It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — and pioneers

Our Nov/Dec issue of Utah Valley Magazine will go to the printer in less than two weeks, so naturally we took our staff Christmas pic yesterday when the high was 69 in sunny Orem.I sent out a reminder text on Sunday night to wear black, denim and red accents. What did we do before texting? I”ll tell you what we did. We LOL when someone showed up in bright blue for our staff Christmas photo shoot a few years ago — a mistake that cost us two hours in Photoshop. That sales rep no longer works with us (not necessarily because of the blue shirt incident).\r\n\r\nThis year, everyone followed the dress code so well that we looked like the staff of Suggestions Salon or Remedez. Bang trim, anyone?\r\n\r\nAs we finished setting up the lights, our gregarious writers, designers and ad reps swapped stories from the weekend, including a sighting of one of the “Sister Wives” coming out of Victoria”s Secret.

I love it that Matt takes charge of the chaos that is the staff photo. He brought our garland from home to add holiday cheer to this Christmas card pic.
Kendall (my cool bro-in-law) says he was blinded by the flash. We think he’s showing us his ’70s dance moves (he is the senior member of the staff). 
Who says working with your spouse is difficult? Kendall and Roxanne show a little love. Apparently Alison doesn’t approve.
This pic WON’T be on our Christmas card. We were attempting to do the “pioneer pose” with straight faces. Some pulled it off better than others.

Ironically, the “soundtrack” to this photo was baby Addison screaming at the top of her lungs while rocking her carseat next to the tripod. She wanted her mom, Kristy (seated on the far left), to pick her up NOW. Poor thing. This felt like the opposite of Christmas Day to her.\r\n\r\nIn the end, we got a great shot that will be coming to a mailbox near you — if you are one of our clients or colleagues.\r\n\r\nAnd now we”ll jingle our way back to our regularly scheduled fall weather and clothing while we wrap up our Christmas issue. Ho, Ho, Ho will be over for us before Ha, Ha, Halloween. Maybe I”ll put my black clothes back on and call it a hair stylist costume.

A peek at my week

Other than a giant gash to the forehead I sustained on Sunday while sustaining my church leaders, I could do Oct. 3-Oct. 8 again. With my birthday, a festive Christmas interview, 7th grade football victory, staff lunch at Malawi”s and pleasant parent-teacher conferences, this would be a good Groundhog”s Week (repeat, repeat, repeat).\r\n\r\nBut first, the gash. Last weekend was General Conference, which means two days of church on TV. Which means I don”t have to play the organ OR create a weekly bulletin. It”s fantastic. But it”s also sleep-inducing. So I decided to listen while I cleaned out the cupboards, including the too-crowded-to-be-useful recipe cupboard above the fridge. I was up, down and all around while I pawed through each recipe book and magazine scrap. I finally came to terms that I do not use the Lions Club Cookbook from the early 1990s and buried it in the trash. Then I leaped back up on the stool and stood straight up into the open cupboard door. The blunt force left me with a Harry Potter-sized scar on my forehead and a headache the size of a groundhog.

The day after the gash, we had lunch at Marley’s in Lindon so we could use our soon-to-be-expired coupons for free sliders. I chose salmon. Yum!! (My head is still throbbing, but the Advil is helping out.)

Once we got the bleeding to stop, the week picked up. I turned 36.

My staff surprised me with a birthday cake. My favorite part of this pic is Dave — he’s in the doorway wearing a hard hat. I had told the staff they didn’t need to buy me gifts because my “love language” was acts of service. He served me by removing the hat, which has been hiding in the top of my cupboard for years. (Think recipe books.)

\r\nI also did the interview for our Christmas cover of Utah Valley Magazine on my birthday. Ready for another clue on this mystery man? He has a new Christmas book coming out, but you wouldn”t necessarily think of him as an author. Any guesses?\r\n\r\nAs a magazine staff, we had lunch at Malawi”s on Wednesday in the Shops at Riverwoods (old Magleby”s location). Our tastebuds like to visit our advertisers, and this will be the first of many visits to this pizza/pasta heaven. The Santa Fe pizza was like Cafe Rio on a perfect crust. I ate the whole thing. This diet is not going well so far.\r\n\r\n

Briana (plus baby), Kate and Whitney shared their Malawi’s entrees on their side of the table.

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Trish, Greg and Kendall did not share their entrees on their side of the table.

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Roxanne and Alison realized they knew the waiter. Our sales staff has friends all over town.

I ended the week with a lunchtime speech at the Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce where I shared what I”ve learned about leadership in the past 10 years as owner/editor of Utah Valley Magazine.

