Category Archives: home

Mama’s Blackberry Cobbler

 I’ve decided that baking is my therapy.
Some people run. Some people eat lots of candy (okay, I’m guilty of that too) and some people shop until they drop. Me? I like to take all of my stress out on the kitchen.
Flour everywhere. Sugar in my hair. Egg yolk on the floor.
If the kitchen isn’t messy when you’re done, you’re not doing it right.

This past week was really stressful for me. I can’t really pinpoint one particular reason, honestly. I think it’s just a really big itch. An itch to do something new.
And I think because I can’t really scratch that itch (seeing as i’m not sure what that itch is) I took that stress and baked it into one large, scrumptious, mouthwatering blackberry cobbler.

And now I want to share that steamy, delicious love with you, too.
This is actually my mom’s recipe.  I have very fond memories of climbing up onto the barstool and watching my mom roll out pie crust. She was oh, so meticulous. Making sure everything was just right. (Now I find myself rolling out dough in just the same manner)  I would rest my hand on my face and just watch and watch as she rolled and perfected. Rolled and perfected. Throwing me and my brothers a piece of pie dough every now and then to keep us busy.
And at the end of the afternoon, the delicious smell of ooey gooey blackberries would waft up to my room (which was conveniently located just above the kitchen) and i knew it was almost time to gobble up the first bite.  I can almost smell it now.  Isn’t it funny how childhood memories are the most memorable ones we have? I love that.

Now, where to begin. Ah yes, the dough.
This is just a standard “from scratch” dough recipe.
Really simple.
Let’s get started.

The Dough:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose-flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 T COLD unsalted butter (equivalent to 2 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Step 1
In a mixer, combine flour, salt and sugar; mix on low to combine.

photo 1 (7)
Here’s the tricky part. Make sure your butter is REALLY cold. Don’t take it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it.  Cut the butter into pads and add it to the mixture.

photo 2 (10)
Now, I did this the old fashioned way.  You don’t want to completely mix the butter in, so I took two knives (using both hands) and cut the butter into the mixture.  Sounds difficult, but super easy.  Mix until it resembles corse meal, with pea sized pieces of butter remaining.

Step 2
Slowly add the ice water. Mix on LOW for a few seconds until dough is crumbly, but holds together when you pinch it.  Add water as needed.
This process will make your dough extra flaky when you bake it. Yum!

photo 3 (9)

Step 3
Split the dough in half.  Form each dough into a round ball.  Do not knead the dough, as you want delicious pockets of butter when baking. Transfer each half of the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Secure tightly and refrigerate for one hour or until firm.  Now you will have two disks ready for the bottom and top of your crust!

Step 4
When dough is ready, remove both disks from the refrigerator. Start with one disk.

photo 2 (10) copy 2

Grab a deep pie dish.  On a floured surface, roll out one of the disks to cover the bottom of the dish. I like to leave a little dough hanging over the sides so I have extra to pinch at the end.
(Sidenote: Roll out and slice a few strips of extra dough to use for the pie filling! I’ll explain later!)

Blackberry Filling

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of blackberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 T. lemon juice

Step 1
Now that you have the bottom of the pie crust prepared, lets start with the filling!

photo 1 (7) copy
First, wash those blackberries! I was lucky enough to find big, juicy ones at the local farmers market.  Next, toss together all of the ingredients.  It will seem as though there is quite a bit of the flour mixture and not enough liquid, but toss to cover all of the blackberries.

photo 2 (10) copy

Step 2
Use 1/3 of the blackberries mixture and pour on top of the uncooked pie crust in the prepared pie dish. Throw in a few of those strips of pie dough. These will be a little doughy surprise when you cut into the cobbler.  Don’t skip this step.  It’s a delicious, doughy secret.

photo 1 (7) copy 2
Repeat this step again, and then top with the last 1/3 of the blackberry mixture.
Ready for this? More butter. Before you add the top of the crust? Just slice a few pads of butter and place them on top of the finished blackberry mixture. Just a little extra yumminess.

photo 5 (5)

Step 3
At this point, you are done with the blackberry mixture, and ready to top the cobbler with the other pie crust.  Roll out the dough and either top it with normal pie crust (which is totally acceptable and just as delicious! If you do, before you place the crust on top, make a few slices in the middle with a knife. About half an inch apart. This will let the cobbler bubble through a little at the end of baking and you will know it’s ready!
I created a lattice crust.  It was super easy! (Find a tutorial for that here!)

photo 3 (9) copy
Pinch the outsides of the pie. I use my thumb to make an imprint and then pinch the sides together. You can do whatever pleases your little heart.

