The Day After

Thanksgiving has come and gone—it always goes way too quickly!

We had an almost perfect day. All the kids were here except for Sara and Sean and their children, who were with Sean’s family in southern Utah.

We got started fairly early, which meant that we didn’t feel rushed and we had plenty of time to enjoy the whole process. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and prepping and chatting; we even sat down and took a break once in awhile. It was wonderful!

 

While we were prepping in the kitchen, there was a football game going on in the great room and Christmas movies being shown downstairs. 

The kids floated back and forth between the two, with lots of time spent helping in the kitchen as well. They loved being little helpers and doing all sorts of tasks and errands.

I have to mention our name card project. Shalae and I had stamped name cards and Zach accepted the assignment to write the names. It was adorable to watch him take such meticulous care in spelling everyone’s name correctly. He wanted the cards to look great—and they did!

Dinner was delicious, of course. And I don’t know if your Thanksgiving is like ours, but after I finished, I sat there and wanted to go back for more—everything was so good—but I didn’t have a bit of room anywhere for seconds. I guess that’s what Thanksgiving leftovers are all about, right?

Today has been as relaxing and wonderful as yesterday was. We’ve played, visited, and just hung out most of the day. The kids did go swimming, and the grown-ups went to a movie. (Grandma got to watch the kids—lucky me!) I love spending time with loved ones, don’t you?

I do hope your Thanksgiving was great and that your weekend will be wonderful!

Thanksgiving Week Begins

It’s been a busy week or so, and I posted a lot of what’s been going on during the last week. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever posted five times in one week before! What I didn’t mention is that we also had three daylong meetings at work, trying to finalize important decisions we’ve been evaluating.

And now, as we head into the Thanksgiving holidays, I’m not feeling like I can slow down much! I’ve still got assignments from last week’s meetings I have to follow up on, and several things I need to wrap up before Thursday.

We started a tradition several Thanksgivings ago where we give the girls a Christmas book, along with a holiday home décor item (or two or three). I’ve found the book already (Christmas for a Dollar—sweet story), and I know what project I’m going to give the girls.

(Daughter spoiler: If you’re a Gardner girl, stop reading now if you want to be surprised on Thursday!) I’ve decided to make them each a Ho Ho Ho banner (the large one I showed last week). I love my new banner and want each of the girls to have one of their own.  

Sterling and Shanna left today for a two-day horseback ride, and I have to admit that secretly I’m looking forward to having the house to myself. I’m planning on working during the day and staying up late at night making the banners.

So, don’t be surprised if I don’t do much posting this week. I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next couple of days, and then once the holiday hits, I’ll be loving every minute with my family. Of course, I’ll check in this week—just not five times!

A New Moon Memory

As some of you Twilight fans may know, New Moon broke a few opening weekend movie records, and we certainly did our part to make that happen!

My girls are all huge Twilight fans, so we rented a theater for a screening of the show last night. Turns out you don’t have to be anybody famous or rich or special to rent a theater—you just have to be willing to pay what the theater would make if every seat sold. Well, we knew we could fill the theater with our family and friends, so we set a date and spread the news.

Shanna was in charge of gathering the money and handling seat selection; you could choose your seats on a first-paid, first-pick basis. And in my opinion, it didn’t matter whether you liked the movie or not, just watching it with a big group of people you know was a great experience! Sterling said it best—“It was like watching a movie with lots of people you know in a really big living room.”

We began the evening with dinner at a nearby restaurant with a smaller group, then we walked over to the theater.

It was fun to see our name in lights, reserving the theater.

Since we knew just about everyone in the theater, there was a casual, fun, friendly atmosphere. We called out greetings as people arrived, and when Vonna and her daughters came all the way from Kanab, we cheered.

We got away with a little visiting and a few loud comments that we wouldn’t have in a normal movie theater (my favorite was when Jacob ripped off his shirt, and Sterling’s best friend said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Hold it down, Shanna!”). Everyone laughed at that, especially Shanna!

So it was definitely memorable, and the girls are already making plans for a repeat performance when the next movie is released!

 

Ho, Ho, Ho

I saw our new Ho Ho Ho On Board (with the messy part—glitter—already done!) and fell in love. I’m a holiday gal and a bling gal, so this product really caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist sharing a couple of ideas with you.

What I liked about this is that it’s really affordable. You can make three banners for under $5 each, and give them away as holiday gifts. (Give the bigger banner to your favorite person, just don’t let the other two gift recipients know. . .smile!)

