Monday, December 16

Christmas Gifts for Her under $50

Christmas is coming so very soon! I don't know about you guys, but we basically started our shopping this weekend. And I tell you-- sometimes shopping for other can be tough, so here are a few of my favorites Christmas Gifts for Her under $50 (and yes these items are on my list, too!).

Christmas Gifts for Her under $50

1. Piko Top - Seriously, love love love these tops! I actually have two of them
and they're just so comfortable. Get her more than one-- she'll love you forever.

2. State Cutting Board - You can never have too many 
cutting boards. add this one to her collection.

3. His & Her Mugs - this works for both him and her and you can never 
have too many coffee mugs. plus, these are just adorable.

4. Alarm Clock - Every girl needs one, or two-- 
and I just love the vintage charm of this one. 

5. Ipsy Glam Bag - this is the gift that keeps on giving. 
just $10 a month for some seriously awesome beauty products.

Happy Shopping and stay tuned for Gift for Him under $50 coming soon!

Monday, December 9

a monday update and an awesome Christmas giveaway

To be honest, my little blog has really taken a hit recently. I've been busy with other activities and really haven't give much attention to this space. Partly because I feel like I don't have a whole lot say and partly because I'm just busy. So I haven't been making as much time to focus energy on my blog. And I think that's ok, too. I don't want to post something just so I have something posted. My intent when I started blogging was to share my life, ideas, projects-- that sort of things. After a few posts that were there just to be content, I decided that I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to put something up that didn't have any heart to it, so that is partially the reason (at least I feel) the blog has been left out recently. Maybe it's because my creativity and energy is being used up in other places or maybe it's just a season of life where I don't have all that much to say, which is pretty hard to imagine but it's true. But regardless, here is a little update on what all I've been up recently.

A trip to Illinois to visit with my family and to celebrate my dad's birthday! 

where we played one of my most favorite games-- salad bowl (if you want to know how to play, just ask)


Each year for Thanksgiving my grandma comes up with a new craft. This year's craft was awesome. 
We made these adorable trees. The wood is from my grandpa's old barn and, if you know me I'm a huge suckers for family heirlooms and antique things. I loooove it! It was quite the project though-- 
power tools and all!

Then I started painting the guest bathroom and realized the color was awful. Ok, awful is a strong word. It was a pretty color, but way to bold for the walls in our house. Now we have three gallons of this color of paint. First time homeowner fail. If you are interested in it, please let me know.

We've been indulging in lots of s'mores by the fireplace and hot coco, too.

Also, I decked the house for Christmas. 
Another craft added the list was this burlap bow tree topper.

Then there are the two trips to Ikea-- obviously happy and successful ones.

And of course, there is spending time with these two, which is my favorite. 
(sorry for the poor quality-- blame the iPhone)

So now you're up to date.

Oh, and here is an awesome giveaway for your Monday. 
Wonderful ladies and awesome giveaways put together by this fabulous lady
Don't leave here without checking it out!

gift card giveaway Poppiness | Chits & Giggles | So Much Sunshine design credit giveaway Stamp in My Passport | We Took the Road Less Traveled | Jellibean Journals blog ad space giveaway Mish Lovin' Life | Deecoded | Northern Belle Diaries December ad space and gift card giveaway Little Black Suitcase | Route Bliss | And So I Did December sponsor giveaway Keep It Simple | Tales of the Benedicts | Postcards from Rachel

Thursday, December 5

marriage is like a house

This is a post that I wrote for this fabulous lady's blog a while back. Just in case you missed it then, I wanted to be sure you got a chance to read it now.

I've spent the past two weeks at the new house painting, cleaning and praying over all that will take place in it. I cannot wait to make this house our home-- to share it with my best friend and for all the memories to be made there. If you've ever spent time painting, then you know that it requires a lot of time. During those hours spent painting, I have had some extra time to think and daydream. Moving from room to room quickly had me noticing the similarities between a house and a marriage. Building a house takes time, planning and quality construction and so does a good marriage.

You have to first start with a solid foundation. If your house isn't built on a secure, dependable base then the rest of it will be affected. Marriage is no different. Building a strong relationship starts with knowing who you are and what you believe in. For us, our marriage foundation is centered around our faith. Without the assurance that we have a God that is in control and who loves us more than we are capable of understanding, then we would be walking constantly on shaky ground. Although there are many things that make my husband and I different, we can always go back to our common foundation in Christ. It is what holds us up when winds of challenge and the world rains down on us.

