Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fall in Our Home

It is hard to believe how quickly this week has gone by and that tomorrow is already Friday!  I feel like we were just in the kitchen preparing our turkey and desserts and that was already a week ago.
This has been a lovely week in many ways and today I am feeling particularly thankful and excited about a few things...
An amazing dinner last night (homemade pizza!) and another planned for tonight, faith and inspirations I am finding, a day of chillier weather, and having my hair cut!  I got it cut yesterday and it is shorter than it has been in a few years, mostly because it had not been trimmed in so long and it needed to be refreshed.  It was almost to my hip yesterday and is now at my middle back, which feels short to me but also feels great :)

Another thing I am excited and thankful for... that it is almost time to start decorating for the Winter!
I am finding so much inspiration and many neat ideas that I hope to use.  Sometime next week will probably be the time when we take down our Fall things and start to put up things for the upcoming season... Although I am excited for that, I have loved having our cozy and beautiful Fall pieces around our house.  They have made our home feel warmer and truly gave the feeling of elements of Fall being inside.

Our decorations are pretty simple and most of the inspiration for them came from decorating boards, small accents out of my Southern magazines with all their beautiful and inspirational pages, as well as from just walking up and down the aisles of the craft store- which is probably my favorite way to get ideas.
... So while they are still up, I thought I would take a moment through a few different shots to share the decorations that have been out for Fall in our home this year!


 
 

Lucie enjoying a cozy spot in front of the fire

The fireplace is such a nice thing to decorate, probably my favorite.  For all of it's d├ęcor, I found the glittery leaves at the craft store at the beginning of the season and thought they would look nice placed together.  Those are hot glued onto the brick.
Later in the season and more recently, I purchased the garland that lies across the top which I love for it's Fall colors and the way it fills up the space.  I also placed a few pinecones in it and some acorns from our tree out front.
The hearth is decorated with a combination of candles placed together, lights, and pumpkins.  I love decorating with pumpkins.


 
I don't believe I had ever seen these velvet pumpkins before this year, but I think they are so pretty.  When I found this one at a discount and brought it home I thought it looked nice next to the real and decorative pumpkins on the fireplace.



Our dinner table has this extremely simple Fall decoration, a wreath of leaves with a candle in the center, but it's simplicity is nice.  We just added this vintage doily runner beneath.  The colors of the leaves in this centerpiece are so cheery when we eat breakfast at the table.
 
 
Those are the Fall pieces that have found a home in our home this season.
I love decorating in general, but there is a beauty and a cozy, homey satisfaction that comes with decorating for these seasons.  God made them beautiful, so why not bring some of their colors inside to enjoy as well!
 
Are you excited to decorate for the upcoming season?
 
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Thankyou for reading.
Happy decorating!
 
Have a beautiful day!


Friday, November 23, 2012

A Blessing of a Meal

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday!  I enjoyed it very much and am thankful for the family time and the food we were so blessed to have.
Today I'm sharing what we had and the recipes (which had some Southern touches!) that we made for our meal, including the dessert I was excited to make.

Our entire meal:
Turkey
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Green Beans with French Fried Onions
Yeast Rolls
Corn
Mashed Potatoes
Everything was absolutely wonderful.  We used Southern style recipes for most of the food, but I believe my favorite of all the dishes was probably the stuffing.  It was cornbread stuffing and was so moist.  The recipe we used, called Southern Cornbread Stuffing, is by one of my favorite cooks, Paula Deen.  If you like your stuffing to be moist without having to cook it inside your turkey, you will love this.
Another amazing part of our meal was the mashed potatoes.  It is rare that we make a big meal without mashed potatoes being involved.  They were amazing and had a good deal of butter in them and some fresh cracked black pepper that made the flavors so wonderful.  I'm not sure of the exact recipe, though, as my Momma makes them with her own recipe from her head.
For our turkey, we used yet another Southern style recipe, this one from Trisha Yearwood.  It is her Momma's recipe that was shared on her show a few weeks ago.  I love how special and nostalgic it is to share and use past family recipes, and not just from your own family... knowing that the recipe you're using is from someone's mother or grandmother before them is something neat.  The turkey was very, very simple and it came out great. 
We started out by washing our turkey, laying it in our pan and rubbing it down with about a half a stick of butter, all over the inside and out.
We then put our vegetables inside, as well as a couple of lemons, salted and peppered it well and poured in the boiling water and that was it for preparation before it cooked... the most important thing (and hard) to do for this recipe was to remember to not open the over door for the entire 7 or so hours! 

