A Douglass Staycation

When our girls were younger, Sterling and I couldn’t afford (and sometime simply chose not) to go away  for an “alone” weekend.  Instead, we shipped the kids off to friends’ homes, and we stayed at home—didn’t waste time traveling, got to sleep in our own comfy bed, and just had a wonderfully relaxing few days at home. I guess you could say we discovered the benefits of the staycation years before everyone else (although I’m certain there are many others who have done the same thing).

Anyway, this last weekend Sara and Sean decided to have a staycation as well, and we were the happy benefactors! We inherited the five Douglass kids on Friday and got to keep them until Sunday evening—and what a great weekend it was!

I got to remember what it was like to be a taxi driver, to and from practices and games and school. . . great memories—and great relief that it was only a temporary thing! Ten-year-old Seth had a football practice on Friday and his very first game on Saturday; we went and cheered him on! And believe it or not, I (yes, me, the doting grandmother and head honcho of Stampin’ Up!, a scrapbooking company of sorts) FORGOT to take a single photo. I almost made him put his uniform back on after the game, but I knew we couldn’t recapture the moments on the field.

After the game we went to a movie Nanny McPhee Returns—worth it!), downed a tub or two of popcorn and then went out to eat at Chili’s, the kids’ favorite restaurant. We took them home fully satisfied—on all levels, I hope! At least they all slept pretty soundly!

On Sunday, they came to church with us, and then Sara and Sean came over for dinner on Sunday and picked them up. The two of them looked properly rested, the Douglass kids looked properly spoiled (that’s a grandparents’ role, isn’t it?), and the grandma and grandpa looked properly tired! I’d call that a success all the way around. . . .

 

 

Kanab Picnic

Yesterday I drove down to Kanab (about a 4-hour drive) for our annual summer picnic there. It’s not really a picnic. . . they cater lunch (this year we had yummy chicken) and enjoy each others’ company. They have potluck lunches occasionally in Kanab, so this is special because it’s a meal that they don’t have to prepare or set up or clean up or do anything but just enjoy . . . .

The chicken was delicious, although it wasn’t nearly as delightful as the company! I always look forward to spending time with our employees in Kanab because they are down-to-earth, dedicated people who work hard and are gracious and grateful. I certainly felt that yesterday!

I wandered around from table to table, chatting and taking pictures. They’re all used to me by now—and they know the drill. They know it’s not even worth protesting that they don’t want their picture taken; they’ve tried it before and it gets them nowhere! So when they see me coming, they smile (some of them grimace) and get it over with!

I was able to get photos of most of them (a few weren’t there and I might have missed a few, although I tried hard to snap pictures of everyone!); that’s why there are so many photos. When we have our summer picnic in Riverton next week, I won’t be able to show everyone—we just have too many employees up there. But in Kanab, I can post most of their faces, and I’m grateful for the chance to honor them and thank them for all that they do for Stampin’ Up!—and for me!

I have to mention the drive down and back as well. Several members of the Corporate Team had indicated an interest in going (Dave Baugh was already down there), and I wasn’t sure who was actually going to make it. I was the last one to be picked up, and when I climbed into the car, I saw Rich (our new president), Scott (our CFO), and Chad (our IT vice president), and I thought—very briefly—hmmmm, the numbers guy and the computer geek. Wonder what kind of a trip this is going to be?

I didn’t have to wonder long! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time! The entire eight hours (four hours down and four hours back) was entertaining, enlightening, and enjoyable! We had a few philosophical discussions, we told stories, we got to know each other better, and I even got a little bit of work done too! (I’m a great multitasker. . . ) I have a new respect and appreciation for my three traveling compadres, and I’ll take a road trip with them anytime!

 

Visiting the Dinosaurs

 

Ever since the Browns came home from Savannah at the beginning of the summer, I have been promising them a trip to Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life—the largest dinosaur museum in the world! And it’s right in our back yard!

I’ve taken all the other grandchildren there at some point in time, so the Brown children knew it was their turn! And since the boys start preschool tomorrow, I had run out of time—today it was!