Step 4
This is an important step and a lovely trick my mama taught me.
Before you place the pie in the oven, brush a little milk onto the crust and sprinkle with sugar. This will make that crust a beautiful golden brown color.

Step 5
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
**If you notice the edges of the crust burning, you can open the oven and wrap them in a little bit of tinfoil. This will allow the middle to continue baking and keep the outsides from burning. Another fun mama fact. Aren’t they the best?**

photo 4 (7) copy
ENJOY THAT LOVELY cobbler.  I like to have a little bowl when it’s still hot. There is something about warm cobbler that just tastes like a warm, summer day.
Chad likes to top his with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, to be exact.  This IS Texas, y’all.

photo 5 (5) copy

Green Thumbs Up

 This morning, I went on a beautiful run around the neighborhood. I don’t know what takes me so long to get out of bed and allow my shoes to hit the pavement. Because once I’m out there on a long run, I feel so good! It wakes up my body and gets my adrenaline going. Not to mention, our little Texas neighborhood is in full bloom! First it was the daffodils, then the tulips, and now Iris. It’s just so beautiful.

As I was running, I also had the thought that I want to share more about my personal life. I’m not all clothes and outfit posts, you know. The more that time goes on, the more I want to share!

The past few weekends, Chad and I have been working out in the yard, trying to get it to at least look presentable. We had to wait until the house was painted to start anything, and lately we’ve been kicking it into high gear as far as gardening goes.  The little old lady who lived in our home before us was apparently a wonderful gardener with the greenest thumb on the block. Unfortunately, after she passed away, the house was vacant for three years and her yard became unruly and overgrown. By the time we moved in, we had no idea what was what.
With Spring sneaking up on us, it has been interesting to see what has bloomed.
We have had daffodils, summer snowdrops, wild onions, garlic, mint, iris, wild violets, honeysuckle, crossvine and oxalis. (Just to name a few!)

We have a big, beautiful fig tree right outside our bedroom window (and pomegranate too!) that we have had to trim back so that they wouldn’t take up the whole backyard!  We painstakingly tore out weeds, painted the fence white and leveled out the ground. We still have SO much to do. We have big plans for a patio and raised beds…but time goes by so fast!
All in good time, I suppose.

Our latest, biggest project was tearing out the bushes that lined our front porch. A few were dead when we moved in, and to me, they looked like the ones you might find in front of a scary old maids house. So, we got down and dirty and tore those out. We talked a lot about what we wanted to replace them with, and did quite a bit of research.
We measured how large we wanted the bed to be, and then Chad got to work tilling up the dirt.  I let him do most of that, because it was pretty hard work.
In the mean time, I gave our porch swing a fresh coat of white paint.
After Chad finished tilling the dirt, we added top soil and all of the goodies that make plants grow big and strong.  We chose Japanese orange blossom bushes (they smell delicious!) to line the porch and then snuck in a few azaleas as well.

We have plans to plant a few more flowers, but for now, we are pretty happy with the result.

We also spruced up our porch with a few knick knacks, two hanging bougainvilleas and the prettiest little potted lemon tree. (Whose blossoms smells like a delicious Florida orange orchard)

Every time we do something new, I feel a little ounce of pride well up in my heart. I like to look around and take in that memory.  Knowing it is our first house. Knowing most of the work, we have done ourselves. Knowing that our first little one will come home to our little bungalow.
There is something about owning a home that just makes me feel so…grown up, I suppose.
Last night, I was sitting inside and heard a husband and wife walk by as they walked their dogs down our street. I watched as the wife looked up and exclaimed “Oh my gosh! Look, it’s that old house! They have done such an amazing job with it! It doesn’t even look like the same home!”
My heart exploded.
It might seem silly, but our little house is just that. Our little house.
Our first home.
So many memories are already wrapped up in our little 1916 bungalow and I love that we will be adding onto them!

Before:

before

After:
after home

home3

home2

home1

home4

home5

home6

The Christmas Dress

When I was a little girl, my mom would always pick out a Christmas Eve dress for me to wear.  For several years, she actually made my Christmas dresses. Looking back, those always turned out to be pretty interesting with their rather large early nineties peter pan collars, tacky plastic buttons, and sparkly reindeer tights.
{Not slighting my mother’s sewing skills, though. She is amazing!}

These days, choosing what to wear is a little more exciting. This Lulu*s dress made for a perfect Christmas Eve outfit. I actually forgot my black opaque tights, so I threw on the only thing I had. And I’m glad I did, because I actually loved the fun little touch these polka dot tights gave the dress.

