A Happy Set

Here’s this week’s Sale-A-Bration projects, featuring the Sprinkled Expressions set.

As you can see, this set is bright and lively, full of all sorts of happy possibilities. When I first saw it, I thought the images would look great on fun, simple projects, like this 3x3 card.

However, I’ve also been delighted at some of the more complex projects I’ve seen, like this gift pouch. It’s just a reminder to me that when you keep your eyes—and mind—open, you really will be amazed at the endless possibilities just one stamp set offers.

Greeting sets are always versatile, and Sprinkled Expressions really does offer images that you can use all year long, for all kinds of occasions! Happy creating. . .

 

Enjoying a Bit of Columbus

Had a great regional in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend! I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I really enjoy the new format of the regionals, especially the couple of “open” hours in the day that allows our demonstrators and guests to choose whatever they want to do. There’s plenty to choose from—demonstrator booths, Make & Takes, swaps, displays—and everyone can go wherever they want. It’s a fun, relaxed environment that I feel has really made our regionals more enjoyable than ever!

I especially like the demonstrator booths because the presenters are different at every regional, and I look forward to listening and learning from each one. I love the hints and tidbits that each demonstrator offers; everyone has valuable insight and experience, and I’m so grateful that they’re willing to share.

Columbus was our second to last regional for this season—we’re heading to Milwaukee in a couple of weeks for our last one—and things went smoothly! It was a nice size crowd—about 650, with more than 170 guests—and they were a warm, appreciative group. We’ve worked out the kinks, are feeling comfortable and confident in our presentations, and have the process down. . . set-up and take-down went great.

In fact, we got everything taken down and packed up so quickly after the regional was over that we were able to head out for dinner in the daylight—a bonus! We’d arrived Friday after dark and headed over to the convention center in the dark yesterday morning to set up, and we had expected it to be after dark when we got everything wrapped up, so it was a pleasant surprise to get done quickly enough that we were able to enjoy a tiny bit of the city. I enjoy architecture and there were some beautiful buildings where we were, and if it hadn’t been so chilly, I would have enjoyed strolling the streets instead of rushing back to the hotel through the biting cold.

It’s been my tradition for the past several years to share whatever current project I’m working on during my regional presentation, and at Columbus I shared the favor boxes for Shanna’s upcoming shower. I felt kind of silly because these boxes are so simple. . . I usually highlight a technique or have a tip or trick to share. But Shanna wanted it simple, and while these are certainly simple, I also think they’re beautiful—and they’re what I’m working on right now. So I showed how to make a project from start to finish. . . I did have one demonstrator come up to me afterwards and mention that she was looking for a favor for her own daughter’s upcoming shower and she was going to use the boxes. That made me feel a little less apologetic. (smile)

Hopefully a few of you are looking for a quick, easy favor box as well. . . .

Christmas Coming Early This Year. . .

One of the things I’m working on right now is writing my message in our new catalog, which will be released on June 1, a month earlier than usual. We’ve been talking about and planning on major catalog changes this year, and it’s exciting to see a color proof and see all these plans coming together in the real thing! I wanted to share with you some of the thoughts I had as I pored over the pages.

First, I already mentioned that we’re releasing the catalog earlier. Our demonstrators have been asking for that for awhile, but for various reasons we haven’t made that change. This year, we decided to go for it, and our demonstrators are thrilled! Holding the new catalog in my hands always feels like Christmas for me, especially as I look at all the new goodies inside, and it will be Christmas a month earlier this year!

People who have seen our catalogs in the past will recognize the change in design and layout immediately! I haven’t seen the cover yet, but I’ve been involved in the design discussion, and I can’t wait! The cover will set the stage for the fun changes inside. . .

The first thing that caught my attention is our photography. It’s crisp and bright and really shows off our products in a different way. Most of the samples are close-up shots rather than showing the entire project, which I really like. That approach helps me focus on a specific aspect of the project (the color palette, an image or an accessory, etc.) while allowing me to imagine what the rest of the project might look like, sparking my creativity as I think about how I might finish the project myself.

