Wreath Tutorial.

Today I have a sad tale to tell.
On the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday,
I bought a wreath hanger.
(It wasn't particularly cute, and I may not use it, but that isn't the point.)
This wreath hanger went on my front door as soon as we arrived home,
awaiting a Christmas wreath to hold.
And it sat, waiting.
And waiting.
And waiting.
Christmas came and went, and no wreath adorned our door.

Today, our door went naked no more.

I decided to make a wreath that is pretty versatile. I call it my "winter" wreath.
I've seen a lot of wreaths that are a simple form, wrapped tightly with yarn,
and then embellished.

I haven't seen any tutorials, but it seemed easy enough.
So I gave it a shot, and documented the process for your learning pleasure.
And now, I present the first craft tutorial to ever grace "Love Always".

Wrapped Yarn Wreath

You will need:
a "tubular" wreath form
yarn in color(s) of your choice
ribbon, buttons, felt
hot glue gun
needle & thread

1. I started out by rolling some of my yarn into a ball. I found it's easier to wrap around the form that way.

2. Tie the yarn tightly around the wreath form as your starting point. Begin by tightly wrapping the yarn around the wreath form. It's ok to not wrap the yarn super close together; you can push it together later (this makes it go faster).

Be sure not to leave any gaps where the form shows through. As I went, I wrapped my hand around the yarn and twisted in the direction of the wrap to tighten and smooth it.

2. Keep wrapping and tightening...
...until your form is completely wrapped. Go back and tighten and smooth where needed.

3. Overlap a little when you meet up with your starting point. Then tie it off by bringing the yarn around itself (if that makes any sense....) and use hot glue to glue the end down. Be sure it glues in the "back" of your wreath, or where it will be covered by embellishments.

** I decided to use a cream-colored satin ribbon to make flowers to embellish my wreath. I think this would also look really cute with felt flowers, to keep with the cozy feel....maybe for my next project :) I probably used about 12" of ribbon for the largest bloom, and less for the other two. Here is the basic way I make these flowers. (I use this same method in so many different ways to make all kinds of flowers).

4. Start out by threading a needle and knotting the ends. Sew along the cut edge of the ribbon, and then turn at the corner and begin stitching along that edge.

5. Gather the ribbon as you go. The larger your stitches, the bigger the gathers.

6. Continue this process. The ribbon will start to naturally curl on itself. This will form the end result of a sort of spiraled rosette.

7. Finish off the flower by stitching up the other cut edge. Arrange the ribbon into a spiral....until it looks good. (You can't hate me for saying that. Just look at the pictures.) Stitch from back to front to secure the rosette and tie it off in the back.

8. Glue flower embellishments onto the wreath.

9. Add button centers if you like.

10. Hang on your door for all to enjoy!

Give me some feedback on this if you can.... so I know what to do for future tutorials.
Also, let me know if you make one... I'd love to see pictures!


This year, getting into Christmas was a struggle, because we were so busy and stressed with finals. However, with our tiny apartment and smallish budget, we did get some Christmas cheer in the way of decorations.

We found a beautiful Nativity on Black Friday:

I made a cute garland out of recycled Christmas cards:
(This is super easy if you have a circle die-cut. Then just adhere to string with tape....I used mailing labels cut in half.)

We also had a beautiful little tree. It had a sparkly gold star on top. I loved the red wooden beaded garland. And we each had ornaments from our childhood. We had so much fun decorating it while listening to Christmas music on Pandora. A couple of weeks later, I'd just put on the last of my ornaments, when one day out of the blue, the tree fell over. One of the plastic legs had bent. Instead of trying to rig it to stand, I undecorated it and we returned it, hoping for an exchange. Just our luck, Target was out of the 6' pre-lit trees. So we ended up not having tree for Christmas :( But, here is a tribute to our first Christmas tree (or Mismas Tree, as TJ called it):

Planning and giving gifts also helped me to feel Christmas.
Half of what we gave was handmade. I made banana bread to give to friends, coworkers, and neighbors. I even made something for TJ that wasn't edible! I gave him a new set of scriptures, because he wants to keep his mission ones in good condition. I also gave him a movie, iTunes gift card, and some caramel corn. Then I gave him a handmade key chain (51 was his number when he played high school football):

My favorite gift this year is one that I will always treasure. TJ gave me this beautiful necklace that he bought from Beki of The Rusted Chain:
I had shown the site to TJ, but didn't specify which one I wanted...so he picked this one out all on his own. He picked perfectly; I almost cried when I opened the box. I told him he's begun a tradition of necklace-giving (he gave me a heart-shaped cubic zirconia necklace last year).

