natural nesters

Homemade Pie Crust by Big Sis

We weren't raised in a home with a mom that cooked a lot... it's okay mom! Funny though that we both enjoy experimenting with new recipes and trying things out. I have really enjoyed, since becoming a stay at home mom, making our foods from scratch. However, in all this time making pie crust from scratch is not something I dared to try. I have had more than one person tell me on more than one occasion that pie crust is very difficult.... I dare to say it is not! 

Google really is my best friend. I have a cabinet full of cookbooks, but I always go to google when wanting a recipe. This time it was not different. For some reason I went with the first recipe that popped up and man.. it was great. It was so easy and yummy. You can find the recipe that I used here

So, as the directions stated I had to cut my butter in small cubes and freeze them. I had never new that would make a difference. But it did. It was very interesting to me to find out that one of the secrets to getting flaky pie crust is to have really, really cold butter. So because of this they recommended freezing, which I did! 

Of course I had my very own helper in the kitchen. He loves to cook with his Mommy. I was busy with my food processor when I hear "Mommy, Look at Me"... he is just too precious. 

What you see below is me mixing the flour, butter, and water in my food processor. It was so neat to me how the small amount of water pulled the butter and flour together and created a crust. You have to really watch it because too little water won't give it the consistency it needs and too much water makes it much too tough... and you do not want that. I am so happy to have my food processor. It is so helpful when I need to bake! This was a wonderful gift from my in-laws a few Christmas' ago ... and it attaches to my Bosch... EVEN BETTER 

Then I had to make disks with the dough, after dividing them into two. You can still see the butter pieces and that is OKAY! Remember, the butter is what helps your pie crust to be flakey.. so if you like flakey... this is your pie crust recipe to use. 

A close up of the dough in the shape of a disk showing you that you can see the butter pieces! 

Now you want to wrap your disks and put them in the fridge for at least an hour... 

The picture below is so pretty to me. Once I pulled my disks out I was able to shape it how I needed it and put it in the pie dish. I was SHOCKED at how easy it was to manage the dough. I expected it to be hard and falling apart... not the case. It was the perfect consistency. 

Do you have a great pie crust recipe that is relatively easy that you love? We would love for you to share it with us... and we would love to try it. 

Please share. 
Check out our Linky Parties page to see where all we are linking this up! 

-Big Sis


I hope everyone is just as excited as we are! 
My husband and I will be attending an Olympics party tonight with some new friends and we are going with some Olympic Spirit!! (Rooting on America of course :-) 
Anyways, basically I am going to bombard you with photos of what I made for us to wear! It is pretty simple, I made these shirts using red solo cups and paint.  It took me probably a total of 30 minutes, it was a quick and easy project. 
Then using a headband, hot glue, and tulle I made a cute Olympic headband! 
So enjoy our photos! 
Oh, and meet my Hott Husband Meguell, and our dogs, Bella & Stella. 
( I like rhyming/matching things...all of my kids names will probably rhyme or at least start with the same letter hahaha) 

-Little Sis
Meet Meguell Suell
24 year old husband to me
Daddy to 2 Dalmatian dogs (they are seen below)
Future Daddy to many a children :-) 
Spiritual Father to many college students
Wonderful leader of our home, and in our college ministry
Hard worker-does everything to excellence
Stud athlete--fun to do adventurous stuff with
Loves good food
Fav. color--who knows!? 
Hates wearing the color Green
Best friend to me...Brittany Suell

Meet Bella (left) & Stella (right)
Bella is almost 4 years old
Stella is almost 8 months old
Bella is Stella's mom
Stella is Bella's puppy of nine
Bella has one blue eye and one brown
Stella has brown eyes
Bella is a great dog, behaves really well and knows a lot of tricks
Stella knows how to sit and lay, and is learning a lot, but can be crazy b/c she's a puppy
Bella is an extremely soft furred dog
Stella is sweet and fun
Dogs to Meguell & Brittany Suell

Check out our Linky Parties page to see where all we are linking this up! 

