Welcome to my personal blog!

Just as I share some of my personal thoughts and views, I invite you to share yours. All I ask is that you keep your comments appropriate. I won’t feel badly about removing comments that are offensive. That doesn’t mean you can’t be honest—I want honest feedback—but I like to fill my life with positive people and positive things. I guess that means that if you have to say something negative, say it nicely!

More than anything, I want you to leave here feeling inspired and valued—and like we've had a nice visit!

 

Thursday
Sep252008

Things Will Be OK

My appearance yesterday on “Good Things Utah” went well. Television appearances are always a little stressful (although I’m much more comfortable with them now than I was years ago!), but I enjoy them and I love talking about Stampin’ Up! and sharing creative ideas with people.

Everyone loved the Spooky Spider jar, and they made me promise to come back and show how to do the adorable advent calendar that Jill demonstrated at convention.

After the appearance I grabbed a quick lunch with Sage and Shalae; we met at Gardner Village, one of our favorite places to shop. It’s an historic old flour mill that’s been remade into a wonderful restaurant surrounded by restored cabins and buildings that house boutique stores. Love it! We could spend hours there strolling though all the shops. Unfortunately we didn’t have that kind of time yesterday, because I had meetings back at Stampin’ Up!, but lunch with the girls (and Jason and Kona, who had invited themselves at the last minute) was great.

On my way back to work, I got a call from my brother, who had spent the last nine days on the Bonneville Salt Flats here in Utah helping my crazy father try to break a speed record. Well, he broke the record—but in the process, his car caught fire and Kurtis called to tell me they were flying my dad by helicopter to the local burn unit at the University of Utah Hospital.

Needless to say, my plans changed abruptly; I headed for the hospital, where I spent the rest of the day and much of the night with my dad. As I drove to the hospital I knew in my heart Dad would be ok—and if he wasn’t, well, I still knew things would be ok.

Thankfully, I’m happy to report Dad will be fine. He has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his hands and face, but it appears he’ll be able to recover quickly and completely. The hours I spent with him in the hospital, rubbing his feet, whispering quietly that I loved him, and gently placing a cool, damp cloth on his forehead reminded me that we are all here for one reason, and one reason only—to love and care for others.

I left the hospital this morning to head to our first regional of the year—Kansas City—and I would never have left if I was worried at all. I wish I could be there with him, but he’s surrounded by other loved ones, and that’s the first place I’ll head when my plane lands in Utah on Sunday morning. And in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every moment with my friends in Kansas!

Wednesday
Sep242008

Advisory Board Adventures

First, can I just say how much I love my family?!

Sunday when I got home from Founder’s Circle I got to spend the afternoon and evening with family. Sage and Jason and Shalae and Jon and all their kids were here, and it just doesn’t get any better. I sat in our house, with the doors open (don’t you just love the fresh fall air?), feeding Phoebe, watching the boys run in and out, and talking to the grown-ups. The only word I can think of to describe how I felt is giddy.

After we hugged everyone good-bye and watched the kids blow us kisses, I turned to Sterling and said, “Life is so good! ” I just can’t get enough of my family, and it was great to be home!

Of course, I never stay home for long, and Monday I was off again—but for a great reason! We had our Advisory Board retreat yesterday and today, and it was wonderful! I love the chance to get to know these demonstrators better, and although it’s a very full and busy two days, I enjoy every minute.

As I arrived on Monday morning, I parked in my usual spot, which is a fair distance from the building. About halfway to the front door, the gray clouds started dumping, and I was pretty focused on getting into the building and preserving whatever poof I had left in my hair. Just as I got to the front door, this black van drove up, and I glanced over. I knew immediately who was inside, because the outside was so cool! Yep, the transportation service had gotten hold of some Décor Elements, and there was a beautiful array of white flourishes dressing up the dark tinted windows of the van. I loved it—it made quite a statement!

We packed a lot into the two days, including a brief overview of each of our departments, several little mini-tours (including listening in on Demonstrator Support calls and spending a few minutes on the pick line!), and lots of discussion. We love to have our Advisory Board members come because it gives them a new perspective on the business and it gives us different perspective from a new group of demonstrators. Because of confidentiality issues, we can’t talk a lot about what we talked about, except to say that they will be wonderful advocates and representatives for all our demonstrators.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the retreat for me is the “My Favorite Things” night where we all get together and share our favorite things, so we can get to know each other better. This is a time when I really connect with the Advisory Board members on a very personal level—and I love it! The evening always stretches far into the night, but it’s worth the lack of sleep.

