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!

 

Sunday
Sep142008

Celebrating Phoebe

I mentioned earlier that while I was at Shalae’s, we stamped invitations for a Phoebe celebration. We had that celebration this past week, and it was wonderful! 


Several people have asked how a celebration is different from a shower, and I have to admit, they’re pretty similar. The main reason Shalae wanted to call it a celebration was so guests didn’t feel like they had to bring gifts; she wanted it be an opportunity to eat, chat with family and close friends, and celebrate the birth of her beautiful little daughter. Besides, most baby showers are held before a baby is born, so it just seemed more appropriate to call this a celebration, since Phoebe has been with us for almost three weeks now. 

Regardless of what we called it, it was perfect! It was a small group; we invited 20 and 15 were able to come. They were family and close friends, and there were several people I hadn’t seen in quite a long time, so it was so nice to catch up. 

Because it was a small group, we didn’t think we needed any ice-breaker games. And when I announced that we wouldn’t be playing games, none of the guests seemed very disappointed. (smile) 

I departed a bit from tradition by deciding to host the celebration at Dear Lizzie. Usually, I have these things at my house, and I must admit it’s a little stressful getting everything ready. Earlier this week when Sterling asked how he could help, I told him there wasn’t much to do because we had decided to do it at Dear Lizzie. “They’re taking care of the food, decorations, background music, everything,” I said. 

I thought he might be concerned about the cost, but when he saw how much easier it was on me (and him!), he said we needed to do it that way every time. And I think we might! 

The atmosphere was beautiful. When we walked in, the little bistro area was decorated perfectly with balloons and flowers. I think the idea of combining a boutique with a bistro is fabulous, and the guests seemed to agree. It was hard to pull them away from shopping when it was time to eat. The food was too tempting to resist for very long, though. The menu was simple but delicious—croissant sandwiches, chips, and the tastiest brownies (mint or plain) I’ve had in a long time. 

And, despite Shalae’s decision to call the gathering a celebration rather than a shower, there were plenty of gifts—and what adorable gifts they were! I have never seen such darling outfits and bows and shoes. Phoebe is going to be one well-dressed little girl. 


And speaking of Phoebe, she was the perfect guest of honor! Shalae fed her right before we started, and she slept peacefully for almost the entire time, waking up right at the end, She loved being snuggled by family and friends, and she let her mommy visit with everyone there. And everyone there, of course, fell in love with her—just like her grandmother already has!

Thursday
Sep112008

You Asked . . .

I love getting on my blog to read the comments you leave. I’m not able to do it nearly as much as I’d like, but every time I do, my heart is warmed as I feel of your concern, support, and love.

I enjoy reading your questions as well. While I don’t have the time to answer them all, I will try to answer as many as I can. I thought I’d start by answering a handful today.

Will Phoebe attend convention next year?

I smiled when I read this one. I don’t even have to ask Shalae about this—I know the answer already. While my girls will bring babies who are still breastfeeding to convention, once a baby is weaned, convention becomes sacred ground—for adults only!

The girls love the chance to spend time with grown-up family members—which includes you, by the way! Sterling and I, along with our girls and their husbands, love to spend what time we can during convention together, eating, chatting, just enjoying a few brief days without our youngsters. Don’t get me wrong—we love those children, but it’s nice to have a little time set aside for just the grown-ups, and that is what convention is for us.

So, I feel fairly confident in saying that Phoebe will not be winning your hearts at convention. But you can bet you’ll see plenty of her right here at SoShelli.com!

How did Megan get her name?

I’m assuming you ask this question because our other four girls all have names that begin with “S,” right? Megan is our oldest daughter, and Sterling actually brought her with him into the marriage. Yep, I’m a stepmother, although Megan assures me that I’m not a wicked stepmother!

We didn’t plan from the beginning to use “S” names for the rest of the girls. We loved the name Sara, and so we named our first baby that. And when we were expecting our second baby, there were several “S” names on the potential name list, and since our names started with “S,” at that point we decided to go with it. So that’s the story.

How did we choose the name Stampin’ Up!?

Vonna, Sean (Vonna’s husband), Sterling, and I were literally sitting around one day brainstorming names for the company. We wanted something catchy, upbeat, and positive. At that time, our primary (and practically only) focus was stamps; we had a few papers and ink, but nothing worth mentioning. And at the time, we weren’t really planning on doing much more than stamps (how times have changed!).

It was Sean who came up with the name, and it sounded perfect the minute he said it. We added the exclamation point because we thought that emphasized the energy and passion we felt that we wanted to share with others. An artist friend came up with the logo, which also had a light, happy feel to it. And the rest is history!

Do I have my clothes made for me?

Heavens, no! That would take away all the fun of shopping! And I do enjoy shopping, hunting for a bargain and finding that perfect outfit that I love.

My tastes and styles have changed over the years; I’m sure much like yours do. For several years I loved Ann Taylor, but my new favorite clothes stores are Anthropology and Dear Lizzie (you’ve probably heard me mention Dear Lizzie several times!).

Will I ever design fabric?

While I’d love to design fabric, there are no current plans in the works for that. I manage to find plenty to do without adding that on my plate! However, you’ve also probably heard me say, on more than one occasion, never say never. So don’t hold your breath, but don’t close the door.

Does the jacket I’m wearing in the photo at the top of this page feature Stampin’ Up! artwork?

Isn’t that funny that so many of you asked that? Frankly, I can’t remember which I saw first—the jacket or our artwork that features similar images. I loved both, but the similarities are only that—similarities. The two are not connected at all.

