Thursday, June 25, 2015

CTMH Convention 2015

There are only 14 days until 

I leave for Disneyland!

When can I pack?  

Who am I kidding, you know I have already started packing. 
 The convention supply list came out just before I left for Norway and I was able to get it packed and ready to go this week.  I love the hard side luggage that I bought earlier this year, it is going to be perfect to keep all of my scrapbooking supplies safe during travel. 

I normally do not have a room mate during convention because my family has always gone with me in the past.  They play in the parks during the day while I dream of all of the new products that we are going to be able to create with in the new catalog. 

 This year because the family is staying home I decided to open my room to one person as a roomie. One of the CTMH traditions with convention if you have a roomie is roomie gifts.  This is the first year I will be able to give someone a gift just for sharing a room with me.... 

Oh stop!

I will be on my best behavior while sharing this room - I promise!
  The gift is just a nice break the ice gesture and I hope she likes what I put together for her.

I will be taking my laptop and posting from convention the items that I am allowed to tell you about.  I will also be taking photos of the crop time that we have and I hope to grab pictures of some of the ladies that I only get to see once a year. 

Be one the lookout for firm crop and workshop dates because I will also be getting the info I need to put the finishing touches on those yearly plans.

It is going to be a jammed packed 3 days of classes, creative sessions and gab time. This year I will also receive my "10 year" charm during one of the general sessions.   Can you tell I am super excited?

Convention is truly the highlight of my year. 

 Thank you for being one of the reasons I love to go and learn.  Without you I would not be the scrapbooker I am today. 


The last day to order out of the current catalog is August 31, 2015.  Many items are on the retired list and will go very quickly.   

Please take this time to make sure that none of your dream items are on that list and if they are please order them before they are gone.   

Here is the link.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thursday - Oslo, Norway

So sorry for the delay in getting back to the blog this week.  Sunday we were spending time with Mike's parents for Father's Day and Monday I was trying to navigate the DFW Airport to pick up Kaela.  She came home from Paris that day and I am so glad I left home 3 hours before her flight was due to land because traffic was horrible due to construction on the roads  and the airport is having major construction with parking and the terminals. I drove around for an hour just looking for parking.  I only had 20 minutes to spare before she landed... I am not joking! 

Where were we?  Oh It is now Thursday in Oslo and I have a pass to the conference to see Mike speak.  I have only been able to be in the audience one other time to hear his talks so we are very appreciative to the NDC organizers for letting me have access to a day pass.  

Mike found a central location that I could hang out and work on business  from home while he took the camera to document what was important to him.  A very excited Mike took these photos so some of them are not the best quality but we love him anyway.

As soon as it was time he took me to the room he was going to be speaking in.  I was trying to sneak the photos and not be disruptive to the process but I was about to burst my buttons I am so proud of him.

I have no idea what he is talking about but he is having a blast doing it!

Now a  little background...

Anytime I have trouble sleeping I ask Mike to "talk nerdy to me".  He will start telling me all about his day, or a bug that he was trying to fix in a program, or he will practice his next talk.  Knowing that his voice will put me right to sleep.  It is not that I am not interested in what he is saying but it is the cadence that he takes on when talking anything nerd that is just lights out for me.

So here we are during his talk and yep... I start yawning!

I cannot help it.  After 29 years together he has me trained to fall asleep when he starts talking like that. 
I felt so bad, here he is giving it his all and his wife is in the front row yawning her butt off.  It was not one of my best moments.   I managed to not fall asleep but it was touch and go there for a bit.  

On the way out from the room the attendees get a chance to vote on the speaker.  There are boxes in the hall that look like stop lights (red, yellow, green) Red if they did not like the speaker or did not get anything out of the talk, Yellow if they thought it was ok, and Green if they like it.  
Mike had mostly all Green with his votes, a couple Yellows and no Red.  
Not bad for a first time NDC Oslo speaker! 

After his talk I went back to the room to get us packed since we were leaving very early the next morning.  I wanted us to be able to enjoy the evening together.  Mike popped into other sessions to learn from other peers and loved all of the different view points.

The conference ended for the day at 8:30pm and we decided that we wanted to go for a walk and find a sit down restaurant to eat.  Remember when we were on the shrimp dinner boat that we got lost because we could not find the street signs?  
Here are the street signs..

And remember they are not in the same location on the buildings so you still stand there like a goof if you do not know where you are going just trying to find a sign,

I was able to get better photos of the Palace this time then it was off to find some dinner.

