Our Ward International Pot Luck Feast

John and I serve as the Co-Chairs of the Activity Committee in our Stonewood 4th Ward.  That means we get to plan all the ward parties and activities.  Because of COVID restrictions, we’ve had to plan carefully and limit our neighborhood gatherings.  Now that the restrictions are lifting a bit, we can start getting back together again.

Our bishopric asked us to add an activity to the calendar this month.  We didn’t have much time at all to plan or prepare, but we were thrilled with the results tonight!  We called it an International Pot Luck Dinner.

A week before the event, we sent around sign-up sheets at church for international dishes–main, dessert or other. We also had people sign up to bring an international centerpiece or any decorations from places they’d traveled.  We decorated the room with globes of the earth, travel posters and things people brought. We played a youtube travel video on the big screen so it looked like we were in the dining room of a cruise ship!

At each table we had questions with a table captain appointed who stayed there to keep everyone on track. After about 5 minutes of visiting and hearing everyone’s answers to the questions, we rotated 2 more times, then we had dinner. After dinner we had a special performance by a professional ballroom dance couple in our ward. They were fantastic.

The rest of the evening was spent eating and visiting. The food was fantastic and there was plenty. The food tables were arranged by continent/area (North and South America, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Africa) with a poster by each with statistics about each area from the church website (number of members, # of temples, countries in the area, etc.)

Everyone LOVED this activity and want to repeat it every year. We had an excellent turn out for such a quickly-put-together event. We asked that it be adults only, and provided a nursery for those who needed babysitting help.

· Name a place you would love to visit and tell why.
· Name three places where you have lived (international or US), other than your current home.
· Name a country that your ancestors came from.
· If you served a mission, where did you serve?
· Do you speak a language other than English?  Which language have you dreamed of learning?

Our neighbors and friends:

The punch we served was one of our favorites–you mix one can of white grape juice concentrate with a liter of Fresca and serve it with pebble ice.  YUM.

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Bridal Shower for Abbey Pinegar

Today we celebrated Aaron & Abbey’s upcoming marriage with a family bridal shower with members of Abbey’s family.  This was the first time I met most of them–her aunts and cousins–and they were delightful.  What an interestingly epic thing it is to bring two families together to create a new one!  As I learned more about Abbey and her family and heard more stories about how Aaron and Abbey’s lives intersected, over and over again, I was reminded that there is more at stake here than meets the eye.  Heaven’s Hand is in our comings and goings.

I remember in April, 1997, John and I were on a travel study trip that included visiting the BYU Jerusalem Center.  We attended church there on Shabbat, and after the meeting, as John and I sat in the beautiful Concert Hall looking out over the Old City of Jerusalem, I had a powerful impression flood through my body.  The message I received was this:  “Do Everything in your power to get your children here.”  The impression was so strong, I started crying.  It was unexpected and I remember sitting there, trying to compose myself.  It was not just a thought or hope or idea.  It felt like a command from heaven.

At that time, Aaron was 2 years old.  I have never forgotten that impression.  Years later, when Claire was deciding what to do with her life, I suggested to her best friend that a study abroad experience would be a great idea.  And Jerusalem would be at the top of my list, if I had a choice.  Claire was in the room and heard.  On her own, she looked up the program and started making her own plans to go.  She and her friend went in 2015 as we left for Yakima.

After returning from his mission, it didn’t take much for Claire to convince Aaron to go to Jerusalem before diving into his mechanical engineering program at BYU.  Of course, I added my encouragement and support (never forgetting the impression I’d received so long ago).  Aaron went in January 2017,  I was glad that these two wanted to go and were able to go.

This morning, at this bridal shower, I heard Abbey tell her family the story of how she met Aaron.  She said that several of her best friends had gone to Jerusalem and were in Aaron’s study abroad group.  This Jerusalem group of friends brought them together.  As she told the story, a flood of warmth filled my body and I remembered the feelings I’d had sitting in that concert hall 25 years ago.  Those feelings returned today, and I knew that Aaron and Abbey’s paths were meant to cross.  I knew it.

So today we celebrated that intersection and their plans to marry in a few weeks.  I felt God’s Hand in this merging of our families.  I felt this is absolutely right and good.  For me, this event was so much more than delicious food, games and gifts.  It was a confirmation that things are as they should be.

But the food, games and gifts were also great!

I learned that this is a very musical family!  The last game was identifying the titles or artists singing 25 different songs with “love” in the title.  I didn’t score so well, but Abbey and her sister knew almost all of them!

Then Abbey opened her gifts.  This family is kind and generous.

