* merry joy *

Two of my favorite words: merry and joy. And that was my Christmas wish - that it might be merry and filled with joy. Sometimes, honestly, it wasn't that merry for me due to high expectations and limited time and energy resources. But I'll talk about that in another post. Most of the time, Christmas was wonderful, and of course I was filled with joy at having family here including a newly-married son and (darling) daughter-in-law.

This is the little wall hanging that I started last year, nearly finished this year, and hopefully will have quilted and embellished by next year. Yes, I'm on the three-year plan when it comes to some projects.

When I started my quilt in the fall of 2011, I didn't even know who designed it - it was just a mystery quilt at the new quilt shop in town. I had fun with the mystery quilt concept - you get a section of the quilt in kit form once per week for four to six weeks. As you finish each section, you return to the shop to pick up the next section/kit. You also don't know what the quilt will look like until the final "reveal" - this happens on the day that you pick up the last kit. It's always fun to see how the sections go together and how the borders and binding finish it.  

During the past few months, I've had the privilege of working for Kim Christopherson of Kimberbell Designs - the quilt and pattern designer of this and other darling quilts. Above is her finished quilt with the ornaments, bows and tags decorating it. It was displayed at My Girlfriends Quilt Shoppe throughout December with the pattern available for purchase. If you love it, you can also get a downloadable PDF version of the pattern through Kim's website You Can Make This.com

Pretty soon my quilt will look like hers - in the meantime, I'm just enjoying seeing it hanging on the wall above my wonderful blue chest in my back entryway - at least for another week. 
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- Nikki and Derek's Story -

Today, I want to share a few paragraphs from a Christmas Eve blog post by my niece-in-law. She's one of those "famous bloggers" with a wonderful cooking blog called Chef in Training. She has great recipes, tons of readers, and huge link-up parties on her blog on Tuesdays. Her husband, my sister Merilee's son, Derek, contracted a terrible disease/syndrome called Guillain Barre last year and Nikki describes their experiences in a special Christmas Eve blog post. It is truly timely, touching, and beautifully written. I've included a bit here, but you can read it in its entirety on Nikki's blog and I recommend that. 

As a family, we are deeply grateful that Derek is well. Derek is like a son to us - he stayed with us when he was in college and he's been close to our kids. He's a fun, kind, wonderful guy. (And he is well!) There's nothing better than hearing Derek's happy voice on the phone or getting one of his big hugs. He and Nikki are cute parents, supportive cousins, and a blessing to our family.

Nikki writes: 
I thought, since it is Christmas Eve today, now might be an appropriate time to share with you the experience my family went through earlier this year as we experienced one of the hardest trials of our young lives. I have teetered back and forth whether it would ever be an appropriate thing to share with you on this blog, just because I don’t like to mix that much personal life into my blog life. Many of you emailed and reached out to me when I first announced my husband was diagnosed with this syndrome and several of you have emailed long since after the fact to get an update on how he is doing, and I cannot express to you enough how much you sweet people mean to our family. I find it appropriate to share our experience with you today because it has everything to do with our loving Savior and the mighty miracles that are still performed upon this earth today.

In mid March, our family went through one of the most difficult trials of our young lives.  Derek was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, or GBS as I will refer to it from henceforth.  For those of you, who like me 9 months ago, never heard of GBS, it is a rare syndrome that causes your immune system to attack your nervous system making it difficult to move and function independently and in some cases causing complete paralysis. It starts in the feet and works its way up and eventually works its way back down.  In more severe cases the numbness and tingling can spread through the entire body effecting the individual’s breathing and heart rate.  I would like to share with you a few of the miracles we experienced and some of the eternal truths the Lord taught our family during the hardest month and a half of our life.

Nikki tells of the life flight from our local hospital to a hospital in Salt Lake City and continues:

It was very hard on all of us to see Derek in so much pain.  One of the neurologists came and spoke to me and said that he expected Derek would be put on a breathing machine within 24 hours because of how fast things were progressing.  He also thought a best-case scenario for Derek going back to work would be at least six months.  He said he was confident Derek had dipped into the 5% of serious GBS cases. I looked at my mom who was visiting at the time with tears in my eyes.  After the doctor left, I started to cry in my mom’s arms.  As she held me she told me “Right now you just have to get through today, and then we will take tomorrow when it comes. You need to be asking your Heavenly Father for your daily bread, what you need to get you through each day, not worrying about the bread you will need tomorrow.”  This became one of my many mottos of this whole experience. “Grant me my daily bread.”   I think it is easy to get caught up in the big picture and become overwhelmed, but sometimes, we need to take life day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.  This was something I had to learn in a very real way as my husband’s body was failing him fast.  Sometimes, I caught myself praying every 5 minutes.  “Lord, please give me the strength I need to make it 5 more minutes.”  It was though these prayers I developed a very real and powerful relationship with my Heavenly Father and also came to know my Savior and the true power of His atoning sacrifice.