The key to keeping this affordable is using what you have laying around. . . ribbons and Designer Series papers, different accessories, and stamp sets. Don’t feel like you have to go out and buy anything besides the On Board banner itself.

You know I don’t do instructions, but I did include a close-up photo of each of the letters in the larger banner, so you don’t really need instructions for those. I loved the garland though, and figured you might need a few tips on that.

You just cut a strip of card stock, fold it in half, and run it about three-quarters through the crimper (you want to keep one edge uncrimped so the Sticky Strip sticks to it better). Then you adhere a strip of Sticky Strip (a lot of strips there, huh?) along the edge, and cut the other edge about every quarter inch or so. Next take the ribbon that you’re going to hang the banner from and start twisting the card stock around it, tightly and close together. Finally fray the card stock edges a big to create the garland look.

I thought these looked a lot like pine boughs—if you did them in green, I bet you could barely tell the difference between these and the real thing!

I know the larger banner will take a little bit of time, but it's well worth the time because this is a home decor item that you (or whomever you give it to) will use year after year after year. So it's time and effort well spent!

The smaller banner literally took me minutes to make—it came together so quickly and easily. The pre-adhered (is that a word?) glitter really makes it a snap. I just added some DSP backgrounds and die cut  card stock (the Stampin’ Up! Scallop Square), a few hand-cut accents, and I was done. It was great!

As a bonus, I also wanted to share the card we’re sending out this year to the vendors we work with. It uses the same stamp set as the larger banner, so I wanted to show how you can use one set for several different projects. It’s all about versatility, you know.

So that’s it for now. I wanted to post this before tonight, because I’m heading off to New Moon with a huge group of friends, family, and even a few people I don’t know. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. . . .

 

I've Got a Little Secret

OK, for a couple of days now, I’ve known a little secret—and I can finally share it!

I’m going to be on the Today Show!

Isn’t that exciting?

We’ve known it might be a possibility for a few days, but today I actually had a pre-interview interview (where the producer interviews me in preparation for the appearance), and it finally hit me. Up until then, I didn’t think it was really real.

It’s a short spot on Friday, December 4, only a couple minutes long. Stampin’ Up! is being featured because we’ve been involved in the annual Christmas Today Show Toy Drive for the past several years. I’m sure they interview people from several of the different companies who donate things, but it’s definitely exciting to be chosen for this opportunity!

 

After the pre-interview interview, I went downstairs to the Distribution Center to check out the boxes that we’re preparing to ship out for the toy drive, and I got even more excited. The boxes are full of discontinued Stampin’ Up! product—lots of product! I’m sure whoever opens those boxes will be pretty happy!

Watch for more information—we’ll be providing more details early next week and even encouraging demonstrators who live in or near NYC to maybe come and be a presence on the Today Show plaza.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to be calm, cool, and collected. Wish me luck!

An Evening with Thurl

Last night we attended a delightful event—a fundraiser organized by Thurl Bailey, one of our Stampin’ Up! board members.

The dinner/auction was held at La Caille, a beautiful, chateau-style French restaurant here in Salt Lake City. The atmosphere was cozy and warm, the food was delicious, and the company (Sterling, our girls and their husbands, Shanna’s date, and a niece and her husband) was excellent!

Many of you may recognize Thurl—he’s a former professional basketball player (played for the Utah Jazz), and is now a professional singer, as well as sports commentator. He’s got a gorgeous voice (he’s performed at convention and during the cruise before), and his wife Sindi is darling.

His nonprofit organization—Big T—works with youth groups, and this event raised funds for Big T. He also performed several songs from his newest album, from which all proceeds will be donated to the Larry H. Miller Foundation, which supports diabetic research. So our time—and donation—was certainly well spent!

A Douglass Weekend

I told you in my last blog that we had the Douglass kids for the weekend. We had a great time! Sterling and I planned to take them somewhere fun, like the museum or a movie or something, but they just wanted to hang out with us. Which kind of surprised us because they come over fairly often, and we thought they’d want to be anywhere but here.

We woke up to a snowstorm on Saturday morning, so we were kind of relieved that they seemed pretty content staying put. Heading out in the snow didn’t sound very fun.

We did manage one outing Saturday afternoon—we ventured out to get Kona’s birthday present (some classic Disney movies) and have dinner. While we were looking for Kona’s present, we found a movie the kids wanted to watch—Aliens in the Attic. That was all the motivation they needed to come home and take their baths and brush their teeth in record time!

