Dazzling Demos Cookout!!


It was just a fun night!


And I think this is going to be a new tradition!


Todd & I invited my team over for a cookout/potluck with their spouses.


You know how awesome Todd's Apple Betty at Hostess Appreciation is???


Well his burgers are just as fabulous!!

AND I made bacon jam for them.



Well, none of my team with spouses came!

But Todd didn't mind and hung with just us girls anyway.




I'm happy I remembered to take SOME pics.

But I forgot to do it when Todd was involved.

(We've been having to go help his dad 3 times a day for the past couple weeks, so he left for a bit.)


Of course all the food with delicious!

(But I didn't think of taking those pics.)


But the most fun of the night was we actually played Cornhole!


None of us are very athletically inclined, but everyone did great!!

And EVERYONE got "ringers."


Todd started out on a team and played a round before he left; he played LEFT-handed to make it fair. ;)


Todd/Diane vs Nadine/Arlene



The next team was up to play the winner with a sub.

Nadine/Marilyn vs Linda/Steph









THEN the winners played the winners.

Linda/Steph vs Nadine/Arlene


Linda and I won, but Nadine gets an honorable mention...playing in every game. :)


We decided we needed a winning treat.



Linda posed for me. ;)




(Girls, if you can believe it, this pic is one of them with the flash. The one at the beginning is not. Go figure!)



We chatted about family and stamping and the new Holiday Catalog, of course, AND ONSTAGE IN LANSING IN NOVEMBER!!!


But I have to tell you my favorite moment of the night....


One of the girls playing the first game (that I didn't get pics of) mentioned, "I'm gonna throw my back out!"


So I started worrying about a couple of them that the game wasn't a good idea on my part.


Then Diane threw a "ringer" (went in the hole for 3 points, rather than just on the board for 1.)


And she literally did a quick little celebration jump!!

It was too cute!!




I love times like this and others we get to spend together.


And I want YOU on my team!


If you sign up now, you'll be able to register for OnStage in Lansing with us!! (Registration starts August 20 for OnStage, November 16.)




Stampin' Up! has a promotion going through the end of this month to encourage you to join us!




Right now you can sign up to be a demonstrator for $99, and you receive $155 of product (completely your choice--including from the Holiday Catalog if you'd like.)


That's an extra $30 more than normal.

You also receive catalogs and business supplies, in case you'd like to start a business!


Shipping is included, by the way! Only tax is charged.


PLUS, you'll receive a $10 coupon (by email) towards an order the month after you sign up!


There is NO obligation to have classes, but as a demonstrator, you SAVE AT LEAST 20% on all your purchases!



Let me know if you'd like more information!

Or you can check out my Dazzling Demos Page.







Remember, if you can fall in love with a project, you can learn to create it! Here to help you channel your inner Creative Genius...




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MY Perspective


Good morning peeps!!


I'm finally here to give you MY perspective on our Greek Isles Cruise.

(and it's a long one! Grab your coffee and a comfy chair!)


Sorry it's taken me so long!!

I always struggle getting back into my groove.


And I can't promise I'll live up to Todd's performance....

It seems he was a hit.

I kinda love him, too! ;)



This certainly was a trip of a lifetime!

I'm here to tell/show you the SU! side of it. :)




First thing I have to share with you is a couple quick pics with my friends we met last year that I've called my dinner family:


IMG_9671Lisa Marie, Cheryl & Steph--waiting for general session to begin


IMG_9682First formal night


Love these girls!

And the dining room staff made it possible for us to enjoy dinner together again this year.

They had to work hard.

And I'm sorry to the 3 people they moved from our table. :/


I have 1 regret; SOMEHOW we never got a pic with all our tablemates and waiters this year!!


(Lisa Marie & her husband & daughter; Cheryl & her daughter-in-law, different grandson from last year and daughter-in-law's parents)


How is that possible???



It was great to spend time with our friends!

And I feel like I/we met a lot of new people too!


I wasn't quite as "in awe" of being with this elite group of demonstrators as I was last year. ;)


So I just went up to people and introduced myself and Todd. :)


One of my highlights was meeting Sara, the CEO of Stampin' Up!


There's a difference between standing in a line wrapped around a big room at OnStage to get a pic with Shelli or Sara and just walking up to her and introducing yourself!


(I actually waited for someone to get done gabbing with her, and we chatted with her husband while we were waiting for her.)


So--I SHOULD have known this would happen.

But I didn't remember.

And when I walked up to Sara to introduce myself and hug her, I cried.

She's like, why are you crying?


It's just I appreciate her and her mom so much!

They both have such a heart for Stampin' Up!--their employees and demonstrators and customers.


I appreciate them.


So Todd got pics for me:






If you haven't heard about a Stampin' Up! incentive trip before, nightly pillow gifts are a thing!! A BIG THING!!


We received everything from a purse/backpack to SU! product to Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece to a charm bracelet!








Most Wonderful Time Product Medley


Todd's (1st Guest) Thank you gift







Custom (Perennial Essence) Cosmetic Bag












ALL the stuff!



Did you remember we got to make a visit to the SU! Hospitality Room every day for ANOTHER gift, too???


We got to "spin to win!"

Usually it was embellishments or DSP, but one day I received a set of dies from the new catalog.


