It all started about a month ago when I made Pioneer woman's recipe for Vanilla Bean Scones. When I went to the grocery store to buy the (2) whole vanilla beans that the recipe requires I was blown away by the cost of just two vanilla beans.... it was $11-12.50 and for the most part these beans were bent in two to fit in a small jar and they were a little dried out from being folded up. I began my search for a new vanilla source because after making these amazing scones which taste even better than the Starbucks ones they are named after I knew I would be making this recipe many times over! Well you know how one click leads to another when you are internet surfing, I came upon an amazing vanilla resouce in my own backyard Arizona Vanilla Company! They have a warehouse location that ships their wonderful products anywhere and if you live locally and call ahead you can stop in and buy your products in person!
I was in vanilla heaven they have Mexican Vanilla, Hawaiian Vanilla, Madagascar Vanilla, and Tahitian Vanilla. They carry whole beans starting at $1.25 a piece depending on the type of bean you purchase some or more pricey than others, but none of the beans are priced near the cost of the grocery store pricing. Arizona Vanilla Company also carries Ground Vanilla Ground Vanilla which is made by grinding the whole vanilla pod...wow is the smell and flavor intense, this can be used instead of scraping out the inside of a vanilla bean and it is more intense so it takes less! You must check out their site, They are super nice people who got into the business because they were simply frustrated at the price of good vanilla beans and vanilla and didn't think it should cost an arm and a leg to have amazing vanilla to cook with! they have a cool blog on their site too.
Want to play 52 card pick up? No, not that crazy card game you played as a kid where you ended up picking up all the cards off the floor! Enroll in 52 Card Pick Up with Tena Sprenger and pick up 52 fun and inspirational tips and techniques to add to your paper crafting arsenal. Tena is a 2004 Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame Winner, sought-after scrapbooking instructor, and co-author of Artful Memories and Lifelines for Northlight Books. She can't wait to share her top 52 scrapbooking recipes, tips, and experiments she has picked up over the years! In this returning ten-week, creativity-packed course, each student will create a funky chunky 52-card deck of tip and technique cards to house on a 2-inch hinge ring.
The message board is already hopping and we are having fun, this weekend we are all getting to know each other. Class starts with our first technique on Monday there is still time to sign up and join us for the fun!!!
It has been a couple years since I have had the pleasure of teaching this technique filled 11 week class at Big Picture Scrapbooking, but just like they say in that one creepy scary movie......I'm Baaaaaack!!! For those of you unfamiliar with the concept behind the 52 Card PIck up class, it is a class to get you introduced to some fun techniques to freshen up for paper crafting projects and inspire creativity. Some of the techniques you may have tried before but have never used them the way we do in class! Every day we learn a new technique for 11 weeks and create a demonstration of it on a 5 x 7 card. By the end of class we have a 52 card deck of fun techniques to refer to when we need a spark to get us going! Click on the links above to check out the class description at the Big Picture Scrapbooking Website and listen to my audio too! Registration will remain open til June 2nd I would love to have you join my merry band of crafters!
PS for those of you out there who have take this class in the past, the class has not been changed we are learning the same techniques.
Come join me this Wednesday, September 23rd at Scrapbooks etc for a fun new class I am teaching, "Take a Memo". This is a decorative wire project where you will learn to manipulate, bend and twirl wire into a fun photo and memo display to enjoy in your home! Class is from 10:30am- 1pm. All you need to bring along in addition to your basic scrapbooking supplies are a pair of needle nose wire cutters and 4-6 2"x 2 or 2"x 3" photos. We are using some fun products from 7 Gypsies on this project, the ephemera pack, some of the mini clips and fasteners and a little bit of the new paper tape!
Well back on August 14th Alyssa went to Flagstaff, but none of her stuff went with her! So Last week myself and best friend Laurie Stamas made a little girlfriends roadtrip up to NAU to deliver all her goods to her and help her haul them up the three flights of stairs to her new dorm room! We were lucky, athletes get to move in a day before everybody else so there were no parking problems or crowds to deal with! Within a half hour we had all her belongs moved into her new room. Her roomie was arriving the next day decorating would be happening after we left but I will share a few shots so you can see the bare bones of what a studio apartment dorm room is like... not bad in my opinion! They have a small but nice little kitchen that includes a little four burner stove with an oven a sink, and a 19 cubic foot refrigerator with a small freezer. across from the kitchen is a little eating bar with a couple of chairs. They also have their own bathroom , ( this is huge!) and a large living area that includes 2 desks 2 large bookshelves, 2 wardrobes, 2 dressers and 2 beds. They had more than enough room to add a futon end tables and and big chair and end tables to make a little mini living room. She gave me a mini video tour over an ichat session this week and it is really super cute now that it is all decorated. I will have to post some photos when she sends me some so you can see the finished room project! In addition to helping Alyssa get her room situated Laurie and I enjoyed some time hanging out together, which even though we live fairly close together we rarely get to do. While Alyssa was working out with the dance team we enjoyed a wonderful happy hour at a fabulous wine bar and restaurant called Brix . We had two hours of wine and chatting out of there beautiful patio in the glorious Flagstaff evening weather that was awesome! We are both rather obsessed with iphone/itouch apps and we were laughing that the other patrons must have thought us a bit odd as we were playing with our devices off on on throughout the discussion showing each other things we had recently downloaded and sharing photos. We also had some fun texting some old friends, Miley and Kelly from Nebraska while were sitting there who have been part of a few of our previous road trip adventures.... we miss those girls!! I will close with a few fun pictures of Laurie, Alyssa and I.
