Country BBQ

More than a month ago, Amy (our vice president of marketing) asked if I would be willing to look at our new Country Living Summer BBQ/Picnic Kit and—if I liked it—use it for a summer activity and mention it on the blog for a little added exposure. Of course, I was fine with that. I love reasons to get together with family and friends, and a BBQ sounded like a grand idea!

So I took a look at the kit, and it really is a fun collection of products pull together a BBQ or picnic quickly and easily! While I knew as soon as I saw it that I would definitely use it, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, and I didn’t take the time to plan the BBQ. Before I knew it, summer had arrived (or at least it feels like it!).

Fortunately, I was coming down to Kanab for our Employee Appreciation Breakfast (I wrote about our Riverton one last week—and this one was just as enjoyable! I love the hardworking, dedicated people who work here, and I love the opportunity to thank them, even on a small scale, for all that they do!), so I decided to throw together a family BBQ. I called up my sister Leslie and asked if she would host it at her house. She was more than willing. Then when she mentioned it to our other sister Vonna, she offered her house as well—and because it has a swimming pool (which is a huge plus for the kids) that’s where we ended up.

We had kabobs, and everyone brought a salad. We had a fairly impromptu party—it was a blast. I was grateful for the motivation to plan the party. We get together often as a family (those of you who read my blog regularly know that), but I can never get too much of being with people I love!

And I have to tell you how fun it was to have the projects from the Country Living Kit to tie everything together. Everyone received an invitation, which kind of set the stage. And the table tents, napkins, and bowl liners created a festive atmosphere—it made it feel a little more special than just an ordinary BBQ. Creating everything was so quick and easy—everything we needed was in the kit! (Well, other than the staples for the napkin rings.) 

One item—the blitz box—was a kind of a fun origami project. We used it for chips. I’m departing from my usual approach and providing a pattern for that, because it was kind of different. I got the pattern from a good friend. (But don’t start expecting patterns and instructions for everything I post!) It works perfectly as a holder for any dry munchies, such as popcorn, cookies, chips, nuts, etc.

 

Like I said, the entire evening was a ball; no one wanted to leave! We really do enjoy being together.

 

 

When I got back to the apartment in Kanab, I still had quite a few supplies left that I hadn’t used. I had very minimal addition product available (glitter, ribbon, paper scraps, etc), but I decided to see what I could create.

I used a leftover skewer and coaster to create this little holiday decoration flag. You could stick this in a flower arrangement or vase or planter or anything else you had in your normal home décor to turn it into a holiday decoration. It was so quick to make, and yet it adds a fun little patriotic touch.

 

A Savannah Weekend

I spent Memorial weekend in Savannah, Georgia! It was a whirlwind few days, spent searching for a home for Shalae and Jon, who will be moving there later this summer for Jon to go to graduate school. In between looking at houses, however, we did manage to sneak in a few hours of sightseeing.

We flew into Savannah on Thursday evening and spent most of Friday and Saturday checking out houses. By Saturday afternoon, we’d found a home that we felt good about, so we decided to check out the city a bit.

We ate at Six Pence Pub, a popular restaurant with locals and tourists alike. The food was tasty comfort food, and the outdoor atmosphere was delightful.

We walked down River Street, watching boats go by, listening to the street music, and enjoying the charm.

We grabbed a treat at Leopold’s Ice Cream parlor, another popular spot. There’s a lot of history in Savannah, and we would have loved to do one of the walking tours, but we didn’t have time. We’ll go back, though, probably several times over the next two years, and we’ll definitely explore more of the city and its history!

On Sunday we went to the ward that Jon and Shalae and their family will be attending. The people lived up to the reputation of southern hospitality—they were a warm, friendly group.

 

After church, we took a drive to Hilton Head Island. We weren’t dressed for swimming, but the walk on the beach was very pleasant.

Afterward, we headed back to Savannah where we did a little more walking around a city square and fountain before enjoying a delicious dinner at Elizabeth’s, a delightful restaurant located in an old Victorian house.