At the luncheon, Veronica Chapman of Pro Digital Photos was given an award. She advertises in Utah Valley Magazine and Utah Valley Bride. Great lady! Great business!

This post feels long. Like a week long. So I”ll finish by saying I hope I wake up tomorrow and find myself at the beginning of this week again. (My diet is telling me otherwise … did you see how many times we ate out?)

Tried and Texted

Christmas might seem like it”s over the river and through the three-months-away woods to you, but in the magazine business the holidays are over before they even start. For us, Christmastime is September through mid-October. Which is why I”ve been PANICKING about the Christmas cover of Utah Valley Magazine. It”s been a calendar conundrum of a summer/fall, and up until this week the only effort I had put toward the Christmas cover was to stress about it. But today while having a celebratory lunch at Emmett”s and Ethel”s in Lehi, I exchanged texts with the PERFECT Christmas cover subject.He (there”s your first clue — it”s a MAN) said he”d be happy to take my call and schedule the interview. What a gift! But Lehi High and Westlake High were having a healthy rivalry in the surrounding booths, so it didn”t seem like the perfect setting for an important call regarding a festive photo and interview about figgy pudding. Plus, I wanted to enjoy the fish platter and “Peach Bomb” while I gathered my thoughts.

With fried peaches dripped in caramel, the Peach Bomb is the ultimate “healthy” dessert. We’ve written about it in Utah Valley Magazine and MainStreet Magazine, and I had never tasted it for myself. And since I started a new diet this morning, today seemed like the perfect day to give it a try. 

So, I delayed the Christmas phone call and laughed at my co-workers while we ate and retold stories of the BC (Bennett Communications). Today was Dave Blackhurst”s seven-year anniversary of being the art director for our magazines.

Dave, the most patient man on the planet, is in the middle. (He’ll move things a little left, a little right, all day long if I ask him to. And I have.) Matt, my main man and business partner, is on the left. Greg, my bro-in-law and eight-year BC veteran, is on the right. I was his yearbook editor when we were in junior high. He once passed me a note in the hall. True story.

Over our fries and milkshakes, we relived the days when four of us shared one small office. We laughed about the delivery man who asked to use our bathroom and then left the door open while he took care of business. And we patted ourselves on the back that the most PG-13 day at BC was when Dave s-p-e-l-l-e-d out a swear word after he lost a big magazine file. It was loud. And funny. And mildly offensive to our BYU-grad ears (he”s the only non-Cougar in the editorial/art department).

Leah Aldous and Kate Lehnhof are relatively new to our company, but they still giggled at the stories of yesteryear. Kate and I have made a few memories of our own doing interviews in Phoenix and Newport Beach. Think “poetry” on speaker phone.

After the last slurp, we headed back to our Orem office. I called Mr. Christmas, who invited me to his house on Tuesday — which happens to be my birthday.\r\n\r\nI have a feeling more magazine memories are just over the river and through the woods — which is exactly where I”m going for the interview (yet another cover clue. I”m practically giving it away).