I loved the next gifts I made. I won't lie I almost kept them for me, but I loved giving them away even more. The white ones were for both of our mothers. They have both an alligator clip and a pin so they can be worn as a brooch. I drew TJ's sister Hannah for their family, so she got one pink one and the green one (her high school's colors) and my sister Kyndra got the other two (purple & gold for MESA!).

We decided that since we don't have children yet, traveling is easy enough so we could split our time between our families this year. We headed down to Mesa on the 23rd and stayed until Christmas morning. It was nice spending time with my family and going to L&L Hawaiian Grill for lunch with my siblings (if you go, you must get the Katsu chicken and their macaroni salad....we buy it by the pound). On Christmas Eve, we went to the annual Burgess Family Christmas Eve dinner. This year we kept it simple with nachos and sandwiches. There are so many of us now that it's hard to fit us all into Grandma and Grandpa's house, but we're still managing. New to the program this year was the great-grandkids acting out the Nativity while Grandma read. My mom and Aunt Robyn were in charge and made some really cute, simple costumes. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. I was busy shuffling kids and fixing costumes. (If anybody has any, I'd love to get some!) We then went on our traditional caroling "Hay Ride," but without the hay this year. I was glad to show TJ one of my favorite family traditions.

After the festivities were over, we decided to go see the Temple lights, and brought Kyndra along with us. I love seeing the lights, and the new ones they add each year. I also love the Nativity scene they set up every year.

The next morning we woke up and opened gifts with my family, then scarfed down the traditional Christmas Morning breakfast burritos. Then it was off to Flagstaff to make it in time to talk to Skylar! The drive up was quicker than usual, and we listened to Christmas music the whole way. We got there a little before 11 am, when Elder Pond was scheduled to call. While waiting for the international call to work (Skylar is TJ's younger brother on an LDS mission in Cuernavaca, Mexico), I ate a yummy homemade cinnamon roll (one of TJ's family traditions). We also opened the sibling gifts. When we finally got through to Mexico, each of us took turns talking to the man of the hour. It was so good to talk to Skylar, especially because I hadn't talked to him since February. He's doing really well and talks about a mile a minute in both English and Spanish. TJ got to talk to him for a little longer than the rest of us I think...but they are best friends. All in all I think it was a total of 3 hours.

The rest of Christmas day was spent at TJ's family's house eating a wonderful Christmas dinner with the Elders in their ward and some friends, watching football and Despicable Me, and playing games. We headed home around 7, where we watched a movie and unpacked and then went to bed. It was a busy, but fun Christmas.

I'm sad it's over, but I'm looking forward to next year already. I've decided we'll do more homemade and we really want to start a Secret Santa tradition. I love all of the Christmas traditions: opening a gift on Christmas Eve, Grandma's homemade fudge and raisin bread, lots of oranges and pistachios, spending tons of time with family, music, movies, gifts....I'm so grateful for this time of year and the spirit of giving that is so evident. The greatest gift of all is the love that the Savior gave in his life and continues to give. I hope that we can all continue to be filled with the love and light of Christ throughout the year. Merry Christmas!


One nice thing about not having school
means that I can take TJ to work,
and then take him dinner.

Last week, I had the opportunity to do this.
I had no idea what to make, so I made do with what I had.

Mini Bacon, Spinach, and Avocado Sandwiches

I found a package of Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls on clearance at Walmart.
So I warmed those up in the oven.
I already had a package of baby spinach.
Then I browned some pre-cooked turkey bacon on the stove.
Then I sliced up an avocado.
Then I assembled my mini sandwiches:
Little mayo on the top half,
couple of leaves of spinach,
once slice of bacon, cut in two,
two slices of avocado.

I served these with a potato, garlic, and onion sautee.

Sautee half an onion, chopped, in olive oil.
When the onions are almost cooked, add one clove of minced garlic.
Boil a few potatoes, chopped.
Add potatoes to garlic and onion mixture.
Sautee for a few minutes with salt & pepper, and a little chili powder.