Next, you have to frame the house and build the walls. This is what makes each house different from one another; they each have their own unique design. The walls of marriage are made up of your values and dreams. These, too, are what make your marriage different from any other. Your values create each room, filling it with what you want out of life. Updating, cleaning, and daily attention is important to keeping the space you live in enjoyable and welcoming. For a husband and wife, this is also true. Spending time together, paying attention to each others needs and enjoying life together is what makes coming home all worth it.

Lastly, you have the roof. The roof of marriage is the love you share. Without a roof, a house isn't livable and it's expensive to replace! Without love, a marriage isn't livable either. And I'm not referring to the butterflies in your stomach and warm fuzzies kind of love. I'm talking about real, unconditional, servant-hearted love. One that will protect all that is inside. Love does that. Real love keeps us safe. We don't have to worry about all that is inside the house because at the end of the day, the roof keeps us protected. And love covers us, too.

These elements are what make up a strong and sturdy marriage. Just like a house! But the most fun comes when you can decorate it and make it all your own. You can fill your marriage by making memories, going on dates, having a family and sharing in life together. It's what makes it the most beautiful place to be and what makes a house a home.

And there is no place like home.

Tuesday, December 3

Christmas bucket list

Well it is already December 3rd, which I just can't believe. Whenever the Christmas season comes around, I always want to do so many things to soak up the season. With such a short season this year, it is even more important for me to take advantage of the days we have so that I don't feel cheated out of the the season. So here is my Christmas Bucket List for this year!

What is on your Christmas bucket list this year?

Wednesday, November 27

happy thanksgiving (one day early)
Happy Thanksgiving Eve! In honor of the holiday, I am going to be taking a little time off from blogging to spend a little more time with family. I hope you are feeling extra blessed this holiday!. And remember also to take some time to be thankful and allow your heart to be filled with gratitude. We are blessed people and simply cannot say thank you enough.

This season I am thankful for our house. Not just because of having more space and being more settles, although that doesn't hurt. But because it is a beginning of the next stage in our life. I am thankful for all the memories to be made-- the friends and family that will gather in this place. For the years of marriage that will take place in this house. But most of all for a constant reminder that God is good. That He always provides and that His mercy is unending.

So with that, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25

the best and easiest pie crust ever

We've entered the week where the most pies will be made all year long. It's Thanksgiving week! As much as I love all the Thanksgiving food, pumpkin pie is by far my most favorite part of the meal. I plan to make a few myself this week just to ensure that there will be enough to go around. And let's be real-- pumpkin pie and coffee makes a delicious breakfast.

For many, making pies can be pretty intimidating and, frankly, sounds like too much work. While it takes some time and planning, it is definitely doable and the taste of homemade crust is worth all the work. And I have the best and easiest pie crust to share with you today. This recipe has been in our family for a long time and it always proves to be a favorite. It only takes six ingredient--  how can you not make this!


You can find the complete recipe, plus many more of my favorites in our family cookbook, My Family & Food.

All you need is flour, sugar, salt, shortening (Crisco-- not butter), vinegar, one egg and some water.

Start by adding your dry ingredients together: 4 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 1/2 tsp salt). Now you can use a mixer but I prefer to mix my by hand. It is whatever you prefer.

Then add the 1 1/2 cups of shortening to the dry ingredients. Reminder-- do not use butter, use shortening. Then use either you pastry blender or your mixer on low to cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. Mix it until it resembles course meal,with a few pea size pieces.


Add your wet ingredients: 1 tbsp of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and 1 egg. Mix all the ingredients together until the dough is crumbly but holds together when you squeeze it. You don't want to over mix it at this stage.

Then turn out the mixture onto your work surface. Just an fyi, it will not look like bread dough. It is going to look a big pile of crumbs.


