Friday, July 29, 2011

Italy-Day 2

It takes so much time to blog!  Especially when I have so many photos to upload.  Be patient with me as I upload Italy photos.  Here is Day 2 of our trip!

The first day we toured Siena and all it's pre-Palio race hoopla!  It was relatively light in traffic.  The second day(July 2, 2011) was filled with lots of fun things happening.  We got up late and I went down to the pool hoping to get in a short sunbath and swim.  That didn't happen exactly as everyone was around a table having some discussion and the President of the company was coming down with his family.  So, I enjoyed some time meeting them.  Matt came down and someone from the hotel asked if one of us wanted to have a complimentary massage.  I was chosen after a little hemming and hawing.  It was wonderful but a bit weird.  First of all, it was a quiet, dark but cozy room that was off the main reception area.  It was very private and had a table, sauna room, and claw foot tub in it.  The masseuse was very nice, but I couldn't understand much of what he said.  He handed me a little package (I do mean little) and asked if I would change into it and lay on the table.  He left so I could do that.  I opened it to find a TINY transparent paper thong and nothing else.  OMG>  I was ready to back out of this but I sucked it up (and sucked in my stomach) and did as he asked.  I grabbed a towel and put it over my backside too. Tee heee... he seemed to be fine with this and took it as a hint that I was a self conscience American.  He asked me where I was from and where I have the most stress.  I told him in my shoulders and he went to work.  It was fabulous!  He was very professional and i was very relaxed.  After I was done, I got dressed and found the everyone was in the small banquet room eating lunch.  Oops.. Well, I came in and felt very much like jelly.  It was a delicious meal of homemade mozzarella cheese bundles, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, meats and salad. yum!! Marty, the President of Constellations Brands spoke about each of the people chosen for the award and  presented them with a pin to represent their hard work and dedication. Very nice! Here's a shot of them all.  My husband is third from the left in the blue.

Snapped a shot of this little girl drawing on the easel out in the yard.  I can see why artist's are so inspired here to draw and paint.  It's gorgeous!  She was no exception... probably only 7 or 8 years old.
 Once we were finished eating, we checked out the hotel and got in a van to venture to a small town called Greve.  We toured the main square a bit and learned about the region of Chianti Classico.  It was nice to hear the history surrounding this wine region.  They are also known for their olive oil and meats.   We then made it to Siena and it was PACKED!  People were everywhere!  Here is a shot of the streets as a small parade of contradas went through.

 We made it to the Piazza del Campo and you can see the dirt track around the perimeter.  It is cobblestoned and they bring in dirt and pack it down and add the fence around the center for spectators.  Here there are not that many people yet. It was sprinkling lightly and we were hoping that they would not cancel the race!
 It stopped and once the parade started on the track, people started taking their seats and places in the center.  The center fills to about 40,000 and the stands and balconies hold another 10,000!  WOW!  The seats in the stands are about 500 Euros each! We were in a much coveted balcony which was something we would never be able to do if we went on our own!

Filling up!

The seats in the stands.

A scuffle where people who were on the edges didn't want to let others in because they might lose their spots!  It was tense for a bit watching this!

Twig brooms to clean the track.  This group of workers did all the dirty work ... even scooping horse poop!  Ewww..

Matt and I in the balcony.

Medival style light fixture... so cool!

Flags of important Siena families

Banners and members of trade organizations

look how full it is now!

Orca flag throwers!

Mississippi- Orca Contrada's horse.  He had a design shaved into his hindquarter hair that was so cool!

The non-competing contradas.
 There were only 10 contradas that were running the race.  Overall there are 17 contradas.  Here is a site that his lots of information about each one.  The horses are chosen based on speed and strength.  They very much value their horses but these are the best that each contrada has.  I heard rumors that they drug the horses so they are more aggresive and faster but not sure how true that is.  I hope not.  One did die the night before the race of a heart attack which makes me sad and the other contradas were very sad that this happened.  They contrada did march in the parade as well though.  During the race, the jockeys are not important to the final outcome.  If one falls off a horse, the horse can still win the race.  It is all about the horses and the bragging rights for the contrada.  Power is a great motivator.
The bell tower... gorgeous!

