The Biggest Loser on our Biggest Cover

I’m usually too busy eating to watch “The Biggest Loser” on Tuesday nights, but I do know that Utahn Rulon Gardner was a participant this season. Although he got the boot a few weeks ago, he lost 149 pounds while in the spotlight. If he maintains his workout and eating habits, soon he”ll be half the man he once was.But we were seeing double of Rulon back in 2001 when we featured this wrestler with his local lookalike on our first and only lookalike cover for Utah Valley Magazine.We”ll be announcing our next lookalike contest in the May issue of Utah Valley Magazine, so start looking closely at your waitresses and accountants. If you”re seeing double, go to the trouble of snapping a pic and sending it our way.

Pillar of Strength

“For People Who Love the Valley” might be the tagline for Utah Valley Magazine, but Nu Skin”s Blake Roney actually lives and breathes it. As last night”s recipient of the inaugural “Pillar of the Valley” award, Blake had us laughing and longing to do more with our own lives.When he stood up at the end to deliver his acceptance speech/comedy routine, Blake joked about how troubling it was to look at the “big head” on the screen throughout the evening. But the size of the display doesn”t mean he has a big ego — unless you take his jokes too seriously. A story was told about a friend texting Blake and asking how he stays so happy all the time. Blake gave three smiley answers. “I carry a relatively low inventory of sin.” “I”m incredibly good looking.” “I can crack myself up pretty much any time.” Blake also finds his happy with BYU sports, which is why the closing number was so perfect: BYU football players filed in to sing “Armies of Helaman.” I was impressed with their harmonies and their ties on a Friday night. I’m also one who “loves the valley,” and last night reminded me why. Blake and the hundreds of others in the Hinckley Center use their lives to add life to Utah Valley. And those are the kind of pillars worth writing about — and worth giant video screen treatment.

Brigham Young and Old

Today I found myself on BYU”s campus.I also found myself wearing the wrong shoes — both for the weather and for the distance. (Campus parking is my least favorite part of being a Cougar.) I am, however, truly bluely grateful that I parked here and didn”t get a ticket. Technically, I did display my husband”s visitor pass that hadn”t expired (March 2011). But technically, it did say 3-5 p.m. in the Hinckley lot. And technically, it was 1 p.m. and I may have been a few puddles past the designated area. But let”s not get hung up on technicalities. Let”s do get hung up on what”s different at BYU since my backpack days: namely technology. I saw more laptops than textbooks. And more texting than talking. I remember friendlier, flirtier sidewalks in the early ”90s. Today, the only person who spoke to me said, “I love your purse” as she shuffled by. (And can you blame her?) But maybe it was the rain that put a damper on these stone-cold sober classmates. Or maybe their earbuds plugged potential conversation. Or maybe I looked old enough to be their mother (my shoes still weren”t doing me any favors). No matter the hang up, these students need to unplug and look up if they”re going to have use for the diamonds advertised on the campus kiosks (that was the only part of campus that hasn”t changed).

Happy birthday, Hailey!

My favorite great-grandmother was born in 1901. It was always easy to figure out her age — simply take the year and subtract one. When I found out I was due to have a baby in March 2000, my mathematical mind squealed, “We”ll always know how old she is!” Exhibit A: I”m positively positive Hailey is turning 11 today. Exhibit B: In 2020, she”ll turn 20. And so on, and age forth. And because having a newborn and starting a magazine are a great combination, 2000 is also the birth year of Utah Valley Magazine. Yes, Hailey and Utah Valley Magazine are fraternal twins. Their first year of life was busy with late nights and round-the-clock pampering. Now Hailey is a Utah Valley Magazine reader, and her birthday wish was to visit the boutiques featured in the fashion section of our current issue. So last Saturday was labeled “Hailey Day” on our kitchen calendar, and we hopped around the county with the grand finale at Cherry Lane Boutique.  We laughed and talked from sale racks to dressing rooms. And that”s the thing about this 11-year-old — we easily share shoes and conversation. Happy birthday, Hailey! I love you!

Book review by my seventh-grader

Two years ago, my daughter and I interviewed Brandon Mull for our March/April 2009 issue of Utah Valley Magazine. Brandon was our “cover boy” to represent the Fabulous 50 article, and the timing thickened the plot because his fourth installment of “Fablehaven” was released that same month.Fast forward to March 2011, and Brandon is having yet another release party — this time for the first book in his “Beyonders” series. So naturally I hired another one of my children to write the review. It’s not that I haven’t read Brandon Mull’s books …. wait, yes it is. Here’s my son’s review, which he hopes equals extra credit either at home or at school.I’m Nathan Bennett, a seventh grader at Mountain Ridge Junior High. I read the “Fablehaven” series and loved all five books, so I was very excited when my parents came home from the office with a copy of “Beyonders.” This book did not disappoint. It was well written, and it had an exciting plot and some funny parts. The book was like “Fablehaven” because it was about humans going into a magical world they didn’t know about. But it was different from “Fablehaven” because the characters had different personalities and ages. The characters have to go through different obstacles, and the book revolves around them trying to find a word that can destroy the evil emporer. The action in “Beyonders” keeps you reading from chapter to chapter. It’s a book that’s hard to put down because you’ll get to a stopping point, but then there’s another part you want to figure out. So it keeps you interested. It’s a book you want to finish. The book ends at a good part that makes you want to read the second book when it comes out. It’s hard to say if “Beyonders” is better than “Fablehaven.” I thought “Fablehaven” got better with every book, and I think this first book of “Beyonders” is about as good as the third or fourth “Fablehaven.” So the last book in the “Beyonder” series will probably be way good. I think it’s cool that Brandon Mull is a really great writer and he lives so close to us. He even visited my elementary school a few years ago. I like his style of writing and his word choices and stuff. Basically, if you liked “Fablehaven,” you’ll like “Beyonders.” The excitement starts Tuesday, March 15, with a signing and launch party at Deseret Book in Midvale. The party moves to Orem on Wednesday, March 16, when Brandon signs at the Deseret Book in Orem. Visit BrandonMull.com for more details.

