Monday, November 17, 2008

Back from the "Land Down Under"

I just returned from an awesome trip to Australia! I went to do some training events for work, and had amazing time. A few friends have asked for an update, so this is going to be a long post with lots photos, but you asked for it!
Places - I thought I'd post a map to give everyone an idea of where we went. We started in Melbourne (southern coast of Victoria.) We were there for 2 nights. It was an amazing city...big, busy, very cosmopolitan, and the fashion capital of Australia. From there we flew to Hobart (southern Tazmania.) It was a big contrast from Melbourne because it was smaller and more layed back, but it had lots of history and character and charm, in fact I think it might have been my favorite city. After two nights there, we flew to Cairns (northeast coast of Queensland.) It was very tropical and warm, but also very touristy, crowded, and commercial. (It's the best place to stay to see the Great Barrier Reef and Australian rain forests so lots of people vacation there.) We also stayed there for two nights. Finally we flew to Adelaide (South Australia.) It seemed more like "real" Australia - layed back and not as much tourism. We were there for three nights.

People: I traveled with really fun people. This picture was taken on our last night there. Lori is next to me - she is on my team at work and was great to travel with. Aaron is next in the photo. He is the general manager of Stampin' Up! Australia/New Zealand. He's from Sydney and met up with us in Melbourne. It was very nice to have someone with us that new the country and culture. He was a wonderful host. The last person in the photo is Holly. She was just barely hired as a trainer in Australia and flew to Adelaide to see our last event.

I also got to meet some wonderful Stampin' Up! demonstrators, and see some friends that I met on my last trip. These are the demonstrator presenters from Adelaide.

These are the presenters from Hobart.

Presenters from Cairns.

And the presenters from Melbourne.

Shopping (and other activites):Other than work, the thing we did most while we were there is shop! I think we found the markets and malls in every city. I didn't really buy anything too spactacular - just some souvenirs, tons of candy and treats, and some rugby and AFL jerseys for Jake.

The shopping center in Melbourne had these amazing Christmas windows - they stretched on for like a whole street block. There was so much detail and movement - I loved them!

More Christmas windows - I wish you could read all the conversation bubbles - the elves are saying really cute things. If you click on the pictures, they should get bigger.

When we were in Melbourne, all the girls were wearing these fabulous frou-frou feathery clips in their hair. Really, it wasn't like one or two girls - it was ALL the girls. Of course I loved them, and made it my mission to find a feathery clip to buy. The big fancy ones are actually pretty expensive, but I kept looking.....

I finally found a scaled down frou-frou feathery clip that was perfect for me! It's not as big as most of the ones I saw, but that's okay because I won't feel as wierd when I wear it. I might try to make some of the bigger ones, because I really do like them!

When we weren't shopping, we spent a little bit of time at the beach. This is the northern beach in Cairns. The water was so warm, but there are a lot of Marine Stingers so you can't go swimming. (Not that I was about to put on a suit and go swimming anyway.)

This is the southern beach in Adelaide. There were lots of surfers and swimmers here. I spent my time looking for pretty shells and rocks to bring home. I found some really cool ones too! The girls loved them.

Food: We had some awesome food. I especially loved all the big breakfasts - they have the best bacon there (or maybe it's just us that have crappy bacon here.) I also tried Kangaroo meat which was really yummy. Here are some other food highlights:
We went to a Sushi Train restaurant in Melbourne. It's so much fun to see all the pretty rolls and sashimi pass by and be able to pick your plates as you go.

I tried gulf coast bugs for the first time. I wasn't quite sure what to think when I first saw this plate, but they were delicious! Even better than lobster.

Aaron insisted that we try a traditional "Aussie Burger" while we were there. Here's the description from the menu....bacon, beetroot, and fried egg....I was very skeptical.
Here is the actual burger - it was huge and hard to eat - but hands down the best burger I've ever had!

The only downside of the food there is the Diet Coke. When you order one it usually comes in a tiny glass bottle, and it just doesn't taste the same. They must use a different sweetener or something. I was really missing fountain diet coke, and was so excited to find a McDonalds. I ordered a large, and took it outside only to find out that they don't put ice in it. Boooooo! The first thing I did when we got off the plane in LA is go to McDonalds to order a real Diet Coke!

