Nest – a hope for the future

Nest graphic

Bird Nest

I’ve always loved nests, eggs, & birds! My earliest memories of life in the nest, was on my great grandmother Pearl’s farm. She had lots of trees in her orchard, and she would encourage us to explore & peek at the developing homes among the branches. I’ve always loved everything to do with birds ever since. We even raised different types of parrots for many years, and each baby was a joy for our family to watch hatch & grow.

Recently, my husband & I were exploring the forest & the little stream that runs through it, when all of the sudden, a tiny bird flew up from in front of our feet. I think she was as startled as we were! As we looked down, there in the green leaves was a tiny little nest… filled with 3 very tiny blue eggs.

My heart still sings every time I see a momma bird filled with hope & preparing for her future, and today was no different.

To me, a nest resembles our lives … a place to gather your family, and call home.

From the time I was a little girl, the thing I prayed for the most, was a man who loved God & loved me, and many children to share our lives with. When Daniel & I started dating & talking about our dream of children, we both had been praying for exactly the same thing – 4 children of our own, then possibly adopt 2. Well…God has answered our prayers, and He blessed us beyond measure. And the blessings keep coming!

Our little nest started out with just the two of us. Then one by one, we were blessed with four little ones. Now, those little ones have grown into beautiful young adults, who are some of the most wonderful people you’d ever want to meet. They have found loves, and now our nest is bursting at the seems with wonderful children!

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Ps 127:3-5

Our oldest son Daniel. We are very proud of him!

Our baby girl Casey Chere’ married her love Zack back in April!
Our Baby Girl Casey Chere'

Our youngest son Ryne & his love Hannah got engaged last month!
Ryne & Hannah

Our son Cameron is waiting for his love – she’s coming soon we can feel it!

And just last week, our baby girl Casey & her love Zack announced to the world… that they are starting a nest of their own & will be having their first little one next winter!
Casey & Zack

With Spring all around us, and life bursting forth in every direction, I can’t help but stop & thank God for His blessings in our lives! Thank You Lord for our little nest, & those of us who have already started to build nests of their own.

What a wonderful journey this life is…when you take time to feather your nest <3

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    Savory Sausage Stuffing With Secret Ingredients!

    Stuffing Recipe

    At your first glance over this stuffing recipe, you might find yourself with at least one raised eyebrow. I know I did the first time I heard what was in this dish during one of our family gatherings. But, to my surprise, I absolutely loved it! As a matter of fact, everyone loved it!

    To be honest, I just wasn’t used to having fruit as an ingredient in a main course, so I had no idea how tasty it was! Of course, my taste buds have certainly grown & expanded in the last few years, and I now enjoy all sorts of fruit, meat, and salad combinations!

    This recipe is not exactly like the first one that I tasted, as I’ve added a few more “goodies” here & there.

    Feel free to add, take away, or change amounts of any of the ingredients as well. My mother tells me that I am a lot like my great-grandmother Pearl, who never really used recipes or measuring utensils, but rather added different ingredients until it looked & felt right! So, with that being said, I hope you enjoy this special recipe!

    Savory Sausage Stuffing Surprise

    12 Cups bread cubes
    8-16 ounces ground pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean Maple sausage)
    1 1/2 Cups chopped onion
    1 1/2 Cups diced celery (save inner leaves, dice & add as well)
    2 larger cans of chopped mushrooms
    1 1/2 Cups chopped granny smith apples
    1/2 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts
    1 Cup dried cranberries
    4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1 cup chicken broth (more if needed)
    1 cup butter

    You could buy pre-made bread cubes, or make your own with a loaf of your favorite type of bread. To make your own, simply break the bread into small bits (1-2 inches), spread on large cookie sheet, place in 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes – just to dry them out. Then remove bread & set it aside.

    Brown the sausage in a large skillet, being sure to break it up into smaller pieces while cooking. Using a slotted spoon, drain the drippings from the sausage before you place it into a large bowl. Add the butter, onions, celery & celery leaves, mushrooms, and all seasonings to the pan & cook until tender. Add chicken broth and simmer for approx 5-10 minutes.

    In the large bowl, add the walnuts, cranberries, and apples to the cooked sausage and mix well. Then, stir in the bread cubes and mix until well blended. Lastly, pour contents from the skillet into the bowl & mix until all the ingredients are coated & moist. You can add more chicken broth if the mix is to dry.

    Place stuffing in a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with poultry seasoning, and bake until thoroughly heated and golden brown.

    I know that you will enjoy this wonderful new twist to your traditional holiday dinner as much as we do!