We ended the retreat with a dinner at one of my favorites restaurants—the Roof. It’s a very nice buffet dinner, and we reserve a private room that has a beautiful domed ceiling with acoustics that allow us to all sit at one table, speak fairly quietly, and still be heard. It’s intimate and personal, yet very classy—the perfect way to end a fabulous event!
 
I’m tired, but I can’t go to bed quite yet. I’m scheduled to appear tomorrow morning on “Good Things Utah,” a morning television show here on our local ABC affiliate, and I need to finish preparing. I’m demonstrating Décor Elements, but I’m cheating a little by displaying Jill Kocherhans’ projects from her convention presentation. I’ll be showing them how to do the Spooky Spider glass jar, and I think I’ll also adhere a couple images to their set. Maybe they’ll leave the décor up for several weeks—a little free advertising never hurts! 
Sunday
Sep212008

Founder's Circle and Sara's Recipe

You’ve probably noticed it’s been a couple days since I posted—I’ve been relaxing in warm, beautiful southern Utah with 120 of our top-achieving demonstrators. What a wonderful time I had! I have to say that this is the best Founder’s Circle ever, and based on what the demonstrators have said, I think they agree.

  

A friend asked me what made it so good, and there were several reasons.

First, the location. St. George is ideally situated so that the demonstrators could do all sorts of different things. A group went to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon; a few rented a car and headed down to Vegas for the day; another larger group enjoyed entertainment at Tuacahn; and tons of demonstrators enjoyed St. George’s spa treatments and shopping options. (Listen to me—I sound like a commercial!)

Second (here comes another commercial), our accommodations were fantastic. We pretty much filled up the Marriott Courtyard here, so we had the whole place almost to ourselves. It’s a beautiful facility, the service was fabulous, and everyone was so eager to take care of us.

Third, the agenda was pretty open. Other than our opening night welcome dinner, our business swap on Thursday (which everyone attends in pajamas and is one of my favorite events!), and our last-night dinner and movie, everyone could do whatever they wanted.

We did have an optional trip to Kanab on Friday, which is always a special treat for me. Some demonstrators go every year; some go once and then choose to do different things. But there’s a special spirit in Kanab and I love when demonstrators get to experience that. This year was no exception, and I could see how much the demonstrators enjoyed meeting our Stampin’ Up! family there, seeing how the process works, and actually having a hands-on experience in the world of stamp manufacturing!

Fourth, people I talked to said they loved being pampered and treated like a queen. Lots of them slept in, lounged around the pool, got caught up on reading, or just enjoyed not having to do anything! There were pillow gifts every night, more than enough delicious food, and tons of time to just chat and renew or make new friendships.

The Gathering Place was almost always occupied with demonstrators stamping, relaxing, or chatting; the comfy furniture and light atmosphere were impossible to resist! I spent most of my time there because it was so cozy and warm—and because that was the best place to touch base with as many demonstrators as possible. Of course, the jars stacked full of goodies were a draw as well!

Founder’s Circle is the only event where I actually do a swap. It’s the one event where I know exactly how many people are coming, so I can make a swap for everyone who will be there. Of course, in true Shelli fashion, I always think I’ll get my swaps finished in plenty of time—and in true Shelli fashion I’m scrambling to finish them at the last minute. I actually haven’t gotten them done by Thursday, but I always make sure everyone gets one before they go, and I don’t stress or worry about it because I’m having such a grand time.

Founder’s Circle is always great therapy for me because I’m surrounded by stamping, which I love, and demonstrators, whom I love!

Before I sign off, I did notice that several of you had asked for Sara’s Texas Sheet Cake, which I mentioned in my last post. Sara also noticed, and she sent me the recipe, which I’m including here. Happy baking!

Texas Sheetcake

Note: I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It is a Douglass family birthday tradition (and any other time I feel like chocolate). All of the daughter-in-laws have the recipe and all of our cakes turn out a little differently, don't ask me why. So I'll try to be as detailed as possible.

Grease (Crisco) and flour a sheetcake pan (my sheetcake pan is 12"x16"x1"), set aside.

