The Vancouver Report

It was cold in Vancouver this weekend. I was surprised to see snow on the ground, which is unusual for this harbor city. But the temperatures outside certainly didn’t cool off anyone’s enthusiasm for our regional activities inside!

We are doing something different this spring; we’ve planned a couple of regional evening events. Designed for our demonstrators who can’t make it to the full-day event (either Friday or Saturday), these four-hour events provide a condensed regional experience. We kicked off at 6 p.m., and I was amazed at how much we fit into a few short hours! There were Workshops Wows, great demonstrations and presentations, plenty of stamping, and—because the group was smaller (about 60 or so)—a chance to have a more intimate experience.

Because there were fewer demonstrators, I set a goal to at least say “hi” to everyone there. . . I’m not sure I made it, because I do tend to be a little chatty sometimes, but I sure hope I got around to everyone!

I have to admit that it made for a late evening. . .wrapping things up at 10 p.m. is certainly later than when we usually end (before 5 p.m.). But everyone seemed happy, and I’m hoping they all thought the late hour was worth it! I know I did!

Saturday was back to the full-day schedule, along with a full crowd. We had about 300 excited demonstrators, who warmed up the room (if not literally, at least figuratively!). I have to admit that there are few things that are more fun to me than getting together with our demonstrators—there’s no better group of people!

I can’t say enough about the things I saw. . . Workshop Wows, onstage demonstrations, swaps. . . fun ideas everywhere I looked! I know I say that every time, but it’s absolutely true! I always leave a regional with new ideas, or a different take on something I’ve seen before. It never ceases to amaze me the creativity that is shared at these events!

Coming back to my hotel room each night was a treat as well; I love the Pan Pacific. It’s a beautiful hotel on the waterfront, and I lucked out this time—I had a corner room with one window overlooking the city and the other window overlooking the harbor with the mountains in the background. I didn’t shut the curtains the entire time! It was an awesome view wherever I looked!

While my stamping presentation at this regional wasn’t terribly complex (in fact, it was one of the most simple projects I’ve ever shared), it was one I was excited about. I always show a current project I’m working on, and this project is Sterling’s pre-birthday present. His birthday is this week, and he’s actually going to be out of town for his birthday—he’s going to a horse convention, believe it or not!

Some wives may be a bit offended that their husbands would choose a horse convention over spending a birthday weekend together, but I understand totally. Horses to Sterling are like stamps are to me, and basically, he’s going away to attend the equivalent of a Stampin’ Up! convention! I can hardly blame him for being excited about that, now can I?

But I want him to know I’m thinking of him. So I came up with these four pouches (one for each day he’s gone). So simple—I cut a 12 x 12 Designer Series Paper (ones without flowers!) in half, then folded it in half and adhered the two sides together. Once I fill a pouch, I’ll close the top as well, then label the front so he knows which pouch to open on which day. I know the pouches will get ripped open in seconds, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time creating the pouches, but I still wanted them to look nice.

So that’s my Vancouver report. I left Vancouver this morning, leaving behind cold temps and a little snow for colder temps and even more snow in Utah. Sigh. . . . but I know spring is around the corner!

A Spring Spread

Honest moment—the first time I saw the Ice Cream Parlor Designer Series Paper and the coordinating Ribbon and Button pack, I was less than enthusiastic. Not really sure why. . . maybe a little too bright or something like that? For whatever reason, they just weren’t my favorite Sale-A-Bration products this year.

Think again!

Phoebe came over to visit a few days ago, and she was in a “posey” mood, willing—and even wanting—to strike a few model poses for the camera. Those moments don’t come along very often, so I grabbed my camera and started shooting.

When it was time to scrapbook these adorable pictures, the Ice Cream Parlor products were perfect! The playful colors and accents worked great on this page about my youngest little granddaughter! I had so much fun playing with these products, that I decided I’m going to have to do a spread for each granddaughter, and maybe make a little album!

As an aside, I have to tell you that I ventured outside my box! I normally would NEVER cut photos in different shapes . . . squares, rectangles, that’s about the extent of my picture-cutting adventures! It was almost liberating to punch and play with these fun little photos. It’s certainly in keeping with the lively, fresh feel of the page!

I’m thinking another reason I’ve grown so fond of these particular Sale-A-Bration products is because I’m so ready for color in my life! I’m tired of the gray drab of winter and ready to embrace spring—and these are definitely spring colors!