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For our desserts, the two that ended up being made were a German Chocolate cake, which I decided to make mainly for my Daddy because that is one of his favorites, and a dessert that was my project... a Cranberry-Apple pie!  I was so excited about it and pleased with how it turned out, especially because it was different from anything I have ever made... my first lattice crust pie.
It baked up deliciously.  I just finished having another slice... I'm not sure how many I have had since yesterday, I don't think I want to know, haha.  This is a great and pretty simple pie to make for any occasion and I recommend it.
Cranberry-Apple Pie
Filling:
3 large apples
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup dried or fresh cranberries
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 tbsp. butter (to rub onto top of crust when
taken out of the oven)
Butter Crust (double crust):
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
6 to 7 tablespoons ice water
Crust directions: Combine all ingredients except for
water in large bowl.  Mix in butter until mixture
is crumbly.  Add water gradually and mix after each
tablespoon added until dough holds together when pressed.
Roll into a circular shape (flattened somewhat) and put into fridge
for about an hour to make it easier to handle.
Take out and divide the dough with one piece slightly larger than
the other.  Roll out larger piece to fit in pie pan as bottom crust and
leave the rest for the top or lattice pieces.
Add in filling mixture and put pie together.
Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Beginning the crust with the recipe open, out of Country Woman magazine.

Cutting in the cubed butter.  Mix well, sort of squishing the butter into the flour
until the two are molded together and crumbly.

I next added in the water which, after mixing it in, made the final texture of the crust.

The crust after it was taken out of the fridge.  I rolled out the portion that would
make up the bottom crust then fit it into my pie pan.



I mixed the filling ingredients together and tossed the apples in the brown
sugar and other ingredients to coat them well, then spooned it into the crust.

I rolled out the other half of the dough and cut out 8 long strips of dough to criss
cross on top of the filling to make the lattice pattern...

Fresh from the oven (the scents of the brown sugar mixed with the apples and
 cranberries in the hot pie smelled amazing!)...
The final touch was just to rub a little butter on the hot crust right out of the
oven and sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

That was our meal and the recipes we used for the main dishes and course.
Food is such a gift!  I think one of the nicest things a girl can do for her family or someone else is to cook or bake something wonderful for them.  I enjoyed making these recipes, especially my pie, and the experience of being in the kitchen baking up some love in these dishes was as lovely as always.
Thankyou for reading.
Happy baking if you plan to try out any of these recipes!  I know we surely enjoyed them.
Have a wonderful day!!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

"In Every Thing Give Thanks"...

 
Earlier this week after supper my family and I were watching a program about the Dust Bowl.  I read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in school and it wasn't bad, I liked the Southern and country notes in it and it was interesting in the way it gave a personal look into that time in America.  I thought about that book while we were watching that and I really got to see a side of the hardships that people endured like I had never before...  it made me remember what I had read and ultimately reminded me how thankful I should be for everything in my life... even the smallest things that the families in the Dust Bowl would have been so grateful for.  Just for a little something to eat everyday and for having shelter. For a drop of rain.

I truly believe that no matter what you are struggling through in life, there is always something to be thankful for.  Today is of course the day of the year when thankfulness is most on everyone's minds, so here are a few things I am thinking of now that I am so grateful for. 

I am thankful...

~To have been given life, to have breath in me
~For the core parts of my life that make me feel blessed: faith, family, friends, food
~For the small joys and excitements in each day
~For prayer
~For God's grace
~For the dreams and goals that have been put upon my heart
~For my roots and the way I was raised
~For the gift of friendship
~For the beautiful earth
~For nature- breezes, trees, the sun coming up everyday, beautiful skies
~That there are babies and children
~For moments and precious memories
~To have a roof over my head
~For my parents and how hard they have worked to provide for me
~For love and a sense of belonging
~For everything that is inspiring
~For medicine
~That God created sweet animals
~For my dog who can put a smile on my face no matter what
~For the unique and beautiful seasons!
~For every blessing I have ever had


I reflect on these things as I sit comfortably in our living room, full and content and with family close, all of which I am thankful for as well.  It has been such a wonderful day... it means different things to many: a day of thanks, food, family, football and even getting ready for a day of shopping tomorrow... but in the end the thing that matters most is who you spend your day and meal with and all the blessings and moments that happen along the way.  Yet another thing to be thankful for!  And not just today but everyday.