Knead it together a few times, but again, you don't want to over knead it. Then divide the dough into four pieces and gather each one into a ball. Then flatten them into about a four inch disk. I forgot to mention that this recipe makes four crusts. So you can either make two, two crust pies, four one crust pies, or my favorite option, freeze them! Wrap up each disk in some cling wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Now, this is the point where if you are not planning to use all of the disks, you can put them in the freezer. I like to wrap them in cling wrap and then put them in a freezer bag. You don't want them to get freezer burn! They can last for up to three months in the freezer, which is awesome. Then if you want to make a pie of any sort, you can just grab one out of the freezer. Just take it out of the freezer a day in advance to let it thaw.

If you're not going to freeze them, then it's time to roll them out. Lightly flour your work space and roll the dough into an approximately 14 inch circle. I like to roll my pie dough out on wax paper to make it easier to flip it into my pie pan-- a little secret my mom taught me.

This is the part that can make the whole experience worth it, or make you cry. Place the pie pan in the center of the dough and carefully pick up the wax paper and flip it over. Phew! Glad that's over.

Slowly peel off the wax paper. Then gently move the crust down to the bottom of the pan so it doesn't rip when you put the filling in.

To remove the excess pie dough, use a knife and run the blade around the rim of the pie dough to create a smooth edge. If you want to create a decorative edge, just pinch a "V" shape with your thumb and your forefinger along the entire edge. (I don't have a picture of this, sorry).

And that's it! Now just follow the instruction that go along with your pie recipe to see if you need to bake it before you put the filling in or after. If you need to bake it before hand, prick the bottom of the pie dough all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up or shrinking in the pan. Bake it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Now you're really done and you can enjoy your delicious pie.

The Best Pie Crust
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp suger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup shortening
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 egg

Happy baking this week!

Friday, November 22

five on friday

Linking up with April, Christina, Natasha, and Darci

 My life has been slightly consumed with home decor lately (as if you haven't noticed). There are just so many options and fun things to look at! Well, thanks to one of my lovely co-workers I found my newest obsession: Joss & Main. Have you heard of it? Maybe I'm way behind on this, but if not and you haven't heard of it either, let me be the first to tell you-- this site it awesome and dangerous. Every day they release events (that's their word, not mine). And each is specifically geared toward a certain style or theme. So if you're looking for a specific type of style decor you can scour through the groups to find one you like. Oh, and they're discounted items, did I forget to mention that?

Like I said-- awesome! Plus, everything is a little different and there are a limited amount of each item, so it's not likely that any of your friends are going to have the same pieces. It's awesome and you should definitely check it out. And since I like to be a little different, today's Five on Friday is my top five wish list if I had unlimited resources and could shop at Joss & Main all day.

{one} this ottoman

{two} these side tables

{three} this fabulous yellow chair

{four} this sign-- probably for the man cave

{five} And these cute burlap trees for the holidays

And that's just a very small taste of all the goodness they offer. I seriously could decorate my whole house with just this site.

Happy Friday to you!

Wednesday, November 20

simple thanksgiving decor ideas

Thanksgiving is just a week away and every holiday is just a little bit better with some lovely themed decor. And as much as I love decorating for the holidays, with moving this year, I skimped on any sort of decor. So here are a few simple, but festive, decorations to add to your Thanksgiving celebration.

Cinnamon Candles: there is nothing more festive than a light scent of cinnamon in the air. These basic pillar candles are covered with cinnamon sticks. It creates a great scent but also looks rustic and festive!

Pumpkin Pillars: Super easy but perfect for Thanksgiving. Instead of candles, place small pumpkins on top of your pillars. Creates an easy table accessory.

Thankful Place Mat: Stay at the core of what Thanksgiving is about-- being thankful! These place mats help keep the focus on what your guests are thankful for this holiday. Use some simple kraft paper and a sharpie. It will take a little time to write on all of them, but well worth it when you take time to share what everyone is thankful for.

Wine bottle Words: now this one may take a little more time and planning. You can use wine bottles instead and use stencils to paint letters on the bottles. Then simply fill the bottles with threshes of wheat or small twigs for a natural and rustic feel.

Leaf Name Cards: Name cards keep table setting less confusing when you're carrying a plate full of food. These gold leaves are pretty simple but look formal and chic. Gather either real or fake leaves and spray them with gold spray paint. Once they're dry, use a permanent marker to write the names.

Mini Pumpkin Pie: this one isn't really a decoration but it was to good not to share. I love any kind of mini dessert and these are perfect bite size pumpkin pies!

