Melbourne Convention 2011 - the best yet

Before I start regaling you with tales from the wild ride that was Stampin' Up! convention this year, I would love to take a moment to thank those of you who left a comment or got in touch with me after my previous blog post.  It's so gratifying to be among friends when you're feeling less than dandy, so thank you friends xo

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Right, so with the weather over in the West this week being a tad on the chilly side and the wind chill factor and rain this week being much more reminiscent of Melbourne than Perth, I figured it was a perfect time to properly relive the events of this year's convention.

See, I just needed to get myself into the zone.  Or something...

This year was my fifth Stampin' Up! convention and after attending the first one waaaay back in Sydney in 2007, I was determined never to miss one and so far have managed to keep up that determination.

I've said it many times before, but there truly is nothing like being surrounded by 450 fellow stamp crazed, ink affected chicks (and the very occasional bloke - yes really) for three days in a convention centre.  Not to mention meeting up with those same folk sporting the exact same orange and pink polka dot convention bag as you on the streets around the convention centre and sharing a knowing smile or a friendly wave.

Yep, Stampin' Up! demonstrators are certainly a breed unto themselves and I'm grateful every day to be one of them!

Here I am with two of them now, just as we were checking in at the airport- the gorgeous gals that I shared row 18 with on the plane over to Melbourne and back again...

with-sj-lee-airport

Sarah Jane Kalé on the left (affectionately known as SJ) is such a lovely friend and I'm so glad that I got to cross paths with her as a result of this stampin' thing!  Lee Pelosi (aka Lulla) on the right is another gorgeous gal that I was so happy to get to know better during our time in Melbourne.

Having left behind the balmy Perth weather to arrive in Melbourne on their coldest day in a millionty squillion or so years (which was compounded by waiting for over an hour for the transfer to our hotel), we arrived just in time to drop our bags and head off at a cracking pace to the Crown Casino complex for dinner with our team mates Lou and Jan who had arrived earlier.

Who should I meet on the way there but the gorgeous Teresa Dabrowksi - my hug-buddy for every convention that we've ever been to.  Our squeals of excitement and disbelief at our chance meeting on the street had some nearby bar patrons on a pavement cigarette break likely wondering if they needed to intervene for the safety of all in the immediate surrounds, but we assured them that it was a friendly meeting and after a brief chat and promise to catch up in the coming days, we continued on our separate ways.

Here's Teresa on the occasion of one of our many hug intervals throughout the weekend.  Gosh I love this chick!  We were at Manager's Reception at the time, a special event for demonstrators titled Manager and above to meet as a smaller group, eat yummy food and get extra special gifts from Stampin' Up!

An event worth going to for sure :-)

with-teresa

Also at Manager's Reception were one of my SU! besties and all-round gorgeous person Marelle...

with-marelle

...the effervescent and ever so slightly deranged but delightful Madonna (at one point during the weekend, Mads took it upon herself to come up beside me and blow into my ear, hence the slightly deranged reference, but I do love her :-))...

with-mads

Then there was the lovely Claire, who I just love to catch up with each year...

with-claire

Manager's Reception followed the first day of convention proceedings, which had begun with with frantic swapping, old friendships re-kindled, new friendships started and of course, the first appearance of the lady herself, Shelli Gardner...

shelli

As always, there were no details left out in the setting up of the stage, with giant sized stamps and enormous "papercrafted" bits and pieces adorning the set.  Shelli herself was divine as usual, with her amazing style, ever-present smile and calm grace.

Oh, aside from her reference to tweezers and forests, but that's a story for another time (and perhaps another blog...!)

The first day saw us taking in some fabulous demonstrations, checking out the new and upcoming In-colors for 2012/13 (YUM!) and trying out for a Minute to Win It style game show that was to be held on stage in the following days.   I was terrible at the try outs, but was happy to cheer on the fabulous Meges as she took to the stage for the various challenges and ended up taking out the whole thing! Woo hoo!

One of the most exciting things about convention (other than catching up with new and old friends, watching amazing demonstrations, stamping with new and never seen before stamp sets, swapping, laughing, shopping and general merriment), is the opportunity to win additional new and never seen before stamp sets and prizes.

This year, Prize Patrol was bigger than ever, with products being given out as bundles, and as luck would have it, the second day of convention saw my wrist band design being flashed up on the screen announcing that I was one of several winners.

I can't show you what I got (it's coming in September!), but I can show you how delighted I was to GET it, and let you know that it was a stamp set and matching Designer Series Paper that is nothing short of STUNNING!

prize-patrol

It ended up being one of six new stamp sets that came home with me - two from our convention check in bags, two from awards night, one from Manager's Reception and another one that was handed out on the last day to every single person at convention, along with a new Simply Sent Card Kit.  Amazing!!

Here is another familiar face (and name!) that I was delighted to rub shoulders with on the very first morning at check in.  The super talented and  just plain lovely Kirsty Brown.  She did a fabulous demonstration up on stage on the last day, which we whooped and hollered for - mostly because her demo was amazing but also partly because it can be slightly terrifying to be on stage in front of so many of your peers, so we wanted her to know she was among friends :-)

with-sj-kirsty

One of the fabulous things about being in Melbourne was the food factor.  We had some amazing breakfasts and some fabulous dinners, but almost all were overshadowed by the fact that there was a Krispy Kreme outlet just around the corner from our hotel.  There is no such thing as Krispy Kreme in Perth, so on the evening after convention day 2, we headed there to procure ourselves a couple of donuts and a hot drink each.

