Project Pie

About a year ago I received a very sweet and sentimental gift, which are, in my opinion, the best kind, from my Nana. It was a recipe book that had been sitting on the women of our families pantry shelves for generations; The Joy of Cooking. She had sent it to me knowing that, being a newly married bride and therefore a beginning cook, I could use some good, solid, sound advice in the kitchen to guide my everyday meal planning experiences for our newly founded family. The inscription read “To Blair, my darling granddaughter, My mother shared with me, and now I pass to you. Happy Cooking! xoxo Nana”. The inscription and the fact that this was THE cookbook which guided my Nana and Menow’s, or great grandmothers, fingertips to create famous family meals for generations was what meant the most to me. It was as if I now possessed the power to make my own famous family meals that would leave my loved ones salivating for the leftovers, if there even were any, the next day!

But then I began to look at the size of the book! Gigantic! As I perused the pages I could not help but feel overwhelmed by the 4,500 recipes, as well as menu planning tips and guides, that filled the spine. How would I ever even know where to begin? So I filed the book away with the few other recipe books I had collected to be revisited at a later date.

A year came and went and one night as Matt and I were sitting on the couch having a in home movie date night the name of my Nana’s and Menow’s cookbook kept coming up in the film we were watching. The characters in this movie kept talking about how it was THE go to cook book, the original, that changed in home cooking forever. So naturally, after the movie I was curious and wanted to give my Nana’s cookbook a second glance, because not only did I think it was the key to becoming an incredible cook, like the rest of the women in my family, but so did America.

Again what I found was 4,500 daunting recipes, but began to just look at specific sections. With my chronic sweet tooth, the one that I came to first was of course the pies and pastries. I started reminiscing about my Nana’s famous Derby Pie and my Aunt B’s delicious Broccoli Cheese Quiche. The women in my family literally are renowned for their baking skills, in particular their pies. Seriously, contests have been won in the pie department based on the fact that their crusts always turn out so perfectly flaky and buttery; it just melts right in your mouth. Pie and I though, well we have a different relationship; there is history.  Right after Matt and I were first married I felt it was my genealogical gifting to be able to make an outstanding pie. I mean after all, all the women on my fathers side of the family had this magical skill so therefore I must be destined, right? Wrong! Pie crust did not, and still does not, come naturally to me. Whenever I endeavor to make a pie it does not turn out perfectly flaky and buttery, to the point that it will melt in your mouth, just like my Nana’s. Nope, mine turns out tough, crunchy, and sometimes even a bit burnt on the bottom. It would be more likely to break your teeth then melt in your mouth. Kudo’s to my loving and kind husband for always being so gentle with me in this area though. For always lifting me up and encouraging me when it would have been extremely easy to tear me down. He still wont admit that it’s as bad as it is, and whenever I attempt to make a pie Matt, to my complete bewilderment, eats it, and not just one piece to be cordial.. he will even go back for seconds. Now if that type of sacrifice is not love, then I don’t know what is.

In all seriousness though, as I was pouring over the beautiful pie section of my Nana’s cookbook, it struck me! Maybe the secret to their success is in the book! Maybe if I bake my way through the pies and pastries section of this long standing family gem that was passed down to me I will finally unleash that magical touch that has won over some many stomachs for generations, making friends and family save just a little bit of extra room at the end of a wondrous meal when they hear their is pie for desert? After all, it was in my Menow’s possession before Nana’s and now it is in mine. So I would practically have two of the best bakers I know with me in spirit to guide my adventures as I attempted to get this whole pie thing down pat. And if at the end of 62 pies, for some reason, I still can not make the perfectly flaky, buttery crust that has deemed the women in my family for so long as amazing bakers, then I will put them all to shame and begin using the store bought Pillsbury crust that you can find in the freezer isle and seems to come out perfectly every time, whether you have the ability to craft it yourself or not.

