Posts Tagged ‘the creative connection’

I promise this is my last post about The Creative Connection

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Pinky swear. I just can’t shut up until I share a few more stories, pictures and do a little name dropping *coughReecoughcoughLoraleecough*.

My flight out was…crowded. Apparently Hell now operates an airline from Hartford to Minneapolis. There’s no other way to explain sitting in a teeny tiny middle seat between snoring shoeless guy and plus-size over perfumed grandma for 2+ hours with so little room I could neither cross my legs or work on my knitting. But the flight was blessedly on time and once I found my chauffeured car (!!!!!!) at baggage claim I was mere minutes away from that delicious red velvet cake and a great Q&A with The Pioneer Woman herself.

The funny thing about a crafting conference instead of a blogging conference is that the attendees were split about 50/50 on whether or not they had ever even HEARD of Ree Drummond. The mind, it boggles. Although I bet someone somewhere is writing the exact same thing about idiots like me who hadn’t heard of Amy Butler before. (I have now and I love her the appropriate amount.)

High point: When Ree signed my book.

Low point: When I hit myself in the head with said book after telling her my palms were super sweaty and she was cute.

Yes, Ree is wearing 2 different shirts because that was 2 different days. Like I said, since so many people were unfamiliar with her blog she was without fawning masses 90% of the time.

After lunch I made it to a panel on Social Media and managed to accidentally find a seat next to an outlet (DEAD IPHONE ALERT CODE RED WEE OOOO WEE OOOO) and next to Nicole from Lark Crafts, my contact at the event. Afterward I hung around awkwardly hoping for a chance to talk to Loralee and thank her for the link that lead me to the conference in the first place. She ended up asking a group of us stragglers for business cards and when I passed her mine she looked at it…and looked again…and said “Waaaait a minute…” and then JUMPED UP and ran around the table and hugged me and hugged me and hugged me again. The other women who had been standing around all stared and one of the asked “Ok who is this famous person?” IT WAS AWESOME. Loralee is totally the same in real life as on her blog – funny and real and gorgeous and so so so nice.

I managed to check in, find my room and get changed for dinner with a few minutes to spare so I turned on the TV and was surprised to see Jeopardy! was on. Central time is weird. Anyways, this was the Final Jeopardy! question. None of the contestants knew the answer.

I totally got it though. Because I am a genius. Clearly. Do YOU know the answer?

Then it was time for the Keynote dinner.

Me & Loralee (with PW in the background showing someone her pretty earrings), Amy Butler speaking, Kerrie (one of the other winners) & Nicole from Lark Crafts & me, Mary Jane Butters speaking

And then I limped up to my room, ripped off my high heels (poor choices, Suzanne, poor choices) and passed out. For exactly two hours. Then I woke up and composed eight zillion blog posts in my head and worried about finding my way around the next day and worried Baby Evan missed me and worried everyone secretly hated me and worried some more. I didn’t sleep very much. The possessed alarm clock didn’t help.

On Friday I attended a panel about blogging that included Lisa Leonard, Heather Bullard, Brett Bara and Loralee Choate. FINALLY, something I know a little bit about. I almost broke my neck nodding along to all the advice (write often! good quality pictures are important! comment comment comment!) and loved hearing people’s different opinions on personal vs. professional blogging.

Then there was the box lunch with the Women Entrepreneurs panel. It was the only place I felt totally intimidated and out of my league – not a single person mentioned The Twitter or The Facebook for 2 1/2 hours. To be honest, the whole middle part of Friday is just a big blur. The schedule was so full I hardly had any time at all to catch my breath.

Which is something I definitely needed to do, since right after lunch I ducked back into the Handmade Market for this…


O My, isn’t Allison ADORABLE?

I’m not even gonna lie – it was totally weird meeting a bloggy friend in person for the first time. You already know so much about them that the basic hi-where-you-from-how-many-kids-do-you-have-what-do-you-do? small talk is pointless, but you can’t really just jump in with the super personal details. You end up standing around grinning like a crazy person but have nothing to say.