On Sunday, the big outing was going to church. The kids looked darling!

And then after church, we celebrated Kona’s fourth birthday (his actual birthday was while we were at the Europe convention, so this was a belated party).

Kona loved the movies and chocolate doughnuts (he doesn’t really like cake and ice cream). And we enjoyed the chance to wish him a happy birthday and spend time with everyone who was in town! 

A Bad Hair Week

I’m sure most of you have had a bad hair day once in awhile. I hate it when I can’t get my hair looking just right! But I’ve been having a bad hair WEEK!

It all started last Saturday, the second day of Europe convention. For some reason, the adaptor I’ve always used for my flat iron doesn’t working, so I’d been making due with the hotel blow dryer.

On Saturday, however, Pam Morgan lent me her adaptor—I was so excited! So I plugged in my flat iron, let it heat up, and then started to work on my bangs. It took about 1.3 seconds for me to figure out something was wrong because I could smell singed hair! Apparently the flat iron had heated up too much, and I had burned a hole in my bangs!

After a bunch of “Oh my goodness-es” and “my hair, my hair,” I managed to get my emotions under control, but there was nothing I could do about my hair. I didn’t even have my Snips with me to try to repair the damage. I felt like a four-year-old who had cut her own hair for the first time; I’m sure all you mothers know exactly what I’m talking about—the missing chunk of hair and cut bangs right up close to the scalp.

I flip-flopped hair over and under and across for the convention, used tons of product, and tried to smile big enough that people wouldn’t stare at the hair. Everybody had the good manners not to mention it, and I made it through Saturday.

But it’s not gotten much better, as you can see. (smile) When I got to Savannah, Shalae did what she could, but she said she didn’t dare cut too much, or there would be even a bigger hole. So this past week has been a bad hair week, and I’m anticipating a few more bad hair days before my bangs grow out a bit more.

If anyone knows any way to make hair grow faster, let me know! 

A Four-Day Layover

On our way home from the Europe Convention, we flew into Atlanta, Georgia enroute to Salt Lake City. Atlanta is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Savannah, so of course, we made plans to stop and see the Brown family before continuing all the way home.

It’s only been a couple months since we’ve seen them, but it’s felt like much longer, and it was wonderful to see them again! The kids have spent much of their first few weeks in Georgia battling bugs (colds, flu, even pneumonia), and I’ve wished I’d been closer so I could help. Thankfully, they are all feeling pretty healthy now!

They all came to the airport to pick us up—even though it meant driving two cars because we all couldn’t fit into one on the way home. And Grandpa and Grandma Gardner were greeted by a hand-drawn “welcome” mural, hanging on the guest bedroom door, when we got to their house. The kids were very proud of their artwork!

We really didn’t do a lot while we were in Savannah, other than play with grandchildren, chat, and relax. Shalae and I went antiquing one day, Jon made his famous chocolate malts and shakes a couple of times, I worked on employee birthday cards, and I helped Shalae work on their family Christmas cards.

Even though I’m not much of a TV watcher, I actually enjoyed sitting down every evening in front of the screen, stamping and visiting. I don’t remember what we watched at all—just loved the feeling of being together with family.

 

The weather on the first two days was perfect—we loved spending time outside with the kids. On Wednesday it rained cats and dogs (Shalae claims it hasn’t rained that badly since our last visit, so it’s all our fault!), and Thursday it was cold—but not too cold for the kids to still spend a little time outside enjoying the fresh air.

It was a wonderfully relaxing four-day layover!

We got back last night, and returned to more grandchildren! We’re watching the Douglass kids while Sara and Sean spend the weekend in Washington visiting friends there.  And we’re hoping to have Kona join us tomorrow, so we’ll have seen all but our White grandchildren in the past week. What a treat!

Q&A (September and October questions)

I’m so sorry I didn’t post these earlier. Here are the questions from September and October. As always, I don’t answer all the questions, and many of you share ideas for products, which I don’t respond to but do forward to the appropriate departments.

Happy reading!

Did you go pick Shanna up from her mission?

No. For those who aren’t aware, sometimes parents and/or families of missionaries will go pick their children up in the mission field when they complete their mission. We asked Shanna if she wanted us to do that, and she said no. She said she’d rather come home, settle back in, and then return to her mission after that adjustment period. We’re hoping to go back with her to Spain sometime in the next year, and we’re already looking forward to meeting many of the wonderful people she met and spending time seeing some of her favorite areas of Spain.

