Convention II--The Sequel

Okay, I was looking through my convention photos and found these few stragglers that I thought were cute and forgot to include them in my original convention post.

We took a couple of these while we were working on one of the Definitely Decorative rooms in the Demonstrator Resource Center. (You’ll notice who’s doing the work while the girls are sitting and watching.)

The other photo was taken during the Flower Power party. Groovy huh? Can you tell which handsome guy is Sterling?

 The other thing I want to do is make a quick clarification.

My closing remarks in the last general session talked about change, and the fact that we will be making changes at Stampin’ Up! in the coming weeks and months. We’re working hard to identify exactly what those changes will be—and we’ll share those changes with you as we finalize them.

I’m very excited about our future and what’s in store, and I hope that my excitement came across when I spoke. I knew that my remarks might cause people to start speculating about exactly what changes would be in store, and I tried to anticipate what kind of rumors might start flying. One rumor I didn’t anticipate AT ALL was that I might be retiring! That is a change that I would definitely NOT be excited about, so I thought I’d at least put that one to rest!

You’re stuck with me for a long time, that’s all I can say! Stampin’ Up! is such a big part of my life—along with my family, of course—and I can’t imagine my life without all of you! So, you can stop wondering about that change.

And as for the other rumors that are flying. . . .well, all I can say is stick around! My time right now is almost completely devoted to finalizing the vision and direction for the future, and you’ll know more soon!

Sharing Our Culture


Last night we welcomed three Chinese guests into our home for a delightful dinner and evening. Our guests—Steve Chan, Fayer Lee, and Danielle Wei, whom we work closely with in China—were here for convention last week and have been at the home office this week, attending lots of meetings.

In the evenings, however, they’ve been invited to different people’s homes for dinner, our way of sharing our culture with them. Last night was our turn!

We loved it. All the grandchildren who live nearby wanted to meet them; in fact, Sidney and Seth dressed up and wanted to eat with the “grown-ups” in the dining room. They loved listening to their stories and their perceptions of Western culture.

It was Danielle’s first trip to the US, and she was especially surprised by how nice people were. She said that, based on the movies she’s seen, she didn’t expect Americans to be nearly as friendly as they had been! I’m glad we surprised her!

They saw a picture of Sterling on a horse, wearing a cowboy hat and chaps, and were immediately intrigued by the idea that he was a real cowboy! When he pulled out his cowboy hat and let them try it on, they were even more impressed. So then he had to go get the horse and let them pet it—it was fun to see them experience that! You could tell they were nervous, but they were excited too!

They didn’t act at all overwhelmed by the fact that 7 children under 7 were running in and out, around and about. They smiled and were gracious, but after they left, someone mentioned that they must have felt both amazed and amused at their evening at the Gardner home!


Dutch Oven Dinner

After weeks of sunny weather, wouldn't you know it? It poured rain last night, and there went our family night up in the canyon!

We hadn't even checked the forecast, so the rain caught us by surprise. We had everything we needed and everyone we needed, so we ended up having  Dutch oven dinner at the Gardner home instead of the canyon. The surroundings weren't quite what we had hoped for (certainly not worth taking any pictures!), but the company couldn't have been better!

So we've still got that first-time family canyon outing that has to happen this summer. . . . I'll let you know when it happens.

Convention 2010--Sharing What I Loved

Convention 2010—Share What You Love is over, and I have to admit, even though it’s a ton of work and a lot of pressure, I’m sad!

My girls and I were all commenting on the let-down feeling we all had once the final session ended. There was such a feeling of energy and excitement this year, and we loved every minute of it. It’s hard to come back to real life, although I do have to admit that having a really good night of sleep last night (the first in many days!) sure felt heavenly!

I’m sure there are many blogs out there that have provided lots of convention details; I’ll just share a few thoughts. (And if you’re a demonstrator you can check out the daily current updates that are posted on the demonstrator website.) 

