Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Pie Practice

I'm no Suzie Homemaker, but sometimes I try to be. I often fail, but sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I swing and miss, but sometimes, oh sometimes, I hit it out of the park. 

I've gotta be honest and say I had some coaching from someone fabulous. She's fantastic and I don't think I'll ever have as much skill as she does, but she's happy to share, so her kindness is my gain.

Thanksgiving was never one of my favorite holidays growing up, but ever since Ben and I started doing them ourselves, it's now one of my favorite days of the year (second only to Christmas, which I've always loved best). 

We've hosted the last three years but this year we're going to be celebrating at our friend's hose instead. I't's bittersweet because I've loved hosting the last three years, but our friends home is much more appropriate for a big group for dinner, and our oven is broke and a turkey won't fit in our toaster oven! 

Anyway, this year Ben is making his famous stuffing (of course), and I wanted to make a spectacular dessert. I have a small arsenal of options I know are good, but this year I wanted to go big. I wanted to challenge myself and got for the big guns. I wanted to make a pie. From scratch.

I had no idea how to make a pie, but I had heard they were tricky. Lucky for me, my BFF Ree was there to help a girl out. I can pretty much trust that anything she says is good is in fact, good, but with an event as big as Thanksgiving, a trial run was a must. So, yesterday, I made my first pie.

The first step to any pie is the crust. Oh man, the crust is important. It seems much more difficult to screw up a sweet filling, but the crust has little wiggle room. I referenced this recipe for directions but adapted it with some organic, whole wheat flour courtesy of Bob's Red Mill instead of regular flour and butter instead of vegetable shortening (I don't know what is better to use, but I'm trying to use as little processed/fake junk as possible). 

I mixed all the ingredients and wrapped by two disks of dough in wax paper and thought to myself, "Gee, this is easy, I don't know what the big deal is." Then, I had to roll the dough out. I quickly understood. Ha! Two attempts, a few patches and a desperate phone call to my mama later, I had a somewhat round piece of dough and I carefully placed it in my pan. 

I moved onto the filling, giving myself carpel tunnel while peeling my apples. This pie is called Scrumptious Apple Pie and it definitely lives up to it's name! I omitted the caramel and walnuts for my trial run because I forgot to buy them at the store, but I don't really think they are needed.

This pie is amazing. Let me show you...

...yeah, I know, a crappy cell phone pic just doesn't do it justice. Maybe my BFF's pic will paint a better picture...

...oh yeah baby...

...Thanksgiving 2010 is going to be good!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shutterfly Goodness

Oh my gosh you guys, I am so excited about this post!

Call me sappy, girly or silly (ummm...whatevs), but I love Christmas cards! One of my favorite things about the holidays is receiving letters or post-cards from loved ones and I happily stuff my scrolly card-holder with images of some of my favorite people, many of whom I do not get the chance to see on a regular basis. 

Life is busy and often overwhelming. Schedules are crazy and time and distance often make keeping up with those you love difficult. Yes, we maintain relationships with many people throughout the year, but the holidays are a time to purposely send love to the people closest to your heart.

Sending Christmas cards is a little way of stringing family and friends closer together and they help to create the warm and cozy feeling this season is so full of.  

The only downside to Christmas cards is realizing how little pictoral documentation of our life we actually have! Ben and I are terrible about remembering to grab our camera and even worse at remembering to use it if we actually have it! My heart dropped a little when I realized the only picture I have where we actually look nice (i.e. not sweaty and super tired from backpacking) Ben is making his "I am so done with pictures!" face and he's not a fan. Shoot!

Anyway, we WILL get some decent pictures soon, and I can't wait to get our cards ordered! This year I am going to use Shutterfly because they are awesome! They always have the cutest designs and if I hadn't gotten the itch to make our own cards previous years (probably not doing that again! My fingers were sore for days!) I totally would have used them.

These are a few of my favs:
Simple and sweet...

I really like this one, it's more modern and streamlined...

So cute...

Classic and lovely...

This one is beautimus...

This one is probably my fav...

But I really love this one...

And this one...

Ooh...and this one is so fun...

...but I love the list of names on this one...

