Teamwork in Action 2010 at Lago Maggiore, Italy (Part 1)

I had a blast. (Grab a cup of coffee, this will be a long post).
I got back yesterday morning and have basically been sleeping since then, as a) I got a really bad flu and b) I did not really sleep when I was in Italy (and ok c) a really small hangover.)

I was so busy preparing before we left, that I actually never checked out the hotel where the Teamwork event would take place. And it was Grand Hotel Dino on amazing Lago Maggiore. I think I will let a few pictures speak for themselves.

The view from my hotel room / balcony.

And yes,  they had palm trees too. Doesn't this feel like vacation?

On Thursday, we started the event with a boat ride. We rented an ancient steam boat to fit all 200 people that were participating. There were 15 teams that won their regional competitions, from all across the world: Guardamar and Alagon, Spain; Hannover and Bochum, Germany; Assenede, Belgium; Strasbourg, France; Pune, India; Curitiba, Brazil; East London, South Africa; Straz pod Ralskem and Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic; Burton-on-Trent, UK; Mioveni, Romania; Bursa, Turkey; and Lozorno, Slovakia.
Needless to say, that in events like those, you understand what diversity means. The event was held in english, but except Burton, nobody was native. All teams are out of out manufacturing plant, so to travel to Italy itself was something that most people had never done.

This is the old steam boat we took for a ride on Lago Maggiore.

The riverfront of Lago Maggiore.
The ride itself was magnificient, but it was freezing cold (about 30 degrees F). Hence my flu.
An old hermitage we could see on one of the small islands while driving by.
Extremely calm waters - really soothing for the mind as we had red wine and the sun was slowly settling.
Last rays of sun shining over the mountains of Lago Maggiore.

And another picture taken from my balcony at dawn.

We had dinner at a 2 star Michelin restaurant that evening (there are only something like 6 2-star restaurants in Italy) and the teams were performing small team introduction shows. Among them were traditional dances out of India, South Africa, Brazil, and Slovakia, sketches from Belgium, Germany and Songs and many more from the other countries.

I went to bed too later after too many gin Tonics,. but we had a lot of fun.
The next day, the Final competition took place. The theme was Ice Age, with slight modifications of the story. Manni the Mamouth was frozen, and the team's creativity needed to unfreeze him.
We were welcomed by a giant Sid and Diego (the picture was taken after Manni was unfrozen).

I was part of the jury (a really silly job, since I wanted all the teams to win). The first prizes (actually two teams won, Brazil and France) will participate in the Asian finals and will spend a week in Bali.
Obviously we jury members had to be dressed up as well. So what would fit better than penguins? We were wearing white dress shirts, black ties, black jackets and sparkly penguin hats. And we also had Ice Age names, and I was Nicki Northpole.

The performances were a lot of fun. My pictures did not turn out really well, so I will only show a few until I get some "official" ones.

This is Turkey, who got dressed up as bees, with their goal to improve honey production (which they achieved in the end by replacing human bees by robot bees - which was kind of sad ).
The performance of the Indian guys was really cool, since they did not really use any other properties, and they basically just told the story with their bodies.

In the breaks we did small competitions with the entire group, like who can sing louder (guys or girls), who can guess how many languages we speak in the company, or in this case, which team will be the fastest to blow up 50 ballons.

One of the most impressive teams to me was South Africa. They brought traditional costumes (not in this picture), were singing songs in their own languages (basically non-stop throughout the day), and had their faces painted for the gala dinner. I would just love to visit Africa one day. These women seem so proud to me.

It was a really emotional three days. I had tears in my eyes more than once, when the teams showed the spirit of their countries and how dedicated they are to our company. And at the award ceremony, I could not keep it anymore, when the Brazilian team was announced as a winner, and we (jury) were up on stage and the team members were dissolved in tears, came up to us and kissed our hands and faces and said "Muito Obrigado" (Thank you so much in Portuguese). It just tells me how much things that are really small to us can mean so much for somebody else.

To close this post, I would like to show you a short video, the closing of the show event (before the award ceremony). It just reminds me what a great company we are and that there is much more than sitting in an office and trying to get through the day. We have great people working for this company.
And excuse the shaky pictures, but I was trying to dance and take the video at the same time. And the sound is silly since I was sitting right next too the speaker and it was so loud, that I am surprised I can still hear today. But it should give you a small flavour of how much fun it was. No possibility to stand and not move when there is so much fever in the air.
Thanks for sticking with me til the end. I hope you have enjoyed it.
I will post a few more pictures when I get them from the official photographer.

Back in the driver seat

Oh my. Oh oh oh my.

In two days I will leave to go to Italy for work. This will be the first time that I will be separated from my Baby in almost 14 months. I have not been away from her longer than 6 hours in a row. And Thursday I will leave for 3 days. Oh my.

I will be in the jury for our event called Teamwork in Action. The top 10 teams from our manufacturing plants will present their cost improvement projects, but not in a powerpoint presentation. Instead they will perform it as a theater play or a musical. There will be costumes, laughter, a lot of languages and loud loud music. I am so looking forward to this. My first trip in such a long time. Having spent the past three work years 50% in the US and 50% over here, I am so addicted to being on an airplane.

