Monday, September 14, 2015

Carmel Apple Pie

I'm not one of those people that grew up making pies. I have friends who say that is what they did with their moms, but my mom made more of the cookies and cakes. So I didn't grow up with a love for pies like some people. So a pie has to be really good in order for me to swoon and ahh over it.

This pie. This pie made me take a trip straight to heaven with one bite. Oh. My. GOODNESS!!!!

Remember my post about picking apples? My husband was chomping at the bit to eat some baked goods from all the delicious apples. So, I set out to find a good apple pie recipe.

Now, I don't follow recipes. I can't remember the last time I followed a recipe to a T. I'm that person who substitutes everything, and puts in a dash and a pinch instead of getting out my measuring cups.

This time was no different.

I pulled a little from this recipe, and a little from that, and since we still haven't unpacked all of the kitchen boxes, the only measuring utensil I have is a 1/2 Tablespoon. But, the two recipes I stole bits from was this one for the crust, and this one was the base for the rest. I know I used more and less of a few things, so I'll write my list of ingredients for you if you want to try it out :) Also, I didn't want a recipe with Crisco or Lard, so I went with a buttery crust!

Ingredients for the crust:

2 1/2 cups of flour
2 TBLS of sugar
1 TSP of Sea Salt
1 C. of Salted Butter (usually I use unsalted, but my husband bought salted)
6-8 TBLS of cold water (I ended up using 8)

The original recipe said to use a food processor and other fancy smancy things... like measuring utensils... but I don't have a food processor, but it's totally possible to do this without it.


Mix dry ingredients, then cut up the chilled butter in half inch increments and add it to the bowl.

We don't want the butter to get too soft when doing this all with your hands, so use only your finger tips to crumble everything up and mix it together. If it gets pasty, you're probably using too much of the palm of your hand and not the finger tips. Gradually add one TBLS of water at a time until the dough starts to form moist clumps.

Split dough in half, and form two balls, and place each in a ziploc bag. Flatten into circles, and pop into the freezer for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the fixings.

Ingredients for Filling:

7 C. Peeled cubed apples (I used the ones from our apple tree)
3/4 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Flour
1 TSP Sea Salt
1 TSP Cinnamon
1/2 TSP Nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Ingredients for the Crumble Topping:

1 1/2 stick of salted butter
1/2 cup Flour
1 C. Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Rolled Oats
1/2 TSP Sea Salt
1/2 C. Chopped Walnuts
1 C. Carmel Sauce.

Mix the flour and butter the same as you did with the crust. Then add in the brown sugar, oats, and salt. It will become thick and pasty, perfect for plopping on top of the pie!

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Take the crust out of the freezer and place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out until about 1/8 - 1/4in thick, or large enough to fit into your pie plate with 1 inch to spare on the edges. Place in pie plate, and trim edges to fit pan, and fold in and pinch the edges.

Place prepared apple mixture into the prepared pie crust, and press down to fill in all the spaces and create and even surface.

Spoon topping onto the top of pie filling. It will be enough to cover the entire surface and will be ever so delicious!

At this point I took one look at the pie, and knew it was going to make a mess in my oven. So before putting it in to bake, I placed it on a cookie sheet to catch any delicious drippings that might sneak out.

Bake pie for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Try not to die from the divine smell that fills your kitchen.

Also, if you're anything like me, you may just turn on the oven light and watch in awe as the pie bakes, and the filling bubbles with flavor.

Once pie has baked for 1 hour, top pie with chopped walnuts and bake for another 5 minutes.

Once pie is done, place on cooling rack.

Now it's time for carmel!

I didn't measure how much I put on, but I covered the surface, and then to be extra naughty, I got a chop stick and poked holes into the pie and filled the holes with carmel... I like to live on the edge!

Allow to cool slightly before serving!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

It's Raining Apples!

It's raining around here... raining apples that is! 

When Josh and I looked at Éveiller House the first time, we never noticed this precious little gem nestled in the corner of the property next to the road. I don't think we noticed it the second or third time either, to be honest! We were more concerned with the house itself, and didn't pay a ton of attention to the trees that graced the property line. 

