Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve,

To the first real snow of the season on Christmas Day,

Merry Christmas from us Thorleys! We love you. This has been one of the best years and we are surrounded and loved by so many good friends and family. I am so grateful we've been able to spend so much time with them. This season is simply the best.


Starry Night 2014

Ah. Where to begin? Starry Night was truly amazing this year and really blew me away...but! Before we get in too deep, let's go back.

For those of you who don't know, Starry Night began as something I put together two years ago with my friends. At the time, I put it together because most of my friends had musical abilities in various ways. A few of my closest friends had played in band together, I had sung a few times with them, we had played at open mics--various little musical opportunites had happened throughout the last year, but nothing that was super collaborative and involved all my friends. (I had actually played a "show" in a cafe with Ian playing and singing with me many months earlier that had solidified that I had major feelings for Ian, but we wouldn't start dating until a half a year later..music makes marriages, people!) So, I and my friends put together a little Christmas concert that involved all of us making music together. (I am a big fan of the band The Lower Lights and I sort of modeled the show after their band.)

We played at the Tippets Balcony at USU, which is a little balcony behind an art gallery that seats 60. As an afterthought, we put out a jar for Sub for Santa. The night was magical. All of my friends were there and we were singing beautiful, heart-filled Christmas music because we loved it and we loved each other. We were all on a high for days afterward. It was definitely a highlight of my college experience.

To top it off, Ian and I had just started dating a few weeks prior and we were moving fast. I was very much in love and I definitely knew I wanted to marry him--doing this event with this group of friends that I loved and cherished so much and to know that my future spouse was doing this with me too, definitely added to the magic. My dear, dear friends Joe and Josey were weeks away from getting engaged, too. (You can really see it on Josey's face as she's looking at Joe in the top picture!) It was a special time in many of our lives.

Our venue that seated 60 ended up holding a cozy 80 of our friends and family. We sang a lot of great songs, we ate delicious treats from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and the afterthought jar raised us $180 to donate to Sub for Santa. We were blown away.

A couple days later, as our friends sat and reveled in the feeling of true Christmas cheer (I'm not at all kidding when I say that phrase), we kept thinking, "How are we going to do this again?"

Joe and Ian, who were part of the main force in helping me put together the show, were part of a fledgling fraternity that was just starting to get their feet on the ground. They suggested that ATO, their new fraternity, take Starry Night and turn it into their signature event--something that they, as a fraternity, would do every year. It would be their trademark event, what other Greek life and the community would know them by. It made complete sense and seemed like a great match. I was thinking I wouldn't be around the next year of school anyways (I told you Ian and I were moving fast), so I thought, "Yes. This will be perfect!"

Fast forward a year, Ian and I were in France and weren't going to be at the second Starry Night. We were pretty sad to be missing it, but we were still very much enjoying our time in France. But! The event was a huge success. ATO had found an awesome charity to work with and the show had moved to a new venue--one that would seat 420. Quite a jump from our little show with 80 guests. The efforts of the show had more than doubled and the show nearly sold out. With a focused fundraising effort, the show raised $2400 dollars. Holy cow! Amazing. And for a first time event for a Greek organization that still hadn't chartered yet, it was a huge accomplishment.

This year, (what this blog post is all about, after all), was even better. The third annual Starry Night was happening and we were going to be there! Ian and I were a big force in this year's event--Ian, Joe and I put together the music for the show and then we did a lot of other odd jobs throughout the process. I say we did a lot (and we did), but there was a whole committee from ATO that worked tirelessly to put this all together. A lot of them weren't necessarily performers, so I feel like they were a bit of the unsung heroes. Honestly, all of the guys of ATO put in soooo much work behind the scenes to make it come to life. And it came to life in a beautiful way.

We doubled our efforts this year and shot for doing our show for two nights. Two nights meant 840 seats and that meant 840 tickets to sell. Yeesh. And amazingly enough, we SOLD OUT both nights four nights before the shows!!! We definitely had a goal to sell out and we were so, so excited. It put a lot of pressure on us as the performers putting together the show, but it made us that much more excited.

Cousin Doug decorates a Starry Night tree for the Festival of Trees on campus.

Ian and I performed on campus a few times to help promote the event, and we had a micro concert at Morty's near campus a few days before the show, too. The owner of Morty's, Ty Mortensen, also designed this year's poster, which I think is just gorgeous.

We also had a few news articles written about us and the show, too. Here's a link to the story in the Statesman: http://usustatesman.com/oh-starry-nights-fraternity-hosts-annual-charity-concert/

And dear Tyler, who designed the first year's poster, did this cool design for the show, too. 

Then came show day.

After many hours putting together the beautiful stage that Josey and I had envisioned, it was show time.
We had a great group of musicians and a big variety of performances. We had a jazz ensemble, an a capella choral group, a bluegrass group, a Native American flautist, TONS OF STUFF. And it was amazing. I am so proud. I was lucky enough to be able to sing in a many of the songs. Cousin Doug got this awesome shot from up in the cat walk when he and some other brothers made it snow during Sister Winter.

It was such an amazing night and although our numbers aren't solidified yet, we were able to raise over $12,000 for RODS. Wha-whaaaa? So amazing! We quadrupled our previous year's earnings...can you believe that?! I am still on a high.

Anywho, that's the gist of this event. Plans are already being made for next year, but I've gotta say, I am really, really proud of what it has become. It's truly amazing to me that a group of independent students put together this massive charity event. It's cool and interesting and we were able to have an amazing philanthropic impact.

That's all. Thank you to any of you who came to this event to support us and our charity!


I'll Be Home For Christmas

Since I got married, I have found a new love in decorating my house and making it my home. I think that's just what happens when your not sharing your space with roommates anymore. No need to label your food or keep your towel separate from the others or only have one shelf in the pantry. It's your home.

I love it. And because of this new found love, any and every holiday has become significantly more fun to decorate for, too.

So here are some pictures from our cinder-block apartment that we still happen to like. It isn't much, but it's our place.

Merry Christmas!


Linny & Nate

My dearest Linny is marrying the wonderful Nate in two days. It's wonderful and exciting and I love them both. Here are some engagements I took of them. We traveled to Paradise in Cache Valley on a nice Sunday in September and everything aligned in such a way--I am actually pretty proud of these pictures and of these people.

I am so excited for their wedding and for their future. I am so happy to have Nate a part of our family.

Congrats you two freakin' cuties. I love you both so much.