Nikki continues to eloquently relate the difficulties and miracles Derek experienced, and the strength they gained from praying to and having faith in their loving Heavenly Father. 


- wedding overview -

These photos of Mike and Sierra's wedding day are in no special order and aren't the professionals - but I wanted to get them on the blog before Christmas. It was wonderful, beautiful, and really very fun! The colors and decorations were lovely and so wintery - perfect with the snow falling outside the windows of the old barn at Wadley Farms where we had both the wedding dinner and reception. (Sierra confessed that she had prayed for snow, and sure enough we woke up to a real snowstorm that morning.) The people were lovely all dressed in every shade of blue and green with gray and gold accents. Sierra was adorable in her vintagey lace wedding dress. We had a lovely dinner surrounded by special family and friends, and as we watched the big flakes of snow coming down we felt warm and cozy with a fire in the fireplace and twinkly lights above us. For the reception, we had hot chocolate and amazing sweets. Mike and his band played and everyone danced. The photos below are not in order at all and that drives me crazy, but I gotta go shopping!


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{ busy hands, warm hearts }

The scene at My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe today brought tears to my eyes more than once as a service project unfolded and goodness abounded. Even though it's a busy week-before-Christmas time, several dozen women came together to help the children of Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. 

Here's an excerpt from the quilt shop newsletter that owner Kris sent out by email over the weekend.

"As you may have read in my weekly newsletter, we would like to help in some some, small, tangible way those children in Connecticut who have been through such a horrible tragedy this past weekend. I invite you to come into the shoppe anytime this Tuesday to participate in making a pillowcase to send there. Our goal is to help in the effort (with other quilt shops) of making 600 pillowcases. We will keep the shop open from 8 am to 8 pm to accommodate as many as possible who would like to help in this way. We will provide the fabric. You'll provide your time. Together, we can use this as a symbolic gesture of outreach, love and support."

The quilt shop owner Kris is in pink. When the shop opened she and her employees had already made hundreds of pillowcase kits so the project would move quickly.

Different stations were set up so the process went smoothly in assembly-line fashion. There were ladies who cut, sewed, pressed, trimmed, serged. and folded.
This is Kim, twin sister of Kris. She owns the pattern company Kimberbell Designs and I'm lucky to work for her. Kim's on serger duty along with a gal who came from Odgen to help with the project. 

The "fun" room is the attic above the quilt shop - it's a wonderful workroom that's set up for groups and classes. 

This is Elaine and Debbie - they cut fabric all day and put the pieces together to make the pillowcase kits. 1/2 yard for the body, 1/4 yard for the cuff, and 2 1/2 inches for the contrasting trim.
Me and my Bernina in a Janome and Babylock world. 
This picture was taken at noon - people also brought pillowcases that they had made at home to donate.
When I left the shop at 4:30, there were 375 pillowcases finished. I'm sure the goal of 600 will be reached. 
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' daNg disRacTion '

I shouldn't be trying to bake when I have so much to do. I shouldn't even consider it. But something about stress makes me want to make chocolate chip cookies. I'm pretty fast at it, so this morning I decided to go for it.

And sure enough, the dough was yummy and hit the spot. Just what I needed. I put the first batch in the oven and COMPLETELY FORGOT. I didn't even smell the cookies baking, nor did I smell the cookies burning.
I hate that moment when you realize.
  I hated wasting those burnt cookies. Even more, I didn't want Scott to know. I gathered them up in a Lee's Marketplace sack and threw them down the side of the garbage under the other stuff. (Seriously, they are burnt - the photo above doesn't do them justice.)

It was such a good recipe - especially the dough. Good thing I doubled the recipe. I carefully baked two more batches with two timers ringing after 9 minutes. (They are best if not overdone.) The recipe is Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rice Krispies. You make them when you have three boxes of Rice Krispies that you bought in the summer to make RK Treats for Bear Lake.

Kellog's Rice Krispie Chocolate Chip Cookies

   1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In large electric mixer bowl, beat together margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal and chocolate chips. Drop by level tablespoon onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 350° F about 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately from baking sheets and cool on wire racks. Store in airtight container.
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[ SiErra's ShoWer ]

What a wonderful "friends and family" get together we had for Sierra's Logan shower.

Sierra got to meet lots of family and open fun "kitchen" presents.

Suzie and Lizzie came which made it extra special.. Suzie made the invitations and helped plan and decorate. 

Bailee, Aimee and Brookelyn helped too. Brookie wins the prize for the "cutest shower game" ever. She did a ton of work cutting out crowns and mustaches, interviewing the bride and groom, and running the game. 

It was fun to have Sierra's mom Leslie here.

And cousin Arika with my Aunt Norma. 

And Scott's three sisters: Aunt Jill, Aunt Patty, and Aunt Mary - with cousins Michelle and Kelli in the back.

Love this picture of Becky. She also helped put it all together. 

Mike and his new ice cream scoop. 
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