Monday, April 14, 2008


I am home, unpacked, and feeling very blessed today. INSPIRED was really one of the best weekends of my life and I’m so thankful that I was able to participate as a teacher. Donna, Bill, and all of their friends, family, and volunteers did an amazing job with this event. Lots of personal touches like handmade handbooks and canvas nametags. You knew you were attending something really special, yet it had such an intimate feel, not at all pretentious. There is so much to say, so I thought I’d attempt a little diary of my adventure and post it here. My only regret is that I didn’t have much time at all to take photos, so I’ll post some photo and blog links at the end of this post.

Wednesday, April 8th – My plane arrived in Charlotte about 10 pm and I went to baggage claim, where I met Cathy Z, Ali Edwards, her friend Paolo. and her sister Jessica. Donna picked up me and Cathy and we went to Donna’s house, where we got to see her gorgeous scrapbook room. It’s just one of those places you could just stand and stare forever. We also met Tango, her sweet rescue dog, but he didn’t want to have much to do with us. He sure is cute, though! Back to the hotel, we checked in and I collapsed in my room. It was a little difficult between the excitement and my body still being on central time.

Thursday, April 9th - Went down to breakfast and met my friend, Teresa Wilkins. She surprised me by registering for INSPIRED so she could be my teaching assistant for my classes! (That meant so much to me and I can’t even tell you how much she helped me.) We had breakfast, headed over to the registration table, then spent the next several hours on the floor in my classroom, cutting apart the cedar edging for my classes. ( I hadn’t shared the details of my project before INSPIRED, but the base of the banner was a 6-panel length of cedar lawn/garden edging) C.D. Muckosky came in the room and hung out with us for a while.

Photobucket She is so cute and creative! I stayed at the registration table all afternoon with Bill and Donna so I could meet students as they arrived. That was lots of fun! Each person was given a beautiful green bag for the weekend that included the handmade books and canvas nametags and a few little extra goodies. Donna had necklaces made for all of the teachers (mine is pictured above) and had more for sale at the event. They were all designed by Lisa Leonard. I absolutely love mine! Donna and Bill's kids were at the hotel on Thursday with their grandparents, so I got to meet all of them. They are precious and so well-mannered. I brought them some pool toys for the hotel since I knew they'd be swimming and they loved them. (someone has a photo of us, but I don't remember who took it, lol) Spent the rest of Thursday meeting students, doing last minute class preparations, and attending our welcome dinner. I peeked in on several of the mini-workshops going on and had a few minutes to sit with Renee Pearson, Cathy Z and Donna as they signed books. Cathy is just as funny in person as you think she’d be. Renee is warm and friendly and just made me want to sit with her for hours. I tried to go to bed early, but I was just giddy from the excitement of the day and the anticipation of my classes starting the next morning.

Friday and Saturday – I’m combining these days since they were both very similar for me in that I had three 3-hour classes each day. The highlight of all of the classes for me was seeing how each person made the project her own. I told each class they were not allowed to copy my project exactly as is – and they didn’t.
Photobucket I knew this was a group of people who expected to be challenged and inspired this weekend and they were full of creative ideas and ready to try new things.

Photobucket All of the class offerings were so different this weekend that I think everyone came away with new ideas, no matter your personal style.


It was especially fun to see the Simple Scrapbooks table with Renee P., Cathy Z., and Wendy Smedley all working on the project, getting their hands dirty and glitter in their fingernails.

And Ali….I sure hope she posts her interpretation of my project on her blog. She wrote out Simon’s bedtime prayer on cards to go across the edging and had glittered stars on wires on the top of the banner.

Photobucket And Cynthia….she painted hers black and covered it with catalog photos from Anthropologie. All of the different ideas were overwhelming! A huge thank you to the students who brought me gifts and cards. They were very much appreciated. :)

Photobucket I tried to keep the class in a relaxing working mode with some fun tunes. Like my fancy table? Had a little singing and dancing going on at times, too. :)
If you liked the music, here is the imix I created for the event. You can purchase any or all of the songs.

And silly me…..I forgot to take photos of all of the soldered charms and little canvases I made to give as door prizes before they were gone. Teresa took some for me and if you won any of these prizes, send me a photo! (here are 4 of the canvases)

Photobucket Donna and Bill went around to the last classes of the day to give out big door prizes and to give flowers to each student and teacher. Donna stood in front of my class and we both cried as she told me I just “got it” and understood from the beginning what she wanted this weekend to be. Boo-Hoo! I love that woman. We all met one last time in the ballroom where a raffle was held for the door sign canvases each teacher made. $1200 was raised for Autism Speaks…wow! (here is the banner I made for my class - it stood in the hallway on an easel. And yes, it has lights!)