We were in Austin at Chad’s parents this year, so I wanted to take these photos in front of the cabin {on their property} where we were engaged Christmas morning two years ago. Their log cabin home is so magical at Christmas and it brings about wonderful memories and cozy feelings. I love that I get to spend Christmas with both of my families. It really is such a wonderful time of the year.
As Christmas came and went, I honestly felt the best gift was getting to see everyone and spend time with the ones I love. It doesn’t happen often enough.

signeroo3

Dress: c/o Lulu*s
Tights: Forever 21
Heels: c/o Lulu*s
Necklace: c/o Savoir-Faire

signeroo7

signeroo9

signeroo1

signeroo10

Sweet Gertie Girl

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know this already. But, we had to say goodbye to our sweet Gertie on Saturday afternoon. These past few days have been the hardest time for both Chad and I. Since many of you have asked, or have followed our story since we welcomed her into our home last November, I wanted to share with you what happened over the past few days.

Gertie started vomiting on Tuesday night, and so Wednesday morning, we took her into the vet to get her checked out. {Obviously, at this point, we were not alarmed in any way shape or form} The vet was a little worried and told us that her symptoms were lining up with a possible Pancreatitis prognosis. They did some bloodwork and an x-ray and confirmed that she did indeed have Pancreatitis. Her levels were higher than they had ever seen. I’m talking sky-high.
This really made us nervous, but we thought it could be fixed. The vet kept her throughout the day and put her on pain medication, antibiotics and IV fluids to help her recover.  She improved, but not as much as they’d have liked. We picked her up Wednesday evening, and transferred her to the over night Animal ER and there, they continued the IV fluids and medication. Early Thursday morning, we picked her up and took her back to our normal vet. She was wagging her tail and seemed to be on the mend and back on track to being our sweet, crazy girl.
They did want to keep her throughout the day just to try and get some real food into her system and what not. Thursday evening, we picked her up and brought her home.

She was back to being her {almost} normal self.  She hovered under me as I cooked dinner in the kitchen {like usual}, she wanted to play, she ran around the house…We just, at that point, had no worries.  She slept with us that night just to be sure, and everything seemed to be going great.

Friday evening, we were supposed to go to a Holiday party in downtown Dallas. As I was showering and getting ready, I could tell a change was happening in Gertie.  She began shaking uncontrollably like she had been the day we took her in.  She was uncomfortable and standing with her back arched. She kept hiding in dark corners of the house, and it just broke our hearts and made us very worried. Her little eyes and face looked so sad and our worry increased ten fold.  We skipped the party, and got into bed with her.  She couldn’t get comfortable all night long.  I didn’t sleep a wink.  I cried on and off just because it was hard to see our happy go lucky puppy in pain.  When the sun came up, I was just laying there waiting for the vet to open so we could call and take her in.

When we got there, our vet knew something else was wrong.  At that point, they thought she had an obstruction of some kind or that possibly her little intestines were telescoping in on each other.  {which, either diagnosis would explain the terrible pain she was in} At this point, she couldn’t even lay down. She was in so much pain and shock, that it was hard to even look at her.  They did another x-ray and sent us off to the ER again to prep her for surgery.  At this point, we felt relief that there was a plan.  We thought, okay, surgery. Then recovery. Then home.
Well, when we got to the ER, they had a different plan. They didn’t want to cut her open without confirmation of something in there because it would slow her healing process and possibly  make her regress with the Pancreatitis.
So, over the next two hours, they ran more x-rays with a barium juice that she drank to show how the fluid was moving through her digestive system.

At that point, Chad and I left the ER and went to get coffee & something to eat. We were so emotionally drained and exhausted beyond belief.  We sat in a Target parking lot and talked about what was happening.  I think it was the first time we were actually able to process things.  Up until that point, the Dr.’s were throwing meds, x-ray results, plans, & hefty bills at us.  There was never a time where we could just talk about what was happening. At this point, we had already paid several thousand dollars.
We were both avoiding the elephant in the room up until then.
We sat in the car and had the dreaded conversation. Neither of us could muster the words that had to be spoken.  I cried like a baby and made ridiculous exclamations like “I’ll sell my engagement ring!”…”I’ll do anything!”….At that point, I was just thinking of the financial part of it.  I wasn’t even thinking about how much pain our poor Gertie was in. We let that conversation linger as we drove back to the ER.
Neither of us wanted to even talk about it. It didn’t matter how much we had to pay or what we had to do. We loved our girl.
When we got there, the vet was very concerned about Gertie. Her x-rays were very murky and they believe that her abdomen was possibly poisoned by the Pancreatitis or just very angrily inflamed. The fluid was not being digested and so surgery was necessary.  This is where things got really hard.
The Dr. could not confirm that there was indeed an obstruction. Complications could have happened with the Pancreatitis causing her organs to fail, and that could explain why her digestive system wasn’t working.  There wasn’t a cut and dry answer.
We talked a lot about options, but basically we were looking at an open ended question.
There was a very large chance that Gertie would never get better.
That we could cut her open and explore around for an answer.
That we could keep pumping her full of pain meds & IV’s…and never know what was wrong.  They also told us she might never be the same after this.

