Just sharing a quick and simple Halloween card I made... I had fun working with the glitter on this one to change the texture and give it a little dimension.
Today's my last day of training and then it's playtime with my family! I'm looking forward to cake and ice cream and hanging out with my family tonight... I'm so glad I was able to be out here this week!
And now, just a quick layout using some photos of Ben that Erin posted recently. So cute! I was inspired on this one by this week's Pencil Lines sketch.
P.S. I managed to do that text on a path thing in Photoshop without even breaking out the directions this time! Go me.
... since Mel, Vic, Dustin and I got back from out trip to Paris. Sigh. That was such a fabulous trip! I've been thinking about that trip lately and marveling at how the time has flown, so I decided to scrap some more pictures from it. These are from our first day together where I took them all on the whirlwind typical tourist day, seeing the major sites and all. One of those stops, naturally, had to be Notre Dame.
I want to go back and do that whole trip again... it was just that awesome!
This is another one I did for last week's Hero Arts challenge (which I'm going to miss this week... oh well!) It doesn't look very good from the scan, but it's kind of cool in person. Part of the challenge was to see if you could use a photo on your card so this is one I took last year of the fall leaves in the parking lot at work. I also used crystal lacquer on the stamped trees which is what makes it cool in person, but you can't tell at all in the scan.
That's it... first day of training today so I'm sure I'll be ready to crash tonight... not to mention the Avs game is at 9pm eastern time (like I would miss it, though!)
This post is mostly for Kayla who was asking me about my craft room the other night. Apparently she's heard tales of the excess in supply hoarding so I thought I'd go ahead and share.
I'm in a little attic room over my garage. No climate control, but it's generally pretty comfortable in cold weather. When it's warm, though, I break out the fans and I've given thought to scrapbooking in my swimming suit... lol. I have one fan that's there just for my computer... can't have it overheating! I listen to music on it when I'm working, not to mention using it for Photoshop for printing photos and journaling and also for getting online.
(You can see my certificate for climbing the Great Wall of China hanging from my bulletin board. Eventually it will be in an album, but I just love having it there as a reminder.)
And now, a quick little overview of the room when you get up there. It's not really all that big... maybe 10x10 without furniture. I tell myself that the small size of the room is the reason why it looks like I have so much stuff... nothing at all to do with the fact that I actually have WAY too much stuff. I purge a few times a year, but it never seems to get any smaller... lol.
Note that above it should say "ribbons, stickets, etc..." but I'm too lazy to fix my image and re-upload it. lol.
So that's it... a peek into my overstuffed craft room. And with that, I'm off on a plane to Virginia for the week. I'm doing some training for work so that I can become a power user on the testing platform I use to run my tests at work, and I'm going to spend time with family. I still love that it worked out that my training is taking place in my home town during the week of my birthday while some other friends are in town. Too funny!
I love waking up on a Saturday morning with that cool, crisp feeling in the air. If only Fall didn't lead to Winter!
Speaking of Fall, though, I've been working on this week's Hero Arts Blog challenge and I made this card with one of their leaf stamps and some other goodies from my stash:
And now, I'm off to cook up some nachos (the healthy version...lol) for today's football game. Go Cougars! I'm hoping we can bounce back from that awful loss to TCU last week.
My sister-in-law sent me this list and thought it would be fun for me to do and post on my blog. So, here goes!
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (not the top, but I've been inside it!)
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when youʼre not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (no but I've held a lion... does that count? lol)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangeloʼs David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (um... what about EATING them? lol)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (next year)
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (flown over it, though)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (how long did I live in DC? lol)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (yuck.)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someoneʼs life every day
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (I've gotten close enough to smell it... at that point, would you really want to swim?)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day
So... what have you done? This was fun!
Both playing around with fun supplies while I was making this layout, and play time in the pictures! These are photos from the Hong Qiao market where we went one day to shop. As you can see, we had a pretty fun and playful group on the trip. Lots of people in the group had bought hats and while modeling, provided high entertainment for the people working at the market as well as the other tourists boarding their buses outside. You can see one of the sales girls in the background of bottom middle photo having a good laugh. Of course, that might also have been because Millie and Cheryl were modeling concubine headgear. lol.