I was so happy to see a menu in English!  And the variety of food was fantastic. 

So you seat yourself, look at the menu, then go to the bar to place your order and pay.  They bring the food to your table.  At first we thought this was weird but loved it once we were ready to go and the bill was already paid.

Mike was so tired but also very hungry.  His last meal was about 11 hours before so I needed to get some food into him.  

I had pasta - he had fish soup - 

He was a happy man!

After our dinner we realized that it was close to 11pm so we started our walk back to the hotel.

Then I found the Parliament Building...

Here is another view of the park we kept walking past.

And the other end of Karl Johans Gate.

We left Noway bright and early Friday morning with plans to try and come back next year.

We have our fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Downtown - Oslo, Norway

Have I mentioned that the sun never really goes down in Norway during the summer?  It becomes a little darker than twilight but not as dark as it does here at home.  The "sunrise" was at 3:30am and "sunset" at 10:30pm.

The Shrimp Dinner Boat tour ended close to 10:00pm and since it was still light outside Mike and I decided to walk around town and get photos of some of the sights.  As we were pulling back into the marina Mike took this photo of the Oslo City Hall.

 Here is another view as we were walking by:

Why is the Oslo City Hall in all of the guide books?  Because it is known for the Murals on the walls depicting life in Norway and it is where the Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded.  We did not get to go in because it was after business hours but it is still a beautiful building to see. 

Here some images I pulled from the web of the inside of Oslo City Hall

I regret not being able to go inside but we took so many turns that I did not know how to find my way back to City Hall.  It was not until the last night that we even found where the street signs were.  They are attached to the buildings and they are not in the same spot on the buildings.  So you are standing there like a goof trying to figure out what street you are on. 

Next up was a photo of the Royal Palace:

This is as close we were could get because my feet and legs were getting super tired and I did not want to push it to far (we still had to walk back to the hotel).  But I found a photo on the web of the entire palace for you.

So this palace sits at the end of the street and it is the residence of the Royal Family.  As you can see there are no gates - you can just walk right up to the door. 

On the way back from the palace we heard a clock ringing the hour and realized it was 11:00 pm.  We were standing next to this fountain at the time.

Yep that is what 11:00pm in Oslo looks like.

Oh you want to know about the fountain?  It was in a pretty little park not far from the palace.  The sculpture is by an artist that is featured all over Oslo.  I am not sure why the children are naked but it means something to the people of Norway.

The sculpture did remind me that there was a sculpture park I wanted to find that featured work form the same artist.  I never did find the park so I pulled photos from the web for you here too. Again I have no idea why everyone is naked ....

I told Mike that next time we go to Oslo (because I am sure there will be a next time) we will have to fly in a couple of days early so that we can do the sights together.  Mike was at the conference the whole trip so he missed out on the sights. 

We are making our way back to the hotel when we realized that we made a wrong turn somewhere, again no street signs to help us out.  We finally made it back to the hotel around midnight and our feet were so done with walking.  We were tired but I just could not settle so I pulled a coke out of the mini bar.

What do you notice about this Coke?  It is in a glass bottle!  I have not seen a coke in a glass bottle in years.  We all know what Mini Bar prices are like in most hotels so here is how my coke worked out money wise.

single coke 51.00 kon = 6.60 USD

Now before you ask why I paid that much for one bottle of coke, that was the same price as stores and restaurants so it was not any more expensive to just take it out of the room. Sometimes you have to have a coke....   Oh and the mini bar is on the honor system.  When we checked out they asked if I took anything out of the mini bar.  I said one coke and was charged for one coke. 

Stay tuned for my day at the NDC conference...

NDC - Shrimp Dinner Cruise Oslo, Norway

What do you get when you take two tour boats and close to 200 geeks out on a dinner cruise?  

Happy Geeks!

A little background....

Mike is on a speaking circuit of technology conferences.  He does not get paid in cash but in free conference tickets, sometimes hotel, sometimes air fare, and always FOOD.  At every conference there is a "speakers dinner" that the organizers host so that the speakers get a little time to pick each others brains about all things techo and geeky.  Most of the same guys go from conference to conference and become friends too. 

NDC is the first conference that I know of that includes spouses to join the dinner.  I heard rumors about the dinner cruise but I was not sure if it was the speakers dinner or just a tourist outing so I did not get too excited.  