Hope your day has been blessed and wonderfully spent!!

What are you thankful for?


God Bless

:)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Ready

We just finished watching Toy Story 3.  That movie really makes me tear up... there is something so sweet about it and the loyalty of Andy's toys and him to his toys- especially at the end- that is sweetly emotional... can you tell what a kid I am at heart?
 
It has been a lovely day so far and we had some relaxation time with our movie, but now it's time to get started on our baking and preparations... I am in the kitchen and we are getting out our ingredients for what we're going to make tonight!
Tomorrow morning I will be making the item I am most excited about.  After asking what everyone would like, I decided on two desserts that will please all and I will be excited to share about those soon too.
 
Nothing like quality time in the kitchen making delicious comfort foods for loved ones for a day like tomorrow... and especially when Fall candles are burning on our bar just to add to all the wonderful aromas that will be coming from the oven!
 
There is so much to be thankful for in sweet and simple things and times like these.
 
 
Happy baking and cooking and making memories!
Wishing you a blessed evening and a wonderful day spent with loved ones tomorrow :)
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Delightful Friday

Yesterday in my daybook, I mentioned that in the afternoon we were planning on going out to eat and then spending the day out.  We had a great time as a family at the restaurant and then stayed around town to have some leisure time walking around and doing a little shopping.  At one point we found ourselves in one of my favorite places as I have shared before, Yankee Candle :)

This season, I have spent a decent amount of time in their shop looking for candles that would be great for Fall and picking up some to start us off for winter too.  Yesterday, they were having a wonderful sale of fifty percent off all regular price candles.  I spent quite a while searching for one that I was in love with and by the time we left I think the olfactory bulbs in my nose were full because every candle had started to smell the same, haha.  This is the one I decided on... Pumpkin Cream Pie. Mmmm.
I thought it was a delicious scent and so perfect to burn for the next few weeks and the rest of the season.
 
If you have been to a Yankee Candle, you know that the selection can be overwhelming... but in the best of ways.  The holiday and seasonal candles spanned practically an entire wall... this section had the most wonderful scents of which I hope I can come back for a couple next month.  Everything from Mountain Berries, Gingerbread, Cherries on Snow (amazing!), Fresh Balsam Wreath and Winter Wonderland, to Peppermint Bark, Cranberry Peppermint, Eggnog, Crisp Apple Strudel, Sparkling Cinnamon, and Sparkling Snow.  Those candles that smell like a fresh fallen snow and the way the air smells when it's snowing are just heavenly.
Something exciting about our trip there, also, was that we got a free catalogue with scented pages... I'm sure I looked silly on the way home smelling and rubbing the pages for the scents.  It is so neat to have samples through the pages, and I believe my favorite is the Red Apple Wreath candle- it is so fresh.
 
 
We also made a quick trip to the craft store, where things got more exciting!  I'm simple in the fact that simple things delight me...
 
Like looking at the calendars there.  Purchasing calendars for the new year always brings me cheer!  This is one of the prettiest calendars I've seen this year, the country scenes were so beautifully painted.  I would love to be sitting by that beautiful tree and brook. And what looks like blue-bells among the grass reminds me of the flowers we see in Spring here.  What a peaceful place.
Although I did not take any home with me, I am definitely keeping this one in mind.

 
 
Maybe because writing and sending, as well as receiving, personal letters and cards is something I love, I enjoy browsing through the greeting cards just for fun.  I also like to get an idea of what cards to get for family in December (and also creative gift ideas).
These were in the anniversary cards and although different, I thought they were both sweet and made me smile.

 
 
The really exciting thing that was a surprise to me was when walked in the door and saw that all of the Fall home decorations were marked down to eighty percent off!  I thought that they would be doing this later around the week after thanksgiving, but I was so glad we came because it was already picked through.  I was amazed at the clearance, though, and picked out something beautiful- a Fall garland for our fireplace.  I think it is lovely and I will share a photo of it in my upcoming post sharing our seasonal decorations :)
The other thing I ended up buying was this pretty, glossy cranberry colored plate with a pretty design on the edges.  I have some thoughts on what we can do with this for a neat decoration for winter!
 
 
Simple joys and excitements and a day with family made for a blessed Friday.
 
 
Have you bought any seasonal items recently -decorations or candles- or something you are excited about??
Hope you had a lovely Friday yesterday also.
 
