Finally with Phoebe!

Okay, I know it's been a week, but I said I would finish highlighting our trip to Australia. And I think the only thing I hadn't mentioned was dinner with lions! Yes, that's right; we ate dinner with lions just feet away. (Of course, there was a chain-link fence and a "hot wire" between us.) 

I wasn't nervous at all--except once. When you look at the photos, I think you'll figure out when! The entire evening with all the animals was fascinating. 

This last week was uneventful because I was so sick, but the past two days have been pure bliss as I've been able to hold Phoebe and play with the boys in the yard. I think I mentioned it before, but whenever our girls have a baby, I spend a week with them. I look forward to this time, as do the girls. They have lists of things they want me to do during my stay, and we enjoy lots of visiting...with a little bit of work on the side. So I'm giving fair warning now that you may not hear much from me this week because it's all about the Browns. 

Until next time...  


Phoebe Photos!

I know it’s late (I'm rationalizing staying up this late because I took a nap earlier!), but I just had to get online and share a few photos of our little Phoebe. I’m still not feeling well enough to go see her, but Shalae and Jon have been sending photos via e-mail for me to enjoy.

The doctor told me I need to wait at least 12 hours once my temperature is normal before going to see Phoebe (or her family, for that matter). I have NEVER taken my temperature so many times in a day! And I’m grateful to say that it was lower today than yesterday.

You’ll think I’m silly, but I had a friend buy me a second thermometer today just to be sure I was getting an accurate reading. Pretty desperate, huh? Unfortunately, the reading wasn't any different! I’m just so excited to start my week of staying with the Browns—something I promise the girls I’ll do after each child is born. Maybe soon…

Ashton (older) and Cooper love their baby sister and want to know if she can play trains with them or if she can nap on the playset (maybe the slide???) while they play outside. Shalae tells them that the day will come, but for now they need to be happy just holding her. I know I'm happy seeing these pictures!

I'm off to bed now, but you can bet I'll share more photos soon. . . .

No Phoebe Info Yet. . .

Thank you all so much for your congratulations and well wishes! I've returned from Australia with a great love for the Australian people, a wonderful appreciation for Australian food, and an icky case of flu--which I won't blame on Australia. (smile)

After we returned home yesterday, we stopped by Shalae's to see Phoebe and realized while I was there that I had a temperature. We left very quickly, but I did get a chance to see my newest grandbaby. She's beautiful! I will post a picture, as well as more information, as soon as I feel better. 

Right now, I'm headed to bed to nurse a fever, aching back, congestion, headache, and a bad case of feeling-sorry-for-myself because I can't be helping Shalae and Phoebe (and Jon, Ashton, and Cooper too!).

Thank you again for all your kind comments--have a wonderful day and we'll talk more soon. . . .

Welcome, Phoebe!

I know I said I wouldn't post again until we arrived back home, but we just found out that Phoebie has arrived! Shalae delivered her Friday night--she's 6 lbs. 6 oz and 19 inches long! That's really alI I know right now, but I can't wait to get home to see her and hold her!

I'll post more later, but I couldn't wait to share the news! 

Greetings and Highlights from the Land Down Under

Greetings and highlights from the Land Down Under!

Sterling and I have had a wonderful time in Palm Cove! Although it’s winter here in Australia, it’s been a very pleasant 26 degrees Celsius with overcast skies—perfect for walking along the sandy beaches and dining outside overlooking the ocean.

Wednesday evening, after arriving and taking a little snoozer, everyone joined us for a welcome barbeque dinner—fabulous food! We have 25 achievers this year compared to last year’s eight and many more spouses too. Afterward, we all donned “jersey shirts” with team colors (like Bravo Burgundy—our team) printed on the back and played Lawn Bowls—a popular game here in Australia. I tried to get photos, but my camera wouldn’t cooperate.

Yesterday we all journeyed by train up to a little village named Kuranda. We shopped and ate traditional Aussie food, held an adorable little Koala, and fed and petted baby kangaroos—my first time ever!  By the way, did you know that Koalas sleep 20 hours a day. Wouldn’t that be the life?



We then headed down the mountain by way of Skyrail, stopping along the way and learning about the wonders of the rain forest—fascinating stuff!


Today and tomorrow are free days, aside from this morning’s swapping and Make & Take time. Here are two of the three projects we made. I was too busy taking photos to make the third project—a gift box.


The swaps were unique and beautiful. One particularly caught my attention—I'll bet that you can figure out why! (Shoes and chocolate—a perfect combination.)


Finally, here’s a photo of a very happy group of demonstrators after two hours of swapping and stamping with a brand new set!  


I don’t plan on doing more than visiting and maybe a massage before our final group event on Saturday night. Then Sterling and I get up at 3:00 am to travel home. So, I’ll finish highlighting our Australian adventure when I return.

In the meantime—g’day mate! (Is that how you write it? Well, you know how it’s said!)

Causes for Celebration

Since we seem to be talking about celebrating a lot this month, one thing I'm celebrating is that I finally sent out my 150 Gardner family greetings—a one-page, typed update of our family (printed on hand-stamped stationery, of course) along with a family photo.