Animals: Another very unique part of Australia is the animals so I thought they deserved a special section of this post:

Everywhere we went there were lots of birds. I could hear them singing every morning, and every time I looked out my window, I was surprised to see that they weren't our brown and black boring birds - they were bright colored parrots and types of birds you buy at a pet store. It was hard to get a photo, but you can kind of see the parrot in this tree.

We also saw lots of unique animal signs (like wombat and kangaroo crossings) and crocodile warnings like this.

In Tasmania we stopped on a bridge to take a photo and when we looked over the edge of the bridge there were tons of starfish.They were so colorful. They're called "Biscuit Stars" which is appropriate because they are kind of fat and biscuit-ish.

On our free day in Adelaide, we went to an animal park, and had a great time. The kangaroos were so much fun to play with! They have a lot of personality, and are very friendly.

Emus weren't quite as friendly (in fact, I was a bit scared, but I was brave and fed them.)

We didn't get to see a platypus, but we did see an echidna. which is kind of like a platypus because it's a mammal that hatches from an egg. They kind of look like a porcupine with a beak - I thought they were really cute!

And of course I loved the Koalas! They are so soft and cuddly!

I have lots more photos, but that's probably enough for now. I am so lucky to have such an awesome job with opportunities like this!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can you hear that?!

For several year we have suspected that Anna has trouble hearing, but at all of her check-ups her hearing has tested normal.....until last month when they did hearing screening at school and she didn't pass. We took her to the doctor, and to make a long story short...last Wednesday she had surgery to have tubes put in her ears and her adnoids removed. (There was so much fluid in her ears that her ear drums weren't vibrating at all.) She was so brave and did so great! She's almost completely recovered already! The first thing she said to me when she woke up is," I hear beeping (hospital machines), can you hear that?" And she's asked me that several time since. She has never been able to hear those little noises before! I'm so thankful that she can now! Here are some photos of her big day...

Before we left, in her comfy new "surgery outfit."

And a close-up of the slippers:

Anna, Jake and I all had to have matching hospital bracelets:

In her hospital gown before they took her into surgery.

Just after she woke up. She hated that IV and pulse monitor!

She went back to school today and is doing great!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A new addition to our family.....

We are excited to announce and welcome a new dog to our family! I thought it would probably never happen, but now it just seems meant to be. Her name is Lilly. She is a Goldendoodle (that's half golden retriever and half poodle.) She's a year old, fully trained, and really cute! Jake just brought her home tonight. We got her from some people who breed and train dogs that Jake knows through work. Apparently a family paid $3000.00 for her, then decided it wasn't working out and gave her back. We were the first people the trainers thought of when Lilly needed a new home.

Our girls our so thrilled and Lilly seems like a perfect fit for us. We took her to Anna's soccer game tonight and took some photos.....
I took this last picture to show off her pink bows, collar, and leash.....see a perfect fit for our family!

Friday, September 5, 2008


I love candy. Alot. In fact I love it so much that I'm working on an entire "candy" album for the upcoming Stampin' Up! regional season. I spent this afternoon looking for pictures of my favorite candies for the album. And, I had so much fun, I decided to post them here too. It was really hard, but I've come up with a list of my top ten favorite candies. Da - Da Da - Dum... here they are......

10 - Junior Mints (But only if they're frozen. They really only have two consistencies; frozen and melty - no inbetween - and melty is yucky.)

9 - Circus Peanuts (Although, I never could figure out why they made an orange peanut that tastes like banana - whatever, I love them! )

8 - Jelly Bellies (Juicy Pear is my favorite flavor, but part of why I love these so much is having all the flavors. Then you can pop one into your mouth and be totally suprized by what flavor it is, or you can mix and match and come up with delicious combinations!)
7- Black Licorice Bullets (I discovered these in Australia. They are most addicting thing ever - so delicious! It's a piece of black licorice covered in chocolate. I haven't been able to find them any where here, so if you see them let me know.)
6 - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (They have to be the big cups, not the miniatures. I eat off all the chocolate first, then eat the center. I used to have one for lunch everyday in Jr High....I guess if you're going to eat candy for lunch, at least these have some protein.
5 - Sour Gummi Worms (I don't know what is is about these, but I really love them. They're so soft and sweet and chewy. You know how you eat cetain kinds of candy when you do certain things? These are my taveling candy. I always take a package with me to keep in my hotel room.)

