Monday, August 20, 2012

Hamilton Regional

Woah! What a weekend. Saturday was the first Stampin' Up! Regional Convention of the fall season held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My good friend and fellow stamper Lizz O. and I left on Friday and stayed at the Sheraton Hamilton. Pretty room, nice amenities. We got to our room and swapped 'roomie gifts'. I had made Lizz a purse with pockets inside and out (as well as one in a different style for myself) from some SU! fabric I had never even opened.  Lizz's purse is on the right. She gave me a great decorated can chock full of stamping goodies. She must have been reading my mind because three or four of the items in the box were on my list of things I need to buy.
     After we settled in we decided to head out for dinner. The hotel had a restaurant called Chagall's and that is where we landed. Nice ambience, excellent food and very fair prices. We both had a salad of field greens and fruit including sliced orange sections, blueberries and even raspberries. Mine was topped with a pan seared salmon and Lizz chose chicken. Delicious! Lizz ordered a Banana Cream Martini (which she said was dessert) and I had a very nice Italian Pinot Grigio. We decided to explore the Hotel a bit after dinner and checked out the pool where we saw fellow stampers finishing their swaps, a weight/exercise room and a beautiful deck with spots for tanning and tables and chairs just for gathering.
     When we returned to our room we decided to do some Jammie Stamping. Yeah! Lizz brought supplies to make a cute bookmark with ribbon and buttons and I brought all the stuff to make a version of the ornament on the Stampin' Success magazine. It took a bit of time but was well worth it. I think I'll be making a few smaller ones as gift tags this year. I'd show you a picture, but I never took one! Bad me. Bed time!
     Saturday morning we rose early and got ready for the day. A quick run to Tim Horton's for oatmeal and coffee and we were on our way. We walked across the street (how awesome that our hotel was so close) and signed in. A bag with make-and-take supplies and a Stampin' Up! lanyard awaited us. On to the show!

     When we entered the convention room, we had to find a place to sit. 300 or so fellow demonstrators had quickly filled the room. It took us a few minutes but we found an empty table and claimed it. Soon we were joined by 3 more women and our table was set. Now to the fun of swapping. I'd spent weeks preparing cards for this event. The fun part is that you just go around, introduce yourself and ask people if they're interested in swapping. A few people had run out of cards but there were plenty who had many left so the swapping began. These are my cards I had chosen to swap:

I made over 100 cards to swap and when it was all done I had about a dozen left. That was some mad swapping going on.
     The next thing to happen was the start of Regional events! The program started with a welcome from Shelli Gardner, owner and CEO of Stampin' Up! She gave a wonderful opening speech, inspiring and energizing. Shelli continued by demonstrating a project (Holiday tag) and showing some tips and techniques and finished by showing how to WOW! by 'stepping it up' with additional embellishments.

     After Shelli finished there were a number of additional presenters. Some were Stampin' Up! employees and some were local demonstrators asked to share their thoughts and ideas. Presentations included ideas on how to make preparations for workshops easier to how to change a single design for different looks to ways to use the Simply Scrappin' sets as an inspiration for newer stampers to get them started. An especially interesting demonstration was the one about the new MDS2+. MDS is My Digital Studio and its an extremely easy to use digital scrapping and stamping program available from Stampin' Up! I have the original version of MDS and plan to invest in the new and improved MDS2+ version that even allows you to color different parts of a single digital stamp different colors. Isn't that cool? Stampin' Up! has decided to move partially toward the digital scrapbooker in trying to stay fresh and connected to the 'younger' generation. Another really fun presentation was on how to increase workshop bookings and find new clients. They even gave us ten minutes to spend on making those calls and asking people to host workshops. Guess what? In ten minutes over 300 workshops were booked! That's pretty amazing.
     I think one of the highlights for me was the time we were given for Make-n-takes. It gave us a chance to really connect a bit with our table mates. We had some fun creating and got to talk and get to know one another. I think Lizz and I will be heading back to Canada in September to attend an event! 
     Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about another great thing. All throughout the day, starting with at then end of Shelly's presentation there was a Prize Patrol! Guess who the very first prize winner of the day was? No. not me. It was Lizz! I was so glad she won. She told me it was the first time she's ever won a prize patrol prize even though she's been to many events. Isn't that great!?!?! Two of the prizes were for the entire group including a scrapping pack called Merry Moments and a stamp set called Seasonal Sayings. All in all, it was a really well done event. 
     All too soon it was time to leave. As we were leaving we were lucky enough to get to talk with Shelli Gardner. What a kind and genuine woman she is. She signed our stamp sets and even signed Lizz's purse and her sun visor. We all had pictures taken with her, too!

 Oh my! Shelli looks great, but I need a haircut! Whoops. LOL

Once Lizz and I left the convention center she reminded me that our tablemates had told her about an IKEA store about 10 minutes away. Well of course we went. HUGE! You could spend a whole day in that place. We did find a few little things to bring home including some great boxes perfect for card storage. Whodathunk, right?
     After IKEA we decided to find dinner. After some driving around we pulled in a parking lot to see what the in-car GPS had as suggestions and lo and behold, it was a French Bistro parking lot. We stayed and had a great meal. We both had a zucchini and gruyere soup then Lizz got a salad and I got a vegetarian stuffed spaghetti squash dish. Did I say HUGE before? Well...I have to say it again. That thing was HUGE! It was roasted, then stuffed (more like topped) with a marinara sauce, olives, roasted summer squash, mushrooms, peppers, onions and finally baked off. Finally, a little crumbled cheese on top. I had some, Lizz tried some and there was still some left over. If we weren't crossing the border I'm sure I would have brought it home.
We finally finished and then started the drive home. Easy Peasy. No delays, quick ride. What a weekend!
     I'll post a few pictures of my favorite swaps once I get a chance to photograph them.
     Next weekend is the Stamp Scrap Art Tour event at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. I'll be there for a swap and shoebox event (have one card to finish and the shoebox to prep) and to take Becky O'Donnell's fancy folds class. Can't Wait! More pictures to follow....please stay tuned.

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