I had fun making the little layered flowers for this - I used scraps of fabric and patterned paper along with pieces of printed rice paper cut from a Chinese calendar. Also, I couldn't rest until I got that piece of flair that says "Strike a Pose" onto the layout. The layout might look better without it, but the sentiment was just too perfect to leave out.
And with that, it's less than an hour until Friday and then next week I get to go home! Granted, I'm going for training for work but it happens to be literaly 10 minutes from my parents' house, and over the week of my birthday while some of my other friends are in town. lol. I swear I didn't even plan it that way, but sometimes things work out! So while I'm not packing, I can't wait to do some more playing this weekend (not to mention hoping the Cougars redeem themselves for that terrible loss last week!) :)
Once I decided to use these pictures I didn't have too many options for layout design, but I still like how this came out. Getting the journaling to line up was tricky but it worked pretty well. I feel like the whole thing is kind of plain until I look at the pictures... I think they tell the story all on their own here.
Okay, so that might be exaggerating a bit, but I've been reading Ali Edwards' latest book, Sharing Your Story, and it totally put me in the mood to do another mini album. I've sort of wanted to make myself a little Auntie Gwen Brag Book with pictures of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh, so I decided to go with that. I wanted something small and simple that I could add to and, given my love of all things circle, it's probably not a surprise that I decided to make a circle-shaped album.
I printed the photos at 2"x2" and then punched those out... I punched the covers out of thin chipboard and then punched the pages (evidently there was lots of punching... lol). I decided to keep it pretty simple and I'm pleased with the result. I even managed to break out some supplies I've had for years like the Doodlebug Token and the Making Memories Petite Signage... that always makes me happy. Anyway, right now I can't decide if I'm going to keep this for myself or give it away, but it's currently hanging from my bulletin board where I can take it down and enjoy it whenever I want. :)
...I'm posting two cards in a row! That's right, I officially went on a mini card kick. This has been pretty fun and I hope I'll keep it up :) Here's card #2 this week:
A bit of a style mix, but I really like this one. I love those Hero Arts flower stamps and I'm getting way more mileage out of that butterfly stamp than I ever thought I would! With that, though, I think I'm back to layouts for the time being... or at least until next week :)
It's actually pretty rare for me to make cards outside of DT work or when I actually need one to give with a gift, but the challenge this week on the Hero Arts blog put me in the card making mood. Here's what I made:
One of the many things I loved about China was the delicious food (no surprise there... lol). I was thinking that for this album, I'm going to break it out into sections instead of just doing the whole thing chronologically and one of the sections will be about the food. So here's my first layout about the food I ate in China.
We had dumplings in several different places, but this was the only place where that was the specialty. I skipped the shrimp ones but the eggplant filled were more than enough to make me happy! They brought a plate of garlic dumplings towards the end of the meal, but by that point I was too full to try one. I heard that they were quite strong, however... lol.
Okay, now I'm craving Chinese. Somehow, though, I don't think Panda Express will do the trick. lol.
P.S. Despite last night's absolutely dismal showing by the Cougars, I'm trying to remember that it's just a game, let it go, and enjoy the fact that the Avs won instead :) Actually, the more I think about that last part, the happier I am... it was a really good game!
This week has been another crazy week at work, not to mention my new trainer torturing me a few times this week (I can barely lift my arms today... lol). I'm definitely ready for the weekend! Not to mention ready for a little BYU football tonight. We're playing TCU and it's going to be a tough one... go Cougars!
Last night I did a quick layout - these are a few pictures from my second trip to the Summer Palace my last full day in Beijing. I need to do another page to go next to this one that shows all the views from the top - it was gorgeous!
I love that rubon at the bottom... I thought it was so cool and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to use it for this page. For the title, I found a website that has translations of English words into Chinese characters so I found the characters for House, Buddhist and Incense. That may or may not be right, but I thought it looked cool! After I printed it I heat embossed them in gold.
That's it for now... off to get some work done so I can take off early and watch the game. :)
I think I spent so much time uploading and sharing photos from China that I'm already needing a break from them... lol. So, here's something completely different! In the spirit of watching sporting events where the team you're cheering for wins (not that I'm annoyed at the Avs starting out 0-3 or anything), here's a layout from a Nats game where we beat the Yankees a few years ago.