Board Not Bored

A few years ago we formed a board for BusinessQ Magazine, which means we have 6-8 community leaders who give us feedback and focus at a quarterly lunch at Chef”s Table. And “quarterly” came today. So Briana Stewart (managing editor) and I shuffled off to Chef”s Table, where I ordered the Nut-Crusted Halibut and she ordered the Beef Tenderloin Medallions. (I”m not even sure why we open the menu.) The meeting goes something like this. n Michael Krieger (a top-notch attorney with Kirton & McConkie pictured above) updates us on his race schedule. This weekend he”ll be running the St. George Marathon. He”s such a die-hard that he once ran a marathon on a stress fracture — boot and all. (As a fellow stress fracturee, I salute him.) He gives me fitness advice and motivation. BusinessQ Ad Manager Roxanne Bennett (right) is the life of the meeting. She uses the silverware to demonstrate some of her latest collisions and run-ins with the law (they”re minor, don”t worry). She”s going to Orem”s traffic school tonight and Salem”s next month. I am certain (well, not CERTAIN) these classes will change her driving habits if she will refrain from trying to sell ads to other people in the class or calling/texting/e-mailing clients while the officer is droning on. Then Kara Schneck (Nu Skin) entertains us with stories of being a working woman. Her daughter recently asked her why she has to be a working mom. Then in a crowded Nordstrom dressing room, this same daughter asked her why she can”t be a workout mom. Kara replied with, “Right now I”m working on getting this zipper up!!” Jarrod Hunt (right) is a commercial real estate genius with Commerce. Today he taunted us with an “activity” he wanted to share, but it had to wait till the end of the meeting. This was just too much excitement, so we cut off our BusinessQ discussions early. He brought out his friend”s delicious toffee in prototype packaging, along with a quiz he wanted us to fill out about the toffee”s taste, texture and packaging. Look for Canterbury Toffee in a specialty shop near you. (I gave it top scores for taste!) Chris Finken (Orange Soda) is the “board clown” with his straight-faced wit and latest burger escapades, which he chronicles in burgervoice.com. Apparently, Chubby”s in Pleasant Grove makes a serious burger — and has a Chubby Challenge to prove it. If I wasn”t already full of halibut, I would have stopped by on my way home.\r\n\r\nAt today”s table, we were missing Jeff Rust, who is the co-owner of Corporate Alliance and the nicest guy in town. We also had an empty spot for Christopher Liechty, who is the marketing whiz at Bank of American Fork. He was at a banking conference today, which I”m SURE wasn”t as entertaining as this board meeting. Did I mention that Chris also gave us Orange Soda hacky sacks and an orange lid to put on unfinished cans of soda? (You can see the orange lid in the picture.) The pop drinkers at the table said they had never met a can of pop they couldn”t finish, but this lid might come in handy as a mini-frisbee or as a pop saver on the second or third can of soda in one sitting.\r\n\r\nWith board meetings like this, you know why BusinessQ is the No. 1 magazine in the state. (It really is! Just ask the Society of Professional Journalists Utah Chapter). Our BusinessQ board is fantastically fun, tasty and interactive. And we DID manage to brainstorm women in the business community to feature in our winter issue. I can”t wait for the next board meeting. I”m going to have some sweet hacky sack moves by then.\r\n\r\nNOT PICTURED: The MOST important person of all — Briana Hallstrom Stewart. She is the managing editor of BusinessQ and the most fantastic writer this side of anywhere. That woman makes words dance. She”s also one of my best friends. Which is why I didn”t post the only picture I took of her today. Sometimes iPhone pictures from one foot away aren”t meant to be shared — even among board friends.

Autumn reminds me of “the fall”


When I got dressed today I reached for my orange Undertease shirt. There”s something about the fall equinox that makes me want to look like a pumpkin. I headed to the office early in my orange-inspired outfit. (Today was Matt”s day to get the kids off to school — and of course this was the first time this month they wanted school lunch. He didn”t get to start the day with peanut butter on his cuffs.)\r\n\r\nAfter a busy morning of magazines, I headed to Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem where I”ve been on the board for four years. When I walked in, they said, “It”s our annual flu shot day for board members!” I immediately had flashbacks of last year”s poke — possibly because I was wearing the same orange shirt. I know this because the first thing I saw when I “came to” after fainting from last year”s shot was my orange shirt. The second thing I saw was the huddle of 12 medical professionals gathered around me. And the third thing I saw was the oxygen mask on my face.Yes, I fainted while trying to avoid H1N1 last fall. Lucky for me, I was AT THE HOSPITAL. They called a “code something-or-ther” and spent the next few minutes making sure I was alive. I didn”t open my eyes until our meeting was under way, and the only reason I knew my whereabouts was because one of the doctors in the huddle was on the board with me. I gradually started putting “two and three” together (I was still out of it).\r\n\r\nAnd then my mind went back to my orange shirt, which I had been wearing under a jacket. It”s the snug kind of undershirt that you don”t wear alone, if you know what I mean. I had removed the jacket to give the nurse some skin for the shot, and when I fell to the earth I was jacketless. When my eyes slivered open, the modesty lessons I had given at church flashed before them. Then I realized my legs were propped up in the air, and I was wearing a skirt! Modesty strike #2! And this mortifying episode was in front of fellow board members and colleagues!\r\n\r\nToday everyone on the board was relieved that I declined the flu shot. No need for a second round of awkwardness.\r\n\r\nIf I DO get the flu this season, it will probably be worth it.

