We're Back. . . .

The first thing I have to say is that Stampin’ Up! must bring good luck with us wherever we go! I knew when we landed in Seattle and the temperatures were downright warm (that has NEVER happened to me in Seattle!) that we were in for a fabulous trip. And I wasn’t disappointed . . .  this was the second incentive trip to Alaska that we have had—both with no rain! And that just doesn’t happen either! 

Everyone packed for rain; we’d checked the forecast and expected cold, rainy weather. Frankly, based on the forecast, I thought it would rain every day. So when it didn’t rain once (except for our sea day, and that doesn’t count because we’re inside), we certainly considered ourselves lucky! I also glanced outside the window at the airport as we caught our flight home, and noticed that it was starting to rain. Can we time it any better than that?

We started off the cruise with a delicious “ice breaker” (cruise to Alaska, get it?) that featured hot chocolate, chocolate dipping and then a little more chocolate for good measure. Perfect start, huh? I personally didn’t get any hot chocolate (too busy chatting with everyone), but I heard it was tasty!

Our welcome general session had to be a cruise highlight. We teased all the cruise achievers with a visual of the cover of the new Idea Book & Catalog—then really thrilled them by giving each demonstrator her own complimentary copy! I can’t tell you how excited everyone was!

Unfortunately, I can’t show any photos of the actual general session because we swore everyone to secrecy and made them promise that they wouldn’t post, show, or share even a whisper of the catalog anywhere until it’s officially released later this week (June 1). I figure since I made the rule, I better obey the rule. But let me tell you, I sure do have a lot of photos from that session showing some very happy demonstrators clutching some very beautiful catalogs!

On one of the first days, our own Dave Baugh (vice president of logistics and international operations) did a presentation on tying flies. It was designed specifically for spouses and guests, but I popped in. I enjoyed watching Dave, and his presentation reminded me a little of a demonstrator doing a workshop—you could tell he loved what he was talking about, and that he was knowledgeable and passionate about his subject matter.

Although I’m not a fisherperson in any way, shape, or form, I enjoyed every minute. I also loved watching several participants win a fly fishing excursion hosted by Dave and Scott Neilsen a few days later; I heard that most of those who went caught a fish, so that was even more exciting!

Another amazing experience was sailing up through the Tracy Arm Fjord—absolutely breathtaking. Everyone enjoyed incredible views of the glacier; you can see we got quite close to it! I have to say that Alaska has stunning scenery, one of the reasons I love this cruise!

The excursions are always trip highlights, and this cruise had a ton of great excursions to choose from! In the water, out of the water, trains, planes . . . not sure if there were any automobiles, but I wouldn’t be surprised! I didn’t hear of a bad excursion!

Our kids usually go on a few excursions because it’s a great ways to spend time with demonstrators, and then we also go on one excursion as a family.

This year we visited the Butchart Gardens in Victoria. The excursion included an amazing tour of the city and entrance into the gardens, along with a picnic fit for a queen. (And it really was fit for a queen; it’s the same meal she was served when she visited many years ago!)

Other than that one family excursion, Sterling and I typically spend most of our time on the ship or walking around the ports of call. We find we get to visit with a lot more demonstrators that way! This year we loved spending time in the Trading Post, which was kind of a cozy little gathering place. Demonstrators could visit every day and spin the wheel to see what prize they won, and they even had panning for gold for children traveling with demonstrators. There was something different every day that our little gold miners could find! It was very fun! And the Trading Post was bright and warm, with fun little surprises and treats for our demonstrators.

Another wonderful highlight is always our formal evening dinners. While I’m a casual girl at heart, I do love getting dressed up every once in awhile, and I especially love seeing everyone else dressed up! It’s just a great atmosphere!

The incentive trip is a yearly family highlight for our family—we all look forward to it! (We missed Jon and Shalae this year; they couldn’t make it because Jon was graduating, definitely a great excuse to miss cruise!) Although we ate with our kids at dinner, we’d told our demonstrators and their guests on the first day to feel free to interrupt any time, that our purpose during the cruise was to spend time with them. I loved that several demonstrators took us at our word, and we had nice conversations with demonstrators during meals and throughout the cruise. Visiting with our wonderful demonstrators is definitely the highlight of any Stampin’ Up! event for me, and on cruise we enjoy the added benefit of meeting the family and loved ones of these women.

Of course, as long as I mentioned dinner, I have to admit that food is always something I look forward to during cruise. I always come home feeling like I have eaten way more than I should have, but once a year I figure it doesn’t hurt to eat what you want, when you want, and as much as you want. Right? And I did that thinking justice this year! I came home ready for simple, healthy meals, but I appreciated every bite I had on cruise.

I have to say that this was one of the most relaxing incentive trips I’ve been on—as I look back on it, I can’t think of much I would change. In addition to the things I’ve mentioned, the nightly entertainment was great, and as always, our Special Events staff went over and above the call of duty! They came up with terrific pillow gifts, fun activities (including a male-testosterone-packed basketball competition), the much-anticipated Make & Takes (this year we scheduled more time, and I talked to several demonstrators who actually finished their projects ON THE CRUISE, which they were thrilled about!), and so many other things I can’t even list them all! I am always so impressed by their attention to detail and am so grateful for their hard work and the ability they have to make our demonstrators feel so valued, appreciated, and loved!