We asked the vet to leave the room, and we talked for over an hour about what was best for Gertie. We called our families, we cried and held each other, but when it came down to it, we had to think about the well being of Gertie. We were willing to do whatever it took to help her, but seeing her shaking in pain despite the pain meds?  Seeing her in shock and drugged? It was too much for us.  We knew she was in pain and we both knew in our hearts that this was a problem that wouldn’t easily be fixed. There was no definitive answer to her issue.
There were no red flags or signs for the vet to go off of. Something was terribly wrong, and we both knew {we all knew} that it wasn’t going to be fixed.

We didn’t want to cut our Gertie open or make her suffer anymore. I can tell you that our decision was the hardest decision either of us have ever had to make. We both sobbed as the decision was made. We had no idea when Gertie got sick that we wouldn’t have much time left with her. We knew in our hearts that it was the best decision we could make FOR HER.  Not for us. Selfishly, we would have wanted to keep her alive. We loved her. She was a part of our family. But it was too much for her little body, and we knew she was failing. She fought so hard. Like a champion. Looking back now, we think maybe the reason her Pancratitis levels were so high? Is because she was sick for a while and we didn’t even know it. She was so strong and such a happy girl. We never even knew.

We said our goodbyes to Gertie around 2pm on Saturday. I couldn’t stay in the room, so I held her and talked to her like I always used to. I looked into her eyes and told her how sorry I was. I wanted her to know that we were sorry we couldn’t help her.
Chad stayed with her and held her through it all.

Our drive home was terribly sad. We were in shock.
When we got home, we just sobbed for hours. We cried in every room of the house that night.  Sunday morning, we woke up and cried again.
We told stories about Gertie throughout the night and the next day.
We laughed and we cried. We walked around the house in all of it’s silence, and we cried some more.

I know this sounds silly to some, but we brought Gertie into our lives a few months after we were married. We thought of her as an addition to our family.  She was our number three. She was a light and a joy, and when we thought of home? We thought of her. Gertie grew as we grew, and we loved everything about her.
She was a beautiful dog, the spunkiest puppy in the land. She was always making us smile & laugh even when we were mad at her. She was mischievous and sweet all wrapped up into one ball of red fur.  We always joked she was the perfect combination of Chad and I.  Red hair and green eyes.
Gertie brought so much joy into our lives. She was always ready for an adventure. We grew to love her little nuances. The way she would jump on the bed when we folded the laundry, the way she would lean against the door when she wanted to go potty, the way she would light up when she knew we were going for a walk, a run or the park, and just all of her little “gertie-isms”. Everything about her, we loved.

Our life seems a little more empty. But our hearts are filled with memories of her.
We so appreciate your kind words, texts, emails and phone calls.

Losing a pet is such a hard thing to go through. We only got one year with our Gertie, but she filled it up with joy for us. And we know we filled hers too.
We thought of her as our third limb. We took her everywhere.
Chad was amazing to Gertie. He took her on runs, walks, to the dog park..you name it. He woke up every night when she was a brand new puppy, to take her outside. Every single night. He loved to watch her run and play, which just so happened to be her favorite thing. We would take her to Erwin park, take off her leash, and let her just fly. She was so fast with those long legs. She loved wide open spaces and being in nature. Chad and Gertie had a very special bond, and that makes it even harder for me to come to terms with this whole thing.
He lost a best friend, and for that, my heart breaks even more.

We find joy in knowing that Gertie was our little girl. She was the runt of the litter that no one wanted, and we gave her a good home. We keep saying to ourselves…when no one took her home or wanted her? We did. The breeder warned us against it, as they thought she could die.  But we brought her home and we loved that little 3 pound pup all the way up until her last breath. And we still love her. We always will.

She was so good to us, and she will never be replaced.
We rest in knowing that God will bring us peace and that Gertie is no longer in pain.

Thank you for your kind words & support. We so appreciate it.