Do you own a houseboat?

No, we don’t. We are members of a time share, so we own a specific time period on a houseboat every year.

How much work is it for your family to go on the Lake Powell trip?

It’s actually not as much work as you might think because we’ve gone so many times, we have it down to a science! It’s one of the easiest trips we take! We have the same routine, the same menu, and pretty much the same activities every time we go, so when it’s time we just pull up the Lake Powell list on the computer, print it out, and make assignments.

Of course, we finesse it now and then when we discover something that works better or something we like better, but we just update our list and so the next year we’re all ready to go.

Wondering if it would be possible to digitalize some of your designs so we can make them in quilts? I know it has nothing to do with stamping, but Stampin’ Up! images are so pretty I would love to see them on my quilts. Does that sound do-able?

Thank you for your kind words about our artwork. That’s a great idea but not something we’re looking at right now. We do have the Big Shot and the die cuts, and many people use those tools for quilting.

Where did you find the PJs with owls on them for the Advisory Board? How are Board members selected?

I don’t purchase the PJs; it’s been a tradition for the Advisory Board members to purchase them for our My Favorite Things night, and they graciously gave me a pair as a gift. I think they found them online, but I’m not sure where.

We look at a wide variety of criteria when we’re choosing board members, including geographical location, level of activity, involvement in their business, etc. We strive to find a nice balance of longevity with the company, approach to doing business, and things like that. We don’t necessarily always choose our highest-achieving demonstrators, but we certainly are looking for demonstrators who are actively involved in building a business, so they understand the challenges our demonstrator base experiences as a whole.

A few of you asked additional questions about the Advisory Board. Some of them choose to share their status as Advisory Board members quite openly, while others are a bit more private. Of course, anyone who went to convention knows who they are, and it’s not hard to find out who is on the board from year to year. However, it’s our policy to protect the privacy of the Board members on our end, so I won’t mention anymore about them, other than I feel privileged and honored to work with the fine women who have served on this Board throughout the years, and I am so grateful for their hard work, commitment, and insight.

Any hope of your past vintage stamps returning?

The only time we have brought any retired stamps back in the past was to celebrate a milestone anniversary. We just celebrated a significant 20-year anniversary, and while we are looking forward to our 25th, specific plans are still far in the future, so I can’t make any promises. . . .

What do your family members (daughters, SIL, siblings, parents) do at Stampin’ Up! Or what have they done in the past?

Wow, at some point in time family members have done just about everything, from placing and picking orders to answering phones, and from creating projects to planning events. They’ve worked in product development and scheduling and . . . well the list goes on and on. My family has been—and continue to be—very supportive of Stampin’ Up!

What does Stampin’ Up! do with the rubber that is recycled?

We donate all the rubber that is recyclable to an organization called Courage Reins (a group that provides therapeutic horseback riding experiences, along with other equine-based activities, for people with disabilities). Courage Reins, in turn, sells the rubber for a reasonable price for playgrounds and other similar uses.

Would it be possible for SU to be more proactive about accommodating the deaf and hearing-impaired demonstrators by providing captioning and/or scripts for webinars, audio and video training without us having to ask for it every time?

I have asked our corporate communications department to look into identifying this type of information for our deaf and hard-of-hearing demonstrators. Thanks for the suggestion!

Can I borrow/rent Mom Pat?

No way! She’s mine—and my sisters! I laughed when I read this, and so did Mom Pat. We all have so many things on our to-do lists that we will keep Mom Pat busy for the foreseeable future.

How many years did it take Lisa Fast to reach the million-dollar milestone?

I should have mentioned that, huh? She has been a demonstrator for thirteen and a half years, and what is remarkable about her achievement is that she reached this milestone while raising a family (which many of our demonstrators do, of course) and running a day care business as well!

What was on the M&M’s, the brown T-shirts, and the banners that were shown for the Lisa Fast celebration?

The M&M’s had Lisa’s name and One Million Dollars; the brown T-shirts read, “Congratulations, Lisa Fast, One Million Dollar Achiever”; and the banners also said Congratulations.

Funny that you don’t know what HGTV is, especially since I just watched you on that very channel (a DIY segment of “Scrapbooking with Sandy Genovese”).

That is funny. I haven’t done a DIY segment for many years, and I’d completely forgotten they were associated with HGTV. 

Our First-Ever Europe Convention--A Success

We arrived back in the States last night, home from our first-ever Stampin’ Up! convention, held in Frankfurt, Germany—and it was delightful!