It was a Speakers Dinner!

So after walking for what seemed like12 miles we saw the port.  We had the choice of boats we wanted to be on so we choose the one that was not filling up so fast.  These are double decker tour boats and I wanted to be top side to get the best photos.

(Above is a photos of the sister tour boat with many of Mikes friends onboard.)

 So we walk onboard and the first thing that is given to us is a glass of Champagne.  
It is going to be a good night.

(a boat full of men just waiting for the shrimp feast)

We sailed for about 45 minutes with free flowing drinks, blankets, and very excited men who know what is about to happen and are ready for all you can eat shrimp.  I was all for the shrimp tour because shrimp the only seafood I will touch. 

 I was excited until I saw the shrimp....

Here let me give you a closer look.

Um, those shrimp still look like shrimp.  
I like to pretend that my shrimp just come in the frozen section of the grocery store all ready for me to make.  But I was still game.

Dinner was served, here is the menu

pasta salad
salad greens
french bread

The way to eat is to take your bread and slice it in half.   Slather mayo on the bread.  Squeeze lemon on the bread / mayo.  Pile on the shrimp, add the salad greens and gorge.  A little olives and pasta salad on the side.

I had a feeling Mike already knew what I was going to do when I saw my plate.  
It was salad greens and french bread.  That is it!

Mike tried make the shrimp look more like a shrimp from home,

Removed head
Removed shell
Removed legs
Removed internal eggs
Removed tail

He handed me the naked shrimp for me to try. I did try it but as I was eating it my stomach said

"if you keep eating this shrimp I am going to make you very unhappy"

Then my tummy lurched.
I was done trying to eat the shrimp and my salad plate looked really good.

So I had to sit there for almost an hour while the entire boat made mounds of shrimp body parts and ate like there was no tomorrow.  They ate like they have never had shrimp before!  I am not kidding.

After the shrimp slaughter it was time to take photos of the beautiful Fjord. 

As the cruise went on and people started to settle down we noticed that it was getting really cold on the boat.  The sun was going down, it was after all about 10:30pm so Mike took our last drink tickets and came back with spiked coffee.

  I was in heaven!!! 
 I was warm!!!

Everyone else noticed what Mike did and made a bee line back to the bar.

It was a funny sight to see.

One of the organizers noticed that I was on board and asked if I wanted a guest conference badge for the next day.  I jumped on the chance - Now I will get do see Mike speak.

Stayed tuned to see photos of the Norway Royal Palace.

Can We Do Lunch? Oslo, Norway

I was excited to get out and have lunch on my own.  
I know it sounds weird but I am not one of those people that minds eating alone in public.  I love to people watch if in a new place or dig out a notebook and jot down thoughts for my next blog post or even plan scrapbooking events or layouts.  

Being in a new city I wanted to people watch and just get some thoughts down on paper before I forgot all of the little details that come in handy when scrapbooking any vacation.  Remember in the last post I said that many of the clerks and wait staff speak English in the tourist area's?  Well because of this I was not worried about venturing out.  

Until it was time to order lunch.....

I want to be brave, I want to eat somewhere local and experience things that I would not get at home BUT I was to hungry to risk another brown cheese incident or ordering fish on accident because it might look like chicken - so I went to the TGI Friday's that is attached to our hotel. 

I have not been to a Friday's in a long time because the one close to us kinda sucks but this place was packed at lunch so I took a chance.  

This is the order that I was trying to place:

Jack Daniels Chicken appetizer
side salad

By my calculations lunch should have been about $20 USD.  More expensive than I am used to spending for lunch but doable.  

Do to a language barrier here is what I really ordered:

Jack Daniels Chicken appetizer
Chicken Caesar Salad
drink = coke

This was way more food than I was expecting but I did not want to protest the order since I did order it.  So lunch came out to:
309.00 kr  or $40.00 USD

For ONE person!

A little advice I need to take from myself next time we travel out of country.  Just point to what you want on the menu - do not worry about looking stupid or assume that because they speak English that they understand as well as you do. 

Now because I stuffed myself silly at lunch I needed a nap.  My grand idea was to go back to the room to get a little nap.  In reality Kaela started texting me from Paris so I talked to her some then crashed.  Mike woke me up at 5:30 to tell me it was time to get ready for dinner.

Stay tuned to the next blog post for the amazing Shrimp Boat dinner tour...