Can you see how excited I was to have one in my possession...?!

with-donuts

Not quite as excited as Lulla, who posed delightedly in front of the entire display :-)

lee-donuts

After making our selections, we all hopped into our jammies and gathered in mine and Tracey's room to devour our donuts and watch The Notebook - a perfectly timed chick flick.

I updated my Facebook status to this effect:

Sarah Klass...is wearing jammies in a Melbourne hotel room, drinking hot chocolate and eating Krispy Kremes with my best stampin' buddies and watching The Notebook. Hello perfect Friday evening...!
To which my husband back in Perth on Daddy Duty replied:
I am eating a steak and watching the Ultimate Fighter .....we are so in sync my darling.

Indeed...

I am suddenly aware that there's not an awful lot more I can actually show you about convention, being that so very much of it was sneaky peeks of products from our upcoming September Idea Book & Catalogue.  So if it's ok with you, I'm going to continue in the vein of friends and food...

The final evening of convention was set aside for the Awards Dinner, which is always a highlight and a fabulous opportunity to frock up.

with-sj-dinner

SJ looked a treat in her enormous flower head-piece, which was also practical in that it made her easy to spot across the crowded room when I first arrived :-)

with-lou

I absolutely adore this photo of Lou and I, almost as much as I adore that girl herself.  She is an absolute treasure and I love her to bits and pieces.

michelle-jan

Speaking of treasures, here are a couple more of the gals from my team - Michelle (aka Ministamper) and Jan (of Stamping Elegance) looking stunning at dinner.

I don't have a photo of our team as a whole from my own camera, but we were advised during convention that the professional photo's that were taken would be available for us to download for free after the event, so knowing that he had one of us that would be far superior to anything from my camera, I'm patiently awaiting that, plus any others that I can get my hands on!

After dinner we headed back to the theatre where that fabulous stage was all set up and got ready to cheer on our fellow stampers that received awards for the stampin' year.  Having found a Demonstrator of the Year pin in my check in bag indicating that I had earned a place in the Top 25 demonstrators, I was surprised and so very happy to be called out at number 16.

I have such an amazing team of stampers and wonderful customers (who have also become friends), plus my beautiful and supportive family, without all of whom, such an exciting award would never come in my direction, so thank you to all of you for making this "job" so fun and rewarding :-)

One of the announcements that is always keenly anticipated is where the Incentive Trip for the following year would take the demonstrators who were lucky and hardworking enough to achieve it.  The announcement itself is always more of a sideshow than a plain old statement and this year was no exception...

camels

Aaron and Emma, the Australian and New Zealand country managers appeared aboard camels to advise us that next year's trip would be to Broome!  Being that Broome itself is in my home state and only a few hours flight in a northerly direction from home, it might be assumed that us Perthites would find it not such an exotic location for an Incentive Trip.

Personally, I would camp in my own backyard if it meant I got to spend time with Shelli and the amazing bunch of stampers that achieve the trip each year, so I will certainly be trying my hardest to get there.  I'll have to see how I go :-)

Once the festivities were over, a few of us had an extra day to play tourists, which was great since the preceding days had been so completely scheduled with activities.

On Sunday morning, SJ, Lulla, Lou and I jumped on a tram and headed to St Kilda, where Lou knew of a whole street of cake shops "just like Birthday Bakery"!  We started out with breakfast, with plans to hit the cake shops later on.

Quite ridiculously, my camera came home with more than a handful of food photo's on it, one of them being this particularly pretty coffee from breakfast that morning...

coffee

After breakfast, we hit the St Kilda markets and froze our bits and pieces off in the windy seaside location.  Lulla looked particularly fetching in this hat and we all thought she should buy it, but she didn't, so the photo will have to suffice...

lee-hat

My absolute favourite stall was one called two green pears, were I could happily have purchased one of everything...

market-stall

In contrast, my least favourite stall was one that was run by a lady who asked me not to take pictures of her stall, when in fact I was lining up a similar shot to this one of a lovely clock tower...

clock-tower

I don't have any recollection of what she even had at her stall, but I can tell you I didn't like it ;-)

After perusing the stalls and managing not to buy a cute fabric owl in every available colour, we headed to Acland Street, where the cake shops awaited...

cake-window

The entire street was lined with windows like this, so it was particularly difficult to decide which one to grace with our custom.  Which was also decided by which one we could actually get a table at.  We stalked a group of four until they left (no, not really, I'm pretty sure they were leaving anyway.  I think...) and ordered ourselves more coffee and some sugary delicacies.  Amazingly enough, none of which I have pictures of, possibly as they didn't last long enough to be photographed..

Lou's flight was later that afternoon, so post coffee and cake, we headed back on the tram to see her off, after which SJ, Lee and I continued to play tourists...

lee-sj-tourists

st-pauls-tram

flinders-night

We walked around all afternoon and evening, finishing up at Chinatown for a delicious dinner, followed by Max Brenner's for an amazing chocolatey experience.

Our flight was the following day, so we settled back into row 18 for our early afternoon flight, arriving home to excited small folk fresh out of school and wondering quietly what delights might be contained in my bulging suitcase for them (a tiny treat each!)

So here ends my Melbourne convention adventure, a good long time after the adventure itself, but hopefully mildly entertaining anyway.

I hope to be back in a much shorter time span with things to show you that I have been creating in recent (and not so recent!) times...