4 - Swedish Berries (These remind me of the candy store at Bear Lake, and Bear Lake is one of my favorite places in the many good memories! Swedish fish are good too, but there is just something about the berry shape that makes these better.)
3 - Peanut Butter M&Ms (These are so yummy. I am such a fan of salty and sweet combined. You know, like french fries dipped in ice cream? Peanut Butter M&Ms have just the right amount of salty peanut butter with sweet chocolate. They are so good!)
2 - Toffee (Heath is the best. It's a little bit softer than Skor. And, as you can tell by my list, I'm not a big fan of hard candy. I love the flavor of toffee. It's so rich and creamy. I love it plain, and in ice cream, and in cookies, and in any dessert really. I never get tired of it. I've been looking at candy pictures all day today, yet right now, toffee is the only thing I'm craving!)
1 - Twizzlers (Strawberry when I'm in the mood for fruity, and brown when I'm in the mood for chocolate. And, speaking of chocolate, they changed it a little bit this year. It seems even softer than before so you should try it if you haven't yet. There are lots of reasons why Twizzlers are my very favorite. They remind me of my Dad and they are low in fat grams. I also like candy I can play with...I separate my m&ms by color, I make secret flavor combinations with jelly bellies....with Twizzlers - you can make a straw! Try the chocolate ones with milk - it's good. And, if you blow really hard through them, they whistle. Most of all they just taste really yummy!)
So did I make you hungry? What are your favorite kinds of candy?

Saturday, August 23, 2008


We went to Lagoon last weekend for the Stampin' Up! company party. It was crowded and hot, but we had a lot of fun. It was the first time I had been since I was in high school, and although a lot is the same (the old roller coaster is still my favorite ride, the log ride had the longest line, and we ended the day on Dracula's Castle) I still couldn't help but notice how much difference the Lagoon experience is for a mom vs a teenager....

  • I used to be able to ride the Scrambler over and over again, now I feel sick on all the rides that spin around.
  • I used to be able to be able to stick a few dollars in my back pocket - and that's all I had to carry. Now I have to carry a camera, cell phone, credit cards, sunscreen, water bottles, plus all of everyone else's stuff.
  • I also have to make sure that everyone is wearing sunscreen, well hydrated, and not hungry.
  • Maybe it was just me, but the lap bars and seat belts on all the rides sure seam a lot tighter than they used to. :)
It wasn't all bad though. It was so fun to see the smiles and feel the excitment of the kids.
And, as a teenager, one of the goals of going to Lagoon was to find all the cute guys. Now I have my own! (and, we totally made out in Dracula's Castle!)

Here are a few of my favorite photos of the day:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Convention was Awesome!

It's been so long since I've posted anything, I don't even know if I remember how. Part of the reason I've been too busy for blogging is that we've been preparing for our annual Stampin' Up! Convention. This was our 20th anniversary year, and it was bigger and better than ever! I can't believe that it's over. I was lame and didn't take any photos, but I have awesome friends who shared some of their's. So, here are some of my favorite moments:

It was so much to see all of our fabulous demonstrators! I am so lucky to have made so many great friends, and to be surrounded by so many creative and enthusiastic people. Here is just a small glimpse of the crowd. There were close to 6000 people there.

The crowd was waiting to get into mainstage where we make all the big announcements and show really cute projects and ideas. This year we opened the show with a big production number of our theme song. The singers were fabulous, and I got to be in the back-up choir. I thought singing and dancing on stage would be dumb, but it was really fun! There were fireworks and everything! I couldn't find a picture of the choir, but here's one of the set. It was so cool!

Here's a photo of me and Shannon at awards night - which is always a highlight. It's such an inspiration to hear the accomplishments of such amazing women. It's also fun to get dressed up and go out for the night.
I worked with some of the cutest demonstrators for the class I taught. I got to share their awesome ideas for new kinds of workshops. I taught the class 12 times over three days - and loved it! But, the real teaching highlight for me came on the last day when I made my convention mainstage debut and got to present on for all 6000 people at once. My presentation was all about projects from the kitchen. So here I am on stage in my Stampin' Up! apron. Can you tell how nervous I am in this photo?

And, finally convention ended with a free stamp set give-away from UPS. I have never felt excitiment like I did when we got to hand out the free stamp sets. There was screaming, confetti, running, jumping, and even crying. It was an amazing experience!

I have the best job ever!!!