In mixer:
(I have a Bosch, can't live without it!)
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

In a saucepan:
Melt 2 cubes (1 cup) of butter (For me there is no substituting, has to be butter!)
1 cup water
4 Tbs. cocoa (leveled)

I whisk this until it comes to a slight boil, and then pour into mixer with the dry ingredients. Mix well. At this point I turn my oven on to 350. When my MIL told me how to make it, she said not to preheat; just turn the oven on right before you put the cake in. I'm a rebel, so I turn it on sooner.

Add:

1/2 cup sour cream (Again, I only go for the good stuff... There is no 'low fat' in this recipe!)

Mix:
2 eggs
1 tsp. soda

Mix well on high for a couple minutes and then pour into sheetcake pan.

Place on center rack in oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. (Tip: My MIL bakes for only 20 min, that's it...the end. Take it out. BUT, I check it by lightly tapping the center of the cake with my finger to see if it bounces back slightly, then I know it's done. This last cake I baked for 2 minutes extra.)

Frosting
Note: Make this while the cake is baking, because you need to pour it on right after the cake comes out of the oven.

Mixer:
1/2 bag powdered sugar (I'm sorry I don't have an exact measurement. Start with less and add as you mix.)
1 tsp. vanilla

Saucepan:
Melt 2 cubes (1 cup) butter (yes, there really is 1 whole lovely POUND of butter in this yummy cake!)
Then whisk in 4 Tbs. cocoa (leveled)  

(The recipe calls for 6 Tbs. of canned milk, I just use what's in the fridge.)

This time, DON'T boil. Just melt everything together until smooth on low heat. Add to mixer.

This is key (at least for me because I don't want my frosting to be too runny or too thick): when the frosting is done, I can dip my finger in, lift up, and it starts to run, but only a little. If it looks like a dangling icesicle, it's perfect. Also, if it's too thick you can add a little milk to thin it out.

When the cake is done, pour frosting on top (leave the cake in the pan) and spread out. (It may drip over the side of the pan, that's my Dad's favorite!!)

Tuesday
Sep162008

Leaving Sara

I’m tearing up right now as I write this. I have only a handful of hours before I leave Washington, and I hate it! I know I’ll see Sara and these adorable grandchildren again in a few months, but it still breaks my heart to say good-bye. When I’m here with them, I’m home. That’s such a wonderful feeling—but it makes leaving bittersweet. 

We did a lot while I was here. We went to Seth’s soccer game, we read books, we cooked meals, and Sidney and I finished a pair of pajamas. Tonight we went out to dinner—an adventure with five children ranging in age from one to tween! Then I kissed them and gave them all long hugs before tucking them into bed. And that’s only what I did with the kids! 


Sara and I did even more. We made a list when I first got here of all the projects we wanted to complete. While we haven’t done them all, we’ve made a decent dent in the list, and I have a reason to come back soon because she simply can’t finish these things without me! (Or so I tell myself. . . .)

We also enjoyed a delicious Texas sheet cake—Sara’s specialty! I told the kids that if they weren’t good at the restaurant, there wouldn’t be any left when they got up in the morning—it’s that good! 

Even more than the projects and cake, though, are the late-night chats, the heart-to-heart moments, the laughing and bonding that mean so much. I can never get enough of family, and this trip has been so wonderful! Often when I see Sara and her family, I’m racing through on business and grab a quick, overnight stay. This trip has been a little longer—not nearly long enough, of course—but longer than normal. It’s been very relaxing and enjoyable.

And to make matters even better, the weather has been perfect. Oh, my goodness! When I travel to Washington, I expect to be chilled, and I pack accordingly. But I didn’t need my sweaters and jackets and long sleeves this trip. Clear, sunny, and warm every single day! 

I just couldn’t have asked for anything more—except for time to move a little slower perhaps.

But now we’re popping in a movie and settling down for our last late night—and at least six pieces of Texas sheet cake. I don’t know how mothers do it who don’t see their children for months and months, even years. I know it happens, but I’m so grateful it doesn’t happen to us! 

Monday
Sep152008

A New Challenge

Just wanted to make sure you checked out the new SoShelli.com Creative Challenge. I just posted it, as well as the winners for the last one! Click on the link to the left to find it.