Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

This blog will be mostly photos, not much to report about the weekend other than it was wonderful.

The weather was gorgeous . . . couldn’t have asked for better. Thanksgiving Day was perfect, with all the kids and grandkids here. We even had a guest (one of Sterling’s classmates who we invited to join us).

Everyone helped out, the food was delicious, and everything was fairly uneventful—and very enjoyable!

The rest of the weekend was pretty much puttering around, running errands, and doing odds and ends, including finishing the TODAY Show gifts (appearance on Tuesday, December 6) and packing for the Senior Adviser trip (leaving tomorrow).

So that’s a pretty short blog . . . I guess I’m just in a mellow mood, without much to say. Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving weekends too!

I won’t be posting while I’m on the Senior Adviser trip (heading to West Indies), but I’m sure I’ll have much to talk about when I return. I’m excited to spend the week with some awesome demonstrators—and Shanna.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Just a quick note wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving weekend! Hope yesterday was wonderful, and if you went shopping today that you found irresistible deals! And I hope the rest of the weekend is even better. . . . I'm enjoying spending time with family and counting my many blessings. I'll post a weekend report later!

Stampin' Up! in Paris

This year our European Convention was held just outside of Paris at Disneyland Paris, which sounds wildly exciting—and it was, but not necessarily because of the location! We were about 45 minutes outside of the city, and during the actual convention there wasn’t much time for riding rides. I’m sure many demonstrators came early or stayed late to explore some of the sightseeing options offered by the location, but that wasn’t our focus during convention!

If you’ve been to a convention, you know that the agenda is packed full, and we don’t need any sightseeing adventures to have a ball—and that’s exactly what we did!

We had stamping (of course), demonstrations, rewards and recognition, education, and entertainment.

The first thing that comes to mind as I look back was the energy—incredibly high and very contagious! When you walked into a room, you could feel how excited everyone was to be there.

Swapping was also a highlight; it always is. I became the unofficial swap display person (meaning I posted everybody’s swaps on our display boards), so I got to see them all, something I don’t normally get to do at our larger gatherings. I saw so many fabulous swaps and was reminded again how inspiring and fulfilling creativity can be.

Because we have three different languages represented at convention, our classes are divided into languages. Demonstrators don’t get to choose which classes to attend (although the topics are all similar), they go to the ones presented in their language. I got to attend every class (even the ones that weren’t in English) and was impressed. Every class had professional, interesting presentations, and even though I didn’t always understand what was being said, I could feel the enthusiasm and interest generated during each presentation.

We had plenty of entertainment too. We had the game show for the first time in Europe, and demonstrators loved it! We also had a demonstrator (Julie Kettlewell) perform during our Awards Night; she sang “For Good” (one of my favorite songs) from Wicked and did a great job. Several of the presentations included elements of entertainment as well, which is always welcome.

Awards Night was definitely a highlight—it always is because it’s focused completely on honoring our demonstrators. Everyone dresses up, and can I say that everyone in that room definitely looked fancy! Because we have a smaller group at this convention, we are still able to have dinner together, which I enjoy so much! I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to do that, but it’s certainly a nice way to begin the evening. 

I really felt a wonderful sense of friendship this year. I always sense that, at every Stampin’ Up! gathering, because we do share a love for what we’re doing. But I enjoy seeing friendships that started three years ago at our first convention being renewed and strengthened as demonstrators from different countries greet each other with smiles and warm embraces; it’s touching to see these relationships grow and flourish.

I also enjoy seeing demonstrators who are coming for the first time sense the magic that happens at convention. They light up, create new friendships, and become an integral part of what happens when we all gather together. The language barriers (which are not really barriers because we all speak the international language of stamping, right?) melt away and we are all just thrilled to be together, learning and sharing with each other.

I left Paris exhausted but completely fulfilled after spending two wonderful days with our European demonstrators! I’m grateful for these amazing people whom I work with, and am especially grateful for the rare opportunities I have to actually spend face-to-face time with them. I’m already excited for next year!

A Day in Paris

Note: I am waiting to post about our European Convention until I get the photos back from our photographer, which I think (hope) will be tomorrow. So check back to read about that fabulous experience . . .

Our European Convention (held just outside of Paris) wrapped up this weekend, and Sara and I had one extra day to spend in the city. We’d gone into Paris with a few other employees for a few hours the night we arrived, so we’d had an opportunity to get our bearings, see the Eiffel Tower, and enjoy a genuine French crepe. As we headed back into the city (armed with a guide book that Shiloh had lent to us), we had a tentative plan to see as many sights as possible, and we also knew that we weren’t leaving Paris until we’d had another crepe! (We obviously had our priorities straight. . . )

Taking the train into the city was a little unnerving. I’m used to driving, so subways and metros and trains are unfamiliar; I was certainly glad we’d already had the earlier experience with the group. On the train, we met an English-speaking couple (along with their five-year-old daughter) who was on their second or third day of sightseeing. We adjusted our plan a bit based on their experiences, and with their insight and the things we found in the guide book, we were set!