As with all the other Thanksgiving Point trips, we had a wonderful time! The children had seen photos from the trips I’ve taken with the other kids, so they had an idea of what to expect. . . but seeing it all in real life was so much more exciting. The boys ran from one thing to another, calling me to their side with such enthusiasm! And little Phoebe, who always mimics her big brothers, would run after them, and with such theatrics and drama, echo their calls—“Grandma, come here! Look!” It was adorable!

For lunch we had dinosaur nuggets, and then each of the children got to choose a souvenir from the gift shop—Ashton got a snake that was longer than he is tall, Cooper chose a dinosaur, and Phoebe a book. I wore them out—I had to fight to keep Phoebe awake on the 15-minute ride home, pretending that the toy dinosaur was nibbling her feet and all sorts of other things to keep her from drifting off. When we got home, she took a three-hour nap!

So, another Thanksgiving Point success! I love that place!

A Season of Change--The Beginning

If you’re a demonstrator, you might be aware that today we announced a new Stampin’ Up! president—Rich Jutkins, our former vice president of logistics. We made this announcement on our demonstrator website earlier today.

Of course, the reason we need a new president is because we’re losing Dale Fillmore, our president for the past four years. He announced his retirement today. From the beginning of Dale’s time with us, I knew he wouldn’t be with us for a long time—he came out of retirement to join our family—so this day isn’t a surprise. But it’s still bittersweet; I will miss working with him so much!

On the other hand, I’m very excited about working with Rich even more closely than we have in the past. He is a talented, passionate man who is completely dedicated to Stampin’ Up!, and I can sense his enthusiasm for our future! (An enthusiasm I share, by the way. . . )

This change, along with a few structural changes we announced today, are the beginning of what I alluded to at our annual convention last month—it’s a season of change at Stampin’ Up! Changes that are designed to surprise and delight our demonstrators and our customers—and everyone involved in the Stampin’ Up! family.

Most of the changes that are taking place in the next few days and weeks will be internal, designed to help us operate more quickly and efficiently. As we move forward, I anticipate making changes that are more visible to our demonstrators and customers, changes that will make it even more fun and rewarding to be involved with us! So stay tuned. . .

 

 

An Edmonton Ending

Wrapped up my last Workshop of a Lifetime yesterday by spending several jam-packed hours in Edmonton, Alberta, with Tamye Dunbar. What a perfect way to end this whole wonderful Workshop of a Lifetime experience!

 

I started the day off with Tamye’s workshop. At least half the guests were newbies, and most of them didn’t know Tamye. She’d invited her window washer’s daughter, a next-door neighbor who had just moved in, friends of customers. . . you get the idea. Basically she did exactly what we encourage our demonstrators to do—bring up Stampin’ Up! in everyday conversations and invite people to find out more by attending a workshop.

Because the group had so many newbies, it was especially fun to demonstrate the project and Make & Take—there are plenty of “aha” moments when someone is just discovering stamping! I saw lots of eyes light up and smiles as people found out how easy it is to be creative! Tamye actually booked eight workshops and has one potential recruit—not bad for one workshop!

The demonstration card features one of my favorite sets (Notably Ornate), which I’ve got to stop using! It’s time to move on and find a new favorite set! And I had to add that row of mini glue dots with glitter because I LOVE bling! Everyone else liked the look too.

The Make & Take features Stampin’ Pastels and the poppin’ pastels technique, which I also love to teach.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the workshop. . . of course, they’re not going to tell me if they didn’t, would they? (smile) I know I enjoyed it!

In between the workshop and Tamye’s downline meeting, we had a fabulous summer luncheon in Tamye’s backyard, which was absolutely beautiful—the perfect setting! Tamye’s friend catered the meal, and it was to die for! I can’t even begin to list all the goodies. . .