Therefore I have decided to bake my way through the entire pie section of the cookbook The Joy of Cooking in hopes that after 62 recipes I will finally have earned my place in the kitchen and stop putting my incredible husband through pie crust agony! Of course Matt was on board with this idea. He even did the honor of choosing the first pie that I should begin with, Pecan Pie,  which was quite a high mark to start out with considering his mom makes the best version of this pie I have ever tasted! As for the days you can expect to read about how this particular challenge of ours is going, come back every Sunday to hear about that weeks sweet tooth indulgent for project pie!

Much Love & Prayer,

Blair

 

Yearly Family Pictures

When Matt and I got married, almost three years ago, we decided that one of the traditions we wanted to start was having yearly family pictures taken to document the growth and change in our family that would take place over the course of our life and marriage together. We both love photography and how it is able to capture a moment, feeling and relationship in time forever. It’s something almost magical to look back at old family photo albums for us. To see the way our loved ones were when they were young. To actually be able to look at a picture and see the emotions and love shared between them. It’s one of those things that we cherish doing together. We could, and have, literally spent hours pouring over those sentiments. Therefore it only made sense to us that we wanted to document our family, from beginning to end, in this way. We also thought it would be a fun idea to center each years photo shoot around something significant that took place in our life, family and marriage during that specific year.

Therefore our first family photos were centered around our one year anniversary of our marriage. We were even able to have our friend Ashley Fehler, who second shot our wedding, come back with us to the place where we said our vows to each other and our God, before all of our closest family and friends, who were their to show their support and encouragement, as God united our hearts, joined our families together through us, and bonded Matt and I as one for eternity. There was just so much to remember and reminisce on in that sacred place where our little family began a year ago, at that time, on Friday, August 19, 2011.

Extatic about our first year of marriage!

Ecstatic about our first year of marriage!

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One of my favorites because of the shared sense of joy and fun between us :)

One of my favorites because of the shared sense of joy and fun between us 🙂

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tenderness

Life's a sunny day sitting on a park bench with him.

Life’s a sunny day sitting on a park bench with him.

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Our last name!

Our last name!

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He is the best person a making me laugh and smile.

Love how the wedding rings are both captured in this one.

Love how the wedding rings are both captured in this one especially with the sunlight shining down on us so brightly and cheerful like. It’s a pretty accurate description of our marriage thanks to our God.

Sometimes it's a good thing when you have to stand on your tippy toes to reach something up high.

Sometimes it’s a good thing when you have to stand on your tippy toes to reach something up high.

great friendship is a key ingredient in a great marriage

great friendship is a key ingredient in a great marriage

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He is the best person a making me laugh and smile.

He is the best person a making me laugh and smile.

He is the best person at making me laugh and smile.

This year though was a little different. With all the excitement and change that the end of 2013 would bring as I graduated with my degree in Elementary Education from The University of Kentucky, Matt and I decided we would focus our family pictures around that accomplishment of ours, since we had both sacrificed and worked so hard to see that dream achieved in our family.  We found a quaint old one room school house in the outskirts of Cincinnati to take the photos at with, once again, the extremely creative, friendly and ubber talented Ashley Fehler. Seriously, if anyone is looking for a photographer that you can feel at home around, one that will catch your family in its normal state and then capture it in photos for you to cherish forever this is your girl!

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Standing in front of the quaint one room school house. We even got to ring the bell together!

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He loves me, and my books!

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Love that I am the one who has the blessing of bringing out this mans amazing smile and genuine laughter on a daily basis.

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Thankful for my husbands tenderness towards me and protection of me.

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I think he might like me,, maybe just a little lol 😉

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Since it was around Christmas time we took the opportunity to shoot our Christmas card photo as well. 🙂

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Matt congratulating his graduated wifey!

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My Mr. Pomeroy had some very strategically placed mistletoe, but in all honesty I love that we still play with each other. I love keeping that part of our relationship alive and thriving, even after almost three years of marriage and seven years of being together.