I've been meaning to scrapbook this photo of Adorable-Nephew-Ben since Erin posted it on their blog in August... I love how beautiful Ben's eyes are in this one! I think this will remain one of my all-time favorites. Erin - I'm so glad you found this shot hiding on your camera!
So last night after I finished my layout of Eraleigh I wasn't quite ready to hit the sack. Instead I thought I'd get started on another layout while I was still in the mood and then I could finish it tonight. Um, yeah... so every time I think I'm going to just start something, I end up staying up later than I should because I inevitably get caught up in it and end up finishing it. Which is exactly what happened.
Back to China photos with this one! This layout is from when we had our lecture and demonstration on traditional Chinese watercolor. I always loved plum blossoms before because they're so pretty but now that I know the symbolism (they're the only flowers that bloom in winter), I love them even more. It was really cool to watch this guy create an entire painting from start to finish. (Especially because he was so nervous - it was his first showing - and he was doing it with a gaggle of photo happy scrapbookers gathered around... lol).
For this one I used a Basic Grey stamp set that I thought really looked like plum blossoms and went to town with masking and layering. I'm kind of excited that it actually came out! The plum blossom painting on the right is a tiny one that I picked up at the silk market and the butterfly is another of my Chinese papercuts. Looking back, it was really quite a cool thing that we were able to have that demonstration.
We had snow this morning when I got up, but fortunately not much and it was pretty much gone by noon. Hopefully we're not in for another winter like last one!
I was so excited for the start of hockey season and just watched the Avs play their second game... they've now lost both games at the very end of the 3rd. Sigh. I hope they buck up soon or it's going to be a long season!
And now I'm already taking a break from scrapping China photos... lol. Erin posted this picture of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh on her blog before I left last month and I've been dying to scrap it ever since. My mom bought her this cute little princess dress and Eraleigh looks so sweet in it! I'm already on my second princess layout... I foresee many of these in the future :D
Today was one of those days where I just laid in bed enjoying being warm and comfy while I could feel the cool air outside. It was the perfect day for snuggling in a blanket with a great book and then watching the Cougs go 6-0 as they beat New Mexico.
After the game I decided I wanted to try and get back into the swing of things with my scrapbooking. As I mentioned before, I was a bit intimidated by my 1,000+ photos from China. I decided to just pick some photos that worked with my mood and see what happened. These pictures are from Ho Hai, which is a gorgeous lake in the Hutongs with a restaurant and shopping area around it. We stopped here for a bit after our rickshaw tour.
The little pagoda scene in the bottom right is one of the Chinese papercuts from the many books of them I bought while I was there. I adhered this one to cardstock with a spray adhesive and then used my Prismacolor pencils to add a little color to the image and I was really pleased with the result. The strips of paper with Chinese writing are cut from a brochure I picked up at a restaurant.
I have to admit, I kind of stuck to one of my fall-back 2 page layout formulas and color schemes for this layout but now that I've scrapped some pictures I think I'll feel a little less intimidated and more adventurous next time :).
P.S. A big thank you to Susanna from Card of the Week for featuring my coffee table book as a runner-up mini album of the week! (and a big thank you to Heidi for the basis of the album). I love her site... I'm inspired with every post so I'm excited to be featured! Thanks!
P.S.S. I think I now need some hot chocolate. All of a sudden it's sounding really good!
I got sucked into another book tonight so I didn't post, but I'm getting around to it now... here's the last post from my adventures in China (at least until I start scrapbooking it!)
Sunday the 28th we got up early and went to the Temple of Heaven. This place was so cool... a lot of the locals come here on Sunday mornings to do their morning exercise, indulge in hobbies and just socialize with others. It was so cool to see so many out and active. There were groups doing ballroom dancing, tai chi and ribbon dancing. Several of our group got involved. Millie ballroom danced with one gentleman and lots of the ladies did some ribbon dancing. Here's Cheryl getting a quick lesson:
As we walked along the long corridor towards the temple there were groups crowding every inch playing cards or checkers, crocheting, playing instruments and there were several who were doing Chinese opera, karaoke style. At one spot there was a lady singing and next to her was this cute old man in hot pink pants dancing, waving a little scarf and mouthing every word to every song. He was so sweet and fun to watch!