A cart pulled by 4 white oxen. They were HUGE!  I think the mayor of Siena was riding in the cart.

Full!  If you have to go to the bathroom during the race, you are out of luck... once you are in the center, you cannot get out until the end!

Our view down from our balcony.

There were about 15 of us in one balcony! it was a handbag store's backroom!
 Okay, unfortunately, I got so excited when the race started that I forgot to press my button to record it!  BLAH! So, here's a view of it on YouTube. The winning horse was Orca!  We had a little bet going in our group and Matt and I had pulled the name Bruca (which was the horse in the lead initially, but the rider got knocked off). The race lasted about 4 laps. It was very exciting!There was absolutely NOTHING like being there in premier viewing (not among the packed crowd!) of a tradition that spans centuries!  Unbelievable!  I feel so lucky that I got to go and see this with my hubby!

The aftermath of the race!  The winning contrada was pouring out and hugging and yelling.  We thought it was a brawl but just their emotional winning!

Those stands came down so fast!  Everything was literally back to normal within an hour!

 This is where we ate dinner outside of Siena.  Gorgeous place and food was AMAZING!!!!  Wine with every course again!

Finally we got to our hotel in Florence by midnight and it was very fancy.  Lots of fabric and glass.  The windows overlooked Cartier in the upscale shopping area!  WOW!  Nice!
Okay, next post will be Days 3-4!


Friday, July 22, 2011


I just got back from Summer CHA in Chicago!  I've been a traveling fool!  For the last month, I've been to Italy and now Chicago!  I still need to post my time in Italy because I have tons of photos and fun stories, but today I'm going to share my favorites of CHA!

This was my first time at the Craft and Hobby Association's show! I was super excited to go and represent Faber-Castell's new Design Memory Craft line!  Being on the DT there, I knew that I'd have a blast teaching others how to use the fabulous products!  I really do LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Plus, I couldn't wait to meet all of the other girls!  So off I went on Monday to Chicago...
Niagra Falls from the air! On my way to Chicago...

Cool slumped glass and art in Chicago's O'Hare Airport

More glass

Welcome to CHA!
Faber-Castell's DMC booth #1607

I was asked to work in the DMC booth and the people at Faber-Castell are so generous to bring all the DT girls here.  I designed the make n' take project that we would do.  Here's a photo of the mini banner we did with visitors to our booth and more booth shots:
ART banner with lots of techniques

My yellow banner!
 A few of my projects for the booth.  I made this bag using all the products and some gel medium and modeling paste.

 A traditional opening with bag pipes and drums! They walked up and down the aisles and played on the first morning.
 Melissa Elsner visiting me!  I was so excited to meet her in person.  We had only talked online and it was so cool to see her! She is super fun and I wish I had more time to hang with this girl!
 I roomed with Mou Saha. What a talented and nice person to share my first CHA experience with.  She was so patient with me and we enjoyed lots of conversation and laughs.  I helped with her workshop for DMC in which participants got to play with the new products and make a mini album.

 Next up, I had projects in Nikki Sivils booth!  I got to meet her and the other girls for the first time in person.  They are as sweet and wonderful in person as I thought. Her new booth is gorgeous!  Here are a few shots of the booth and some of my projects.

 Here we are with Susan Mintmire!  Susan was the one who brought  me on board with DMC and I'm so grateful to her.  I loved meeting her and can't wait to see her again in other endeavors!
 Silly photo ops everywhere!  This show seemed big to me, but I hear that the winter CHA is 4 times larger!  WHOA!  Maybe I'll get there someday!