 

Blog Break Is Over

I’m back to work—and to blogging! Sterling and I had a wonderful few days away from it all, but it’s always nice to get back.

We spent the first couple of days in Las Vegas. Many people go to Las Vegas to enjoy the show, lights, and night life—we went there because Sterling had a 50-mile endurance ride and I wanted to take in a couple of out-of-state yoga classes, just for the fun of it! We had dinner with friends one night and family another night, and we enjoyed the warmer weather.

After Vegas, we headed for Kanab. Sterling planned to do more riding there, while I had more work to do.. Unfortunately, the warm weather we enjoyed in Vegas hadn’t made its way to Kanab! It snowed most of the time we were there, and we so we spent most of our time  TV and movie watching, plus visiting with family.

And we didn’t mind! Neither Sterling nor I spend a lot of time in front of the screen, and I have to admit that it was kind of fun to watch a few movies. We stuck mostly to the Hallmark Channel, until the storm blew out the satellite, then we had to rely on good ole DVDs. We hunted around the Kanab apartment and found quite a few to choose from; my favorite was Somewhere in Time—I haven’t seen that in years!

In addition, I spent many hours cleaning out my e-mail, which is no small feat! I’m embarrassed to admit how many e-mails I had in my In box . . . it’s a much more respectable number now, although I could still use a few more hours! I discovered I could multi-task, holding Sterling’s hand with one hand, and pushing the Delete button with the other! (smile)

After a couple of very relaxing days in Kanab, we decided to head home a little bit earlier than planned. Because of the snow, Sterling realized there wouldn’t be any rides. And as much as we enjoyed the movies. .. well, we were a little “movied” out. So we came home, rested and relaxed and ready to get back at it!

 

Additions to the Holiday Vignettes

A few weeks ago I was over at Shanna’s house and noticed her Valentine’s holiday vignette (which is made up of home décor items I’ve given the girls in the past couple of years) and was surprised at how sparse it seemed. Then I was over at Sara’s house a few days later, and she had her vignette up as well, and hers wasn’t much better! “I better get on the ball,” I thought. “This is pathetic!”

So this year for their Valentine’s home décor gift(s) I focused on bulky items. I gave each of them some silk flowers in a vase and this beautiful frame . . . they fit the take-up-space bill nicely! I showed the frame filler at the Minneapolis regional last weekend, and the frame is the perfect finishing touch. I think the vignettes are starting to look better already!

Sterling and I are celebrating our anniversary this week and disappearing for a few days. (Actually, he’s involved in an endurance ride with his horses, and I’m taking along plenty of work, but I’m sure we’ll manage a few hours together!). I am going to take a little blog break until next week though. Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Keep Staying Tuned

I promised yesterday that I'd post the girls' Valentine's gift, but I'm at a hotel tonight and I can't get the photo to post. There's something funky going on and I'm technologically challenged . . . so sorry. I'll be in Kanab on Friday, and I know I can get it to work from there. So just keep staying tuned.

Valentine's Day Goodies

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day yesterday!

Mine was fabulous—although I spent half the day in meetings and in the office, I did manage to get home by 6 p.m or so and cuddle with my sweetheart a bit.

I wanted to share three Valentine projects with you. I would have liked to be so organized and on top of things that I could have posted these days ago so you could use them for your own Valentine’s Day gifts if you wanted. But that would have required me to get something done ahead of a deadline and . . . well, that’s just something I don’t do very often! (I can always dream, though, right?)

But I liked these projects and figured that if you did too, you could always either adapt the color palette and use these ideas for upcoming occasions when you needed gifts, or just remember them until next year.

The first gift is for Sterling, made from our new Petal Cone die. When I told Sterling I was going to show you the gifts, he got a little nervous and asked, “Are you going to show what was inside?” I assured him I wouldn’t. . . all you need to know is it was personal! You can tuck anything inside these fun new dies!

This next gift is for the grandchildren. I try to give them something for most major holidays. Inside the cello bag is a little candy (I’m not big on sugar highs in children!), a fortune cookie made from our new Love Impressions Specialty Designer Series paper, and those popular elastic bands bracelets (Valentine-themed).

Finally, I also try to give each of the girls some kind of home décor item, and somehow I thought that was good enough for the men in the family too! Silly me! Turns out that the husbands, while always gracious, didn’t realize those hand-stamped, home décor items were for them too! (smile)

So this year at least (I’m not promising to do this every year . . . just depends on time), there was a special Rice Krispy treat for the big boys! This treat is a family favorite—fill a funnel with marshmallow Rice Krispies and wrap it up in tin foil. For Valentine’s day, I added a fun little vellum greeting!