After sitting on the house decision for the weekend, Jon and Shalae still felt great about the house we’d found on Saturday, so they signed the rental contract. We spent the rest of Monday (before we flew home) at the house, which is situated in one of Savannah’s suburbs.

Both Shalae and I are type A personalities, so we were busy arranging furniture in our minds and figuring out where kids would sleep and where pictures would hang. Every once in awhile one of us would call a timeout—it takes a lot of mental energy to be so detail-oriented!

Our husbands humored us and took lots of measurements and photos and probably rolled their eyes when we weren’t looking, but it was wonderful to come home with our mission accomplished. Shalae and Jon have peace of mind knowing where they will be living in a few short months, and I love being able to picture this little family going to school and church and grocery shopping and playing in their yard.

 

A Sweet Treat

Yesterday was a sweet day at Stampin’ Up! Every year for as long as I can remember (clear back to when we were in Kanab), Stampin’ Up! executives have cooked breakfast for employees. It’s a tasty breakfast (eggs, French toast, ham or bacon, and milk or juice), but even more important than the free breakfast is the opportunity we have to interact with the people who make things happen for our demonstrators and express our appreciation.

Yesterday was our employee appreciation breakfast, and once again, I loved every minute as I talked to most, if not all, of our home office employees. (The breakfast for our Kanab facility is scheduled for next week.) It was fun to serve these wonderful people breakfast, chat with them when I could, and thank them for all they do.

After breakfast, I announced our Heart of Stampin’ Up! employee winners. This is an award we’ve given for the last four years, and it serves the same purpose as the Heart of Stampin’ Up! award that we give to demonstrators every year at convention—it recognizes an employee (or two or three) who goes the second mile in reaching out and serving and who works hard to make a difference.

Employees are nominated for this award by their coworkers, and I make the choice. This year was particularly difficult. Many employees were nominated, and I spent quite a while reading and re-reading the nominations. Every single employee who was nominated was worthy of the award, and it was hard!

Ultimately, I chose three employees here in the home office—Jason, Pam, and Terrill.

 

 

Jason has been with Stampin’ Up! 11 years and works in the warehouse and is amazing! He’s a great worker, and I’m so grateful for all he’s done, and continues to do, for us. We’re lucky to have him!

Pam is currently an executive assistant, but she’s also worked in Demonstrator Support and is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. She’s committed to doing whatever it takes to get the job done, including the small things that so often make people smile and feel cared about.

Terrill is our human resources contact with our distribution center, and our DC workers love him! He translates for all our meetings and gatherings, and is able to communicate so well our concern for all our employees! He is extremely well liked and respected.

Each of these employees received a hug from me (fun for me!) and probably more fun for them, gifts cards for dinner and a movie. I particularly liked the gift card holder that they received, and I wanted to show it off as well. I thought you might like it!

As I drove away from work yesterday, I thought—as I almost always do—“I sure love what I do!” And yesterday in particular, I also thought, “And I sure love the people I do it with!” How blessed I am to work with and for such wonderful individuals!

Simply Beautiful

Sterling and I received a card after Grandpa Great died from Jill, a good friend and coworker. She’s sent me several cards in the past, and every single one of them has always impressed me with how beautiful—and simple—they are.

I have a friend celebrating a birthday this weekend, and I wanted to make her a packet of cards, so I decided to make those cards beautifully simple. I tend to like textures and dimension and accents, so most of what I create is beautiful (I hope!) but somewhat complicated. I wanted to challenge myself to simplify. 

I used Jill’s card as a template. She had used Cool Caribbean and True Thyme (In Colors from last year), so I went with current colors (Almost Amethyst, Elegant Eggplant, and Very Vanilla), and worked from there. This photo doesn’t do the card justice at all—it was truly beautiful!

