Monday, December 02, 2013

Pie Party

We hosted our First Annual Harvest Homes Pie Party this year (our second total, with the very first being in Provo). Our next door neighbor and friend, Kelly Dyches, helped put the shindig on and provided a generous amount of delicious pies. When all was said and done, we ended up with 20 unique pies and 26 total pies (some were repeats). I made 16 of them.

This was our list of pies (stars by the ones I made):
*Pumpkin Butter Pecan
*Toll House Cookie
*Jello Cream Cheese
*Raspberry Cream
*Chocolate Crusted Peanut Butter (or Candy Bar Pie)
*Coconut Cream
*Chocolate Cream
*Banana Cream
*Heath Bar
*Tart Au Citron
Dutch Apple
Snickerdoodle Apple
Key Lime
Salted Caramel
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Chocolate Truffle

The most popular pies were the Dutch Apple, Buttermilk, Salted Caramel, and Snickerdoodle Apple. The least favorite was the Jello Cream Cheese. I don't think I'll bother making that one again. I also think I would limit any doubling up to only the very favorites. We had a pretty good crowd, but I think we can do better next year. The plan is to either invite WAY more people, or make a lot fewer pies. We ended up with SO MANY leftovers and were sending people home with and delivering plates full of different pie slices.

I also wish I had taken more photos of the guests and party. There's always next year!

Crusts prepped and ready to go!

Labels printed beside the Tart Au Citron and two Buttermilk Pies:

Part of the layout:

The Nielsons enjoying some pie:

Two awesome neighbors and friends - Natalie Dobbin and Dayna Olson. They were some of the very first to welcome us to the ward/neighborhood.

The aftermath.... The first is of our downstairs once all the kids got done destroying playing in it.

And of course, the kitchen:

It was a ton of work, but a LOT of fun. I love this unique party idea and I'm grateful we've adopted it from Miles' dad. We hope to have just as many years and more of Pie Parties!

Friday, November 29, 2013


This year for the month of November in preparation for Thanksgiving, I created a "Thankful Tree." I took branches from our yard, and made pretty maple leaves to hang. Each night we would talk and write down something each of us was thankful for. I was really pleased with how well Owen took to the activity. He was so thoughtful and would often say things that both surprised and impressed me. The first night he said, "My parents," which of course just melted my heart right then and there. A different night he said this (over a period of time and interjections/acknowledgement by me):
"I have something I'm thankful for. My hands! What if I didn't have my hands and couldn't pick this up? (Picks up his fork.) I'm thankful for something else. My arms! What if I didn't have my arms? (while flapping them) And I'm thankful for my eyes! What if I didn't have my eyes. I would probably bump into things and walls. I'm thankful for something else. My house! What if I didn't have my house to play in and eat in and go to sleep in my bed? (I asked him what he would do if he didn't have his house.) I would go to the store and buy stuff to build a new house." I thought it was so insightful for him to recognize all of these blessing that we often take for granted. And for him to realize how different life would be without them.

Of course, just like a typical three-year-old, there were other nights I would ask him what he was thankful for and he would say, "I'm not thankful for anything." However, overall I was very happy with his responses. This is a list of different things we each said. Apparently we must have missed a few days here or there because there are only 24 for each of us. And I noticed that there were a couple of items that were repeated. Also, often the answers were indicative of our experiences from that day.

Miles: Oxygen, The beautiful Earth, Megan, Owen, My loving children, America, Food, Health, Health, Elsie, The law, Guns, Moments alone with Kendra, My family, Sleep, My education, Early bedtimes, Extended family, Church, Technology, Our warm house, Friends, Kendra, Kendra-Mommy

Kendra: A healthy body, Miles' job, The Gospel, Music, Miles, Art, My two beautiful children, Good neighbors, Modern medicine, Our home, Siblings, Safes, Kisses from my kids (& Daddy), Heat in the cold, Good friends, Chocolate, When my children giggle, Ice cream and hot chocolate, Singing in the choir, the Fall season, Financial stability, My degree, Miles, I get to be a SAHM

Owen: My parents, Bunnies and my bed, Screws in my bed, Daddy's office, My Dad, The carriage at the farm, Playing, My train, My hands, Daddy, My family, Big race cars, Screaming, Food, My pillow, My house, My Mommy, Backpacks, Luke & his mommy and Sylvie & Genevieve & their mommy, My eyes/eyesight, Flashlights, the Counter and the food I eat, Lions, My house

Elsie: Food, Bare feet, Bare feet, Cheerios, iPads, A hard head, Chocolate chips from Daddy, Dogs (Pete), Shoes, Dogs, Uncle Mitchell, Pans, Sign language, Owen, Mommy's milk, Floor vents, Books, Mommy and Daddy, Patient parents, Raspberries, Toilets, Baths, Rocks, Sippy cups

Here are some pictures of the Thankful Tree and a few other decorations I acquired this year.

I bought two felt acorn garlands and I am in love with them.