Of course, the initial awkwardness didn’t stop me for a SECOND and since she was foolish enough to give me her cell phone number I managed to invite myself along to dinner with Allison, her friend Cindy and Cindy’s blog friends Kim and Jenny and (another) Allison (who writes for Apartment Therapy). We started at Ikea, which makes sense when you’re hanging out with house bloggers, where I enjoyed crepes and lingonberry soda and bought an inspirational yard of fabric I’m going to plan the new nursery/play room around. Then we went over to the Mall of America (Which turned out just to be a big mall. I don’t know what I was expecting.) for some super cheap happy hour food and wine Diet Coke* lemonade.

This is the part where things could be really awkward if I say “Meeting Allison in person was like getting together with my best friend from high school who I haven’t seen in years but I already know I love” and she’s all “Uh, yeah, it was…nice. Please stop emailing me.” It was like a first date where one person thought they were totally Soul Mates and the other couldn’t wait for the night to be over. My social awkwardness, let me show you it. I think it’s a blogger thing. But IN MY HEAD, it was a super awesome night.

On Saturday I played with yarn with Kristen Nicholas

Embroidering knitting with yarn was SO cool and surprisingly easy.

Attended one more panel – The Future of Retail: The Digital Marketplace…

Me & Lisa Leonard (I totally dorked out and begged for a pic), Amy Turn Sharp speaking on the panel

Amy writes a blog, has an incredibly successful wooden toy business (that once got Dooce-ified), and had her teeny weeny 3 week old baby boy Scout with her at the conference. She was all kinds of cool and nice. I talked to her about my horrible pregnancy pelvic pain and instead of giving me the side-eye and running away she was all “YES!! THE PAIN!! IN THE CROTCH!!” and made emphatic stabbing motions. I liked her.

And then…the weekend was over.

Nancy Soriano (one of the creators), Kerrie, Erin (winner of a local contest to attend), me, Jo Packham (creator and founder of Where Women Create Magazine) and Jennie (the third Lark Crafts scholarship winner)

It was fantastic. Amazing. Everything I had hoped for and more. It still feels more like a dream than something that actually happened to me and being back in my real life (oh boy am I back in my real life) makes it even more unbelievable.

Thank you again to Lark Crafts & Nicole & Jo & Debbie & Meaghan & everyone else who handled all the details to get me there and registered and made sure I always felt welcome and special. I promise to use everything I learned to do something beautiful.

P.S. I wanted to share this cookbook with you too:

How adorabe is this?!?

The author, Zac, was working as the event’s videographer and tried to give a copy to Nicole, since she’s all fancy and important and has tons of publishing connections, but I fawned all over it so much that she passed it to me. I feel sort of bad for stealing it from her (and I think he was pretty disappointed too) but I looooove it. I think I’ll throw a Halloween party just to make those cupcakes.

P.P.S. If you were at the event or want to write about the event, please feel free to use my pictures from this post or the other ones. All I ask for is an attribution and a link back. If you want unedited or larger copies just email me bebehblog at gmail dot com.

*There is NO DIET COKE in Minnesota. It was all Pepsi, all the time, and it SUCKED. I ended up drinking more coffee than I’ve had in years.


Handmade Market at TCC

Monday, September 20th, 2010

If I had known I was going to The Creative Connection months ago rather than just a few weeks ago, I would have done the smart thing and started staving up my pennies. Instead, I had to borrow money from my mom to make sure I could do some shopping. Because nothing says “independent, grown ass woman going on a fancy almost-business-related trip” like begging your parents for cash.

And if I had known just how many gorgeous things would be for sale at the Handmade Market I would have borrowed A LOT more. Or maybe sold a baby kidney.

Pretty Things. Do you spy some ruffles?

I must have walked through the room a dozen times before I could pick my jaw up off the floor long enough to stop and choose a few things to bring home. Here’s what I ended up with:

Adorable headband, Chatty Gus & Lovely Gus pouches from Gussy. One of the above may turn into a giveaway for one of you lucky readers, if only I can shut up the voice in my head that keeps screaming NOOOO!!! MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSSSSS! MIIIIIINE!!!!!

And in case you needed me to tell you, yes, Gussy – I mean Maggie – is absolutely totally 100% as cute in real life as she seems on her blog.

Beautiful lock & key necklace from J. Jewels Designs. Julia was super sweet and nodded patiently while I tried to explain The Twitter and how much I loved it. You should follow her just to prove me right.