   While the challenge I’d given myself was enjoyable, I discovered that I flat out couldn’t do it! Once I’d folded, and stamped, and adhered, I just couldn’t stop. I simply had to add one (and sometimes two or three) final finishing touches! I smiled when I’d get to the simple place—and then couldn’t leave the card alone.

So here’s one of the cards I ended up with. Even though it’s not as simple as I had intended, I think my friend will appreciate her gift. Who can’t use cards? And I have a new appreciation for the skill it takes to create simple beauty!

Signature Collection Sharing

I know it’s a little late, but I wanted to share a few projects I showed during my Main Stage presentation at the Australia convention. My assignment for the convention was to demonstrate products from the Shelli Signature Collection, an assignment I accepted with enthusiasm.

 

People had suggested I have a signature line of products for quite awhile, but I resisted. I don’t understand why people would be particularly interested in products that were my favorites. However, I noticed more and more people who had their own “lines,” and I realized it would be kind of fun to share with you the things that inspired and excited me. So I finally agreed to launch the line.

 

I announced my signature collection last year, and it’s been fun to develop it. Some of the products I’ve been involved with from inception; others I’ve seen at some point during development and fallen in love with. There’s no specific thing I’m looking for—I know it when I see it.

 

Most of you know I love things with a vintage look and feel, so some of the products have that. However, I also look for things that make creating quick, easy, and fun, and I’ve chosen several products that help do that. Sometimes colors jump out at me, or glitter, or dimension, or texture—it’s impossible to define my signature line, because I’m working to make it broad and versatile.

 

One thing’s for sure, though. When I see something that goes into my collection, I smile or get excited as my creativity starts flowing and I start imagining everything I can do with that particular product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These projects feature a couple of stamp sets I’ve chosen (A Rustic Rooster and Friends 24/7), as well as the coordinating wheel to the Friends set (Friendly Words). I had lots of fun sharing them with our Australian demonstrators. I hope you enjoy them too!

 

 

 

Mother's Day Memories

Hello! Shelli invited me to guest blog today, and while I tried to talk her out of it, she insisted. And since she’s my boss, I couldn’t really refuse, could I?

I’ll start with a brief introduction: I’m Kellene, Shelli’s assistant. I have been privileged to work closely with Shelli for several years, and it’s been an incredible blessing and honor—and I’m not just saying that because she signs my paycheck. I have never met a woman with more integrity, compassion, or vision. (I made her promise that if I guest blogged, she couldn’t edit or delete anything, otherwise I’m sure she would have taken that last sentence out, because she’s also very humble.)

Anyway, I’ve worked closely with Shelli for several years, but I have to make it very clear that she DID NOT hire me because I’m creative. Although I absolutely LOVE to scrapbook and make cards, I always, always, always copy. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

So why in the world did she invite me to guest blog? Because I was telling her about this terrific experience I had with a young group of girls last week. I was helping my 12-year-old daughter and a group of her friends make a card and little favor box for their mothers for Mother’s Day, and I couldn’t say enough about how quick, easy, and fun it had been. The girls enjoyed every minute, and thanks to the matchbox die cut, they created the favor box in a heartbeat. The whole experience had been so marvelous that I had to tell someone, and Shelli was the lucky recipient of my story.

Well, she invited me to blog, without even seeing the projects. I’m pretty sure if she’d seen them, she might have changed her mind. They’re really quite basic. I copied both ideas—the card came from online somewhere (I’m so sorry; I tried to find it again so I could give the real creator credit, but I wasn’t able to), and the favor box was copied from one of my co-workers here at Stampin’ Up!

The favor box had four little mini candy bars inside, which I shared with my own children. They were pretty excited about that, so the box is pretty beat up. I tried to pretty it up for the photo, but there’s only so much you can do with a candy-filled, child-emptied paper box. But you at least get the idea. . .

Anyway, those are my projects. Nothing you’d see in the catalog or Stampin’ Success, but the memories made with my daughter and her friends, as well as the sentiment she wrote inside, will be something I’ll treasure forever. 

