A December to Remember...

or not.

To be completely honest, this December is not one I care to relive. We have so, SO much to be grateful for, but this month was completely draining on so many levels. Here's the recap...

-Around the first week of December, my mom started having severe lower abdominal pains. To make a long story short she ended up having a fairly large ovarian cyst that had to be surgically removed. All the test results came back benign- thank the Lord!

-Carter's birthday (and party) were on the 11th. We had a lot of fun, but as many of you know... even good, happy events can be stressful.

-A few days later my dad was hospitalized for critically low blood levels caused by internal bleeding. And by critically low, I mean the doctor said it was "one step above dead". After two blood transfusions, he was released to go home and rest. He still isn't "out of the woods" by any means, so please keep him in your prayers.

-Jeremy has worked all but two days this entire month. He had one weekend at home (the weekend of Carter's birthday), which means that he also had to miss Christmas. This was really hard for all of us. We are incredibly thankful for the dual income that the Redskins job provided (especially this time of year), but we are very glad it's over and we can get back to a sense of "normality"... whatever that is :)

I don't mean to gripe or complain in this post. I am fully aware of how extremely blessed I am. There are just certain seasons of life that seem more exhausting than others... and this month has been one of ours. We are certainly looking forward to the fresh start 2011 will bring!


Two Years Later...

Two years ago today, we brought our sweet baby boy home from the hospital. I cannot express the ways that he has changed my life. He is the greatest blessing I've ever received and was SO worth waiting for!
Here he is just a few hours after he was born...
The cutest newborn I've ever seen :)
And here he is at his birthday party this past Saturday...

I'll be back soon with details about his party!


My Favorite Pie Crust

Having a good, reliable pie crust is SUCH a blessing in the kitchen.. especially this time of year! I have tried a lot of different recipes, but fell in love with this crust at first bite. It's buttery (no shortening) and light, but not flaky. It is originally from Melissa d'Arabian's Potato Bacon Torte recipe, which can be found here. I have used this to make everything from apple pie to chicken pot pie- and it never fails! It also freezes really well, so make a few to keep on hand. You won't regret it.

Pie Crust
(makes 2 crusts)

1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and chilled
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8-10 tablespoons ice water

Put the butter, flour, and salt in the food processor, and pulse lightly just until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each spoonful of water. Keep adding water until the dough just begins to gather into larger clumps. Transfer equal amounts of the dough into 2 resealable plastic bags and pat each into a disk. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove 1 of the disks from the bag to a flour coated surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Gently fit the rolled dough into a 9-inch pie pan.

*At this point, you can add the pie filling and then top with the 2nd crust or just toss the 2nd crust into the freezer and save for later.


A Year of Books

Hello there. We have entered the Christmas season in full swing! It's cold here in Tennessee, which makes it so much more festive! Life continues to be busy. My sweet husband has only 2 DAYS off work this ENTIRE month. We sure do miss him a lot. Thankfully, one of the days he is home is December 11th, which is also our son's 2nd birthday. Yay!

In reflecting on this year, I was thinking about some of the books I've read and thought I'd share a few that I enjoyed.

1. Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion Series (3 books)
I cannot recommend these books enough. They were life-changing in so many ways for me! If you read any books in 2011, PLEASE make sure these make your list!

2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This one was a little out of my "normal" reading genre, but I loved it! It made me think differently about things like success, intelligence, and work ethic. Very, very interesting.
3. Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin. (Yes, I realize I'm about 5 years behind in reading these books) They are the equivalent of a good chick-flick... not life-changing, but really fun.

4. Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson. I wrote a post about this book here.
5. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Ah, I have a love-hate relationship with this book. It's a fictional (maybe historical fiction?) book about the life of famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Based on the little research I've done on the book, my understanding is that the author used what facts are known about Wright's life (specifically his love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney) as the base for the novel, then filled in the details for us. I absolutely HATED how this book ends. In fact, I had a hard time even finishing it. That said, I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book... it's one you want to discuss with a girlfriend, sister, or your mom :)
6. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. This is the first book in a 2 part series. It definitely isn't my favorite Francine Rivers book (see #1) but I really liked it and can't wait to read the second book. It is on my dresser waiting for me :)