Family Ties. . .

This weekend we had our annual family reunion—a family gathering that I look forward to every year. For the past couple of years we’ve gathered at a campground at Panguitch Lake in southern Utah; we’ve found a place where we can reserve an entire loop of a campground all for ourselves . . . so nice!

We went down on Thursday and came back on Sunday, with other family members coming and going throughout the long weekend. My parents were there, a few of our girls and their families came for part or all of the time, and my brothers and sisters and most of their children were there at some point.

My brother Kurt and his son Tyler even flew into the Panguitch airport in his homemade plane on their way to an airplane show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

I think we counted 68 family members there at one time or another. . .that’s a pretty big group!

We wandered from campsite to campsite, sometimes gathering in smaller groups and sometimes in larger groups. There were plenty of things to do. . . fishing ATV’ing, hiking. . .but the main activity was definitely visiting! We had planned a craft activity, but it rained that afternoon (our only rain the entire weekend!), so we sent everyone home with their supplies in hand.

A highlight for me was definitely watching the younger cousins spend time together. Many of these cousins only see each other twice a year (at this summer reunion and then our Christmas party in December), and it’s so fun to see them anxiously waiting for their favorite cousins to arrive so they can play together. (Or “hang out together” if they’re teenagers. . . )

I love that we all feel that it’s important to keep those relationships alive and that we’re passing that on to the younger generations.

 

 

My August Stamp, Chat, and Snack Event (Amazing Birthday Cards)

During convention, I talked about my recent experiences with sharing Stampin’ Up! with others (I invited friends over for a BBQ, struck up a conversation with two strangers in the park, and visited with people in a restaurant when I went to order lunch one day); it was both intimidating and exciting! 

I’ve actually got several events scheduled in the next few weeks, and I plan to host at least one event a month (I’m calling them Stamp, Chat, and Snack at Shelli’s) for the next 10 months, with each event focused on guests creating projects that everyone needs (birthday cards, thank-you cards, gift tags, treat bags, etc.)

Each month I plan on sharing the information our demonstrators need to host an event just like mine, including the information for an invitation, Buy & Provide information (what you need to do as a demonstrator), and a project idea. (During convention, we called these CASE events, because if you want you can copy them exactly—talk about easy!)

I’ll start with my August event, which features the Amazing Birthday Stamp Set. Here's the information for the invitation, what the demonstrator will need to provide, as well as the actual project. (I've also thrown in a few extra project ideas as well. . . fun projects that you can make with the Amazing Birthday Stamp Set. It always helps to show your guests how versatile a stamp set is!)

Good luck with your Amazing August event; let me know how it goes!

Invitation 

(You can e-mail this information or send out actual invitations) 

Stamp, Chat, and Snack (SCS) at Shelli’s
Thursday, August 14, at 7 p.m.
You know you’ll need birthday cards, so come have a good time with friends, and walk away with birthday cards in hand! You know you’ll need them!

Buy & Provide

Amazing Birthday Cards Party (2 free cards)

Demonstrator Provides

  • Amazing Birthday stamp set
  • Stampin' Write Markers 2014-2016 
  • Lost Lagoon Classic Stampin' Pad 
  • 2 Whisper White Notecards and Envelopes
  • 1/2 sheet 8 1/2"x11" Whisper White Cardstock
  • 4" Hello Honey 3/8" Stitched Satin Ribbon 
  • Big Shot 
  • Banners Framelits
  • Stampin' Dimensionals
  • Scissors
  • Stapler 

Sara's Convention Projects

Both Sara and I promised to share our convention projects on my blog this week, so we’re starting with Sara’s. She highlighted the Simply Created Kits from the Holiday catalog, but in addition to showing the kit as it was designed to be made, she also showed alternative projects that could be made from the kits. . . those are the projects that I’m sharing here.

Her presentation also focused on how easily our demonstrators could plan an event using our Simply Created Kits or Paper Pumpkin kits. She shared a couple of slides showing what demonstrators would need to buy and provide if they planned an event with eight guests; we’re posting those as well. These kits are so great to use for these events because there’s hardly any prep—just about everything you need is in the kits.

If you’re interested in planning a Simply Created Kit event, there are videos available for each kit that walk you through what you need to do for your event. Super easy, super simple, super fun. . . you can find those videos here.

Enjoy these projects—I’ll share my convention projects in a few days!

Paper Pumpkin Buy & Provide Info

  •  Guest brings her own Paper Pumpkin Box 
  • You bring adhesive and scissors (seriously, it’s that simple!)

Frightful Wreath Class Buy & Provide Info

Buy

  • Eight Frightful Wreath Simply Created Kits
  • One Frightful Wreath Photopolymer Set

Provide:

  • Perfect Plum Classic Stampin’ Pad
  • Basic Black Classic Stampin’ Pad
  • Basic Black Reinker
  • Silver Encore Ink Pad
  • Clear H Block
  • Glue Gun
  • Needle nose pliers

 

Come and Gone. . .