The Gardner Girls' Gathering at a Glance

We had our almost-annual Gardner Girls’ Gathering this weekend. We try to do it every year, although we don’t always get it scheduled. Sometimes we take a trip somewhere, but this year we decided to stay close to home. All the girls came to our home and we spent a fabulous weekend visiting, creating, shopping, eating, and relaxing. Does it get any better than that?

Here are a few of the highlights:

 

·       Thursday afternoon: Shalae arrives early. I’m not quite ready, so she gets to help me put the finishing touches on the pillow gifts. These gifts may look familiar to some of you; they’re left over from Founder’s Circle—one of the perks of owning the company. I handstamped the cards though, basing them on a project I showed in Australia during their convention.

·       Thursday evening: Megan arrives. We eat dinner, relax, and watch a movie. We try to get to bed early because we know we won’t be getting to bed early for the next several nights!

·       Friday morning: A leisurely breakfast. Sage arrives just in time for her massage. (Shalae, Megan, and I had already enjoyed ours!)

·       Friday early afternoon: Sara calls. She’s able to catch an earlier flight! We rearrange a few plans and head to the airport to pick her up.

·       Friday evening: We eat out for dinner and go antiquing. We’re looking for frames because our Gardner Girls’ Gathering craft is creating memory boards.

·       Saturday morning: Woke up and started our memory boards. Most of the girls made more than one; a couple of the girls made one for their mothers-in-law for Mother’s Day.

·       Saturday afternoon: Went shopping! (Can you have any weekend with just the girls and not go shopping?) Because we stayed home and I didn’t foot the bill for transportation or hotel, I gave each of the girls a little mad money. It was fun to see them buy something for themselves they normally wouldn’t because it didn’t fit in their budgets.

·       Saturday evening: Went to a fondue restaurant (one of our favorites; the guys were so bummed when they found out!). Worked on our memory boards and talked until we couldn’t talk any more. (Who am I kidding? We could have talked all night!) 

·       Sunday morning: Got up early and all got a chance to talk to Shanna—a highlight of the whole weekend. We’d picked up a few odds and ends everywhere we went and took lots of photos that we will be sending her so she knows we were missing her. But it was great to actually talk to her! A wonderful Mother’s Day present! Sage had to go home because of some prior obligations—we missed her too!

·       Sunday afternoon: Went to church.

·       Sunday evening: Megan left but then came back. She’d called Nate on her way home, and he told her he wasn’t expecting her back until Monday, so she decided that was a great idea! We made jewelry and visited some more. 

·       Monday: Finished our projects and got in one last shopping trip. Everyone but Sara went home. I took Sara to the airport on the way into work this morning.

I love spending time with all my family—my sweetheart, our girls, sons-in-law, grandchildren, etc. But there’s something special about time spent with just my girls, and I loved every minute of this weekend. We love taking trips, but I think we all agreed that it was nice to stay home as well. We did more crafting than we’ve ever done, and everyone had plenty of space. We could read a book, sleep in late, take long baths. . .whatever we wanted to do. When you’re sharing a hotel room or two, that’s not always possible.

I can hardly wait until our next gathering—I’m starting to plan it already!

 

The Dutch Room

The last few days, Mom Pat and I spent several hours concepting (creating, envisioning) our vignettes for convention. For those who may not know what those are, they are the four areas that we decorate for the convention display area. We use Décor Elements and Décor Stencils, as well as stamps, to decorate the walls and other home decor items, but we also select furniture and other accessories to help us create a certain look and feel, an environment if you will, so that those who attend convention can catch the vision for themselves of how they can use these great products in their own decorating.

Anyway, I’m very excited about what we’ve come up with, and I am looking forward to working with her to put these vignettes together. (I have to mention here that I can’t believe it’s convention time already! Where does the time go!?)

As we were working together, I realized that the last project I worked on with Mom Pat was redecorating a room in our house—a room I call the Dutch room. I hadn’t shared it with you yet, so thought this was a perfect opportunity.

