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Easy Apple Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love planning and cooking a huge meal for my family and friends. I love how my house smells when the turkey is roasting, and I love the days leading up to this holiday. Grocery shopping, prepping, cooking – all of it. I have cooked this meal for 5. And for 35. It can seem overwhelming and stressful, but I’m here to tell you that it is completely doable. All you need is a plan.

I recently wrote The Thanksgiving Game Plan to help you have a stress and anxiety-free holiday. Everything is broken into small pieces and done over the course of a few days. On Thanksgiving Day you can kick back, watch some football, and hang out with your guests. 

I like to keep it as simple as I can. And that includes the centerpiece. This apple and herb centerpiece could not be any easier, but is so fresh and pretty on the table. I use some greenery that I buy in the floral section of the grocery store and the same herbs that I use to cook the meal. Rosemary, thyme, and sage all look beautiful. Not to mention, they smell amazing. 

  • apples (I like to use different colors, varieties, and sizes)
  • Candle Carver
  • tea lights
  • greenery
  • herbs (thyme and rosemary)
  • platter

Line a platter with greenery.

Core the apples with a candle carver. (You can also use a knife.)

Add tea lights. Arrange greenery and add herbs. Light and enjoy!

Click here to purchase The Thanksgiving Game Plan

Loved It! (24th edition)

documenting everyday youth sports

image by Carrie Owens Photography in Salt Lake City, Utah


 Happy Saturday, everyone!  Are you loving the shift to fall as much as I am?  

After having spent the spring documenting my sons’ baseball games… and then doing it all over again for Fall league baseball… this amazing article by Carrie Owens Photography (YOUTH SPORTS | DOCUMENTING EVERYDAY) absolutely caught my eye. It is part of a series she’s posting right now called Thirty One Days of Documenting Everyday Life. I’ve always loved the photos she has captured of her children’s swim meets… but the points she makes in this article about how to combat the photography rut of shooting the same things over and over again when documenting your children’s sporting activities are just gold. What do you think you’ll do differently at the next game?


October will come to a close before we know it. Are you ready for DINOVEMBER? I learned about this last year and was completely smitten. It is kind of like Elf on the Shelf but with toy dinosaurs. Read a little more about it here. My chilldhood-magic-loving, creative self thinks this is the bomb. Creators Refe and Susan Tuma say

“Why do we do this? Because in the age of iPads and Netflix, we don’t want our kids to lose their sense of wonder and imagination. In a time when the answers to all the world’s questions are a web-search away, we want our kids to experience a little mystery. All it takes is some time and energy, creativity, and a few plastic dinosaurs.

Childhood is fleeting, so let’s make sure it’s fun while it lasts.” (bolding mine)

I could not possibly agree more!!! I learned about it too late last year but I absolutely plan to enjoy a hearty month of Dinovember this go-round! Which of Tuma’s images made you laugh out loud? For me, it was the dinosaur heads through the muscle man cutouts.  


While we are on the topic of imagination, I must tell you about the awesome new project called The Green Ember. It is the first children’s book being published by a group very dear to my heart:  Story Warren. Author S. D. Smith wrote the novel after telling the stories of a pair of adventuresome rabbits to his children over the years. The story is about two young rabbits who get caught up in a great adventure. In his video where he describes the project, Smith says

“it begins when their own world comes undone. It’s unmade. Their journey shows them how upside down the wider world really is, and how much their own story is linked to the calamity in that wider world. And we’ll see if they can find their way through it to become characters who are shaped by pain but not destroyed by it. We’ll see if they’ll become overcomers.”  

C. S. Lewis said “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” I have a feeling that The Green Ember is going to meet that need most perfectly. I cannot wait to read this as a family.  #rabbitswithswords


Fostering creativity and imagination is of the utmost important to me and I imagine it is to you, as well.  Have you read Zina Harrington’s piece about raising creative thinkers, Knowledge is Not Enough For Our Kids to Succeed in Tomorrow’s World, on Let’s Lasso the Moon?  In it she states 

“Information today is prevalent, almost overwhelming at times. Our children will reside in a world where knowledge is simply not enough to succeed. In tomorrow’s job market, the people who succeed are the ones who are able to take the information available and color outside the lines. Raising creative thinkers starts now, when our kids are young.”

How utterly true!  I had never considered this before, but she is so right. Zina goes on to share seven ways we can approach our children to instill a sense of creativity inside them.  Which of the seven tips is one you hadn’t considered before?