Speaking of the hospitality room, I stole this pic from another demo. (I mostly left the picture taking to Todd, and I forgot this shot.)


They keep the jars STOCKED with candy!!!! (and leave bags for you to collect it and bring it back to your room!)




I believe I already mentioned within the past couple weeks that I TOTALLY MISSED BEING SPOILED!!


This was one of those areas I missed when we returned home! ;)

Where's my hospitality room???

No spin to win OR candy!!!!



We had a general session on the first full day at sea, and I walked out of there with 3 stamp sets and a pack of embellishments!






There is no way I can share all the samples that were on the cruise--Both from the Demo swaps and new product.


I think I prob have about 50 or so of each!


I'm sticking with Demo swaps, cuz you can't order from the new catalog yet anyway (and you saw some sneak peeks in my pillow gifts.)


I'll share closeups of the ones I actually received, eventually.


For now, here are pics of some of the boards:

















So I recall Todd suggesting you ask me about Santorini.


I hadn't ever heard of it--until we looked up the Greek Isles Cruise I was trying to earn.


THEN it was the port I was most interested in visiting!


Reminder: To get to the city of Fira, where we were docking, you either need to take a cable car from the dock up the steep incline to the top OR climb 587 steps. 


The day we were gonna be in Santorini, 3 cruise ships would be at the port.


Because of this, we WEREN'T docking; we had to take a tender (smaller boat) from the cruise ship to the dock. It's a lengthy process.


Our tour company for the day decided on an alternate plan to avoid the long lines for the cable cars for such a busy port day....


They hired a boat taxi to take us around the island to the 2nd city we were planning to visit Oia (EE-ah).


Nice. Right?


Well, here's how it went.

We waited in the heat for ALL the people to tender to the dock.

We rode in the boat around to Oia.

(If you were inside, it was hot. I was; Todd was on top taking pics.)

When our taxiboat got to the dock, there was still a hill.


The 587 step hill to the top where the buses were.

In the heat.


As we got off the boat, the tour guide said to head up there; it's only [blah blah blah] kilometers.




I'm not sure how this was an acceptable alternative to waiting in line for the cable cars!!!


It certainly didn't save any time!

We "started" our tour at least a couple hours late.

And I was hot and not happy.


I made it with a couple breaks.

Todd made sure I made it to the top and then went back and helped people.


It honestly was ridiculous.

And not what we signed up for!!


Ha! Then we drove to our parking place closer to the city.

Guess what? A hill to the REAL top. And more steps.


She guided us to the top to show us a specific church and said then we'd go back down the steps to regroup, and she'd send us off on our own before we met back at (whatever time.)


I told Todd, ah no.

We're NOT going back down to regroup. 

We're at the top for the shopping, and that's where we're staying til we're done.


The views were amazing, but I just needed some water at this point.

I drank most of mine.


I decided to stay in a shaded area leaning on a counter of an art shop visiting another demo while Todd went off to take his first pics of Oia.


I was so thankful for the shop owner.

I said, I hope it's ok that we stand here for a few minutes.

He said to stay as long as we'd like and then offered to fill our water bottles with his cold water!




Note: EVERYBODY in Greece buys bottled water, and thankfully it is very reasonably priced.


I forgot the name of the person I met there and chatted with. (I was in distress.)

But we chugged down that water and I went and bought more when Todd came back.


Now that I got my story out, I'll share a few more pics of Santorini that Todd didn't share.


I took this one specifically for Liz; the sidewalks in the shopping area are all marble.







After Oia, we drove to Fira and had a half hour there. Todd & I stayed on the bus but I got this pic from someone who got off.



This is a different pic...fortunately we didn't have to walk back DOWN the hill. But I wouldn't have wanted to be the bus driver winding back and forth down to the bottom. I was trying to take a pic to show how close we were to the rock wall next to us!








I took a few pics for Liz of the brand name shopping in Rome.




Our state room welcome on the ship



The SU! Welcome Party/spread--It was on both sides of the pool. :)




Clear water in Mykonos






I always like hearing the stats for the incentive trips:

  • There are just over 56,000 Demonstrators worldwide.
  • 445 earned the incentive trip (enough points)
  • 337 actually went on the trip
  • 1000 Stampin' Up! people were on the ship (including families and corporate employees)
  • The NEXT trip we can work towards is an Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Symphony of the Seas (the world's largest cruise ship)


One more stat to share in case you didn't see my Live! last week....





Thank you so much for all your support!!!

(And thank you to my Tuesday club last week for putting me over the top!!)




Ok, I believe I've gabbed long enough and have much more to do!



Tuesday, 7/30, 10am-8pm


Choose from my Retired Product and receive--dollar for dollar--new product from the catalog, too!


You DO pay shipping and tax ONCE. (Example: choose $100 in retired product; also get $100 in new product; pay $100 + shipping & tax.)



Have an amazing day!!




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Day 8--Heading back home

Normally the last day at sea means resting before you have to stuff all your dirty clothes in your luggage and hope it fits.  We got to do something cool for lunch and went on a tour of the ship's kitchens.  Afterwards we had a menu of some premium choices to have for lunch.  It was amazing to see the multiple kitchens that go into feeding the ship each day. (Jewel of the Seas had 2700 cruisers aboard, plus staff.).  It is amazing to think how hard each worker works whatever their position on the cruise.  I'm assuming they work all 7 days of the week and for months at a time.  All work hard to make the cruisers feel pampered and special, and then they start with a whole new group a week later.  


