Apple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtThis pie is Mike’s favorite dessert. I guess I lied last year when I shared that his favorite was apple crisp. I mean, they’re pretty much the same thing, give or take a crust and few extra spices. (So if you’re looking for an even easier apple dessert, check out the crisp!). But as I was sitting here editing photos, I asked which he liked better and he picked this pie. I’ve been working hard at perfecting all my apple desserts since they’re his fav, and I’ve been tweaking this recipe over the last year. Maybe that’s what put it in first place, all that fine tuning over the last year. And now that apple season is here, bring on all the apple desserts!Apple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtCrumble pies are perfect for those that like more filling to crust ratio with their pies. It’s why it’s Mike favorite, more brown sugar! With a brown sugar crumb topping, sweet, spiced apples, and a flaky crust, this pie is sure to be a favorite all season long. And be sure to serve it with some vanilla ice cream and some salted caramel sauce doesn’t hurt either!Apple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtApple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtApple Crumble Pie

Preheat oven to 375º.

1 cup flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
1/4 cup water

Stir flour & salt together. Add shortening and blend with pastry blender, until dough is crumbly, but don’t overwork it. Add water a little at a time until dough sticks together (you may not need all of it) and you can form a ball. Roll ball out to fit 9-inch pie plate, it should be about 1/4″ thick. Place crust in pie plate, trim edges, shaping crust as desired.

5 cups apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced (I like to use a mix of varieties, with at least one being a tart apple, like Granny Smith)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add in peeled, sliced apples and stir until apples are coated with mixture. Pour into prepared pie crust.

1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

In a medium bowl stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Spread topping over apples in an even layer.

Bake at 375º for about 50 minutes, until crust is golden and apple mixture is bubbling. Best served warm – with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with salted caramel sauce!
Apple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtApple Crumble Pie @themerrythoughtWhat are some of your favorite fall desserts?



DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtAbout a year and a half ago, we shared my living room makeover. It was something I had been wanting to do for years and was so excited to finally make it happen! Not a lot has changed in that room since then. Mostly because life’s just too busy, and once I finally get around to doing a room, it’s probably going to stay that way for a while. (Although there’s definitely things I want to change, I just have other rooms that I need to do before I go back to a “finished” room). I try to pick things that I think I might like for quite a while, just because I know it’ll probably be in my house for a long time, and thankfully I’m still happy with most of the things in this room. (Now if only I could figure out how to get it to stay clean with 3 boys living here…).
Since sharing that post, probably one of the most frequently asked questions we’ve had is about the sofa that Mike made. I originally had not planned on doing a DIY for it, because I knew it was a more involved project, and it’s definitely a lot more work for Mike to build something as a DIY – there’s always a photographer lurking around, making him stop every other step. 😏 So I just gave him my design, and he brought in the finished sofa with no interruptions to his work. But I guess I should have known better, every project needs to be a DIY! 😉 So here we are, almost two years later, sharing the DIY for that sofa for those of you that have asked for more details and photos. Our sofa was built & designed around using the seat cushions from our old couch, so all measurements came from working with those cushions. If you don’t have old cushions to use, you can use foam (it can be pretty pricey though). I do want to note that because we did not plan to share this as a DIY, we don’t have true “process” photos; I tried to get as many photos of the sofa details as possible though. And Mike is a carpenter, so he has a lot of tools, and just knows how to build basically everything, so this one is a little more on the complicated side. And I’ll also note that he’s the best, because of all the time he spent not only making this for me the first time around, but then going back and figuring out all the steps for making it so I could share it here.
For those wondering why the back of the sofa looks completely different, I had been trying out different types of stains, but ended up just liking what we originally picked. And since the sofa was going up against the wall, I just left it. And I’m currently still looking for that can of stain so I can let you know what we finished our sofa with, but as of right now, I don’t know what stain we used, sorry!DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythought

– 3 – 2x10x12′
– 2 – 2x6x8′
– 3/4″ plywood
mitre box or circular saw
table saw
dado blade
power planer
– sawhorses
– clamps – 30” span
– wood glue
– framing square
jig saw
– drill
– 2-1/2-inch and 3-inch drywall screws
– 1/2″ hardwood plugs
– staple gun + staples
– old sofa cushions or foam
– fabric
DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtCut one 73″ and two 32″ pieces out of each of the 2×10’s.
With a table saw cut about 3/8″ off from each edge of all 9 of the pieces so that you remove the rounded edges.
Using a power planer remove the saw marks on the edges, making sure to keep the edges square.
Using the table saw with a dado blade shimmed to be the width of your 3/4″ plywood, cut a 1/2″ deep dado down the center of one edge of each piece (you may want to put an x on the side that you run against the fence in case the dado is not exactly centered). Take a 73″ piece and two 32″ pieces and cut a dado on the other edge, making sure to put the side with the x against the fence.

Cut two pieces of 3/4″ plywood 15/16″ wide by 73″ long and 4 pieces 15/16″ by 32″ long.

