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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blueberry and Blackberry Streusel Topped Pie

I really enjoy baking, but it seems like I never have time anymore.     So, when I had actual vacation time over Thanksgiving, I decided to make up for lost time.
I love streusel, and a couple years ago, I posted this recipe for Streusel Coffee Cake Muffins.  I used the same recipe for the streusel part.
I wasn't as "Betty Homemaker" on this, I used a pre-made crust, and store-bought pie filling.  But, it was yummy, and the streusel was a nice touch, so I thought I'd share...

You'll need:
- Pie pan
- 1 pre-made Pilsburry pie crust
- 1 egg white
- 1 can of blueberry pie filling
- 2 cans of blackberries (not the pie-filling kind, just regular)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter (chilled)
- Kitchen scissors
- Fall-themed cookie cutters


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Press pie crust into pan.  Cut off extra that hangs over.  Set that aside.  We'll be using it later.

3. Mix together blueberry pie filling and drained blackberries.  Pour into pie crust.

4. In a separate bowl mix together brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and butter.  Mix together (using forks or a hand mixer), until there are small pieces of butter left.

5. Pour a generous amount on the top of the pie.

6. Roll out the leftover dough we set aside earlier, and cut out some fall leaves.  Place them in a pretty pattern on the top of your pie.

7. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  If you find that the top is getting too brown too quickly, put a sheet of aluminum foil over it, to slow down "browning".

Yummm... that's all I have to say!
So, tell me, what's your favorite holiday pie flavor?
Do you have any tricks that make it your own?

I Love Burlap, Y'all!

As we've been decorating our house in a "coastal" theme, little by little I've been acquainting myself with more natural textures, colors and materials.  I have a new appreciation for wood, pottery, glass, twine, and - you guessed it - burlap!  (It also might be the south coming out in me.)

In addition to this, I was planning our family Christmas/maternity photography session.  I had been seeing all these banners people have made on pinterest, like this one, and this one, and I really liked them.  I found a couple on, but then I decided I could just make one. :)

Here's what you'll need:
- Paper
- Letter stencils
- Burlap
- Twine
- Black acrylic paint
- Paint brush
- Black thread
- Scissors
- Needle

1. Decide what you want your banner to say.  The number of letters (plus spaces), is how many pieces of burlap you will need.  We went with "Be Merry".  Some more cute ideas would be your last name, the year, "Merry Christmas", "Blessed", "Love Joy Peace", "Let It Snow"...

2. Choose the size/shape of pennant you want.  Cut a piece of paper to that shape.  Then, using it as a template, cut pieces out of the burlap.  Burlap is a messy fabric, little pieces of it go flying when you cut, and it's very prone to fraying.  Just be cautious when cutting. :)

3. Lay your pieces of burlap out on a solid surface, with something like a trash bag underneath.  

4. Lay the stencils on the burlap.

5. Paint the letters on the burlap.  (p.s.: don't use spray paint.  I tried - epic fail.)

6. Once they're dry, do a very easy, rudimentary stitch at each corner to the twine.  I don't have a picture of this, because the first time around, I stapled them, and with the big holes in burlap, you can imagine how well that held up.  I put the stitches in later.

7. Display, use for pictures...

This is what we used for our Christmas card this year.  
I really love how it turned out!

Although it's a little hard to see, because of the light coming through the door, but we used the banner in our Christmas decorating as well. :)

I'm really happy with how it turned out!

I also made a little wreath, based off of this wreath I found on pinterest.  There is no wrong way, or end all, be all elements, but here's what I used:

- Small-ish wreath
- Fabric to make rosettes
- Fabric flower(s)
- Burlap
- Twine
- Black Sharpie
- Hot glue gun

I have instructions on how to make rosettes and fabric flowers in this post.  I used some old pajamas, that I loved the pattern of, but they ripped, some fabric scraps, and burlap. :)

1. Make rosettes, or fabric flowers.  You could use anything though, buttons, silk flowers, pine branches...

2. Cut the burlap into small triangles

3. Write on the burlap with Sharpie.  I wrote "Blair", since I planned to hanging it on the front door.  Also, this doesn't limit it to only the holiday season.

4. Hot glue the triangles to twine, and that to the wreath.

5. Hot glue rosettes and flowers to wreath.

And, voila!  There you have it!  Some cute, and easy ways to add burlap, and natural fabrics to your holiday decor.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any ideas that you've fallen in love with.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Confessions of the 2nd Trimester - Oh the Bliss!

Hello all!  I am now 29 weeks pregnant, which means I just started my 3rd trimester.  So, I wanted to wrap up my 2nd trimester, as a part 2 to my Coming in February... a.k.a Confessions of the 1st Trimester.

These are some of the things that I've learned.  Some of them are tips, some are observations, and some are just little notes.  Please remember, I am in no way an expert, and this is my first pregnancy, but if anything I've learned can help someone, I would be thrilled!