Of course we take our own pictures through out the year as well and those are wonderful in their own right. The point I believe in taking photos though, whether you have them taken professionally or prefer to be your own photographer,  is to document the life of your family and to cherish each passing moment you spend with them. One day, sooner or later, nostalgia will hit, if you are like us it is on a much more frequent basis, but either way when it does you will be so thankful to have captured those moments. I can only say from my own experience but being able to look back on old photos of our loved ones as well as now getting to look back through our own memories has been on of the greatest blessings in disguise for Matt and I. Every time we are able to sit down together and take a walk down memory lane we walk away feeling that much more unified because we re-realize all that we have done, and been through, together in the past seven years… all the trials and triumphs we have faced by each others side, all the memories made together. It is a literal reminder for us to count our blessings and all that we have to be grateful for, especially each other.

Much love & prayer,

Blair

DIY Wedding Flower Shadowbox Keepsake

Just like all other brides, I loved my wedding flowers on Matt and my’s wedding day. Long after that special beginning to our family had ended and our marriage had begun I came to treasure them, along with a few other momentos from the most wonderful, joy -filled day of our life to date thus far. Therefore we decided that it would be a good idea to have them dried and displayed in a shadowbox where we would be able to cherish them, as well as all the memories that are attached to them, on a regular basis.

When we started looking into having this service done though, it proved to be quite difficult. First a foremost there was only one vendor in the area that we could find who offered this type of service. Secondly, she wanted to charge us upwards of $900.00 to complete the entire project. Being that Matt and I, were, and still are, on the newlywed budget that price estimate was a complete deal breaker for us. Not to mention that some of the details I had been creatively dreaming up in my head, such as a lace overlay on a powder blue cotton backdrop to match our wedding colors,  she had told me would be impossible to do. That, along with the price, made me want to try my hand at making my own wedding flower shadowbox that much more.  As I began researching to project I quickly came to realize that there wasn’t much on the topic to be found. Hence, why I thought it would be a good, useful tool to share here for other brides, turned wives, that have been longing to create their own wedding flower keepsake as well but could not find any resources or did not have the money available to pay someone to craft it for them, like me.

Further more the entire creation only costed me a thrifty $40.00 versus the $900.00 that the professional had rated us!!! Therefore we were abel to create our own keepsake, just the way we had envisioned it, for literally a fraction of the cost! Not to mention the sense of accomplishment you earn when you make something yourself. On top of all this Matt and I both agree that the one I crafted was much more along the lines of what we were dreaming up versus the one that was going to be designed for us, but that is the benefit of having full creative reign over a project.

The $40.00 wedding flower shadowbox (top) that I created for our precious keepsakes versus the $900.00 one (bottom) that a professional had designed for us. Of course we are a little biased but we much rather prefer ours to theirs.

The $40.00 wedding flower shadowbox (top) that I created for our precious keepsakes versus the $900.00 one (bottom) that a professional had designed for us. Of course we are a little biased but we much rather prefer ours to theirs.

As the old saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way! So without further adieu I present to you the:

DIY wedding flower shadowbox keepsake!

Materials:

  • Shadowbox of your choice. I purchased mine at Michael’s craft store
  • Fabric(s) of your choice
  • Pearl pins and other decorative features of your choice
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue
  • Spray adhesive
  • Dried flowers
  • Ribbon either from the bouquet and boutonniere or something similar to match
  • Other significant wedding memorabilia such as a photograph or invitation

Directions:

