what an experience…

Ranger U was awesome!!!! Such a fantastic experience.  Tim, Claudine and Suze were fabulous instructors, and they were a ton of fun too :)

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We learned over 75 techniques in 3 days – I feel so inspired now and just want to play around with all these cool prodcuts – some that I have used before and some that were completely new to me.

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Thursday was spent mostly traveling. I arrived at Newark airport around 6:30 and I met up with Colleen MacDonald at the rental car area. Her plane arrived just before mine did, so we previously planned to meet up so we could drive together to Tinton Falls, we were also rooming together. Coincidentally we were the only 2 Canadians at Ranger U. (Colleen is originally from Australia but has lived in Alberta for several years. I just love her accent!). We picked up the rental car and headed on our way – thank goodness for Colleen bringing her GPS with her! So funny cause it was Austin Powers voice telling us which way to go! The toll booths really confused us and we ended up going through the wrong lane the first ones we went through. We were in the EZ pass lane and we couldn’t get over to the cash only lane cause so many cars were whizzing by and honking at us. I will now be expecting a ticket in the mail….We found our way to the hotel quite easily though and Ranger was literally next door.

We were up early the next morning and met up with several more ranger attendees in the restaurant while we ate breakfast, everyone was so friendly and so excited!We spent the first part of the day with Suze Weinberg learning all about melt art – which I LOVED!! I am embarrassed to say that I have owned a melting pot for about 5 years and its still brand new. However now I know how to use it and how many cool things I can do with it! We also got a tour of the Ranger facility – a real working factory. The stickles machine was my favorite – they produce thousands and thousands of stickles per day. We each got to take one of the stickles off the conveyor belt and take it with us :)

The last half of the day Claudine Hellmuth taught us all about her new line: “Claudine Hellmuth Studio” – awesome stuff!! I love using paints and these ones are different than the acrylics I’m used to working with. They can be thick for lots of color or you can thin them out and they can be almost translucent  for a completely different look. I love them!

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Saturday and Sunday we spent with Tim – he taught us 51 techniques!  Such cool stuff, I am so excited to incorporate these techniques into my projects. It was sad when it was all over – the 24 of us had spent 3 solid days together and it really was an awesome group of people.

We were seated in groups of 4, at my table there was Janet Hopkins ( Education Coordinator for the Heidi Swapp line), Jayne Irving (Owns a Scrapbooking store in Cape Code), and Jenn Shurkus (manages Jayne’s store and also teaches for A muse art stamps). We called our table the “J” table since all our names began with J. hehe

These girls were so much fun, I had a blast sitting with them.

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Colleen and I left Sunday night after we got our diplomas and we said our goodbyes. We were both flying out of Newark the next day and we had booked a hotel room at one of the airport hotels, also we had to return the rental car that night. We dropped the car off and made our way through the airport to where the hotel shuttles are, waited for quite awhile for our shuttle then headed to the hotel. We hadn’t eaten yet and were starving but according to the girl at the front desk, there was no restaurants around within walking distance. She did give us a map that showed there was a ton of resturants in this area that wasn’t far from the hotel and she said she could call a cab for us. So that’s what we did, and we decided we wanted to go to a good mexican restaurant. The cab driver dropped us off in this really sketchy part of town in front of a hole in the wall looking mexican restaurant. Totally not what we had in mind. It was about an 8 minute cab ride and it cost $25!!! Also not what we had in mind!!! We hurried into the restuarant though as we didn’t want to be out on the dark street. There were 4 staff members inside, only 1 of whom could understand any English. I ordered a chalupa even though I wasn’t sure what to expect as the only chalupa I ever had was at Taco Bell. Of course, this being authentic Mexican food, it was completely different from Taco Bell, but I really enjoyed it, it was very good. During the half hour we were in the restaurant, we had 2 different girls come in trying to sell us pirated DVD’s!!

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Here’s my roomie Colleen :)