Another convention—no, not convention, it’s our Inspire. Create.Share. annual event—come and gone. It’s always bittersweet when one of our events ends. . . we look forward to it, we work hard for it, and when it’s over, it’s good to be back home! I think most of our demonstrators feel the same way.

I thought (and heard many demonstrators agree) that the new format was very welcome. There was plenty to do (more than anyone could do in the course of three days) and that meant something for everyone, lots of options, few lines, ample space, and less rushing around. I definitely felt a more relaxed atmosphere as demonstrators were able to pick and choose what they wanted to do, and there was more free time to do it in.

I enjoyed watching demonstrators participate in our optional Wednesday night Paper Pumpkin Night out, as well as the Awards Night after party. We had tons of demonstrators attend—and stick around longer than usual. Lots of music, dancing, treats, and things to do—including stamping!  I didn’t even get halfway through the room during the after party. Chatted with demonstrators, took photos, and watched everyone have a great time. (Who tried the bull riding?)

I didn’t make it to all the classes, workshops, and Make & Takes, but I attended what I could and, as usual, was so impressed with what I saw and heard.

We also streamed three of the four main stage general sessions, which was a first. I heard that demonstrators around the world enjoyed it! I know that Shanna (now living in Florida) was looking forward to watching. This is the first convention she’s missed (other than when she was on her mission), so it was nice to have her participate in some small way.

An event highlight (for most of us, I think) was the announcement of this year’s incentive trip—a Mediterranean cruise! There was a lot of buzz about that, and I know that people are already planning ways to make sure they earn that.

And, everyone seemed to love that we unveiled the Holiday Catalog. In addition to simply holding the catalog and browsing through it, several presentations featured Holiday Catalog product PLUS attendees could actually purchase Holiday Catalog product at the store. Woohoo! It’s always fun to be the first to get your hands on new product!

The Gardner family ended convention as we have for the past several years—gathering for dinner as a family (the grown-up Gardners) on Saturday evening to celebrate Sage’s birthday (which regularly falls around convention) and then attending the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Music & the Spoken Word on Sunday morning before heading home, ready to jump right back into things on Monday!

Hopefully you’re ready to jump right into things too!

Off to Convention

\I’ve spent today in downtown Salt Lake City,  getting ready for our annual North American convention. Only this year we’ve changed the name—it’s not convention, it’s Inspire. Create. Share. 2014!

Can’t wait to start greeting our demonstrators. In the meantime, today and tomorrow are full of rehearsals and prep and setup and all that fun stuff that we get to do to make sure that this is one of the best Stampin’ Up! events of the year. Dozens of Stampin’ Up! employees have converged on the Salt Palace to get it all ready, and dozens more will be involved in the coming days.. It’s a very exciting time for us!

And a busy one. I am now in what I call “event mode.” I won’t be posting again until this fabulous event is over. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Better yet, I hope to see you and give you a hug!

 

A Night at the Theatre

Last night the Gardner families (plural—Sterling and I and all the girls and their families who were in town) headed to Hale Center Theatre, for what has become a favorite family tradition. We always enjoy this evening because it’s fun to see everyone dress up a little (not Sunday clothes but a step above play clothes), learn basic audience etiquette, and enjoy some of the best theater that Utah has to offer.

And this night was no exception. We made it a little more special by having dinner at Tsunami, one of the grown-up Gardners’ favorites. We seldom take the grandkids before, so they were super excited, and the grown-ups looked forward to dinner too. We had great dinner conversation, and we especially enjoyed watching the grandchildren interact in little bit more formal environment.

After dinner, we headed to the theater. As always, Hale Center delivered above and beyond our expectations. The show—Mary Poppins—was one the kids were familiar with, so I think they were interested from the very beginning. And they stayed engaged the entire show, even though it was quite lengthy (almost three hours). That’s quite an accomplishment because several of these kids are normally in bed by 8 p.m.!

We didn’t sit all together; each of the families were located in different sections, so we all met together afterwards. Several of the kids took pictures with some of the actors. In fact, Seth knew the boy who played Michael Banks, so that was quite exciting for the grandchildren to “know someone who knows someone.”

Before heading home, the grandkids hugged each other goodbye, almost like they don’t see each other very often. I smiled, because really, they see each other all the time. But I love that they love being together and doing fun things like this!

Sara did great too. It was her first big venture out since her appendectomy on Monday, and she looked great. But I could tell by the end of the evening, she was ready to head home. She’s still thinking convention next week is a go—and knowing her it will be. But I will be right beside her, sending her back to her hotel room if I think she’s overdoing it. (Isn’t that what a mother is for? Smile.)

Another Batch of Birthday Cards

Time for another round of employee birthday cards! As you know, I send out birthday cards to our employees, and I switch them up every month or so.

Here’s the most recent batch—a couple different versions of the same basic card. I love the simplicity of these cards; they’re quick and easy to make, yet still colorful and fun.

I appreciate everything all our employees do (especially this time of year—our annual gathering is next week and we can’t wait!) and am grateful for the opportunity to thank them by recognizing their special day. 