This gem is a 100 year old apple tree, that stands about 30-40 feet high, and has produced literally hundreds of the most delicious apples for us! It's been fun watching the tree branches sag with the weight of the apples as they grow, and the rich color grow redder and redder as time goes on. 

Our kids have been begging to pick the apples from the first time they laid on eyes on the tree. It's been a challenge to keep their grimy little paws off of the apples, to be honest! But today, today is the day that they got to pick apples to their hearts content! 

The boys had loads of fun, climbing the ladders, picking the apples, and were proud as peacocks when their buckets were filled all the way to the top! 

Jared also thought this was the funnest thing ever, but his idea of picking apples was taking bites of all the ones he could get his hands on... Stinker! 

Jared and I abandoned the picking when the bees decided that Jared sticky, sweet smelling, apple juice covered hands were just too good to stay away from. That, and instead of shooing the bees away, Jared just let them crawl all over him, and wanted to pick them off. I usually caught him just in time before his little pinchers pinched the bees, and he never got stung, but I figured it was just a matter of time before our luck was going to run out! 

We only ended up picking maybe a third of the tree before our 10 gallon bucket was filled to the brim of red delicious goodness! 

The tree is so tall that we're not sure how to get to the majority of the apples that sit up at the top. Josh had his 10 foot ladder out, and got a good 12-13 feet up into the apple tree with it, but there is still so much more to go! 

What is the plan with all of these delicious apples? Well, I'm not totally sure... lots of good stuff to be certain! We plan on making some apples preserves, and apple sauces... and probable some yummy baked goods as well! 

It's raining apples around here! Especially when my kids are picking... you have to watch your head of your anywhere near where they are picking, haha! 

Monday, August 31, 2015 the person...

I want to write about something that has been on my heart lately. I understand, I don’t share the same opinions as everyone else. I may get a lot of flack for writing this, and that’s ok, maybe somewhere this will help someone, and that’s what matters.

As some of you know, my husband, Josh, and I were separated over 4 years ago for about 8 months. We never made it ‘facebook knowledge’, but anyone who was in our lives at the time knew about it, and we actually don’t have a problem talking about it with people now. We believe that we went through something, we grew from it, we learned a lot, and we should help others because of it.

There are people who still don’t like us to talk about it. They get uncomfortable and like to chant their secret, perfect cry of ‘shame, shame, shame.’ Oh, they may not loudly, obviously, show their disproval, but it is obvious to us, when they cut us off from sharing our story with others in the room, or the second you start talking, they give you, or their partner the disapproving look, or bow their head in embarrassment for you. We’ve seen it so many times, but it’s not their story… it’s ours.

So, what is this ‘thing’ that is pressing me? Unfortunately, in our day and time, it’s not uncommon for couples to split. I’ve known a few who have done so, all under different circumstances, and although each has a different story, I’ve noticed a pattern from people who know said couples.

From my experience, people always blame the person who leaves first. See, no matter the reason that is given for why they left, they will always be at fault in the eyes of the majority of people who know them. Maybe this is just in the Christian church, I’m not 100% certain, but from what I’ve watched and experienced, the leaver will always be at fault instead of the one left, because it’s just a big no-no.

Was their spouse being a jerk? Doesn’t matter, you left, you’re at fault. You should have stayed.
Was their spouse physically abusive? Doesn’t matter, you still left. You said ‘I do’ so suck it up, buttercup. It’s called counseling.
Was your spouse verbally abusive? Controlling? Oh sad. You left, it’s your fault. Don’t be such a pansy.
Or my favorite.. ‘Oh, so YOU left?!?! Well, what are YOU in to? Or should we say ‘WHO’ are you in too?’ (… just, please… stick it where the sun don’t shine. Sorry… but, not really…)

I know, it sounds ridiculous, right?!?! But it’s not far from the truth. I’ve witnessed it over and over again, and it drives me crazy!

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t good thing for them to leave, maybe they should have stayed, and you can clearly see that and are wondering why the hell they would have walked out the door. I mean, don’t they get what a big mistake they are making, how good they have it?  Really, if I would have had their spouse, I mean, goodness, they're amazing… what dirt bags for leaving… right?!?!

Can I say something to you? From the deepest part of my heart… IT DOESN’T MATTER!!!!

Oh. I just hit a nerve. Sorry… but, again, not really.