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      Best Apple Pie Recipe

      Best Apple Pie Recipe

      Some days are just meant for baking pies, and today is one of them!

      We’ve been so anxious for apple season to get here, so as soon as we could, we picked up some beautiful honeycrisp apples! We’ve already been enjoying them as snacks with a bit of peanut butter, I’ve made a few batches of apple crisp, and today is pie day :)

      If you’re like me, you have a special Pinterest board set aside just for the special dessert ideas that you want to try! Well, I’ve had a pin that I’ve been waiting to try as soon as apple season got here. It’s called Cider Caramel Apple Pie. I got my initial inspiration from Hannah’s pin below, and have added my own tweaks to it.

      Cider Caramel Apple Pie

      The pie has three parts to it – Crust, Cider Caramel, & Apple Filling

      We’re going to start making the caramel, and let it simmer while we’re making the crust. You could also make it ahead & use it for other recipes as well.


      4 Cups Apple Cider
      1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
      1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter (I used sweet salted, because I had it on hand)

      Simmer cider in a heavy sauce pan until it reduces by half – approx 20 minutes (you can make the crust while it’s simmering)
      Add sugar & butter, stir occationally & reduce again to approx 1 1/4 Cups – until it thickens slightly. Then turn of the heat.

      Pastry Crust:
      This pastry crust recipe was given to me by a friend – be sure to follow her on Instagram @pottersarms
      She loves this recipe so much, that she doesn’t ever use any other! I can tell you, it was very easy to make!

      2 Cups Flour (sifted or lightly spooned – if it’s packed it could come out dry)
      1/2 Cup Butter – cold but soft
      2 Tablespoons Castor Sugar (finely ground sugar – I just used my emersion blender to make reg sugar more fine)
      1 Egg Yoke
      3 Tablespoons Cold Water
      * For pastry topped pies such as this one, simply double the recipe & keep the top half covered until ready to roll out & finish pie.

      Mix flour & butter with fork or pastry blender until they resemble fine crumbs. Mix in sugar. Make a well in the center, and add egg yolk & cold water. Mix gently until it’s mostly together. With flour dusted hand, gently work pastry dough togehter. Don’t overmix, because the crust will be tough. Roll out gently on a lightly floured surface. Lift dough with your rolling pin, and place in pie dish removing excess. Place in fridge while making filling.
      *To make a savory pie, you can simply leave out the sugar.

      Apple Filling:
      5-6 Cups Peeled/Sliced Apples
      1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
      1/4 Cup Flour
      1 tea Cinnamon – I use Saigon for the absolute BEST flavor
      1/4 tea salt
      2 tea vanilla – I use Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract for the BEST flavor
      1 Cup Warm Cider Caramel

      Mix spices, then mix in flour & sugar. Sprinkle over apples in the bowl & mix. Stir in vanilla & caramel, and pour into crust.

      Best Apple Pie

      Roll out crust & top pie, crimping sides. Using a knife, cut 4 steam vents in the top crust. Beat 1 egg and brush on top of crust, then sprinkle sugar & cinnamon. Bake for 45-60 minutes – until brown & juices are bubbly. If the edges of your crust start to brown more than you’d like, simply cover the edges with some tinfoil for the remaining baking time. You must allow pie to cool before cutting, or it will be too runny.

      I LOVE this cobalt blue pottery pie dish that my mom bought for me years ago! It was made by a local potter – Mr. White.

      Pottery Pie Plate

      Enjoy & feel free to Pin & Share!
      ~ Pearl

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        Italian Toast Recipe – Great Anytime of Day!

        Italian Toast Recipe
        There’s something so beautiful about simple fresh ingredients being brought together, to create delicious
        meals for our families.

        There are some ingredients that I love & wouldn’t mind enjoying every day (I know you probably
        feel the same way)! This recipe brings together some of those favorites, and I know that you &
        your family will love it as much as we do!

        We’ve enjoyed this simple little recipe for many years, and have affectionately named it “Italian Toast”. And,
        although you may think of “toast” as being a breakfast food, this meal is equally delicious any time of day!

        • It all starts with a toasted slice of your favorite bread
        • On top of that, add some slices of garden fresh tomatoes
        • Now add some of your favorite cheese {fresh mozzarella or aged provolone are nice}
        • Season with some Italian spices {oregano & basil for sure}
        • Sprinkle with a pinch of garlic, and some freshly ground pepper & sea salt
        • To add the finishing touch, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil
        • Broil in the oven until the tomatoes are warm, and the cheese is bubbly
        • Two slices make a meal, so be sure to make enough for everyone!