  • Take apart Shadowbox and backboard. There should be specific instructions to assist you with the shadowbox you decide to purchase. Place toe frame out to the side for the time being and turn the backboard so that the front is facing toward you. Make sure that you also have the backboard aligne properly so that you will be able to hang it and display all your beautiful memories right side up, instead of upside down. I learned this one tip from experience.  If it wasn’t for my amazing husband coming in to rescue my project with his handyman skills then all my hard work would have been for nothing because I had accidentally forgotten to check the back and make sure that it was aligned with the hangers before I began arranging and permanently glueing all our momentos down! Thankfully God gave me a patient, understanding and ingenious man to call my husband who was able to add some makeshift, homemade frame hangers to my shadowbox. He saved the day and is forever my hero! 🙂 
  • Once you have checked to make sure that the backboard is aligned properly to be hung on the wall, take your fabric and position it on the board to cover it completely. Cut any extra off that you will not need.
  • Now take the hot glue gun and glue the fabric down along the over edges of the board.
  • If you decide that you would like to do a lace overlay now is the time! After the hot glue has dried take the lace and lay it over the freshly fabric-covered board to cover the entire board. Cut any extra off that you will not need. Instead of using hot glue to adhere the lace to the fabric I decided to use pearl push pins because I felt that laying the lace down onto the hot glue would be too messy and dangerous. Take a pin and in the far corner of the board push it down into the fabric at an angle, going away from the center. Then pull the fabric taunt and repeat in the remaining three corners until the lace is adhered to the fabric. Side note, this was one of the features that I was told would be impossible to accomplish, and if I were to use hot glue then yes, I would agree, but as I had said earlier where there is a will, there is a way. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and almost anything can be made possible! 🙂
  • Once you have your fabric secured and in place now the excitement begins! Arrange, and rearrange your flowers and memorabilia until you find a set up that you like. Get creative! Have fun! Be daring! Nothing is official yet, you still have plenty of time to decide on what you like and what you want to change until it is all just right.
  • Now that you have decided on the set up carefully begin glueing each piece down with the hot glue. I found it easiest to begin with my center pieces, the ones that I wanted to be the focus point of the shadowbox. Therefore I began with my husbands boutonniere and my wedding bouquet. The boutonniere was much simpler than the bouquet since it is only one part. So to arrange to bouquet I found it best to start creating the shape with the large dried blooms, then move to the medium ones and finally fill in any gaps with the tiny ones. During this process I added the ribbon tied stems right after I was finished with the large blooms and began adding in around it with the medium as well as the small sized ones.
  • I then went on to add our wedding invitation that Matt designed for our wedding day and a photo of the two of us walking, laughing and talking in the park right after we became husband and wife. It is one of our favorite from that day and we chose it because of the way it captured the way we are together, it was one of those raw, real moments that captured our tenderness towards one another, as well as showcased the flowers in their original form from that first day of our little family.
  • Lastly, I positioned the ribbon that was tied around my stems and then hot glued it down as well as sprinkled a few loose petals around to fill in some empty space and add to the soft affect of the over all project.
  • Once you have everything set in place take the spray glue and spray it over the entire piece of art. This is an added safety pro caution. Also, I used this spray glue on the fragile decorative petal pieces that I placed around the board instead of the hot glue. Since the hot glue might have been to heavy on the delicate petals and could have caused tearing.
  • Now gently take the frame and place it over the board. Next slip your hands underneath of the board and gently flip it over so that you can secure it with the tabs that hook into the frames edge.
  • Once you have finished that step flip the shadowbox back over and have your own handyman of a husband that you were so blessed to have married come and help you hang it up in a place that you two choose together. For our little family of two we felt it went perfectly in our bedroom.
  • Lastly, sit back and admire your accomplishment that you achieved thanks to your creative stroke of genius and your hubbies superman-like handyman skills.

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I hope this tutorial is helpful to anyone planning on venturing out and creating their own keepsakes versus having them made for you. Good luck on your crafting!

Much love & prayer,

Blair

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Having extremely sensitive skin has been one of the most challenging hygiene obstacles that I have had to over come in my life, although I really have never known anything different because my skin has always been this way. Since I was a child I have always had to use special soaps, bath products, lotions etc. to ensure that my skin was not irritated. If you were ever on a cheerleading or dance team with me then I am sure you remember the huge red welts that would form on my arm during each practice from just being rubbed the wrong way. A little over a  year ago, after talking to my friend Carrie about her one year old daughters sensitive skin and how she began making her own laundry detergent to sooth the situation , I was inspired to try and make my own as well! Not only would it cut costs in the cleaning department dramatically but it would also be a guaranteed success for my sensitive skin since I could control what was going into it, therefore leaving out all the harsh, and harmful, chemicals. I am happy to say that it was sheer success and I have been making our families laundry detergent ever since! So I thought I would share my formula here since I have had about a few people interested in the specifics of what I do and how they can create their own laundry detergent as well.

