A Happy Week

I'm at the happiest place on earth—at least one of the happiest places this week! I’m leaving my sweetheart at home this year, one of the only incentive trips he’s missed, and I’ll definitely miss him! But I am looking forward to seeing hundreds of happy Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and family members.

I’ve enjoyed seeing how excited everyone has been for this trip. It’s our second land-based trip, and it’s definitely a popular family destination. I won’t be blogging this week (except for my monthly Creative Challenge, of course), but I’ll share after I get back home!

 

Sterling's (and My) Countdown Calendar

I smiled this week when Sterling created a little countdown calendar, showing his last days of class, last three clinics, and the due dates of all his final papers and exams. This is a man who hasn’t used a planner in years and who has a smartphone but never enters a single appointment in it. He has a small pile of reminder cards on his dresser with doctor and dentist appointments, but that’s about the extent of what he does to keep track of his calendar.

When he crossed off the first day of the calendar with a big “X,” I saw a little look of satisfaction and anticipation on his face. You can tell he’s pretty darn excited about school ending!

And then I realized that I was pretty excited about that big “X” myself! I must be looking forward to his school ending too! It’s been a long seven months, and I’ve missed having my sweetheart around. I’m definitely proud of what he’s doing, but I have to admit that it will be great when he’s done with school. I think that countdown calendar is as much for me as it is for him!

The Habit of Writing Notes

Note: You all know I love cards, and I also love stationery. Both are wonderful ways to share greetings with those we care about. The other day I saw a project that Sara was working on--some personalized stationery--and fell in love with it. I knew you'd like it too, so I asked her to guest blog and share it. Enjoy!

I saw a book the other day, The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd. I have a personal goal to try to do better at letting people know I appreciate them, and writing notes is a great way to do that, so I picked up the book.

I enjoyed reading it! It talked about the etiquette of writing notes, the content of different types of notes, and even the types of inks and papers available. One thing the book mentioned is that it’s important to establish a habit of writing notes, and part of that is making sure you have stationery readily available.

I totally got that—there have been so many times I’ve thought about writing a note to someone but didn’t follow through because I didn’t have a card or note handy.

So I’ve been thinking about this lately. Stampin’ Up! doesn’t carry stationery, so I’ve been trying to be creative with my supplies and make some fun stationery that I could always have on hand. I knew what I wanted—a simple, eclectic, urban look and feel. I thought about doing something with our Crumb Cake Card Stock, but then I was talking to a friend (also a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator), who suggested I try to create something from the packing paper that comes in our Stampin’ Up! orders.

I looked at it, and it’s perfect! It’s actually perforated at 8-1/2 inches, so I just cut it at 5-1/2 inches. I stamped my monogram in the bottom right hand corner, and I have exactly what I was looking for! If I’m writing a longer note, I can write on an entire sheet; if I’m writing a shorter note, I can just fold the sheet over to create a note card.

Of course, I had to have a cool envelope too! So I took apart one of our Stampin’ Up! envelopes and made a template, then created several different envelopes from our Designer Series Paper! The notes and envelopes look great together, and I have very affordable, environmentally friendly stationery that I can carry around all the time, so I can follow through when I get a “write a note” impression!

 

 

Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. . . almost 75 degrees! The morning started out a little crisp, but by afternoon it had warmed up. And what great timing!

In the morning, I had a board meeting at Thanksgiving Point (I’ve talked about this amazing place before!), and in the afternoon we had plans with some of the kids to visit the annual Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point. The Browns and the Douglasses came (the other girls were out of town), and we strolled through the gardens and enjoyed the beautiful flowers.

Most of us have done the Tulip Festival before, so we knew what a treat was in store, but Sterling came for the first time—it was great to have him with us!

Last year, we had had a chilly spring, so the tulips were still beautiful but not quite as plentiful, plus we had to wear jackets and sweaters. This year, we wore layers (just in case) but were peeling them off! And the tulips were out in incredible numbers! There’s still more flowers to come. . . but it was a gorgeous afternoon—and I loved spending it with some of my favorite people!