And at the same time I can't believe not seeing the baby girl for such a long time. But it will be a good distraction. And Daddy and Baby will do just fine. No real worries. Just a few.

Some free time made me creative

Nick took the sick baby out for a walk, so I got beading time (we had planned for it since last sunday - obviously we need to work either on our planning or on our execution skills).
I was not in a very creative mode though, so either I get stuck or I move right into the brainless beading work (such as wire wrapping seed beads into chain).

Today I made a simple necklace with one of Kelley's eggs and some lampwork headpins I ordered some time ago from Mallory's "for Jenny" etsy shop section. In her Rosebud / for the love of beads etsy shop she has some cute lampwork pieces and all the money from the purchases in the "for Jenny" section go to her daughter who suffers from cancer. Go buy something over there, such as these lovely glass head pins.

When she sent them to me, they were tied together with a ribbon, and I directly thought - oh, they should stay together, they look almost like a bouquet. So this simple design came to me naturally and I love love love it.

I had some more difficult (design wise) pieces in mind, but since I wasn't in the mood, I went and started wrapping wire into a bracelet. I used different gauges of copper wire and did this freeform cuff. I included some African "Fair Trade" recycled glass beads that I purchased recently in "the market of the nations". I used some of the teal ones I got and I have them in a few different colors. I want to try them out with silver, because I think they will be even more lucious.

Like them?


Since I changed my design, I had almost no comments. Is everybody busy or is the issue that the comment link is on top of the post right now - right side under the title?
I hate it in this place, but I haven't figured out how to change it.
The blogger template does not let me access the settings, except for html which I do not know.
So I can't change it. Sniff.
I might have to go back to the old template. Tell me if you have an issue, please.

What I did this week...

Work Work Work. For those of you who have not read all my stories: I am working 20 hours per week in an american company in Germany that produces automotive interior parts. My job is strategic planning and I was the head of this department for the entire company until September last year when I had my sweet baby Amelia who is almost 14 month old right now.

We are acquiring a company right now and my current main project is to head the integration activities with the new business. We have not got anti-trust approval right now, so we are not allowed to talk to anybody, so the exciting part is still in front of us, meeting new people, visiting new plants, defining strategy and motivating employees. With all this I have got help from McKinsey, a consultant company (for those of you who have nothing to do with it). They are usually pretty intense, which is the good and the bad part about it.Anyways, enough of this work thing. But I wanted to let you know that Nick is on paternity leave for 2 months right now and therefore I can be at the office more often. So I went over there Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to a baby birthday party. Two kids from our playclass were doing there party together, and it was a lot of fun first. Until the "male host" got sick and threw up on the floor. First time we thought, ok, can happen, too much food. But when it happened the second time while he was sitting on mommy's arm, accidentally there was one of the guest babies sitting right under him. I spare you the details.The party was over right after that but before we had a lot of fun.

Wednesday we spent the afternoon in the baby store, and bought "staircase fences" - not sure how to call those otherwise. Nick always tells me nobody in the US has those. Here we are the very last ones to get them - cause everybody has those. Makes it safer for those small monsters when they want to climb up the stairs..... We also got a new car seat, a blanket and pillow in the next size, a high-chair in a wonderful purple color that fits perfectly in our house, and a small potty (too much detail?)

I also wanted to go to work Friday, since my colleague was standing in my office crying on Thursday, since she does not know how to cope with all the workload anymore, and I wanted to go and help her. But when I came home on Thursday, Baby had 40 degree C / 104 degree F fever. So we went to the doctor on friday instead me goign to work. Obviously the very high fever that we had right before I strapped her into the car seat was fading by the minute when we were waiting for an hour in the doctors office. Conclusion: she is getting 4 teeth at the same time and has got a sore throat. Yesterday all was ok, but today she had a very high fever again, so no  going outside for us. Luckily Germany is still in the "autumn vacation" so our play classes have not started again - next week though.

Oh and then I decided it was time for a change, so I uploaded a new design to my blog (I actually chose it more or less by accident, I was thinking I was looking at the preview but I actually published it). After some struggle with font size, I think I am getting closer to how I want it to look. I need some serious HMTL programming skills I feel though....
Today was a kind of lazy day, since Meli still had a fever we did not go swimming like we usually do on saturday morning. Instead I made some pendants (check out my previous post for details and more fun pendants). But in a summary I had FUN. I did not get to making the necklace yet, but I cooked a yummy curry with chicken, peas, onions and tomatoes. And tomorrow, I will go to the flea market (it is like a mom-to-mom sale for kids cloths, organized by the church). So if I find something nice, I will give you an update tomorrow.
In the meantime I keep waiting for the noisy plume to update her etsy store since I WANT one of her lichen necklaces. UPDATE: I got one..... :)

Oh and have I told you that I love that "Down in the past" song from Mando Diao?

