Sunday, September 29, 2013


Two words are glorified in American culture. 

Two words that supposedly make something better. More desirable. More efficient. 

Quick and easy. 

I fall prey to this all the time. 

I download songs from iTunes. I go through the Zoe's drive thru. I buy break and bake cookie dough. I text instead of call a friend. So often I do what's quickest and easiest for me. 

But when it came time to cross #12 off of my list (pick apples and make an apple pie from scratch), I knew that my first task was finding the perfect recipe.

Somewhere in my Pinterest search, I came across a recipe called "With Love Apple Pie."

The blogger said, "I will warn you, this pie is a labor of love. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes a personal outpouring of love and support.... If I haven't yet scared you away, if you're so full of love that you just might burst, throw it into this pie, and send it out into the world. It's important."

I loved this lady's obvious passion for baked goods. 

I loved that there was buttermilk in the made-from-scratch crust.

I loved that it wouldn't be quick or easy. 

This was a recipe worthy of my 30x30 project. 

Step 1: We picked the apples. (I love Sky Top Orchard even when it takes 30 minutes just to get up the mountain and park. I love it even when the trees have almost been picked clean and finding an apple bigger than a golf ball is like a treasure hunt. The scenery is like a page out of a coloring book and the apples are  so sweet and juicy they taste like candy.)

Step 2: Make the crust. Start with butter. Two whole sticks of real butter. 

Paula Deen would be so proud. 

You've gotta cut that butter into chunks and let it chill. 

(There's a LOT of chilling in this recipe. There's so much chilling, in fact, that I think it should be called "Chilly Apple Pie." But on second thought, people would probably get confused and think its an apple pie made with chili, which sounds positively disgusting. Never mind.)

Step 3: Make the crust (really this is 134 steps, but I'll spare you the gruesome details). Let it chill. 

I love this sifter. It's old and maybe even a little rusty and I can't imagine how many baked goods it's helped to make. It is a symbol of my momma's biscuit-making kitchen. It is a symbol of recipes that are not quick and easy. 

Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a B...

You know it's not time to put it in the oven. Not even close. Time for the dough to chill. Again. 

This pie crust is my personal Mona Lisa. 

Step 4: Get those apples ready!

Peel, chop, and let them sit in a heavenly mixture of sugar and spices for an hour. 

Step 29: Fill the pie with apples and look up how to make a lattice crust. 

I spy a 30x30 decoration. Cute right??

Step 456: Let the whole thing chill for another hour to relax the dough. (See?! I wasn't exaggerating!)

Step 457: Pop those beautiful babies into a 425 degree oven for an hour. 

You may notice a little stream of juice falling onto the floor in this pic. It was almost midnight and Katie and I were in a total pie-baking delirium. We thought the dog was peeing on the floor. Then we realized I had just tilted the pie too far forward. We got a good laugh outta this one.)

And... Voila!!! 12 chill times, 6 apples, 4 hours, and a sink full of dishes later....

I present to you- my first homemade apple pie. 

Now I know:
Quick and easy isn't always best. 
Some things need time to chill. 
Family makes life a whole lot sweeter. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013


"I'll do it better in my next 30 years." - Tim McGraw 

It's coming.

In just 341 days. 

And folks...there's nothing I can do about it.

I've had several total breakdown moments like Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" when she realizes that she's going to be 40. Harry is trying to console her and goes, " 8 years!!!" and she replies, "But it's just sitting there, like a big dead end." 

I can so empathize...because in 341 days I will be 30.

See how I counted the days to make it sound like it's still a long way away?? Creative, huh?  But you read that right. I'll be THIRTY - the big 3-0 - in less than a year.

I mean, 30. That's older than the cast of Friends when the show first started. (If I lived in an awesome apartment with 5 of my best friends, maybe I wouldn't be so bitter. Or maybe if I had Jennifer Aniston's hair.)

So in order to avoid the paralyzing depression that accompanies losing my twenties forever and the realization that my life has not turned out according to my type-A plan, I decided I needed a list. A list of things to look forward to. A list of things to get excited about. A list to make the last year of my twenties my best year yet.

The list isn't about skydiving or doing random acts of kindness, although I did try to include some adventure and some giving back. Instead, I thought of all the things I've said I wanted to do, but have never done. I've thought about the things that fill my heart with happiness, and made a decision to do more of those things.

This is nothing original. It's just my attempt to make the next 341 days full of adventure, full of time with friends and family, full of living. I don't want to spend the last days of my twenties whining. I want to spend them smiling.

So without further ado, here is my 30x30 list - 30 things that I want to check off before August 29, 2014. I'll be blogging about each one after I finish.

1. Run a half marathon
2. Pay off my credit card
3. Read all of the Chronicles of Narnia
4. Send a postcard
5. Knit a scarf
6. Watch all of the Harry Potter movies
7. Eat at Grits and Groceries
8. Organize my sock drawer
9.  See a concert at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville
10. Watch the sunrise from a gorgeous location
11. Get my tattoo
12. Pick apples and make a homemade apple pie
13. Go on a fall hike and see a waterfall
14. Go on a road trip, take tons of pictures, buy stupid souvenirs, and blog about it
15. Cook dinner at the Frazee Center
16. Call my Nana once a week
17. Join Downtown Presbyterian Church
18. Bike the whole Swamp Rabbit Trail
19. Submit a children's book for publication
20. Memorize an entire psalm
21. Make and mail Christmas cards
22. Learn to play "The House that Built Me"
23. Read a book of poetry
24. Finish my Master's plus 30
25. Make pancakes for friends
26. Leave a 100% tip to a great waiter/waitress
27. Take my class to sing at the nursing home
28. Make cookies for the janitors, cafeteria staff, and office staff at my school
29. Put together a box for Operation Christmas Child
30. Plan to be surprised

PS: This won't be nearly as much fun without you. What number will you help me with??

Now I know: 
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.