One especially dear gift was given by Abbey’s Grandma Mary.  It was an old Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt made by Mary’s grandmother, Bertha Emery McKean Swain.  Abbey has been living in her Grandma Mary’s home the last few months, and this quilt was on her bed.  She loved it and Mary has now passed it on to her.

Abbey has a love for quilts and plants and beautiful things–things that matter in this world.

Here is an army of women who will love and support Abbey in the coming years.

Abbey with her sisters and mother:  Allison, Susan, Abbey and Anna.

What a wonderful morning.  What wonderful memories it brought, what hope for the future!

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Young Women’s Standards Night at the Cabin

This evening I was invited to speak to the young women in our ward.  They had a fun overnighter at our Sundance cabin planned, with lots of good food, workshops, activities, a Days for Girls service project, and my fireside this evening.

The leaders asked me to talk to the girls about the youth theme for this year, Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths.”

This particular scripture has been one of the guiding lights of my life.

While we were serving as Mission Leaders in Yakima, during one round of interviews, as I visited with each individual missionary, I asked them to describe to me how they received or felt the promptings of the Spirit.  I wrote down the things more than 150 missionaries they told me.  This evening, I returned to those pages and pages of notes, sharing many of their comments with these young girls and we talked about all the different ways the Spirit of God speaks to us in a language we each understand.  It’s different for each person.   His Voice is unique and individualized, and we can learn to hear it if we listen carefully.  And when we hear it, we can trust it.  God speaks to us because He loves us and wants the very best for us.

Here is a handout I had made for these cute girls:

I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who knows me and who loves me and who speaks to me.  I trust Him.  I love him.  I know He is there, always.

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My Soul is Fed by Needle and Thread

I am sad for any woman who doesn’t have a group of quilting friends.  Oh, how I love being with my quilt group every Wednesday!  We visit and stitch and counsel with each other about life, about our families, about food and current events, and about our quilting projects.  We fill each others’ souls with goodness and cheer.  I am grateful for these women.

We also have really good food.  Today’s soup was five star.  Here’s the recipe:

Spicy Lasagna Soup – Ann Takasaki

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
chopped zucchini and yellow squash
8 ounce fresh mushrooms, sliced (I added mushrooms to original recipe)
6 cloves garlic, chopped (or use a garlic press)
1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on preference)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t like the soup to be spicy)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used cooking white wine)
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup cream
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese (recipe calls for Provolone, but it does not melt well, so I use Fontina)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8-10 lasagna noodles, broken in pieces (I use bowtie pasta)

Sauté sausage in olive oil until no longer pink. (don’t over cook.) Add chopped garlic part way through cooking sausage. In separate pot sauté onion, celery, and red pepper in butter. (I like vegetables al dente so I cook them separately. I sautéed the mushrooms in another separate frying pan.) Drain sausage and add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and thyme. Simmer 10 minutes. Add grated cheese slowly, stirring to allow cheese to melt completely. Stir in chicken broth and cream. Transfer onion, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms (with cooking liquid) to soup pot. Meanwhile, cook pasta in separate pot until al dente. Drain. Add pasta to soup pot.

To serve, shred fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

Note: I like to make the soup the day before allowing the flavors to blend. However, I cook the pasta the next day and add it to the soup before serving.

Karen Ashton, Karin Crawford, Helen Clegg, Ann Lewis, Penny Stephenson, Sharon Geurtz, Lisa Johnson, Melissa Clark, Ann Takasaki, Marsha Livingstone

This week I brought 3 quilts I inherited while we were in Bamako.  I’ll tell their story in a later post.  What treasures!

I came home today and cut out another quilt.  This one is called Tell Me A Story by my friend, Amy McClellan.

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A Sewing Sort of Week

It’s been a sewing sort of week.  I’ve been sewing and pressing these little half square triangles out of scraps and strips and leftovers from other projects.  I’m afraid my FTC (failure to count) problem has kicked in again.  I get going on something and I don’t stop.  I’m going to make these half square triangles into adorable little pinwheels and put them all together into a quilt.  They hardly make a dent in my fabric piles–they seem to just come out of nowhere–a strip here, a piece there–and before you know it, I’ll have a spectacular quilt!

I’ve also put together another batch of pillowcases for the grandkids.  I’m going through a bin of fabric that’s been waiting for this day.  When I asked Adam which ones he wanted for his kids, he said, “how many can we take?”  That was the right answer.  I told him as many as he wanted.  I can always make more!

I have one more batch of about ten in the works.  I am very happy about how little fabric went into the trash this week.

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Celebrating Lorna Wood’s 90th Birthday

Ann Lewis and missionary companions Melanie (Hirshi) Henley, Sherrie (Moultrie) Johnson, Michelle (Smith) Falco

Today we had a really fun reunion with South African missionaries and friends to celebrate Lorna Wood’s 90th birthday.  She was our Mission Mom and we love her.