Every SINGLE Reason

My solo trip to D.C. is coming in for a landing. Everything went as planned — Ashley got married.I saw Mount Vernon.\n\nI wrote several articles. I slept soundly. And I missed my family. Being alone gave me time to think, think, think. And I think I won’t travel alone again anytime soon. It’s difficult being the driver, navigator, conversationalist, decision-maker, entertainer and disciplinarian all at once. Need proof?\n\nExhibit A: When I picked up the rental car at midnight just outside Dulles, the Avis representative told me to take a left, another left and then get on 267 heading east. I nodded my head in appreciation. Then when I got on 267, it dawned on me that he didn’t ask where I was going. And I wasn’t going east. If my husband had been there, I doubt Mr. Avis would have pulled this shenanigan.\n\nExhibit B: I’ll admit it. I talked to myself a little bit here and there. “You need to anticipate those exits quicker.” “Don’t you think I know that?” “You are a magnet for toll roads, woman!” “You try following the blue dot on this iPhone and driving at the same time!”\n\nExhibit C: When I got back to Dulles for the return flight on Sunday, I may have tried to check-in at the American kiosk. I may be flying Delta.\n\nExhibit D: I figured the big perk to traveling alone was being able to pick where to eat. No Wendy’s this trip, I declared! But then I ended up going through the Taco Bell drive-in for one dinner and snatching a banana from a gas station for another meal (and by snatching, I mean paying for the overpriced, over-ripe fruit with a credit card). Other than the wedding food (which was DELICIOUS), I survived on very little. I may have lost enough weight to save American (I mean Delta) a little jet fuel on the way back.\n\nExhibit E: I didn’t turn on a TV or radio the entire time I was gone. Now that WAS a perk of flying solo. I have no idea what Lady Gaga or Lindsay Lohan did this weekend, and I don’t feel the teensiest bit left out. (I did text Matt to find out if BYU won. They didn’t. And I only spent about 5 seconds worrying about that four-hour game. Talk about efficient use of media.)\n\nSo this brings to a close this blog post and my cross-country think-a-thon. I’m so glad I was able to be part of Ashley’s wedding and visit the East Coast. And now I can’t wait to be Matt’s navigator as he drives (he LOVES that) and go eat at Wendy’s with my family!

Every SINGLE Reason

My solo trip to D.C. is coming in for a landing. Everything went as planned — Ashley (one of our magazine editors) got married and all of the events were beautifull.nIn between wedding festivities, I made my way to Mount Vernon and took this self-portrait.I also wrote several articles. I slept soundly. And I missed my family. Being alone gave me time to think, think, think. And I think I won’t travel alone again anytime soon. It’s difficult being the driver, navigator, conversationalist, decision-maker, entertainer and disciplinarian all at once. Need proof? Exhibit A: When I picked up the rental car at midnight just outside Dulles, the Avis representative told me to take a left, another left and then get on 267 heading east. I nodded my head in appreciation. Then when I got on 267, it dawned on me that he didn’t ask where I was going. And I wasn’t going east. If my husband had been there, I doubt Mr. Avis would have pulled this shenanigan. Exhibit B: I’ll admit it. I talked to myself a little bit here and there. “You need to anticipate those exits quicker.” “Don’t you think I know that?” “You are a magnet for toll roads, woman!” “You try following the blue dot on this iPhone and driving at the same time!” Exhibit C: When I got back to Dulles for the return flight on Sunday, I may have tried to check-in at the American Airline kiosk. I may be flying Delta. Exhibit D: I figured the big perk to traveling alone was being able to pick where to eat. No Wendy’s this trip, I declared! But then I ended up going through the Taco Bell drive-in for one dinner and snatching a banana from a gas station for another meal (and by snatching, I mean paying for the overpriced, over-ripe fruit with a credit card). Other than the wedding food (which was DELICIOUS), I survived on very little. I may have lost enough weight to save American (I mean Delta) a little jet fuel on the way back. Exhibit E: I didn’t turn on a TV or radio the entire time I was gone. Now that WAS a perk of flying solo. I have no idea what Lady Gaga or Lindsay Lohan did this weekend, and I don’t feel the teensiest bit left out. (I did text Matt to find out if BYU won. They didn’t. And I only spent about 5 seconds worrying about that four-hour game. Talk about efficient use of media.) So this brings to a close this blog post and my cross-country think-a-thon. I’m so glad I was able to be part of Ashley’s wedding and visit the East Coast. And now I can’t wait to be Matt’s navigator as he drives (he LOVES that) and go eat at Wendy’s with my family!