Thankyou for reading.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Daybook: November 16

Good Morning!
It is about 8:30 in the morning and I don't think I've ever blogged this early before.  It feels nice to start the day this way.  I have some thoughts and different things I thought would be nicely shared in a daybook entry, so here is mine for today...
FOR TODAY

Outside my window...
the sun is freshly up and shining, I just saw a squirrel run past a tree, and there is a lovely Fall chill in the air!

I am thinking...
so many things: how early it feels right now, about how I'd like to spend the day, about some extremely exciting news a great friend told me this week :) and about how badly I wish it would snow.

I am thankful...
for the building excitement inside me about the holiday break that will be here in a matter of days and for the privilege to spend it with loved ones.

I am praying...
for courage, peace of mind and maintained faith.

I am wearing...
a light pink oxford shirt, dark pants, and a pair of pearly earrings that I forgot I had until I came across them this morning.

I am creating...
a list of desserts to choose from that I'd like to make for this coming week.

I am going...
to pull out my recipe books to complete that list.

I am wondering...
if the weather here is going to stay cold soon.

I am reading...
about 1800's paintings.

I am hoping...
to find something unique and beautiful for winter decoration for our home while out today.

I am looking forward to...
going out to eat for some good Southern food for lunch with my family later.

I am learning...
that time spent worrying about things that are not in my hands is time wasted.

I am pondering...
how important it is to be able to make fun of yourself in life.

One of my favorite things...
the way the sky starts to look when winter is on it's way, lighter with spread out, softer looking clouds.

A favorite quote for today...
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around"
-Willie Nelson

A few plans for the weekend...
Today's outings, finish my studies for the week, church, spend some time enjoying being outside, go walking with Lucie, relax, read- not necessarily in that order.

A photo for today...

While at a cafe earlier this week, I walked in and saw these Poinsettias!
I love them, they're such a beautiful, cheery, velvety red and a nice
reminder that the winter season will be here before we know it!
Thankyou for reading :)

Have a beautiful day.
Blessings to you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Strong and Inspiring

Have you ever seen something, a person, an article or story, that inspired you to think about and truly realize a part of yourself that you could work on?

Last night while watching the news a segment came on covering the story of a girl who inspired me greatly.  I actually have seen her once before in real life, but I had also seen her on the news once before.  I think she has been on the news a couple of times for the reason that despite things she goes through, she is so inspiring.
This time, however, there was an aspect of her story and her words and the things she expressed that got to me.
It got to all of us sitting in the living room as we listened to this girl, remembering seeing her before... Getting to who she is and what she said, she is senior in college in our state and has a syndrome that only two other people are known to have that basically does not enable her body to store fat or create muscle, and she cannot gain weight at all... this is evident in her appearance as she is extremely thin, so much so that she, somewhat literally, is skin and bones.  It is almost difficult to process as it looks like her body would not support itself.

Her appearance and her syndrome aside, what is so inspirational to me about her story is the way she has handled the cruelty and bullying she has had to face growing up... when I heard some of the things she mentioned in this story as far as what kids and people have said to her growing up, my heart just breaks for her.  It makes me want to cry, so I can't even imagine how she feels... some of the things she said, including that she has been called the world's ugliest woman and that she came across a video on Youtube made by someone that had comments on it saying the most cruel and awful things- I mean how cruel can people be? ...I can't even fathom how you would deal with that without falling apart.  But she is strong, she did it.  Bless her.
I feel like deep down most everyone tries to look for the good in people and believe it's there- and there are many people you come across who are wonderful individuals, golden-hearted, compassionate..  But sometimes it's hard to believe that the heartless people- like those who said such wicked things toward this girl- do not outweigh the good individuals.