After that we hit the Extravaganza—a group meeting that Tamye holds three or four times a year. What an honor and privilege to be part of it! And extravaganza is certainly the right word for it—she (and I’m certain she had help!) had Make & Takes and displays and workshop wows. . . everywhere you looked, something fun was going on. One of the Make & Takes was a frame, decorated with Décor Elements, complete with a black-and-white picture of me with each guest—that means I got to meet every demonstrator there, which I absolutely loved!

A highlight of the Extravaganza was when Tamye’s daughter, eight-year-old McRae, cut her hair. She has never cut it before, so it was incredibly long, but she has spent the last several months planning all sorts of fundraisers (she’s actually earned thousands of dollars) for a family friend who has cancer. Tamye’s group has been very supportive, so McRae chose to do the final “event” at the Extravaganza. She will donate her hair (which was well over a foot long, I think) to a cancer organization that makes wigs. McRae, along with Tamye and her husband, Jason, plan on presenting this friend the money that she has earned today—it was a tender experience to be part of that moment.

The whole day was absolutely incredible, and as I mentioned, the perfect way to end this wonderful experience. I have to admit that the last two workshops(last weekend and this weekend) were a little more relaxing than the others—although I enjoyed them all! It was kind of tough doing several workshops a week, when I was catching flights or driving several hours each day to get from one workshop to another. But overall the experience was worth every minute—even getting lost, losing luggage, and making plenty of bloopers in front of customers and demonstrators. I wouldn’t mind doing another workshop or two (or more) sometime in the future (and no, that’s not an official announcement. . . )!

 

 

Back to School

It’s that time of year again—back to school! If you’re like me, the summer has flown by, and I don’t even have any school-age kids! I can’t imagine how fast (or maybe slow?) it’s been for mothers who have children home for the summer!

One of the comments on my blog asked what back-to-school traditions we had when the girls were younger. As I watch my daughters (now married and with their own families) preparing their own children to head back to school, it’s easy to recall the many, many years I did the same thing.

Most of our traditions were probably similar to yours: We had fun shopping for new school clothes (you have to have at least one new outfit for the first day of school!), we hunted for the “perfect” backpack and the necessary school supplies, and we took the obligatory first-day-of-school photos.

In addition, each of the girls received a father’s blessing (a priesthood ordinance our church believes in) that provided comfort and guidance for the coming year.

And the tradition I remember most of all, the one that comes to mind first when I think of back-to-school traditions? Me crying as I dropped the girls off and watched them walk away. You’d think after so many daughters and so many years, I would have gotten used to it, but no! I cried every single year, and with every single daughter!

So those were our traditions. . . . I’ll have to ask each of my girls in the coming days if any tears were shed when their children headed off to school. I’m not sure if that’s a tradition that will be handed down from one generation to the next.

 

A Hot Florida Day—Worth It for the Workshop

The minute I landed in Florida, I remembered why I’m a desert girl—it was so humid! Hot I can handle; humidity is harder! But I guess that’s what air conditioning is for, right?

And I’ll tackle all the humidity in the world to meet Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and customers—and that’s what I did this weekend at Christopher Walker’s Workshop of a Lifetime!

Christopher was the only male demonstrator to win a Workshop of a Lifetime. He joined Stampin’ Up! a little bit more than a year ago because he loves to create (he sews as well and loves our fabric—he’s already promised me a handmade purse!) and wanted the discount; he has literally everything we sell—and more than one of some things! He didn’t start thinking about the business aspect of things until his stamping friends and family started asking if they could order through him. . . sound familiar?

His workshop was fun. He is in the middle of remodeling his house, so his friend Teresa invited him to have the workshop at her house. (“I’m the house, Christopher’s the host,” Teresa kept saying when I tried to give her a hostess gift.) They both did a fantastic job! Teresa’s home was warm and inviting, and Christopher was the perfect gentleman and host. He had prepared a fantastic array of nibbles that hit the spot; I had to try everything, of course!

His workshop guests were a nice mix of experienced stampers and newbies; several were Christopher’s relatives, so it was fun to get to meet them as well.

