Saturday, July 23, 2011

We're back from CHA in Chicago

When we left we thought 6 days was going to be plenty of time to see everything. Wrong! We were so busy the whole time we felt like we were rushed on the last day to try and get things done.

Our adventure began on Saturday morning as we flew out of Hartford at 7 am. We did some Zentangles on the plane and the flight went by quickly. After some initial confusion at the airport looking for the shuttle, we made it to our hotel and thankfully we were able to check in early. Only one problem, I had booked a room with 2 full sized beds but all they had was rooms with a single King sized bed. Now I love Donna; but I don't want to sleep with her! They did bring up a roll away bed but still; I was not pleased. Why bother making a reservation months in advance if you are not going to get what you reserved? Well, at least we didn't have the Godzilla Festival at our hotel like someone I know did.

Saturday afternoon was spent at a training session with Spellbinders where we learned all about the company and new products, got to dance a bit and even got samples of some new dies!

Sunday we attended Craft Mania which is an exclusive presentation for Crafter's Home member stores. From 8am to 5:30pm we saw vendor after vendor... I was a very long day, but still awesome. I learned about several new companies, got catalogs from everyone, and lots of free samples of product. I even one a drawing for some Graphic 45 Christmas stuff!. We only had half an hour for dinner (had pizza delivered to our room) and then headed back for a vendor faire, where we were able to do some make & takes and talk personally with the vendors. Until about 9pm. We placed a few orders for stamps; Heartfelt Creations and Penny Black, and then walked back to our hotel and crashed for the night. Thankfully, there was an enclosed walkway from our hotel to the convention center so we never had to leave the air conditioning. Temps hovered around 100 degrees the whole time we were there.

Monday was classes all day for both of us. The Melt Art class with Tim Holtz was excellent. We made a bunch of projects and Ranger generously gave us all Melting Pots and several bottles of UTEE. My favorite part was playing with the Mold & Pour. Mold & Pour allows you to make a mold from anything you can squish into it in about five minutes. For the class we molded a Tim Holtz accoutrement button (so we can now make lots more from the mold with UTEE), but I also molded a Vintaj pendant. I am now scouting around looking to see what else I can make molds of!

I also had a Hero Arts workshop with Jennifer McGuire and Sheri Carroll. They are both such wonderfully talented ladies and a lot of fun too. We made 4 holiday cards and Hero Arts generously provided us with several clear stamps and some shadow inks.

We managed to eat enough sampled food from the Taste of Rosemont event that we didn't need to get dinner that night. Donna found cherry mojitos, lobster and crab dip while I stuck to deep-dish pizza, sloppy joes, and mini meatball subs.

Tuesday was the start of the Trade Show. We waited for the crowds to go in and then headed in and went nuts taking pictures of displays. We also had some classes on Tuesday but I actually missed one of the business classes because I was so wrapped up in a demonstration. We chose not do do many make & takes at the show since already we were concerned about how to fit all we had into our suitcases. We did get a couple of very cool Tim Holtz Aprons which he autographed for us though. I also ran into Suzanne Dean and was able to chat with her for a few minutes.

By evening we were tired and hungry so we grabbed a cab with a few friends and headed to a Mexican restaurant for dinner & drinks. I think all of the CHA vendors did the same thing because the place was packed! Lucky for us we had called ahead. Luckier for us it was $20 pitcher Margaritas! Just the thing we needed. We ate drank and laughed (oh, how we laughed).

Donna cursed me Wednesday morning since I had signed her up for a 7am class with Cheryl Mezzetti; she loved the class - hated the wake up call. My first class was at 9am then we had a quick run through the show floor before a mixed media class with Mou Saha at noon. We grabbed a late lunch at the hotel then ran back to the show. CHA sponsored a buffet dinner and music show in the evening and had a photographer there so we could dress up as Divas. What a sight we were!
Thursday was the final day of the show. I met with my sales rep to put in my orders first thing in the morning and then Donna & I packed up a bunch of boxes to ship home and jammed our luggage so full we could barely lift it. We dropped our luggage off with the bellman and went back to the show to take pictures of anything we might have missed. The show closed at 4pm so we headed to the airport to avoid the rush as everyone else checked out. The only problem was that our flight didn't leave until 10pm. We went into Chili's for dinner and the fish bowl sized Margarita just about did me in. It was a very long night. Thankfully, Donna's wonderful husband, Paul, came to pick us up at the airport at 1am.

Yes, it was fun. Yes, I bought a lot of new stuff - maybe too much. And Yes, I am exhausted. Next week we will be marking down more paper and such to make room for the incoming. Please come in and get what you want before it is all gone. We still have a few seats in the Memory Box classes on August 15th with Special Guest, Dave Brethauer; if you are interested please call the store to register. We will be closed the last week of August (from Sunday to Wednesday) to rearrange the store.

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