Pluralsight Breakfast - Oslo, Norway

After getting some sleep - not much but some I woke up at 1am and Mike woke up at 4am.  The time change was getting to us but there was work to be done.  Mike used the early morning hours to work on his presentation to make everything work off the network just on the off chance the wifi in the conference building goes haywire.  Now he can give his talk and not have to rely on outside data connections.  I sat there and stared at him while he worked because after eating the early morning oatmeal at about 3am I was starving again.

But Mike wanted to wait and have breakfast with his friends from Pluralsight.  Pluralsight is not only a sponsor of the event but Mike is one of their course Authors.  Over to the Raddison Blu Hotel we go.  On the way over Mike is showing me how to get back on my own because after breakfast he will go off to the conference and I will head out on my own.  There is only a few blocks from  hotel to hotel but because of round about's and traffic patterns it takes about 15 minutes to walk to each venue.  

It was fun meeting the Pluralsight folks and Mike's fellow authors during breakfast.  Oh and let me stop here for just a moment to say that the "Free Hotel Breakfast" over here beats any free breakfast by hotels in the states.  The amount and variety of foods offered was amazing!  Mike had fish (eww) for breakfast and I had the normal stuff for me.

Then all too soon it was time for me to start venturing out in the City of Oslo on my own.  Mike went left and I bravely took a right and off I go.   I was so proud of myself because I was able to navigate granite stairs in the rain (slippery steps are not my friend) and also not get lost.  I was almost back to the hotel and I fell.  I did not do my normal semi-graceful I know I am going to fall and catch myself ... I did a full on belly flop on the sidewalk! 

 I think I was on the ground 3 seconds and I popped back up hoping that no one saw me (right.....) and hobbled my way back to the room.  Falling on concrete is bad enough but uneven granite and concrete mix of stepping stones hurt like crap.  There are no sidewalks like we know back in the states. Here it is a mix of cobble stone, granite squares and concrete squares (10 inch x 10 inch) and they are not even but rather you will be walking along and one is raised and a shoe catches.  Mike was even having trouble so I was being extra careful.  Oslo is not a good city for the "walking challenged" such as myself.  :-)  but I try. 

I took a quick look and my palms are all bruised and my knees are a mix of bruises and scrapes.  I am not sure how my maxi skirt did not rip but it seems fine except for a little dirt.  I decided that the best course was to just jump back in the shower to wash off the street grime  and clean the scrapes.  A little soap, water, & Advil and I was back on my way.  

I step outside of the hotel and it was raining even more so I decided to hit the mall that is across the street, Oslo City to get the list of gifts Mike asked me to pick up for his team.  The original plan was to walk down to the Palace to get photos and be a tourist but it was raining, I was in a little pain and I was being a total wimp. 

Shopping it was! 

(Oslo City "Mall")

Mind you - all of the above that just happened is BEFORE 9am! I step into the mall and the shops are not open yet but I found a little bit of home.


A tall mocha Frap here in Oslo was 54.00 kr so about $7.03 so way more expensive than home but I had time to kill.  I made a nice discovery on this mall trip, most of the clerks that work in the tourist area speak English.  Yay me!  My Starbucks Barista was from Pennsylvania so we talked for a bit about home and Norway.  She came over with her husband and is very happy living in Norway but misses home too.  When I noticed the different foods being sold at the Starbucks I asked if I could take a photo of the case.  She said as long as I was not the media it was allowed.

Can being a scrapbook consultant and blogger be considered the "media"?  
I hope not.

See that cheese in the case?  
That is Norwegian Brown Cheese a local favorite.  
Mike put some on my breakfast plate while we were with the Pluralsight crew and let me just say that the face I made while tasting it was not pretty.  The guys around the table had a good laugh at my expense and I then put the cheese on Mike's plate.   I knew when I saw it in the Starbucks case I had to get a photo not only to tell you about it but it will also give a good laugh memory from this trip. 

Once the shops opened the challenge was to find gifts for Mikes team back home.  The team name for this group of people is the "spicy banana's".  I need to find team gifts for geeks named the spicy banana's - challenge excepted!

I found the perfect gifts 

When my little geek friends travel they have travel receipts or power cords to keep track of.  These little bags just seemed perfect for that.  

A loose English translation is:
Together we can do the impossible

Yep that fits this team! 