Of course, kudos also go to our trip achievers and winners—few things are more fun in a Stampin’ Up! year than enjoying the incentive trips! One of our main objectives is it to provide the trip of a lifetime (every year!), and I am so proud and grateful to our trip achievers who earn this significant reward!

That said, I must admit that I was more than a little eager to sleep in my own bed, on my own comfy pillow last night. (The cruise pillows are fine, but the beds were HARD!) Certainly made me appreciate my own perfect mattress at home.

So welcome back, everyone. For those who went on the cruise—thank you! I loved every minute! For those who didn’t, we missed you and hope you’re with us next year (or in the coming years)! I’m already looking forward to Disney World. . . .

 

 

Bon Voyage--Almost . . .

It’s going to be a long night, but I had to take the time to blog! Tomorrow morning we leave for our annual US/CAN incentive trip with some of our top-achieving Stampin’ Up! demonstrators. This year we’re going on an Alaskan cruise, and while I’m not looking forward to the probable cold and rainy weather, I am looking forward to the wonderful warm time I’ll be spending with our demonstrators!

I still have to pack, as well as stepping out the projects I’ll be sharing during our welcome meeting. (Yes, even on an incentive trip, we must have stamping!) So, like I said, it’s going to be a long night—I’m looking at the clock thinking I probably won’t get any sleep at all, but that’s OK, because stamping is better than sleeping almost any night!

I’ll check in when I get back, and in the meantime, have a wonderful week!

A Great Convention Down Under!

 

Just returned from Australia yesterday; Sterling and I were there for our annual Pacific Area (Australia and New Zealand) convention.

Enjoyed this convention for lots of reasons—I’ll share a few. Typically we arrive on Tuesday morning, take a quick nap and shower, and then dive into setting up and preparing for convention. This year, because of flights and layovers, we couldn’t get there early enough on Tuesday to get all the work done, so they actually had us come in Monday afternoon—those few hours made a huge difference!

We wandered around Melbourne (sorry I didn’t take any photos—didn’t have my camera or phone with me), had an early dinner, and FINALLY found some delicious sticky date pudding! We’ve been on the lookout for this tasty dish ever since first discovering it years ago in England.  Although we have found it on the menu in a few places since, none of the offerings compared to that first taste—until last week! We liked it so much that we spent the next few days looking for a free moment to go back and enjoy it again. Although we never did find that window of opportunity, we were grateful we had Monday.

We got to bed early Monday, had a great night’s sleep, and woke up early on Tuesday, ready to get to work! And that’s exactly what we did all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Our staff numbers were small; we had a group of people from the home office, as well as our Australia office and our New Zealand manager. (Check us all out in these staff pictures shot after the Awards Night on Saturday!)

What a joy to work together with such a great group of people—nobody complained, everybody went the second . . .  and third . . . . and fourth mile, and we had tons of fun while doing it!

And then the real fun began when convention started! We celebrated our 5th anniversary in Australia by adding a third day to convention activities, and every minute was packed full of inspiration, celebration, and education!

As always, the general sessions were amazing (with lots of enthusiasm and excitement and a few fun announcements!). A general session highlight included Aaron’s and Emma’s entrance on live camels (memorable for both the sight and SMELL. . .of the camels, of course, not Aaron or Emma!) announcing next year’s incentive trip to Broome.

 

In addition, I got to attend all the classes (they were wonderful!), posed for photos, visited and chatted with demonstrators, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The people are always what I enjoy the most about Stampin’ Up! events, and this convention was no exception. I never tire of hearing our demonstrators’ stories, and Sterling and I had fun seeing old friends and making new ones. And as I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our staff! After Awards Night (our final convention activity), we enjoyed working together one last time as we tore everything down. We worked into the wee hours of the morning—I’d be surprised if anyone got more than two hours of sleep before heading off to the airport to catch our flights home!

But those are the moments that make memories, and Sterling and I returned home with plenty of wonderful memories from our PAC Convention 2011. Thanks to everyone—both demonstrators and staff—who made it all happen!

 

Hijacking, Stamp Spaces, and Makeovers

Thought that title might pique your interest!

I (Sara) am hijacking Mom’s blog one more time before she gets home from Australia.

Yesterday I posted about Mom’s and my stamp spaces being included in Creating Keepsakes’ newest special issue, Creative Spaces. And it got me thinking about stamping spaces and our Surprise & Delight Stamp Space Makeover contest.

We announced the contest (which is open to all Convention 2011 participants) in March, and, in a nutshell, Shelli will make over the winner’s stamp space! How awesome is that!

Now I have to admit that we haven’t had very many entries, and I’m baffled . . . seriously! No one wants Mom to come design their workspace? I LOVED having Mom help me with my stamp room. BUT—and this is a big but—she didn’t pay for it! Stampin’ Up! will be footing the bill for the Surprise & Delight Stamp Space Makeover!