I’m finishing up the traditional home décor item for the girls, and will share that tomorrow, so stay tuned. . . .

 

A New Year Creative Challenge Winners

Spent a wonderful evening looking over the Creative Challenge submissions from last month. Does it get any better than enjoying a yummy dinner from room service and looking over inspiring, hand-stamped projects created by some of my favorite people? (smile)

After I narrowed the field down, I took a luxurious bath, just to give my mind some time to think about the remaining projects. Then I went back to the finalists (20 or so), and chose the winners. It was a fabulous way to spend an evening!

There are seven winners this month, more than normal, but I just couldn’t narrow it down any more. I suppose if there were rules out there that stated we could never have more than six winners, I would have had to choose, but since I make the rules, I figured I could get away with it this month!

Another thing that was unique about this month’s contest is that there were several people who submitted more than one project that made it to the finalist list. In the past, every once in a while, someone will share two or three projects that I have to choose from, but this month there were at least three different creative artists who submitted amazing projects—it made for some difficult decisions!

Just so you know how much I enjoyed looking through your submissions this month (and every month for that matter), I chose that over shopping! At the Mall of America even! We’re here in Minneapolis for our first spring regional, and if you know me, you know I love to shop when I get a chance. So when judging the contest wins over shopping, you know it’s something I look forward to!

And it was especially fun to do it the evening of a regional. The entire day is spent watching and listening to amazing people and seeing inspiring projects, so to top it off with the So Shelli Creative Challenge . . . it just doesn’t get much better!

So be sure to check out last month’s winners—click here to see the list And if you haven’t submitted a project for this month’s project, think about it! I’d love to see what you create!

Minneapolis Musings

Just got home this morning from our first spring regional in Minneapolis, Minnesota—brutally cold outside (although the locals told us it can be much worse. . . brrrrrr!) but plenty of warmth inside! When I arrived on Thursday, it was so cold I swore I was staying inside the whole weekend, and I did! Room service every night (usually I get out at least one night for dinner with our staff), a warm bath, plenty of time to work. Although it warmed up a little outside and some of the staff ventured out, I was very content to enjoy Minneapolis in February from my hotel!

Weather aside, the weekend was fabulous—I LOVE regionals! We had a great crowd both days (Friday and Saturday)—our Saturday crowd was particularly lively! The minute they walked in, the room started bubbling with energy!

We’ve had a little break since our fall regionals, so it was fun to get back in the groove. Most of the presentations have been changed up a bit, and I continue to feel like I did in the fall—the pace is fast, the training is invaluable, and the ideas are amazing! Occasionally in past years I’ve struggled a bit in the afternoon—tummy is full from lunch, lights are low, feeling happy and content. . . I want to take a nap! But I haven’t had that happen at any regionals this year. There’s just way too much happening to even think about getting drowsy!

Our 3 o’clock home office snack tradition, which we incorporated in the fall regionals, has quickly become a favorite; I’m pretty sure we’ll be calling it our 3 o’clock regional tradition now. It’s a different snack every time. . . we’ve had popcorn, ice cream, chips and salsa, and this time we had cupcakes. Mmmmmmm. . ..

I had to fight the urge to break away from chatting with demonstrators and take tons of pictures—there were so many projects that I wanted to remember! (And unfortunately, my photographic memory is sadly lacking!) If I have to choose, though, I’ll choose spending time with demonstrators every day! The people are what our events are really all about. . .but I was very inspired by the projects!

I got to spend some time looking over a lot of the projects when I judged the contest, so I especially enjoyed that. I could have sneaked my camera out then, but I was judging in the back of the hall while someone was presenting on stage, and we encourage everyone to pay attention to our presenters, so I felt like it would be counterproductive to have me snapping photos in the background.

I usually show my regional project when I blog about the regional, but this weekend I showed a partial project —a gift that I’m going to give my girls for Valentine’s Day. I told the regional participants that they could check on the blog in the next few days to see the complete project. I’ll tell you the same. . .I should have it done by Tuesday or Wednesday, so check back. (I do have a Valentine’s surprise for my grandchildren that I’ll post tomorrow.)

Thanks, everyone who was at the Minneapolis regional, for a wonderful weekend. It’s great to be starting our spring round of regionals!