These pictures don’t do it justice, but it’s taste of it! And here’s the website, which has even more gorgeous photos!

An Update on Shanna

Shanna and I had planned to have lunch today, then I was going to go with her to her weekly doctor’s appointment. I’ve planned all week to blog about that, so you’d all know how she was doing (so many of you have been so kind to ask about her. . .)

And, of course, like so many things we plan, life happened and nothing went as planned. I’ll start off by saying that Shanna did NOT have her babies. . . at least not yet. But she did call last night, saying that she had a sore throat and didn’t feel well. This morning she called, feeling even worse (she could hardly swallow) and reporting steady contractions.

She’s actually been having contractions off and on for days now, but these seemed to be more consistent than in the past, and a little stronger. She called the hospital, and the nurse told her she was welcome to come in, but. . . .so she decided to hang on a little longer.

Because she felt so yucky, we cancelled lunch plans, and she just came over to the house and hung out. Thankfully, it was a “work from home” day for me, so I was able to be there for her, chat a bit, and still do the work I needed to do.

Jared ended up going with her to her doctor’s appointment, where the doctor’s words were sensitive . . . and discouraging. “You are making progress, Shanna,” he said, “but not as much as you’d like!” He told her for her sake, he hoped things would start progressing more quickly, but for the babies’ sake, he was glad that things were still moving slowly.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows how hard those last few days are, and Shanna is uncomfortable and tired. But she still looks great, and she’s trying hard to have a positive attitude. She knows that every extra day helps the babies grow stronger, so she’s determined to hang in there.

In the meantime, anyone who has ever been pregnant also knows that the day will come when those babies are here, and if Shanna thinks it’s hard now. . . well, the fun is only beginning!

Spring Break Sleepover

Our grandchildren frequently ask when they can have a sleepover at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. . . well, last Sunday, Ashton asked once again. “Grandma, it’s spring break. . . when do we get a sleepover?”

While spring break isn’t any less busy for me, it is clearly less busy for the grandchildren, and they thought a celebration was in order. And who I am to discourage them from thinking that if you want to party, head over to Grandpa and Grandma’s?

So we had a spring break sleepover!

We invited all the grandchildren who were in town. . . even little Makai spent the night! We invited parents too, but we didn’t raise any dummies! When our adult children had a choice between a free date night and sleeping in vs. spending the night helping us out with a houseful of children, they all made the same choice I would have made!

The kids arrived just in time for pizza. Grandma doesn’t normally serve pizza, but because it wasn’t spring break for me, I had just gotten home from Kanab less than an hour before they started arriving, so I was going for quick and easy! After pizza, we went swimming, had everyone shower and get into PJs, and then settled down for a movie.

I don’t know whether it was the swimming, or maybe they just didn’t have enough pizza, but my official job during the movie was providing snacks, and those kids downed 10 (yes, TEN) bags of microwave popcorn, at least 10 sliced apples, and even more clementines! (I gave up counting, they gobbled them up so fast.)

Before they headed off to sleep, I had them all make silly faces, then everyone went to sleep and slept through the night. Everyone except Makai, that is. But that was OK. . . it was good for Grandma to be reminded of what it’s like to have little ones!

By 10 a.m., parents had come and picked up the kids, and I was off to my next meeting. . . grateful for a fun spring break sleepover spent with our wonderful grandchildren! Maybe we’ve started another Gardner family tradition. . . .

 

 

Day 2 of Appreciating Our Employees

A few of us left early this morning (before 5 a.m.) to head down to Kanab for our annual Employee Appreciation Breakfast down there. Once again, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to thank the men and women who are part of our Stampin’ Up! family and who make it all happen in our manufacturing facility in Kanab!

We drove down and ran into a bit of bad weather (can you believe snow in April? We must be in Utah!), so we were a little late. But everyone was gracious and appreciative, and we enjoyed spending time with our amazing Kanab employees.

This group is smaller, so we were able to mix and mingle a little bit more. The food was great (one of the most important things, right?), the company was even better, and I left feeling so grateful—once again—for the solid, salt-of-the-earth people who dedicate themselves to Stampin’ Up!

