How in the World Do I Pack For a Crop or Retreat?




By, Gina Karas

If you’re anything like me, you love to attend crops and retreats. The dedicated time to work on your projects is just what you need. The date is on the calendar and you’ve talked about it for weeks with your friends. But, the week before has arrived and panic has set in. How in the world do I pack for this event? What do I take with me? How much is too much? What if I forget something? Lions and tigers and bears…OH MY!!

Take a deep breath. You can do this. Over the years, I’ve attended many crops and retreats and I go through certain steps to prepare myself. Here are a few tips that you can use to make getting ready easy and fun:

1)      Decide what you want to work on while you’re at the event. Don’t worry about getting anything together yet. Just make the decision on what you’re trying to accomplish with that dedicated time. Is it page layouts, cards, mini-albums, paper crafts, home décor, etc?

2)      Go through your projects and see if you already have some unfinished ones that you can finish up. I tend to do this for the “instant gratification” factor. If I start off by finishing an unfinished project, then it gets me into the creative mood and I already have a completed project under my belt. It is very satisfying to finish something that is incomplete and helps stop the negative self-talk. Then I can tackle a new project with motivation & inspiration flowing.

3)      If you’re going to be working on layouts, be sure that you have your photos picked out, organized and printed. I see so many scrappers spending time at crops or retreats going through photos. As a time saver, I do this ahead of time and put the photos that I’ll be scrapping either into plastic sleeves to be paired up with paper/embellishments later or into my photo tote. As a reminder, I put a Post-It Note on the front of the photo pile to let me know the event, date, place & any other important details to be used in the journaling. You can gather what you will need for each layout and put supplies into big zip-lop bags or pile them into 12 by 12 boxes. NOTE: Our Editor, Carrie, does this in front of the TV and it works great!

4)      Once you’ve decided on the type of projects that you’ll be working on, then you can start gathering your supplies. If you already have kits purchased for your projects, put those next to your tote/bag. If you’re going to be gathering supplies from your stash, decide on your color scheme first to help narrow down what you need.

5)      Always check your adhesive supply! This is the most important tip, especially if you’re in a remote location away from any nearby stores. Be sure that you have enough of both wet & dry adhesive.

6)      Once you’ve packed your photos, supplies & adhesive, don’t forget about your own comfort! I always have comfy socks/slippers to keep my feet warm or flip flops to let my feet cool off. Always bring a light sweater or jacket to be prepared for any changes in room temperature. I always bring my cup holder to keep my plastic tumbler off of the scrapping table. The plastic tumbler cups with the screw on lids and hard plastic straws are the best. Check with your hostess to see what snacks & drinks will be provided, so that you can be prepared with your own stash too.

7)      How much is too much to bring? What if I forgot something? These are the biggest panic questions of them all. I bring enough to keep me busy, but not too much to look like I’m moving in for the weekend! I usually have my rolling tote with all of my kits, cardstock, Thickers & paper trimmer. I have two plastic cases that hold my bling, inks, stains & embellishments. Those fit into a square tote that also holds my cup and drink holder. Then, I have my tool kit with all the basics: ATG gun, foam dots of all sizes, glue dots of all sizes, journaling pens, scissors, ruler, paper piercer, Glossy Accents, Crafty Tape, tweezers, Xacto knife, Crop-A-Dile, corner rounder, Tiny Attacher and a few other odds & ends. If I forget something, I always remember that I’m surrounded by crafters. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow crafter. She probably has what you forgot. I have never been let down yet when I ask.

8)      Once you’re packed up and ready to hit the road, don’t forget about getting there safely. Be sure that you have directions to and from your destination. Take off with a full tank of gas, in case you get lost. Be sure that your cell phone is charged or charge it in the car on the way. You’d be surprised how many of us forget the little things when we’re worried about what to pack.

9)      Put on your favorite scrapbooking t-shirt, take a deep breath and exhale.

10)   HAVE FUN!!!!

Gina Karas is a traditional scrapbooker with a passion for photography. She work full-time as a Sales Assistant in the construction industry, but spends her spare time crafting with her mom and crazy friends! “Scrapbooking keeps me sane!” she says. See her projects and posts about scrapping & crafting on her blog, California Scrappin’.