Both the Make & Take and the demonstration project featured emboss resist, one of my very favorite techniques, because it’s so easy and fun. The workshop guests seemed to enjoy trying their hand at it. (If you make the “Life Is Beautiful” card, remember to work from the center out, and use a light hand, especially as you near the outside edges, or your image will be blotchy. . . )

As I left the workshop, Christopher was tallying up orders, so I’m not sure of his total, but he did get three bookings, which I was excited about. And I enjoyed doing his workshop; I have missed doing workshops and enjoyed being back in a group of people, sharing what I love so much!

The group meeting (organized by Christopher’s upline) was also delightful, with lots of stamping there as well (which I didn’t have to be in charge of!). I got several great project ideas, and enjoyed listening to the training and tips that were shared. And I can’t forget the food there either! The group meeting was in the morning, so we enjoyed a divine brunch to kick things off, and then after the meeting, I had to go back for seconds, because I didn’t get to taste everything the first time around!

As I left Florida, I realized that between the two events, I had met three or four dozen people I would have never met before—and thinking of that made me happy! Our lives are made rich by the people we meet, and my life was certainly richer for having spent the day with Christopher and his stamping friends!

 

Question & Answer

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Q&A—answers to questions you’ve posted here on my blog. I’ll try to do a better job of answering on a regular basis, but time slips by so quickly. . . .

As always, any questions or suggestions for new products or images have been forwarded to the appropriate departments at Stampin’ Up!

Also, because this is a personal blog and I do post about my beliefs and activities related to my religion, several of you ask about my church. Rather than get into detailed explanations about my beliefs, I invite you to click here if you’d like to find out more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Finally, I noticed that one comment included a link to someone’s personal business. I have never deleted a comment on my blog, even when they were sometimes negative and even inapprorpiate. I’ve respected my readers’ right to their own opinions, and in fact, I LOVE hearing what you have to share. However, I think that if there are comments that include links to other businesses, I’ll delete those. I’ve worked hard to keep my blog personal, light, and uplifting, and I don’t want to turn it into a marketplace. Of course, I do reserve the right to promote Stampin’ Up! when it’s appropriate! (smile) Thanks for understanding.

Now let’s dive in. . .

As a hobby demonstrator, the cost of convention is beyond my means. Will there be an opportunity to present some sort of convention that could be geared more toward the hobby demonstrator?

If you’re referring to convention content, we work hard to make convention the perfect event for all demonstrators, with plenty of stamping, education, motivation, recognition, and celebration for everyone, regardless of what level of demonstrator you are.

If you’re referring to the cost, we subsidize the cost of convention significantly—I believe that our registration fee is reasonable. Of course, there are lodging and transportation costs as well, and we are aware of those. We do all we can to keep convention as affordable as possible for every demonstrator, because we would love to have every demonstrator attend!

Is Shelby the youngest of Sara’s children?

I often get questions about which husband and which children belong to which of our daughters. Because of the “publicness” of a blog, I started out deliberately trying to be vague about some details—not providing too many details about where the kids live, last names, ages of children, etc. I trust all of you, of course, but you never know how information can be used. . . .

That said, if you’re a regular reader of my blog at all, or if you pulled out the most recent Stampin’ Up! Idea Book & Catalog, you could probably piece the families together yourself. So I don’t mind making that a little easier for you.

Megan, our oldest, is married to Nate, and they have four children: Tanner, Cameron, Zach, and Olivia.

Sara is married to Sean, and they have five children: Sidney, Seth, Sam, Shelby, and Stella.

Shalae is married to Jon, and they have three children: Ashton, Cooper, and Phoebe.

Sage is married to Jason, and they have one child—Kona—with one on the way.

Shanna just married Jared earlier this year.

You travel a lot for work. When you travel, does it feel like work, or is it fun?

You know, just about every day for me has both work and fun involved. If I’m at work, there’s definitely fun involved (our staff and demonstrators are incredible!), and if I’m doing something fun, I almost always bring work along. That just comes along with the territory and the choices I’ve made.