South Africans, Andre and Judy (Bester) Brummer hosted our wonderful event.  We also served together in the Transkei in 1982.   Judy prepared mounds of delicious South African curries, samosas, rice, pumpkin, peas, hot bread and salads.  It was so good.

We enjoyed the afternoon visiting with friends and quite a few South Africans who now live here.

The older I get, the more I enjoy memories of the best times of my life.  Serving in South Africa was one of those times.

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Wishing for a Brain Dump

Our home and yard are 28 years old now.  These garden boxes have held our family produce for a long time, summer after summer.  They are finally giving out,  filled with termite ants and decay from water and weather.  It was time to rebuild.

We decided to make them a bit taller this time, since we are a bit older.

Yesterday a load of garden soil was delivered.  This soil is a mixture of mulch, top soil and steer manure.  It is rich and dark and it smells earthy and good.

I stood in the cul de sac today looking at and admiring that dump of dirt, wishing that such a thing could happen with my brain–empty out the old, rebuild the structure, and refill with rich fertile soil that will receive the next seeds and plants.  If only it were that easy.

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Making Pillowcases for the Grandkids

When I got a message from Adam last week telling me that the kids Really would Love some more fun pillowcases, I went right to work.  How does a grandma say no to that?  If it involves fabric, I’m there!  I’ve been collecting pillowcase fabrics for awhile, and this week I had a lot of fun putting these together.

I’ve added the tutorial I used at the end of this post.  It’s really fun and easy.  You just need 3/4 yard of the main fabric (27″ x 41″), 1/3 yard of the cuff at the top (12″ by width of fabric) and 1.5″ by width of fabric of the accent piece between them.

You put the cuff fabric down first, right side up.  Next comes the ironed in half accent strip, raw edges at the top.  Then you pin the top side of the main fabric right side down on top of these.

After pinning the main fabric, you roll it up, then bring the cuff fabric up and over the roll, and pin it to the top, lining up all the raw edges.  This makes a tube.

Stitch along this top edge 1/4″ from the edges.  Here is my stack of tubes ready to sew.

After sewing them, you trim the main piece to 42″

Then you sew the 2 side seams with the WRONG SIDES together.  That won’t feel right, but it’s how you make an enclosed French seam.

After stitching the sides, press the seams, then you turn the pillowcase right side in and stitch the 2 sides again, about 3/8″ in from the edge so the previous seam is enclosed.  Now when you turn the pillowcase right side out, the inside seams are perfectly enclosed!

Here are the 19 pillowcases I finished this week.  Oh, so fun!!

I can’t wait to let the grandkids pick the ones they like best!

Here is the excellent tutorial I used to make these:  https://www.twiddletails.com/assets/images/PDF%20Files/PCTute.pdf

Being a grandma is the best job Ever!!

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French Language Study Continues

Today my Duolingo streak hit 500 days!   John says I’m competitive.  I suppose it’s true.  I can’t let the streak break, so I keep studying my French, every day.  I usually spend about 20-30 learning and reviewing and practicing pronunciation.  I enjoy it and I’m getting better and better.

I’ve learned German, Afrikaans, a bit of Spanish and now French.  I wish I were fluent in any of these languages.  I can get by.  There are lots of words in my head.  They don’t always come out in the right order, but I keep trying.


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A Miracle: The Mali Container is Leaving! Mosquito Abatement and Days for Girls Supplies

Last night John and I pulled these boxes and totes out of our garage.  They are full of Days for Girls supplies for the Enterprise in Ouelessebougou, Mali.  We have been waiting more than a year for the container to be sent.  This week we got word that it will finally go!

This is the container that is being sent with the mosquito abatement vehicles and supplies.  Of course, I was there to add Days for Girls supplies!  The Ouelessebougou Alliance is working with the top malaria experts in the USA and Bamako and Germany to start a mosquito abatement project in the Ouelessebougou region in Mali.  This area has one of the highest concentrations of mosquitoes in the world.

There was plenty of open space in the container for our Days for Girls supplies.  We added 38 boxes and totes which included 10,800 flannel liners made by my dear friends in Yakima, WA.  I also sent 200 lbs of material for shields and bags, about 20 bolts of flannel and about 30 yards of PUL.   This should keep our ladies there busy for the next year or two.

A bit of flannel:

The container is also filled with lots of mosquito stuff.

Here I am with Jason Hardman from the Mosquito Abatement District, John and Dick Loomis, the Ouelessebougou Board Member who is making this all possible.  Bravo to these heroes!

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