Guess Who I Met Last Month?

This year has been full of so much of a roller coaster ride, I almost resigned from Stampin’ Up! to just drop off the face of the earth and move home to Colorado. Three and a half years of long Covid, death of friends and family, and more, put me on a crash course of “STOP THE TRAIN AND I’M GETTING OFF!” Like any grief journey, I hit all the stages, and when I got to Bargaining this year, I decided to stay long enough to hit my 15 Year Anniversary with Stampin’ Up! Y’all have no idea.

So what did I do to celebrate my 15 Year Anniversary with Stampin’ Up!? Yep, I went on the road with Toby and met Sara McDaniel!

Do you watch HGTV? Are you familiar with HGTV Home Town? Do you remember the Home Town Takeover episodes when HGTV chose Wetumpka, Alabama to get 12 different projects/homes remodeled, refreshed, and built from scratch? The Take Over has had thousands of views. The popularity is unmistakable. Because of that, HGTV chose 6 runners up from the greater than 500 applicants vying for Home Town Take Over, one of which was Minden, Louisiana where Sara McDaniel is working alongside City Mayor and Councilmen to restore Minden.

Once I was able to travel this year, it’s been on my bucket list to go to TWO places: Minden, Louisiana, and Laurel, Mississippi. Both of these towns are on the HGTV Home Town, Home Town Take Over, and Home Town Kickstart with shows all about restoring old buildings, reviving downtowns, remodeling homes, and if you know me at all you know that is right up my alley.

First stop of the Celia-Toby Road Show was a week at The Villas in Minden, Louisiana! .If you subscribe to Cottages and Bungalows or Southern Living magazines, Sara and The Villas have been in every issue for a year. These Villas were built in 1931 and were quite high end for that era. Left vacant in the 1980″s, Sara bought them to renovate in 20??.

Back story: So how did we meet? When Sara McDaniel got started restoring The Villas at Spanish Fork, I volunteered to join her efforts free of charge, to be part of the clean up crew. I fully supported her plans and efforts, and was ready to dive in and do heavy labor. (Covid’s long stay prevented me) My plan was to sweep and drag out debris. While workers were demolishing interior rot, I was going to be sweeping up and shoveling out each of the 8 villas. (I used to clean up my father’s wood shop so that when he came home from work, sawdust was gone, tools were mise en place.) At the end of the day I wanted to be the last one out, cleaning as I exited. Sara said, “YES! Please come!”

Although I didn’t get to do that, God redeemed the time. Last month, I checked into The Villas, and stayed at The Laura. You can see it at and use the COTTAGE10 discount code to get ten percent off any of the rooms. Laura Ashley contributed wallpaper and rugs for the Villa I stayed in, The Laura. Oh My Gosh! 751 square feet of adorable decor and top notch luxury, which was better than any Boutique Hotel I have ever stayed in!

Have I ever told you the story of my Little Yellow House of Healing in Stillwater, Oklahoma? I moved out of that Tiny Home in 1981, but I have never forgotten who I became there, recovering from a horrible year of divorce and death (1978). The Laura was a replica of that square footage, and Minden was full of beautiful people even better than those lovely people of Stillwater. I needed more time in that embrace and I got it!

I made good use of a full week’s stay. While I was in Minden, I delivered Stamp-n-Storage pieces and styled the crafting space of a Tiny Home owner with a very active Card Ministry. (She and I clicked immediately because she uses Note Cards & Envelopes the same way Anne Holmes used index cards and stickers to provide love and encouragement with whatever she could afford.). You can read about the Minden Tiny Home HERE:

Meeting Sara was an enormous thrill because she is just as sweet and exuberant in real life as she is on all of her Social Media accounts (@simplysoutherncottage). You really MUST follow her on Instagram. Be sure to read the story of how she waited on the Lord nearly two years to buy her cottage and renovate it. She is uniquely able to see the finished product while touring an abandoned home of a hoarding situation.

Her home was just the beginning. She has acquired properties throughout Minden and restored them, one of which Magnolia Network followed this year and is now on TV again on the program called “In With The Old”. Episode is already up on Magnolia, and if you have Discovery+ you can watch this mansion getting a big overhaul (built in 1905, this Victorian mansion is the largest property in Minden and is full of stories!)

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  1. Great story! So glad you chose to stay with Stampin’ Up! although I know you would continue to bless others with your cards either way!

    1. That’s what Meg and I talked about, that I would continue making and mailing cards. She suggested telling the stories behind the scenes and start a few conversations.

  2. Wonderful, engaging story ! Keep them coming, since you have a real gift for writing and card, making, and sending them to those who need encouragement..