Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Giving of Thanks

"we can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." - thornton wilder

this has truly been a year of thanks-giving. it has not been perfect, but throughout it all, i have tried to focus on the blessings in my life, of which there is countless number. it would be easy to dwell on the hardships, focus on the have-not's, and cry over the what-might-have-been's, but when all you see is the negative, all you will feel is negative.

i've had my share of struggles and disappointments, as well as a little bit of heartache this year, but the list of good things to celebrate far outweighs them.

my mom always taught us that when things aren't going the way we want them to, to count our blessings, literally. we would make a list (sometimes mentally) of all the things we were grateful for (our family, our toys, the fact that we were born in texas...). this lesson has gotten me through many a tough time. throughout our years of yearning for a child, i would remember how blessed i was to have B by my side. when financial struggles overwhelmed us, i tried to focus on the blessing of having good health, that we were physically capable of working. when my endeavors have fallen short, i would take note of my talents and abilities, of the things that i have been able to accomplish. there is always something to be grateful for.

obviously, the biggest blessing in my life this year is the long-awaited arrival of our son, mack. all the years of waiting and praying and wishing that he would join our family were well worth it. the joy of motherhood is beyond "as advertised". there isn't a day that i don't look at him and send a little prayer of thanks up to heaven for him.

at this time last year, B and i were forced to live apart, only together on weekends and holidays. i am so grateful that he is home permanently now, that we're are all together as a family and that we will be able to spend the holidays under one roof. i couldn't ask for more!

i would be remiss if i didn't say how thankful i am for our extended family. mack may not know it now, but he was born into a wonderful extended family, with extremely loving grandparents, sweet cousins, and more doting aunts and uncles than a kid could ask for. there is certainly no shortage of loved ones in our family, between B's 6 siblings and their kids and my 10 siblings and their kids. i have been particularly blessed with lovely in-laws who accept me unconditionally and an immediate family who always stand by my side and support me with boundless love and encouragement. i am so grateful that mack landed smack in the middle of such a ridiculously large, endlessly loving family.

i am especially grateful for modern medicine this year, without which mack would not be here, nor would B's dad be able to be treated for his cancer. he just went through his third round of chemo and the latest scan shows that the mass is subsiding. one more round of chemo then they will reevaluate his progress and determine the next course of action, or if one is needed. we're praying that the 4th will be the last and that his cancer will completely go into remission. what a christmas miracle that would be!

of course, i'm also thankful for this blog, for my wonderful readers, and for the outlet that this venue provides for me. the friends i have made here and the support i have received from so many who are not obligated to care about me in any way has touched my heart more than you all know. i am so blessed to be surrounded, both here and in my everyday life, by strong, courageous, talented, loyal friends. i know that i have been neglectful of reading/commenting on other blogs lately (thanks to a super-duper busy photo season), but still i am grateful for each of you, truly.

*ps: don't forget to enter the banner envy giveaway!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Banner Envy {& a GIVEAWAY}

there are big moments in life... occasions to celebrate, milestones deserving of congratulations, and news we want to shout from the rooftops and banner envy can help! with a great line of customizable banners featuring adorable designs, they make it easy to make a big deal out of the big moments.

here are my favorite banner designs:

for a birthday (might just have to get one for mack's bday in january!)...

for a baby shower (and the new parents could display it at their home to announce the arrival!)
bannerenvyITSAGIRLOWL 3

for a wedding (the guests could all sign the back!)
bannerenvySOMETHINGOLDSOMETHINGNEW celery green2

for an anniversary celebration (my parents' 50th is right around the corner. hmmm...)

there are way too many awesome designs for me to show all of them, so check out their website to browse them all! the banners come in either 6'x3' or 8'x4' and you have the option to add grommets at no extra charge, not to mention free shipping. great deal, right?

banner envy is also giving away a free 6'x3' banner of choice to one lucky person! enter now and come back every day for another tweet entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Carlia's Favorite Holiday Recipe {French Silk Pie}

this is my all-time favorite dessert! i make it every thanksgiving and christmas. it's a bit of work, because the entire thing is from scratch, but it's totally worth it...and it's guaranteed to impress even the in-laws!

*makes (1) 9-inch pie

8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1/3 cup pecan halves
1- 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1- ½ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1- ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

whipped cream, for serving
chocolate curls, for serving

1. make the crust: preheat oven to 325°. butter a 9-inch pie plate; set aside. grind pecans in a food processor, or chop very finely with a knife. in a medium bowl, combine flour, pecans, sugar, and salt. cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal. press firmly into prepared pie plate. bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. transfer to a wire rack to cool.