I don’t know how else to describe it. From beginning (helping the staff set up and prepare for the convention) to end (saying good-bye to many demonstrators and employees I’d gotten to know better), I enjoyed every minute!

Our staff was much smaller than at a US/Canadian event. Only a handful of employees from the home office flew over, along with most of the staff from our three European offices. We worked side by side to get everything ready, and I loved the opportunity to put faces with names, and meet some of these wonderful people for the first time. How blessed we are to have such great people working with us in Europe!

After spending a whirlwind couple of days in preparation, Sterling and I returned to the hotel and actually giggled in our hotel room as we heard the familiar sounds of Stampin’ Up! demonstrators coming together for convention. It doesn’t matter if we’re in North America, Australia, or Europe, the sounds of happy women gathering together for a few days of stamping, playing, celebrating—and likely escaping from the demands of home?—are the same. And it’s wonderful to be part of that.

We had about three times the number of demonstrators we had at our first convention in the United States 20 years ago, but it was still a very intimate event, with plenty of opportunities to chat. Probably one of the things that stood out most for me was that, even though we had three different countries and three different languages represented, there was an overwhelming feeling of unity and kindness. I teared up more than once as I watched demonstrators cheer for each other, laugh with each, and support each other in their shared love of Stampin’ Up!

I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about the language barrier. All of the Main Stage presentations were done in English, with translators sitting in the back providing translation in French and German. Individual classes were presented in each of the three languages.

But I found that the language wasn’t a problem at all. Many of the demonstrators knew enough English that we could carry on a decent conversation. And even when we didn’t know the exact words, there’s something about sharing the language of stamping that brought us together. We hugged, we smiled, we looked at projects, and we communicated.

In addition to the abundance of fun and support, there was an abundance of inspiration. I’ve actually started stamping birthday cards today (I send Stampin’ Up! employees greetings for their birthdays) for November, and I’m basing them on a Workshop Wow I saw at the convention.

I do want to share a few of the projects that I showed on Main Stage. I won’t show them all—there has to be some perks for attending convention, you know. But here are a few that I hope will inspire you.

One thing I feel badly about is that I didn’t take any photos. I had my camera with me the whole time and completely forgot to take it out, I was so busy! We had some camera and video people there, but I forgot that they weren’t from the home office, and so I wasn’t able to just call and ask them to send me a few of their photos. We’ll eventually get the photos they took, but it will be too late to post here, and I’m so sorry! I’d love for you to get a feel for the beautiful venue and, even more important, the amazing people!

As we said good-bye, I was impressed with the genuine feelings of love and concern I saw. It reminded me of the early days of Stampin’ Up! when we were small enough that most of the demonstrators knew most of the employees, and vice versa. In Europe, that’s the case—employees and demonstrators know each other, and if they didn’t before convention, they do now! What a wonderful feeling to be part of that again!

Over all, our Europe convention exceeded all of my expectations. That doesn’t mean we can’t improve—there’s always room for improvement! (And we do have a list of things we’ll do differently next time.) But overall, I was pleased and delighted and returned exhausted but happy!  

Heading to Frankfurt

After a way-too-short one-and-a-half hours of sleep last night (had to get my convention project done!), I am heading off to our first-ever European Stampin' Up! convention. I'm tired but psyched! I can't wait to spend some time getting to know our European demonstrators a little better and celebrating their outstanding accomplishments! 

In the meantime, I'm hoping to post one Q&A blog while I"m gone (keep your fingers crossed that I'll have time), and hopefully I'll also find the time to announce the winners of October's So Shelli Creative Challenge. 

This convention is a very exciting milestone for Stampin' Up!, and I can't wait to share my experiences with you when I get back! And now I'm off! I sure hope I get the chance to sleep a little on the flight over. . . .

A Happy Treat

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. Mine was great! I spent the entire day playing with my sister Leslie--she got to spend the weekend with me! Woo hoo! Shes been cooped up in her apartment (in between regular visits to the hospital to check her levels).  But she came to our house on Friday, and she got to stay until today.
 
We
ve had a fabulous time today. We stayed in PJs all day and played in my stamp studio.

 

I spent some of my time working on the Halloween album I started a few weeks ago for Shannas Happy Halloween Homecoming party. I thought my Halloween treat for you would be to show you a few of the pages.  

Just an FYI: The inspiration for these pages came from the Advent calendar featured as our art show project in the October 2009 Stampin’ Success.
 
Enjoy!