We just returned from a Fall Break week at the beach at the amazing Topsail Island, North Carolina, so vacation meal planning and execution was certainly on my mind as we trekked home. I came across this on Pinterest and fell in love! 12 FRESH RECIPES FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION by Pinch of Yum.   How much do I love it? Let me count the ways! If you are a foodie like me who just enjoys good, fresh foods, this is for you. If you are someone who can just drool over amazing food photography, this is for you. (I thought I’d tell you which of the images was my favorite, but I simply can’t choose. Every single one is fabulous. They even make the all brown pork adobo with black beans look incredible, which is really hard to do! So if you can choose a ‘best’ image, let me know! I just can’t decide!) If you are someone who wants to spend minimal time in the kitchen on vacation, this is for you. If you are someone who enjoys witty commentary on your food blogs, this is for you. It’s like the vacation food jackpot, I tell ya!


This article was written by Carey Pace.

on watercolor and life

“Hobble Creek Canyon”
watercolor and ink by Jamie Anne Blake

In contemplating what to write about this month, I wanted to share the things I learned from a watercolor workshop I took this past month. The class was taught by the talented David Drummond in Jackson Hole, Wyoming- and in one of my favorite spots- the Wilcox Gallery, just a couple miles out of town in the shadow of the Teton mountains. Wow, what a time I had!  You might say, “Well, I’m not an artist!” or “I don’t really care about watercolor painting,” but the things I learned taught me valuable lessons that transition into real life. Huge realizations! Here are a few things that my buddy, David Drummond taught me:


The way you treat others is so important, and it has lasting effects.

I can’t tell you the number of times in college that I left class defeated and feeling like a terrible artist because of something a teacher had said. But David Drummond was completely different- he was a fantastic teacher! He had such a welcoming personality and so much wit, and he really had a way of making people feel like they could be a great artist. Even though he’d say, “I’m going to walk around the room and knock you all on the head and tell you your doing it all wrong,” he would do it in such a loving way– a good realization that we all need to treat each other with kindness, because we all have limitless potential.

Don’t be afraid of using water. It’s called watercolor for a reason.

This was one of the things I learned that just blew me away! It was like David Drummond did knock me on the head and said, “You need to use more water!”  And then the light bulb went off and I realized that in all my years of painting with watercolor, I never used quite enough. As human beings, we all strive for control in our lives. I was using less water so I could control where the paint would go. I admit it- I am someone who thrives on routine; I like knowing how my day is going to go. But when we let go and step out of our routine just a little bit, that’s when the most beautiful things occur. 

As a watercolor artist, there is something to be said for knowing how much water is on your brush, and what it is going to do when it hits the paper. That is your greatest knowledge.

How true that is- and what a gift that would be! I am constantly wondering what I can do to be a better wife/mother/daughter, and knowing what to do and how someone is going to react to a situation would be so valuable! And as a new (ish) mother, it would be a dream to be able to always gage the needs of my child. 

The quickest way to ruin a watercolor is too many brush strokes.

I can’t tell you how many times I have done this! Waaaaayyy too many.  You work on a certain area over and over again to add detail and depth to a painting, but more often than not, it just ends up looking overworked. The trick is learning to acknowledge when something is done, and then to just leave it alone.  I have heard the phrase before that often the first solution you come up with is the best one, and I tend to agree. 

Half the job is learning how to fix your boo-boos.

Isn’t that how we all go about life? Making mistakes, learning how to fix them, and then making another one? But that’s okay- that’s how we learn and grow. And I tell you what, watercolor is messy . . . and so is life! 

“Some people say, ‘I like blooms!’ Well, I do too. In a certain place. I like dogs too, but I don’t like them in my trash can.”

 A bloom in watercolor refers to a blossom looking shape that occurs when water hits a partially dry painting. They can be a total pain, but also beautiful when you want them there! I loved what David Drummond said about them- a good reminder that there is a time and a place for everything. 

Friendship has no age boundaries.

Out of the 14 others in the class, I quickly learned that I was much younger than everyone else there. Many had so much more life experience than me– having raised their families, now retired with grandchildren of their own, and pulling out their paints after years of them sitting on the shelf. I was nicknamed “the kid” . . . but you know what? I had some of the best conversations with all of these ladies. By the end of the class, we were all friends and we hugged each other goodbye. You can make the best of friends in the most unlikely places- and it doesn’t matter the age! We all have something to relate. 

This class is just what I needed to rejuvenate and to jump back into being an artist. It left me wanting to pull out my paints more and to take that very necessary time for myself. Naptimes have gotten a lot more creative around here.:) I encourage you all to iron out some “me” time, whatever that may be! And I assure you that you’ll learn so much more about yourself– and get just the uplift you need. 

This article was written by Jamie Blake.

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