Rosette headband from Allora Handmade. I sort of stalk-followed her up to one of the panels and she let me sit next to her and mutter about the interwebs without once asking me to please put a sock in it. I’m going to leave her Etsy shop up on E’s computer every day from now until he takes a hint and buys me a matching necklace.

I couldn’t resist this onesie. I bought it at the Red Shoes 26 Design booth & she had adorable prints and illustrations too. Her Etsy shop doesn’t have the onesies available right now but I may send an email begging for at least one more.

Necklaces from Lisa Leonard. The one on the left was my very first purchase at the market and I’ve been wearing it ever since. The one on the right was the gift from the gala dinner.

The actual yarn maker wasn’t there – I grabbed this from one of the shops because how could I possible go somewhere that sold yarn and not buy any?!?! It is SO SOFT I just want to roll in it. I can’t wait to turn it into something beautiful – I’m thinking a scarf.

Beautiful minky lined camera strap for my Nikon. Again, I fail at naming the actual maker (if it’s you, or if you know, PLEASE sent me a link!) but I picked this up at the Oh Sweet Sadie booth. They had a HUGE selection of gorgeous stuff from baby gifts to jewelry to these camera straps in a dozen pretty fabrics.

I could have easily spent $5000 and an extra week just wandering around buying headbands and necklaces and flower clips. I’m such a sucker for the handmade stuff it was hard to pass up a single one. And because I am a selfish selfish person, I spent every cent on myself and didn’t do a lick of Christmas shopping. I hope all my relatives like fruitcake.

The Creative Connection Part 1: Tables & Food

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The people involved in decorating and planning the events and meals for The Creative Connection were, of course, brilliant and crafty and…creative.

(Here’s a tip for anyone tired of hearing about my trip: start at the first post and drink every time I say the words “amazing”, “awesome” or “creative”. You’ll be so smashed after 2 paragraphs you won’t even notice I CANNOT shut up.)

From the very first lunch to the cupcake farewell party every table & place setting was gorgeous. Here are the pictures I managed to catch before I shoved the gifts in my bag and the food in my face.

Lunch on Thursday, Keynote Address by The Pioneer Woman

Clockwise from top left:
Adorable place setting with note pad, antique fork and mustache-on-a-stick
I heart gourds as table decor – so fall-y!
After picture of my red velvet cake (I seriously considered eating that piece in the background too)(I did not)(But I regret that decision)
Before picture of the red velvet cake – it’s The Pioneer Woman’s recipe! We also had the Asian Noodle Salad I made for dinner once before

Cocktail Autograph Session & Gala Dinner, Speakers were MaryJane Butters and Amy Butler

Clockwise from top left:
The BEAUTIFUL tables – the tablecloths are 400 yards of Amy Butler fabric hand sewn by Jo Packham & her friends!
Apple crumble for dessert – we had dessert at EVERY meal, including parfaits at breakfast
The super cute tables for the cocktail hour – an author was at every single one to sign books & pictures & chat
Lisa Leonard gift box at every place setting – she gave a beautiful necklace to every attendee!!

Box lunch on Friday, panel discussion was Women Entrepreneurs

Clockwise from top left:
Adorable tables full of lunch boxes
The third gorgeous centerpiece of the event
Another picture of the table set up – I wish I had gotten one of the beverage table, it was all mason jars of lemonade & buckets of ice
Gift at the place setting – a mini apron made from a tea towel

Breakfast Saturday, Editorial Panel with TONS of great advice on publishing & the future of the industry

Clockwise from top left:
Table from breakfast – what you can’t see is the flower pins for everyone made by Suzanne from Italian Girl in Georgia
“Flowers” made with old pages & clothespins
Close-up of the centerpieces – I STILL can’t figure out quite how it was done
I was so excited to see someone fancier than me using milk glass to decorate a party! I’m so hip! And stylish!

Cupcake Farewell

Clockwise from top left:
Gorgeous table of (delicious) cupcakes
Adorable little signs – so Alice in Wonderland
The chocolate ones disappeared in about 2 seconds
Good thing I prefer to shove vanilla cupcakes into my face – NOM NOM NOM

Four Days Is Not Forever

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Taking off over Minneapolis at 7 am

But it sure can feel like it.

