HLS Craft Retreat 2016

The 29th of July marked the inaugural Happy Little Stampers Craft Retreat in the UK. I had been planning and organising it for about 18 months. Yes, I did from Australia - thank god for the internet! 
 
If I was asked what was the highlight of my 4 weeks away - this would have to be it. I cannot believe how everything came together. From the feedback I have received, it was a complete success and I can't wait to start planning the next one! 
 
The ladies that attended were my 'guinea pigs'. I had never done anything like this in my life. I am truly grateful to everyone that came along. We had a fantastic weekend - great food, great company and plenty of crafting.
 
The morning of the 29th had me driving from Bath to Swindon. First stop was HobbyCraft so I could pick up the supplies -
 
(You will have to forgive me if the photos aren't the best. I 'killed' my camera on the very first day in London so I had to use my phone.)
 
What a dork....
Then it was on to the Blunsdon House Hotel where the retreat was being held. With a little help from my friends, we set up our craft room.
 
Many thanks to Simone and Anne :)
 
Thanks so much to Sizzix for our loan machines, dies, and giveaways. HobbyCraft Swindon also provided us with a lucky door prize (won by Anita!)
Around 2pm everyone started arriving. It was so amazing to finally meet everyone. I had met a few of the girls previously but it was so good to hug everyone when they arrived!
 
Of course we ended up in the bar and took over a complete section so we could get to know one another :)
Kathy, Di, Monika
Debbie
Julie, Darnell, Carol
Marina, Sarah, Anita
Kylie (me) and Chrissie
Val, Sue, Anne, Lilian
Then it was time for dinner and who turned up but Miss USA herself!!
 
 
 
Miss USA even allowed us all to have our photos taken with her tiara - what a princess!
 
Thanks for the collage Darnell!
A great group shot at dinner -
 
Melissa and her gorgeous family arrived just in time for dinner after driving from Germany!
Ready for day one of the reatreat?
 
Everyone is starting to arrive and finding more goodies on their tables (everyone was given a goody bag at registration the night before as well!)
The first demo was how to use Brusho watercolour crystals a number of ways. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
These were the pieces using the Brusho, Starch and Cling Wrap technique. 
 
The next demo was done by my beautiful mum - Christmas in July making Crakers and Table Wreaths
 
 

 

 

 
Day 1 was fantastic - we also had lots of Anything Goes time. Check out the mess we made!
 

 

 
 
 
Day 2 of the retreat had us playing with stacks of supplies from Sizzix and WOW! Embossing Powder. Carol gave us an amzing demo on masking using all different products. Carol you were awesome!
 

 

 

 

 

 
We also had a number of challenges that were run at the retreat.
 
Challenge 1 - Create an Australian Themed Christmas Card - winners: Sue and Val
Challenge 2 - Create a Card using a technique from Day 1 - winners: Marina and Sue
Challenge 3 - Create a card using an object you found at the hotel - winners: Kathy and Val
Challenge 4 - Photo Scavenger Hunt - winner: Di
 
Throughout the retreat we had lucky door prizes and raffles. We had an amazing amount of goodies from our wonderful sponsors - Sizzix, WOW! and Colourcraft (Brusho products). Thank you to all these sponsors!!
 
Some of us joined in an ATC swap - check out these amazing makes -
 

 

 
Here are all the cards/tags that were made by all the gals at the retreat -
 
 
We also had a special guest -
 
 
And a final group shot before it was time to say goodbye -
 
 
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the ladies that came. You made it such a great weekend and I can't wait to come back. Thanks for the encouragement and support (and my surprise presents) to give me the confidence to do it all over again. 
 
Special thanks to
 
My Mum - mum travelled with me on this epic journey. We travelled around the UK, Wales, France, and Spain. What memories we have!
My best friend Simone and her mum Anne - for all their help with the set up and just for coming on this trip!
Sandie and Callum - for putting Mum and I up while in London. They are seriously the best!
Carol - for taking deliveries for me and bringing them to the retreat. I couldn't have done that without you! Your demo was fantastic (hence everyone getting on bloody Amazon buying up everything) and I appreciate your neverending support. I can't wait to see your next demo hint, hint.
Julie - for being the boss of ATSM while I was away and running everything for me. Also for returning the loan machines to Sizzix. You are the best!
Monika - for helping my mum. Thank you!
Kathy - for just saying 'go for it' and her support when I broached the subject of the craft retreat many moons ago. 
Florence and Freddie - for putting up with mum and I while in Spain - germs and all. Love ya guts.
Barb - for taking care of ATCAS for me while I was away. She is a star!!
Jane - for taking care of the HLS challenge blog while I was away - thank you so much!