Sunday, December 19, 2010


Christmas is always magical. This year it seems that much of that magic has come through Music and the Arts for me. I joined the ward choir and it has been a treat to be directed under Sister Appeloni who also directs the BYU Women's Chorus. We performed at the annual Christmas Sing-a-Long last weekend. Loved it!  I have also had the opportunity to attend many Christmas Concerts. In my opinion, best Christmas Album of the Season goes to my good friend Steve Nelson. Seriously, click here to sample Steve's music or run to Deseret Book or go to iTUNES to purchase it. You still have a week to devour it! 

Every year since I was a very young, my mother would dress us up and take us to the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve following Breakfast with Santa at the Tiffin Room in the old ZCMI building. While the Tiffin Room doesn't exist anymore, luckily we are still able to attend Ballet West's The Nutcracker. I love it! SO MUCH! Yesterday I took my "little sister" Andrea from Big Brother's Big Sisters. (and here's where my plug comes in...) Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is in need of volunteers.

Andrea and I hang out each week and it's been such a pleasure getting to know her. If you'd like information on how you can get involved, please let me know. We had a lovely time yesterday at the ballet. The Nutcracker never seems to lose it's magic and always gets me in the mood for Christmas. So many traditions still to conquer in these next few days. I'm giddy just thinking about it.

Lastly I just want to throw a nice little quote surrounding Christmas. I found it on the LDS Church website.

“There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ.”—President Thomas S. Monson

There are also several videos there about Christmas that are lovely for getting into the Christmas Spirit and help to keep focused on the real reason we Celebrate!

Enjoy the rest of the season!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

festival of trees

One of my absolute favorite traditions in Salt Lake City around Christmas Time is the Festival of Trees. I partook of the goodness yesterday morning and I was loving every minute. Seriously, lights, toys, home made fudge, gingerbread houses... Is there anything better than that? While walking around, I found myself curious about how they came about. There's a ton of different stories about Christmas Trees, but here is a short excerpt I found about how they came to be.

The Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. It was common for the Germanic people to decorate fir trees, both inside and out, with roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles. While coming home one dark winter's night near Christmas, he was struck with the beauty of the starlight shining through the branches of a small fir tree outside his home. He duplicated the starlight by using candles attached to the branches of his indoor Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19th century. It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1820's.

Anyway, just something to think about as you enjoy your tree this year! Tis the Season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

giving thanks

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

On the eve of Thanksgiving there is a lot on my mind, mostly what I am grateful for…. And yes, I will list them…read on if you like.