Speaking of accessories, our accessories section is very different—and I LOVE it! The way we’re presenting our accessories makes me want to reach out and touch the ribbons and brads . . . everything! I really feel like the photography and design makes our products irresistible!

The catalog copy caught my attention too. The callouts felt real and conversational . . . I had to read each one because they made me think of new things to do and try. And our demonstrator testimonials were fun to read as well. Many of the quotes came from my demonstrator friends, and I could hear them saying those things . . .I knew they were genuine, heartfelt thoughts our demonstrators were sharing.

I didn’t count the samples or products or pages, but I know we have fewer than we’ve had in the past, but it didn’t feel smaller at all! I had worried that when the catalog came out, I might feel like there was a noticeable decrease in what we were offering, but I don’t feel that way, and I don’t think our demonstrators or customers will either.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that they’ll feel what I’m feeling—incredibly excited! We’ve got new product I can’t wait to get my hands on, including amazing stamp sets, new coordinating products, fun accessories. . . I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this great new catalog!

A Fresh Vintage Album

I mentioned that I’d be posting projects made using our Sale-A-Bration products every week or so during Sale-A-Bration, and here is this week’s project.

Fresh Vintage is one of my favorite Sale-A-Bration stamp sets, and this album also features the other products (Everyday Enchantment Designer Series Paper and Ribbon and Brad Pack) that are in the free bundle that a hostess receives when she has a $400 ($525 CAN) workshop.

I love this album . . . it’s perfect for these pictures that we took during one of our regular Dutch Oven family picnics up American Fork Canyon. (You can read about in this blog entry.) 

Fresh Vintage is available in all our markets, and the hostess bundle is offered in our North America market. If you don’t have the paper, ribbon, or brads, you can always substitute what you do have—that’s the beauty of creating! You can see that we’ve also added a few other accessories as well. . . 

And I love the layouts of these pages too. You can use them as templates for any album. . . just pick a stamp set, color palette, and coordinating accessories that work with the photos. 

Hopefully you’ll enjoy checking out—and being inspired by—these products and these pages. And the photos for that matter! We’ve finally received a little cold winter weather here in Utah (it’s been unseasonably mild so far this year), so these beautiful canyon photos are bringing back some wonderful memories! I can hardly wait until it gets warm enough to head up the canyon again. . .  

Happy Anniversary, Zorro Style!

 

Sterling and I celebrated in our 32nd anniversary last night in grand style—attending the US premiere of Zorro, The Musical at Hale Center Theatre in Salt Lake City. We love the Hale Center Theatre, and attend as many productions as we can. When we were invited to the gala (a formal, black-tie affair, complete with a pre-show dinner), I jumped at the chance. Zorro is one of Sterling’s favorite movies, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our special day.

I set the stage on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day). Sterling didn’t know I’d bought the tickets, so I dressed up in a flamenco dancer costume to invite him and gave him a Zorro mask as a little added touch.

We arrived last night and were greeted with a red carpet and a gentleman in a white tux, who was greeting all the guests. There were about 150 or so of us attending the gala affair, and it was incredible! We mingled for a bit before dinner, enjoying yummy hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Everyone was dressed in formal attire, and the mood was exciting.

And we hadn’t seen anything yet!

For dinner, we were escorted down into a rehearsal hall at the theatre that had been transformed into an incredible dining room. Because of our special events at Stampin’ Up!, I’m aware of what goes on behind the scenes to pull off an event like this, and I was SO impressed! The hall we walked down was shrouded in black drapes, with huge candelabras (as tall as I am, with 10-12 real candles in each) lining the hallway.

When we walked into the room, we were greeted with more candles, wrought-iron chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and tables decorated with red roses and swords, urns with our table numbers on them, and individual name tags. 

Dinner was incredible, every course better than the one before! I didn’t leave a thing on my plate (even though I’ve heard it’s polite to do so), but it was too good to waste! And I noticed that everybody else was cleaning up their plates as well, so I didn’t feel too badly!

