Thursday, August 18, 2011


Last week was awesome. Inspiring. Amazing.

I kissed my kids and husband goodbye on Tuesday evening and headed to Baltimore to catch an early flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota the next morning. Why Minneapolis? Well . . . it was time for Tastefully Simple's National Conference! I have attended this conference five times since I joined the company back in 2004 and it is seriously a week I look forward to all year long. When most people hear the word "conference" they think of boring meetings where you're stuck in a room full of boring people telling you boring information. And that is quite true for many, many companies. But not Tastefully Simple! TS conferences are FUN!!! Yes, we are trained and taught new things, but it is always done in a very fun manner. In fact, our National Conference is so much fun that it has officially been renamed "Party Palooza"! Who wouldn't want to go to that every year?

So once again I boarded a plane with my sister Jen, my mother, and my newest nephew, Jayce. My mom has actually attended three Nationals now in order to care for a baby while Jen and I are in session. She's such an awesome Nana!

We arrived in Minneapolis shortly after noon and quickly got settled in at the Hilton Towers. Then we headed out into the city to eat and shop. One of our favorite restaurants in Minneapolis is The News Room. We have yet to have a bad meal there! There is a big wooden mermaid in the lobby that intriqued Jayce. This is the "tame" photo I took (the other one shows him touching her bosom as he gazed up at her face!):

After lunch we took the lightrail to The Mall of America to do some shopping. Yep, one of many perks of going to conference is getting to visit the biggest mall in America! I finally found a pair of comfy flips to replace my brown shoes that were falling apart - yay! We browsed the many stores and then I had a special treat. My dear friend Theresa allowed me to have dinner with her husband Brian who just happened to be in Minneapolis on business at the same time. We ate at Bubba Gump's and had a really good time.

Back on the streets by our hotel we spotted this big metal chicken. There is a story behind this chicken . . . a really, really funny story . . .

The three of us were absolutely wiped out from a long day of travel: up by 5 am, travel via planes, trains and automobiles, shopping, eating, etc . . . so we called it a night. I think we were all asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows, including Jayce.

But the next morning brought a new day and lots more to do. We began by heading to another fav restaurant, Hell's Kitchen. I decided to try a dish that I've heard rave reviews about: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Oh. My. Word. These babies didn't require a smidge of butter or a drop of syrup. They were so light, comparable to a crepe, and the lemon and ricotta made them melt in my mouth. Dear me, they were delicious.

We ate breakfast with the rest of our team members who were at conference, plus a couple "adopted" team members. I didn't notice it until now, but almost all the blondes are up front and the brunettes are in the back! How does that happen?
With our bellies full, we headed to the convention center for day one of conference. The theme this year was "Cut Loose" and the entire convention center - both inside the main room and throughout the halls - was decorated accordingly with dance floors, stars, and a dance party feel. TS goes all out with decorations!
We were greeted by our founder and CEO, Jill Blashack Strahan, who got all of us worked up and inspired us to "Magnify the best. Focus on what's next."
One thing that TS always does at every conference is give away really nice prizes. They are referred to as "Hot Seat" drawings; your cheeks have to be in your seat in order to win. Some of the prizes are gift cards to Target, Barnes & Noble, and Bloomingdales, prepaid Visa cards, handbags from Fossil and Coach, TS items, and more. I'm one who seriously never wins anything, so imagine my surprise when my name was drawn out of a bag of over 1,400 consultants and I won a $300 Best Buy gift card! I thought I'd lost my mind! Now I have to decide how to use it . . .

My sister Jen was a featured speaker for one of the Leadership Breakout Sessions that afternoon. She told her story of why she joined Tastefully Simple and the challenges that she's had to overcome over the years in order to grow a strong business and help others do the same. It was very heartfelt and for the rest of the conference people approached her to tell her what a fantastic job she did and how she inspired them. How proud I am to be her first team member and to take this journey with her!
The next day was full of product unveilings for the fall / winter catalog which will be available to clients on September 1st. New soups, seasonings, drink mixes, and FOUR PAGES OF CHOCOLATE are among the 31 products soon to hit our product shelves! WOOT!!!

We also were entertained by a keynote speaker, Frank Miles. He was honestly one of the funniest people I have ever heard in my life. He mixed his message of "face life and laugh at fear" among stand-up comedy, juggling, magic, and even ping-pong ballet. He was absolutely hilarious and inspirational at the same time. You may have seen him on America's Got Talent doing stand up recently - he is SO talented!

After a full day of unveilings and training I joined a slew of other consultants who are on my extended team for dinner and laughs. Here we are posing with some larger-than-life products:
Like I've said before, Tastefully Simple people know how to have FUN! The team at Headquarters gets really into character when presenting things on stage, as you can see below. This is Travis, a.k.a VP of Marketing, doing some John Travolta moves as he presents our new "Jacked Up Brand" onstage.
We also know how to celebrate one another. Consultants were recognized on stage for various accomplishments including top sales, recruiting, leader development, and personal promotions. Here is team member Alissa walking the stage for promoting to Team Manager!
I always try to get a pic of Jen and I together since not only is she my sister, she's my sponsor. How fun it has been to run my business alongside my sister all these years! And for the past year our other sister, Becky, has been partying with us, too. It's a family thing!
And here is another fellow team member, Christa, being recognized for promoting to Senior Team Manager!
How many jobs out there celebrate their employees for simply doing their job well? TS consultants truly are blessed.
Towards the end of the day I got a good pic of the ladies at my table. These gals ROCK!
That evening my favorite part of Nationals took place - the Victory Celebration and Awards Dinner. Check out how TS made the main stage all glitzy!
Jen walked the stage twice that night, once for Movers & Shakers Sales Level 2 and once for Leader Development. Here she is with her awesome sponsor, Karen:
And here are some of us team mates (Tastebuds) doing our "ta-da!"
It was a fantastic night.
Throughout conference many great quotes are featured. I LOVE quotes and find them very inspirational. This was one of my favorites of the week:
And on that note, here are some unveilings for YOU! Tastefully Simple is wonderful and changes people's lives in so many ways. The products are HUGE time savers in the kitchen and make even the worst cooks feel like a chef! The new products are SO yummy! Check them out by clicking the photo below. If something sounds good to you, please let me know if you'd like to have a taste-testing party to try them with your friends and earn them for free! Or if you'd like to place an order on September 1st when they are available, I can help you with that, too.