I learned early in life that you choose how you feel about life, and I choose to make life fun. It’s not always been easy, but it’s been a wonderful way to live!

Where did you purchase the “Old Guys” T-shirt that Sterling got for his birthday?

I have no idea. It was a gift from someone else, and I don’t even know who. . . sorry!

I’d love to join Stampin’ Up!, but due to finances, I can’t afford it. Any solutions for me?

We try hard to make joining Stampin’ Up! as affordable as possible—our Starter Kit is very reasonably priced given everything that it contains. I realize, however, that it can still be a significant amount of money.

We do recruiting promotions occasionally that include Starter Kit discounts, or sometimes added-value promotions. Make sure your demonstrator knows you’re interested, and she’ll be happy to let you know when one of those promotions comes along. We’d love to have you join us!

Do you always layer your shirts/tops?

You are very observant! Yes, I’d say at least 95% of the time, even in the summer, I wear at least two layers, and sometimes even more. Guess I’m just a layered-look girl. . . 

When you did your Workshops of a Lifetime, what did you do for booking incentives?

During my workshops, I passed around a “booking basket.” Inside were 3" x 3" cards that a hostess could choose once she’d booked a workshop. Inside the card was a Post-It note identifying the gift (free incentive stamp, ink pad, etc.) that the demonstrator had agreed to provide once the workshop was completed; the hostess could remove the Post-It note and use the card. Finally, the basket also contained yummy Utah caramels, and each hostess got to take two caramels—my favorite part of the whole thing!

By the way, I am doing my last two Workshops of a Lifetime this weekend (in Florida) and next weekend (in Edmonton), so I’ll be doing the booking basket again.

Would you ever consider videotaping a workshop?

That’s been brought up before, and I think it would be fun—and hopefully helpful! Now that I’m around a little bit more often, we might see about scheduling that. . .

Where and how do you store your holiday vignettes when not in use? And could you post photos of each one?

I store each vignette in large, clear creates in my storage room. Because the crates are clear, I don’t even have to label them.

As for posting photos, I’ll try to remember to do that each time I put a new one up. I’m posting this while I’m in Florida for my next Workshop of a Lifetime, so I can’t take a photo of the patriotic vignette, which is the one up now. But when I get home, I’ll try to remember to do that.

How many Gardner Greetings do you send out every year? Do you use the family photo from the Idea Book & Catalog?

Yes, we use the photo from the catalog. And I don’t know exactly how many we send out—it changes every year, depending on who I like! (smile) Just kidding, of course. But it does change every year. It’s more than 100, but I haven’t gone through my list and counted this year; I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t finished that project yet! This is a good reminder for me to get it done!

Could you create the Gardner Greetings on My Digital Studio and then print out what you needed?

I’m sure you could, and that would probably be a great timesaver! But when we do the Gardner Greetings, we make it a group project, with as many of the girls helping out as possible, so it’s kind of a fun family project. Plus, as you know, I’m a hand-stamp girl; I love feeling the embossing and seeing the layers. So when I do use My Digital Studio, it’s mostly hybrid projects for me.

What kind of paper do you use for the Gardner Greetings?

Just ordinary stationery paper.

Are the purple flowers in the background of your blog photo in your yard? And are the new colors on your blog design Stampin’ Up! colors?

Yes, and yes. (That one was easy!)

When will Sara start blogging?

I keep telling all the the girls they need to guest post more often; I think it would be great to have you get to know them better! They’re all busy moms, however, and their families are their top priorities. I certainly understand and support that. But we’ll throw the idea out there. . .

Do you have a traditional Mother’s Day gift or celebration?

We’ve tried to schedule the Gardner Girls Gathering as close to Mother’s Day as possible—that’s my gift to the girls. During the GGG, I include a pillow gift for each of the girls, which is always fun for me to give them. I can always find something I know they’ll love!

One reason we landed on the beef jerky as a Father’s Day tradition is because the boys are so hard to shop for—I’m never sure what they want or need! But I know they love that beef jerky, so it’s always a welcome gift, and it makes shopping for Father’s Day so much easier!