Gardner Grand Gathering 2011

This year, the Gardner Grand Gathering welcomed two new grandchildren, Olivia and Sam, who recently turned eight and were excited to join in the fun of our third annual gathering. The event began by drawing straws (short straw picks rode with Grandma in the car and long straws meant a ride with Grandpa in the truck—we’ve grown to two cars now to accommodate everyone) and dinner at the Olive Garden after a unanimous vote from all seven grandchildren.

My most memorable quotes occurred during dinner when Sidney commented that when everyone got a little older, we could go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead (what a sweet and spiritual young woman!) during one of our gatherings. And Sam said it was one of the best days of his life (smile).   

Chicken fights, races, and just plain fun in the pool is always a favorite activity during our two days together. And this year was no exception! Each night we had to call it quits. I wonder how long they would stay in the pool if we let them?

We ended our first evening with an in-room movie Tron and finally crawled into bed at about 11:30. 

Saturday started with a yummy breakfast in the hotel room, and then we created almost 40 notecards and envelopes with the Make A Monster stamp set and the In Color accessories. The kids had a blast and didn’t want to stop! But we had places to go and things to do, so we delivered the cards to a local Ronald McDonald House, took a quick tour, and met a 10-year-old House guest who was waiting for surgery. It was nice for the kids to visit with someone who would actually be using the cards they made.

After a quick stop for lunch, we headed to the Living Planet Aquarium for a special Penguin Encounter—an hour-long, behind-the-scenes tour where we saw a sea turtle, a few species of sharks, an eerie-looking eel, and several species of beautiful birds, plus the adorable penguins, of course.

We were given very specific instructions not to touch the penguins, to remain calm, and to keep our feet up if we saw their tails rise (note the yucky projectile poop on the floor that the kids couldn’t stop talking about!). We learned more about penguins than we’ll ever remember, but it was definitely the highlight of the Gardner Grand this year. 

Then we were off to the Children’s Theatre to see the Emperor’s New Clothes. It was a small and intimate theater, with the actors only feet away. Except for the clear view of spitting when the actors spoke with gusto, it was a fun and unique experience.

After a long wait for dinner at the White boys’ new favorite restaurant, Ruby River, (they love steak like their dad!) and Olivia nearly falling asleep at the table, we went back to the hotel for one last evening swim.

While everyone took turns showering, we took advantage of the time to start on our Gardner Grand Gathering scrapbook. It was a long and full day, and no one argued when it was time to drop into bed! Olivia was “out cold” (her brother’s words) long before family prayer, and after only a couple of farting contests, the boys were fast asleep too!

We jumped on TRAX Sunday morning and rode to Music and the Spoken Word at Temple Square only to find that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was in St. George for a concert…bummer. It was still a beautiful program and it was nice to see everyone all dressed up and behaving like ladies and gentlemen.

We ended the Gardner Grand by enjoying brunch at the Grand America—a close second highlight to the aquarium for Sidney! Sam thought he’d died and gone to heaven, and Tanner discovered berry-filled crepes with chocolate on top. I can’t begin to count how many chocolate-covered strawberries the kids ate. It was a delicious experience for all of us!

Sterling and I may be tired, but we’re not the only ones! It was a couple of jam-packed and fun-filled days with seven wonderful grandchildren! We all had a great time together, and I’m already excited for, and planning, the next gathering.

You Asked for It

Last week I shared the darling little bear that one of our board members made for me. As I expected, many of you begged for the instructions! (And I can’t blame you; I wanted them myself!)

I invited Lynne Ward, the board member who made it, to put those together, and she graciously agreed. Lynne is a busy lady, so I really appreciate her doing this for us.

Just a quick note—many of you also asked who our Stampin’ Up! board members are. We have six board members: Lane Beattie, Jerry Day, Paul Quinn, Jeff Smith, Lynne Ward, and Debra Washburn. They are incredibly talented, skilled, and insightful people, and I appreciate each of them so much!

Now, here are those instructions!

Stuffed Teddy Bear

Finished size – approximately 3” high

Supplies

Fabric (two complementary patterns; Shelli’s bear is in the Vintage Christmas fabric)
Cherry Cobbler Seam Binding
White felt
Quilting thread (quilting thread is important because it is stronger than regular thread)
Black embroidery thread
Black 5mm pearl stickers or half bead (for eyes)
Black 4mm bead (for nose)
Polyester stuffing/batting
Embellishments (Shelli’s bear is adorned with beads, a Rhinestone brad, gold beading thread) 

Tools

Big Shot
3” Circles die
2 ½” Circles punch
Small Heart Punch
Sewing machine
Needle
Scissors
Glue gun and glue sticks

Instructions

Note: This bear is super simple and making them in multiples of two saves time in cutting.