It goes without saying that we could have spent days in Paris, but we managed to do quite a bit in the one day we had—and what a great day it was!

We took a two-hour tour of the Louvre, visited Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, and strolled along the Champs Elysees.

We ate at a charming little French restaurant (Angelina’s) and loved watching the people. The weather was perfect, brisk enough that we wore our jackets all day but never too cold and no rain, and the people were out in droves. Our feet were definitely tired at the end of the day, but every step had been well worth it.

With one exception. We hadn’t found our crepes yet. We had stopped at several crepe shops, and watched fresh crepes being made, but none looked as temptingly delicious as the crepes we’d had on our first night when we’d seen the Eiffel Tower. So there was only one thing to do—we headed back to the Eiffel Tower and ended the day perfectly. . . savoring a warm crepe with the Eiffel Tower as our backdrop.

Sara was a wonderful sightseeing companion, and I am thankful for the opportunity to create some Paris memories with her—it truly was a day that I will always treasure!

 

I Should Have Known

We got a call from the TODAY Show yesterday, informing us that my appearance next week has to be postponed to December. Ah, the world of TV . . .  you’ve got to love it! So we made some flight changes and are re-doing our TODAY Show gifts, which had been created with a Thanksgiving theme and will now need to feature a Christmas theme instead.

No worries! We’re just grateful for the chance to share Stampin’ Up! and what we love with everyone, so we’ll adapt. However, I loved these cards and didn’t want them to go to waste, so I figured I’d share them with all of you!

The new scheduled appearance is December 6. . . crossing my fingers that this one works out! (smile)

This afternoon I’m heading off to our annual European convention, and I’ll be gone until next Monday, so I won’t be blogging. I will, however, keep up my daily Facebook posts of things I’m grateful for. (I can do those on my phone, so that’s feasible to do in Europe). You can check those out on my FaceBook page.

In the meantime, have a great week!

Whirlwind Weekend

It’s been a whirlwind weekend, full of lots of things to do. Sterling and I originally planned on spending Friday and Saturday at a darling little bed and breakfast (the kids had given us a one-night stay as a gift), but Sterling’s uncle passed away, and the funeral was Saturday morning. So we’ll use the gift certificate another time . . .

Instead, I spent Friday running quite a few errands and spending some wonderful time with Shanna, who is dealing with the overwhelming responsibility of becoming a first-time mommy (to multiples!). I remember well the anxiety of that first pregnancy, the worries and concerns about being a good mother, and I was grateful for the chance to chat with her, help her work through at least some of her concerns, and just reassure her that all will be well.

Saturday morning and afternoon were spent at the funeral and those activities. It was nice to celebrate a life well lived and catch up with family members we haven’t seen in awhile.

Saturday evening I turned my attention to finishing things for our upcoming European convention. We’re gathering in Paris this year, and since Sterling is in school, Sara is going with me. I had (and still have) some last-minute work on my Main Stage projects. Then there’s packing and going over scripts and schedules and show flows, and just making sure that I’m aware of all the places I need to be and things I need to do.

I’m grateful for the many people who work hard to plan these amazing events and ensure that our time spent together is inspiring, rewarding, and worthwhile. I’m excited for this convention, the ideas and information that will be shared, and especially for the opportunity to meet with our wonderful  European demonstrators.

We also received word in the last week or so that we were invited back to the TODAY Show. For several years we’ve participated in the annual TODAY Show Toy Drive, and I’ve been privileged to appear for a few minutes on the show the last couple of years. It’s always a little terrifying and very exciting to have the opportunity to share Stampin’ Up! and what we do in just a few moments on screen.

I’ll be flying straight from the convention to New York City for that, so that’s added a little stress to preparations because we’ve had to make sure everything is taken care of for the TODAY Show as well.

And today, of course, I attended Church, spent time with family (knowing I’ll be gone for the next week and a half), and still tried to do a few odds and ends that were appropriate for the Sabbath.

I have much left to do and will probably be feeling slightly panicky tomorrow afternoon as time runs out, but I’m so thankful for the opportunities and blessings that are mine!

 

Cards, Cards, and More Cards

Last month I celebrated a milestone birthday—the big 50! And I have to admit, it was my most memorable birthday by far, for many reasons.

I wrote several blogs about all the things that happened, so I won’t go into much more detail, but I did have to post one more time about this amazing birthday, because over the weekend I just finished reading the last of the more than 1,200 birthday cards I received.