We just finished it a month or so ago, and I love it! Mom Heather and her husband, Paul, loved antiques, and they spent many Saturdays browsing through antique stores, picking up treasures. Mom Heather collected lots of things, and one of her most prolific collections was her Dutch boy (and girl) things. She had tons of pieces! She displayed a few of them on an antique Dutch boy hutch, but she never had the complete collection on display.

After Mom Heather died, I was blessed enough to inherit the collection, and decided it needed a room of its own. So I had a high shelf built along three of the four walls in one of our bedrooms, had the walls painted, found some antique chenille bedspreads on e-bay for the twin beds, and moved Mom Heather’s Dutch boy hutch into the room. Then we started unpacking the pieces.

I had no idea she had collected so many! There were boxes and boxes—literally hundreds—of Dutch boy and girl figurines and other decorative items. The room is jampacked with every piece! The photo doesn’t do it justice at all!

Although the grandchildren sleep there, we don’t allow balls in the room, and the shelves are high enough that little fingers and hands can’t do any damage. They love staying in the room because they know these are all things that Great-Grandma Heather loved! It’s a charming room full of history that makes me smile every time I walk in!

 

Home, At Last!

Well, I’m finally back from spending a wonderful week in Canberra at our Australia convention!  I flew into LA yesterday morning with the rest of the Stampin’ Up! home office crew, and I was expecting to be home last night, ready to blog about my experience.

Unfortunately, while I was in Australia I got a couple of phone calls that changed my plans—my 78-year-old uncle and my teenage second cousin both had passed away (in unrelated incidents), so I stopped in California to attend a viewing and funeral, while everyone else returned home.

I still want to comment on the convention—it was great! The general sessions had a good mix of information, motivation, instruction, and stamping. We had representatives from the home office, as well as both our Australia and New Zealand offices, and everyone did a fabulous job!

I attended all the classes, and I think there were demonstrator presenters in just about every one. I was so impressed! You guys are fantastic!

The evening activities were equally terrific. The first night was Managers’ Reception, and I loved just casually chatting with our leaders in an open-house-type event. It was fun to catch up with friends I’ve met before, as well as make new friends. (I thought that the yummies were absolutely yummy too!)

And our closing event, the Awards night, was a highlight. We had dinner (something we outgrew in the US years ago) as well as Main Stage recognition. I loved seeing everyone dressed up to the nines and receiving the awards and rewards they so richly deserve!

Overall, I was tickled pink at the quality of presenters we had both on Main Stage and in classes. We all felt like it was a great event. The only complaint I heard (and that was only from two demonstrators) was that there could have been more stamping—but isn’t that always the case? Can you ever have too much stamping?

On a more somber note, I did spend the last two days with family, remembering two wonderful people. The difference between the two scenarios was stark. As I mentioned, my uncle was 78 (he would have turned 79 this month) years old, and he’s been battling cancer for several years. I attended his services today, and it was a celebration of a life well lived; his family mentioned that he had “graduated” and moved on to what we believe is an even more wonderful existence.

My young cousin (a senior in high school) was killed in an accident—hit by a train while she was filming a video for a school project. While her parents know that they will see her again—and they were handling it amazingly well—it was clear that her life was cut tragically short. I attended her viewing last night (I couldn’t attend both funerals because they were scheduled close to the same time and were geographically a couple of hours' drive apart), and her young friends were understandably having a terrible time dealing with her death.

I was grateful to be with family as we honored both of these individuals, and was, as always, reminded of how important our relationships—especially those with our family—are in our lives. 

A Minor Glitch

I don't know if any of you noticed, but the blog was down for a couple of days. We had a small IT glitch, but I think (hope) we've worked it out. I've just arrived back from Australia--had a wonderful time, by the way, with our Australian demonstrators at our annual convention--and will post a longer blog soon, but in the meantime, I've posted the new SoShelli.com Creative Challenge for this month (check it out here), and will be posting last month's Mother's Day Challenge winners soon.

Have a wonderful day!