Where Women Cook Holiday Feature -

I'm still pinching myself. To be featured in this beautiful, inspiring magazine is such a dream come true. As I hold a copy of the magazine in my hands, its weight and gloss between my fingers, I am so proud. Little ol' me. It's humbling to be included aside so many talented women.


One of the things I love most about this publication is the heart of the women who create it - their purpose to showcase and promote other women's stories. It is clear they really care about the people they feature, and it brings them joy to honor others in this way. And of course, as reader we reap the benefit through inspiring stories and beautiful photography. Their goal is for us to feel like we've become friends with the women in the features, as if we are sitting down at the kitchen table and having a chat. I love that sentiment! While a lot of work to put the article together, the whole experience was ultimately so rewarding and encouraging. Women supporting other women. Women building each other up - what an unexpected blessing!


Because the magazine's format allows women the opportunity to tell their own story, I had some creative license for dreaming up the shoot, and the text in the feature is wholly mine. The caveat was to include the recipe for these gooey, delicious gluten-free whoopie pies, which are a treat we tuck into our yearly Christmas cookie tins. In truth, I may have had too much leeway. Because the minute I was asked, I began dreaming and sketching and planning and true to form I gave the editors significantly more than they asked for (we uploaded 200+ photos) - it was just too much fun! Plus I felt totally justified in my years of collecting (hording): magazines for inspiration, dishes and decorations for staging, recipes for tasting. And, of course we needed a few new items in our wardrobe! I helped myself to friends' stashes too - thanks Annette and Rachel for letting me borrow your junk too!



Of course, a lot of enjoyment comes from working with people whom you admire and care about. So, it was a no-brainer to ask my former student Rachel Spray and her husband Jeremiah to photograph the feature. I love their approach and style. They shoot with 35 mm film and the results are worth the lengthy process. We had so much fun - I totally recommend them for any project; they were incredible with my girls.



While it's been a few years since Rachel was sitting in the front row of my freshmen English class, she's come in to help me style flowers for prom or to take photos for the Academic Endowment end of year campaign. We've stayed friends. I love her heart, and we really have a lot in common, from an affection for furry babies to vintage everything and an appreciation for beauty in detail. You can see the stunning results of their work throughout the magazine as they have about 20 photos included!



While styling and baking really didn't stress me out, doing the girls hair and my own was outside my expertise. Thankfully, my sweet friend Mandy came to the rescue. She is a magician! What a blessing for her to come out that morning to the house to talk through wardrobe and to fix our hair. Her salon, KlipTrix, is in Kalispell.



The story of how I came to be included in the magazine is one a lot of people have asked me to share. It kinda makes me tear up just thinking about it because it was one of those things that I didn't really ask for, or at least I didn't think I was asking for but in the end it was so good for my heart. In reality, the answer is a short one. Some call it serendipity. I know it to be a God-thing. Certainly, He brought together the hearts of a few Montana gals to make it happen. I suppose you could say maybe it was just the magic of social media. I really didn't go out seeking this spotlight, and for awhile I was nervous about the attention. However, everyone's response has been so uplifting - I am thrilled to encourage others through telling my story. And of course, I'm happy to make my family proud in telling our story. In addition, I have learned I love the creativity and process which goes into creating a styled photo shoot and of course writing (fun fact: I started out in college as a journalism major). And it doesn't end there - in addition to a short feature in Where Women Create Winter 2020, I'll be featured in What Women Create 2020 and am writing and styling a few other shoots and possibly a cookbook (stay tuned). I mean really, my heart is so full of creative joy!



Ok, back to the story. It started with this Instagram photo of Celeste Shaw. I mean I think she is the cutest, and I've admired her for a long time. In her post, she was asking about holiday traditions. Ironically, I was just finishing up cleaning the kitchen to bake cookies for our annual neighborhood Christmas caroling via tractor when I saw the post. Did I mention it was cute? So, inspired, I snapped a photo of my clean-before-the-mess- kitchen and added the hashtag #wherewomencook not really thinking I would ever be chosen for a "cooking" magazine. The hashtag on the photo entered me in a "contest" to be featured - and it was love at first square, or maybe the second - the one with a wreath tied to the front of Casey's old tractor as we headed out to deliver our goodies. I love to hear Celeste talk about how she fell in love with my family and especially how we cheer "whoopie" while eating these cookies! The result of sharing a moment of joy and a tradition with my girls is the beautiful feature I'm holding in my hands now. You just never know how what you send into the world might impact others.



I truly hope the feature article inspires folks to start a tradition with their family. To slow down a bit this holiday season and spend time building memories together. I hope families will bake together or go ice skating or caroling, even if they aren't the Von Trap family choir. I also hope you are encouraged reading this, that we can trust God is orchestrating events outside our control to bring about good for us. The magazine is nearly sold out -- if you want a copy and can't find one, contact the Davenport Hotel Home store in Spokane, Washington. They ship plus you can buy some of their world-famous- I've -died- and -gone-to - heaven soft peanut brittle.



Wishing you a merry & delicious holiday! xoxo Alyson

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