Wednesday
Sep102008

Cupcakes and the Corporate Team

We just wrapped up Day 2 of a three-day Corporate Retreat, our annual meeting where Stampin’ Up!’s corporate team hides away for three days and focuses on the future. We talk about where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there—it’s a wonderful few days that I look forward to every year

On Monday, the day before the retreat, I decided I wanted to do something fun for the wonderful people I work with (I feel so grateful to have such a talented, dedicated group of co-workers), so Sterling and I made a batch of cupcakes for me to take to the meetings.

The recipe I used is one that Shanna (who loves to cook) discovered, and I have yet to find anything to compare. I wasn’t surprised at all when one of the corporate team members commented that the cupcake was possibly the best cupcake he’d ever tasted. So naturally, I thought I’d share the recipe with you!

Let me know what you think!

Carrot Cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil cause its healthier)
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1⁄2 tsp salt
1 pound carrots, grated
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Frosting

3⁄4 pound cream cheese at room temperature (I usually just use 1 lb because its easier to measure, then I might add a tiny bit of everything else till it tastes good)
1⁄2 lb butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Decoration

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup grated or shaved carrots
3 Tbsp good maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the carrots, raisins, and walnuts with the 1 Tbsp flour. Add to the batter and mix well.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups until each is almost full. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cupcakes.

For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

For the decoration, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the carrots and maple syrup and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Spread them on a paper towel to cool.

When cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and garnish with big pinches of sautéed carrots.

            

Monday
Sep082008

Home At Last!

Oh, happy day.

You can hear me singing, can’t you?

After being at Shalae’s and Jon’s for over a week, I moved back home today. For the first time in days, I was able to use the bathroom alone and a long shower was such a delight. I even got to shave my legs!

Of course, I hadn’t planned on staying at the Brown’s quite that long. My week with Shalae was supposed to be up last Thursday. I planned on sending Jon and Shalae off on a date to mark the occasion and then planned on coming home to my own warm bed—and more than two hours of sleep at any one time—when they came home. So much for planning!

Jon came home from school on Wednesday feeling kind of yucky. He didn’t complain much, but you could tell he wasn’t feeling very well. He ate a few bites of dinner and then headed off to bed. At about 11 p.m., Shalae popped her head in the room where Phoebe and I were settling down for the night (who am I kidding? We were settling down for a couple of hours!) to tell me that they were heading to the hospital. And six hours later, Jon was recovering from an emergency appendectomy.

You know, sometimes life can be tough. So, with Jon in the hospital and Shalae wanting to be with him and needing to feed Phoebe every few hours or so, I decided to stick around a little bit longer.

So, while it's been exhausting, I am so thankful for the last 10 days! I get teary-eyed just thinking back on the wonderful moments I’ve enjoyed with my grandchildren. I don’t know what I’ll do when my girls stop having babies! There’s something magic about those stolen moments at 2 a.m. in the morning, when you’re trying to rock a newborn to sleep. And when you’re the grandma, and know that you’re heading home in a few days, you appreciate it more than an exhausted mother, who isn’t sure when she’ll see a solid four hours of sleep again.

Just so you know, I took my camera with me and planned on taking lots of pictures to post. And you’ll see by this photo-less post how successful I was at that. It’s not that I didn’t think about it. There were several moments that I wished I had captured to share with you. But they were moments when I was sitting in the backyard, holding Phoebe and watching the boys play in the bright sunshine. Shalae was upstairs dutifully sleeping, as she’d been instructed, and Jon was either at school (earlier in the week) or sleeping himself (after the surgery). Of course, now I realize I could have asked Ashton to take a picture, and I’m sure you would have loved to see those moments through the eyes of a three-year-old, but at the moment, I didn’t think of that.

I also thought you would find it amusing to see a picture of me at 2 a.m. in the morning, in PJs, with tousled hair and no make-up, quietly stamping birth announcements while burping Phoebe and rocking her to sleep. I really did think about taking that picture, but it just seemed ludicrous to run get the camera, try to find a place to put it, set the timer, and then snap the photo, all while soothing a newborn to sleep. Wasn’t going to happen. So I let that moment slip away too. Besides, the picture you’ve created in your mind while reading this is probably good enough!

If it’s any comfort, I do have a photo of the announcements, as well as the invitation we stamped for a Phoebe celebration we’re having this Thursday evening. (And I promise I’ll post photos from that!) Those of you who attended convention will recognize these; I showed them on stage during my Main Stage presentation. But I hope the rest of you enjoy them.

And I do want you to know I’m thinking of you! And I am sorry I haven’t posted sooner, but as you can tell, it’s been a hectic week and a half. And I am so tired! I was the first one up in the morning, and the last one to bed at night. I worked hard to finish all the things on Shalae’s list. And I’m not complaining a bit. I’m SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity I had to be part of the Brown family during this special time in their lives. And now I’m SO GRATEFUL to be heading to bed! I’ll miss my little Phoebe (and Ashton and Cooper. . .and Shalae and Jon), but I’m going to enjoy sleeping straight through the night!

Tuesday
Sep022008

A Canon Camera

This will be short and quick, but several of you asked a few questions about the beautiful picture of Phoebe I posted last week, and I wanted to answer those. 

First, yes, Jon is a professional photographer. He's actually working on his degree in photography, and I feel so lucky to have him. He's always so willing to take last-minute photos for me, and he's great to have as part of our family! And as you can imagine, I had to really beg him to take those pictures of Phoebe! (smile)

He used a Canon 5D with an off-camera flash (whatever that means!). You can tell I'm certainly not a professional photographer. He didn't use a filter. 

Now, I'm off. I haven't been on the computer for a few days, and I'm not planning on getting on again for a few more. I hope you understand, but this week spent with new grandchildren and their mommies (and their siblings) is sacred to me. I'll be back at it full hilt next week!