See, it doesn’t matter WHY they left… you know what this couple needs from you? SUPPORT! They don’t need you to analyze their problems, believe me, plenty of people are already doing that for them, and if not, believe me, they have already done it themselves for far longer then you even knew that there was a problem in their marriage!

You want to know what they REALLY DO NOT need? For YOU, yes YOU, the one who hasn’t lived with them day in and day out, who hasn’t known ever deepest, darkest secret of their marriage, who hasn’t been there for every tear that was spilled in the dark bathroom in the middle of the night, for YOU to place the fault on ANYONE in the situation.


So here is the thing… you aren’t going to fully understand why one spouse left the other. Even if it is so clear to you (who doesn’t live in their life, btw) what the problem is, believe me, you don’t get it.

Take Josh and I for instance. I left Josh. It was when our second child was about 10 months old.  

Josh is a quiet man to everybody on the outside, even at home he's not one to fill in the silence. Because of his quiet nature, no one would ever think of him to be causing any issue. To the rest of the world, I’m the loud one, I’m the opinionated one, I’m the one with all the ability to cause problems, not Josh.

No one, not even myself, knew that I was suffering from Post Partum Depression.

Oh, believe me, that was not our only problem, but that was a huge reason why I did what I did. See, PPD plays with you. You don’t even realize it. It’s playing a game with your mind that you don’t know you’re playing, and it’s made up all the rules; it’s always winning. Small things become much bigger; hurtful words are that much more painful; fights are that much more debilitating. Some people think it only affects how you feel towards your kids, but that’s not the case. It affects everything, and sometimes, it doesn’t affect anything to do with your children. I loved my kids; they were my everything.

But I kept feeling like I needed to escape. Not my kids, but my tiny apartment that was suffocating me, and my husband, who, no matter how hard I tried to talk to him, didn’t want to talk. He’s a man of few words, talking about feelings isn’t helpful… to him, it’s a waste of perfectly good air. I would try to talk about how I felt, and he would walk away saying he had no time for ‘this crap’ and that it was a waste or he’d rather sleep. Worse, my husband wasn’t entirely born with the sympathetic or filtration gene… what that means is: he made horrible jokes about sensitive issues, and those sensitive issues being me, or things I cared deeply about. He thought they were funny and playful and only slightly inappropriate: I thought they were mean and vicious. There were plenty of other things as well, of course, but you get the point. We had problems.

To make a long story short, small things started to manifest in my mind due to the PPD, and the things that actually were big grew into giant monsters that took over. Josh grew to hate me, and hated his life and his job. He had wanted to leave me, long before I had ever left him, but he said ‘I decided I was going to force myself love you.’ Which, in the end, meant tolerate, not love. I didn’t know which way was up or which way was down, and I was easily persuaded by those who thought they had all the answers. I needed help, and I needed out.

So I left. I took the kids, and I was afraid, and I left. His joking, which to him was fine, scared me. I was afraid. I left. But…

Oh, how people hated me. And…

Oh, how people talked behind my back.

I am pretty sure I was the most hated woman in Minnesota because I took my kids and left my husband. My, to the rest of the world, perfect, quiet, never causing an issue, husband.

And oh, to people, how I left Josh was the worst. Forget that in my mind, all I could think of was my kids and caring for them, and their safety, and that in my mind my husband had turned into a giant monster. Oh no… I didn’t leave with enough ‘class.’ I didn’t leave with enough ‘here honey, let me clean everything for you and make you supper for a few days so you can get by while I’m away as a good wife should do.’ And I most certainly didn’t leave with enough grace. Nope. See, I never knew that there were so many different levels of ‘leaving’ you could f*ck up… apparently, there are a lot!

See when I needed people the most, there were only a few… or like, two. Everyone else wanted to throw in their opinion, and cry ‘shame’ over me. No one saw what had gone on, or why. No one knew what I was suffering with… heck, I didn’t even know! No one knew a thing about what was going on… but only a few stood by, and the rest joined the nay sayers.

Can I just say, the pain from being abandoned in your greatest time of need by those closest to you, is more painful, more heartbreaking, cuts deeper, and is harder to bear, then 90% of the stuff your spouse could have ever put you through.

