Thursday, September 29, 2011

Road Trips

Where oh where have my blog posts gone??

I've been on the road, my friends, first a business trip and then a pleasure trip, so I thought I'd share a few of my experiences along the way.

For one of my earliest blog posts in June, I did a little commentary on how traveling for work can be such a nice hotel room, no cooking or laundry.

Now I thought I'd tell you about the underbelly of my business trip last week....a not-so-glamorous look at my venture up north.

I mean, bad can a one-day trip to a small northern Canadian city be? 

I've always imagined business travel to be an upscale, exciting adventure....buying books at the airport shop, chatting amiably with other first class passengers, attending stimulating meetings and conferences.

However, I've quickly learned that it depends largely on the destination...including whether your plane has more than 20 seats, food service and visible propellers that get tied up after you land.

Once a month, for my Education consulting job, I fly to a northern city in Alberta.  Further north than my city?  Shocking but true!

It shall remain unnamed, but let's just say that a number of environmentalists worldwide hate the carbon footprint of this place.

My trip started with a rental vehicle turned out to be a big black Jeep Commando, all leather black interior.  Pretty sweet...but no one is here to see me in it!!

I take a photo just so I can show BoyGenius my wheels and make him suffer a little :)

Eat your heart out...BoyGenius!  Mama's got herself some SICK wheels!!!

 I'm just up for the day and arrive at noon aka LUNCHTIME.  I have a plan....I want to eat healthy and find free WiFi (so I can blog!), so I head to Safeway where I know there's a Starbucks (the only one in town!). For my East coast American friends, Safeway is a nice grocery store, where I usually buy all my groceries when I'm at home.

When I get to Safeway, I figure I'd better visit "The Ladies' Room" first, and then buy my lunch.

Uh OH!  Both Men's and Women's restroom doors are locked.  I wait a couple minutes....5 minutes...10 minutes.  Then I ask a clerk who is standing ACROSS from me, "Are the doors always locked?"  She replies, "Yep, we lost the Women's key.  It's lost. Can't open it."  Duh.

"How about the Men's?" I inquire politely.  She informs me, "There's a key for that one."  Looks like she doesn't intend to tell me WHERE this key might be.  Then a random customer 10 feet away calls out, "Here's the key, over here!"  and I walk over to the Customer Service desk...where NO ONE is working or providing service.

I stare at the key, without picking it up.  This thing is frightening!  I don't even want to touch it!!

The Safeway Restroom Key chain From HELL.

The key is tied to this horrific wire contortion with a pretty blue ribbon...probably from the floral department.  Nice touch.

My bladder is on the verge of bursting so I grab the key and hurry to the MEN'S room.  ugh.

But hey, this is SAFEWAY....the washrooms will be spotless.  Uh...nope.

The toilet paper dispenser was my first clue....

I guess the MEN don't use toilet paper.
 The sink was pretty gross...

I want to wash my hands AFTER I use this sink!
 I'm sure everyone carefully reads the posted "How to Wash Your Hands" sign....which was filthy and covered with suspicious brown fingerprints....

Does anyone notice this information on personal hygiene?
After I've finished washing my hands (several times) and rush to escape this Restroom horror show, I spot these words scrawled on the back of the door....
Should I check for hidden cameras?
I scurry out of there with the hairs standing up on my neck and go buy my salad and tea.  I pick a scenic spot at the Starbucks tables, in front of a big window. 

Here's my view....
A shopping cart filled with 7 massive garbage bags.
I'm losing my appetite.  I pick at my salad, and a fly decides to join me.  Wonderful.

He doesn't stick around for long...I'm sure he got word of the filth in the Men's Room.  sigh.

At least now I can get online and visit some of my favourite scrapbooking websites, maybe even do a blog post.  lol! I have a couple of hours to kill before my meetings.

There is a sudden commotion behind me (my back is to the store).  I turn around...and the lights are OUT.  Power Outtage!!

This means no WiFi.  No Internet. No blog.

It couldn't last long, could it? Yes, it could...and it did.  I waited half an hour....still no power and no WiFi.

I make like the fly and buzz outta there, and soon discover the entire city has no power.  All the traffic lights are out...and I'm stuck in the downtown core.  The vehicles crawl through the intersections, one by one, taking turns. 