I had a great time at The Creative Connection & have a zillion pictures to share & some gorgeous pretty things to show you. Everyone at the conference was unbelievably nice and approachable and down-to-earth and willing to chat with a friendless blogger lost in the craft world. I didn’t feel lonely for even one second of the event.

AFTER the event I might have had a teeny tiny breakdown. First it was a cab driver who got totally lost and argued with me and my new friend (and fellow winner) Kerrie about whether or not he would adjust the fare to make up for it. 30 seconds after he pulled away to take Kerrie to her hotel on the other side of the airport the front desk guy informed me there was a mix-up somewhere and I was at the wrong Residence Inn. My room was at the other one. On the other side of the airport. And their shuttle was busy picking people up elsewhere so no, I could not get a ride but he could call me a cab. Then THAT cab driver managed to make what Google assured me was only a 5 minute drive into a $30 ride. And then…well, and then it was 9:30 at night and I’d been up since 6 and the only thing I’d eaten since noon was a cupcake and my crotch felt like it was being stabbed with a giant pointy stick and I had just spent ALL my cash on two cab rides and as soon as E picked up the phone I started sobbing and just totally couldn’t stop. I was a snotty, pregnant, exhausted mess. But every time I opened my mouth to complain I felt like the most ungrateful douche-canoe in the whole world. I am INCREDIBLY lucky to have had the whole experience and appreciate every single minute of the time I had. All I can say is Pregnant Hormonal Woman is Pregnant and Hormonal and really, really, really hates people who refuse to go an inch out of their own way to help someone obviously lost and vulnerable and struggling.

But now it’s all over and I’m just SO GLAD to be home with my wonderful, patient, awesome husband and my adorable loving Baby Evan.

Who may be just a little bit mad about my leaving.

I think E let him watch too many episodes of Family Guy

Thank you again to Lark Crafts and Where Women Create! You are all the most inspiring, kind, creative people ever!

Lock me up and throw away the key

Friday, September 17th, 2010

I’m still here in Minnesota, but that’s not going to stop me from posting eight zillion thoughts about my experience so far. I should be sleeping – tired pregnant woman is TIRED – but the hotel room alarm clock is possessed. It must be auto-set to go off at 6:30 (maybe all the tall, hardy Scandinavians in Minnesota get up and to group stretches or something before going off to milk the cows and dazzle people with their straight, white teeth) and once it started beeping it refused to turn off. I pushed every button on the clock and all I managed to do is anger it into beeping louder and louder and LOUDER as I started franticly scrambling to find the switch and oh no I’m going to wake up the whole hotel with this alarm where is the frackin off switch ok FINE I’ll just pull out the battery! Crap, where’s the battery??? Wait, there IS no battery!!!

I think my in ability to master an alarm clock cements my total failure as a functioning human being out in public. Add it to my giant swollen feet and ankles (because why WOULDN’T I wear high heels for 12 hours when traveling?), the extreme case of inner thigh rub that’s threatening to spread all the way down to my calves (note to self: PANTS. LEGGINGS. SPANX. All good things), and the sweatiest palms in the history of the world and I should just be locked in my house forever. At least there I don’t get hand sweat all over The Pioneer Woman.

Even with my epic failure as a Professional Grown Up Business Type Person I am having a fantastic time. Everyone is SO SO SO nice and even the busiest most important organizers and authors and bloggers will stop and talk to you. They WANT to talk to you. And then they ask for your business card and you die dead right on the floor.

Now I have to go take a shower and stuff my feet into my largest shoes and run a whole stick of antiperspirant on my hands and go down to the blogging panel (the ONLY place I really belong this weekend) and pretend I’m not still totally star struck and speechless at…everything.

Remember I’m boring everyone live in real time on Twitter. That is, if I don’t break my iPhone with the tropical rainforest I call my hands.

P.S. Ok, here’s one story I can’t wait to tell. Last night I was trying to take pictures of the speakers (MaryJane Butters and Amy Butler) but there was this head of red hair in all my shots. I was all JEEZ can’t I get one picture without that head in it? And then I realized that head was The Pioneer Woman.