Cut circle patterns for bear parts on card stock:

  • Body:  5 1/4” diameter
  • Head: 4 1/4” diameter
  • Feet:   3” diameter (or use the 3” Circles die with the Big Shot, which is a lot easier!)
  • Hands:   2 1/2” diameter (or use the Stampin' Up! Punch, which is a lot easier!)
  • Ears:  2 1/8” diameter
  • Oval:  for Gusset 5/8” x 3/4"

Using a pencil or pen, trace around the card stock circle patterns onto fabric, then cut the following:

  • Body – cut 1
  • Head -  cut 1
  • Feet – cut 2
  • Hands – cut 2
  • Ears – cut 2

Using the Small Heart punch, punch two hearts from fabric that is complementary to the fabric used for the body.

Using a basting stitch, sew 1/4-inch around the edges of each circle. For several stitches, overlap the beginning and the end of the stitches side by side, not on top of each other. In other words, don't stitch so the end stitch meets the beginning stitch; instead sew a few ending stitches to the side of the beginning stitches.

With the right side of the fabric on the outside, pull (gather) the thread as tight as possible, pushing the edges into the inside, leaving a  hole as small as possible to stuff in the batting. Tie the thread into a knot. (Note: It helps to cut off the thread on the other side of the fabric, so it doesn't get in the way, but leave a little so it doesn't unravel.) Cut off the thread.

Stuff the batting into the hold, making a ball out of each body part. (Note: The bear will look better if you stuff each piece as tightly as possible without breaking the thread. This is why it's best to use quilting thread.)

Trace the gusset pattern onto white felt, and cut out. Sew the black thread onto the gusset with two strands of black embroidery thread; sew the mouth.

Glue parts together. (Note: It's easiest to start by gluing the head to the body, then the feet onto the body while the bear is propped upright. Next glue on the arms and ears. Finally, glue the gusset and the eyes to the face. End by gluing the hearts to the front of the feet. 

Tie ribbon around the neck, and embellish.

A Birthday Card Worth Sale-A-Brating

We’re heading into a new month, and I need new birthday cards to send out to Stampin’ Up! employees. I saw a card, featuring one of our new Sale-A-Bration stamps (from the Punch Bunch set), and loved it.

I had to make it mine, of course (don’t we all?), so I substituted a different color palette—based on the clothes I was wearing today! How’s that for inspiration? But it worked, and I couldn’t resist sharing the final project with you.

We’re more than a week into Sale-A-Bration now, and it’s an exciting time for us here at Stampin’ Up! I plan on posting a couple more projects featuring Sale-A-Bration sets in the next few weeks, in case you’re looking for ideas. And you can always check out this month’s So Shelli Creative Challenge for project ideas too—or you can post your own!

A Few Days with My Sweetheart

Sterling and I returned home this afternoon, after spending a glorious few days in Kanab. Sterling went down last week; I headed down on Saturday. I always enjoy the time I spend in Kanab, partly because my roots are in Southern Utah and partly because it’s always warmer down south, and I love to be WARM!

Our few days flew by, and I loved every minute. For the first time in a long time, Sterling and I were there alone. Sterling had planned to go out on a few rides (I was even thinking about going with him, believe it or not!), but while it was warmer than up north, it was still chillier than we had expected, and we ended up not going on any rides.

But we still had plenty to do! Sterling has a seemingly endless to-do list when we’re down there, so after breakfast, he’d head out. I stayed at the apartment, working on my own to-do list and enjoying the peace and quiet. While I didn’t get everything done I had wanted to (do we ever?), I did make major progress on several projects.

In addition, I visited with our employees at the facility, had a couple of meals with family members down there, and then Sterling and I spent the evenings together! It was just a deliciously peaceful, quiet few days—I’d highly recommend it for anyone! (Of course, I know some of you are in seasons where that’s simply not possible; I remember those seasons well! Enjoy them, and hang in there!)

And now we’re back home, where it’s freezing cold, by the way! Much of the United States has been slammed the last couple of days with frigid temperatures and snowy weather, and I’m ready to head back to Kanab already! Brrrrrr!!