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.

Friday, November 8

friday + a giveaway winner

We did it! We made it to Friday again. If you've had a week like we have, then you're welcoming the weekend with open arms. It's been a full week, so a weekend with some down time is just what we need. We've also been battling a severe case of poison ivy (the hubs-- not me). So expect a post dedicated to home remedies for poison ivy soon.

I don't have a whole lot to share with you today, to be honest. But if you are a fan of country music, then you should definitely watch the opening skit from this week's CMAs. It's hysterical. And even if you have seen it, you should watch it again. I think Brad and Carrie work well together, plus the DD crew makes an appearance. Check it out for a Friday laugh.

But I do have a winner to share with you! The winner of the $25 gift card to Flourish Boutique is Justine Marie! Congratulations to you, Justine and I hope you just love shopping at Flourish!

Monday, November 4

the thankful project: an experience

Have you heard of The Thankful Project yet? If not, you should jump on over to Chasing Happy and read a little more about it. Such a great concept for this type of year. While I missed the first three days and probably won't be doing the full month, I will be blogging about a few topics along the way. 

November 4: An Experience

In July 2007, I was blessed with an opportunity that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl. You see, I grew up in a small (like 350 people small) midwest-farming town and the biggest event of the summer was our county fair. The whole county basically shuts down and everyone you know spends the week at the fair. Still to this day, it is one of my most favorite times of year. And for my family, it is something that we all are a part of. We all spend the week together and it's just so great.

And ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamed about being the fair queen. As silly as it may sound, it was a big deal to me. In the summer of 2007, that dream became a reality. It was my third attempt, which is more times than most people compete. Honestly, it took a lot of courage for me to run that third year. Most people stop after two years, but I knew that I wanted to try one last time and if I didn't, I would have always regretted it. Thankfully, that persistence paid off.

It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of people, travel to new places and do a lot of fun things. It really was a dream come true for me. It was a time where I could represent something I loved and believe in. But more than that, it was a time in my life where I learned about God's timing and perfect plan for our lives. I learned more about patience and letting go of a situation than I ever meant to. That summer was one that could have been filled with a lot of pain and struggle for myself and some family due to different situations going on, but instead it was one filled with new experiences and celebration.

So while being the fair queen was filled with fun events, dressing up and other wonderfulness; it was also a time in my life when I saw God work in a very real way. Plus, I learned a whole lot about interviewing, public speaking and public relations (which was my major so that helped, too). All of those things together made for an experience that shaped me then and still does today.


Friday, November 1

welcome to november + a giveaway

Welcome to November! Today I am blogging over at Simply Clarke so be sure to head on over there and check it out. Plus, you can enter to win a fabulous giveaway!!

Ok, now go visit me over at Simply Clarke-- Happy Friday!