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!



The Larsen Family Reunion--and a Little about Shanna

This weekend was a first—the first Larsen reunion without one of the four Larsen sisters—without my mom. We had a great time visiting around the campfire (I still smell like smoke when my hair gets wet) and roasting marshmallows, but it wasn’t the same without Mom. She’s been to every reunion since we began many years ago, and she usually coordinates everything for the potluck dinner as well as the craft. Needless to say, we did a little scrambling to organize our traditional potluck dinner (we all snuggled and ate under the canopy of one of the trailers during a rainstorm), and I grabbed a few of the convention Make & Takes for our craft.

The weather, other than the one time it rained, was perfect; the scenery was breathtaking; and I thoroughly enjoyed vegging. In fact, the first day I fell asleep while visiting because I wasn’t doing something with my hands. So, out came the projects, and I didn’t miss anything else.

I’d love to show you lots of photos, but do you think I took a single photo of the mountains or the trails while riding on the four wheelers? No, of course not! I did focus on the people though. That’s the important thing, right? Except that I’m not in a single shot. Usually I ask someone to include me in a photograph so I can prove I was there, but not this time. I hope I’m not the only one who repeatedly makes that same mistake. I took photos that I think will be meaningful to Shanna, and we all recorded a little something on a cassette for her to listen to because she couldn’t be with us.

That reminds me, one of you asked about Shanna. She is serving a mission for 18 months in Spain for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She’s been gone for 3 months, 13 days, and 12 hours (but who’s counting?), and I miss her tons! Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m thrilled for Shanna and know it will be a wonderful growing experience for her. I just miss her. Maybe I’ll adjust to her being gone, but it hasn’t happened yet, so beware of my blubbering!

And speaking of Shanna, I think I wasn’t as clear as I could have been and one of you thought Shanna wasn’t included in our Gardner Girls Gathering photos (the photos on the photo fan I posted last week). If you look close, Shanna’s the one on the far right. In fact, I didn’t notice it until today when I looked at the photo of the fan again, but the girls are all in age order (except me, of course) starting with Megan on the far left, then Sara, Shalae with Cooper, Sage (and me), and finally Shanna.

And I know my girls are reading my blog because I was reading one of the posts that commented on the photo fan and Washington weather. The comment noted that since I was making one fan, I just as well make five. As I read the post, I thought it sounded like something Sara would say, and lo and behold, it was her! I did laugh out loud, Sara!

I swore these wouldn’t be long posts, but once I get typing, I just don’t want to stop—kind of like the way I talk…

I’m signing off!


Off for the Weekend

I'm off to a family reunion in southern Utah and will probably be out of Internet range, cell range--any range that includes anything but relaxing! This is one of my favorite reunions because it usually happens shortly after convention, and I'm ready to just veg (is that a word?--you know what I mean) and visit.

So I don't feel quite so guilty, join me this weekend in a few moments of rest and relaxation doing something you love, like sitting on the back porch listening to the birds chirp, or taking a stroll in the warm summer breeze (some of you might have to take that stroll late at night when it's not quite so warm!), or maybe even stamp something just for fun--not for a workshop or other event--but because you're inspired by something or someone and want to create!

We'll talk the first of the week.


Managing Expectations—Yours and Mine!

Okay, there's one thing I forgot to mention (and probably a whole lot more than just one thing that I'll remember later). I won't be posting every day. There, I've said it. And, wanting to manage your expectations (and mine), I won't be able to respond to all of your posts either. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to. In fact, I'm pretty sure this blogging thing could be all-consuming, but my boss would definitely fire me! Posting a couple times a week is more realistic for me.

Having said that, I have started a list of your questions. While I'm not promising anything, I will try to respond to most of your questions at some point and time. How's that for commitment?

For now, I told you I would share more about Convention 2008. After reading all the posts, everyone has pretty well summed up my feelings about this once-a-year event. It was fabulous! I think it was the shot in the arm we all needed, and I already look forward to next year.

There were a couple more projects I wanted to show you, but before I do, someone reminded me that I didn't share the name of the artist who created the page I posted on August 4. It was Mary Jo Albright, one of our Artisan Award winners (for the second year in a row), photographed with her daughter.

As I've mentioned, there were hundreds of inspiring samples. I've chosen two to share today. The first is a photo wallet created by Kelli Purkey. It can be a bifold or trifold—you decide.

