Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Commercial Break

To sneak in a little shameless promotion of my newest class at the Scrapbook Garden on Saturday, March 22nd at 10:30:

Celebrate springtime and the special friendships in your life with this bright, cheerful mini tag book that features 12 of your favorite photos, pull out tags for journaling, and lots of hand made charm. This class kit is packed full of the popular "Elle's Kitchen" paper line from Creative Imaginations, extra stickers to take home, and even has a coordinating chipboard embellishment pack thrown in just for signing up!

What to bring:
A Black pen
Sanding block or thick emery board
Favorite liquid glue...I used Zip Dry
Warm red cat's eye chalk ink
Craft knife and/or scissors
Regular size and Mini size hole punch

The sample is up at the store, and Melissa is already taking signups! Call today to reserve your class seat or better yet, pop on in and say hello! You KNOW you NEED some scrap supplies!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Costa Rica Day 3: On the Road to Tortugero

Seeing the capitol city was fun and all, but I was super excited to leave and get to seeing more of the country, since being in San Jose was a lot like being in any other big city. I knew the country was full of jungle and I was itchin to see some of it. The next place we were visiting was Tortugero, or Turtle Beach, on the Caribbean Coast. But to get there meant a day on the bus...ugh! Fortunately though, the ride was broken up into manageable chunks, with discovery stops along the way. About 2 hours into the ride we stopped at the Del Monte banana plantation to see the fields:

They put these blue plastic bags over the bananas to help them ripen quickly, and then string them up on these pulleys to pull them back to the factory where they're cleaned up and stuff. Totally not a job I'd want to be doing in 90 degree weather, but the workers sometimes hitch a ride back with the bananas, and that looked like a cool job perk!

Outside the banana farm, there were vendor carts set up selling fresh coconut milk, and I tried it for the first time. One word...nasty! It wasn't milky at all like I expected, more like muddy water and everyone loved it but me (surprise, surprise). I'll take a Malibu and pineapple juice, please.

Always the first to make friends with the locals, Hector was excited to introduce me to his new little buddy...

OMG, is it any wonder they call this guy a rhinoceros beetle? After meeting him I was pretty sure I wouldn't sleep again the rest of the trip.

Then it was back on the bus for another two hours, until we finally ended up at a dead end. Turns out where we were headed wasn't accessible by bus, so we hopped a speed boat...Oooh fun!

Well, for about the first hour it was, then it was just...well, long.

But there were all kinds of cool things to see along the river, and the breeze was nice...

Then finally, I saw our sign post up ahead:

And after a 4 hour drive, a two hour boat ride, and several potty breaks, we arrived at the Turtle Beach Lodge to spend the rest of the day:

Taking pictures (say cheeeeeze),

swimming in the turtle shaped pool (seriously!),

unpacking our bags, (ok, how cool is this room? There are no windows, just screens covered by sheer can hear the rain falling at night, and the breeze is always warm...)

exploring the Caribbean coast and it's black sand beaches from north,

to south,

and relaxing in a hammock, watching the breeze through the palm trees, and sipping a frou-frou cocktail with an umbrella.

Pure bliss.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Costa Rica Day 2 : Coffee and Creatures

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good, strong, fresh cup of coffeee just about anytime, and one of the places I was most excited about seeing was the local coffee plantation...cuz you just know they're gonna have all kinds of samples! And sample I did...and left the tour bouncing off the walls full of caffiene and sugar!

And in case you haven't yet, let's meet the family:

This is Hector, the wonderful, darling husband that let me walk around half the day with a tag hanging out the back of my shirt...nice, hu? Next to him is my Uncle Larry, seriously rocking the tourist hat. The guy in the blue shirt is our Tour Guide, Guillermo, and the cute white-haired lady with the fake smile is my grams. They're all dying for a let's go on inside.

Did you know that coffee is actually a fruit? One more reason everyone should have 5-6 servings a day as far as I'm concerned. This is what it looks like on the vine.

The skin peels easily off the fruit, and the seed inside is covered with some slimy, sugary-stuff. It tastes just like sugar cane, and yes, I know because I tasted it. They actually dry and sell the sugar and sell it separately. Anyone else notice how badly I need a manicure...?

An entire field off coffee, all ripe and ready to be picked...get hand! No wonder Starbucks charges $4.00 a cup.

The coffee pickers are paid by the basketfull, and though I'm sure it was mentioned how much they get per basket, I was way too wired to pay attention. It's a rediculously low amount, though, I'm minimum wage is only 90 cents per hour. I only remember that because I was told at the woodworking plant, before the 40 cups of coffee I had.

