Hello England

We’re home safe and sound, though I’m not too sure about the sound part actually.  Between the three of us we’re sporting a collection of aches, swollen joints, minor injuries and snuffles – that was a long,  LONG journey home.

I’m being pampered and spoilt rotten by Adrian who arrived at the airport with flowers for us all and right now I’m enjoying my first proper cup of tea for over a week – bliss.

When I’ve had some sleep and feeling human again, I will be picking a winner over on the Elusive Images blog.

Farewell LAX

I’ve really not had much time for blogging while I’ve been here with the show and the jet lag.  We’ve had a great show, people really like our stamps and all the new customers we have gained at the show have all been lovely people.  In fact, we ended up on hugging terms with most of them.

We’re just about to head off on the freeway for the last time to drop off the car then begin the tedious long 22 hour journey home (we have a long wait in Amsterdam).  Bags are packed and weighed and despite the frenzy of shopping that we squeezed into our last few hours yesterday, they are under the weight limit.

I have ordered some great things at the show and hope that the show orders will start coming through within a month or so.  Lots of ideas for projects and the Graphicus Guild too, there’s so much inspiration at shows like these.

[Adrian – look away now, there’s nothing else interesting to see here.]

I shall leave you with some delicious images from the Cheesecake Factory – before you drool all over your keyboard, just check out those calories!!  I’ll definitely have to push the slipped halo back on when I get home and get down to some seriously sensible eating.

I had the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle and couldn’t even eat half of it!

Elusive Images

Apologies for the blurry photos, these were taken with my iPhone in poor light, but they will give you a flavour of what the stand looks like.  I’ll get some better photos today as I’m taking my camera in with me.

The stand does look lovely, there’s lots to feast your eyes on and we had some amazing feedback yesterday.  What you see on the wall is actually just empty packaging – there’s no way we could have carried that much rubber.  We did make one tactical error when filling in all the paperwork – we ended up with signage that just says Elusive Images and really, it should have had our strap line (Rubber Stamp Heaven) so that people know what we do!  However, we made friends with our neighbours, Craftwell, who have a very snazzy cutting machine which we used to cut out some vinyl letters to go under our sign.

Their machine is called eCraft and I have to say it has actually impressed me big time.  I’ll come back to you with a full report once I know more on pricing, but I’m definitely having one myself, if nothing else just for the sheet feeder option.  Annette will be pleased as she cut about 400 arch shaped pages for the retreat on our old Pazzles machine and the most she could do per sheet was two at a time.  The eCraft has a sheet feeder!!  So you can set it away cutting 100 and it will just pull in the sheets from the tray. There’s no sticky mat and it seems to be very simple to use in it’s basic mode, but also connects to a computer and can do all the sophisticated stuff like welding.  Seems like a serious rival to the Cricut, but until I know how much they are, I can’t give a complete verdict. I’ll come back to you on that one.

Here’s some more pictures of the stand.

Lynn spent ages rolling up sheets of artylicious paper (which Annette had spent hours printing).  It looks absolutely fabulous and really gets lots of people stopping to look.

We found a lovely mannequin in TJ Maxx to display Lynn’s tags.  Shame she’s too big to bring back with us.  Anything we don’t take back like that will be donated to the Kids in Need Foundation who have organised a drop off point at the show.  I’ll probably donate some of my demo stamps to them to save me some weight and space in my suitcase on the way back.  Hey, I’ve got shopping to bring home.  Magazines mainly.

So day one is over and done with and we’re confident that there are a lot of people in Canada who absolutely love our style of stamps.  We had more interest from Canada than the USA, but there’s still three days of the show to go.  We were chatting to Dyan from Art from the Heart who is working on the Ranger stand, and she told us that this show starts quiet and gets busier towards the end.  The trade show at the NEC is usually the other way round, so I’m pleased she told us that before the show started.  We’ve seen quite a few Brits – we had a good chat to Rob from Once upon a Stamp and Andy from Sir Stampalot.  Joanna and Richard came over and we’re going out to dinner tonight at the Cheesecake Factory – yumm!

Talking of dinner, we had a rather disastrous one last night here in the hotel.  We ate there on our first night and it was fine.  We’d gone straight from the show to Michaels as we’d all collected a 40% discount voucher last time we were there which we could spend from Sunday onwards.  So we got back to the hotel exhausted and ordered a couple of panninis and burger with a side of fries (see I’m talking like a native now as well as driving like one!).  Well the fries arrived first – in a giant paper cone stood in a wire stand.  I’ve never had fries served like that before!