Photobucket Then we all headed outside to take a crazy huge group photo. (that will be up on Donna’s blog soon) I spent the remaining evening hours visiting, shopping, and wishing it wasn’t about to end. I felt like I had made 200+ new friends. And my day ended standing next to Heather Bailey as she taught me how to make fabric yo-yo’s with her edible new Fresh Cut fabrics, most of which I brought home with me. Heather is beautiful…and so sweet and down to earth. I didn’t want to go to bed that night, but the 5:00 a.m. wake up call for the airport shuttle was looming. Off to hug Donna and Bill one last time before heading upstairs and promising Donna I’d be back next year.

I’m tired… but oh so blessed, inspired, thankful, and ready to do it all again!
Bill and DID it. And it was amazing.

EDIT: Donna is selling the extra INSPIRED aprons, camera bags, necklaces and class kits. Here is a link to the shop and here is a link to purchase my class kit. Hurry, they will all go super fast!

Here are some photo and blog links. (I’ll add more as I see them, so check back)

Cathy Zielske's INSPIRED blog post
Donna Downey's INSPIRED Video blog entry
Amy's Flickr photos (in gorgeous detail!)
Teresa Wilkins’ blog
Rebecca Gawryl's blog (with FLIP video!)


Anonymous said...

I loved your class & got home & my husband & daughter thought that the project i made in your class was the coolest (b/cs it came from their favorite store - home depot! - thanks - katie scott, st. pete.

Deborah P said...

Jennifer, yours was my first class on Friday morning and what a wonderful way to start the day! I absolutely love it and although I didn't finish in class, I will do it soon and then have ideas to make at least 2 more with different themes (one of those is the Halloween one you mentioned with grim old b&w ancestor photos), so your class was just a gift that keeps on giving. Who knew that glitter on a printed word matted in cardstock could have such an impact????? Not me!

Kimber McGray said...

I'm so glad everything went well for you! I still remember the day you told me you were asked to teach!
So proud of you!

Jana said...

WOW, what an awesome experience! If you go back again next spring I will SO be there with you......North Carolina in the spring and Omaha in the fall, sounds good to me!!! haha

Carrie said...

I love your work and even though I couldn't go to the Workshop, am SOOOOOOOO excited that I can buy your class kit! Just got one and can't wait to get it and start creating.

Thanks for making such beautiful things!


karen said...

Thank you so much for showing me the way to Create outside the Box!!! What a Fabulous class...don't tell the others, but I loved yours the most!!! LOL!!!
So something I never would have done before.
What an amazing weekend....So glad you were a part of it!!!

carolyn peeler said...

congratulations on the success of your weekend :-)
So thrilled for you Jennifer!

Scrappy Jessi said...

wow!!! how fun!!! all those fun people, and all the great classes.
to much!!!

Sooz said...

Hello Jennifer!! Another VERY SATISFIED INSPIRED STUDENT HERE. I was in your first class, too (hello Deborah!) and I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE when the three hours was up!! (how did it go by so fast!) I promise to post a pic when mine is complete....but I had to come here and GUSH about how much I enjoyed it and am inspired by you. Thank you thank you thank you! Hope you will be teaching again next year! Susan Gilman

Paula said...

I loved reading your synopsis of the weekend ... it was such an amazing event! Thank you for sharing this fabulous project with us - I have so many ideas for creating many many more!! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

So cool to hear all about your weekend. I have been checking in now and then, anticipating your Inspired debut. So fun to see Teresa on there with you! Your project looks fab and I am so proud of you!
diane johnson from Team8

SmilynStef said...

Here's my blog post ... I took a few pictures of your charms and gifts, so I'll send them to you after work. Thanks again for everything ... it was wonderful.


stacy said...

Jennifer-I really enjoyed your class-can't wait to finish my project and make more for gifts - Thanks for the great tunes in class! I love having music to create by :)

Carla S. said...

Wow, oh wow! Congrats, Jennifer, I knew your class would be fabulous. I can tell you had an incredible experience. Just kicking myself now for not going. So cool that Teresa did!! Yay for Team 8-2-Create!! :)

Heather said...

Still trying to get over the face I didn't make myself come darnit! But so glad you had a wonderful time and I knew you would be the BOMB!!! :)

Cheri said...

Oh, I wish I lived close enough, maybe someday I will make it to an event, for now I will keep stalking your blog. You are very inspirational!