Somehow they knew Sterling and I were celebrating our anniversary; there was another couple there enjoying an anniversary as well. Before dinner, they acknowledged the four of us, and presented us with some chocolate.

A little bit later, one of the Hale Center officials who sat at our table brought out an additional surprise for Sterling—a goodie basket filled with several Zorro treats, including an antique Zorro book, a Zorro comic book, two framed Zorro photos, a vintage Zorro lunchbox and a Zorro pin. It was amazing. . . all I could think about was that we were starting a new collection and we’d need to find a place somewhere at home to display these fun new things! Everything had been incredible up to that point, but that basket put the whole evening over the top!

And then it got even better! After listening to John Gertz (executive producer, director of the movie, and owner of the Zorro brand, not to mention just a great, down-to-earth guy), we headed into the show and watched the production itself. Like everything Hale Center does, it was fabulous! If you’re going to do a US premiere of any show, Hale Center is definitely the place to do it. I think the show hits Broadway next year, but I can’t imagine that it will be any better than our own Salt Lake production. The Hale Center theatre-in-the-round facility is simply astounding, and the show was wonderful!

The whole evening was amazing, and we definitely felt very special. It made me feel like I hope our Stampin’ Up! demonstrators feel when they attend our special events . . . certainly a night that Sterling and I will never forget, probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!  I wanted to take pictures of everything, every little detail, because it had been so well planned, but it was a fancy, black-tie affair, so I exercised a little self-restraint! I do hope you enjoy these pictures I did take. . .

Happy anniversary, Sweetheart. . . love you!

 

 

Hugs and Kisses

I LOVE Valentine’s Day!

I love that it’s a day that celebrates love and appreciation, a day that reminds us to focus on those we care about, a day that encourages us to express heartfelt feelings to others. Valentine’s Day makes me happy and always makes me want to reach out to others.

For years, I’ve always made the rounds at our Stampin’ Up! home office and given our employees Hugs and Kisses (the Hershey’s kind, of course!). My schedule doesn’t always allow me to do it exactly on Valentine’s Day, but this year I did! And I loved it.

I look forward to the opportunity to tell those employees who are at their desks how much I appreciate them. I don’t always catch everyone, but I leave a Hug and a Kiss for those I miss as well. And this year, for the first time, several employees mentioned my visit, saying things like, “I was wondering when you were coming by,” and “Thanks for taking the time to do this every year,” and “I was hoping I wouldn’t miss you.” I always feel a little silly hauling the basket of candy around every year, but when I realized that  people were actually watching for me, it made me feel great!

I wish I could wiggle my nose and visit all our offices, but since I can’t, I send a package of Hugs and Kisses to our Kanab facility and our international offices as well. Those won’t arrive today (hopefully I’ll get them out early enough next year so they can be enjoyed on the actual day), but February is a great time to express love and appreciation all month long, so it works.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and that you are surrounded by people who love you!

 

Celebrating in Phoenix

It was a grand day in Phoenix yesterday! Every time I attend a regional, I am reminded how much I love them—for lots of different reasons. For starters, how can any regional be anything but wonderful when you have to turn on the air conditioning on the way to the hotel from the airport! Talk about a great start. . .

At one point during the regional we had a break, and I went outside. It was so warm, and I was having a delightful conversation with some demonstrators, and I got lost in the moment. . . Arizona is celebrating its centennial birthday this week, so there was a feeling of excitement in the air. We watched hundreds (a cab driver later told me there were thousands in the city) of motorcycles drive by the convention center, and most of them were Harleys. Be still, my heart!  (I love motorcycles.) I almost had to force myself to go back inside.

Of course, back inside was just as wonderful! This regional was one of our smaller ones; we had about 350 people in attendance. The energy was strong, positive, and happy, and I had a chance to interact with many of our Stampin’ Up! demonstrators, always an event highlight for me! We also had more guests than normal sign up to join our Stampin’ Up! family, and that’s exciting to see as well!

And I know I say this at every event, but it’s true—I always learn at least one thing, and usually at least a dozen things, at our events. And I see lots of inspiration with the swaps and contest.