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Supplies:

  • 1 large, heavy pot
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • blender
  • 2 Mason Jars
  • 1 bar Fels Naptha
  • 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 bottle Purex Crystals (I prefer the one that they make for babies because it was designed for delicate skin) – optional
The ingredients

The ingredients

Directions:

  • First fill large, heavy pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • While the water is working on boiling mix the Borax and Washing Soda in a bowl and set aside for the time being.
Borax/Washing Soda mixture

Borax/Washing Soda mixture

  • Unwrap and cut the Borax into thin shavings. Then add the freshly cut soap to the pot of boiling water stirring consistently. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the soap is completely dissolved, about 10-15 minutes. Be careful and make sure that the mixture stays at a rolling, simmering boil. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL OVER OR YOU WILL HAVE AN EXTREMELY SUDDSY MESS ON YOUR HANDS AS WELL AS THE REST OF YOUR KITCHEN!
Fels Naptha being cut into thin slices

Fels Naptha being cut into thin slices

All shaved and ready to be boiled!

All shaved and ready to be boiled!

Boiling away!

Boiling away!

Fel Naptha completely disolved!

Fel Naptha completely disolved!

  • Once the Fels Naptha is completely dissolved remove the pot from the heat and add the Borax/Washing Soda mixture to the pot stirring constantly until the powder has completely dissolved into the mixture. This will take about 3-5 minutes.
The Fels Naptha/Borax/Washing Soda mixture

The Fels Naptha/Borax/Washing Soda mixture

  • Next allow the mixture to sit and solidify. This will take approximately 4-5 hours. There will be a film that forms on the top of the solution.
Cooling off

Cooling off

The soapy film that settles over the top of the mixture

The soapy film that settles over the top of the mixture

  • Once it has hardened gently break up the film that formed over top of the mixture. Pour into a blender and blend on high until it becomes a smooth, creamy consistency.

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Being blended together!

Being blended together!

The consistency that you want it have after it's all finished

The consistency that you want it have after it’s all finished

  • Add in the Purex Crystals, to aid in adding a nice scent to your clean clothes, and blend until it is completely mixed in.
  • Lastly Pour the mixture into sealable containers, I prefer Mason Jars.
The final product!

The final product!

A few final notes. This recipe makes about 2 large 16 0z. Mason Jars and will give Matt and I a full years worth of laundry! Make sure to store it in a dry place at room temperature as well as to label and keep it out of reach of small children as the ingredients are not meant to be ingested. We have found that 1 good sized tablespoon will wash a large load of laundry.

Good luck on your laundry ventures and I hope this recipe works as well for your families wallet and hygienic needs as well as they did for ours, whether they be for a new born babies sensitive skin or your own.

Much Love & Prayer,

Blair

P.S. for those of you who are simply interested in the budget aspect of it all here is the break down in cost!

The original recipe with no added scent crystals:

  • Fels Naptha .99 a bar
  • Bora 76 oz box = 9.5 cups – $3.29 box = .34 c per cup
  • Washing Soda 55 oz box = 6.875 cups – $2.97 box = .43 per cup

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Total Expense for 128 loads of Laundry = $1.76

The original recipe with the added scent crystals:

  • Fels Naptha .99 bar
  • Borax 76 oz box = 9.5 cups $3.29 box = .34 c per cup
  • Washing Soda 55 oz box =6.875 cups – $2.97 box = .43 per cup
  • Scent Crystals $3.97 (without coupon for the crystals)

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Total Expense for 128 loads of Laundry = $5.73 (without coupon for the crystals)

The original recipe with the scent crystal – coupon:

  • Fels Naptha .99 bar
  • Borax 76 oz box = 9.5 cups $3.29 box = .34 c per cup
  • Washing Soda 55 oz box =6.875 cups – $2.97 box = .43 per cup
  • Scent Crystals $1.97 (with coupon for the crystals)

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Total Expense for 128 loads of Laundry = $3.73 (with coupon for the crystals)