Anyhow, after they're all picked and peeled and cleaned and whatever, they're laid out in the sun to dry. At this point, the coffee people are all just praying it doesn't rain. I think they do a dance or something...

Then it's all bagged up and ready to ship BEFORE it's roasted. I snuck a few of these babies in my pocket to take home and start my own coffee plantation in the backyard. Of course, I forgot to take them out of my pocket, and then washed my pants. Looks like Starbucks will be able to stay in business after all.

Lookit that goofy's easy to see why I'm a sucker for it, no? After the tour, we had lunch at the plantation, though I don't know how anyone could possibly eat after all that coffee.

It was served on a banana leaf...isn't that clever? No time for dish washing with all that coffee to pick! Take note of the black beans and white'll be seeing A LOT of them over the next week and a much in fact, that you may never want to eat them again as long as you live. Or maybe that's me.

After 8 more cups of coffee and a considerably skinnier wallet (you don't even want to know how much coffee I brought home) we headed to a place called EnBio. It's a place where scientists collect and study the Costa Rican environment and promote conservation and display lots of interesting creatures that inhabit the country.

They have an awesome butterfly garden, and if you're not careful, these guys will hitch a ride right outta there.

Much to the delight of this guy here.

This cute little sucker is about the size of my (badly bitten) thumbnail. And don't let that innocent smile fool you, he bites and is extremely rude!

This guy's not poisionous, but has a pretty decent aim.

Much to this guy's dismay. He's a sloth, and very, very slow moving. I feel really sorry for Sloths...they're all fuzzy and live in trees, but they're not even really that cute...especially when he's sharing the tree with an adorable little baby spider monkey.

And speaking of monkeys...

I should totally post this somewhere his friends and co-workers will all see it. Remember what I said about payback, honey...?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Costa Rica Day 2: Woodworking Plant

I guess I just needed a good night's sleep. Aparantly I get a little cranky when I'm tired and/or jet lagged. Then next day was when it all finally hit me..."I'm in freakin COSTA RICA!"

We were scheduled for a tour of a local woodworking plant, so after arguably the very best cup of coffee I've EVER had, we headed here:

You'd never know it if you passed it on the street, but this was a major woodworking plant where they make lots of wooden wares for sale in little shops throughout the country. Inside the plant, there was lots going on:

This guy was making a huge piece for a hotel lobby. How amazing is that?

As for the smaller pieces of wood, they were being cut, polished, drilled and strung for everything from jewelry to placemats and lampshades.

Each tiny piece is prepped and created by hand by one of the many talented, extremely patient employees. Upstairs was where the really fun stuff was going on. I was tempted to pull up a chair and get to making some killer jewelry.

Look at that wood, isn't it beautiful. It is not sealed or coated or dyed with's all natural, polished by hand to that incredible shine.

The tour ended in the factory's little store, and we shopped for a little bit. I ended up with a cool pair of earrings that I've already gotten tons of compliments on, and my grams got a cool set of windchimes for her patio. Outide the store we sat and had something to drink beside a little pond.

And being the darling husband that he is, Hector let me walk thru the entire tour like this before finally asking if he could use the camera:

That's okay, honey....but you know what they say about payback.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kate B:

Thanks for joining and Good luck in the "So You Think You Can Scrap" Contest over at IBSS! PM me your address, and I'll send you a little RAK!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Day 1: San Jose

With CHA hot on my little heels, so much exciting stuff going on at Itty Bitty, and my class at the Scrapbook Garden today, I'm not finding a lot of time to post about my Costa Rica trip. So in lieu of the fantastic, detailed stories I was planning on telling, I think a recap is gonna be the best I can do for now.

Our tour started off in the Capital city of San Jose. For the first two nights, we stayed in a beautiful lodge set 6000 feet above sea level on a mountain, with a view of rolling green hills, and the entire city below. After hearing about how nice the weather ALWAYS is in Costa Rica, imagine my disappointment when I woke up to a dreary, rainy, grey day and had to put on long pants and a wind-breaker! I paid $2500 for THIS? The weather in California is nicer than this...sheesh! And where are all the monkeys...Costa Rica is supposed to have monkeys...Daddy I want an Oompa Loompa Noooowwww!
So after I stopped pouting for 5 minutes and finally got over myself, I got ready to meet the rest of our group and head into the city and take a look around. We started out in the marketplace, headed to the opera house built in 1897, and ended up having lunch on the Grand Hotel patio:

So that was my very first day in Costa Rica. I gotta run and get packed for my class now. More in a day or two...