Then we reached the temple itself and after a brief lecture from Charlie, he set us loose to explore. A little inside joke here... Charlie would take us places and then tell us "plenty of time to explore" and then he would turn around and say "meet back here in 15 minutes." We all got a kick out of that. I think my favorite was the 7 minute window we got once. Anyway, we had 15 minutes here so I took off to see as much as I could! Here's a shot of the main temple:
On the way back to the bus, Jim made sure that we all had a chance to see and enjoy one of the funnier signs we'd seen so far. Everyone around us was probably totally confused by the long line of people waiting outside the bathroom to take pictures of this sign. lol.
From there we made another quick trip back to the Silk Market for those in the group that wanted to do some last minute bargaining. Here's a view of one of the aisles in the arts & crafts section:
And my favorite sign, the ironic statement that we could "shop with confidence." Here Millie is showing off some of her last-day gleanings:
After this we went back to the hotel where I met Kelly Jean and we headed back across town for another visit to the Summer Palace (driving in Beijing is not on my list of goals... my few car rides about gave me a heart attack!) Both of us wanted to see a few things that we hadn't caught on the tour, especially the House of Buddhist Incense... it was a bit of a climb to get up there, but it was so worth it for the view. Here's the House of Buddhist Incense:
After wandering around there (and doing a bit more shopping in the carts), we headed back to the hotel where we had our farewell dinner and then the next morning we checked out and we were off! The flight home was long, but Air Canada has these cool touch screens where you can go into the menu and select all kinds of tv, movies or XM Radio. I finally got to see What Happens in Vegas and Iron Man (which is definitely a new favorite of mine).
So that's it! The trip was amazing and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I saw and experienced so many things that I'm going to treasure forever and I met so many wonderful people. It was awesome from start to finish. So with that, here's a link to my online album with about 500 of the more than 1,000 photos I took. And now, it's time to try and start scrapbooking! Probably not tonight, though... tonight is my last GMAT class and it's also the first night of the new hockey season. Go Avs!!!
During one of our scrapbook classes in China, we made a coffee table album where we could just pick one or two pictures from each of the main things we saw and have a quick album that we could share. Heidi challenged us to have it completed within a few days of getting home. I've been back for just over a week (but my computer didn't work for two days) and last night I finished the journaling and put the finishing touches on each of the pages. I'm pretty pleased with it and I'm glad I did it because Heidi was right... I am intimidated by the thought of scrapbooking any of my pictures. This was a nice way to break into it. So without further ado, here's a quick overview of the entire album:
I tried to keep it pretty simple but I probably still got a bit carried away. There's journaling on the back side of each of the flaps. Also, a big thanks to Catherine for the silk scrap and Millie who gave me that gorgeous embroidered panda (she made it herself!)
This was Saturday, 9/27, and it was one of the days I was most looking forward to... this was Great Wall Day. First, though, we stopped off at a jade carving factory on our way to the wall. This was one of the things I had been saving my money for, not to mention the fact that I was really interested to learn more about it. They taught us about the different kinds of jade and then showed us the process of carving and smoothing before we went to the showroom. This lady was making what they call a Happy Family Ball - it's multiple carved balls inside of each other all carved from a single piece of jade. I've always wanted one of these so I splurged and got a small one.
From there, we headed to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. It was so cool... I almost misted up standing on the street and looking up at it... I never thought I would see it in person. It's amazing to see how huge it is and to think that this giant wall, which goes on and on for as far as you can see and then miles and miles beyond that, was all built by humans. Incredible.
A group of us (me, Emily, Veronica, Catherine, Heidi (with Connor) and Chanel) all ended up climbing the wall together. Emily and I had gone that way (even though our guide, Charlie, said it was the steep side) because there were far fewer people. After a few minutes of climbing, I knew why! When we finally got to the top we did our Rocky poses of Victory.