Featured July Sponsor-Finding my way in Texas

Today we want to send a shout out to our featured lovely of the month! Jennifer Salter from Finding My Way in Texas.  Jennifer sponsors Natural-Nesters, and is so fun to work with.  She is a fellow Texan, and so inspiring!! She is good at everything she does, and definitely a blogger we look up to! 
We hope that you will take some time to get to know our sweet friend, and take a visit to see her blog, and show her a little Natural-Nesters lovin'!
Finding My Way in Texas
Howdy! I’m Jennifer, the creative mind behind my blog, Finding My Way in Texas, and my shop, LoneStar Lovlies! Over on Finding My Way in Texas, you can read about my new life in Texas, crazy crafting adventures, some DIY projects, the odd recipe and every once in a while I might just photo bomb ya with new puppy pictures :) I love meeting new friends and I hope that you'll drop by and say hi!
TOP 3 Viewed Blog Posts:
She will be having a 30 days of giveaways to celebrate her birthday and blogiversary! Starting August 1st--So definitely stay tuned to see all of the wonderful giveaways she will be having and join in on the celebration!
She also has an awesome online store where she sells some of her wonderful creations, called Lonestar Lovlies! And right now she is giving our readers 25% off their entire order by using promo code JULY2012! So go check out some of her great stuff and get a discount.  Plus her Lacelicious clutches have FREE Shipping happening right now!
Here's some cute stuff from her store!!
Super cute necklace! Pearls and owls, it couldn't get much better than this! 
She sells all sorts of coffee cozies at her store! This one is just one of my fun favs! 
And don't even get me started on how much I LOVE this! Lace is definitely a huge FAV of mine.  I need to head over myself to pick one of these up! 
We love our sponsors, and each one gets special treatment.  Including as much advertisement as they ask for, special highlighting posts, shoutouts through facebook and twitter, involvement in blog parties, guest posts, and giveaways, and more! 

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn't LOVE Chicken Pot Pie? I remember as a kid how we would always have frozen pot pies and how I loved them. I was always SO very sad at how long they took to cook, but man, I loved these things. I never thought to make my own until we lived in Japan. One of our friends there made a killer homemade chicken pot pie... and I loved it. I loved it so much that she brought us one when our son was born to the hospital with his initials. 

Isn't that so creative and precious. Needless to say, the whole thing was eaten. It is just so creamy and sooo yummy. I love to make chicken pot pies and freeze them. Also, when I am going to make a meal for a family at church or something I always go to the pot pie. It is semi-quick and I know how yummy it is. And the fact that it is so different from the normals of lasagna or spaghetti. I love making it. Just recently, when making the ones below, I actually made THREE of them at one time! They were all so yummy. 

Normally I use the deep dish, frozen pie crusts in the dessert section of your local grocery store. I used them for two of the ones that I last made and then I ventured out to make my own pie crust. This is the one that we kept. Making pie crust has always, ALWAYS intimidated me. But it was not bad at all. I was shocked at how well it turned out and how yummy it was. Now I wish that the two pot pies that I gave away had my homemade crust on it too. In a blog post to come, I will tell you all about making my homemade pie crust. 

It may not be the prettiest thing in the world.. but I still made it myself! SO EXCITING!!! I have a lot of practice to do with my pie crust, but man how it added to the flavor of the chicken pot pie. I wish I could take the credit for my chicken pot pie, but I can't. I honestly have not gotten away from this recipe... and I am glad. Because it is just too great for me to mess up. I will share where I get it from at the end. 

But look at that pure delicious-ness. The thing that takes the longest in this whole process is cutting my carrots, celery, and onions. The awesome thing is if you don't like those veggies, you will probably not even know they are there because they are cut so small and cooked with everything else. If you don't like them, I would dare you to go ahead and add them... and see if you taste them!! 