Not a perfect picture but it's the only one I have of us on her last day of summer. Last Friday Alyssa had to report back up to Flagstaff to begin athletic training camp with the rest of the NAU dance team. We had a nice time her last few days in town. We went out to lunch together and saw a great movie, Julie and Julia, which I would highly recommend! I also helped her decorate cookies and served as artistic advisor on a very cute scrapbook she created for her boyfriend. So many fun activities made it even harder to say goodbye. I dropped her off at her friend Ariel's house who is also a dance team member, they were making the drive up to Flag from Paradise Valley together. Tomorrow part II of Alyssa's migration to Flagstaff takes place, I will be bringing all her "stuff" up to her. Since the dorms are not yet open when training camp is going on she is staying with a team member who has an apartment. Athletes can move into the dorms slightly early on Wednesday morning so I will be driving up to help move her in. Since I am not a big fan of driving on curvy mountain roads my best friend from college. Laurie Stamas, who just happens to live close by was game for a 1 day road trip to Flagstaff to help me move Alyssa in! I hope Laurie knows what she is getting into moving all this stuff into Alyssa's 3rd floor room! Oh and of course Alyssa thought it would be a good idea if I brought up her beta fish "Biggie Smalls" so whoever isn't driving gets to hold the fish! When my husband saw all the stuff left for me to bring up to school he couln't believe she had brought anything with her yet! tee hee! Alyssa is happy that this year the has an apartment style dorm that has a small kitchen in it and a bathroom of it's own, ( a huge thing after having community bathrooms last year). So of course we have lots more stuff to fill up this slightly larger space! I's sure we will have pictures from the mini-roadtrip to Flagstaff this week so stay tuned.
Anyone one who knows Alyssa and I knows we are absolutely crazy for "So You Think You Can Dance". We have watched it religiously for four of the last five seasons it has been on. We have attended the live tour shows when they come to town as well for the last three years, but one thing we had not managed to do was attend a live taping of the TV show. Earlier this summer while looking at the So You Think You Can Dance website I noticed they had an icon on the homepage that said get tickets to a show, so I of course clicked on it, it led me to a registration area where I could enter my name and email address, and put my name in a lottery for tickets to be part of a live audience, I figured what the heck, why not. This is the only way to get tickets to the show since they do not sell them... I would strongly recommend signing up for the lottery if there is any way you can get to California on short notice it was so fun. Well anyway, on with the story; I of course got no email saying I had show tickets all season and frankly didn't really expect to get one, then last Friday night at 6pm an email popped into my box from "On Camera Audiences" with a subject line SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE I almost peed my pants. I had a small amount of time to click on a link and request a group of tickets to the finale show taping on Tuesday only a few days away! I got the tickets, then got the OK from Mike to take a road trip, then made THE CALL the Alyssa. We immediately knew who we had to invite to come along..... Alexia and Stephanie Stamas the only two other girls we know just as crazy for this show as us.... the only bummer was Laurie,(their mom and my best bud ) couldn't come due to a business trip conflict! We have already decided we are all going to try for tickets again next season so we can get Laurie to the show!! We got plane tickets, and a hotel room and rental car, next and most importantly was outfit planning! The ticket voucher came with a list of things not to wear if you were going to be in a live audience so the girls needed to plan around this, the most problematic item was all shows had to be closed toed and flat( some safety restriction)... all of us except Stephie and to buy shoes! We were on our way bright and early Tuesday morning, hopping on the plane to LA. First stop was to pick up the rental car then head to the hotel for a quick change into our show clothes then off to get to the line to turn our ticket voucher into actual tickets at 2pm at the Kodak Theatre inHollywood. The girls were taking photos from the minute we hit the airport as evidenced above,( photos taken on the plane, photos in the hotel room and in the car which is good since there was a strict rule about no phones or cameras in the theatre so we couldn't photograph any of the good stuff we saw.... dang!! We got our tickets and proceeded into the theatre around 4:30pm along with 3000 other people! A normal show taping has about 300 people at it, this was huge in comparison. While coming in from the parking garage the girls saw Travis Wahl,( previous season finalist and current season choreographer) on the escalater and were going crazy!! We were seated in the upper balcony we we had a pretty good view of the show, in addition to the stage there were numerous large screens showing all the performances it was very cool. We saw all the season 5 dancers as they entered and took there seats, as well as Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, and Sonya Tayah and Travis