For the actual day of Thanksgiving, I hosted my first ever Thanksgiving dinner. Kerry, Matt, Hadley, Elena, Lance, Pat and Courtney Wickman all attended. It was a bit stressful, but I think it went well. I desperately wish I had more space for hosting large dinner parties. I also made my very first turkey. I got a brine recipe from a friend and I thought it was delicious! Lance said it was one of the best turkeys he had ever had. Not sure if he was just being polite or not, but honestly, it was good. Not to mention the amazing mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon and carmalized onions, fresh oranges and pomegranate seeds, Ruth's Chris style sweet potatoes, homemade buttery rolls, and stuffing. Mmm mmm mmm!!!

It was a wonderful dinner and Thanksgiving celebration. We are so happy to be close to some of our family and have the chance to be with them. We have much to be thankful for!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cute as a Button!

I truly cannot believe how fast the time has flown. And it saddens me that my sweet baby girl is already a year old. I just know that the years will pass all too quickly. But I have savored every (well, most) moment of this past year. I could not have asked for a sweeter, more gentle, easy-going, content, happy, loving, baby. Her personality is absolutely joyous to me. Her smiles are sweet, her laughter is infectious, and her silliness is amusing. She brings smiles and happiness to all who are near her. She truly is a bright spot of sunshine in this world. I feel incredibly blessed that she was placed in our family and under my care. I look forward with eagerness and joy to the years ahead as I watch her learn and grow and become the beautiful, kind, and good-hearted soul she is destined to be.

While she is only one and won't remember her first birthday, I couldn't help myself and of course had to throw a big celebration. We ended up celebrating a week early so Elsie's Grandma and Grandpa Wright could attend. The them of the party was "Cute as a Button." If I had truly been on top of it, I would have sent formal invitations that said: Cute as a button and Oh, so much fun! Little Miss Elsie is turning one! But I wasn't. So no invites.

This is Elsie playing with a balloon and getting into mischief prior to the party:

Following ideas I had seen from others, I made button garlands, an "E" made out of buttons, button peanut butter cookies, and cupcakes with buttons in the frosting.

And although the frosting looks like it's melting right off the cupcakes, I promise, it was the most delicious strawberry cream cheese frosting EVER. The leftovers were exceptionally good on sugar cookies later that week. ;)

I also hung pictures of Elsie on display. There was a newborn photo and one photo for each month of her life. I'll end up making a simple scrapbook of them like I did for Owen, but I loved having them hanging in the house. I even left it up for the next week until after the actual day of her birth.

Besides Elsie's Wright grandparents, Uncle Mitchell, Uncle Matt, Aunt Kerry, and cousins Hadley and Elena all came to celebrate.

Auntie Kerry was happy to indulge in after-naptime cuddles.

We ate Chicken Lime Cilantro Soup for dinner (a favorite of Elsie's), served with green salad, fruit, and Prickly Pear Sparkling Lemonade.

After dinner we played "Elsie-themed" celebrity Jeopardy. We had different topics about Elsie and however much was won by all the "celebrities" (our guests) we would donate that amount to Elsie's college fund. Sadly, I can't find the list of questions that we asked. But here is a picture of the categories.

Baby Talk related to first words and signs; Stats had to do with numbers (birth stats, hours of night-time sleep, etc.); Favorites (obviously) were her favorite activities, toys, and people; Firsts were about first foods, steps, etc.; and Misc....well, was miscellaneous.

Elsie getting excited about playing the game:

The final Jeopardy question was: Who was Elsie named after? They could all answer together, but Auntie Kerry nailed it. Her first name was after her great grandma Wright's middle name, and her middle name (Jane) was after Elena's middle name because she was due on Elena's birthday. So they doubled the money for Elsie for a total of $248! Yay!

After the game, we opened presents. She got an adorable navy and white polka dot outfit from Auntie Kerry and an elephant ball blower and jammies from us.

She was sad because I put her shoe clip in her hair:

Cute matching cardigan, shirt and shoes from Auntie Kerry:
As is typical, she liked the paper and bags better than the gifts.

Auntie Kerry was also kind enough to bring Owen a couple of Cars cars. He was pretty excited about it.

Opening the elephant from Mom and Dad:

She was a big fan of the balls.

After presents it was time for cake. (Be prepared for a obscene amount of cake pics.) We made strawberry cupcakes (Owen picked the cake mix specifically for Elsie's party) with to-die-for strawberry, cream cheese frosting. Elsie was super anxious to touch the cupcake and dig in.

She was pretty sad we made her wait to touch/eat it until we finished singing.

But once she had it, she just mostly just wanted to squish it and then drop it on the floor. Which of course led to a chant of "Happy birthday to the ground!"

She did, however, enjoy the ice cream...

And quickly asked for "more"...


All in all, it was a great party, and I'm so glad we had so many family members who were able to come and help us celebrate our sweet and beautiful little girl. I am still so sad she continues to grow up and there is no stopping it, but I am overjoyed to have her as a part of our family.

Happy birthday, Elsie Jane!