  1. The Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So often I take for granted all this church has taught me and the person that I have become because of it. This church is not just a religion that I chose to distinguish myself from one being to another. It defines me, it refines me. This church is a lifestyle and I am indeed grateful for the countless abilities, opportunities and lessons I am able to partake of because of it. I am very grateful for both the doctrine and the people of this church. I met someone recently who has both challenged and inspired me to dig deeper and to explore the scriptures and my beliefs. I am indeed grateful for their questions and friendship and a renewed sense of truth and understanding. Thank You! (You know who you are)…
  2. Family. Really, what is the purpose of life without a family? Nothing in this world would mean anything if I didn't have a family to be with. I have a wonderful, strong family of whom I know love me unconditionally. It is an eternal family. A family that supports one another and laughs with one another. This includes my nuclear and extended family. It is such a blessing to be a part of a unit that I know will not be broken despite life's challenges.
  3. Teaching. What a challenge it is to be a teacher. I love it. I get so excited when the students I teach understand a concept and repeat it back to me, or better…teach one another. I love dressing up in silly costumes and seeing my students eyes grow big, wondering what their crazy teacher is going to do next. I love growing from overcoming challenges in teaching. I love creating, singing, dancing, finger painting. Heck, I even love observing my students. I am so lucky and grateful to do what I do, and I feel so blessed to have a job that I love.
  4. Education. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn. I have only three classes of my Master's degree left and as it is winding down, I'm finding myself a little sad that I wont have the challenge of it anymore. Granted, life will present new obstacles as I persue my career in Secondary Education but I have loved learning in a formal institution and I will miss it. I guess the trick is to keep taking classes, to keep reading, to keep gaining knowledge.
  5. Music. A couple of weeks ago I sat in a concert my good friend Steve Nelson put on. As I have been in the past, I was again inspired by his cello music. I have always loved making and listening to music and have a developed an appreciation for a variety of genres. I bought a Christmas Piano book at the concert (thank you Marshall McDonald), and have been so uplifted as I play. I also joined the choir at church. We have an amazing director who takes choral music very seriously, but has taught us so much. Singing at pre-school has been fun as well. Now that I've had a couple of months with my students, they have memorized the lyrics and it's the most adorable thing in the world.
  6. The ability to run. Most people I talk to do not like to run at all. They scoff at the thought. I thank my lucky stars for this ability. It gives me the chance to think, to feel alive. I'm reminded every day what a gift this is, when I come home and see my father who isn't able. He has countless abilities that make him an incredible person, but I know if given the opportunity, he'd run to the moon and back. It is a wonderful thing to be healthy and strong.
  7. Turkey, pie, and food in general. I've worked with a lot of people that struggle to feed their families. I have seen severe poverty in rural areas of the world. I will not forget the many times that the orphaned children in Africa brought me bread and tea when they themselves had nothing to eat. The division of food in this world is haunting and something I will never understand. I do not know I am fortunate enough to have bread on the table while others do not. I only know that I am blessed.
  8. Friendship. I have so many wonderful friends, from all over the world. Each friend I have, I feel is in my life for a different reason. I only wish I could see those whom are far away more often. If I ever win the lottery, first purchase is a plane and a pilot to fly me to various cities to hang out with friends. Really though, friendship is something that I treasure and I am very grateful for all of you!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!…I'll be out for a few days due to Turkey Coma and Skiing. (I'm not really sad about that at all).

Friday, November 5, 2010

welcome to my classroom

I have the best job in the whole world! I am privileged to teach 30 three year old darlings each week. Granted, I am still learning how to be a teacher but I'm having a lot of fun with my classes. Part of the fun is creating an inviting environment in the classroom which is a stellar creative outlet for me. We've done a couple of fun studies lately and although I can't share pictures of my students with you (just know they are the absolute cutest things on the planet)…here are a few pictures of the world in which I teach in. I loved the Dr. Seuss theme because well…who doesn't love a little "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" or "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?". This week we are studying farms and harvest/pumpkins. Hence, the barn in dramatic play and the tree with the leaves and the "Old Mac Donald had a Farm".

mini monster mash

I absolutely heart Halloween! I love costumes and candy corns, haunted houses, and corn mazes. It's such an excuse to throw a bash! (not that I ever need one)…. I teach pre-school, but to remain "politically correct" and neutral in all things, we don't celebrate holidays at our school. Gotta love the one families beliefs ruins the celebrations for everyone thing. What is America coming too? BORING! Anyhow, I sort of got away with it by doing a Dr. Suess Study in my class and dressing like "The Cat in the Hat". My little three year old students were bewildered, and one ran straight to the library and grabbed the Dr. Suess books and said, "look…you Him!" SO cute!

To get over my lack of having a party in pre-school, I threw a little Mini Monster Mash of sorts for my married with children friends. I really am lucky to have amazing friends and their children are absolutely adorable. For the menu we had goblin guts, vampire teeth, monster salad, eyeball cupcakes, witches brew, and Frankenstein claws. We made spider cookies, and painted pumpkins. I was mostly enjoying their little costumes amongst the organized chaos.

Check out the fun!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

you are going to want to watch this...