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          Angel Wings Tutorial – How to Make Beautiful Angel Wings Free!

          Make these beautiful angel wings with things you already have around the house!

          I just love angel wings, and they are all the rage in decorating right now. The only problem is, when you actually find some wings that you like (from Pier 1 for example), they cost WAY MORE than you want to pay!

          I came up with this idea as we were preparing to decorate the stage for our special Christmas services. We needs some very big angel wings, and I wanted to find a way to do it using things we already had.

          They turned out really nice, so I wanted to share the tutorial with you, so that you could enjoy some angel wings in your home this season… while not spending any more money on decorations :)

          Step #1: Decide How Big You Want Your Wings

          Because we are using our wings as stage props, I wanted them to be a nice size, so that everyone could see them. We decided to make ours 7ft X 4ft, but you can make them any size that makes you happy! You need to have some sort of backing to build your wings on. We had a piece of painting drop cloth laying around, so we used that. What do you have that you’re not using? A piece of cardboard, heavy cloth, drop cloth… use what you have available to you.

          Step #2: Choose Your Favorite Shape of Angel’s Wing

          I looked at all kinds of pictures online (mostly in google image search) to find a shape that I really liked.

          Step #3: Trace The Shape Onto Your Backing & Cut it Out

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Step #4: Turn The First Wing Over & Trace it Out For The Second Wing (if you want 2 wings)

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Step #5: Make The Feathers

          I decided to use regular brown craft paper, but you could use brown paper bags, newspaper, or any other paper you might have.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          – Cut strips of paper with a scalloped bottom edge
          – Scrunch each one into a ball to give the paper lots of wrinkles
          – Open it back up & try to give the center a little crease, so it will stand out more & look more like a feather

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Step #6: Hot glue each strip of paper to the backing, beginning with an outer edge first. Glue one side, being careful to let a bit of the paper hang off the edge so you don’t see the backing. Then pull the paper towards you a little bit & hot glue the other side. The reason you’re not going to simply glue them down flat, is because this technique gives the appearance of a creased feather instead of a flat piece of paper.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Continue adding as many layers as you’d like. For the size of our wings, 3 long layers and a few short ones looked best. As we got to the top, we just angled the feathers a bit more to look like a wing.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Here is one of the wings all put together. It’s so tall my son can barely hold it up high enough!

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Step #7: Decide What Finish You’d Like to Have
          You might want the look of newspaper print, in which case you wouldn’t have to have any additional finish. Or, if you want a solid color, you could apply a full coverage of whatever left over spray paint you have. You could also add some glue & glitter around the edges for a nice touch.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          We wanted sort of an antique look, so we opted to only highlight the feathers with some off white spray paint, then hit them with some translucent gold glitter paint.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Here’s a close up of the little hint of gold sparkle.

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          We love the way the finished product came out!!

          Angel Wings Tutorial

          Send us some pictures of your wings ~ we’d love to see them!

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            Everyday Blessings and The Beauty of The Season

            Did you ever enjoy a day so much, that you wish you could live it over & over again?

            Well, for me, today is one of those days!

            From the moment I got up, I feel like I have been enjoying a blessing “overload”.

            I woke up with a thankful heart for my family, our home, and our life together. So after I took my daughter to work, I decided to go for a drive around our little village and take in the quiet beauty, and spend some time praying as we often do early in the morning. And today, like most days, I couldn’t help but be filled with gratitude for the many blessings in my life…especially the little things.

            So many times people wait until they get some big answer to prayer to be thankful, but I have learned to be thankful & enjoy the smallest of blessings that I receive from the Lord. I often tell people that sometimes we just need to slow down a bit, so we can become aware of the beauty of the blessings all around us.

            We have so many beautiful places around The Queen Village, and because I am particularly fond of the countryside, I decided that this morning, my drive of choice would take me around the rolling hills & country farms. And as I was coming around one particularly sharp curve, I noticed a larger black object up ahead, and knew I needed to slow down. As I got closer, I realized that the black object was a curious little calf that had somehow worked her way outside of the safety of the fence (just look at those lashes!).

            Baby Calf

            Thankfully, her momma was walking right beside her showing her the way back into the fold. I just couldn’t help but sit there and watch this little family working together to find a solution to their situation. It was truly beautiful to watch.

            Momma Cow Helping Her Baby

            With a heart now warmed from the love of mother & child, I was free to continue on my little journey. And as I came upon the next field, I spied a farmer who was already well underway with his harvest of field hay. And you know… there’s probably nothing quite as beautiful to a farmer than seeing his field dotted with bales of hay, and knowing that because of his hard work, all will be well throughout the winter months.

