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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sharing Bountiful Baskets | Giving Ideas this Holiday

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday I thought I would share an amazing little "Giving" event I hosted a couple of weeks ago : )

Every year our Church hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for members the week before.  This year, I was asked to contribute the centerpieces for each table.  Initially, I thought - easy, I'll just grab some candles from the store, some leftover wheat bundles and call it a day.  I was sort of thinking of it as just one more thing I had to do during the launch of my Holiday product line and just before we were hosting Thanksgiving at our house...  perfect.  

Then I had a moment.  I thought, during the Holiday season I really hate "wasting" money on decorations when it could put it to better use - I wanted the centerpieces to do something besides look pretty.  

My idea was to make a big bountiful basket for each table to serve as the centerpiece, each containing all of the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner (minus the Turkey), and each made for and donated to a family in need after the dinner was over.

These baskets were made not as handout, but as a gift that was joyfully made and given.  I wanted them to have fresh vegetables and fresh herbs, just like I buy for my own family.  The idea was to be that it wasn't just a gift of utility, but of grace and plentiful bounty, that even in struggling times, sharing and experiencing something beautiful is still important.  I wanted each family receiving these baskets to experience the joy of receiving a beautiful gift - not to be thought of as a donation.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 
The plan was for Mike and I to buy and donate all of the supplies for these 24 baskets.  I thought it would be fun to recruit some friends to help assemble the baskets - a party, maybe a little girls night with wine + snacks, to make it fun.

That's when the magic happened.  I send an email to about 15 friends from Church and our neighborhood Mom's group to invite them over for a fun night putting together Thanksgiving baskets.  Within 15 minutes, almost all had replied "Yes, and what can I bring to contribute!"  I made up a shopping list, thinking we'd still be donating a good chunk of the goods.  These women replied back in record time, donating every single item on the list.  It was amazing.

And what's more, they were glad to do it - so very happy to help.  I feel so blessed to have cultivated a group of friends with such large hearts and willing spirits.  These women take care of their own children and families all day long, work jobs, run their households, and exhaust themselves taking care of others, yet they jump at the opportunity to help and take care of someone else.  To think, I almost missed this opportunity by taking the easy way out.

Here are some of the busy bees buzzing around filling baskets, making sure they were each beautiful. 
There may have even been some competition...

The new farmhouse table piled with potatoes and pie shells.

Mike was out of town so Emma got to join in on the Mom's night.

I hope this inspires some of you to host a giving party of your own over the Christmas season.   An idea that I've been thinking about is a basket for Moms in need that have all of the fun stuff we love for Christmas - wrapping paper, ribbons, tags, decorations + gift card.  These are the things that we all love help us make a magical Christmas morning for our children, and that if you are scraping together enough money for a couple of presents for your children, you might not be able to splurge on.  Just an idea!

Here are the baskets set up at the church the next day.

Thank you to all of my dear friends that came together to make a little magic this season.  I'm so honored and blessed from your giving!


If you are looking for a good place to Give, Harvesters is matching all donations today!  So, that 3 meals for every $1, just turned into 6.

Donate to Harvesters, here >

Monday, November 30, 2015

30% Monday Special - for 1st 100 Orders!

30% Off Orders over $50!

The Christmas season is officially here!  Get everything you need to make your gifts look beautiful with 30% off your entire order for orders over $50... limited to the first 100 customers : ) Everything is ready to ship and will be on your doorstep early next week!

Use code : Monday30


Shop the entire Everyday Occasions >

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How to Make The Prettiest Pie Crust | Pie Crust Recipe | Plus... Chocolate Meringue Pie Recipe


This is only not a recipe, but a tutorial on making a pretty pie... a step-by-step guide to crimping a pretty pie crust.  After all, most pies taste great, but a really pretty pie can put it over the top!

The Easiest & Flakiest
Pie Crust Recipe

2 pie crusts

18 tablespoons cold butter (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor with the steel blade, add flour, salt and sugar.  Cut butter into small pieces, then add it too the food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is crumbly.  Slowly pour in water until the mixture begins to form a ball or come together as dough.

Dump it out onto a board and form it into two disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator, unwrap and place it on a well floured board.  Roll it out with a rolling pin, moving the dough in between each roll to form a circle.

Fold it into quarters.

Put it into the pie plate with the point of the fold in the center.  Unfold.

Fold under the edges to create a nice 'bump' around the edge.

Pinch the edge between your thumb and forefinger.  Move along the edge, all the way around.

Use pie weights when baking if you are "Blind Baking" the shell, or baking the shell before it is filled like you would for a cream pie, like chocolate, banana or a lemon meringue.   These pie weights were my Granny's...  they probably filled 100's of lemon meringue pie shells.

Oops.  I forgot to prick the bottom before the pie weights went in!

This is the crust after it was baked, then filled with chocolate custard.  I used my friend (and cousin-in-law's) Lorin's recipe.  Lorin made this for my family and it was so good, I begged her for the recipe.  Here it is!