You’ll NEVER know all the reasons someone left. You’ll never know if everything they said is the truth, or everything their spouse said was the truth. You know what? Maybe their spouse does beat them… maybe they don’t. Maybe their spouse did cheat on them… maybe they didn’t. Maybe their spouse says horrible, mean things to them or doesn’t care… maybe not. Maybe they are suffering from a mental illness called depression. You won’t know… you’ll never know exactly. It doesn’t matter.

Do you want to know what matters? You. You being there for them. You choosing not to talk behind their backs. You choosing to stand by them and figure it out together. You praying for them. You choosing them for who they are and not the choice that they are making.

Do you want to know what else matters? Them. The one who left. They’ve gone through a lot. They don’t need to go through more. They might have been through hell; you don’t need to stoke the fire. They may not realize left from right, or up from down, but you don’t need to spin them in circles and scream ‘shame’ at them as they try to straighten it out. They matter. Their feelings matter. What they say matters.

So, stop talking behind their backs. Try standing beside them, and talking too them. Never leave, never stop talking, never point the finger. If they trusted you enough to let you know what was going on, then you sure as hell better stand with them, and love them. That doesn’t mean agreeing with them, it means being in it together to figure things out.

A few months ago, I spoke with a lady who had a similar situation as mine, and had left. From everything I had known, from all ‘the talk’ that was going on around me, I thought she had a good support system, people talking to her, loving her, being there for her.

She didn’t. All ‘the talk’ was a lot of talk about what ‘should be’ done, but no one actually did anything.

Let me tell you… I sobbed.

I didn’t know the whole story, I didn’t need to know. What I know, is that through God, you can forgive, and forgive, and forgive, but you never fully forgot the pain of being alone in your darkest hour. God lessens it, but you’ll never fully forget. I knew the pain, and I sobbed for all those times for her that there was no one to talk too, no one to lean on, no one to just hug and cry with. And I cried, and actually still cry, because by association with ones who hurt her, I can never be that person for her.

Be the person. Just be the person. Get off of the high horse you want to put yourself on because you would never x,y & z, just be the person. I can promise you a couple of things if you will just be there.

One, I can promise you that they will make far better decisions if they have a support person. Thankfully, Josh nor I ever fell into looking for love in wrong places when we were separated, we both found it in God. But those who don’t find it in God, will more then likely find it in someone or something else which will lead them into deeper, darker places then they could ever imagine. I’ve seen it. Those ‘rescuers’ will say they love and respect your friend… but they don’t love them, nor respect them. They use them to make themselves feel better, and call it love. They ‘care for’ and ‘protect’ your friend who is still married by moving in with them and filling the void of a spouse, and call it respect. That’s not respect, that’s disgracing everything he or she is. Be someone, so they don’t go looking for a someone or a something to numb the pain.

Two, they will never, ever forget the few people who stood with them, whether they agree with them or not. They will never forget, that when they were alone, someone cared, someone didn’t judge, someone listened, someone stayed.

Be someone, be the person.

*Josh and I have since (obviously) gotten back together after a lot of change in both of us. We are just like any other normal married couple, we are far from perfect, and argue about silly things, and tease and poke fun of each other all the time. We love each more now then we ever have, and understand each other much more then ever. Plus, the make-up sex ain't so bad either... 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This Old Church - The Library

Y'all!!!!!! We have a room that is finished!!!!

You have no idea how happy this makes me!

If you've known me for any period of time, you more then likely know that I have a love for old things. One of the very first treasures I found when I was 10 years old, was a book that I still have to this day.

I love old books! There is something secret, sacred, and magical, about an old book. It's like diving into the imagination of someone 150 years ago. It's fun to imagine all the hands that this book has passed through, and the places and lands one can only go to in their own world of imagination. Not to mention, books are beautiful!

Therefore, we have a lot of books! And a good majority of them are very old or unique. Josh and I always thought it would be fun to have a library, and now that we have the space, we have one! Plus, there was this one little room in the corner of the old sanctuary that was just begging to be a library... and how could we say no?!?! This will also be Josh's music room in the future, but all of his instruments are at his parents house where we had to store them.