Like I said, I worked with what I had :)
(Sorry, no pictures.)


I wish I could lay in bed, on this snowy eve, and snuggle with my sweetheart.
Perhaps listening to Christmas music, as the flakes softly fall.

But he isn't home.
And there is much to be done to travel tomorrow.

Maybe in a couple of hours, my wish will come true.

Christmas Spirit.

With all of its traditions, gift-giving, and family togetherness,
Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.

Sometimes, with the commercialism and other worldly traditions,
it's hard for me to feel the true Christmas spirit, and to remember
the real reason that we celebrate this joyous time.

You may have seen this video already, but please take the time to watch
and ponder its message:

and this one:

this one too:

Merry Christmas.


(That ^ has almost become a dirty word this semester.)

Over the past four months, I have learned a lot about
what I want to do,
and who I want to be.

This semester was difficult.
But changes can be made to make the next one a lot easier.

By the way, I found a house elf!
TJ kept me sane these past couple of weeks.
He did his best to do the dishes,
sort the laundry,
and pick up the house.
I love you TJ!!

(He's my everything.)

one Dobby please.

Does anyone know where I can hire a house elf?

I need one to do my loads of laundry,
wash the dishes that are piled high,
clean the clutter that has taken over,
finish my papers,
take my finals,
and Apparate me and TJ away from here,
and preferably land us somewhere worry-free,
like it was on our honeymoon.

I wish it was as easy as that snap of the fingers.

I'm supposed to be doing homework...

...but I need to share this song with you all.
It is mine and TJ's favorite this season.
We listen to it when we need an extra boost,
of that true Christmas Spirit,
which is the love of Christ.
Please enjoy....


Image via Google images. This is the temple TJ and I attended while on our honeymoon.

I am grateful for writing. I'm not sure if I'm good at it,
but I find it a way to express myself.

The following is a poem I composed for a class.
I hope you enjoy it.


It seems as though my life has changed,

Just walking through these doors.

A sense of wonder, a feeling of peace,

As I walk these sacred floors.

A place of learning,

A place of light.

I stand all amazed,

Dressed all in white.

I take his hand, and he takes mine,

We walk and whisper quietly,

I cannot describe this feeling:

Joyous, sacred, lovely.

All too soon,

The time has passed,

I, so sad to leave,

Will return, a promise fast.

The feeling lingers,

I must cling on;

For it is strength,

And my own is all but gone.

a heater.

You don't realize how much you really need something
until you don't have it.

Our heater finally got fixed this morning.
Good thing, since it was like 12 degrees last night,
and our little space heater couldn't quite keep up.

I'm grateful for a heater :)

6 months.

Today is our 6 month "anniversary."

I'm grateful for these past 6 months of

Here's to eternity.


I am so thankful for this country and the freedoms we enjoy.
I'm especially thankful for the men and women that defend those freedoms.
I'm grateful for two veterans in my life: Grandpa Burgess and Papa James.

I love you both!


I am almost at a loss for words.

I am grateful to be alive.
I am grateful to be so incredibly loved.
I am grateful for prayer.
I am grateful for the power of the priesthood.
I am grateful for the angels that are always surrounding me.
I am grateful for a young and healthy body.

I am grateful for life.

the family.

I'm grateful for such an amazing family.
Family is the most important part of my life.

They are my life.

There is nothing that I would rather do than raise a righteous family with my husband.
We both have such wonderful families,
who mean the world to us,
and who get along so well with one another.
Seriously, Kyndra introduces Hannah as her sister-in-law.

I wanted to put up a picture with Skylar (who is on an LDS mission in Mexico).
These were taken right before he left.
I'm so grateful for the Ponds and all that they do for us. There's really no need to call them
in-laws... they're just more family.

Don't let the sweet smiles fool you. They're actually crazy..... but I'm grateful for that craziness. It makes me feel at home.

Then there's my family. Where in the world would I be without them? You know they love me if they've stuck it out with me for this long. But seriously, laughing with them is the best. And it happens all. the time. (PS thanks to my friend Amalie for the beautiful family photos.)

Don't worry Ponds....the Hassells are just as crazy. Like my Dad's idea for us to peek out from behind these vines.....with a million gnats flying trying to eat us. Heck, it was cute and we couldn't stop laughing.