            Farm Living - Hay Bales

            The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was taking my time enjoying it all, as well as feeling a bit like Miss Daisy, except I was driving myself…which is why I was sure to pull over & let the 2 or 3 cars pass that were in a bigger hurry than I was :)

            After I was finished with the morning drive, I was finally nearing the hill that would reveal the beginning of our country lane, which winds 750ft deep in the forest. And as much as I love to take in the beauty of the surrounding countryside, there’s nothing that warms the heart more than coming home.

            As I started down the lane, through the almost blinding rays of sunlight that were now beaming through the forest, I saw a familiar little flicker of white.

            Rays of morning sun

            Sure enough, our little family of deer where already up and about, and the triplets where frolicking around in the tall grasses near the forest edge. We have a few different families of deer that share the forest with us year round, as well as several small herds that stop to nibble & drink as they are passing through. Almost every year we have a birth of twins in the spring, however, this year we also had a set of triplets…something we’ve never had the pleasure of seeing! I don’t think they even noticed me as I sat quietly watching. I watched until they were so tuckered out from playing, that they found a cozy spot under the trees to take an early morning nap.

            Baby Deer

            After catching up on some work in the office, I heard what sounded like someone walking down our front path, so I went to the window to see who it might be. There to my surprise, was a cast of characters like I haven’t seen yet this year! For no apparent reason other than for my enjoyment, the front forest was now the backdrop, and the front yard now the stage, for the theatrical production of “Nature Ah La Woodpecker”!

            There were so many woodpeckers of all different varieties including 3 of the ever so majestic Pileated woodpeckers now performing on the large maple tree, and the 5 beautiful red belly woodpeckers doing their little song & dance right on the front walk! They were singing back and forth to each other, as they danced between the stones, stirring up the ants. Then, they would quickly eat to their little heart’s content. And the show wouldn’t be complete without the ever so tiny hummingbird Mr. Ruby Throat, who was flitting back & forth, showing his acrobatics on the phlox. The lyrical dance of the butterflies & dragonflies, the chipmunks in the center ring, and the accompanying chorus of other birds and insects made the show complete.

            I just couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to go out & give my applause in person… but before I walked out the door, I grabbed my basket so I could gather a few tomatoes as I passed the kitchen garden.

            Once the show was over, I took a walk through the back forest to see what might be happening there. The sunlight dancing on fern hill is always quite a sight to behold!

            Fern Hill

            No matter how many times I see them, I’m always amazed at the shear size & beauty of the forest trees. And this morning they looked particularly dashing standing there in the spotlight.

            Forest Light

            Others enjoy the trees with us…but for obviously different reasons :)

            Woodpecker Hole

            Now… just a few steps more and we’ll be at River’s Edge.

            Rivers Edge

            The water is low this time of year, which means I get to enjoy more of the river rocks, that usually lay quietly beneath the surface.

            The River

            After taking time to reflect at River’s Edge, I came up around the cottage garden. Over the years I’ve come to learn that every time of day highlights something different to enjoy, and in this early morning light, the roses & ivy certainly steal the show!

            Cottage Garden in Morning Light

            I can’t believe how they continue to display such beauty, even this late in the season.

            Roses and Ivy

            Now, with basket in hand, it’s off to the kitchen garden. We really enjoyed crafting the garden fence this spring, and it’s such a nice addition to our little place in the forest.

            Garden Tomatoes

            Fresh tomatoes have got to be my all time garden favorite! I love the way they look, the way the plants smell in the garden, and I especially love how delicious a fresh garden tomato tastes!

            Ripe Tomatoes

            With my basket now full, I didn’t have to think very long about what to make for brunch. With tomatoes like that, it has to be our family recipe of “Italian Toast” for me!

            Italian Toast

            Italian Toast

            – Toast 2 slices of whole grain bread (your favorite bread will do)
            – Slice 1-2 hearty tomatoes & lay on top of toast
            – Sprinkle with shredded cheese – today I used aged provolone (our personal favorite)
            – Give a dash of freshly cracked pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder
            – Top it all off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
            – Put toast in the oven on a baking stone & broil until bubbly

            All that’s left now is to enjoy your delicious masterpiece!

            And those were just some of my little blessings before brunch! Who knows what wonders the rest of the days holds…perhaps one of these little sweeties sitting on the counter just waiting to be enjoyed :)

            Pretty Cupcakes

            Isn’t God a wonder! He just seems to go overboard with blessings for His children. So no matter how big or small, be sure to take some time to enjoy the ones He brings your way today!

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