And if you think Tastefully Simple looks like an awful lot of fun and you've been trying to find a way to make extra income (or replace an income!), we have the BEST new consultant incentive ever! Normally it costs $170 to become a consultant, which is still a good deal considering all you get when you join. From now until September 30th, you can join Tastefully Simple for just $85! And to make it even better, when you activate by September 30th you'll get a $50 credit on your account! That means you'll effectively start your own business for just $35!!!

I can't begin to tell you all the ways Tastefully Simple has positively impacted my life for the past 7 1/2 years, and I'd love nothing more than to help you find success with this company, too. Check out the link below and if it sounds interesting to you or you know someone who needs Tastefully Simple in his or her life, please contact me.

I'm gearing up for another busy fall party season and can hardly wait for the next conference with my TS family! I hope you'll join us for the fun!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

{Happy Birthday, ScrapMatters!}

Hello, digi scrappers!!! What an exciting day today is - the celebration of ScrapMatters' birthday! If you haven't checked out the awesome sale going on this weekend yet, you simply must do that soon. Not only is there a great sale going on, you can also get an amazing collab kit from the ScrapMatters designers as gift with purchase. Wow! Head on over to the store HERE to do some shopping!

Most of you probably came here from Trista's blog: She has a comprehensive list of all the blog train stops if you need it - very cool, Trista! Now for my freebie. I decided to create a pre-shadowed frame cluster using the gorgeous new collab, Garden Party. I hope you like it!
Download the freebie
***I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this link works because blogger just decided that I shouldn't be allowed to highlight text to make a link! GAH!!! If it doesn't work, I'll keep trying to get it fixed!
Your next stop on the blog train is Chel's blog:
Hope you enjoying celebrating with ScrapMatters!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

{Big Boy}

This weekend brought a big change for our family - well, mainly for Dixon. Dixon turned two years old at the end of April so we knew that he would need to transition from the crib to a bed sometime this summer. So a couple of weeks ago Cory and I went shopping for a big boy bed. We were hoping to find a really good deal like we found when we bought the girls' beds, but no such luck. But we're happy with what we chose! On Wednesday the bed arrived at the furniture store and on Saturday morning Cory picked it up and brought it home.
Not surprisingly, I had a rather difficult time saying goodbye to the crib. While we didn't buy the crib new ( I bought it and the changing table at a yard sale, for crying out loud!) and I'm not in love with it and unwilling to get rid of it at some point, it still is hard for me to believe it is leaving Dixon's room. This crib held all of our babies, kept them safe and snug, and is a sign that there is a baby in the house. With its removal from the nursery, I no longer have a baby. Wah. This can't be true! Tell me there's still a baby in this house!
Of course I had to take a couple dozen photos of the room and the crib before taking it apart and storing it in the attic. So here is Dixon's room before (please overlook the lopsided curtain rod):

and here he is in his brand new big boy bed! We chose a sleigh bed with storage underneath since his room has a tiny closet. Right now we don't need the extra storage, but as Dixon grows bigger it will come in handy for sweaters, jeans, and seasonal clothes.

Dixon LOVES his bedding. I really struggled with what to do as far as a "theme" for the room. I wanted it to be something Dixon would like but I didn't want it to be the typical boy stuff. I mainly didn't want it to be something cheesy and too youthful that he'd outgrow quickly.
I stumbled upon this bedding when I took the girls to the American Girl store at Tyson's Corner. There is a Pottery Barn Kids store right beside the AG store and we went in just to look around (and get ideas). I saw a fantastic train light that I totally wanted to get for Dixon since he's completely obsessed with trains - especially Thomas. The base was a RR crossing with blinking lights and it had a red square shade. Awesome - not to kiddy looking but something he would love that would give me a starting point for decorating. Then I noticed the bedding on the model bed beside the light. It was the perfect train bedding for my boy: not too cutey-pie but boyish enough for a young kid. Sold. Unfortunately, Pottery Barn wants over $130 just for the base of the train light so that piece did not come home with me. I'm now on the hunt for something like it. If you see a nice train bedside lamp, please let me know!

Dixon loves his new bed. He loves looking at the trains (he even sometimes calls them "Thomas") and pointing out all the different parts, especially the cars riding on the train. I think this is a keeper!
We aren't able to put bedrails on this bed because there is no box spring, therefore no space to put the rail. Dixon fell out of bed three times that first night but until five minutes he hadn't fallen out since. (Yep, I heard a thud as I was typing this post!) I'm sure he'll figure it out quickly. In fact, I'm really impressed with how well he's been doing already!
So goodbye, dear crib. Goodbye nursery. Goodbye baby stuff. I'm going to miss you and all that you signify.
My babies are growing up. I now have two little ladies who are about to go off to school in a few weeks and one big boy who makes me smile everyday. I suppose the only baby thing we have left are diapers and I don't foresee and end to them anytime soon.
My big boy. How I love him.