I'm pretty sure I've posted this before...but in case you didn't get to it the first time around. This is my good friend Steve Nelson on the cello. Brilliant!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

perfect saturday mornings...

are spent waking up late, running in the park and then heading downtown for the Farmer's Market. I did just that this morning and ended up bringing home fresh baked bread, sundried tomato and blue cheese pesto, and of course home made pasta from Tony Caputo's (my very favorite Italian deli in Salt Lake) to go with. Ah, bliss!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

fall dinner party

It's not a secret that I adore fall. It's not a secret that I adore cooking for my friends with all my heart. I don't need an excuse to have a dinner party, and I didn't use one. I just invited my foodie friends to join me for a fall meal. I enjoyed every minute of putting this dinner together. Here are some pics of the table and the appetizers. On the menu…


pan fried caramelized onion dip

brie cheese with craisins, brown sugar, and tart apples

roasted butternut squash soup

arugula salad

braised pork loin in pasta with pancetta and pecorino cheese

butterscotch and spice trifle with pumpkin whipped cream


I had an amazing evening with my friends. So amazing that I spaced taking pictures of anyone. Sad. There are pics of the table and appetizers. I did get that far! No seriously though, My friends are a beautiful bunch and witty to boot! We laughed our heads off! I'm so happy to have foodies in my life, and just food in general really.

A little while ago…

I went to the Antelope Island Kite and Balloon Festival.

I took pics, which turned out mediocre.

But…I had thoughts.

Serious thoughts about wanting to fly these kites, and to ride in these hot air balloons.

I think I might actually want to own one, or both. (on this teacher's salary I better start saving)

Definitely an achievable dream. Right?

Let's be honest, there are hardly things more beautiful and cool.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I completed my fourth half marathon in Price, Ut yesterday and it felt amazing! It felt so nice to be outside amongst the Red Rocks and blue sky and just think and ponder for a while. Along the way, I met two women from Missouri who had run a half marathon in 15 states already and were trying to reach all 50. I set that same goal for myself last year and meeting these women inspired me to go for it. I can't wait to pick the next state and get back into running and racing. Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

kerry jean

Last month my dear friend Kerry Jean from South Africa passed away due to a fatal accident. She has been on my mind constantly. This girl was beautiful in every way. I haven't met many people who had the spunk and zest for life that Kerry had. She was beyond generous in her kindness toward others. She had an incredible dedication to her family and the gospel that can only be admired and sought after. I only knew her a short time and she made such a difference in my life. She and I would send books and movies to read back and forth via snail mail between America to South Africa. Often we'd find funny cards and gifts to put in the packages. They always seemed to come at a time when I really needed a little boost. Kerry was amazing at just that…lifting others. My last experience with her in person happened to be in the Johannesburg Temple. She and I were folding clothing in the laundry room there and discussing our unknown futures. Of course being single at the age of 30 was an unwanted thing for both of us, but neither of us had a good explanation for why we wanted family so much and hadn't received it yet. That's just not a question that can be answered generically. However, Kerry being wise and in tune said something that has stuck with me since. She said, "I don't have any answer's Holly other than I know Heavenly Father loves us and has a plan for both of us". Kerry's plan included leaving this Earth quickly, most likely so she can watch over others. There are many people in her life that need her. Perhaps she will be capable of even more than she was on Earth, in Heaven. I know she has probably already met her prince and I am positive he adores her. You can't not adore Kerry. My plan is unknown still. And that is ok. I am trying to figure it out and navigate the path I am supposed to be on. I understand that I don't have all of the answers and will not receive them until I am supposed to. Unanswered prayers are sometimes our life vests in life's tormented oceans. I understand trials and tender mercies and God's refining tools. I am thankful for them. But still I wonder, which path do I choose? I'm always choosing between two positives. I've pretty much weeded out the negative choice but when someone so treasured leaves your life in an instant, it forces to the surface a couple of haunting questions. Serious questions.

The first, for me was…

  1. If I left the Earth right now, would I be prepared to meet the Savior face to face?


  1. Have I done any good in the World today? (this is not a question for my readers, this is a question for me)


Since Kerry's passing I have done a lot of pleading. There are times when we kneel and pray and thank Heavenly Father for our blessings and ask for help, and then there is pleading. Really, truly seeking for answers to these questions. There is a ginormous amount more that I can do. But what I mostly plead for is the confidence that Kerry had that "everything will be ok because Heavenly Father loves us". Don't get me wrong, deep down I know that too. I just want to feel it. I want to trust it. I want to know it without question and carry that spirit within me and all around me as Kerry did. I want to be better than I am. In the end I just want to know I am getting it right! Time will tell.