A Fabulous Fourth

I mentioned yesterday that we had a great Fourth of July weekend—we spent the holiday with family and friends and it was wonderful to just relax, enjoy being together, and celebrate the country we live in.

On Friday we gathered with Sara and Shalae and their families, and we each had invited friends over as well, so we had quite a crowd. We swam, played, had a taco bar “BBQ” and watched the fireworks together.

On Saturday, it felt almost like Christmas because Sterling and I just vegged out all day; I didn’t even get dressed. Sterling read a novel while I puttered around, doing a little bit of this and that. Sunday we went to church, ending the week on another patriotic high.

I wore red all week and enjoyed listening to patriotic music and felt deep gratitude for the blessing of living in the United States of America. I know that many of my blog readers don’t live in this country, and I do strive to always keep things universal and international. But every once in a while I hope you’ll indulge me when I get a little country-specific. I am so grateful for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, and I am especially thankful for the many people who have sacrificed much—and continue to sacrifice—to guarantee those freedoms continue.

It was nice to reflect on those things this weekend and to celebrate together with people I love.

 

 

 

An Unplanned Post

I was planning to blog today about our fabulous Fourth of July weekend, but I think I’ll put that off a day. This morning we got a text from Sean saying he was on the way to the hospital to be with Sara; she’d been feeling crummy for the past couple days, and the pain had gotten bad enough that she’d decided a trip to the doctor was in order.

Long story short—she is now recovering from an emergency appendectomy. She’s already home recovering tonight (seems unbelievable to me after surgery, but I guess that’s how it goes these days!), and she’s supposed to take the next few days pretty easy.

Not exactly how she planned on spending the day, but we’re very grateful it wasn’t more serious.

Of course, she’s already thinking ahead to next week and convention and wondering how things will work. I told her we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. The most important thing for her now is to rest and recover.

So, my fourth of July blog will wait until tomorrow—our thoughts are focused on the Douglasses tonight. Just wanted you to know. . .

 

Kicking Off a Patriotic Week

We’ve had a great patriotic week so far—can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store!

On Monday we had a Brick Canvas family-and-friends BBQ. Everyone pitched in and helped out, so there wasn’t a lot of work to do. Sterling did much of the prep work, cleaning off the grill and prepping our meat, and then everyone brought a potluck dish. It was a fun evening and a great way to get to know some of our Brick Canvas friends a little better.

 

On Wednesday we enjoyed a fabulous evening at Thanksgiving Point, listening to the Utah Symphony perform its annual patriotic program. The outdoors setting, surrounded by the beautiful flowers and flowing waterfall, is incredible—I can’t imagine attending the symphony anywhere else! We’ve missed the last couple of years, and it was so nice to be able to attend again this year.

The weather this week couldn’t have been more perfect—blue skies and perfect temperatures. And I’ve enjoyed being home for more than a few days. The last couple of months have involved a lot of coming and going, and it’s nice to be able to know we’re here for a little bit.

I’m looking forward to this weekend—more Fourth of July celebrations and time spent with family and friends.

Hope your Fourth of July is a wonderful one!

Farewell, Connecticut!

We bid farewell to Connecticut this weekend. We spent one day flying there and one day flying home, and spent two days in between doing what we could to help Shanna and Jared prepare for their move to Florida.

I know, I know. . . seems like they just moved to Connecticut, right? Well, they kind of just did. They’ve only been there about six months, but Liam has done so well that he only needs to check in with the specialists every few months, so they’ve decided it’s more affordable for them to move to Florida and fly back for his appointments—still sea level and closer to Jared’s family.

I, of course, am grateful for the chance we had to see them—and am SO grateful that Liam is doing well. But I do miss not having them so close. Sigh. We can’t always have what we want in life, and this is one of those times. I’ll have to be content with frequent Facetime visits and infrequent face-to-face visits.

We did have a wonderful whirlwind trip. The night we arrived, they had arranged for a babysitter, so just the grown-ups went out for dinner. That was a rare treat—and very enjoyable! Most of their things were already boxed up, so I spent my time cleaning, running errands, and entertaining the twins (my favorite assignment!). Sterling and Jared spent two long days packing the trailer, pretty much all by themselves (although they did have a friend help with the heavier items).

We did take time out on Saturday to take the twins berry picking. We drove 30 minutes, parked, stood in line for a “berry ferry” (a tractor and trailer that drove us to the strawberry fields), then followed directions and started picking. We ended up spending only about 5 minutes actually picking berries; we could have picked longer, but the kids got tired—although they LOVED the experience. Liam couldn’t pick and eat fast enough, and it was simply a ball to be out in nature, picking berries, pulling off the greens, and eating strawberries the way Mother Nature intended!

They took us to the airport yesterday morning, and they left Connecticut this morning to make the long drive south. I think they’re both excited to land somewhere more permanent, at least for the foreseeable future, and I’m already looking forward to our next Bridegan visit—this time to Florida!