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On the Road: Exploring Our Local Scrapbook Stores-Inspiration Station in Ovid, MI & PRIZE GIVEAWAY

We are pleased to introduce our new blog department “On the Road,” where we will highlight the local scrapbook stores in Michigan. We will provide you with some background, facts and information about the store along with a contest giveaway or special offer.  Please welcome our new blog writer, Gina Karas, who will be interviewing the store owners and writing the articles for your enjoyment.

Inspiration Station Scrapbook Store and Retreat

Interview with Michelle McGroarty, Owner

1) How many years have you been in business? How did your business get started?

We are celebrating our 10 year Anniversary this year. I was an employee of Kara’s Creation Station in East Lansing. When she decided to sell, Connie Walter and I purchased it and moved it to its current location in Ovid. We renovated a 100 year old building, tin ceilings and all, and have continued to grow over the years. Our store is very full now! I think we have probably grown 800 percent since our opening day. We used to have a 33 table crop room. Now we only have 8 tables….the rest is merchandise. Every nook and cranny is full.

In June of this year, we also opened a 14 person overnight retreat for crafters, right next door to our 3500 square foot store. It has seven bedrooms and can hold up to 14 people. We are so excited for this new addition. We can’t stand it!! We love showing it off. We are very proud of it. It is cute and crafty, and spacious, and tranquil, and perfect (at least we think so!) We added all the extras…comfy bed and chairs, nice tables, etc. We are looking forward to seeing old friends from when we used to do off-site events at hotels. It will be great to see them again.  It will be much easier to have them come to us though than to haul that 17 foot trailer. We miss the people from those events…but not the work.

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Inspiration Station Retreat

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To maintain our business, we also sell a lot online. We have a great website for cardmakers – People often visit our store with the great samples they have printed off from our website along with their grocery list of supplies needed to create it. We love that!!

 2) What makes your store unique? 

We are conveniently located in the middle of nowhere. Ovid is a teeny tiny town with a lot of history, but it is off the beaten path. People don’t accidentally find us. They make a trip to see us. Our average customer is from an hour away. We opened with the idea that “if we build it, they will come” and they have….Luckily!

As far as inventory, we probably have the most diecuts and embossing folders anywhere which really draws people with a Cuttlebug, Big Shot or similar machine. We also have a laser cutter so we can custom design just about anything you can imagine out of paper. We have also really grown in the stamping and cardmaking world in the past few years. We love all of it!! We of course, continue to have a great selection of paper and embellishments for scrapbooking…but that goes without saying.

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We have plenty of stamping & card making supplies.


Some of the paper available at Inspiration Station.

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We have many dies available too!







We do offer coupons if you sign up for our newsletters and a frequent shopper program for purchases in the store and online.

 3) Do you offer classes, crops, weekend retreats and other events?

We have lots of classes! Technique Tuesdays are every Tuesday with a free make and take, and 2 Saturdays a month we host a Make and Take day. We have 4 projects available-2 cards and 2 pages. You can do any one project for free and any of the others for only $1 each. That is a big hit with our customers. They really like the hands on. Of course we also have weekend retreats every weekend at our new Inspiration Station Retreat.

 4) How do you promote your store?

Facebook, email newsletters, and television ads are our best advertising….and of course publications like Michigan Scrapbooker!

5) What is the biggest challenge that you face as an independent business owner?

As a small local store, off the beaten path, we take a pretty hard hit when weather is bad…or really good. Summers are slower as finding time to make the trip is hard for many. Also when their kids are out of school, it is harder to make a special trip. We try really hard to find ways to bring customers in over the summer months. We continuously add new product to entice people to make the trip. It is never the same store twice and our prices are good. No heavy mark ups. We like to make it worth the drive for people. We appreciate that people make the effort to come see us since we aren’t a place that you stop at on your way to your grocery store. We are an expedition for most. We try not to offer the products people will find at Michael’s and Joann’s. We seek out the extraordinary and the unusual, so people will always find something they have never seen before. We like to think of it as “Big City Selection, Small Town Charm.” We urge people not to forget their local scrapbook stores over the summer. If stores don’t sell merchandise over the summer, there isn’t any money to buy all the new great things that come out in the fall.  Even if you just make an effort to stop in and spend $5, your local store will appreciate it. I know we always do.