My next goal is to make personal chicken pot pies and to freeze them. Trying to figure out how to exactly do that though... without breaking them coming out of the individual baking dishes.. tips?

You can find the AWESOME Chicken Pot Pie Recipe that I use right HERE! I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think... 

Check out our Linky Parties page to see where all we are linking this up! 

-Big Sis

*Don't forget to go enter our GIVEAWAY for some AWESOME Coconut Oil*

Cinnamon-Swirl Wheat Bread my recent post, Garage Sale Saturday I showed you all the wonderful $2.50 bread maker that I bought.  So after cleaning it up, I finally had time to get in the kitchen and make some bread....and if you don't know, bread with yeast takes A LONG TIME to make!! Because of all the rising it has to do :-) 
Anyways, I love all things cinnamon, so I wanted to do a cinnamon wheat bread.  So I found a good looking recipe and got to work. Halfway through the rising process, I realized that I couldn't actually use my bread maker ha ha.  Because inside the bread maker it has a stirrer thing, (don't know all the official words).  And since I was making a cinnamon swirl bread, which meant I had to flatten it out and roll it up, if the machine stirred it, it would mess up the roll.  
If anyone is an experience bread MAKER user, please let me know if there is a way to get around this.  Instead of trying and risking messing my 3 hour masterpiece up, I decided just to bake it in the oven and I would later come back to the bread maker.  ha 
So, I made the bread and it turned out wonderfully! It tasted like the Cinnamon Swirl Wheat Bread or cinnamon bagels you get from the store! So yummy! and my husband loved it!! 
Anyways, I wanted to share this great recipe with you....and it's easy, but does take a while.  With the mixing, rising, and baking it took over 3 hours!! 
First you mix the dough
Nice ball of dough ready to rise for 1.5 hours. 
I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and it worked great, below with the recipe there are specific instructions on how to use this type of mixture while making this bread! 
Roll it out! 

Nice rectangle of dough, ready for a yummy cinnamon mixture! 
Next time I think I will put chopped pecans in with the cinnamon mixture! 

All rolled up
Dough in the bread pan, ready to rise for another hour! 

Bread all done!
*I didn't take a lot of pictures of the finished product because I didn't have the egg glaze on top, so it wasn't as pretty as it could've been :-) But still tasted wonderful! 
Cinnamon Swirl Wheat Bread Recipe
Makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 (1/4th oz) package of yeast
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp
6 Tbsp softened butter (or earth balance buttery spread) divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 Tbsp cinnamon, divided
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 egg + 2 Tbsp warm water
Combine warm milk, water, yeast, and tsp sugar in a measuring cup and let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
While the yeast is resting, combine the flours, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tbsp softened butter, salt and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a large bowl.  
*If you are using a kitchen aid, use a paddle attachment (as seen above), and start to mix slow. Then, drizzle in the water mixture while the machine is running.  Increase speed to high and mix for about 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. 
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough ball inside.  Cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm area for 1.5 hours. 
While dough is rising you can mix together the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter and the extra 1.5 tsp of cinnamon, and the 1 Tbsp of sugar in a small bowl until smooth.  
When the dough has risen to double it's size, roll out with a rolling pin on a floured surface to a long rectangle.  Smear the butter mixture all over the top and roll the dough up tightly. 
Place dough in your greased bread pan, cover with cloth, and let it rise in a warm spot for another hour.  
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the egg and warm water then brush all over the loaf. 
Bake for 40 minutes.

Don't forget! Stop by our Naturally-Nifty Linky Party #10 and link up your great projects!! It is up until Friday at midnight!! 