I also love on the practical side that they are light and flat for packing to bring back home.  I will not have to find a post office to ship them to the office.  I was prepared to do that if needed.  I also found a great little book store.  I can not post the photos because they are gifts for family but I spent about an hour just walking around and enjoying a good old fashion book store.  I was in love.

After a day of shopping I spent:
1004 kr or $ 129.34 USD

I was feeling very good about being a savvy shopper until lunch. 

Tune into the next post to hear about this adventure!

Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania - Oslo, Norway

(photo from web)

 The perks of my job.

One of the best perks of my job is the freedom to travel when I want / need to.  I was  on a business trip with Mike this week.   He is speaker at the NDC or (Norwegian Developers Conference) in Oslo, Norway and he wanted me to come along for the ride.  Yay me!

We left Dallas bright and early Monday for a day of travel, with the time change we landed in Norway at 10:30 Tuesday morning.  The first order of business was getting out of the airport... easier said than done.   Immigration was a breeze - reading or trying to read the signs to find the exit was another problem.  Then came the train station..... one nerd and one blonde.... you get the picture.

(photo found on web)

We finally made it on the train and to our destination then getting out of the train station was as bad as getting out of the airport.  It might have seemed that bad because I was the only and I mean only person that did not sleep on the plane and by this point I was a grouch.  The other problem was the map that I made was packed in our suite case and I did not want to open it in the middle of a train station.  Major blonde moment while packing on my part I will admit. 

 Our hotel is the brown building in the middle of the photo.  

Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania
Biskop Gunnerus Gate 3
0155 Oslo

Since I was beyond done with travel and way over tired I stayed in the room to rest and recoup since Mike had a business meeting.  He went out and found me some food and I had dinner in bed.  Then sleep.. then I explored the room.

 We almost started a fire because I read a tip about taking a power strip and one plug converter.  Plug the converter into the wall then your power strip.  Well the concept is genius unless you forget about the different electric current. We need a voltage converter too for this to work.   One power strip is toast and smoking, the hotel had to change a fuze since we blew all the lights in the room (twice) - hey the desk clerk tried it the second time just to see.

Then Mike went downstairs and purchased a USB charger for Europe.  Now we can use the adaptor we bought for the laptop's because they have dual voltage (that box that is attached to the power cord) and we can plug in the phones and tablets into the USB charger because it is made for small electronics.  Lesson learned and I will be marking the adaptor as a Europe cell phone only plug so we do not fry a laptop on accident.    Thank goodness for the understanding desk clerk and many thanks to her for not laughing her butt off at us.

Things not found in the room:

a clock of any kind
a dresser for clothes
space (room is tiny)
a wash cloth
bar soap
no plugs in the bathroom
no shower curtain (half glass wall)

Things that are different than US in the room:

Liquid soap for whole body
2 towels only
electric plugs
light switches (key card)
TV only shows hotel ads
King size bed with 2 twin blankets
take 2 people to figure out how to turn the shower on

Things I love about the room:
wood floors
oversized bed pillows
Mike can not steal the blanket (he has his own)
simple beautiful style of room
beautiful bathroom once you figure it out

Those twin mounds on the bed are the blankets.

I took a warmish shower because I could not figure out how to get hot water then Mike came in and figured it out and thank goodness I packed a bar of soap from home but I forgot the wash cloth.  It will work out.

(early morning thoughts)
There are exactly two plugs in this room.  Two!  There is one at the desk and one by the bed.  The great part is they are at the right height so no crawling around under furniture to plug something in.  Bad part - I really want to make some coffee but since it is 2 in the morning and no plug in the bathroom I would have to plug the coffee pot into the desk wall plug and I do not want to wake Mike up.  Normally I would make coffee in the bathroom.  I also do not want to turn the lights on in the room to figure out the coffee pot.  You put your key card in a slot on the wall and ALL the lights turn on together.  I can not just turn a lamp on.  I have the bathroom light on just to be able to walk around.  The sun will be up in an hour, maybe I will just wait and open the curtains a bit.

I really want coffee.....

Mike finally woke up at 4:00 am and I was able to make.... hot water!

By the time Mike was moving around I could care less about the coffee because I was starving!  I am so thankful that I packed instant oatmeal.  

See this little water kettle... It heats up water super fast so I used it to make the oatmeal for a very early morning snack.  There is no coffee maker, only this kettle and instant coffee in the room.  Oatmeal was the better choice. 

Stayed tuned to the next blog post to see how my first day of exploring went.