We have fewer pictures at Kanab than at the home office, not because Kanab isn’t just as important, but because we had a staff photographer snapping photos at Riverton, and in Kanab, we were left to our own devices. So we snapped a few candids and called it good.

We also had a Heart of Stampin’ Up! winner in Kanab. Once again, I enjoyed reading the nominations submitted by coworkers; it’s inspiring and humbling to be working with people who really do live our Statement of the Heart and who truly care about people.

Congratulations to our Heart of Stampin’ Up! winner in Kanab—Howard Clayton. And thanks again to all our wonderful employees . . . in Kanab, in Riverton, and in our offices around the world, for all that they do!

Home Office Employee Appreciation Breakfast

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since our last Employee Appreciation Breakfast—it just doesn’t feel like that much time has passed!

But it has, and we had our annual breakfast this morning at our home office (tomorrow we’ll have our Kanab breakfast. . . watch for that post tomorrow), and it was the best breakfast BY FAR! Someone asked me what made it so great, and I started to list off all sorts of things, but it really came down to one thing: attention to detail. Our HR department, and especially the gal who was in charge of this particular event, paid incredible attention to every detail.

Employees were greeted by a handmade, hand-stamped banner that said, “Thanks 4 all U do!” Serving tables had tablecloths and eating tables had centerpieces. Our designer fabric lined the silverware holders. . . and the list could go on and on. I knew the presentation was fabulous when employees started taking pictures before they even grabbed a plate of food!

In short, our HR people really did take it up a notch! And while it was beautiful to look at, it was even more delicious to eat! We had real eggs and ham, hand-cut fresh fruit, French Toast made from thick Great Harvest cinnamon bread, soft butter, homemade syrup. . . not to mention the homemade granola that my sweetheart made! Mmmmmmm! (See the recipe below. . . )

The morning was topped off by the announcement of our annual Heart of Stampin’ Up! award, which is given to Stampin’ Up! employees who are nominated by their coworkers. This award is exactly what it says: An award presented to employees who really do live our Statement of the Heart, which focuses on loving what we do, sharing what we love, and helping others enjoy creativity and worthwhile accomplishments.

It made my heart swell as I read each of the more than two dozen nominations. I felt such gratitude to be able to work with people who exemplify what I hope Stampin’ Up! is. And I also felt great gratitude for the good people who took the time to nominate their coworkers and express appreciation for these wonderful people.

Truth be told, there are dozens, if not hundreds of Stampin’ Up! employees who deserve this award! I am so blessed to work at Stampin’ Up!

I did, however, narrow this year’s winners down to three, and I congratulate these three amazing people: Manivone Lithamalay, Kevin Lunt, and Lynnette Abernathy.  Thanks for all you do!

I did have several people ask for Sterling’s homemade granola recipe, and I don’t blame them—it is delicious! He doesn’t follow a precise recipe. . . he’s one of those people who kind of just tosses a few things together and it always works out!

But here’s the “approximate” recipe (along with Sterling’s comments. . . smile):

Sterling’s Granola

6 c. old-fashioned oats
2-3 c. coconut (shaved, unsweeted if you can find it; if you can’t, regular shaved coconut works)
2 c. sunflower seeds (raw or roasted/salted)
2 c. pumpkin seeds
1 c. chopped pecans
1-2 c. chopped almonds
1 c. chopped cashews
1 c. flax seed (optional)

(You can also add any other nuts you have laying around)

Add strong sprinkling of ground cinnamon (whatever looks good to you; you can figure it out!)

In separate bowl, mix the following:

2 c. of coconut milk (can find in most grocery stores)
1 c. agave nectar (natural sugar replacement) or 1 c. honey
2/3 c. virgin coconut oil (unrefined; heat in microwave before adding to other moist ingredients)

After mixing moist ingredients together, pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread granola over 2-3 large cookie pans, then place in oven (350 degrees F) for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take out and turn/move granola. Repeat two times, for a total of 30 minutes of cooking. Note: Watch carefully so granola doesn’t burn. If it looks like it’s burning, turn the oven down or shorten cooking time.