Pallet Swing

So in the second half of 2011....

my husband and I had two big life changes happen. 
We moved into a new home....
We got introduced to the world of Pinterest! 
Or shall I say I got introduced and soon enough began passing ideas off to my husband!
Well with our new house, we had a small back patio/porch that was after seeing a wonderful little modern swing on Pinterest, and learning how cheap it could be, I talked him into making it. 
I say I can take some credit since I found the idea, 
but really my husband did absolutely all the work...
even tweeking it some to make the project more fun! 
We decided to make a flat pallet swing for our back porch.  
It was really so cheap, here are all the supplies that we needed: 
1 Pallet
1 Large piece of rope (bought the length we needed from Lowes)
2 Eye Hooks (also from Lowes)
Some stain of your choice, and of course hammer and nails
My husband put it together in one day! It turned out awesome, and since our back porch isn't too big, it's nice because it doesn't take up much room, it just sits in the corner.  
The only thing not that great about it, is that it is really just a one person swing, so if you are wanting something for you and your spouse to sit on, you should go a different route.  But if you are looking for a simple, cute, and comfy swing to read on or enjoy the weather on, this is great! 

And to make it personal and fun, my husband decided to make the parts of the swing that hang on the outside of the ropes little flower boxes.  This was his own idea and it turned out really great. At first I wasn't sure about it, but I really love it! (sorry I don't have a photo with the pretty flowers in it for you)

Anyways, let me know if you have tried this, or if you end up trying it! 
Also, don't forget to head over to our Naturally-Nifty Linky Party and link up your great stuff! The party will be open until Friday at midnight. 

Vintage Wedding Shower Decor

This past weekend I got the wonderful privilege of being a host at one of my great friend's wedding showers.  As one of the hostesses my job was to decorate for the shower along with my friend Kelsey.  It was so much fun to get to decorate this room the way we wanted, while also thinking about the Bride's sense of style and what she was wanting in her wedding.  Basically we used a lot of lace doily's, several suitcases, mason jars & wine glasses, an old quilt, and lot's of their engagement pictures! It all turned out great and really we spent hardly any money because most of the decorations came out of either mine or Kelsey's home. 
I had a blast decorating for this since this vintage style is not my natural style.  If you walked in my house, it would look nothing like this shower. Unlike Kelsey's home who has a lot more remnants of the vintage look throughout her home, mine would just consist of a few of the fun suitcases and bird cages.  So I had a blast decorating in a way that is different than my usual style! 
Let me show you some of the fun we had! 
This was at the door entrance propping the doors open for people to walk through. The two suitcases on top are mine.  At my house I pile three of those on top of one another and make a side table in my living room.  They are great! 

 This was the main entrance/greeting table when people walked through.  We had a suitcase open for cards to be placed in, pens in a mason jar to sign the guest book, a photo of the beautiful bride & groom, and also an ipad sitting on a stand playing a slideshow the whole time for guests to watch as they come in.  
We used lots of lace table clothes together on the turned out great, and we also had several burlap banners hung around the room.  
A closer look at the cute cards suitcase! 

One of the burlap banners I made.  This one was done very quickly and very easy.  I just cute triangles from burlap and used a sharpie to free hand letters on each piece to display the future last name that the couple will share. Then I just hot glued the triangles to a long piece of white yarn. SIMPLE!  This was used at their engagement party! 

This was really fun to do! I kind of put a twist on some banners I have seen on Pinterest made from yarn and doilies.  Here I used several types of doilies and hung them between the engagement photos.  We had three different lines like this hung throughout the room.  It was a fun way to display photos of the couple! 

Here's one view of the room

Here is the front gift table! We had a lot of fun decorating it too.  We hung this old quilt over the top of the projector as a back drop behind the table.  Then we set up more photos of the couple on this awesome birdcage thing of my friends! I would love one of them in my home.  Then to the right we put some painted white branches in a giant jar, with another photo of the couple! Eventually this table was covered in gifts :-)

For the food tables, we used a lace table cloth and then some random pieces of fabric.  At first as my friend Kelsey was putting the fabric on the tables I didn't think it would look good, but I went with it and actually loved it.  This is why it was so fun for me to decorate like this because I tried new things and really enjoyed it. 
Kelsey and I talked about how we worked well together because we could be honest and say no to things we didn't think was a good idea. 