I might be driving a Jeep Commando but I certainly don't feel like I'm in command.

And as I sit in traffic, I cannot get the image of that Men's Room keychain out of my head.  I'm sure I'll have nightmares about it. 

The best part of the day was driving back to the airport....along the scenic route on that northern highway...
I imagine this trucker doesn't think the Safeway Men's Room is dirty.
But I don't care anymore....because I'm heading Home Sweet Home :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September Sketchy Challenge

Have all of you joined in the fun over at the Canadian Scrapbooker website?  The first EVER Sketchy Challenge is now on...and you have until September 30 to submit your layout!

Here is the sketch, designed by Jill Sarginson....

Awesome sketch!!! Thanks Jill!
And here is my layout based on the sketch....

3 teens + 1 tween = disastrous photo shoot
And these were only three of the many MANY photos I took that Fall afternoon last October.  Sigh.

If you're wondering, the "fourth" child in the black hoodie is my nephew who lives with us part time.

Also, if you're wondering what BoyGenius is yelling and gesturing about.....a car is driving by, so he is yelling, "Hey, whatta ya looking at?!?!?"  Yep.  Classic teen behavior.  Lucky me.

I decided to use their "vernacular" for the title....not that they'd know what the word "vernacular" means...but if you make a mistake or do something poorly, the teens say "FAIL". 

Thus, my appropriate teen title is "Fall Fail".  Instead of thinking of myself failing as a photographer, I'd rather think of my teens failing as subjects :)

And so, my layout design was born!

These adorable papers, chipboard, stickers and die cuts are all from the new Bella Blvd. "Finally Fall" collection.  The black sticker alpha used in the "Fall" part of the title is Harmonie.   I have to tell you, designing a cute layout with a fun collection like this without using ANY techniques was a refreshing change of pace for me. 

The leaves are turning and the temperatures are cooler now, and you know what that means?  I have to start planning my annual Fall photo shoot....maybe this time without the teens :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

My "Cover" Story

I'm really excited to announce that I designed the cover layout of the Fall issue of Canadian Scrapbooker magazine!

Last spring, the magazine invited me to participate in the cover "challenge"...and I was sent a photo of a teenage hockey player. The wonderful photo was taken by Heidi Brand.

When I saw the photo, I thought, YES!! I can definitely scrap teenagers and I can definitely scrap hockey...because BoyGenius played for years, until he was 14. I figured out the title pretty quickly and wanted it to convey that lovely "teen" attitude, which is filling my home most days ;)

Mind you, this title would suit a layout for a two-year-old as well...ha ha!  MY game...MY way!! I'm beginning to see the correlation between two-year-old's and teens :)

But I digress....

The layout had to be 8 1/2 by 11", which I must admit was a difficult size to design. We had to use some Canadian product, so I chose that black sticker alpha by Harmonie and the chipboard tickets and stars set by Magenta.
I inked the raw chipboard stars with Tim Holtz Mustard Seed Distress Ink.

I printed the journalling strips on my computer and used the font CK You are Loved, kind of a grungy masculine font, that I downloaded for free a long time ago from Scrap N Fonts.  If you sign up for Scrap N Fonts newsletter, they offer some great freebies once in awhile.

The rub-on words on the tickets are K & Co.
I inked the raw chipboard ticket edges lightly with blue chalk ink.

All the papers are Basic Grey, except for that bottom border of  strips/stars which is Graphic 45.  I punched the dark brown paper with a Fiskars "Upper Crest" border punch.

I was so thrilled when I heard my layout would be on the cover!  Many thanks to Canadian Scrapbooker for giving me this opportunity :)

And there's more exciting news over at the Canadian Scrapbooker website...on September 1 they launched a new monthly sketch contest called Sketchy Challenge.  Jill Sarginson created this sketch...and you have until September 30 to upload your sketch to the website.

Join in the fun.... and if you're Canadian, try to include some Canadian product in your layout.  Not only will they choose winners for each sketch, but they also will publish some layouts in upcoming issues!

Ok, it's getting late....and this "cover girl" needs her beauty sleep [smile].