Chocolate Custard Filling:
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 Cups milk
2 ounces unsweetened choc/or cocoa conversion
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
I tsp vanilla
2 Tbs butter

Combine sugar,cornstarch, chocolate and salt: gradually add milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat till bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir moderate amount of mixture into yolks: immediately return to hot mixture and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat add butter and vanilla. Pour into shell.

Top it with mernigue :

4 egg whites
6 tblsp. Granulated sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tarter
½ tsp. vanilla

With your mixer on high speed beat egg whites, cream of tarter and vanilla. Gradually add in sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Top pie with meringue and bake at 350 until golden.

 Post toast.

Toasted meringue cloud!

Here is the easy to pin strip!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Thanksgiving Menu + Cooking Schedule +Planning Worksheets

This is a post I share every year, and each year I update it with some of the new recipes I've added  - Hello, Kale Salad and Petite Pecan Pies.  I've also included the link to my Thanksgiving Planning Worksheets (below) to help you with your scheduling for the week... it is "go" time for those of us hosting!
Somethings aren't changing, like the BEST Turkey recipe that starts with a bottle of white wine and a pound of butter : )  I'm adding  a new side dish - Sausage & Brie Stuffed Mushrooms.  Instead of the Baked Brie, I'm making an old fashioned relish tray.  We'll be featuring some homemade pickled vegetables, bread and butter pickles, olives, etc.  All of that yummy salty briny goodness goes great with a glass of mulled wine before dinner, without filling up.

My sister and her family are staying here the night before Thanksgiving so we will begin our day with parade watching and breakfast - all made in advance so the kitchen can concentrate on making the Thanksgiving meal the morning of.  We will be eating at 1pm this year, so the times have been changed to reflect that.  Hope you enjoy and it helps you prepare for the big day.

I'll be working on my table setting early next week, so I'll be sure to share that, too.

We have a busy week ahead since we are hosting Thanksgiving at the new house.   I'm still hunting for dining room chairs... tiny detail, right?  I'm hoping to find an eclectic mix of six old windsor chairs to mix with our six upholstered. We also need to make some teachers' gifts for school, get the house ready for overnight guests and plan details for a holiday packed weekend.   Would love to hear about what recipes are your favorites or new ones you are trying.  This weekend marks the start of the most wonderful time of the year - and I am so glad to be in the thick of it!

Here is a link to download my Thanksgiving Worksheets.  They will help you go on autopilot for the day so you can enjoy yourself and know that everything will be perfectly timed... or at least most things.   You will be prompted to add your email before the lists download, just FYI.  This adds you to my email list so you can stay updated on new posts and specials I have for the store.  

Baked Brie with Caramelized Pecans in Puff Pastry served with Apples 

Not making this this year, but have every year before.

Kale, Pumpkin Seed, Apple & Cranberry Salad

Always nice to have something fresh and crunchy in addition to such an indulgent meal.


Thanksgiving Planner | Traditional Herb Stuffing Recipe | Sage & Thyme Dressing Recipe

 The Best Classic Mashed Potatoes | Potato Ricer

Stuffed Mushrooms

This photo is of The Pioneer Woman's Brie Stuffed, but I think I'm going to combine that recipe with Ina's Sausage Stuffed.

Holidays | Entertaining | Thanksgiving Planner | Countdown Day 9 | Roasted Turkey & Gravy Recipes

One thing that I highly recommend, is trying the Turkey recipe I have posted from Martha Stewart.  We stared using this method a couple of years ago and everyone goes crazy over it.  You stuff the bird with lemon, garlic, thyme, and sage, then baste it with a mixture of a bottle of chardonnay and 4 sticks of butter.  It makes the most unbelievable pan drippings for gravy.  Turkey is usually a little bland, but this recipe makes it amazing.


Pecan Tart | A New Twist on a Classic Pecan Pie Recipe


Chocolate Cream Tart with Pecan Shortbread Crust

 Thanksgiving Table Setting | DIY Flower Pumpkin Centerpiece, Woodland China, Hemstitch Linens, Pewter Flatware & Rustic Glassware

Enjoy this week of planning - my favorite part of Thanksgiving... getting everything ready!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heirloom Pumpkin & Gold Candles on Sale! + 20% Off All Thanksgiving!

Heirloom Pumpkin & Gold Candles on Sale! + 20% Off All Thanksgiving!
You've got your menu set, but what about the table? Candles are always the answer. These colors are my favorite to use for Thanksgiving - they are warm and vibrant, yet they have such natural, muted looking colors.
Heirloom Pumpkin and Gold candles are both on sale today in every size from 6" ($4) to 18" ($10) tall! They make a great hostess gift, especially if you craft them into an instant centerpiece or mantle display : )
Everything from linens, to wheat bundles for Thanksgiving are
20% Off!

To get 20% Off Thanksgiving Products today - use the code : Thankful20 at checkout.


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