We used cute chalkboard platters to display what drinks were being served. 
These trays were bought for $1 each at the Dollar Tree then painted with chalkboard paint! 
The food was great for the shower! Since it was from 10am-12pm, we did a variety of breakfast foods.  From fruits, to muffins and scones, donut holes, and some breakfast casseroles! It was great, and each hostess brought something so it was easy to do. 
Here's Some fun detailed shots of the decor! 

The fun birdcage with pictures clipped to it. 

Fun way to display photo and last name letter.

One of the center pieces--we used lace doilies of different shapes and sizes with random fun things on top.

This one is two wine bottles and a mason jar inside of an empty frame as a center piece. 

Then there is the fun birdhouse and mason jar on top of two circle doilies.  
(a lot of these center piece doilies I bought for her wedding at a JCPenney's outlet store for $1.99 for two--it was such a great deal)

This was a fun burlap banner the Bride made for their engagement pictures! We hung it up in an empty space of the room.

And here is a great picture of some of our friends! The Bride is the blonde in the middle! I am so excited for our sweet friends to get married! It is going to be such a sweet and beautiful day! and I am so thankful to be a part of it in this way! 
I just love planning parties and decorating.  I do some of this in my job as the Student Activities Coordinator of a University, but I would love to be a party planner or wedding planner one day! That is so much fun to me! I love decorating! Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the shower as much as I did ha ha!
Our Naturally-Nifty Linky Party #3 is going right now! So stop by and link up all your great projects! We will link our favorites and one fan favorite next week! We can't wait to see what all you link up! 

Naturally-Nifty Linky Party #2 & Features!

We are so proud of our first linky party ever! And so thankful for all of you that participated! We cannot believe that we had 64 link ups on our first party!
Now...we are so excited to get to feature a few of those great ideas that you all had! Be sure to copy the Featured on Naturally-Nifty Party Button and put it on your page (can be found on our left side bar).
So here's some of our favorites! 
This awesome piece was transformed from a family entertainment center to a wonderful play kitchen.  The Things I Do For Moo did a wonderful job on this project, and I know that Moo absolutely loved playing with it! My favorite part is all of the detail....the tiles on the backsplash, and the little menu chalkboard! So creative! I am seriously on the search for an entertainment center to create a kitchen for my daycare.

My Life's a Treasure create a Family Binder. I really like this because it seems it could be a huge help in staying organized in your family. Both of us enjoy doing things for our home and family and I think that this binder is a great way to help us stay on top of it. One of us is a little more organized than the other, so maybe that other sister should really think about using it. We will let you just guess which sister you think is the most organized. :) Great job on this. 

I absolutely love the chair reupholstery job done over at Cotton Pickin Cute. I love this one so much because I just finished my first furniture job in January.  Although it wasn't reupholstery, I sewed new cushions and I know how good it feels to look at the work you did in your home and be full of pride for how it turned out.  Great job, the whole set is beautiful! 
I love the crocheted camera strap by Seven Alive. She did a great job, and I am very interested in making my own.  I also LOVE the colors yellow and gray, which I have mentioned, so this is right up my alley. It really makes your camera personal and fun! 
And since it is Valentines Day we wanted to feature these wonderful Conversation Heart Cheese Cakes made by Hungry Happenings.  These are so festive and so fun, I would love to serve some of these wonderful hearts to my family for Valentines Day! 
Thanks so much to everyone for linking up! 

Now...for the Naturally-Nifty Linky Party #2! Remember link up all your favorite things! We want to see it all.  
The only things we ask is that you become a follower of Natural-Nesters & that you put our button on you blog so that you can link back to us! (You can find our button on the left side bar)

You can post as many links as you want. And next week we will feature some of our favorite projects/ideas! 
Plus we will have a bloggers choice feature! So take time to visit some other blogs and LIKE your favorites and the blog with the top Likes will be featured next week as well! 

Thanks for linking up with us!
We can't wait to see your nifty ideas and accomplishments!