1. They're not kidding when they call the 2nd trimester the "Honeymoon Trimester".  Most of the pesky 1st trimester symptoms are gone (like food aversions, morning sickness, etc.), and you feel way more like yourself!  Woohoo!

2. You're finally showing!!!  Now this is actually a tricky one.  (I tried to explain this to Dan, who was sweet, but didn't really get it.)  Because you want to show so bad, you're excited that your belly is finally big enough to get "that smile" from a stranger, or someone asking "when are you due?".  HOWEVER when someone tells you "Wow!  You're getting huge!", that's the kind of comment that is not quite as appreciated (although not usually - in my experience - intended as malicious).

3.  This one goes along with number 2.  Women have different body shapes, and so they will naturally carry differently.  I've been very lucky in my pregnancy.  I had a parent of one of my kindergartners say to me in my 25th week of pregnancy, "SO!  When were you going to tell us you were pregnant?"  It took a while for me to "look pregnant".  I talked to my doctor, as I was worried maybe Baby Blair wasn't growing fast enough, and he reassured me that I was right on target.  He told me that I am tall, and have a long torso, so the baby has much more room to grow, before he goes "outward".  So, take every comment with a smile and grain of salt.  And the only opinion that matters is your doctor's.

4.  Feeling your baby move.  There is nothing like it!  It feels like giant gas bubbles, and butterflies, and honestly, an alien moving around.  (It makes me think of that scene in the Matrix, when they put that thing in Neo's belly button- haha!)  I felt Baby Blair for the first time on a Wednesday night, at church, while Dan was preaching.  That was very, very special for me. :)

5.  During your 2nd trimester is when you can find out your baby's gender, if you so choose.  We couldn't wait to find out!  There are so many cute gender reveal ideas out there, from balloons, to opening a present, to pinatas and confetti, silly string, and cake.  We have the greatest friends, who put together the cutest "Reveal Party" for us.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea, here's how we did it.
- Go to the doctor for your 17-20 week sonogram.  (Ours was at 20 weeks.)  When the sonographer gets to "that part" of your baby, you look away.  No cheating!
- We had our party the same day, so the sonographer then called our friend, Cathy, to tell her if it was "blue" or "pink".  Another option would be, to have the sonographer write it down, or put that ultrasound in a sealed envelope.
- Your friend then bakes a cake, where the cake (or inside frosting) is pink or blue, then they cover the outside with a gender neutral colored frosting, invite special people over, and you cut the cake - voila! :)
Here's how ours went down:

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!

I had felt like Baby Blair was a boy from the beginning, and Dan has always hoped his first baby would be a boy.  His brother has 2 daughters, and his cousin has a girl... so his family has been due for a boy! :)  WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!  We plan on naming him Aidan Judson Blair. :)

Here's a video clip of how it went down:

And here's our 20 week old Baby Boy:

6.  Your appetite will grow, just as your baby is doing!  Remember, you're NOT ACTUALLY EATING FOR TWO!!!  You only really need an extra 200 calories a day.  So, yes, indulge, but don't go overboard.

7.  Your boobs finally grow!  'Nuf said. :)

8.  If you've been holding off on the caffeine, like I had been doing, once you're in the second trimester it really is perfectly safe.  Oh, thank God!

9.  Maternity clothes!  You don't really need a ton, and with the cuts of clothes now-a-days, you can really use regular clothes for a long while.  But, it is a really great excuse to get some shopping done!  I suggest getting some basics, and then enhancing and accessorizing with things you already have - a bold scarf, necklace, blazer, cardigan... you get the picture! :)

10.  Speaking of pictures, schedule your maternity pictures for the end of your second trimester.  You feel/look your best, and you have a bona fide bump!  We did ours, and the pictures turned out fabulous!  I'll do a post on that once we get them all back, on what to wear, what to be prepared for... so be on the lookout! :)

11.  On a serious note, be aware of what's going on in your body, but also try not to always jump to the worst conclusions.  I had some very, very light spotting the other day, but it was scary for me.  Everyone was great, my boss sent me home right away, Dan came home from work, and drove me to the doctor.  We were naturally very nervous, but it all turned out just fine.  I had a slight vaginal infection, but it was not harming Aidan.  

12.  Go around, and get your registering done.  Target and BabiesRUs are some of the classics, and they have huge varieties.  We also really liked Restoration Hardware Baby and Child.  It's a little pricey, but they have really unique items, which will really make your nursery stand out.

13.  This one is exciting.  In the last couple weeks of your second trimester is when you can get your 3D ultrasound, if you want.  They're not cheap, but with all our family living so far away, we really wanted a way to share the pregnancy with them in a tangible way, so we wanted to do it.  It is truly amazing what technology can do!  Here's what our Baby Aidan looks like:

I can't get over his sweet face, his nose, and that SMILE!

That's what I have so far! :)  It has been such a fun ride, I can honestly say this has been the best experience, and I cannot wait to see