After we left the wall (not nearly enough time!) we drove to a government Friendship store where we had another nice lunch and then had a chance to shop. I actually refrained there since I knew I could get the same stuff cheaper by bargaining at the markets ;)
From there, we went to a Cloisonne factory where we learned how it's made. That was fascinating... I had no idea how much work and craftsmanship goes into each piece! They create all the copper designs by hand and then send them to the painters who fill in the colors with natural rock minerals mixed with water. Then they fire it and go over it again... they fire it five times! Then they smooth the whole thing. No wonder the good stuff costs so much! I also liked that they showed us how to tell the real from the fake (which we also learned about jade earlier in the morning).
Here's a lady with her dishes of mineral powders coloring in a vase:
After this we drove back to downtown Beijing where we had one of the most wonderful things I've ever experienced... a 60 minute foot massage. We soaked our feet in buckets of water and salt for 20 minutes or so while they worked on our backs. Those little girls are strong! I had bruises after mine, but it felt so good. Then for the rest of the time they worked on our feet and I've never felt anything so heavenly. Jim, Millie, Denise and I were all in a room together and it was a hoot being with them! Especially after they pulled out the giant vibrating massagers for our legs and feet. lol. (You can see how swollen my feet were from all the travel and walking... this was bliss!)
Finally, we headed off to dinner. Delicious, as usual! Oh, and that line of off-white that looks kind of like rice? Garlic. One of the servers came by and mixed it all up for us. That was one strong dish!
So that was the end of day 7, and it was amazing from start to finish.
And still more from China! (and a warning... another LONG post.)
Thursday 9/25 was one of the days that I was really looking forward to... it was our optional day trip to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. This was something that I had seen pictures of, read about and seen documentaries about, but seeing it in person was a huge thrill. We got up at 4:30am to get the bus to the airport at 5:30am for our flight... so tired! But it was so worth the early morning. We got to the airport at Xi'an and met our guide there, Jessica, where we took another bus about 50 minutes to the excavation site. It was exactly what I expected and not at all what I expected at the same time. First of all, I didn't expect it to be quite so huge! I also didn't realize that there were still so many ruins or that the pits that had been found were still currently being excavated and that the warriors all had to be renovated because of the destruction to the tombs over the years. But still... for clay statues that are over 2000 years old, it was amazing. I couldn't help but look at the workmanship and then compare it to sculptures in later eras in other parts of the world. Not to mention how much time it took to make each of them and the fact that they've only found 7 pits (only 3 open to the public) and there's so much more still to be unearthed! Totally incredible. Here are a few shots from pit 1.
The whole thing was unbelievable. From there we saw a movie about the history of the site, had lunch and then headed back to the airport where we thought we were going to be late but ended up not worrying; our plane was delayed 2 hours because of heavy rain in Shanghai. So, we all hung out at the airport, catching up on sleep, reading tourist books from the site and most importantly, finding our way to the ice cream cart where they were selling Magnum bars (someone please tell me why we don't have those in the states? so good!) We finally got back to the hotel around 10:30pm where as you can imagine, we crashed.
We started out the day with a class with Heidi. We were working on the covers to our travel journal and also binding a coffee table album that we were making (and I'm proud to report that mine is almost done! Photos are all there, just finishing a little embellishing). Millie, however, is not a scrapbooker (although I think we converted her) and we all, Heidi included, got to giggling a bit over her book-binding issues. Heidi eventually took it away from her and returned it later completely finished.
From there we jumped on the bus to go to the Hutongs for a rickshaw tour. People keep asking me what my favorite part of the trip was and I can't really nail it down to just one. I think, though, that there's a top 5 and this would definitely be part of it.
Here's me in my rickshaw (I was an odd number and scored my own!)
And my awesome rickshaw driver:
We had several stops on this tour... the first was to the home of some locals where we were invited inside and they told us about living in the hutongs and answered questions. Then, since it turns out that our host was an artist (and, shock! he had paintings for sale!) we did a little more shopping for art. He actually had some really gorgeous work so, once again, I indulged in a painting that I need to go get framed.
After lunch we went to a kindergarten where a class of really adorable 5-year olds performed a little song for us. They were so cute. Then at the end of the tour we were give some time near the Ho Hai area to explore, shop, grab a drink... whatever! It was a really beautiful area.