Here are some random statistics we learned going on the kitchen tour, some which may blow your mind.  The ship goes through 18,000 dozen eggs a week. The carry 40 different varieties of fruit.  They can cook 580 chicken breasts in 8 minutes.  Royal Caribbean as a whole goes through 8,000 pounds of lobster per year, 10 million pounds of potatoes, 18 million pounds of chicken, and 50 million pounds of beef.  They serve 190 million meals per year for over 32 million guests.   They go thru half a million pounds of coffee, 4 million cans of pop, and 80 million bottles of beer each year.  Overall they have almost 1500 cooks with 25 different nationalities.  Here I thought I did a lot of cooking for Hostess Appreciation day!


Now I think it's time to turn the blog back over to my wife. Again I feel honored to have been able to share some stories and pictures with all of you.  Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures, had a laugh, or maybe even felt like you were stowed away with us on the cruise.  Stampers please make sure Stephanie shares some of the pictures of the cards from the swap.  I would guess that the majority of the over 400 demonstrators participate in the card swap each year.  They post all of the cards mid-week and it is amazing to see the work and creativity.  I know that for Hostess Appreciation each year you guys do a great job for the card contest.  I think usually there are 10-15 entries.  I look at all the swaps on the ship and know that I would not want to have to choose just 1 to be the best, and I definitely know I wouldn't want to count all those votes!!  


Here's some pics to close.  Thanks again for the all kind words and feedback.  I didn't know blogging was so hard.  I'm gonna need another vacation!





Us on our balcony for the second formal night.



Despite the evidence to the contrary throughout this blog, we don't take a lot of pictures together.  This time we tried to get a few more together.  I'm gonna have to work on my selfie game because I don't have any with duck lips.



Sunrise on the last sea day.



One more sunrise picture.



Fruit monkey in the kitchen tour.  Hopefully they put it out so others could enjoy it.



See the little dough balls on the circle? There was a machine right behind the kitchen worker that would take the whole big ball of dough and kinda shake it (not sure what the best verb is) for maybe 30 seconds and they came out like that.  



How about this for unlimited shrimp?  Bring me the seafood sauce and let's get after it.



These are shrimp cocktail bowls for lunch service.  I'd rather have the one in the other picture.



Made me want some pulled pork and BBQ.



Not gonna lie I really wanted to grab a couple cookies on the way thru.



This is what the kitchen tour was called.  However, when it was explained to us at dinner I thought the food was gonna be unlimited.  It was the champagne and mimosas that were unlimited.  I was ready to put on a food clinic like I was a teenager again.



What would your choice be?  I had the surf and turf.  The meat was unbelievable, but the honestly the "turf" was lacking.  Four small shrimp.



What would you like for dessert?



I had the Key Lime Pie and it was amazing.





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Day 7--The last excursion day in Katakolon

Last time off the boat today and first off we have a change.  Stephanie woke up with a big headache and just tired (probably worn down from the last 3 days of tours) and decided she was staying on the ship and not taking the tour.  So it was me flying solo, but with a group of other SU members. I am thankful to  some of them who included me when they realized I was single for the day.


Katakolon was far different than the other three Greek ports we had visited.  Santorini-a big beautiful island with a million scenic views.  Mykonos-an island that had the cool winds off the water and had a little island vibe.  And Athens-obviously a major size city (more than half the total population of Greece lives in Athens).  In the port there seemed to be little to see off the ship.  All I needed was the sound of crickets.  Outside the gate of the port there was a small street with many tourist type shops (for those who have been there think of the main street of Mackinac Island).  We would learn from the guide that this was actually a very rural community where they grow many things, not for selling but for their own use thru the year.


After a half hour bus ride we arrived at Olympia, home of the ancient Olympics.  This is NOT the Olympics that we have today and that most of us have grown up with, but dating back to BC (before Christ).  The only athletes were Greek citizens.  No other countries were represented.  This, like the island of Delos, were ruins that they have tried to put back together as much as possible.  Unlike yesterday's tour at the Acropolis where it was big-time crowded with people, the area of Olympia is very spread out.  Also thankful there are many trees there, as the guide would bring us into the shade when she would share tour information.  


After touring the ruins and also the museum at Olympia, we boarded the bus to the city of Pyrgos.  It was a nice town but not very big.  Maybe I was unfairly comparing it to Athens?  It just seemed like "Here it is this is our big city" which I guess for this port it was.  That's not intended as a slam, just very different than the other 3 ports.  The guide took us to the city center to show us some of the beautiful architecture and to let us have time to grab some lunch before we would head off to the ship.  The other interesting thing to see in person is that most of the shops in town close from 2:30-6:00.  


I also am not sure the restaurants were expecting a couple groups of tourists, as the food was slow and the workers seemed a bit frazzled.  We had to be back to meet our guide at 2:30.  I had gone to the restaurant maybe a little later than everyone else because I was "off in my element" taking pictures in the city square.  Bottom line is that I never got the small pizza I had ordered.  Fortunately for me back at the meeting spot another SU member had extra pizza which she gave to me when she heard I hadn't gotten lunch.  I DID get some gelato though while I was waiting for my pizza order,  so I went with the dessert first theory (up in Heaven my Mom may have rolled her eyes). 