The next morning my flight left at 6:25am so I had to be up by 3:45 so I could be down in the lobby just after 4 to wait for the shuttle. I got to the airport at 4:30 and was waiting in line at the Air Canada departure. Nobody even showed up until almost 5am and when she did show up, she announced to all of us that the flight to Toronto was cancelled due to mechanical problems. um….ok….. so someone asks if they are going to put us on the next flight and she says probably not as its full. lovely. There are several of us starting to panic a bit. I had to be in Toronto to catch my connecting flight to Vancouver at 9:30. She told me if I could get to JFK airport that she could get me on a direct flight to Vancouver, but I had to find my own way there and it was over an hours drive. Then she said she could book me on a flight with Continental to Toronto but I’d still miss my connecting plane and I’d have to go check in with Air Canada in Toronto. So then I had to lug all my luggage (I had a carry on bag, my backback with my laptop (which was really heavy cause I crammed a whole lot of extra stuff into it), and my suitcase which weighed 45 pounds. ) over to a whole other terminal to check in with Continental. That meant 2 escalators over to the air tram station and more waiting. It was there that I met up with the 4 other people who I had been waiting with initially. We had all been moved to the Continental flight. We all stayed together and made our way to the Continental desk where we found out the Air Canada agent hadn’t actually booked us on the flight. So they had to book us all on it, more waiting.  Next was security and here it got even better…. Because our flight had been cancelled and we were put on another flight within an hour of it leaving (and this is good to know if you travel in the states a lot), we were automatically flagged for additional screening. It said SSSS all over our tickets, which we guessed meant Special Security Secondary Screening. Either that or Special Security Strip Search, lol. Security guards saw our tickets and were calling out “Secondary Female!!!!” “Secondary Male!!!!” the guy in front of me and I were both like “what does that mean?” feeling like criminals or something. We were told we had been flagged and they explained why. Great. So I was put into this odd pressure air blowing machine, which I’ve never seen before. It startled me a bit when the air came puffing out in my face. Next through another machine then I had to wait in a clear glass box until the searching guard was waiting for me. As I stood there I waitched a couple people in front of me in the searching station getting almost completely searched – including the all over body pat down. Then he was ready for me. He let me out of the display box and I had to go sit on a chair while he searched my bags and my laptop. He did give me my shoes, belt and sweatshirt back though and told me I could put them on. Luckily he was nice and he didn’t give me the pat down search, I got off easy compared to what the others went through.

The flight to Toronto was full and there was no room in the overhead storage for my laptop bag. I told the flight attendant (who was not very friendly I might add) and she told me they’d have to check it and it would have to go down to baggage. I was like “my computer is in there!” and she said “too bad”. !!!!!! The guy beside me said “it will get trashed it goes down there” so the flight attendant told me I could take my laptop out and hold it. So I did. Just as my bag was about to get whisked off to baggage, another flight attendant (a nice one) came by and said “its ok, we have room for it up in first class”. So my backpack got to ride in first class, and I didn’t.Getting off the plane was awkward as I was holding my laptop (which is a very heavy one) under my arm, carrying my bag in one hand and trying to get my backpack down from the overhead bin as I was exiting the plane. ugh, it was not a good day.

Of course, now it was time to go get my suitcase and go through customs which was just a hassel cause of the lineups. Since I was at the Continental gate area, Air Canada was at another terminal (of course) that I had to go up more escalators, to another air tram station and make my way to the ticket desk. My orginal 9:30 flight was just about to leave, so obviously I missed it. The 10 was full so they had to put me on the 11:15. *sigh* then as I was walking away I looked down at my ticket only to see that I had been put in a MIDDLE seat. Just keeps getting better.The plane was full as well so I was not able to change my seat. I was seated between 2 guys, one of whom was very large so I couldn’t even use the arm rests, I had to sit all scrunched into my seat. The only good thing about this flight was they had the little tv’s in the back of the seats so we each got our own and we could watch an assortment of movies. I watched “The Happening” and it was actually pretty good. I really detest flying now though, just on flights over 2 hours, as my legs get all crampy and I start to feel very clausterphobic.  We landed around 1:30 and waited for half an hour for my luggage.

Brent was there to pick me up and he brought the dogs with him so I was so happy to see all of them! We went home, dropped my luggage off, then I had to rush off to school. (I am taking a couple classes at college right now until December- such as Public Speaking). I couldn’t miss my class so I had to go sit through it from 3-5:30. I stopped off for groceries on the way home (Brent was working all night), and when I got home I cooked some meat loaf for the dogs for dinner. Yes I am home cooking for the dogs now. Angus has allergies and so far this seems to be working, he hasn’t been scratching like he used to. We have tried everything!! This is a lot more work, but I know exactly what goes into their food, and they love it. We go back and forth between meatloaf and baked salmon. Yes they are spoiled dogs.

*if you want the recipe for this dog friendly meatloaf, I can pretty much guarantee your pooches will love it:Ground beef (about 2-4 pounds), 2 eggs, 1 cup of rice, and 3/4 cup pureed veggies (I mix carrots, kale, and spinach in the food processor). Bake at 375 for an hour.

Anyway, that was an incredibly long day, it took me around 14 hours to get home from New Jersey which is ridiculous. Not surprisingly, I have come down with a bad cold. Oh well, its nice to be home anyway, and I had a great time at Ranger U!