Have you ever been to Prague?

No, so I’m especially excited for our Europe incentive trip next year!

Did you ever in your wildest dreams visualize what Stampin’ Up! would be like today when you first started the company in your living room more than 20 years ago?

Heavens, no! I have been to places and met thousands of people I would never have met! What a huge blessing it’s been in my life and the life of my family!

I'm not sure if you remember me, but my mom Sue worked for you for many years; we even moved with the company to Kanab! I have loved reading your blog! You haven't changed a bit! I can’t believe how the girls have grown up. The family has grown so much. Tell everyone I said, “Hi.”

Shauna, If you read this, please leave me your e-mail or call Stampin’ Up! and ask for my assistant! I have missed being in contact with you and your mom and would love to get back in touch!

How is Sage doing? Has she found out if she and Jason are having a boy or a girl?

Sage is due the first week of October, and they did find out she’s having a boy! Kona is so excited to have a little brother. Sage is doing great—feeling much better than the first few months. If you saw the photos from the GGG, you saw that she’s getting cuter every day!

I know this is a silly question, but what are your menus for your Lake Powell trip? Planning the food is always the biggest drawback for any type of trip like this for me. Would you mind sharing?

Not at all—the menu is very simple and basic. For breakfast we have cereal, fruit, toast and juice and the morning after we have our Dutch Oven potatoes we have ham, eggs and French toast with the leftover Dutch Oven potatoes.

Lunches are always sandwiches with a variety of meats and cheeses and lots of thinly sliced veggies, fruit, and chips.

Dinners are a little more diverse—hamburger and melons, chicken salad (using leftover barbeque chicken—we grill a ton once to make it easier on ourselves) and rolls, Navajo tacos, breakfast burritos, spaghetti and salad, tinfoil dinner, or barbeque chicken, baked beans, and Dutch Oven potatoes.

Did your Chinese guests get to stamp while they were here?

Not while they were at our house—we really just had time to have dinner and pet the horses! But they did attend convention and stamped there, and during their meetings at the home office, they tried out a few products as well.

We want the patterns for the skirts that you and Sara wore for convention?

They were designed by a friend of mine. I've asked her to put the directions together and I'll post it as soon as I get them from her.

How did demonstrators get to have breakfast with you at convention?

All the Corporate Team members had breakfast with the Recruit Crew members who recruited someone. The Recruit Crew was a group of demonstrators who signed up for a 16-week course that focused on learning and developing recruiting skills. It was a wonderful program, and a lot of demonstrators enjoyed a great deal of success.

We’ve launched a second course—called Direct Your Success—open to demonstrators as well. If you're a demonstrator, you can find out more by going to the demonstrator website>Training>Recruit>Recruit Crew. I can’t promise you’ll be able to have breakfast with me at convention; I’m not sure what the rewards and recognition are for the next round. But I can promise it will be well worth your time and effort!

How do you do everything you do without crashing?

First of all, I don’t. I have my crashing moments, just like everyone else. I just don’t blog about those. (smile) But I do have wonderful people surrounding me who are a huge help—I couldn’t do it without them! First and foremost, of course, is my family. . I can’t even begin to express my love and appreciation for them. And then there’s a long list of other people as well, who I can’t imagine living my life without!

Is your whole family photogenic? All of your pictures seem to be perfect. Is there a special trick you have for making everyone look fabulous? If there is, please share!!

No trick. Just lots of practice. Our daughters have grown up knowing that there were always going to be lots of pictures taken, and they’ve learned to smile a lot! When we interview our potential sons-in-law, we tell them they have to be happy and willing to smile if they want to marry a Gardner girl. (kind of kidding, but kind of serious. . . )

Keep in mind that you don’t see all the pictures I take, either. We take plenty of ugly ones—in fact, more than once someone has said, “Please don’t put that one on your blog!” And I oblige!

Could you post a photo of Vonna’s family? How is she doing? How old are her children?