The good news to report is that Stephanie enjoyed 2 naps before getting up, showering, and going up to the ship cafeteria to grab some food and finding a shady spot out on the deck.  I'm glad she got the rest she needed.  I have to say this port was my least favorite port, so I don't think she missed a ton staying back on the ship.  Maybe I was running on fumes and wasn't feeling the ruins as much.  That being said I do have some pictures to share.



If I remember right this was part of the main gymnasium at Olympia.



This is all that is left of the main temple on the grounds.



More ruins.



This is the arch that the athletes would have gone thru to enter the Olympic Stadium.



This is the Olympic Stadium.  We were told it would have held 40,000 spectators.  The field seemed about the size of a football field.  Maybe hard to tell in the picture but the hill does slope up on all 4 sides.



A weekend warrior has now entered the arena.  The dirt field was as hard as some of the softball fields we play on. 



Another shot of the arch as you exit the stadium.



More columns and marble.



A Church in the city square of Pyrgos.  



This was also randomly in the middle of the city square.  An old softball buddy thinks it was probably for a 3 X 3  tournament.  Sadly there was not a ball around to get up a couple shots.



This was the dessert counter in the shop where I got gelato.  I wanted one of everything.  I actually briefly thought about buying some to bring back to Steph on the ship.  Glad I didn't because when you got back on the ship security did not allow any food to come on.



So of course I had to choose a gelato flavor.  Actually wish I could have a re-do on this day, because the one I chose wasn't as good as it looked.



I think I have one more blog to go.  We did something cool on the last sea date on the ship to share.






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Day 6--A busy day in Athens

Stop me if you've heard this before.  For today's tour I have way too many pictures I want to share. So a few stories and then on to the good stuff!


The 2 previous days to our visit to Athens the temperatures were in the 100's.  We had also heard that they had closed the Acropolis because of the heat at least one of those days.  So we felt extremely blessed that the temperature forecast for our day was partly cloudy and only in the 80's.  There was also a nice breeze blowing so that was very welcoming.


Thank you Lord!


Stephanie was nervous about the visit to the Acropolis, especially after the Santorini hill climb of two days previous.  From the street level it looks like it's a long way up.  We had discussed just sitting it out,  but in the end she decided that because it was cooler (was still somewhat early in the morning-10:00) and that there was shade a good part of the way up (again because it was early) she was gonna go for it.  What also helps is that unlike the Santorini climb, it winds back and forth for most of the way rather than just straight up.  In the end, even being there early, it still took about an hour to get to the top level.  Later in the day as the Acropolis becomes busier that figure goes to around 3 hours to the top.


It seems that most of the people in line for the Acropolis are in tour groups rather than individuals.  When you are first starting out, there is a nice division between the groups.  However as you begin getting closer to the top, groups start blending and it is easy to lose your group.  Steph and I actually got separated from our group once we were at the top level as they turned right and we kept going straight.  I had to park Steph in a safe place and go and find our group.  Being tall definitely helped with this.  Once they were located, I had to go back and get Steph and then try and navigate the crowd and catch them.  The other obstacle to this is at the top levels of the Acropolis, the floor is either not level (jagged rock) or it's slippery. (I don't know if it is marble?) So travel is slow.


The rest of the day we stopped at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympics in 1896.  No lie we had 10 minutes there (As the explorer and picture taker I did NOT approve of this).  Then on to the Greek Parliament Building for the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, much like we have in Washington DC.  This happens every hour on the hour and our timing for this was right on.  After that we were dropped off in a busy area of Athens with less than an hour to explore or feed ourselves.  We found a nice little bakery off the beaten path and enjoyed lunch with a new SU friend in our group.



View of the Parthenon from the street level.



Ok, this is Steph cutting in here for a sec....That pic does NOT seem like a fair representation of the "Parthenon from street level."


HERE it is from the parking lot/tour bus level. See the little building in the middle of the frame??? It looked FAR!!!





Back to the previously scheduled blog....



Outside wall of the theater (which is still used today).  Official name is Odeon of Herodes Atticus.



We're climbing.



View from the top of the inside of the theater.



View of Athens toward the sea.  Upper wall of the theater in the lower half of the picture.



Us of course.



We're getting closer to the top, but this is where groups start blending.



View of Athens looking inland.



View of Athens from the top level.  Theater is in the lower right.



One of the sides of the Parthenon.



Hey who snuck this in? Are you people trying to be in every picture?



Another view of the Parthenon.




View of Athens looking deeper inland.



Now here's the mass of humanity trying to leave and go back down.  This was no fun either. 



Panathenaic Stadium...10 minutes, still salty about it.  Because I guarantee if I had gotten inside I would have climbed to the top and gone out and at least walked the track.



Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Greek Parliament Building.  Notice especially his shoes...guessing they are not comfortable for that hour he has to stand motionless.



The new guys are ready to move into position.



The old guys gotta do their movements before leaving.  Very well choreographed and executed.



Salute to those who have fallen in battle.  Moving in any culture. 



Moving out with view of whole building and the Greek flag.



View of the Acropolis from a city street.



Pics from the little bakery we found.  Stephanie enjoyed the chocolate mousse on the right side.



I had the orange cake in the upper right corner.  Very delicious.  So no gelato today.