Turned out to be the best part of the meal, they were delicious.  So we all tucked in while we waited for the sandwiches.  And waited.  And waited, and watched the burger sitting on the gril for ages.  Eventually the food arrived and the burger was burnt on the bottom and the fries with it were cold.  The other two cooked sandwiches were cold, but they came with freshly cooked crisps which the waiter explained was what caused the delay.  So the sandwiches went back and new ones were prepared, but again they came out at a temperature that can only be described as tepid.  Add to that the fact that ‘tuna melt’ bore no resemblence to anything we’d give that name to back home  (it looked like sandwich spread)  and we were disgruntled, grouchy customers.

So I complained to the manager, and to be fair, she handled it absolutely correctly and didn’t charge us a thing for the meal or the snacks Lesley then went and bought in the hotel shop.  She apologised that it was her number one chef’s night off, but even when “Mr Easy” is back on duty, I don’t think we’ll be eating there again.

You’d think we were obsessed with food because Lynn and I started a tradition a couple of years ago of photographing our meals.  I think there’ll be a food scrapbook coming out of it at some point.  Look at my healthy breakfast.

Talking of which, my alarm has just gone off so it’s time to get up and go and get some!

Are we in California?

I am currently in Anaheim, California amidst the worst rain they are likely to get this year.  I think we’re getting the tail end of it, but there’s been a very severe storm here, causing havoc, especially in areas previously burned by forest fires where there have been terrible mudslips.  Below is a photo of some ornamental cabbages we spotted on the walk to the convention centre.  You can see how saturated the ground is, they’re swimming!

In the city, it just makes for very unpleasant driving, especially when you get stuck going south on the freeway and realise you are going the wrong way and need to turn around and head the other way, sigh.

I’m here for the Craft & Hobby Association trade show, or CHA as it’s known, with Lynn and Lesley.  Adrian’s taking care of the family back home.  This year we are exhibiting and today is set up day when we arrange the stand and all the artwork that we have lovingly brought in our six suitcases.  Yesterday was spent shopping for things that we didn’t really need to carry with us – wet wipes and kitchen towel, pens, stapler, notebook, etc.  We also bought some fabric to cover the bright yellow curtain to the side of the stand as that really doesn’t go with our teal and chocolate colour scheme.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?  We probably should have paid the $69 to get the sat nav in the car.  We were very resourceful though, and went online to get directions to everywhere we needed to go before we set out.  We had a great little route planned out:  hotel to Ikea, Ikea to TJ Maxx, TJ Maxx to Michaels, Michaels to Jo-Anns, Jo-Anns back to hotel.  It all went wrong when the directions told us to take a certain road, but didn’t explain which way to go at the T-junction we found ourselves at.  As we chose the left turn,  we could see Ikea up ahead and it was definitely on the right of where we were, so we turned around and worked our way to it (eventually).

The next stop also proved a little tricky to navigate to, but again, eyesight triumphed when we were about to turn around and spotted a TJ Maxx in the distance, (I’m still not sure if it is the one we were originally looking for or not).  Amazingly, on the same retail park we found Michaels and Jo-Anns too.

We never made it to Jo-Anns, but got what we needed in the other two shops.  TJ Maxx (TK Maxx at home) was full of breathtaking stuff, and was quite heartbreaking because there was so much gorgeous stuff that we wanted to take home, but couldn’t possibly get in the suitcases.  Michaels was fun – always lots of bargains to be had and Lesley turned out to be queen of the bargain hunting.  Photos of the spoils will no doubt appear on the blog at some point.  Lynn and I were tempted by some gorgeous books, but books quickly add up to quite a bit of weight, so we just made some notes to look up on Amazon later.

Los Angeles is one of those sprawling cities that has a vast amount of commuter traffic.  And I mean VAST.  We saw it first hand last night as we got caught in rush hour on the 7 lane freeway.  I’m driving a 7 seater MPV which feels the width of a transit van compared to what I’m used to and I keep bashing my knuckles on the drivers window as I reach for a gear stick that doesn’t exist.  It’s all good character building stuff!

The next few days are going to be very hectic, but if I can give you any show reports I will.  Meanwhile, why don’t you take look over on the Elusive Images blog where we have just launched a few new stamps of our own.