I wanted to get them out in the spring but fell short. Instead I finished stamping the stationery and writing the update while watching the Olympics (can you believe Michael Phelps? WOW!), and for a person who rarely watches TV, I feel so patriotic while watching the Olympics. I also enjoy watching the world come together in a special way.

Another reason to celebrate? I’m off to Australia to spend a few fun-filled (and maybe a little relaxing) days with our top-achieving demonstrators there, along with their guests. I’ve included a photo taken during the Awards Night at the Australian/New Zealand convention in the spring so you can see who I'll be celebrating with.

I’ll try to send an update from the Land Down Under. If I don’t, you’ll know I’m having way too much fun in the sun!

Happy stamping while watching the Olympics!

The Behind-the-Scenes Shot


Every once in a while, I schedule a photo shoot to update my head shots used in different places (catalogs, magazines, web sites, etc.) at Stampin’ Up! You’ll even notice one on this blog!

I smiled when I saw this photo from today’s shoot. It’s a family affair, and everyone pitches in. My son-in-law Jon, my personal photographer, was taking the pictures, and Shalae was helping out—even at nine months pregnant, she’s a team player. It was almost high noon, and after make-up and outfit changes, we’d been at it for almost three hours. She did an incredible job of standing on the wagon wheel, balancing the scrim and her ready-to-burst tummy, and ignoring the hot summer sun.

I thought you’d find this shot as heartwarming as I did. And you’ll also be ready to celebrate when I share the news of baby Phoebe’s birth, which should be any day—and not nearly soon enough for Shalae!

So when you see this head shot of me show up somewhere in a magazine or online, you can smile because you know what was going on behind the scenes! 

The Larsen Family Reunion--and a Little about Shanna

This weekend was a first—the first Larsen reunion without one of the four Larsen sisters—without my mom. We had a great time visiting around the campfire (I still smell like smoke when my hair gets wet) and roasting marshmallows, but it wasn’t the same without Mom. She’s been to every reunion since we began many years ago, and she usually coordinates everything for the potluck dinner as well as the craft. Needless to say, we did a little scrambling to organize our traditional potluck dinner (we all snuggled and ate under the canopy of one of the trailers during a rainstorm), and I grabbed a few of the convention Make & Takes for our craft.

The weather, other than the one time it rained, was perfect; the scenery was breathtaking; and I thoroughly enjoyed vegging. In fact, the first day I fell asleep while visiting because I wasn’t doing something with my hands. So, out came the projects, and I didn’t miss anything else.

I’d love to show you lots of photos, but do you think I took a single photo of the mountains or the trails while riding on the four wheelers? No, of course not! I did focus on the people though. That’s the important thing, right? Except that I’m not in a single shot. Usually I ask someone to include me in a photograph so I can prove I was there, but not this time. I hope I’m not the only one who repeatedly makes that same mistake. I took photos that I think will be meaningful to Shanna, and we all recorded a little something on a cassette for her to listen to because she couldn’t be with us.

That reminds me, one of you asked about Shanna. She is serving a mission for 18 months in Spain for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She’s been gone for 3 months, 13 days, and 12 hours (but who’s counting?), and I miss her tons! Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m thrilled for Shanna and know it will be a wonderful growing experience for her. I just miss her. Maybe I’ll adjust to her being gone, but it hasn’t happened yet, so beware of my blubbering!

And speaking of Shanna, I think I wasn’t as clear as I could have been and one of you thought Shanna wasn’t included in our Gardner Girls Gathering photos (the photos on the photo fan I posted last week). If you look close, Shanna’s the one on the far right. In fact, I didn’t notice it until today when I looked at the photo of the fan again, but the girls are all in age order (except me, of course) starting with Megan on the far left, then Sara, Shalae with Cooper, Sage (and me), and finally Shanna.

And I know my girls are reading my blog because I was reading one of the posts that commented on the photo fan and Washington weather. The comment noted that since I was making one fan, I just as well make five. As I read the post, I thought it sounded like something Sara would say, and lo and behold, it was her! I did laugh out loud, Sara!

I swore these wouldn’t be long posts, but once I get typing, I just don’t want to stop—kind of like the way I talk…

I’m signing off!

Off for the Weekend

I'm off to a family reunion in southern Utah and will probably be out of Internet range, cell range--any range that includes anything but relaxing! This is one of my favorite reunions because it usually happens shortly after convention, and I'm ready to just veg (is that a word?--you know what I mean) and visit.

So I don't feel quite so guilty, join me this weekend in a few moments of rest and relaxation doing something you love, like sitting on the back porch listening to the birds chirp, or taking a stroll in the warm summer breeze (some of you might have to take that stroll late at night when it's not quite so warm!), or maybe even stamp something just for fun--not for a workshop or other event--but because you're inspired by something or someone and want to create!

We'll talk the first of the week.

Managing Expectations—Yours and Mine!

Okay, there's one thing I forgot to mention (and probably a whole lot more than just one thing that I'll remember later). I won't be posting every day. There, I've said it. And, wanting to manage your expectations (and mine), I won't be able to respond to all of your posts either. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to. In fact, I'm pretty sure this blogging thing could be all-consuming, but my boss would definitely fire me! Posting a couple times a week is more realistic for me.