My main meal was the oblong pizza pies in the lower left.  Very good but a little too much dough.



View of the side street of shops and restaurants.


That's all for today...







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Day 5--A more relaxing day on the island of Mykonos

Much like yesterday's blog this one will be heavier on pictures and less on words (you all didn't have to cheer at once...I do have a feeling).  Reviewing the pictures is tough as to to which ones to include as there is so much I'd love to share.  Again best to let the pictures speak and me get out of the way.


But before we go on, one funny story I remembered in the same vein as yesterday's post about someone randomly seeing my GV shirt and saying "I see you're from Michigan".  On our first Stampin' Up trip to Washington DC, I went for a run the first full morning we were there.  On this run I passed the White House and ran to both the Washington and Lincoln Memorials (not things I usually see a normal run around home).  So when I got back to the room I excitedly posted on Facebook about what an awesome morning run I had taken.  Shortly after we went down to begin the day's tour and we had the same bus driver as the afternoon before from the airport and obviously she had remembered me.  First words out of her mouth were "I see you went for a run this morning".  My mind went to the FB post I had just put up and I thought "OK must be I just sent that to the whole world?" and "who are you and how do you know me?"  Turns out she saw me on her way to work but I definitely was freaked out for a short minute.


The tour of Mykonos began with a walk around the city.  Fortunately it was mostly flat and although humid was not hot yet.  Mykonos' nickname is Island of the Winds, and right on cue they began to blow and that was a welcome relief.  We had a leisurely walk thru the main area full of small alleyways full of shops and rich colors against the white buildings (pictures will follow).


Next on the schedule was a half hour boat right to the Island of Delos.  Our group was composed of 40-50 SU people many who had undertaken the Santorini climb from yesterday.  A minimum of half the group just told the guide "Nope we're not going.  We'll just stay here".  The island of Delos is an ancient Greek city which is now ruins and 100% an archeological site.  They heard it was all walking and very little shade and hit the eject button.  Fortunately for me my wife is a trooper and we continued on.  As she shared with many people, "ruins are HIS thing".


The visit to Delos was supposed to last 2-3 hours, but we found there was an earlier boat back to Mykonos.  Even though ruins are my thing, I wanted to see what I could in the shorter amount of time and take the early boat back.  Now with the extra time back on Mykonos we were able to just spend a little more time walking the alleyways of shops and find some food.  First we stopped at a place that had 32 flavors of gelato (They must think Baskin Robbins are light weights).  Steph and I were on a nice run, having had gelato in Rome, Santorini, and now Mykonos (I think the streak was broken the next day in Athens, but I came back strong to have some in Pyrgos on the last excursion day).  Then we kept hearing from some other SU people about gyros, so we asked where they had found the best ones.  Normally I'm not a big gyro person but I really wanted to have one so we wandered and found the place.  It was so good and so big I could only eat half of it (picture to follow). 


I think Stephanie and I are in agreement that of the four Greek ports, Mykonos was our favorite.  With the winds off the water it didn't feel as hot as it may have been.  Also our time in the afternoon after Delos of just slowing down the pace and enjoying the beauty bumped it up to the top excursion day. (Rome doesn't count in this as it was not part of the cruise.  For me Rome and Mykonos share top spots of the trip).  Now let the words end and the pictures begin!



A couple sidewalk cafes that are along the waterfront. This was early in the morning so not busy.  In the middle where you see the light blue chairs we got gelato there later in the day.



This is a Church.  There actually was a Dior photo shoot going on where we got here.  We did have to wait a few minutes for them to take a break so we could get a picture.



The windmills of Mykonos.



View from the windmills back to the restaurants along the coastline.  You can notice the wind has kicked up and a little surf crashing onshore. 



I think this was a shop not a house.  Love the color.



View of one of the many alleyways of shops.  Again early in the morning no people yet.



Another alleyway obviously now more people.  Notice on the right side the I love Mykonos which was on a staircase.



More color in the city.



Still more color.  Green is one of my favorite colors.



This was the "farm" market down by the waters near city port.



This obviously is the fish market right next to the veggies.  I'm guessing someone came and bought these, because later in the day during our leisure time I looked and there was no fish left.



This is along the water right in the port with some of the shops across the way.  This is where I had a momentary fantasy that I was a professional photographer and I would take the colors of the boats against the city background and compose an award winning photo.  



This is a stray cat near the main shopping area.  I took this with Liz in mind since she is a cat Momma.  This one looked pretty well fed.  I saw one earlier on the tour and he was big-time skinny.



Minutes after I took the first picture I believe a tourist (Steph disagrees) had a water bottle filled with cat food and fed him.  All together now..."Awwww".



This is a shot of the island of Delos as we are approaching by boat. Honestly my first thought was "Unless she has a leash or something my wife may have lost me for the day".  Has anyone lost a husband in the ruins before?




This would have been a couple shops in the city.



Random cool ruins picture I like.



This would have been a city street.



This is an ancient olive oil press.



I badly wanted to get to the area at the top of the picture where you can see the columns...but it was blocked off.



Half of the gelato flavors.



Second half of gelato flavors.  You can blame me if you feel a need to go get some ice cream.  It's hot out so you really should.



This is the gyro I got.  Notice size comparison to Steph's hand.  My co-workers did not appreciate that I emailed them this picture right before their lunch time.  Cost was 4 EU, which is less than $5.  