We know so many stores that have not been able to weather the Michigan economy and it makes us sad. Our industry is dwindling and moving online and I believe that takes all the fun out of it. I want to see a sample, touch the paper and see the texture when I buy something. So whenever you can, buy it from a local store. You won’t find customer service online like you will in a local store. Your local store should be able to supply you with supplies and inspiration which is irreplaceable by an online purchase.

We have been so blessed to still be in business after so many years and we know it is because we have loyal customers. They want us to be here when they need us… so they loyally shop from us.  We are so thankful for every customer that comes in and helps us survive. We hope that we can continue to grow and continue to be one of Michigan’s premier scrapbook stores for years to come. We aren’t planning on going anywhere any time soon. :)

 6) Contact info:

Inspiration Station Scrapbook Store and Retreat

111 S. Main St., PO Box 257

Ovid, MI 48866

Phone:  989-834-5222 (Store); 989-834-3044 (Retreat)

Store hours: OPEN 7 days a week-Mon-Thur 10:00am-6:30pm, Fri 10:30am-8pm, Sat 10:30am-6:30pm, Sun 12-5pm

Gina Karas is a traditional scrapbooker with a passion for photography. She work full-time as a Sales Assistant in the construction industry, but spends her spare time crafting with her mom and crazy friends! “Scrapbooking keeps me sane!” she says. See her projects and posts about scrapping & crafting on her blog, California Scrappin’

Now for the prize giveaway….

Inspiration Station has generously donated a FREE weekend or weekday package for ONE lucky winner!!  To be eligible for the random drawing you must COMMENT below about what you found most interesting in this interview about Inspiration Station. DEADLINE to enter: Friday, July 18th at MIDNIGHT.


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Product Review: Best Glue Ever


ScraPerfect sent a bottle of their Best Glue Ever for us to test and review. Our writer, Candy Spiegel had never tried the glue, so she did some testing and is sharing the results with you.  BONUS: ScraPerfect also sent a prize package for one lucky winner, so read on!!!

Candy says:

Best Glue Ever is a liquid adhesive that dries clear, creates a strong bond, is acid free and can be used as a permanent or repositionable adhesive. It is designed to be used with paper, fabric, metal, gems, sequins, buttons, ribbon and more. In full disclosure, my testing is brutal. I want to make sure a product will work before I recommend it. So, while I read the directions, I also purposely ignored some of them to see what would happen. I know most users will simply open the cap and go, so I did a bit of experimenting that way, as well.
I took a piece of navy paper that has a slightly silky surface to use as my background piece. I glued on a piece of thin patterned paper, a crocheted doily, a metal charm, a wooden piece, a cardstock die cut, a plastic button, ribbon, Dew Drops, a googly eye and a piece of mylar plastic.
Best Glue Ever is a bit thicker than most liquid adhesives and it comes out fast, so when using be careful not to get too much. Once dry, the adhesive created an extremely strong bond – especially between the paper, mylar plastic, wood and metal. The mylar plastic was surprising because other liquid adhesives do not hold it as securely. I used too much glue when adhering the paper – I wanted to make sure it would not wrinkle as promised. As it was drying, it looked like it might want to wrinkle, but it dried completely smooth.  I found the glue worked well as a repositionable adhesive for the fabric and ribbon.


Would you like to win a prize package from ScraPerfect?

IMG_0089They have generously donated a bottle of Best Glue Ever, a bottle of Best Cleaner Ever, an Embellie Gellie, and a No-Clog Writing Cap for one lucky winner. All you need to do to be entered in the random drawing is make a comment below telling us which items you have the most trouble adhering on your projects.  The deadline to enter is Midnight on Sunday, June 29th, 2014.


Special thanks to Candy Spiegel for completing this review. Candy is a paper-craft instructor, retailer and a freelance writer. Visit her blog at for additional techniques and inspiration, as well as a list of upcoming classes and a link to her online store where she carries some products made by ScaPerfect. She is available as a vendor for crops, as well. She can be reached at



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