Chicago lit up at night!
I have to say that I got to walk around very little.  I was so busy and missed tons!  But I did find a few of my favorite things in the new releases!  Here is a top 10 of sorts in no particular order:

1.  Crafter's Workshop templates... Julie Fei-Fan Balzar has designed some of the new line and they are so fun!  I love the punchinella and woodgrain the best but can't wait to get my hands on many others!
2. Prima's Printery Line... OMG> Completely up my alley... black, cream and white colors.  Lots of fun letters, artsy stuff!  I love their nests too.  I guess I still have an obsession with Prima and their booth was lovely.

 3. Maya Road Kraft tags and shapes, trims, and more!  WOW... this booth was fun of fun things.  I walked around for a bit and loved the gorgeous trim so much.

 4. Tim Holtz!  Love his new birdcages, pocketwatch, and papers!  He was demoing his distress inks in a bottle and I was hooked instantly!  Lots of possibilities!  He was also staying at our hotel on the SAME floor!  We rode the elevator up with him!

 5. Hambly screens!  I love this lattice one and the cameras!  They have rub ons that are the BEST in the industry! I had a great conversation with the owner and designer, Allison!  She did some hot glasswork that I admire and I'm doing some fusing with kids this year so we had a fun time discussing that! She is super cool!
 6. Studio Calico!  OMG OMG OMG... this was my FAV!  I loved ALL of their lines!  The basics, the Autumn line and all the embellishments that went with them.  They have stamps that they paired up with Hero Stamps and are fabulous!
Die cut papers

I have to have the entire line!!!  Amazing colors and details! 
 7. Felts.  This was a total surprise!  This booth was next to the DMC booth and I loved the colors and soft fuzzy feel. I love felting but it takes forever.  They have products that are already done and ready to use.  I bought some of the felt balls, sheets, and needle to make the leaf scarf with.  I'm in love... so cozy!

 8. Amy Tangerine for American Crafts.  Those of you that know me, know that I have a fetish with Thickers.  I love them, hoard them, and collect them.  These are awesome from her line... adorable fonts, great colors... fun!!!  I also love the papers and embellies too!

 9. Webster's Pages bling and new lines!  It's funny because I would love these lines even if I didn't know the designer personally!  I went to school with Brandin all the way from Nursery school (preschool) through high school.  We were best buds growing up.  We found our cliques in jr. High but still were friends.  I love this girl!  She is genuinely the NICEST person.  I am so happy that she is so wildly successful in life because she deserves it.  Brandin was always involved in so much but found the time to be friendly to every one.  She is talented, beautiful and the sweetest person I know!  I was so glad we got to see each other and I hope we can keep in touch!  This was the highlight of my trip!

Brandin and I! We've known each other since nursery school!  It's great to be able to catch up!

 10. Now, I have to say that Nikki Sivils and Faber Castell are two of the best companies to work for!  I am truly blessed to be working on the DT of both.  Here I am with Nikki's DT coordinator and right hand woman!  It was great to meet you girls!  So happy to be able to hug you all and see the booth in person!  Dan and Nikki are the real deal and so sweet to boot!

I am serious when I say that the DMC products are my absolute favorites!  I can do so much with them and LOVE promoting them and teaching others to get excited over what they can do!  In my book, they are truly innovative and high quality art supplies.  I will never get tired of using them!

Well, if you've hung in this long, I hope you will let me end this with a heartfelt thanks!  I had the best time hanging out with the FB DMC girls and my roommate, Mou.   We braved crazy cab drivers, 100 degree heat, and long days on our feet together but it was the most amazing 1st CHA that I will ever have.  I am so happy to have been able to attend and work with these girls!  I know I missed so much that I will just HAVE to have but these are my favs from what I saw. Hope you enjoyed them!  If you leave a comment, I'll pick a winner for a few of the DMC Gelatos !   I'll pick a winner next Friday and I'll be back to blog about the rest of my Italy trip and share some of my CHA projects soon!