So, I guess you could say, I'm grateful for my two incredible families.
I'm grateful for all that they have done and continue to do.
And guess what else? I get to be with them forever!
I am so lucky.

the man.

As anyone who has read this blog will know, I love this man.
I'm so grateful for him. I'm grateful for who he is, and who he's striving to become.
I'm grateful for the way he treats me, for the strength he gives me.
We're a team, he and I. We give each other hope and love and the courage to carry on.
I'm grateful that he is my friend, my confidant, and my eternal companion.

I'm grateful that he's mine.

[Thanks for indulging me again.]

No. 150

My profile says I've been a Blogger since May 2008.
In these last 2.5 years, I've done 150 posts.
Most of those were on my previous blog, but since I imported the posts to this blog,
I thought I'd celebrate the momentous occasion.

This blog has been my creative outlet, my journal, a way to express myself.
Sometimes, it's been a way for me to share my testimony.
Inspired by this post, for the month of November, I will be posting on what I'm grateful for.
Hopefully this exercise will help me to open my eyes
and see the endless blessings that surround me.
Hopefully, it will enable me to bear testimony of a loving Heavenly Father
who has given me so much, and wants me to be happy.

Feel free to join me.


This cool guy had a very special birthday today!
He turned 8 years old!
Next week, he will be baptized and become an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Even though I've only known you for a little while,
I'm so lucky to have such a sweet cousin!
I don't know if I told you, but I really enjoyed dancing with you
at our wedding! Love ya lots kiddo!



I like dill pickles.


Sometimes, I crave them.
Especially when it's that time of month.
(Yes, I crave chocolate too. But not together.
That would be gross.)
It's just something about their salty, vinegary goodness.

It makes me very very sad when Target is out of pickles. Two visits in a row.
What is wrong with you people??
Maybe I'm not the only woman with this craving.

Heaven help us when I'm pregnant.

**Note: I am NOT pregnant.**


I think that one of the keys to happiness
is learning how to be content with your life as it is,
while still having dreams for the future.

Dear TJ,

I love that you're always making me laugh :)

I love how you're such a good big brother, to my siblings and yours.

I love that you love Mexican food as much as I do.

I love that you'll let me get Panda, even when you'd rather have a burrito. Oh, and that you keep working and going to school even when it's hard (no, that doesn't have anything to do with the picture....except for the fact that he was tired. And he's always tired these days.).

I think you're hot, even when you're not trying.

I love that you put up with my picture-taking, even when you're done. (Yes, that is Indiana Jones we were waiting in line for.)

Plus also, I think you look dang good in an apron. Maybe you should wear one more often! JUST KIDDING. (He actually told me to put this on my blog when I took it. Just to prove that he cooks sometimes....occasionally.)

So, my love, even though sometimes you get frustrated and sometimes things are really hard, I still love you. Even when you watch football a lot. And talk about football a lot. I still love you, and these are some of my favorite things about you.

love always,

the concert.

On the road...

Finally at the concert!

(Oops, out of order. There they are!!)

(Chris Young. My favorite song: The Man I Wanna Be. TJ's favorite: Gettin' You Home.)

(Rascal Flatts)

First of all, I have to get one thing out of the way:

I freakin' LOVE Rascal Flatts!!
This love has only been made stronger by hearing their amazingness in person.
I know that some people may not like them (like my father-in-law), but I think they are awesome.

This was the first concert we've ever been to, and I'm glad that we got to experience this for the first time together.

It was such a fun concert! We drove down Friday afternoon, and stopped at the Anthem Outlets to look around. We shared a frozen yogurt. Then we hopped back into traffic and found a Chipotle.

The concert was so fun! Rascal Flatts had two openers: Chris Young (amazing) and Kellie Pickler (not my favorite, but she did really really good--especially since she had bronchitis the whole week). Rascal Flatts has been together for 10 years! They sang lots of songs, from each of their albums, and also one of their new ones. I especially loved their classics, like "My Wish" and "Broken Road," but they played a lot of their lively ones too. I don't know why but one of my favorites has always been "These Days." Oh, and "Here Comes Goodbye." And "What Hurts the Most" (though I don't remember if they played this one....). Ok, basically I like almost everything they put out there. Check out their newest single, "Why Wait." Also, their new album comes out Nov. 16th!! I can't wait!

Oh, and in case you were wondering....yes, I did get my t-shirt :)