim or workout or stay in bed all day reading - who knows? I can't remember that last day where I truly had nothing I had to do or anyone to be with or take care's sort freeing and paralyzing all at the same time. Just shows how much I need this week!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Look out Provo - here I come!

I can't believe it's finally here!! The scrapbooking event that we've been hoping for & dreaming about for ages - especially after CKU Houston Annette let it be known that some kind of all or mostly digi scrapping event was in the works - I'm going to Provo TODAY!! Well, tonight, actually....but still!

The first few days will be SpragueFest - where some wonderful people who know each other from hanging out at will be hanging out - shopping, talking, eating, laughing...and taking LOTS of pictures!

I hope to post at least once a day - pictures & blurbs so that I can put it all in a digi scrapbook - so, happy reading & next time - come along for the fun!