My new favorite addiction

... is making plastic components. I would have always loved to get a kiln and do ceramics, but have no real space for it, and polymer clay never really got me hooked (although I might try to do some more of it. Resin is really really cool, but very toxic and with a one year old not really the thing to do. So I started making these polymer pendants that I blogged about recently.
And I tried to incorporate different things and was surprised to find out that the possibilities are endless. Look at some of these that I made today.
I actually want to make a necklace with it later today, to give everybody a feel for how cool they would look in a piece of jewelry. I know "plastic" does not sound appealing to us jewelry people. But I think it is really cute.

A couple of flower pendants (above and below)


A heart pendant with a blue heart inside

A wave pendant

An eye pendant

And finally my favorite: a bird pendant.

Do you like my new design?

I actually downloaded a couple templates I found and I thought I was looking at a preview - but I found out that I did not. I actually published the template to become my new layout.

I like it better than the previous one, but there are a few things that I would like to change if I could just figure out how to do it.
I do not like the comments up on top, but I prefer them on the bottom (that is when you leave comments, right, when you are done with reading the post). Does that bother you?
I also think that the text is a bit small. But the next size up does not fit with the title's size at all.

Also, does anybody have a good understanding of how Blogger works? Or a good site or book to recommend? I feel like I need an IT class.....

Weekend and the circle of friends

Thanks ladies for your comments - my PIL left this morning. Nick took them to the airport and I will let my baby sleep in before we get up in a half hour and go to the swim class.

But I mentionned that I have something else to shop to you - my "circle of friends" necklace that I created while down in South of France. I wire wrapped tons of little light blue wax beads. The pendant is made of some coral sticks on 18g silver wire. That was too delicate so I added the wire wrapped circles, and they make the entire piece a bit more dramatic I think.

I finally listed some of my polymer pendants for a welcome price in my etsy shop. Be my friend and grab one. Concerning shippping - they are really small, and I will probably reimbourse you, so don't get scared by shipping cost.

Stefanie has a new fanpage on facebook. Her latest necklace is "der Hammer" how we say in German. She submitted it for the ABS challenge too, and it is also available in her etsy store.

This afternoon we continue the "family week" with the B-day party of my nephew. And then I will say TGIS (sunday) because my family is intense. And probably pull out the Heidi cup another time.

A Woman's Gift

Yay, I finally broke the block and listed something on Etsy again. This is my new bracelet. You can get it by clicking HERE.

I still did not get the components listed, since I need to do some more sanding before they can find a new home and this does not work quite well when PIL are around.

Today is Papou's (=Grandfather in Greek) birthday, and I made a chocolate cake that he will hopefully enjoy. My mother will come over and I hope I will not get too stressed out - there is a risk, as I need strong nerves for 3 people talking to each other very very loud (missing knowledge of each others language is usually compensates by increased loudness) and translating at the same time.

And tomorrow they already leave for Detroit where they will spend two weeks with the Brothers & SIL's before they get home to Fort Myers Beach. I need some sun.

The secret of the Heidi cup

This is the Heidi cup. But there is a secret that comes with it tonight.

Look at this tasty liquid inside of Heidi. It is not coffee. Nor tea. Do you see the wonderful purple color? Yes, it is some good old red wine.

The reason for this Heidi secret: my greek parents-in-law are here for the rest of the week. They are nice, but they basically sit on the sofa and watch us, and conversations are limited (yiayia = grandma is not hearing well), and if they occur, they mainly turn around when the next baby is planned, or when we get married or other fun things like this.

So tonight, it seemed like noone was wondering why my Heidi coffee cup was stuck in my hand for the entire hour before dinner. Well I needed my aperitiv drink tonight.

More jewelry later today, even though I will probably not get around to making something, I still have some things to show from our vacation.

I hope you have a sunny day filled with lots of joy.


I have a question for you ladies. Most of you know that I have recently opened my etsy store, and I have been arguing with Nick a bit about my prices. Like most of us jewelry ladies, I struggle.

So here is a question for you. Have a look at my newest creation.

I originally made it for a friend of mine, who wanted "a purple necklace". Now I love it so much, that I might have to keep it and make another one for her. I know I will never get rich like this.

But I thought about the price for this anyways. So I first thought about what I would pay for this. Maybe about 40 Dollar? Well when I made my calculation, it came out that the components alone cost about 50 Dollar (and nothing is even sterling or so). And I spent about 2 and a half hours putting it together.

Which made me wonder again if there is a market for jewelry like this. You can buy stuff so cheap today.

So I need help from you.

Do you think there is a market for such jewelry or will people only buy your things if they are super special?

What would you price this necklace for if you were the seller?

And what would you pay for it if you really liked it. Believe me it has a wonderful weight to it. I just love it.

Want some components?

Instead of making some jewelry last night, I decided to give my latest addition another try - making plastic components. Here are a few attempts I made last night. After I will be back home from my day job, I will sand and polish the edges and list them in my etsy store.

Any preferences for shapes, colors, designs?

Curious to hear your thoughts.