And then just a personal note, I may be a bit opinionated-- ok, I'm a lot opinionated-- but I want to encourage all of you to take a stand against shopping on Thanksgiving Day. To me, big retailers are completely erasing what the holiday is about by opening stores on Thanksgiving Day. They're taking people away from their families on this day and creating a materialistic mindset to a day that should be focused on blessings and gratitude. So will you join me in not shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

Monday, November 18

the thankful project: a choice

Happy Monday! Today, I'll be joining along in The Thankful Project. If you haven't heard about it yet, you should jump on over to Chasing Happy and read a little more about it.

Today's topic is a choice.

This was pretty easy for me. I had two immediate choices come to my mind. The first was my choice to marry Jake. It is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. Although, I wasn't alone in that choice, really. So instead, I'll write about my second choice.

I am so incredibly thankful for my choice of where I went to college. When I started looking at colleges, I had no idea where I wanted to go, but I did know that I didn't want to go to Anderson University. Simply because that was where my brother was going to school and I felt I needed to be my own person. Little did I realized that having my brother at the same college would be one of the biggest blessings. But I was immature and stubborn and had made my mind up-- here is no way I would go to AU. But to appease my mom, I applied to the school. Thankfully, a few months went by and God intervened. He opened my eyes to see that AU might not be so bad. And I am so extremely thankful that He did. This was the first time I recall God really calling me to a certain place and it was a defining moment in my life.

There are so many things I could say about college. There were ups and downs. Lots of studying and hard work. Late nights and early mornings. Lots of changes and lessons learned. Lots of growth and maturity. But really, it shaped me in a way I would have never imagine. It challenged my faith and helped me to figure out what it is that I really believe. It led me to people who are some of the best friends I could of ever asked for. Friends who like me for me and who have become more like sisters than friends.

And then one of them actually did become my sister. So that's pretty cool.

Then college led to grad school, where I met these two. And maybe I'm biased but I think I have some pretty great friends.

And then of course there is this guy (reread my first choice).

I could really go on and on about how this choice affected and changed my life in such a meaningful way. So many blessings have stemmed out of that decision. I will forever be grateful that I had a choice and for the one that I made.

Tuesday, November 12

if there are three, let it be: poison ivy home remedies

As you may have heard, we had a serious battle with poison ivy in our house. Apparently, our backyard has a fair amount of the pesky plant near our fence line-- just one of the perks living right next to a wooded area. A little hint, if there are three, let it be! So last week, being the wonderful husband he is, j took to destroying the plants in the back yard. Even though he was being careful, he ended up getting some of the oils on his skin and broke out in rashes. In the past couple weeks, I have learned a significant amount about poison ivy plants and home remedies, so here are some the best options we found.

Poison Ivy 101
  • a rash is contracted from the oil on the plant, not the actual leaf itself
  • if you get oil on your skin, wash it off immediately (even if you're outside-- find a water source) and use soap, preferably a dish soap, to remove the oils from the skin
  • dogs can carry the poison ivy oils on their coats. if they rub up against a plant, you can get the oils on your skin. So if you're in an area with your animals, be sure to either give them a bath or wash their coat to remove the oils
  • animals aren't affected by the oil, but humans are!
  • poison ivy rash is not contagious; it can only be passed through the oils from the plant
  • a rash can appear up to a week after skin being exposed to the oils

Poison Ivy Home Remedies 
  • rubbing alcohol and apple cider vinegar remove the oils from the skin and help dry up the rash
  • oatmeal baths really do help with the itching. Put the oatmeal in an old stocking or nylon and let it soak in the tub to allow the oatmeal residue to infuse into the hot water
  • use a baking soda paste to help relieve itching. just add some baking soda to water to create a paste and put it on the rash
  • soak a cloth in cold water and place it on the rash, it will help relieve itching and any swelling
And of course, benadryl and hydrocortisone cream are extremely helpful to relieve itching. If your rash continues to get worse after a week or if you ever develop a fever, call your doctor. Often a prescription or steroid shot will help clear it up.

Unfortunately, after a week of using home remedies, j's rashes weren't getting any better so he ended up at the doctors office. Apparently, he is highly sensitive and next time we'll be going to the doctor first. But these are great remedies to help relieve a mild case of poison ivy.