I don’t have a formal family picture, but I do post pictures of her and her children often when we have family get-togethers. She’s doing great! She and Sean have nine children and five grandchildren.

How is Leslie doing?

Fabulous—thanks so much for asking! Her cancer is in full remission, and she’s actually starting to teach school again this fall. She’s so excited for that!

I've always noticed how great your little photo collages are that you include on your blog. What type of program do you use for that?

I  use Picasa—an application that you can download free from the Internet.

I am not a demonstrator but would love to come to a convention. Is that possible?

We have invited guests to convention in the past. When we do, they come and participate in all the activities. We haven’t done that for a few years, however, and I’m not sure whether we’ll be doing it again. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that. I’d love to have you come, though—maybe you should sign up!

Where do you and your girls get your clothes?

We don’t shop at just one store—we shop all over. Shopping is in the Gardner Girls DNA—we love it. We like to explore small boutiques, but we really find things we like in all kinds of different places!

Do you ever forget why you started it all?

I don’t know that I actually forget, but I lose sight of it once in a while, so it’s good to be reminded. Of course, if I’m being “reminded,” I guess that implies that I’ve forgotten, doesn’t it? (smile) With all the stress and chaos and deadlines in life, I think we all sometimes forget what our priorities are and what is most important in life, and I know most of us forget to stop, relax, and enjoy the small things that make life worthwhile. That’s what stamping does for me, especially when I get to do it with my girls and other wonderful people in my life!

Does Sterling ever share his Dutch Oven recipes?

I’m sure he would be more than willing to share his recipes with you—if he followed a recipe! He’s an adventurous Dutch Oven chef—he just tosses in what’s available, and it almost always tastes great! There are lots of Dutch Oven recipes books out there though, and you can find lots of recipes online as well!

 

Workshops of a Lifetime Snuck Up on Me!

I have just one question—where did the summer go? I can’t believe that we’re almost halfway into August! I guess it has something to do with July being pretty much consumed with Convention. . . .

And guess what? Somehow my last two Workshops of a Lifetime snuck up on me! When I looked at the calendar a few days ago, I realized my next one (in Florida) is coming up this weekend, and my last one (in Edmonton) is next weekend!

So after meetings all week, I figured I’d better get down to some serious business today! I have a project or two to work on! I always enjoy posting the projects on my blog, and I hope you enjoy seeing them! So that’s pretty much my focus today—finish up my Workshop of a Lifetime projects, at least the ones for this weekend—and pack. Because I head off to Palmetto and Christopher Walker’s workshop tomorrow! I’ll give you a full report this weekend!

A Delightful Afternoon

I just finished a delightful afternoon sitting in my backyard, listening to the birds chirp, and chatting with some of my favorite people in the whole world—our Stampin’ Up! demonstrators!

At convention, we invited demonstrators in attendance to sign a recruiting challenge. More than 2,000 did so, committing to recruit a specific number (they picked the number) of recruits by the end of August.

Over the past few days, several dozen employees have been following up with these demonstrators, to encourage them and check on their progress. I received my list of 20 demonstrators to call and decided to call them this afternoon.

I left 12 voice messages, got 2 disconnected numbers, and chatted with 6 real-live people, demonstrators who were initially surprised when I identified myself (I heard a couple of gasps), then excited to share their progress with me. It was so wonderful to hear their goals, talk about how they plan to meet those goals, and just connect.

One demonstrator has signed up three new recruits already! Another has scheduled two workshops with several new customers (she was also running around preparing for a group meeting tonight!), and she’s hoping she’ll get a recruit from that. A third told me she was very close to signing up her new recruit, and she would report in person at the Ft. Worth Regional.  

The next told me that she has quit her job and decided to focus on Stampin’ Up! full time—she set a goal to walk on stage next year! (Woo hoo!) Another one attended convention with her husband, who commented how nice it would be to work at a company where everyone seemed to be so happy and enjoy what they were doing. And the last demonstrator mentioned that she has started sharing her story much more often than before; she didn’t even realize there were people in her downline who hadn’t heard it! She’s already thinking about the people she will be meeting in the coming days and weeks as her children start school, and how she can share her story with them as well.

