Wednesday, June 21

Moving Forward...


The place we've called home for the last 7 years was put on the market and 14 days later it sold.
New beginnings are never easy...mostly because of the letting go we are forced to do.

I think you guys know I didn't want to say goodbye...there are so many things we are going to miss.

But I think what tugs at my heartstrings the most are the memories we leave behind.
For me I feel like the memories become embedded in the walls, windows, doors, and foundation of our homes. As much as we carry memories with us in our hearts and minds...I feel like there are so many "memory treasures" left behind. As if they are held prisoner within the walls and can only be unlocked by those who had to leave them behind. Does that even make sense? Or is that just too deep? lol



Although, truth be told, I do have to say there are some painful parenting memories I will be glad to leave behind. Watching children struggle and battle the ugly things this world tries to destroy them with (aka teenage years) has certainly left me feeling helpless at times.

Not going to lie. There were some rough, rough seasons; Parts of parenting I just quietly battled behind the fun projects and happy blog posts I was sharing here at the same time. And friends, that's just keeping it real.






You have no idea how many times I wanted to pour my heart out here on the blog about specific struggles we were going through but my desire to honor and respect the privacy of my family kept me quiet. (and will continue to keep me quiet).

And honestly, I'm a pretty private person...believe it or not. (ironic, considering I'm a blogger).
Wait a minute.
Actually, truth be told, if there weren't other people's feelings and character involved I would gladly spill the beans about everything in my life. (most everything anyway). *wink*








I have to say there are still ongoing battles that rip this mama's heart out.
So...as much as I will miss our beautiful home on Oak Cluster...
I am also looking forward to MOVING FORWARD.

I have felt stuck for some time and didn't even realize it.
I think making new memories...
creating a new home...
in a new area...
will offer me a chance to regroup, recharge and rekindle so many things that have fallen by the wayside. It's just what sort of happens when we are distracted (or buried) under the thick of adversity.

And friends, let me tell you...
no matter how pretty the Instagram squares are...we all struggle.
There isn't a person on the planet right this second that isn't dealing with something hard.
Our "hards" will all look very different, because we are very different people experiencing life in sometimes dramatically different ways.

So, no matter what your "hard" might be...
it's my hope that you will find strength in knowing you, (we) are not alone.
Sometimes, just knowing that or hearing those words can bring the greatest of comfort.
I know personally how true that is.

xoxo
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Geez...maneez!
I'm obviously in a very reflective, contemplative mood today.
But whatever....I'm just going with it.

Looking forward to sharing all about the new house + community soon!

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Wednesday, May 17

TIMEOUT FROM PACKING


In the middle of bubble wrap, packing paper, stacked cardboard boxes and empty walls...
Ella and I managed to sneak away for a bit from all of the moving preparations in order for her to do some modeling for our favorite local fashion boutique...The Secret Garden.

A new shipment of beautiful dresses in Ella's size have arrived and they needed a model!
As you may remember, Ella and I have a favorite tradition of going to The Secret Garden and picking out an extra special dress for the Daddy Daughter Dance held at her school every year. (see this post and this post). psst....I still need to post the photos from this year's dance. *covering eyes*

So, it didn't take much convincing for Ella to agree to an afternoon of trying on dresses and striking some poses. Here are some of my favorites...













Ella was thrilled to be a model for the afternoon...
and I was happy to get out of packing for a few hours.

Hope you all are doing fantastic!!
I've missed you and I'm really looking forward to getting back to some consistent blogging once we have moved and get settled a bit.

Stay tuned and keep up with me on Instagram in between blog posts.
xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
My entire world is about to change with our move less than 7 days away! Eeks!!
I am seriously a tossed salad of emotions. 
On one hand I'm super excited about what this adventure has in store for me personally, as well as
the magic and growth that is sure to come for my family...especially my two older daughters who are staying behind. *tears*

On the other hand...a mother is not supposed to leave her children, right?
The children are supposed to leave the nest and move away from the mother.
Although Clara turns 21 on Sunday and Ema is 18, this "moving away from them" thing feels so incredibly awkward.

And of course, there's apprehension and uncertainly as it's going to be quite an adjustment living a couple of hours away in an unfamiliar town without the comfort of having family and friends close by.

A new chapter for all of us that's for sure. *more tears* 
I really am putting my faith + trust in He who knows best and who's plans are far greater than my own.
SaveSave

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Tuesday, April 4

WE ARE MOVING


It's pouring down rain on this Tuesday afternoon as I begin writing this blog post.

I think the gloomy weather is apropos for the state of mind I seem to be in most days since our decision, back in January, to have Jason accept a position with another company. The new position brings with it a lot of opportunity and promise for him. Unfortunately, it also brings with it the need to move from the area our family has come to know and love for nearly 16 years now.

I've been in denial mostly. I keep thinking something is going to happen to intervene and the process isn't really going to play out. Turns out it's playing out all right. When the "For Sale" sign went up in the yard I think that pretty much squashed any disillusionment I had about the fact that we are packing up and heading a bit north on a new adventure.

Yeah. I keep calling it an "adventure".  That's what you have to do, isn't it? When you are faced with something you don't really want to do but you know you have to do it anyway...you call it an adventure. You pretend it's going to be amazing. You find all of the positives about the situation you can possibly gather and you create a bouquet of "it'll all work out". And honestly, I do have faith things will all work out.

So let's end on something super positive...
I've been filling my home with lots of fresh cut flowers lately.
Like the ones in the photo that are sitting on my perfectly made bed right now looking as though we live in a model home. Ha!!

But hey! There you go...a clean home filled with fresh flowers.
That's a really good thing.
That definitely brings me joy.
And I'm just going to hold onto that for today.