Fortune Teller

Yesterday, I opened this fortune:So I was immediately thrilled to know what was going to happen immediately. Yesterday ended uneventfully, but this morning I headed to Lone Peak High School to visit with an 8 a.m. business class. And. It. Was. Thrilling. For me.As far as the students were concerned, it was way too early for thrilling stories about business models and strategies. I told them I wished I”d taken an interest in business when I was a teen. In high school I was the newspaper editor and scholastic bowl team member. (Nerd alert!) I didn”t become an entrepreneur until I became a mom (read more here). And that”s when the thrills became an everyday event. (Cheesy alert!)

Set your sites

uvmag.com got a makeover this week, thanks to art director and miracle worker Dave Blackhurst. Click around and tell us what you think. What would you like to see on our site? E-mail editor@uvmag.com with your feedback. Speaking of websites, here”s a peek at the sites I”ve visited today. http://provomayor.blogspot.com/  …. (the Provo mayor was one of our Fab 50 in the March/April issue of Utah Valley Magazine … I also saw him at the Chocolate Extravaganza this past weekend talking to Todd Pederson, founder of Vivint.) http://www.facebook.com … (I have three new friends, and I wished a happy birthday to the owner of Karma, which was featured on page 22 in the Nov/Dec issue of UVMag). http://zipadi.com/ …. (We met with this local company this morning that could create an iPad app for the magazine. Is it worth the time and money? That”s what I”m asking myself.) http://nieniedialogues.com/ … (We featured Stephanie Nielson in our January issue, and I still find myself checking in to see how she”s doing.) http://utahvalleybride.blogspot.com (I love reading blogs written by our staff of editors. This Utah Valley Bride Magazine blog is short and snappy and gorgeous.)

Kids These Days

‘Utah Valley Magazine is our middle child — we had two kids before we gave birth to the magazine and two after uvmag.com was born. But now my two boys and two girls are in school all day while I coddle the middle child with commas and Photoshop.\n\nThe office toys — including a baby swing and dump truck — used to see daily action, but now they sit dormant waiting for tiny visitors. Today the office was lit up when newly-walking Maggie brought her mom, Briana Stewart, to the conference room to review BusinessQ proofs.Briana is waving to her daughter while “aunt Kate” creatively swaddles Maggie in her scarf. It”s a family affair around these parts. And that”s just the way we like it.’

Take Three

Today Roxanne (my sis-in-law and our ad manager) and I did a test shoot with Kristine McKay of K McKay Designs. She has a fabulous new studio in American Fork, and we “miked up” to talk about our roles and goals at Utah Valley Magazine. We”re always looking for ways to offer more value to our readers and advertisers (and for ways to make our lives harder, apparently), and we are considering adding professional video segments to our websites, blogs and online magazine. Would you be interested in more video content from Utah Valley Magazine? What types of videos would you be most likely to watch? And lastly, how can I upgrade my 24/7? I need more time for all the ideas swimming around in my head.

Fabulously Fab 50

This year’s batch of 50 came to InStudio on three separate days in January and February for photo shoots and small talk, which resulted in a big, fabulous feature in our March/April issue of Utah Valley Magazine. For a behind-the-scenes video of a foursome including Alex Boye and Mallory Everton, visit our Utah Valley Magazine blog. You can also click here for a short fab 50 clip that I referenced on this blog a few posts ago. Still can”t get enough? Here are a few other snapshots … Photographer Kenneth Linge (who has judged many pageants) asked to try on Miss Utah”s crown. We picked Miss Utah before she made it to the top 15 in the Miss America pageant. I watched the pageant from home and was rooting for Christina, a UVU student. In the photo above, she and William are seated, but we ended up choosing a pic with all of them on their feet AND holding the F-A-B props. Sometimes it took a minute to find the perfect group arrangement using the white stools we had purchased at IKEA the day before the shoot. Provo Mayor John Curtis is a bit of a blur as he leaves the photo shoot to go watch one of his children”s games. Paul Dishman brought a white shirt as an alternative, but the blue shirt he already had on ended up coordinating perfectly with the others in his group. Elden Nelson (second from left) blogs at fatcyclist.com and got some great news a couple days ago. Not only did Utah Valley Magazine come out (obviously), but he also won “Lifetime Achievement” in the 2011 Bloggie Awards. He”s a big deal, people. In the photo above, you can also see Samantha Murphey conducting an interview in the background. Sam did an awesome job of coordinating the info and schedules of our busy Fab 50. Now do you feel like you were at the photo shoot? I hope so! If you really want to get to know the faces, pick up a copy of Utah Valley Magazine or click here to read about the fifty. Nifty.