That’s what we need—this top-of-mind awareness of what we have to share with others and the happy difference it can make in their lives.

And after spending the day in such a delightful way, I decided that I need to call our demonstrators more often! I used to do that, just pick up the phone and talk with a few random demonstrators, but I haven’t done it for a long time. I’ve missed it!

 

Olivia's Big Day

Yesterday was a big day for Olivia, our granddaughter who recently turned eight years old. Olivia was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and family from northern and southern Utah traveled to be with her on her very special day.

Megan and Nate had planned for all of us to gather afterward for a potluck lunch in the park and let the little ones run and play in the sun, but the weather didn’t cooperate. The wind blew and the rain fell, so we all enjoyed a cozy little lunch at the church instead.  It was nice to visit with extended family we hadn’t seen for awhile, and it’s always fun to watch the cousins play together!

The GGG

We’ve had our annual Gardner Girls’ Gathering (GGG) the past few days—started Monday and we’ll be ending today. It’s shorter than normal, but so much is going on that we had to take what we could get!

A GGG wouldn’t be a GGG without shopping and food (mostly chocolate!), so we started on Monday with both. We had lunch at a mall in Salt Lake City, then shopped for make-up and shoes. And because when we’re together we get a little silly, we saw an empty store window and couldn’t resist the chance to pretend to be mannequins for a few short moments.

We checked into a Park City hotel in the afternoon, just as the power went out. We sat around in our room for an hour or so, getting progressively hotter and hotter! While it was uncomfortable for most of us, our pregnant Mama Sage started to feel sick, so we stuck her inside the fridge for a few minutes, which probably didn’t help much but provided some more silly entertainment!

Finally, we decided to just go to dinner, hoping that power would be back on when we came back.

We found out that Megan had never had Thai food, and there happened to be a great Thai restaurant nearby, so we took it upon ourselves to introduce Megan to that yummy, very distinct cuisine. She loved it. But we stuck with chocolate for dessert—we ordered one molten lava cake but it was way too tiny, so we had to order a second!

Yesterday was much more laidback. We slept in, read a little, worked on a few projects (usually I bring a craft, but this year I ran out of time, so everyone knew it was BYOP—Bring Your Own Project), enjoyed a massage, ate ice cream, and mostly visited.

That’s really what the GGG is all about—sharing what’s going in our lives, catching up and connecting in a way that we aren’t able to do when we’re all living our everyday lives (work, husbands, kids, school, church, etc.). We all sat around talking, and when one of us had to go to the restroom, we had to stop talking so that nobody missed out! And even though at night we were fading, we didn’t want to stop talking then either! We just love being together and enjoying that special bond that mothers and daughters share!  

This morning we’ll head home, with a stop for lunch (and a chocolate dessert!). After all, what better way to wrap up a GGG than with delicious food and a little bit more conversation!

Our Guest, Beth

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this past week was pretty full of work and meetings. However, we have had a house guest the past week as well.

Beth, a friend of Shalae and Jon’s from Savannah, has spent the week with us, and it’s been delightful to get to know her better. I would have liked to spend a bit more time with her, but I had to settle for snippets of time here and there until this weekend, when we finally got to STAMP!

Yes, you heard me. On Saturday, we spent several hours in sheer heaven, stamping to our little hearts’ content! I can’t remember the last time I stamped for the pure joy of stamping! It seems I’m usually stamping with a purpose in mind—either a regional project or an onstage demonstration for convention or leadership, or a project with a deadline of some sort.

In addition to stamping, I got to sleep in, go to yoga (my favorite form of exercise, which I don’t participate in nearly as often I’d like because my schedule is too full!), and just relax all day on Saturday. We ended Saturday with a neighborhood gathering, which was nice as well.

Sunday was another very relaxing day. We went to church, had a quiet dinner, and bid farewell to Beth. It was a great weekend, one that I’ve been looking forward to (and needed) for weeks!