Thanks for reading and thanks for the positive feedback!






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Day 4 The island of Santorini - how many views can you take in?

It's Tuesday and our first port visit to the island of Santorini.  I have read that Santorini is one of the most photographed places in the world, and that claim doesn't shock me a bit. You don't have to go far to take in an incredible view in any one direction.  The wise old owl used to ask how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop.  I would ask how many beautiful and stunning views can you take in during your visit to Santorini?  My answer is that you would need days to make a dent, yet we only had 6 hours.


I think today's post will be mostly pictures rather than stories, because again the pictures show the beauty far more than I could tell it.  I did my best of give you the best ones, yet again I am limited by space and how much time you want to devote to the blog.  Just a couple stories and then I'll let the pictures speak.


The cruise ship does not dock on the island of Santorini.  Instead you have to take what are called tender boats to the docks.  Before debarkation, you had to go get tickets for the tender boat which determined order of how fast you got off the cruise ship.  I was in line for tender tickets by myself as Steph was taking care of some other things.  I was wearing a Grand Valley State shirt, with a logo on the front and also it says GVSU Lakers on the back near the collar.  I was standing in line minding my own business when a voice from behind me says " I see you're from Michigan".  Many thoughts race into my mind as I try to process this.  Turns out she was a SU demonstrator from Arizona but she had lived in Detroit so she knew of GVSU.  She was very nice and we talked for the rest of the time in line but that still freaked me out a little.


The second story became the biggest story of the day and maybe the week.  There are 2 main cities on the island of Santorini, Thira (pronounced FEAR-Ah) and Oia (pronounced EE-Ah). The tender ship took us to the port of Thira, but our tour was to begin by taking a boat to the opposite side of the island to Oia.  You will understand this better when you see the pics, but there are three ways to get from the port up to the cities themselves.  You can take the cable cars, you can ride the donkeys, or you can climb the over 500 steps to the top yourself.  All the literature does NOT recommend option 3.


So I am definitely "in my element" going by sea from Thira to Oia.  Steph sat below  in the shade (edit by Steph: so I didn't have to climb steps...turned out very hot!) but I sat up top to be able to take as many pictures as possible while we traveled.  Now the tour plan was we would get off at the port of Oia and take a bus to the city and then have free time to explore Oia.  Now I 'm not sure if something was lost in the language barrier or we just didn't fully understand the tour package, but when we got off the boat we were told "The buses can't come down here.  You have to meet them up there".  As in ALL THE WAY up there.  And there were no cable cars and no donkeys waiting to get us to the top.  


Understand it was a very warm and humid day.  Understand that the Stampin' Up group was probably not the best demographic of people who should have undertaken this climb.  It probably should have been left to the NCAA just graduated 4 year scholarship athlete group.  It was not easy by any means, but everyone made it to the top and I give them full credit.  I will also leave it to you individually to ask my wife her thoughts on this.


I hope you enjoy the pictures to follow.  Again Santorini may be one of the most beautiful places in the world, definitely that I have ever been to.  I wish I was a professional photographer with hi-tech camera gear, but the beauty speaks even thru the lens of an iPhone.



I forgot to include this on the Monday post. First formal night on the ship.




Us on the dock at Thira waiting for the tour to begin.



View of Thira from the cruise ship.




Notice the pod looking things in the middle.  Those are the cable cars.




View of Thira as the small boat is leaving port heading to Oia.




View of Oia as we approach the port.



View as we are ready to dock in Oia.  Notice the road in the middle that we will be taking to climb the hill. It winds off to the left along the coastline.




This was at the top when we reached Oia.  I totally would have gotten this, but after climbing a huge hill in the hot sun, cold water was a far greater priority.  When we met back here later, I don't think this was still open.



View from Oia city back toward Thira. Our cruise ship is the upper right.




Us again at the top of Oia, but definitely not as fresh as the previous picture of us.




View of the white buildings and the blue domed Churches of Oia.



I think this may be my favorite picture.  There are actually 2 different Churches in this shot.



Notice the middle of the photo. That is a restaurant deck. I can imagine that the views would be incredible, as well as the amount of Euros it would cost to eat there.



Blue domed Church with bells in the middle of the city square.


Tomorrow a new adventure...until then.





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Day 2 & 3 - Let's just chill

One more funny story that I remembered about yesterday's Rome tour and then we'll be moving on.  Someone asked Valerio our Rome tour guide if they got snow.  He said "No we are the same latitude as Chicago, so we don't get snow".  It was really hard to hold my tongue and tell him that was really a poor comparison since living so close to Chicago I know darn well they get their share of snow.


So after a long and crazy travel day and busy day of touring Rome, I began the next day with some pretty lofty goals.  They were as follows:

1- Get a shower

2- Get 3 square meals today

3- Get to the bus on time which would mean I would be on the boat on time

4- Take a big ol' nap once we were on the boat


So I understand these are totally first world problems but I am happy to share with you I accomplished all of those goals successfully. The bus ride from the hotel in Rome to the port city of Civitavecchia was over an  hour and took us more into rural Italy. Rural Italy had the old world feel that I imagined it would have with farms, some crops, and hills in the distance.  Civitavecchia reminded me of the Italian version of Muskegon or Holland.  Obviously it had a large port area for the cruise ships, but also since it was right on the sea had a vibe that it was a vacation spot or maybe just a destination for going to the beach for the day.