2. make the filling: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. with the vanilla. add eggs, on at a time, beating at medium speed for five minutes after each addition. blend in chocolate. pour filling into cooled pie crust. cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

3. just before serving, top pie with whipped cream, and decorate with chocolate curls.
*note: raw eggs should not be used in food preparation for pregnant women, babies, young children, or anyone whose health is compromised.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Outfit Additions {Exclusive Discount!}

i'm so excited to introduce you all to one of my fabulous sponsors, outfit additions!

outfit additions is a california-based fashion accessory retailer, offering such goodies as jewelry, belts, and wallets - all so affordably priced! everything is under $60. seriously!

here are some of the items on my wish list (B better be taking notes.):

i could go on, but i'm running out of room. ;)

anyway, you, my friends, are in luck. outfit additions is offering, for today only, a 25% discount on orders over $50! all you have to do is enter the promo code NEST at checkout. with the holidays coming up, you will be sure to score big with fabulous gifts like these. so, don't miss this chance!

and be sure to stop by the outfit additions blog for fashion-related goodness and show them some love! you can also "like" them on facebook!

so, what's on your wishlist from outfit additions?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kids are Funny

after all the stress from election day and caring for a very sick little boy (mack hasn't been able to keep much down today and is running a fever), i am in need of a light-hearted post, so i thought i'd share a laugh. :)

remember my nephew, E? he is now a witty 4.5 year old and, wow, that kid is full of personality, not to mention hilarious quotes! here are a few of his latest...

"hey mom, somebody peed my pants for me!"

E came in from playing outside, ran into the bathroom, climbed up on the counter and examined himself in the mirror then hopped down and ran to gaga (grandma/my mom). "something is happening to me! i'm getting elf ears!" gaga fought to keep a straight face as she replied, "really? i hadn't noticed." "no, they're real, gaga! these are elf ears!" he exclaimed, pointing to his ears.

while playing at my parents' house, E pulled his arms up so that his shoulder blades were jutting out. gaga pointed to one and said, "that's called your shoulder blade." "yeah, they kill crocodiles...all boys have them," he explained.

E's mom was telling him to clean up the mess he had made, which didn't go over well with him. he looked at her and said, very seriously, "mom, i don't want to tell you this, but i have're a brat." she forced herself not to laugh as she put him in timeout.

when E walked in the room pantless, his mom asked where said pants were, he answered "they took off". "and your underwear?" she inquired. "they took off, too."

my sister made ice cream bowls out of baked cookie dough, but E had trouble breaking his open. he asked, "ummm, is there like a password or something to break this?"

hilarious, isn't he??? i'm sure i'll have more E stories/quotes to share with you soon. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

9 Months of Mack

i just love the 9 month age! mack is so much fun, so interactive, and pretty much all over the place.

he certainly keeps me on my toes, especially now that he is so close to walking. he stands pretty well and we expect him to take his first step any day now, which terrifies me. ha ha! he's already so mobile, i don't know how i'll keep up with him when he's even more so.

mack is more of a daddy's boy than ever. if B is around, he wants nothing to do with me...until it's time to eat. for some reason, he won't take a bottle from daddy, only mama, but he eats his solids from daddy just as well as he does for me. i truly appreciate that he loves his daddy so much. B doesn't get nearly as much time with mack as i do, so it's wonderful to see that the time they do have together is such quality time.

mack has added "yeah" to his vocabulary, as well as modifying "da da" to "da-ee". he is also quite the mimicker. whatever combination of sounds we make (as long as we do it repetitively), he'll repeat in his own version. we call him our little mockingbird, which is especially fitting since that is the state bird of texas and no matter what B says about being born in maryland, he is a texan baby.

boy, is this boy growing! he weighs in at a healthy 20lbs and is 29" long. needless to say, my arms ache when i hold him for very long. he has also turned into a little sasquatch. his feet are huge! most of his size 3 shoes are too small now and some never fit him, because his feet are so wide. i do love his squishy, stinky feet, though. :)

this poor kid has been tormented by the camera his entire life, but this last month has been the worst, because of me feeling the need to take advantage of the cooler weather and fall colors. he is such a good sport, though, and is great about looking at the camera when is say "picture!" and click my tongue. (wait, that just sounded like i'm training him like a dog. hmmm...)

anyway, without further ado, here is the fruit of my labor, mack's fall pics...

oh, how i love this boy! (and my new camera - ha ha!)
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