After cooking, take the granola out and cool. We keep our granola in Ziploc baggies in the freezer. Not really sure why. Shelli says it lasts longer that way, but it doesn’t last very long at our house whatever way you store it. Shelli likes her granola (about ½ c) with cut-up berries (any kind) or bananas and almond milk. I like vanilla yogurt on mine, along with almond milk.

Oh yeah, one more ingredient—smile big while you eat it!

 

 

 

A Great Day

I’ve had a great day today!

Set the mood for the day by wearing springtime colors (eggplant and daffodil), and then walked outside and loved the fabulous springtime weather.

Enjoyed  our corporate team meeting where we talked about  our upcoming conventions (hope you’re planning to join us!) and our incentive trip to Disney World. We got to hear all the details, and can I just tell you how excited I am?

Next, stopped by our new-hire celebration. Four new hires (all young, probably in their ‘20s), and it was fun to feel their enthusiasm as they become part of our Stampin’ Up! family.

Then this afternoon I continued to be surrounded by youthful enthusiasm when I presented as part of a women entrepreneur series at Brigham Young University. I’ve decided that I’m not much of a lecturer; every time I do these things, I almost always tell my brief story and then open it up to questions and answers. I figure the students are the ones who know what they need (and hopefully want) to hear, so I’d rather just answer their questions.

Of course, I have to mention that the class wasn’t all young students (there were a fair number of nontraditional students—woohoo!), nor was it all women. . . there were several male students there too. I enjoyed my time with them and left feeling invigorated, as well as enlightened. One of the students mentioned that stamps seemed to be “something out of the ‘80s,” while another student mentioned that she had been stamping with her mother since she was 12.

These types of experiences continue to convince me that we’re doing the right thing by trying to reach out to younger crafters and share the wonderful opportunities that Stampin’ Up! provides of creativity and stamping and sharing. . . . Our research shows that the younger generations haven’t heard about us, and I’m excited to change that!

 

Happy Easter

Easter weekend is always special to me, primarily because it’s an opportunity to focus on Christ. While our girls were growing up, we tried to keep our Sundays focused on the Savior, so we did Easter egg hunts on Saturday.

Most of our girls have continued that tradition, and last night we were invited to the Browns to have dinner and enjoy their Easter egg hunt with them. It was nice to be part of a hunt again, watching young children search excitedly for eggs, having them invite us to come help them. . . I’m so thankful for grandchildren! 

Tonight, we had Sunday dinner with everyone (except for the Douglasses, who are out of town), and we gave each familiy a few Christ-centered Easter gifts. We traditionally give each family a children’s picture book (this year’s choice was a hidden picture book called “Who Is This Jesus?”), and this year we also have a Christus statue for each.

I also found some fun chalk eggs for the grandchildren, as well as chocolate-covered raisin eggs. (They look—and taste—a lot better than they sound!)

But mostly tonight we focused on our Savior and what He did for us and how our lives are full of hope because of His sacrifice and resurrection.

I hope your Sabbath was joyous too!

A Fun Photo Shoot

I know you think I’m going to have this blog header forever! It was warm and cozy and perfect when we posted it during the winter, but now spring is in the air, and it’s time for a change.

We had a photo shoot last night and took some new photos; I’m waiting to see a new design, and then we’ll have a new blog header! It’s about time, right?

Shanna and Shalae helped me with this photo shoot (trying new and different things, you know), so I thought I’d share a few of the outtakes. We had lots of fun . . . we almost always do when we get together. I thought they were kind of cute.

Hope you’re as excited for spring as I am!

 

Random Projects

I wanted to start off by thanking you all for your comments and insight on my blog last week about a possible retreat. I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments and have lots to think about, for sure!

Today I thought I’d share a couple of projects with you. I can’t even remember where or when these projects were made, but when I didn’t use them for the original purpose, I knew I wanted to save them to share during a quiet-blog week. And guess what? It’s a quiet-blog week!

Enjoy!