I think one of my favorite things about the Hutongs was the peace. It was just beautiful and riding along in the rickshaw (even with the crazy traffic), it was so enjoyable and quiet to take a drive through everyday life in such beautiful weather and with such unique transportation. Definitely a top-5 highlight.
From there, we went to the World Famous Chinese Acrobats! We had VIP seats right in front and I actually ended up in the front row right in the center. The show was amazing! It's incredible to see the things that these people can do with their bodies.
So that's it for tonight... only two days left to share. For now though, I'm grabbing some Tylenol PM and hitting the sack! I still can't kick the jetlag and I've had a rough couple of nights lately. I can't wait until I'm feeling on schedule again... there's much scrapbooking to be done! (Not to mention hockey season starts this week... lol).
Back with more! I meant to post last night but the jetlag caught up with me and I crashed on the couch after the BYU game. (Go Cougars!)
So here's the rundown from Wed. 9/24... it was quite a day!
We started off with a trip to the Beijing Zoo to see the Giant Pandas. They were so adorable! There were also 6 of them that had been brought in after the earthquake earlier this year since they had lost their homes; they were all eating bamboo and they were so cute. I felt like Elmira in Tiny Toons. I wanted to love them and hug them and take them home and cuddle them forever and ever. lol.
Next, we went to a silk factory where we learned how silk is made. It's actually fascinating... one single cocoon from a silk worm makes like 1.5 Kilometers of silk thread (or something like that). We went through and saw how they spin if off of the cocoons and also saw how they take the double cocoons and stretch them out to make silk quilts. Of course, they also had a few showrooms where we could buy silk. None of it was in my budget, though, so despite falling in love several times I managed to refrain :)
We had a really delicious lunch there at the silk factory and then headed off to the Summer Palace. This was one of my favorite places on the tour... it was very beautiful but what I loved most was the sense of peace. You could see how this would have been such a retreat; even with thousands of people all around me, I could still feel it. This place is also huge (naturally, since it was an imperial residence) and we were bummed that we couldn't see more while we were there but it would have taken all day and then some to see it all.
That night we were on our own for dinner so a big group of us decided that we wanted to see the Night Market that was just a few blocks from our hotel. This is where they have all the crazy stuff on a stick. We didn't actually plan on eating dinner there, but we tried a few things that seemed safe to eat. They had different kinds of fruit on a stick and dipped in this candy stuff that hardened and it was delicious! The fried bananas were also good. There were a lot of things, though, that I wasn't about to try... for example:
Then there were the trays of creepy crawlies. Catherine (middle in the photo above) actually bought a big old scorpion (but didn't eat it) to pose for pictures (that's one of the things about going on a scrapbooking tour... you have to have pictures of everything!)
Finally, there were a few people that bought fried starfish on a stick. There was a local guy that showed us how to open it to eat it and so after posing for pictures, we gave it to him!
So that was all just one day! Be back with more later :)
So I finally got all my photos off the camera, deleted the bad ones and rotated the verticals (I hate that part... it took forever!). There was so much on this trip that there's no way it's going to fit in one post, but here's part one (I tried to be brief but even at that, this is going to be long... sorry about that!).
Sun 9/21 - we got to the hotel and I met my roommate, Millie (who is awesome) and we cleaned up and relaxed after our flights. Then we had a welcome dinner in the hotel with our first taste of some really delicious Chinese food. Mostly we were all super tired so we crashed around 9:30 to try and get ourselves on Beijing time.
Mon 9/22 - nothing like starting out big, right? Our first site-seeing excursion was Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. Here's a shot of me in Tienanmen Square posing like a local... lol.
After spending a little time in the square we went through the tunnel under the street to the entrance to the Forbidden City. This was one of the top things on the list of what I wanted to see in China and it didn't disappoint. One of the first things I thought when I got inside was that the Forbidden City makes Versailles look like a cottage in the country; the emperors of China had immense and intimidating down to a science. Not to mention all of the beauty, luxury, craftsmanship and perhaps surprisingly, peace.
Here's one of the views when we finally got past the gate... I really wanted to capture how huge everything was and it took seven separate photos to get the entire thing. ENORMOUS. You might have to click and enlarge to get a better idea...