This was the room before:

We're assuming that it was the church secretaries office or something of the sort. It had this gigantic metal desk that we had to remove the door frame just to get out. It was also the heaviest thing you could possibly imagine. I think I gave myself a hernia just helping Josh get the darn thing out! This is also why I'm assuming that they left the beast behind.

Around the windows was this super special flower wallpaper...

Kinda makes you cringe a little, doesn't it? Creepy! I mean, who knew flowers could be creepy, but seriously, these are a wee bit much.

The first order of business was to remove the wallpaper. We picked and scratched that stuff off like nobodies business! There was still a lot of paper stuck to the wall after we pulled off the pattern, but after some water and a rough sponge, we were able to scrub it all off.

We got the carpet pulled up, and yours truly discovered that vent pipes can literally fall through the floor to the room below. So we may have had a gapping hole in our floor for a few days until we were able to put it all back together again.

Also, nothing quite freaks out your husband like hearing your wife scream and things crashing down into the basement below... just sayin'.

Next was painting! I wanted the room to feel cozy. I wanted it to say 'come in, relax, read a book' and have a warm feeling. I had purchased paint for the main room, and then after getting it all home, had realized that the lighting in home depot had played horrible tricks on my eyes, and the color I had picked out was not really what I wanted. Alas, the colors just so happened to be perfect for other parts of my house! I decided to paint the ceiling a dark color, and the walls a stone gray. We took the trim from the bottom of the room, and after painting it white, we moved it up to the top of the wall. We then stole trim from what is going to be our bedroom, and used it to trim the bottom of the walls.

Then Josh laid the flooring in the room, which I must say, he did an amazing job!

It only took us two days to do these renovations, but to me, the room still wasn't 'done'. It's a library after all, where are all the books?!?

During our stint at my sisters house, where all of our things were stored in a garage that turned out to be far more moist then we thought, our previous bookshelves were no longer usable for books. We may be able to use them in another part of the house for other things, but we couldn't stack them, and the shelves were loose or saggy. So I had to come up with another idea for a bookshelf. We couldn't afford to just go buy floor to ceiling bookshelves for the whole room, and we had nothing else that would really work, so I decided to get creative.

I decided to make some rope shelves. Brackets, at least nice decorative ones, are like $8 a pop, and when you're going to need 3 for each shelf, that starts to add of quick! So I decided to go with rope! My husband that I was nuts, but I think that only made me more determined that it would work ;) I'm only slightly stubborn... ahem.

So I went to work. I bought some handles from Hobby Lobby that were 50% off, that would normally be used to dressers or cabinets, but I had other plans. Instead, I drilled them into the studs in the wall.

It didn't look like much at first, and even I was a little worried at this point that maybe this wasn't a good idea, but I had high hopes that this was going to work.

*FYI, this only works with completely metal/iron handles. If you ever decide to try this, not just any handle will work. Books are heavy, you have to make sure you get a solid and sturdy handle. I also used extra long screws, and made sure to hit the studs in the wall.

We went to the store, picked up some 6ft boards, and I got to more painting and drilling holes in the wood. I also picked up some beautiful white rope, and figured I'd use 3 ft of rope per handle. Then I got my handy dandy hubby to help, and we assembled the shelves!

LOVE IT!!! I think everything really pulled together, and the shelves fit perfectly in the room!

My husband said he was going to 'throw some books on the shelves' now that we had a place to put them... and I about had a heart attack! You can't just 'throw' books on a bookshelf... like, NO! Yep, totally picky about it, but old books gotta look good on a shelf! So this morning, I had way too much fun, and got completely lost, unpacking books, and finding the 'perfect' spot for everything.

Yes, I'm slightly OCD, why do you ask? Tehehe!

The finished project?

Before and After:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Éveiller House - 100 years of history

Ah! I finally have a moment to sit down, with my cup of coffee, and write about our new place! So, as you know, we bought an old church! We finally closed on this place on July 16th, and we've been moving, unpacking, and doing repairs ever since! As we're still in the midst of repairs, and there is no room that is completely 'done,' I, instead, wanted to share the story of our new place with you! That way, as I write more blogs, you can understand my excitement over things, or why things are they way they are in this place. So here we go:

Late 1800's - This place was just an open plot of land, owned by, what I believe, was a couple of brothers. The state of MN wanted to buy over 200k acres of land across the state of Minnesota, to put in a railway line for the mining that was going up north. The state was willing to pay about 4.5 million dollars for these 200k acres, which now days, is dirt cheap. There was a bunch of legal paperwork involved, to acquire this land along with all of the others. Old English, and legal terms, are not my forte, so I didn't completely understand every detail that was written up.

