I left for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Monday, January 17, 2011 in the wee hours of the morning to attend the Elmer's Glue 'N Glitter Immersion. As always, I was running late and made it to the airport just under an hour before departure. Although I made it with a little time to spare, my luggage didn't quite have it so easy. I was told there may be a chance my luggage would not make it. Huh? No way! What's a girl to do? I boarded the plan and hoped Florida had a nearby Target or Walmart where I could shop for replacement items if my luggage didn't arrive when I did. Luckily, it did.
The weather was fair. Clouds, scattered showers, and hints of snow were seen from my window above the sky. I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for a connect flight, then I was whisked away to semi-sunny Florida. Anything was better than the frigid temperatures in Maryland.
Once I landed in Florida, I waited anxiously at baggage claim. I breathed a sigh of relief as my unique black luggage made it's way around the belt. I hopped in a cab, watched the meter quickly add up, and arrived at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six. I was bummed to see it was raining. But, after seeing this view from my window I felt no more pity.
I settled in the room. I was first to arrive. My roommate, Mel from Mama Buzz, did not reach Florida until an hour before dinner. I was anxious to meet her, and a bit nervous. I wasn't quite sure how she would deal with my headscarf, raccoon eyes, and silliness. I lucked out and we got along perfectly. She was and still is the best.
Dinner was scheduled for that night at five-star restaurant, Grille 66. I was starving too, so I could not wait to get there. I met the rest of the bloggers in the lobby of the hotel. I met Kim from Crafty Mama of 4, Naomi from Superdumb Supervillain, and Alicia from Making Time for Mommy. It wasn't until dinner started that I met Tonya of Celebrate-Create-Explore. I even met Zippy. She was exactly as I pictured her — cheerful, energetic, and petite. It was great to finally meet John, Courtney, Monica, Carrie, and Dave. We're on a first name basis ya know...umm not really. It was just so casual, I felt comfortable with them.
What seemed like four hours later, we were headed back to our room to start the next day. I was stuffed from my Grilled Irish Organic Salmon with Orzo Wild Rice Salad, Grilled Asparagus and Chipotle Chile Butter and a side of garlic mashed potatoes. Let's not forget we were treated to an appetizer of Crispy Rock Shrimp and Calamari with a Spicy Hot Chili sauce. I even had the nerve to cap the evening off with an assortment of sorbet. I had eaten enough for the rest of my trip. I guess I was too busy eating to snap a picture of my food. You'll just have to trust me when I say it was delicious.
The morning arrived quickly. My eyes were heavy, but I was too excited about the day to let them hold me back. We were treated to breakfast. Then, it was time to craft in what was mimicked after an Iron Chef challenge.
Our group was given a kitchen scrubber as inspiration. Just know that crafters can turn anything into a masterpiece. Our group created an entire jewelry line from one, household item. We designed a gigantic ring, a pinky ring, a necklace, and a brooch. It was amazing to see several ideas come together to create each item. We used Elmer's products ranging from feathers, jewels, clasps, markers, glitter glue, and anything else imaginable. It was definitely a great way to start an eight-hour day.
The weather was gorgeous. In fact, I felt bad calling home to find out there was a major ice storm taking place and the children were out of school. It was a completely different forecast where I was staying.
There was not much time for play. Our schedules were set. We discussed, shared, offered, brainstormed, evaluated, created, advised, and bonded over clever conversation. I was in awe of everyone there. We all shared a passion for creativity and crafts, yet each one of us had something unique to add to the group. Every moment presented an opportunity and challenged us to think. I am a sucker for knowledge. I was a human sponge, soaking in every word that traveled up, down, and across the conference room table. My brain was hungry for inspiration, just as my stomach was delighted to see a mid-day snack.
Again, the night was reserved for dinner. We headed down to the lobby to meet again. This time, the CEO of Elmer's was there to greet us. What an honor it was. Even more impressive was his casual approach while speaking with us. Everyone made it easy to open up. "Relaxing" is a great word to describe the atmosphere. We even went a little more casual for dinner and boarded a water taxi to Mango's Restaurant. I'm almost certain we have this same chain in Maryland, so it was nice to have a piece of home while on vacation. Our taxi ride was filled with lots of great information. The houses were ridiculously big and I could never imagine living in one.
The next, and final, day was bittersweet. I had made such a connection to everyone in such a short period I didn't want to leave so soon. I was taking new friendships (and crafting supplies) home with me.
I never did make it to the beach. I could see it from the balcony of my hotel room, but there was never anytime to make it there. I didn't miss it though. The time I spent with the Elmer's and Collective Bias team was worth more than any amount of sand between my toes. I was ready to head back home and share my experience with others.
I sat in the airport on a Wednesday evening waiting to depart and head back to Maryland. In my moments of silence, I reflected on the entire experience. Most bloggers have opportunities like this all the time, so to them it may be just "another trip". To me, it was so much more than that. I left the Elmer's Glue 'N Glitter Immersion with a new found respect for the Elmer's brand. Not only were we heard, but they also listened. Our opinions mattered. Our ideas mattered. WE mattered. My only regret was that I couldn't have held onto this experience for just a few more days. Instead, I boarded my plane, headed back home, and stepped right back into motherhood. And the moment I settled onto the couch I realized the value of creativity. The world is a huge canvas...create the life you dream of...with Elmer's Glue 'N Glitter of course!
FTC Disclosure: I was provided an all-expense paid trip (airfare, hotel, meals) to Florida thanks to Collective Bias and Elmer's. The opportunity was made possible because of my involvement in the Collective Bias community. The opinions and views expressed are my own and do not reflect those of the sponsors.