Monday on the boat was a travel day at sea. The cruise was set up that all 4 port days would be Tuesday-Friday, so we treated Monday again as a rest day before all the excursions to come.  The highlight of Monday is Stampin' Up! has a meeting for all the cruise winners and their first guest (that's me). Mostly it is content for the demonstrators, as the newest catalog is previewed and some presentations with some of the new stamp sets.  I'm not gonna lie I MAY have nodded off during a presentation or two.  


However the 2 highlights of the SU meeting was first each first guest (mostly husbands like me) get a gift. We got a really cool bag/backpack from SU.  Secondly, the incentive trip destination was revealed for 2021 (2020 is an all-inclusive resort in Maui).  The 2021 trip will be a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Symphony of the Seas, which is the largest cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.  


So I'll close for now with a few pics, and the promise that the next 4 posts will all longer with excursion stories and pictures of Greece.  I'm only on vacation for a few more days so I gotta get all these done this week.  Maybe Stephanie will post more than 1 per day??  But that's up to her as she's the boss, and I'm just living the first guest life!


Looks like a field of grapes on the way to port.




Rural Italian countryside.





This would be a cool boat to cruise on, especially if you were a kid.




Home for the week.



View from out of our balcony of the Italian coast...not sure what city.



My Stampin' Up gift.


Until next time,




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Travel Day and Day 1 stories

I'm honored that my wife asked me to share some travel/cruise stories and pictures with you.  However don't expect much Stampin' Up! talk here; so if you are wanting to see all Steph's SU goodies from the trip, or discussion of thinlets or punches, etc etc you will have to wait on her. I'm just here to share my sometimes quirky viewpoint of the trip and hopefully make you smile and share some pictures of all the different things we did on this trip.


When we made travel details for this trip, we asked to leave one day early so we would have a day to see Rome other than just from airport to the port to catch the cruise.  We left GR Friday afternoon to Chicago, with an overnight flight to Rome so we would arrive in Rome Saturday morning with the 6 hour time change.  The flight time to Rome was scheduled for 9 hours, but a random summer thunderstorm shut down O'Hare airport for a half hour, making our departure about 1 1/2 hours late. 


Upon arrival in Rome, it was time to complete the airport process and get moving with our day.  Shock alert all the directions once you are off the airplane are in Italian! So we just followed the crowd and boarded a train.  The train stopped so of course we followed the pack and got off. I just love that feeling of being a first timer in a foreign country and faking the "oh ya this is definitely the right way to go".


We get thru Customs and find our bags on the carousel. (Steph was very nervous about this).  Now time to find the hotel shuttle.  Again all signs are in Italian (duh). Steph calls the hotel and they tell her to wait in lane 29.  OK great, except when we get outside everything is marked for lanes 1-23, and hotel shuttles are listed in lanes 1-4.  After much searching and not much help from the locals, secret lane 29 is found.  


There are a total of 16 people in lane 29 all for the same hotel.  Steph had confirmed with the hotel that the bus/vehicle could handle that many.  So five minutes before shuttle arrival time, a Chrysler mini-van shows up.  Ah I don't think we're all gonna fit in that.  Good natured jokes are shared such as "how many clowns can you fit into a Volkswagon?" and me wondering if I could exit the van at the hotel ala Spicoli in Fast Times. Fortunately a real size hotel shuttle shows up minutes later for the rest who didn't fit in the van.


We arrive at the hotel around 1:00 and there is a huge line to check in.  We are scheduled to meet our group at 2:00 for our 2:30 tour.  I see a shower and nap becoming only a dream.  We get room key and are told "you're on the ground floor".  Awesome and we're off with ALL our bags in search of our room.  Again I am confronted with the reality that all the signs in this hotel in Rome Italy are in Italian (duh).  We find many things, such as conference rooms and the kitchen, but nothing resembling guest rooms. Then we find out that we were SUPPOSED to take the elevator to the first floor because we were on ground zero.


On the way we pass the bathrooms and Stephanie says she needs to stop.  Now as a husband in full "search and conquer" mode I would like this pit stop to last 60 seconds or less as the time to meet our group continues to approach.  However my hopes are dashed as Stephanie gets her  first experience with a bidet.  We finally find the room with enough time to get out of Friday's clothes (I mean it is Saturday after all) and a quick tooth brushing and we're off for adventure in Rome.


We meet our group in the lobby and we need to get a ride to where the tour begins.  Of course there are no Chrysler mini-vans in sight, so the 7 of us have to split up in 2 taxis.  Steph shows the driver on her phone where we need to go and he nods and speaks with the other taxi driver in Italian (duh) and they seem to be in agreement on how to get us there.  There is a part of me that worries that they have made an alternate plan to drive the Americans to some remote location but after a 20 minute ride we arrive at the park.


I need to step back before I share our Rome experiences.  Quite possibly in early 2019 when you were having your scheduled SU club or class I was upstairs reading travel books or watching YouTube videos of Rome and Greece. What I found out is there is SO much to see and do that it is a  bit overwhelming.  Whatever plans we made in Rome were on us, as technically it was not part of the cruise and we were less than a week out and we had made no plans for Rome.