Having said that, I have started a list of your questions. While I'm not promising anything, I will try to respond to most of your questions at some point and time. How's that for commitment?

For now, I told you I would share more about Convention 2008. After reading all the posts, everyone has pretty well summed up my feelings about this once-a-year event. It was fabulous! I think it was the shot in the arm we all needed, and I already look forward to next year.

There were a couple more projects I wanted to show you, but before I do, someone reminded me that I didn't share the name of the artist who created the page I posted on August 4. It was Mary Jo Albright, one of our Artisan Award winners (for the second year in a row), photographed with her daughter.

As I've mentioned, there were hundreds of inspiring samples. I've chosen two to share today. The first is a photo wallet created by Kelli Purkey. It can be a bifold or trifold—you decide.

I'm including several photos and no pattern or instructions. You read right. I guess that's another thing I should tell you right up front. I plan to share ideas (not necessarily all the details) to inspire your creativity. If I have to include patterns and detailed instructions, well, it's not going to work for me. That's what Stampin' Up! does—not me! (Smile!)



The other project, created by Stacey Buzbee, is a photo fan.

I thought it was such a clever and useful idea, I had to make one myself—not for me, but for Shanna. You see, I rarely get too warm (bring on the heat!). Shanna, on the other hand, has been writing for weeks telling us how hot it is in Spain. I know she'll love this fan that includes photos of her sisters and I during our last Gardner Girls' Gathering.

The only bit of instruction I'll give is to lightly adhere your grosgrain ribbon to your Sticky Strip, including a short piece on the back side of the far left flap, and close the fan first before getting really serious about applying pressure to adhere everything together. Trust me, if I can figure it out, you can too!


One last thing I wanted to share with you from convention was a card from an eleven-year-old named Elena. (Her mother, a demonstrator, gave the card to me.)

The inside reads:

Dear Shelli,

I have an idea: Stampin' Up! should make nail polish in the most popular colors. Also, since rub-ons are the big, new hit, Stampin' Up! should make them for toes and fingernails too.

I got those ideas while my mommy and I were getting pedicures and flipping through the Stampin' Up! catalogue.

I hope you like and consider my ideas—I believe they would be big sellers. However, I'd understand if you've already thought of it and don't want to do it. Thank you for your time to read my idea.

Elena C., New Jersey, Age 11 (6 years, 10-1/2 months until I'm a Stampin' Up! demonstrator)

Keep on counting, Elena. Even though you're already a part of the Stampin' Up! family, I'll be waiting to welcome you as a demonstrator! 

Meet the Gardners

August 4, 2008

Well, I got a good night’s sleep and I’m ready to conquer the day! It dawned on me that, since I’m sure I’ll be talking about my family a LOT, I should introduce them. So let me tell you a little bit about the Gardners. (I could write novels about every single one of them, but I’ll keep it brief!)

First, of course, is my sweetheart, Sterling. I can’t even begin to tell you how much he means to me. He is my rock! He’s gentle and strong, wise and quiet, calm and steady. They say opposites attract, and that’s certainly the case in our marriage! That’s not to say, of course, that I can’t be calm and steady, but those who know me know that I tend to be passionate and emotional, although I hope it’s always in a good way!

Sterling is a simply spiritual man who loves his family—and horses! If he can’t be spending his time with us, his second choice is off on a ride! Now I don’t want you to think that Sterling’s perfect (although he’s probably as close as they come) and I’m sure we’ll talk about the things that he does that drive me crazy, but can I just say I love this man!

We have five daughters (Megan, Sara, Shalae, Sage, and Shanna), four sons-in law (Nate, Sean, Jon, and Jason), and 12 grandchildren, with number 13 arriving sometime in the next few weeks! I can’t wait! I’ll share more details about each of our children and grandchildren as time passes. For now, I’ll just say that nothing brings me greater happiness than being with them, whether we’re camping, stamping, eating, or vacationing. A perfect day is a day spent with my family!

Convention 2008

August 3, 2008

I know I said this would go live on Monday, but I just had to get on today and post my first entry.

After months of anticipation and hard work and excitement, convention is over!

I love convention! I love feeling the energy and looking at all the great project ideas and popping in on the classes. But what I love most about convention is meeting people from across the United States and Canada, talking to them and sharing our enthusiasm for what we do!

I have to be honest though—it’s hard work, and I’m exhausted. But I had to get on and share what I was feeling. I wanted my first blog to be about how much I love and appreciate our wonderful Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and staff members! And how much I loved spending the last three days with so many of you.

Check out this sample that I saw! We have thousands of projects displayed on our display boards at convention, and I enjoy seeing as many of them as I can. This is only one of hundreds I took pictures of, and I wanted to share it with you. I liked it because it made me happy! I love the Always set, loved the color palette (they are colors I’ve used in my own stamp studio), and loved the layers. I just loved everything about it.

I’ll share more project ideas—and thoughts about convention—in the days to come. But for now I’m going to rest and recover, go cuddle on the couch with my sweetheart and get ready for the coming week. We’ll chat more later. . . .