I’ll start by sharing a quote from a thank-you e-mail I sent out to our staff:  “There was a buzz at the convention center that I haven’t experienced for quite a while, and dozens of demonstrators commented that it was the best convention in years. From demonstrators who have been a part of Stampin’ Up! for only a year or two to those who have been with us for many years, the feeling seemed to be the same.”

I really did feel a buzz around the convention center that was both invigorating and exciting. Even on Saturday, when we were all (staff and demonstrators alike!) operating on little sleep and had already been through several long days, the energy was high. It just didn’t ever seem to lessen as we moved from one fun event to the next.

Our message was very focused and simple this year—share what you love! Whether through sales, bookings, or recruiting, our demonstrators found plenty of ideas and inspiration to help them share what they love and build their businesses in the way they want to. I talked to a few demonstrators after convention was over, and they all said basically the same thing—our minds are churning with great ideas; we can’t wait to start putting those ideas into practice!

I have only one regret—I ended up spending more time backstage and in my hotel room than I normally do, preparing for whatever I was supposed to do next—and so I wasn’t able to attend the classes and other things I normally do. One of these years I’m going to be so organized that I’ll be able to get to every class, meet every deadline, and enjoy a full night’s sleep every night. . . . Well, I can dream, can’t I?

I just want to thank everyone—both staff members and demonstrators—who were involved in one of the best conventions ever!  What a joy and honor it is to be associated with you and be part of something that can bring us together and provide such fun and excitement! Thank you!

Now I’m heading to a meeting, and then we’re going up the canyon as a family for the first time this summer (I can’t believe it’s taken us this long!).  I’m very excited about that, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing canyon photos tomorrow. . . .

Not Panicked Yet (But Give Me a Little Time!)

I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m planning on being pretty absent for the next little while. Our Stampin’ Up! Convention is next week, and I have an awfully lot to do and not nearly enough time to do it in! I’m not panicked yet, but. . . . (smile) During the next week, I’ll be focusing on my Main Stage talks and stamping presentation, and since I can’t show you those projects anyway, there won’t really be much to share!

Of course, I’ll post right after convention—and I’m expecting it to be a wonderful convention report! We had our convention pre-brief meeting today, and I came away even more excited than before (and I was already pretty excited!).

Hopefully I’ll see many of you starting next Wednesday in Salt Lake City!

So Glad I Went

When we headed to Panguitch Lake for our annual Larsen family reunion late last week, I questioned whether everyone was right and maybe I should have stayed home and worked, but after a few days in the cool mountain air and lots of visiting with family, I’m so glad I went!

Shalae and Jon slept in Sage and Jason’s trailer with them and Kona. They all like to sleep in a little and the Brown children don’t know how to sleep when the sun is up, so we thought it would be fun to keep the Brown children with us. Besides, that’s all the room we had in our trailer.  

Each morning the children climbed into our bed to snuggle with us and stay warm while the rest of the camp slept. Here you can see Ashton, Cooper, and Phoebe playing games on our phones while Grandpa and I tried to enjoy a few more moments of morning quiet time.

The women and teenage girls usually craft on one of the days, but because the reunion was before convention, I didn’t have time to put together a fun craft. Vonna, however, brought supplies for the little girls to make sock dolls and a blanket. Actually, the moms did most of the sewing, but the girls loved helping and playing with the dolls.

The days were beautiful with a few rain showers in the afternoon. There were bike rides down the mountain, mini four-wheeling and Jeep adventures, and scenic walks around the camp grounds. Most of all there was a lot of visiting around campfires and watching the kids play with their cousins.

I love this reunion because it’s not too far away and it’s so relaxing! I even took a couple of afternoon naps. And although I didn’t work as much as I’d planned, I’m refreshed and ready for a busy week ahead.

Two Weeks Away. . . Really?!

People have been asking me if I’m ready for convention, and I tell them I'm excited, I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait—but I’m definitely not ready!