Then, once you get across a bridge and through the courtyard and through another set of gates, there's more!
After leaving the Forbidden City, we went to the Silk Market. This is 5 floors of bargainer's bliss. They tell you everything is real (but it isn't, not the place to buy electronics) and you have to be good at haggling to keep from getting ripped off. Fortunately, I've been watching Nicole on the last few trips. She would have been proud :)
My favorite view of the market is when the sign reads "Shop with Confidence." We all found that highly amusing. Here's a shot of a few of us after our first shopping experience in Beijing. Notice that we definitely weren't empty handed... lol.
One of my favorite things about this trip was all of the people I met... it was such a fun group. Here we have (left to right) Donna, Emily, Lyn, Kelly Jean, Me, Millie (my roomie), Denise and Brenda.
For dinner that night we ate in a dumpling house and it was delicious! I love what they can do to eggplant in that country.
This was probably our lightest day (good for jetlag... lol.) We started out the morning with a short but wonderful lecture from Heidi on different ways to think when we take pictures on our trip. I found myself thinking about what she said throughout the rest of the experience and I hope I was able to capture some of what I really wanted to remember.
Next was a very cool experience - we had a master-candidate painter come and teach us about traditional Chinese painting and do a demonstration for us. We learned about the symbolism of the plum blossom and why it's such a popular subject of paintings (it flowers in Winter which I think is very cool). After that we had a chance to buy some of his work for very reasonable prices and, I have to admit, I picked up a painting. I'm going to be visiting the framing department at Michael's here soon.
Next we were able to visit the brand new national theater (including the opera house). This was just opened before the Olympics and I have to say, it's an absolutely amazing building. Here's just a glimpse:
After that we went to yet another market... Hong Qiao and the Pearl Market (although I wasn't in the market for pearls so I skipped that part). That was much quieter than the Silk Market and it seemed like they were willing to come down on their price faster. I admit, I picked up a few things here too (but hey - my Christmas shopping is almost entirely done!)
Here are Millie, Cheryl and Jim making everyone in the vicinity die with laughter. We found out later that Millie and Cheryl had picked out concubine headgear. lol.
And finally, a group shot taken at the end of the street outside the restaurant. That was such a beautiful area (all newly renovated for the Olympics, of course) and it was a beautiful night.
With a group like that, how could I not have fun?
Well, that's it for now... time for me to work on my coffee table book, I think. More tomorrow!
Or the DHL man, to be precise. Looks like my power supply shipped out quickly after all and it should arrive today. Assuming I can install the darn thing, I should be able to get pictures tonight. Yay! I can't wait to see them all and get scrapping some of them!
ETA... it came! I actually managed to install it myself in about 15 minutes with only one call to Brian (to make sure I was taking the plugs out correctly... those suckers didn't want to let go!) I got the pictures off my camera and later tonight I'll work on getting stuff I can share. I can't wait to go through them all!
Well, I'm back at work today but I don't have any photos to post yet. I finally managed to drag myself out of bed around 3:30pm yesterday (I'm so glad I took the day off!) and after unpacking, starting the laundry, getting dressed and getting some groceries for my totally empty fridge, I settled down to work on photos. My computer wouldn't start. I talked to my computer whiz sister and BIL and we all came to the same consensus: burnt out power supply. So, I got on the phone with Dell and ordered a new one and requested and paid for next-day shipping. Then the lady on the phone turned around and said that my estimated ship date was on or before October 6th and that it would arrive the next day after they ship it. lol. What's the point of paying for next-day shipping if they don't ship it for a week? ARGH!!!!! I'm crossing my fingers that it will ship on the before side of 10/6. In the meantime, I'll have to work on catching up on my sleep, I guess. lol. At least this time it was only a minor computer problem instead of my car (knock on wood!)
In any case, the trip was fabulous. I saw amazing sites, ate delicious food and made some wonderful friends. I'm also very glad that Heidi had us do that travel journal to bring with us because without it I wouldn't be able to remember what we did let alone when we did it! I'll be leaning on that heavily once I finally have my photos. In the meantime, Heidi posted a little bit about the trip with a few pictures as we went along so you can check out her blog... scroll down a few posts and you'll see me, front and center in front of the Great Wall.