Finally, getting to the very first thing I wrote, all of this ties into how being inspired by someone like this really made me open my eyes and see an area of my life that I didn't like.  You know the feeling you have when you are exposed to something that you feel maybe God meant you to see?
Overall, I saw this girl and I heard her tell her story and I got a glimpse of the way she handles her life and her bullies and people who stare and the fact that she does this all with a positive attitude... and before it was even over, I not only saw things I could improve in myself as a result of being inspired, but I ultimately felt ashamed of myself...
In the morning, I wake up and go into my bathroom to get ready and I look in the mirror and always find one thing I don't like about my face.  Sometimes it's the same thing, sometimes it's something new.  Sometimes, I'm embarrassed to wear my hair a certain way because I feel that my ears will stick out.  And I know that as the saying goes, as a part of human nature, "we are our own worst critic", but it does make me ashamed when I think of what this girl has dealt with her whole life because of rude comments about the way she looks.
And although weight has never been something I am that concerned about, I think about times that I have looked at my body in the mirror and wished I could look a little smaller or fit into a smaller size.  I again feel ashamed when I realize how I never considered that there are people who pray they could gain weight.
Ultimately, the attitude about life that this young woman has is one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen.
What is maybe most powerful, however, is one thing in particular that she does: speaking in front of crowds.  She has travelled all over the state to share her story and get her thoughts out on bullying.
All through my school years, I was terrified of speaking in front of crowds or even a small class of students and honestly have not quite gotten past that.  I wish I had one ounce of the courage and strength that this girl has maintained throughout her life.
Aside from speaking out about bullying in person, she has also written at least one book that I know of.  It is called "Be Beautiful, Be You" and in her book she talks about how she accepted herself and her life and gives life advice, also sharing how purpose and her faith have helped her to get past obstacles.  This is a book I hope to purchase and read!

The one thing I take away from her inspiring life is that anyone, including myself, with insecurities about their looks or self-esteem or who deals with bullying or harsh, cruel people in their lives should take a lesson from her as an example of the mindset we all should have.  This is of course easier said than done, but aiming to have that positivity in life is something great.

I just realized that I did not even mention her name... this extremely positive, moving, and powerful girl is named Lizzie.  And Lizzie makes me want to be a stronger person and a person who focuses less on outer beauty and who is less concerned over such trivial things.  Society has undoubtedly become more and more obsessed with "looks", particularly with what so many of us deal with- self-consciousness about our looks- and I hope that I can get as far away as possible from that way of thinking... it isn't necessarily about vanity, just trying to appreciate who you are and be thankful for the way God made you, thankful for your health and family and everything that really matters- not looks, not fears, not the hard-hearted people who say hurtful things to you or try to make you feel small.

Although this is an imperfect world by a great deal, I know that the Lord made us all as we are.  All of us are unique in different ways, and some of us are born with challenges that are a part of that uniqueness.... I do believe that the people who have to live with the more extreme kinds of challenges are made in a wonderful way, perhaps made with a strength inside them that the rest of the world does not have.  And that makes them special in the best way.

This is just something I felt like reflecting on and sharing.

Have you heard of Lizzie and her story??


Thankyou for reading :)
Have a blessed day!!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Good Laughter & Family

-Milton Berle
Last night I laughed harder than I have in so long.  You know, that kind of laughing where you find something so hilarious that it sends you into laughter that almost hurts, where your face scrunches up and your stomach is tight and maybe even fall on the floor, barely able to stop to take a breath.  I call that having a laughing attack.
I have always had a problem with having that kind of laughter hit me when it wasn't the right time and it's quite embarrassing.  If it's ever happened to you, you know what I mean.  Sometimes, though, it happens at the right time and place where it is appropriate to laugh that way.  Somehow it can still be embarrassing though... like when the laughter will not stop.  Especially if, when you have a "laughing attack", you laugh silently and then it's just completely quiet as your family or friends around you look at you in wonderment of whether or not you're going to stop anytime soon.

That may sound extremely random, but I am feeling extremely appreciative of laughter, especially after last night when I laughed like I haven't laughed in awhile.  And it felt great and reminded me of how good it feels to be alive.
Laughing is such a wonderful feeling, an emotion that gives you a feeling like nothing else.



On another subject- although sort of having to do with laughter and good times- we had family stay with us this weekend through today.  They left around noon today and it was sad to see them go.  Having company always makes everything more exciting... kind of like that feeling when you are a child and your grandparents or aunts come into town and stay with you and everything feels fun and special.
I don't think that feeling has to go away no matter how old you are.
I enjoy welcoming others into our home and showing them some Southern hospitality through food and a comfortable room and everything that can make them feel at home.
The family that stayed with us was my Aunt, my Momma's sister, her husband, and their little boy.  They are great company and we had a nice time catching up and having laughs.
I think they enjoyed their stay and enjoyed being in the South for awhile and experiencing the laid-back feel of everything, as they are from the Northwest and don't get to visit too often.

Overall, it was nice to enjoy some time with family we have been missing :)


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God is so wonderful in giving us the gift of enjoying good laughs and loved ones.

Do you enjoy uncontrollable laughter?  seeing and welcoming family?


If you are reading this, have a blessed evening and wonderful rest of the week.  Hoping your week has been a nice one thus far.

Blessings!

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