This battle for the land last quite a long time. At some point, the land was either sold, or taken over by another entity, and in the early 1900's there was still no railway built, and the land was still empty. The county decreed that if this particular parcel of land was not used for educational purposes, then it must be returned to the previous owners or a relative or descendant of said owners.

1919 - The school house was built. Now we have had older people stop by, excited to see who has boughten the old building, and would tell us stories of their parents who had attended this place when it had been a schoolhouse. The teacher would come in every morning, and light the wood stove to heat the building before the students would arrive for their lessons. This was a typical old schoolhouse, where it was just one large room, and all the students, regardless of age, would be taught at the same time by the teacher. In three rooms of our house, there is still the really old wood floors that were there when this place was built. You can tell, as in one place, there is the burn marks from where the teacher would light the fire everyday, and over time, darkened the floor.
This is the flooring in three of the rooms.
(This will be my massage office, hence the massage table leaning up against the wall! Super excited to get back to work doing something I love!)

I believe it was in the 1950's when they decided to turn the school into a church. At this point, they placed some very 'special' looking tile over the majority of the floor, which if you look at where some parts have broken up, the old floor is still underneath. (Unfortunately, we need to cover the tile, and aren't able to pull it up, so we can only keep the wood floors in the three rooms it is currently in.) The tile though, as a pattern to it, which we were told the reason why. In the middle of this one large room, there is an aisle about 3 feet wide, of a lighter colored tile, and then the tile on either side is darker. We were told that that used to be the aisle from the old church, and the darker tile is where they would line up the chairs or pews, and the preacher would stand at the front to preach.

We have also discovered at time has gone one, and we dig more into renovations and repairs, that the original building had wood ceiling and wood walls, that had been covered up with ceiling tile and that fake looking plywood walls.

In the 1980's, the church went before the county board to get approval to add onto the church, and so, the second half of the building was born! They more then doubled the size of the original building, adding on the sanctuary, some class rooms, and offices. In most places in our house, you can tell the old building from the new, and where the transitions happened. When they built the newer section of the building, the old Canadian Railway had closed down, therefore abandoning many of their railway beams. So, the church put them to good use, and half of our support beams, are actually steal railway beams from the old railway.

Josh also discovered last night that when the addition had been built onto the old building, they left some of the original siding from the old schoolhouse on, under the new addition. Which I thought rather beautifully old, and there was something almost something magical about it... like I was holding a deep piece of history or something...

Fast forward to 2010's and the church has grown too big for the building! And in 2015, a small family has decided to take on the impossible, and turn this old schoolhouse, turned church, into a house!

We decided to name our house, for a couple of reasons. One, for us, it's not really a house. Yes, we live here, yes, it's our home, and yes, we love it! But for us, we know that God has had his hand over this place for almost a hundred years, and that He will continue to use it for His good and His glory, and we are just vessels of a greater purpose. We know that this place is His, and as we design, and we renovate, we keep His plan in our mind. We've had some glimpses into His plan for this place, and we're excited, nervous, and scared, but His plan is good!

Secondly, I can't really call it a house. Why? Because, well, it's not! I have come up with all sorts of clever things for this place, mainly calling it a 'church-house...' because, that's what it is! But 'church-house' isn't so practical to say... not to mention slightly cheesy. Plus, my husband was making fun of me every time I said it, hehe!

So Josh and I decided to name it. We couldn't decide on a name for awhile. I wanted to go super old fashion and English type for a name, calling it Plumfield or something like that. My husband had a better idea:

Éveiller House

Leveille, our last name, in french, means Awaken. And the french word for Awaken is Éveiller. We're using this house, this church-house, for God's good and His glory, and we are awakening it's potential, and ours as well. We are awakening dreams of adoption, of potential foster care, of helping others. We are awakening, redeeming, the potential of this place, of our hearts, of our callings, and we're all in!