Belize~a perfect valentines day

Dreary winter weather always makes me long for a holiday in the tropics. Last year at this time I was preparing for a fantastic trip to Belize, to celebrate Spartacus’s 50th birthday. It also coinsedentally coordinated perfectly with valentines day, So it provided The perfect way to celebrate both occasions.

Valentines day marks the last day of lobster season, So it is best to coordinate your trip prior to Valentine’s Day in order to enjoy this local delicacy. We scuba dive every day and would delight in seeing lobsters crawling on the reef floor, But in off-season they are strictly prohibited.
We stayed at a Wonderful and fairly new resort called Hatchet Caye. The island was about a Half mile in diameter and home to Less than 10 private cabana’s. We dined in an open air Restaurant only a few feet from the sandy beaches For breakfast lunch and dinner. It was fresh and delicious typical local food. The water was perfectly turquoise and the temperature was warm and sunny every day. I have never been anywhere that I thought was more like paradise. We booked our trip through LivingSocial and were delighted with the entire package, if you are so lucky enough to find it snapped it up. However painful price will still leave you convinced Of money well spent.

Once arriving in Belize city on a Delta, which was only three hours flight from Atlanta, we were able to quickly make a connection on a private flight down to our destination south to Placencia. The captain pointed out locally significant landmarks as we flew south and was delighted to share details about his country that he was obviously proud of. It felt more like a chartered airial tour than a commercial regional flight. He even pointed out his favorite gelato shop. We were then taken by taxi to the doc where our private “boat” arrive and quickly sped off toward the island about 12 miles off the coast of Placencia. The accommodations were beautiful, new, clean, and private. The service was impeccable, but casual. We spent most of our time scuba diving and were not disappointed! And when we were not diving the reef, we were snorkeling around the beach of the island, collecting conch and chasing tropical fish, sea turtles, & rays.

If we weren’t headed to Switzerland in a matter of weeks I would be trying harder to find a way to return to paradise. If you visit-tell them I said hello!

Where is your idea of paradise?

Tips for Alt First Timers

me and jeran

oleanderandpalm- great homemade facinator!

1. Get roommates. I booked a room at the Grand Hotel in SLC immediately after booking my ticket to Alt. It must have been inspired because I was a first timer and did not really know how intense the alt schedule is, or how difficult it would be to get other accommodations close by. At first I thought this was going to be a dreamy well earned alone time vakay, however since we are moving to Switzerland (VERY EXPENSIVE) I decided to share the cost of the room with some other Alt attendee’s. It was easy to find roommates and easy to replace one who had to cancel at the last minute. I got stuck in Detroit on Wednesday night and it was so nice to have someone to text and communicate with who was already there. It was also nice to have some smiling new faces to greet me when I arrived. Throughout the whole conference it was awesome to have someone you know to go to the parties with and to recap experiences at the end of our long days. I was supper lucky to get Lauren from a stylizedexistence and Jeran from oleanderandpalm for roomies.

me in the bathroom – “dressed down”

Isn’t she Glammed!?- by justin hackworth photography

2. Try not to take all the fashion of Alt too seriously-except for Alt’s feature soiree. Be yourself.: I think Alt Summit organizers and Alt Channel did such a FANTASTIC job of educating newbies on what to expect through free online classes in the month leading up to the conference. But I have to admit I kind of worried a little too much about it the fashion of Alt. I wanted to feel like myself but I knew my yoga pants and tennis shoes weren’t going to cut it. I am glad I made more effort than my normal day-to-day uniform, but I really think that, with the exception of the parties- particularly the clue party- its what ever you feel comfortable in that will suit you best. The clue party is the one exception~ can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year! The vintage outfits and “costumey” ensembles were AWESOME! At the last minute I opted for a “dressed down” low profile outfit that I felt really comfortable in, but I regretted it a little- I should have gone for my first instinct and really glam-med up!

alt cards

so which were my favorites?

3. Bring plenty of business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet. Really!
I heard other people apologizing for being out of cards by the last day. Every time you meet someone its totally fine and kind of expected to hand them a card. It helps later to remember your name or at least have a visual- color, logo, etc. on you.

Oleander and Palm, not just because she was my roommate- but seriously these are brilliant!

Striped Cat Studio – were just so darn clever- a place for notes and a cool cat paper-doll! I knew what to expect from her personality and she made sure I remembered her all with one handout! Awesome job KATE! Oh and she also carried a bag that said KATE really big down the side- this is one smart girl!

Here are some more worth note-
Whitney English card does a good job of standing out- hot pink- beautiful paper and gold edge paint.
Faux Martha- had a homemade marshmallow she handed out- she said it was a last minute idea- I think its memorable and I love the name too.
Storiedstyle- I am in love with the chalkboard design and I like that it is a booklet- It gave us a lot of info about Grace- who couldn’t be nicer!

4. Stay at the conference location. I can’t stress enough how exhausted you are at the end. How every minute is cram packed. I am so glad that I didn’t have to add transportation hassles, timing etc. to my days. It was nice to run back to the room for lip gloss or more business cards!

Grand America, beautiful bathrooms, large spacious rooms, valet parking. photographed by Justin Hackworth

5. The classes are worth it! Don’t schedule a massage instead of attending the classes. Out of all the hours I spent last week at round-tables, Break outs, design camp, and keynote addresses. I only felt like I would rather be somewhere else for about an hour. Over all the amount of helpful information is like packing in a semester of grad-school over 4 days.

Karen Walrond- from Chookooloonks spoke on finding your voice. She was a WOW, I wish she would come to my dinner party of people I admire and talk all night long!

5. Don’t forget/ or be afraid to meet people you admire. Remember to get a photo with them! After all, you probably won’t see them again until next year!

Meeting Gabrielle Blair was the highlight of my day! This was the first moment I saw her at the conference- she was announcing our keynote speaker Chris Anderson.
photographed by Justin Hackworth

I met THE Darcy Miller! That’s really her- standing next to me like we are BFF’s!

Day ONE Sideshow Press

Sideshow Press at Martha Stewart Weddings

On my bucket list is a long held desire to learn the art of Letterpress printing. I have been stalking SIDESHOW PRESS since we learned that Spartacus would be transferred to Charleston SC. I have sent them flattering email and inquired about their interest in hosting educational workshops. Finally a few months ago I decided not to wait till I actually had nothing else to do, I just decided to make the time for some personal enrichment. Do you ever get that way? I wanted to check something off MY list. I dropped off the kids at school, abandon my housework, fixed my hair and drove into town. I worked up my courage, rehearsed my speech and marched up to the door. Only to discover the hours were by appointment only, I would be reduced to a telephone call- what a waist of a hairdo! I telephoned while still standing in front of the store front in case I lost my courage later. I left a voice mail that I hoped would tease them into a return phone call- I promised lots of enthusiastic slave labor in return for the opportunity to hang around and learn the art, and I sprinkled the voice mail with more compliments.

I was over-the-moon when Virginia (Sideshow Press queen bee) called back and asked to meet. After a nice face to face and some shuffling of schedules I started my first day at SIDESHOW PRESS and I wanted to tell you all about it. I got to run the press for a while and print the first plate of a 2 color – 2 sided wedding invitation. It was awesome and beautiful! I didn’t take photos – didn’t want to ruin the surprises for the client, but I did take some photos of the silk I spent an hour cutting. It may seem boring but wait till you see what we are making!!!!

Check out Sideshow Press on the Today Show, Martha Stewart Weddings, and you can spot them in the latest issue of THE KNOT!