Hopefully I provide a little inspiration too. I always share a project that I’m currently working on, and with the upcoming birth of our twin grandbabies only a couple of months away, we’re actually in the midst of planning for Shanna’s combination birthday/shower.

This glass jar will hold the drinks at the party and will have either a pink-and-white striped straw or a gray-and-white striped straw, along with a drink. During my onstage presentation I talked about different ways to “ornament” it (some of our staff teased me about teaching them a new word for embellish or accent, but “ornament” just slipped out. . . and seemed appropriate). There are several projects in the works for this party, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing those in the coming weeks as well.

Throughout the day, people kept thanking us for coming to Arizona, and I kept thinking, “No, thank you for letting us come here!” Happy 100th birthday, Arizona!

 

A Kiss for Sterling

I left for our Phoenix regional yesterday and couldn’t resist leaving behind a little surprise for Sterling. It’s so close to Valentine’s Day (plus our anniversary is next week as well) that I wanted him to know I was thinking of him—even more than usual—this weekend.

Just wanted to share this with you. I’m off to our regional now. . . .

 

Fresh Vintage Sale-A-Bration

I mentioned in a previous blog that I’ve fallen in love with several of the Sale-A-Bration products, and I mean that! If I had to choose a favorite, though, it would have to be Fresh Vintage.

Those who know me well know I’m a vintage girl. . . I’ve always loved the vintage look and feel. And this set is, once again, exactly what it says—vintage with a fresh flair! Each of the five images is definitely vintage, but there’s a sense of something modern about them too, and I love that combination.

And once again, I’m inspired by the versatility this set offers. . . five different images, and each image can be used in so many different ways!

This set, like all the Sale-A-Bration sets, is available in all our markets. Woo hoo! However, not all of our products are available in all markets. While we’re working to make our product offering more universal across the board, the beauty of crafting is that, if you see a ribbon or paper on one these projects (or any of the Sale-A-Bration projects that I post in the coming weeks) that isn’t available to you, all you have to do is improvise! You can always find something that will look just as good. . . and maybe even better!

Most of us tweak projects we see anyway, don’t we? We’re inspired by something someone else has created, but when we sit down to make it ourselves, we always have to make it our own in one way or another. It’s just a natural part of creativity—and that’s one of the things that Stampin’ Up! is all about!

 

Duh!

Shalae and I held a Valentine’s Day party last night (just like I talked about at leadership)! Actually, Shalae did most of the work (she’s the demonstrator, after all), and I played hostess. I helped her a little with prep beforehand and had lots of fun stamping with our guests during the event. And it was a delightful evening! (Read more about it—and  why Shalae chose to have the party—here.)

The most exciting part of it is we are already looking forward to our next party! Friends in our neighborhood have often asked me to have regular events, but I just haven’t made the commitment. This time, with Shalae on board, I’m ready to do it! And it was so easy! We asked people for their e-mail addresses so we could let them know about each month’s event, and they were eager to share. We already know what we’re doing next month . . . watch the blog for our ideas.

I know, I know, those of you who are demonstrators and have done monthly classes before are probably rolling your eyes and thinking,“Duh.” But it really was great to see how excited people are to get together on a regular basis and stamp and chat and just have a fun night out!

Time for the Family Photo Shoot

When I asked Shalae this morning what I should say in my blog about this year’s family photo shoot, she breathed a big sigh and said, “It’s over!”

And yes, it is over! And Shalae would definitely be the Gardner who is the happiest about that! She shoulders the bulk of the responsibility. Once we come up with a basic color palette then we buy everyone a new top, and Shalae is the one who takes care of that.

In the past, she’s spent hours shopping at different stores trying to find just the right combination; I’ll spend a day shopping with her when I can. She usually ends up buying more than one top for all of us, so we have choices. That means that she also spends hours returning the clothes we end up not using. So you can see why our annual family photo is a pretty big deal to her.