Stephanie was part of a Facebook SU group of demonstrators going on the cruise.  Many nights she would share a nugget or two of things she had learned. It was there we learned of the 7 person golf cart tour of Rome and that is was highly recommended.  We made plans with one of our good SU friends we made last year on the Alaska cruise and she did the leg work getting prices and information. Plans were finalized and we were scheduled for this 3 hour tour (wait, wasn't Gilligan also scheduled for a three hour tour?  Uh oh).


Within mere minutes we were at our first stop in a park overlooking the city of Rome. Suddenly the flavor of the city popped in a way that it hadn't in the taxi ride from the hotel.  Also it meant it was time to take pictures, which as my wife says "is totally my element".  Our tour guide Valerio was awesome.  As a native Roman, he knew the best spots to get pictures and always parked in the shade (extremely important on a hot humid day).  He would first explain the details and history of what we were seeing before letting us loose to take some pictures.


It also can not be overemphasized how great taking a tour like this is on a hot humid Rome day with a covered golf cart.  The city is jammed with thousands of other tourists seeing the same sights on foot.  All we had to do is jump back on and buzz off to the next spot.  Stephanie and I were on the back seat of the cart facing backwards and we saw many people pointing and probably saying something like " we should have done that!" as they were pounding the hard Roman pavement. 


Here's a few other little nuggets we learned or observed on the tour and then I will try to wrap this up.  (I apologize if I am too "wordy" as I don't think future posts will be this long).  First most cars in Rome are small economical models, as gas prices are equivalent to $10 a gallon US (can you say ouch?).  Also bikes and motor scooters are popular for that same reason.


Parking on the narrow streets is crazy.  Every available inch is used.  Many times we saw cars parked longways AND sideways in between.


Driving in the city of Rome is not for the faint of heart.  One of the things I clearly remember in my travel studying was this recommendation, "if you are thinking about renting a car and driving yourself, just don't".  There are not always lane markings and if they are there they're merely suggestions. I think each driver does what they feel like doing and if that is a problem for someone else, too bad.  Being on the back seat of the golf cart Steph and I saw a few interesting interactions.


Graffiti is everywhere, but our guide Valerio says that unlike the US it is not gang related, but just kids expressing themselves.  He said they are "respectful", which I guess means that they leave the ruins and other city tourist sites alone and everything else is fair game.


Finally the tour was done. Valerio asked if we were hungry.  Especially for Steph and I that was a simple yes as we had flown all night and were given a cup of yogurt and one Fig Newton cookie for breakfast from the airline and had skipped lunch because of the busyness.  First we stopped at a gelato shop and that was heavenly.  Then he took us to a little Italian cafe where he knew the person in charge.  If you have a vision in your mind about what a little Italian cafe would look like, this was it. Maybe 20 seats inside and another 20 seats on the sidewalk outside.


Both the food and service were incredible. I had homemade fettuccine with tomato sauce and meatballs.  Super simple and super delicious.  Cost was probably the same or less than eating at Olive Garden or any other US Italian chain restaurant.  Quite simply the perfect end to a perfect tour of Rome.


After the meal was done, we again jumped into 2 taxis and went back to the hotel.  I think we were back in our room at 7:30 and Steph and I were out cold by 8:00.  Although it was long, this will be a day that I will always treasure. Sometimes the unexpected and spontaneous plans end up being the most memorable, and this was no exception.


To close, here's a few pics of the day.  Some of you may have seen some of these of my Facebook post, so I apologize for the duplication.  Again I apologize that I didn't warn you that you might have to stop reading this post in the middle for a light snack and to stretch your legs!



View from the park overlooking Rome.  Top right is St John's Bascilica and The Vatican.




I forgot what this was called....





The Spanish steps.




The Roman Colosseum.





Panoramic view of Trevi Fountain.  Thanks to Chuck in our group for this one!




These are all over the city.  It is drinkable water that is somewhat cold.




The city square.  Our restaurant was near here.




My supper.  Again I will say super simple and super delicious.




The restaurant gave us free shots of lemoncello for dessert.  I don't think I have ever seen my wife do a shot before.




Our hosts at the restaurant.  A dining experience I will always treasure.




Until tomorrow....




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Purple Posy Daisy


By now we should be back from our trip.

But I'm STILL "out of the office" today!


THANK YOU AGAIN for helping me earn the wonderful trip Todd & I just took!



I'm not sure when Purple Posy ink will be fixed...

(wouldn't that be awesome if it were by the time I'm back???)

but I didn't wanna hold off showing this card any longer.




Daisy Lane, Purple Posy and Seaside Spray--oh and I think Night of Navy.


You could probably use a different purple, but I'm kinda loving this one.


(MY pad was fine. But I've been trying to refrain from using it.)



The technique is masking:

  • stamp an image on scrap** and fussy cut it out
  • stamp the same image on your project
  • cover it with the fussy cut image and stamp it again third time, overlapping it a bit AND pressing very firmly to avoid leaving a gap between the stamped image and the scrap.

**I prefer to use copy paper type scrap, as opposed to cardstock; the thinner the paper, the smaller the gap.



Ok that's it for now.



Have an incredible day!

I'll be resting up!

But I have a surprise for you this week!

Stay tuned!!



Remember, if you can fall in love with a project, you can learn to create it! Here to help you channel your inner Creative Genius...




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