Wahl. We also saw Jeannine's and Evan's families as we were entering the theatre.... very exciting( mostly exciting seeing Jeaninne's family ... we are all HUGE Jeannine fans). We all literally went crazy when they started playing the SYTYCD theme song and Cat Deeley and the top 4 came out on stage it was so incredible!!!! Cat is even more gorgeous and tall in person. During the commercial breaks and before the show there was an audience warm up guy that worked the crowd and kept everyone pumped and led the audience in recording some standing "O"s and cheering segments they would use on TV. Unfortunately I think it will be a miracle if you see us on TV the crowd was so massive. In a normal taping of only 300 people it would be way more likely. Without ruining tonites show, I have to say that there were a couple numbers that totally blew my socks off and my two favorites Jeannine and Brandon are still leading the pack in my opinion and Nigels!!!! We even got to hear Mary do her Hot Tamale train scream. After the show we got to watch a special rehearsal of a number they will be using in the Thursday night show using the top 8 dancers..and some special guests it was quite cool! After the show we hung out in the Kodak Theatre center for some icecream waiting for the traffic to die down before we drove back to the hotel. While waiting we brushed shoulders with choreographer Louis van Amstal... thanks for spotting him Stephie!! While pulling out the of the parking garage we saw another of our favorite dancers, Randi!!! Stephie quickly rolled down and window and screamed " we Love you Randi!!!" she was only a few feet a way and she smiled and waved back.... It was an incredible trip, with my favorite college girls, we can't wait to try to do it again next season.
All summer Long my best friend Laurie and I have been saying we need to get together with our girls who have been good friends forever as well... but you know how it goes. Laurie has to travel lots for her job, all our girls have summer jobs, we have family vacations, the list goes on, well we are finally getting together right before the Lexi, Stephie and ALyssa all head off to college for the fall semester. As you can tell by the photo we are minus Stephie who was in California, so of course as tradition dictates we had to do a photo with "flat Stephie" to be sure she was in at least one group shot!( We are going to see her next week in person!) Our happy group met up at Z tejas in Tempe, for a wonder couple hours of dinner , and laughter as well as serious debate over the current results of "So You Think You Can Dance", we are all VERY serious fans. We also had fun exchanging birthday gifts since all the girls birthday's as well as mine fall in the summer months. As usual Laurie gave me the perfect birthday gift! I just have to share since many of the people who read my blog are scrapbookers I think you may be interested! Laurie gave me a 10+ Journal, it is the coolest thing! It is a journal that allows you to write a small amount of journaling each day of the year and on each page it has space for ten years of entries so when your journal is done you will have 10 years of journaling snippets for every day of the year... so cool. Here are a couple pictures. I am excited to start using it. She also gave me one other really cute little goodie it is a little necklace with a camera on it... how fun it is this? Laurie and I have a history of loving anything that is "trial sized" this little necklace is so darn cute, i know i will be wearing it soon. We got Lexi and Stephie some adorable necklaces from the Dogeared Jewels company, can't show which one since steph hasn't got her's yet check out their website.... I want to buy everything! The Stamas Family spoiled Alyssa with jewelry and clothing from Urban Outfitters which made her very happy... I think she will be wearing her new goodies by the end of the day! The only thing missing in the evening was a photo of Laurie and I, don't know how we managed to not take one of us!!
This afternoon I had the opportunity to help Alyssa and her friends Kaitlyn and Jenna make some pillows to decorate the dorm rooms that they will be moving into in a few short weeks. Alyssa and Jenna will be rooming together up at NAU in an apartment style dorm this year and are excited to have a small living room in their apartment, they resourcefully found and purchased an inexpensive futon couch on Craigslist last week with a nice black cover that fits with their coler scheme. Today we were creating bright colored throw pillows to put on their couch. Kaitlyn will be attending ASU and was also creating some fun pillows for the cool futon couch she also bought on Craigslist, zebra print and bright pink were her color choices. The girls did the cutting and pinning and I did the machine sewing. We all took turns sewing the stuffing openings closed. The girls did a great job. Sequined fabric on Kaitlyn's pillows was not making it through the sewing maching well so we even had a little hand sewing going on at the end, which was pretty funny. It has been quite awhile since I have sat around sewing with a group of girls it was really fun to just sit and gab and sew, I am so glad they included me in their afternoon. Listeing to all the things they will having going on when they return to school makes me remember how much fun college was. It is so hard to believe it has been over thirty years since I was in their shoes seems like yesterday sometimes.