This year she ended up doing most of it online. It still took tons of her time, but I was a lot less involved! She spent lots of time computer shopping and ordering, and then organizing when the boxes began to arrive. I stopped by one afternoon and looked over everything, and then she invited everyone over another afternoon to try on things, then she returned everything that didn’t work. Probably still took her just as much time, although hopefully it was more flexible and convenient. . . 

The actual shoot was Saturday morning. Through the years we’ve developed quite a smooth process, if I do say so myself. We arrive at the studio in shifts, with those who need the most make-up coming first, and those with younger children (and this year Shanna, who is still dealing with morning sickness) arriving last (that means a minimum of time for youngsters to get impatient or anxious).

 

I have to say that one of the things I was most impressed with this year is how wonderful the children were. Everybody is comfortable with the process and knows what to expect, even the little ones. Once the photographers started arranging us, the children sat patiently, remembering where their legs and arms were supposed to be, and even tilting their heads in the right direction. They were all fabulous, and not just my family! We couldn’t do this without the incredible talent—and patience—of the people behind the scene (make-up artist, art director, photographers, etc.).

The other thing that stands out is that, after the shoot was done, everyone seemed to hang around a little longer than normal. In fact, Sterling was the first to leave. (He had clinic that morning, and we’d actually had to schedule the shoot a half hour earlier than usual so he could make it.) Usually everyone is so glad that it’s over that the flash hasn’t even cooled off before people are heading out the door to go home. This year we gathered around the fruit and veggie trays and chatted for a little bit. . . a reflection, I think, of how well it had gone. Nerves weren’t frazzled, tempers weren’t flaring, we had enough energy left to enjoy each others’ company!

And yes, it is over for another year. I’m excited to see the final result—and hopefully you’ll be excited too!

Tips for Public Speaking

This week I was invited to speak about public speaking with a young women’s group from our church. The LDS Church is a lay church, which means that all of our leaders, teachers, and officers are volunteers; no one gets paid. And starting at the age of three, we have opportunities to speak in front of different groups of our congregation. In addition, as these girls grow up, many of them will likely have chances to speak in public outside of church. So the leaders of these girls thought it would be worthwhile for them to learn about public speaking. . .

So while I don’t necessarily think of myself as much of a public speaker, I recognize that I certainly do a lot of it—and I enjoy it most of the time—so I agreed to share my thoughts and experiences.

I began by asking how many of the girls (there were almost 40) had had the chance to speak in public. More than half of them raised their hands. I told them they’d all eventually have the chance, and hopefully my thoughts would prove helpful.

I put together a few public speaking tips and, of course, had to present those tips in a creative way! Here’s the little swatchbook handout I gave each girl, along with the five tips I came up with.

Be yourself. When you speak, be real and genuine; the audience can always tell when you aren’t!

Be your best self. When you’re self-conscious about your hair, make-up, or clothes, you aren’t able to focus on your subject, so always look your best. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress your Sunday best; when you overdress, you’re as uncomfortable as when you underdress! The key is to know your audience and dress for them. For example, I knew the young women I would be speaking to would be dressed casually, so I dressed “one step” up from that. And I also made sure I felt good about the way my hair and make-up looked too!

Speak from your heart. Be passionate and personal about what you’re speaking about. When you are, your natural excitement and enthusiasm will be obvious. Sharing personal stories and anecdotes is always an effective way to connect with your audience.

Love. When you have a love for what you’re doing, what you’re speaking about, and/or the people you’re speaking to (ideally all three, but at least one of the three), that will come through and your presentation will be effective.

Smile. When you smile, it helps both you and your audience relax. (Can’t believe I didn’t mention it, but eye-to-eye contact would be essential here as well.) Smiling and looking at your audience is so important!

Although it wasn’t a tip, I mentioned that both gum and “um” were no-nos. (And then I counted how many times I said “um” the rest of the evening! Four!)

I had mentioned several times throughout my remarks that none of us are perfect, and my tips were simply designed to help us do our best, but we all make mistakes. So my four “um”s just proved my point! And despite those mistakes, I enjoyed the chance to spend some time with these amazing young women!