I'm including several photos and no pattern or instructions. You read right. I guess that's another thing I should tell you right up front. I plan to share ideas (not necessarily all the details) to inspire your creativity. If I have to include patterns and detailed instructions, well, it's not going to work for me. That's what Stampin' Up! does—not me! (Smile!)



The other project, created by Stacey Buzbee, is a photo fan.

I thought it was such a clever and useful idea, I had to make one myself—not for me, but for Shanna. You see, I rarely get too warm (bring on the heat!). Shanna, on the other hand, has been writing for weeks telling us how hot it is in Spain. I know she'll love this fan that includes photos of her sisters and I during our last Gardner Girls' Gathering.

The only bit of instruction I'll give is to lightly adhere your grosgrain ribbon to your Sticky Strip, including a short piece on the back side of the far left flap, and close the fan first before getting really serious about applying pressure to adhere everything together. Trust me, if I can figure it out, you can too!


One last thing I wanted to share with you from convention was a card from an eleven-year-old named Elena. (Her mother, a demonstrator, gave the card to me.)

The inside reads:

Dear Shelli,

I have an idea: Stampin' Up! should make nail polish in the most popular colors. Also, since rub-ons are the big, new hit, Stampin' Up! should make them for toes and fingernails too.

I got those ideas while my mommy and I were getting pedicures and flipping through the Stampin' Up! catalogue.

I hope you like and consider my ideas—I believe they would be big sellers. However, I'd understand if you've already thought of it and don't want to do it. Thank you for your time to read my idea.

Elena C., New Jersey, Age 11 (6 years, 10-1/2 months until I'm a Stampin' Up! demonstrator)

Keep on counting, Elena. Even though you're already a part of the Stampin' Up! family, I'll be waiting to welcome you as a demonstrator! 


Meet the Gardners

August 4, 2008

Well, I got a good night’s sleep and I’m ready to conquer the day! It dawned on me that, since I’m sure I’ll be talking about my family a LOT, I should introduce them. So let me tell you a little bit about the Gardners. (I could write novels about every single one of them, but I’ll keep it brief!)

First, of course, is my sweetheart, Sterling. I can’t even begin to tell you how much he means to me. He is my rock! He’s gentle and strong, wise and quiet, calm and steady. They say opposites attract, and that’s certainly the case in our marriage! That’s not to say, of course, that I can’t be calm and steady, but those who know me know that I tend to be passionate and emotional, although I hope it’s always in a good way!

Sterling is a simply spiritual man who loves his family—and horses! If he can’t be spending his time with us, his second choice is off on a ride! Now I don’t want you to think that Sterling’s perfect (although he’s probably as close as they come) and I’m sure we’ll talk about the things that he does that drive me crazy, but can I just say I love this man!

We have five daughters (Megan, Sara, Shalae, Sage, and Shanna), four sons-in law (Nate, Sean, Jon, and Jason), and 12 grandchildren, with number 13 arriving sometime in the next few weeks! I can’t wait! I’ll share more details about each of our children and grandchildren as time passes. For now, I’ll just say that nothing brings me greater happiness than being with them, whether we’re camping, stamping, eating, or vacationing. A perfect day is a day spent with my family!

Convention 2008

August 3, 2008

I know I said this would go live on Monday, but I just had to get on today and post my first entry.

After months of anticipation and hard work and excitement, convention is over!

I love convention! I love feeling the energy and looking at all the great project ideas and popping in on the classes. But what I love most about convention is meeting people from across the United States and Canada, talking to them and sharing our enthusiasm for what we do!

I have to be honest though—it’s hard work, and I’m exhausted. But I had to get on and share what I was feeling. I wanted my first blog to be about how much I love and appreciate our wonderful Stampin’ Up! demonstrators and staff members! And how much I loved spending the last three days with so many of you.

Check out this sample that I saw! We have thousands of projects displayed on our display boards at convention, and I enjoy seeing as many of them as I can. This is only one of hundreds I took pictures of, and I wanted to share it with you. I liked it because it made me happy! I love the Always set, loved the color palette (they are colors I’ve used in my own stamp studio), and loved the layers. I just loved everything about it.

I’ll share more project ideas—and thoughts about convention—in the days to come. But for now I’m going to rest and recover, go cuddle on the couch with my sweetheart and get ready for the coming week. We’ll chat more later. . . .

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