Honestly, I can’t believe it’s only two weeks away! I have so much to do before now and then, and guess what? I’m heading off to a family reunion this weekend! Sterling and the girls think I’m crazy, and I suspect I might regret it next week, when I’m staying up all night every night finishing everything that needs to be done, but I lived for almost 20 years without a good balance between work and family, and I’m determined to go to this reunion!

I’m not going for the entire reunion—I’m missing the first and last day—but I’ll be there for the weekend, making memories with my extended family, and that’s important. I will be taking work, and working more than I’d like, but I’m grateful that I at least have that option!

And for those of you who will be at convention. . . all I can say is it is definitely going to be worth it!


Proud to Be an American

During the past several months I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Australia, Canada, countries in Europe, and throughout the United States of America. On each trip, I noticed the flags that were flying in these countries, and I wondered if the citizens of each of these countries were as proud of their flag and their country as I was. I guess it was more of an assumption. Surely everyone feels about their beloved country as I do about mine, but I wondered nonetheless. I’ll come back to that thought in a minute…

Yesterday Sterling and I celebrated America’s independence in Kanab (my favorite place to celebrate the 4th!) with family and friends.

 All of our girls and their families were celebrating with their in-laws, so Sterling and I joined some of my parents and siblings and their families for the holiday festivities—a simple parade in the morning, complete with candy tossed from the floats and children scrambling to gather their fair share, to a community Dutch oven dinner in the evening at the city park along with musical entertainment while we waited for the sun to set and the fireworks to begin.

Usually we spend the afternoon at the park, wandering from booth to booth, where vendors sell their wares, but this year, because we didn’t have grandchildren to entertain (or to be entertained by!), we decided to take a little nap (and catch up on some work) instead of sitting in the hot sun. It was relaxing and delightful!

The highlight of the entire day was when the lights at the park went black and there was an instant where the only light was the spotlight that shown on the flag. In that brief moment, my eyes welled with tears and I felt such an enormous amount of gratitude for the many who have served my country and those who have made it possible for me to enjoy the freedoms I hold so dear!

Even during the fireworks, with the beautiful red cliffs as a booming backdrop to the brilliant art in the sky, our beautiful red, white, and blue flag was the focus of my attention as it swayed gently in the breeze. It was a majestic sight! So if you’re wondering about me like I wondered about you during my many recent trips, I’ll say it loud and clear. I’m proud to be an American!!   

May God bless America and may He bless us all to be loyal to our country and to the values we hold dear!

Happy 4th!

Patriotic Project

A few weeks ago, we were eating dinner at Sara’s, and I noticed that her summer vignette was fairly small. (Each of the girls and I have seasonal vignettes—Valentine’s Day, Spring, summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—that includ several handmade items that celebrate that particular time of year. We change the vignettes as the seasons change.)

Through the years, I’ve tried to add things to these vignettes whenever I can; I’ve shared some of those projects with you on my blog. So when I saw Sara’s summer vignette set up (which is primarily patriotic), I decided it was time to come up with a project to add to the summer vignette.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time (I was wrapping up the Workshops of a Lifetime and also had the European incentive trip on the calendar), so I called up an artist friend of mine who sometimes helps me with project ideas, and I asked her if she was up for the challenge.

Was she ever! When she sent me a photo of this patriotic nesting box tower, I went nutso! I absolutely loved it. She brought it to me at work, and I took it around to everyone, showing it off. I was so thrilled! And the girls are in love with it too! Of course, they won’t get theirs for a few weeks, but they’ll have them forever afterwards, so it’s definitely worth the wait.

I don’t think you need any instructions; I’ve included a close-up photo of all three layers, and I think it’s pretty easy to figure out. My friend bought the nesting hat boxes at a craft store, and the doorknob top is not ours, but other than that, it’s all Stampin’ Up!, and mostly from the Summer mini.

Of course, it will take a little time to complete this project, but I think it will be well worth the time and effort! This is something that I know my girls and I, along with our families, will enjoy for years to come. I hope you enjoy it too!