Maybe people are intimidated by the fact they have to make us a video in order to enter the contest, but that’s so easy! Take out your camera, push the video button, and start shooting! Then transfer it to a DVD, and send it in.

Maybe you’re concerned that your tastes might not match Shelli’s. I can assure you that Mom is going to work very closely with the winner, and the end result will definitely be something you’ll be thrilled with.

Maybe you’re worried about Mom visiting you. Can’t be that! Shelli is Shelli. . . I’ve never met a more warm, genuine person. (And I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom!) She won’t be staying overnight at your house, she’ll bring her own food, and spending the day with Mom is one of the most enjoyable experiences ever!

Whatever is holding you back, don’t let it! If you’re planning on attending convention, what do you have to lose? Give it a try! Check out the details here, and send us your video! You’ve got a great chance of winning!

 

 

Creative Spaces

As you know, Mom isn’t around this week; she’s participating in Stampin’ Up!’s Australia/New Zealand Convention in the Land Down Under. So I get the chance to be a guest blogger!

And I (Sara) get to blog about something I’m very excited about—my stamp space!

Most of you are probably familiar with Mom’s stamp studio—it’s been featured in a couple of different magazines in the past—and it’s a gorgeous room, perfect for spending hours relaxing, creating, and making wonderful memories. I love working with my mom in her stamp studio. But I also enjoy working in my own creative space. While it’s not quite as stunning as Mom’s, it’s more me, and I LOVE it!

Recently both Mom and I were invited to be part of Creating Keepsakes’ newest special issue, Creative Spaces.

This special issue of the scrapbooking world’s best-known magazine spotlights the creative spaces for some amazing crafters, many whose names you may recognize. As I looked through the pages, there were inspiring creative space ideas for all sizes of areas, as well as fun storage suggestions, great decorating tips, and lots of other interesting tidbits.

Both Mom and I were honored to be invited to participate—and motivated to take some action. Sean and I moved back to Utah almost two years ago, and while the rest of our house is unpacked, I still hadn’t finished the stamp room when I received the call. The photo shoot was the perfect excuse to get MY room decorated!

And, although Mom’s stamp studio is done, we all know that our creative spaces aren’t always in a state that we’d like others to see. In fact, well-visited creative spaces are usually plenty cluttered! So Mom’s photo shoot was the perfect excuse to get things straightened up.

I also enjoyed working with Megan Hoeppner, the creative editor, and the other amazing members of the Creating Keepsakes team.

Here’s a sneak peek of our spaces (a close-up from photos shown in the magazine), just enough to make you curious. (Nick Bayless shot my room; Symoni  Johnson shot Mom's.) You’ll definitely want to check out the entire issue, and Megan has graciously offered So Shelli blog readers a “free-shipping” deal. (Thanks, Megan!) You can find out more here. Be sure to use the coupon code “SPACESBB” for your free shipping; the coupon expires May 27.

Off Again

Back from Kanab last night, off to Australia today! We're keeping busy!

I have to admit that I’m not looking forward to the very LONG flight, but I am so looking forward to spending several days with our demonstrators during our Pacific Area Convention! Sterling and I don’t get to visit with our Australian and New Zealand demonstrators nearly often enough, so we treasure these opportunities. . .

During the next few days, I’ll be in what I call “event mode,” focusing on our demonstrators, connecting with them and doing all I can to make sure our event is a success. That means I probably won’t blog much—or even at all?—during the next week.

But next time I post, it will be to share all the fun with our Stampin’ Up! friends in the Land Down Under. . .

Our Kanab Ride

Just got back from spending the last couple of days in Kanab with a group of friends, enjoying a nice combination of riding and working. . .

I participated in the ride the same way I usually do—supporting Sterling from base camp! (smile) When he and the others leave for the ride, I focus on my work to-do list. For this ride, I’m a little spoiled . . . base camp is the apartment above our manufacturing facility in Kanab. That means that, in addition to plenty of hot water (no worries about running out during a shower!), I have a phone, computer, printer . . . all the things I need (and often don’t have on a ride) to make it quick and easy to work! And away from the normal hustle and bustle of home and the home office, I can relax, focus, and get a lot done!

When everyone comes back from the ride, we just have fun! We brought DVDs down with us, planning on watching movies at least one night, but we’ve had way too much fun visiting! A highlight (for me, at least) was dinner last night at Rocking V, Kanab’s nicest restaurant; it rivals anything in Salt Lake! We had promised our friends they’d love it—and they all did. The food was yummy (we ordered one of every dessert and shared), and the company was great!

 

Punch-Art Bookmarks

For Easter this year, I originally planned to create bookmarks for each of our grandchildren. I’ve never done punch art before, but a friend came up with a few project ideas for me—which I loved—so that was the plan.

Along the way, the plan changed (as plans so often do), and I ended up doing something different for Easter. But these bookmarks are perfect punch-art projects (I was amazed to see  how she created the different pattern pieces!), and they’re simply too cute not to share. . .

I’ve included a photo of each bookmark, along with the “pattern” for each bookmark (except the butterfly, because it was pretty self-explanatory).

Enjoy!