Choices, choices, choices! 

Along with fabulous Christmas cards, they also have great New Years cards and can pretty much put your pictures anything (i.e. canvas, books, etc.)

Ok, the reason why I'm excited - I'm getting these cards free! Oh yes mam! And you know free is my favorite price! Wanna know a secret? You can get these cards free too! Yep, Shutterfly is giving bloggers 50 free cards in exchange for writing about them. Not too shabby! 

Visit Shutterfly for more information and hurry to take advantage of this awesome deal!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Warning: this post is heavy. My heart is heavy and the subject matter is a reality in my life. It may not be in yours, so please take caution when reading.

You can't really prepare for the first time you have someone die right in front of you. It's one thing to know a patient is gone before he actually takes his last mechanically-assisted breath, but when you don't expect it, you can't prepare. It's just that, completely unexpected and all you can do is react in shock. It's morbidly ironic that my good friend and I were talking about this very situation the day before. "I don't know how what I'll do when I kid I don't expect to die actually does." Well, I guess now I do.

There is a unique peace that comes with knowing a child is being called up into heaven when his body is done here on earth. When it stops responding the way it is supposed to and when you know their spirit is already sitting on Jesus' lap. Please don't get me wrong, our hearts still mourn for that baby, that son or that daughter. Parents are still forced to go home with empty arms and the grief is overwhelming. I am simply talking about how it affects my heart as a care-giver, as someone who enters that family's life for a matter of moments. I have to sometimes build a fence of protection around my baby-loving heart otherwise I would not be able to do what I do.

It's a survival mechanism to begin to prepare for the death of a patient who is brain-dead or whose heart just does not function on it's own anymore. I have to believe that better things lie in store for that baby on the other side of this life. I don't have any resources against the sudden, instant, one second we're talking and the next she is gone kind of death.

Did I cause this? Did I make a mistake? Fear, doubt and hurt fill my heart. I am reassured by the most skilled professionals that no, it was simply her time to go. Not my mistake. Her body was broken, it just didn't look as broken as it was. I didn't know she was so fragile. No one did.

I begin to doubt the care I gave her. I know I provided for her medically as best I could, but was I kind enough? Did I smile warm enough? Did she feel welcome/safe/special? Was I compassionate? I don't know. Those questions and doubts weight heavy on my mind. Not being able to communicate with her frightened mom breaks my heart. I couldn't communicate with her because of a significant language barrier and because I couldn't take my attention off of trying to save her daughter. How scared she must have been. I can't even let myself think about that, it's too much.

I knew this would happen. I didn't think so many would happen in one short time, but they say that's how it goes. Feast or famine. I'd sure like a famine right about now.

As difficult as it is to process the terrible events that sometimes happen, I know this is where I am supposed to be. I don't know why I am called to do this, but I have been called. I cannot say I have done a "good" job with any of the passings I have been involved with, but I know I was put in each one for a reason not determined by me. Sometimes I am reminded that my job is about so much more than being a nurse. It is so much bigger than providing care to my patients and their families. I am truly called to be His hands extended to people who are hurting. To patients who are sick and parents who are scared. I must be honest and say that I do not always remember the weight of that most important part of my job. Sometimes I get irritated with particular patients and short with their parents. Sometimes life's annoyances get in the way of the work I am supposed to do. Ha. Go figure. It's amazing how easy it is for the satan to cloud our sight of God's purpose in our life.

I don't know if I'll ever forget her face or the empty feeling of shock and sadness. I do know however, that there is a purpose behind it and I was placed there for a reason bigger than me. I also know I'll take lessons away from that terrible moment. My hands - His hands - are softer now, more prepared now, better now because of that tragic moment.

Lord Jesus, please help me to remember Your purpose behind my work. Please help me to love my patients with the same passion You have for them. Please help me to see the important things that need to be seen and help me to know when to act. Please work through me. Make my hands an extension of Yours. Please make my life bigger than me. I need you Jesus and Your strength, I am so weak on my own. I am incapable without You. Your are my portion and Your grace is sufficient for me. Please be with me, always. Thank You for loving me. I love You. Amen.