Yes, you read that right—1,200 cards!!!!

And I read every single one!

Occasionally as I read, family members would join me, pointing out their favorites, sharing a smile or a tear. Someone asked me if I knew everyone who had sent in a card, and although I recognized some of the names, I didn’t recognize them all, and I was touched by how many of you took the time to send me a card.

Someone else asked me if I thought you all expected me to remember the specific greetings you wrote. I hope not! But when I do see you at an event, I’d love to give you a hug and thank you for wishing me a happy birthday, so just let me know if you were one of the many who became part of this milestone birthday.

These hand-stamped cards came from demonstrators and employees (and even demonstrators’ children) from all over the world. They came in many different languages (sometimes translated through Google, which made me smile, because the translation wasn’t always entirely accurate but always endearing).

They were incredibly creative (our warehouse guys made a dock-plate embossed card by running over the card on a dock plate, and our IT guys made a card with a ram featured on front). They were tender and funny and brief and long. . . no two were alike, and they provided hours and hours of wonderful reading!

Several of you welcomed me to the “club”! I didn’t know there was a club, but I guess there is. And I guess I’m a member, whether I want to be or not!

I laughed, I cried, and mostly I just felt incredibly grateful that you are all a part of my life and that you allow me to be a small part of yours!

I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was; maybe more than one person thought of it and just shared the idea. Regardless, these cards have made my birthday incredibly sweet and memorable, and reminded me again why we do what we do here at Stampin’ Up!

Thank you all so much for taking the time and making the effort to send these cards to me. I hope your next birthday is filled with the same love and caring that I felt this year!

Celebrating Digital Scrapbooking Day with FREE Downloads!

Tomorrow is Digital Scrapbooking day (it seems like there’s a day for just about everything, doesn’t it?), and we’re celebrating at Stampin’ Up! with some free digital downloads. When they asked me if I’d be interested in helping announce it, I said, “Are you kidding? If it’s free, I’m all over it!”

So let me tell you what you need to know:

  • Digital Scrapbooking Day is tomorrow, but at Stampin’ Up!, we’re actually celebrating today through November 7.
  • Visit our My Digital Studio website to get your free downloads. (We’re asking you to fill out a quick survey first—name, age range, etc. . . . I promise it won’t take more than a couple of minutes.)
  • The downloads will work in My Digital Studio (Stampin’ Up!’s own digital design software) or in other programs, and are compatible with a Mac or PC.
  • There are four downloads, but we’ve combined them so you’ll receive all four together.

I think that’s all you need to know.

Just to make sure you check it out, I thought I’d give you a little peek—these notecards use three of the four downloads (plus an extra punch). A lot of people use digital software for scrapbooking, but they’re great for other projects too. These cute cards will come in handy anytime, and I love the So Typefelt greetings—it’s so versatile!

And, of course, I’m a hybrid girl at heart—I love texture. It’s so easy to add just a little something to any My Digital Studio project. You’ll see a bit of bling (a Rhinestone) in the center of the digital flower, which finishes off these cards with a flourish.

So enjoy adding to your digital download collection. And if you’re new to digital design, what better way to start than right now with free downloads! Check it out!

 

A Whole New World. . .

Life is different in the Gardner home lately—my sweetheart is a student!

It’s ironic that about the time we finally become empty nesters, we’re both so busy that we’re not really at home together very much! A couple of weeks ago, Sterling started a program at the Utah College of Massage Therapy, and he’ll be a full-time student for the next few months. Thankfully, it’s only an eight-month program, and we keep telling ourselves we can do anything until May, right? (Of course, he hopes eventually to become an equine massage therapist, which will mean more school after that. . . sigh.)

Sterling has always been kind of interested in being a massage therapist. When we moved here to Salt Lake City several years ago, he attended a two-week introductory course, and although he didn’t sign up then, he did say, “I think I’m going to do that someday.”

Now that someday is here, and we’re doing some adjusting. He’s been retired for several years and has shouldered numerous household responsibilities, run errands, and generally been my go-to guy for so many things. Now he’s getting up every day earlier than usual, heading off to school in his all-black uniform, coming home late, and doing a ton of homework.

So we’re finding new ways to do the things that need to be done. The girls text when they go to the store to see if we need them to pick up anything for us. I’m doing my share of the laundry and dishes (I’m counting the days until graduation!), and eggs and toast is probably going to be a staple at our house for awhile.

We’ve both got plates that are plenty full, and I’m actually the one with the more flexible schedule. Like I said . . . a whole new world! Of course, I’m completely supportive—I figure I’ll be the benefactress of many great massages, so I’m definitely not complaining.