Sweet Kerry lives on in so many hearts. In my heart. She got it right! I love you Kerry Jean and I am so grateful for your gifts. Now find me a prince will you?





Saturday, September 4, 2010

into the woods

Finally, finally I am getting around to posting about the incredible summer I had. This was my fourth summer being a Chef at Camp Rising Sun and I am pretty sure it was the best so far! Aside from getting to spend my time in the woods and sleeping under the stars in the beautiful Hudson Valley and cooking for an amazing 80 people from all over the World (a dream come true for me really), I learned so many lessons and so much about myself this summer. I will spare you and keep those things close to my heart, but I have to share camp with you all…because this place is so special. I have a plethora of pictures to post, but to save blog space if you would like to see more, you can refer to my Facebook page.

Things got busy very quickly in the kitchen and dining hall. At this camp, we LOVE to sing so we didn't hold back in getting that started at all. The campers were also very eager to cook this year which is my favorite part of my job.

I love being in the kitchen with them and I learned a ton of new cuisine from every region this year. I'll start with that! One of my favorite meals we did was the Hungarian Goulash over the open fire. My Hungarian mother Zsoka came back to camp this summer to volunteer for three weeks. I don't have words for my love for her. She helped me so much. Her wisdom and beauty and humbleness amaze me. She is just delightful to be around and an amazing cook.

Every week, the campers plan a special meal for Sunday evenings. This is so much fun because they get pretty creative. For one of the meals, the camper from South Africa suggested a Braai (South African BBQ). This was among the favorites because we grilled fresh veggies and steaks, chicken, and sausage. What boy wouldn't want three kinds of meat in one meal? Grilling is my favorite type of cuisine so of course I was in Heaven as well.

For Arts Weekend, I was asked to do a five hour Culinary Instruction. Let me preface by saying that baking isn't my strength, but with the help of the campers it actually turned out ok. We managed to bake and present Homemade Wheat Bread, Apple Pie, Coconut Cake, Pear Pizza with Goat Cheese and Arugula, Cinnamon Rolls, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Berry Tart! It was exhausting but I am really glad we took the challenge. What a fun day!

Another favorite part of cooking is sharing culture through food. I learned a ton! The campers brought spices from all over. We shared Falafel from Israel, Southern Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese, Tiki Masala from India, Indonesian Lemon Grass Soup, Chicken Rice from Peru, Dumplings from China and the list goes on.

Our Polish campers loved being in the kitchen much to my delight because I learned so much from them. Wojo and Alex totally knew what they were doing. Here they are making Pierogies. If you have never tried these, Go…Now…Eat Them. They are divine! They took nine hours to make, but were worth every ounce of time we spent. Wojo made his mother's beet soup and it was a delicious accompaniment.

We also managed Empanadas. Another long project but well worth it!

One advantage to being a Chef at a camp is that the campers have team works and clean up for you! Isn't that fabulous? Even though it is hard work we really just have a blast the whole time singing and dancing in the kitchen. I love these boys. Mom's, if you are reading here is proof that your boys do know how to do dishes! Love them!

One quote we throw out often at camp is "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World". This is one of my favorite elements to camp. Each Friday I was able to take the boys to The Thompson House to sing to the elderly. Each week we would make a playlist and bring out guitars, violins etc and bust out our best "Oh When the Saints" or "You are My Sunshine". Afterwards the boys would visit with the residents there. The people were so incredibly grateful for our campers to come and loved visiting with them. This experience totally warmed my heart. I was so proud of the boys and the compassion they showed toward not only these people, but each other during the summer. I couldn't take pictures of the Elderly for confidentiality reasons, but just look how cute these campers are singing!

There is too much written in my journals and in the pages of my heart about these boys and what they mean to me, but as their older sister I will just post a few pics to show you how darling they are. I wish you could all meet them. They will grow up to be world leaders, musicians, scientists, doctors, humanitarians. They will change lives. I am so lucky to have all of these little brother's who I treasure. They inspire me so much!