Between posts, you can find me on Instagram sharing more details about the move!
I hope to see you over there too!!

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPING IT REAL
Phew!! I ended this just in the knick of time...my phone alarm to remind me to go get Ella from school just rang!

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Monday, January 23

RECIPE | Crumb Topped Apple Pie


Good morning my sweet, sweet friends!
We have been stuck on Pie #4 from my "Five Days of Pie"...haven't we?

Truth be told..."stuck" is exactly how I've been feeling over the last month or so.
I was wiped out from my projects with Hersheys along with various "life" things that have been going on behind the scenes and I just could not muster up the energy to re-bake this crumb-topped apple pie for you after realizing I didn't have any great photos of this particular one.

And then it also seemed silly to share the pie since the Christmas holidays are over AND I have been trying to avoid sweets. I just couldn't convince myself baking an apple pie in January made any sense when I wouldn't be able to eat any of it. (or shouldn't eat any of it). *wink*

The good news is...I tossed all sense out of the window and baked it anyway.
Mainly because I just couldn't see myself posting anything else when my Five Days of Pie had not been properly finished out. I couldn't just skip right over it and move onto something else. Not right.


Most importantly, this Crumb-Topped Apple Pie is something I know you all will love and I just HAVE to share it with you. Especially because there have been so many of you asking for the recipe ever since I mentioned it!

So...my apologies for keeping you waiting while I crawled out from the creative crater I'd fallen into.
I promise...you most definitely want to tuck this delicious recipe into your pocket for the next time you are looking to bake a pie - especially because this pie is easier than average since it doesn't require a standard pastry crust.


One to print for you and one for a friend...all on the same sheet for printing!

If you are just joining us for the "Five Days of Pie", here are the direct links to the other four pies shared previously...all come with cute printable recipe cards too! *wink*

The Only Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
The Only Key Lime Pie
Mama's Blueberry Pie

And if you'd like to see the short step-by-step video I created when Ella and I made this pie for Thanksgiving...


Thanks again for loving me despite my imperfections!
You guys are sweet as apple pie and I appreciate your love + support...always!!

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I had ordered a NEW PIE DISH to bake the apple pie in for Thanksgiving BUT of course it arrived AFTER the fact. *frown*

So....when I re-baked this crumb topped apple pie specifically for this post, I finally got to use it and I have to say it's lovely! If you are looking for a pretty, white, deep dish pie plate this one gets five stars from me!!

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Monday, December 5

RECIPE | Blueberry Pie



It's DAY 4 of the "Five Days of Pie" here on the blog...
and today we're talking Blueberry Pie.

This is actually the very first and only blueberry pie I've ever made.
(and truthfully the first and only photo I took as we hurried out of the house with our pies for Thanksgiving dinner).

I've never been head-over-heels for Blueberry Pie and in my mind, blueberry pie is for the Summer...like for 4th of July. And actually here in Florida, our very quick blueberry season starts in April and ends in May...so seasonally speaking, it's more of a Spring pie for us.

And yes...you could technically say the Key Lime pie I shared on DAY 3 is more of a Summer pie too...BUT...at least you have the green key lime to help tie in the Christmas season colors if you wanted to make it for Christmas! *wink*

But...regardless of my personal preference for pie flavors and the fact that fresh blueberries are hard to come by since they are not in season around Thanksgiving, my uncle requested Blueberry pie...and so blueberry pie it was.

Blueberry pie is pretty basic...as most pies seem to be.
It's made with a lot of blueberries, a good amount of sugar and a little spice.

So of course, with the pie being so simple, I decided to dress up my pie a bit by creating a braided and twisted lattice crust pie like one I had been inspired by on Instagram.  And I would typically share the link with you because the pie was absolutely gorgeous and amazing but then you'd think less of my own pie. Ha!!

One for you and one for a friend...all on the same sheet for printing!

Okay, never mind...@thejudylab on Instagram is too amazing not to share with you so I'm swallowing my pride... HERE IS THE PIE CRUST I was inspired by. And here is an awesome Cable Knit Crust she made too!  Amazing, right?

You can totally stick with doing a traditional lattice crust top or just a regular full crust with pretty slits cut into the top of it...as mentioned on that beautiful recipe card above. *wink*

Although this blueberry pie has nothing to do with my mama or her mama or any other mama I know, "Mama's Blueberry Pie" just sounded so much more appealing and nostalgic. So yeah...I fancied the name up too!  And I think it's okay since this mama right here is the one that baked the pie, photographed the pie and decided to create a cute recipe card for the pie so I could share it with you. So there you go. Ha!!

Now...I do have to say...I did use FROZEN blueberries for this pie since they weren't in season at the time I made it. Which is why I think my uncle's feedback on the pie was this:

Of the 5 different pies I brought, he said...
"The only one I ate was the blueberry. The taste was great, the crust was great, the only thing I would say is the blueberry stuff could have been a little firmer and not so runny.  Maybe if it was refrigerated it might be firmer? But it was wonderful. " - Uncle Dan

So there you go...even though I increased the flour to 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup as suggested by the recipe I was following when using frozen blueberries, it still set up differently than I think it would have had I been able to use fresh blueberries. I'm definitely going to test that theory and report back.

If you love blueberry pie...I hope you'll try this one.
Or at least pin it and print that super cute recipe card! *wink*

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I swear it took me an entire hour just to configure the top crust on this pie.
The first "braids" I did I ended up undoing after Ella came in the kitchen and looked at my "almost-done-ready-to-go-in-the-oven-because-I-was-sick-of-messing-with-it" pie crust and said, "I thought you were making braids? Those aren't braids.".  *handsovermyeyes*
She was right!

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