Get Me To The Church On Time

Being the editor of Utah Valley Magazine usually doesn”t mean a lot of traveling. Sure, I”ve been to the Red Barn in Santaquin and I interviewed Kurt Bestor at the Salt Lake Library. But there haven”t been many reasons to pack my carry-on and charge dinner to my expense account. But in 2010, I have actually accumulated SkyMiles by flying and not just by charging laser ink cartridges to my Delta American Express card (those are precious drops of color, apparently).\r\n\r\nI”m writing this from Seat 12A on Delta flight such-and-such while I”m headed to Washington, D.C. — my fifth round-trip extravaganza this year. The first four were for magazine projects for direct sales companies including XOWii (Newport Beach), Isagenix (Phoenix), For Every Home (Chicago) and Heritage Makers (Phoenix).\r\n\r\nToday”s cross-country trip is not technically for business, but please don”t tell my accountant. Or the IRS. Or my employees. If they ask, I am going to D.C. to meet with a publishing partner. And that”s the stack-of-Bibles truth.\r\n\r\nAshley Dickson IS a publishing partner. And a friend. And she happens to be getting married this weekend. Which makes now a perfect time for me to go meet with her about publishing. Wink. Wink.\r\n\r\nAshley began working for us in 2005 as an office manager, which means she answered the phone, made collections calls, prepared bank deposits and occasionally went for a Sonic run. (Happy hour!) She was a hard worker — and sometimes a hard read. But it didn”t take long for me to depend on her and count her as a friend. After several months, Ashley became an editor for us — which is where her broadcasting degree should have been hung all along. She is a fantastic writer and project manager, and our magazines improved with her creative brain on the team.\r\n\r\nWhen 2008 ended, so did Ashley”s full-time job with us. Her ambitious and hard-working self was headed to Boston for a graduate degree. Happy for her. Sad for us. But happy for us, Al Gore invented e-mail. Or was it the Internet? Or was he the creator of sad marital news? Regardless, technology has kept the working/personal relationship alive between Ashley and BC (that”s what we call Bennett Communications when we”re feeling edgy). Her writing and project management skills have come in handy as she runs our East Coast headquarters. Yep, we”re bi-coastal — thanks to Ashley”s laptop.\r\n\r\nThis weekend, I”m going to take Ashley copies of the latest magazines to which she has contributed AND I”m going to meet her groom. I hope he knows what a great woman he”s got on his arm. That”s the thing about co-workers. You grow to love ”em. And miss ”em. And want the best for ”em. And be willing to fly across the country on a horribly inconvenient week for ”em.\r\n\r\nCongratulations, Ashley! We love you!\r\n\r\n

The beautiful, smart and soon-to-be-married Ashley Dickson.

P.S. I came THIS CLOSE to missing my flight again! This close! (Picture me with my thumb and finger pinched together tightly).

Here”s to a wonderfully imperfect Monday!

Life hasn”t gone perfectly for me lately. Or ever, now that I think about it. Perfectionists like me tend to notice if we”ve made a mistake in a magazine, broken a bone or had an emotional “moment” over something large or small. When Matt and I were in the doctor”s office for the umpteenth time lately, we snapped a photo of this wall hanging:

Pretty good reminder, don’t you think?

Halibut and women in business

Marla Snow was featured in our July/August issue for the great work she does as an attorney at Heideman, McKay, Heugly & Olsen (try saying that with your mouth full of halibut). ‘, ‘inherit’, ‘open’, ‘open’, ”, ‘wib-luncheon’,  ‘We took turns introducing ourselves at this Women in Business lunch. I”m the one in orange. Apparently I”ve worn this shirt a lot lately, and it”s the kind of shirt you notice with all its ruffles and neon-ness. Note to self: Broaden out the wardrobe a bit more. . ‘,  ‘We recently hosted a luncheon for the women featured in our July/August issue of Utah Valley Magazine. We invited them to Chef”s Table — mostly because I love the macadamia nut crusted halibut. Yes, the atmosphere is nice. The service is impeccable. But when it comes down to it, the halibut is reason enough to get out of bed in the morning.

Marla Snow was featured in our July/August issue for the great work she does as an attorney at Heideman, McKay, Heugly & Olsen (try saying that with your mouth full of halibut).

In addition to the great food (I wanted to lick my plate), I always enjoy sharing a room with ambitious women. We talk family. We talk labor. We talk marketing. We talk economy. And then we sip our waters and Diet Cokes while we check for texts from our kids and colleagues. The business world is much more personal than I pictured it when I was taking business classes in the Tanner Building at BYU 15 years ago.\n\n

We took turns introducing ourselves at this Women in Business lunch. I’m the one in orange. Apparently I’ve worn this shirt a lot lately (I have several pictures of me wearing it), and it’s the kind of shirt you notice with all its ruffles and neon-ness. Note to self: Broaden out the wardrobe a bit more — especially if there are cameras around.

Congrats to the women featured in our “Ladies First” section in our Women”s issue (July/August UVMag).