On sawhorses, set up your three 73″ pieces with the x side up and the piece with the 2 dado’s in the middle. Get your clamps and apply wood glue into the dado of the bottom piece on each side of the dado, spreading the glue around inside the dado with your finger so it will not drip out. Slide the plywood into the glued dado. Repeat with the top piece. Glue both dados on the middle piece, spreading the glue. Slide the top and bottom pieces with the plywood sticking out into the dado’s. Use your clamps to tighten the joints together. Use a straight edge to see if it is flat across the three boards, moving the clamps up or down will help (or if this does not work, clamp straight boards above and below with c clamps to make it straight).
Repeat the process with the 32″ pieces.

Using a framing square, clamp a board at one end of the 73″ piece so that when you run the base of your circular saw against it, you’ll be cutting an inch off of the end. Measure 71″ from that end and make a line. Clamp your straightedge so that your saw will cut to that line.
Repeat this with the 32″ pieces so that they end up 29-1/2” long. Use circular saw to cut the two arm pieces to 27″ tall. Cut back piece to 21″ tall.DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtUsing the table saw, cut a 1/2″ x 1-1/2” rabbit out of the back of the arm pieces on the inside. Cut one of the 2×6 pieces to 70-1/8” long.
Cut 3/4″ x 7/8″ rabbit out of one of the edges, the 3/4″ being half the thickness of the board.DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtDIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtThe top of the arm rest is 21″ tall starting at the front and going back 12”, and 27″ tall starting from the back and coming forward 8”. Draw a line up 21” in the front that goes back 12”, adding in the curve of the arm from there up to top at the 8″ line from the back. Draw a 3″ radius curve from the 21″ line to the front of the leg. Cut along the line using jig saw.

On the bottom of the leg draw a line 3-1/2” from the front and the back of the leg, then draw a line 3-1/2” up from the bottom of the leg. Between these two lines draw a 3″ radius line at the corners where the lines meet. Use a jig saw to cut along these lines.
Repeat these steps with the other leg.

Mark out for your 1/2” holes along the back of the leg, marking 3/4” in from the back and coming down 2″, 6.5″, 11″, 15.5″, 20″ . Drill the 1/2″ holes 3/8″ deep and then drill the rest of the way through with a 3/16″ drill bit. Repeat on other leg.

On the front of the leg measure up 6.5″, 8″, 9.5”; making marks 1″ back from the front of the leg. Drill 1/2″ and 3/16″ holes like in the back. Repeat on other leg.
Glue and screw (using 3-inch screws) the back to the legs keeping the top edges flush.
Glue and screw (using 3-inch screws) the rabbited 2×6 across the front of the couch with the rabbit on the inside and up.
The bottom of this front rail should be 5.5″ from the bottom of the leg and the front of the rail should be recessed back 1/4″ from the front of the leg.DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtCut the other 2×6 in half and determine how much slope you want your sofa cushion to have.
Cut one piece to fit across the back of the sofa and pre-drill with 3/16” drill bit and screw (using 2-1/2-inch screws) it to the back at the appropriate height. Cut the other piece to make two pieces that will go along the sides. Pre-drill (3/16” drill bit) and screw (2-1/2 inch screws) with the top flush with the bottom of the rabbit in the front and the top of the support in the back.

Sand and finish as desired.DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtDIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtDIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtCut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to fit into the frame leaving about 3/16-inch all the way around for the fabric. Cut fabric to size as needed. Lay fabric on floor and center cushions (or foam) on fabric. Place plywood on top of cushions. Wrap fabric tightly around cushions and board, wrapping the ends like you would a gift. Staple fabric to board. Set cushions into sofa.DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtDIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtDIY Wood Sofa @themerrythoughtWhat about you, do you change things up frequently in your house? Or do you tend to leave things the same for long periods of time? You can find the tutorial for the picture ledge here and the tutorial for the magnetic poster rails here.



Back to School | 2017 Edition @themerrythoughtAnd just like that, we’re finally welcoming in another school year. By the end of summer I was definitely feeling ready for school to start. The boys needed a break from each other and I needed to be able to work effectively again! But it still always feels bittersweet to send them off. I love each new stage they enter, and can definitely appreciate the little bit of ‘freedom’ that comes with older kids; but gosh, somedays I’m missing those baby & toddler stages so much. Sadly, all the cliche phrases that the moms of older kids say are true. And now I’m one of those “old moms” wanting to tell all the mamas with crying babies in the store, it goes by too fast, enjoy it while you can! 😏 But then again, I’m also not complaining about being in the store kid-free! 😉 Haa! Just one of those things I think I’ll forever feel back & forth on.
So here’s the boys annual pictures (I actually never remembered to post last year’s because of our trip out to CA right after school started up 😞. Thankfully I have the photos and their favs/answer written down). I love looking back on these – this is the first year that Linc said something other than farmer for what he wanted to be. Feeling sad about that, but it’s cute he wants to be like his daddy. And Levi just wants to be like his big brother…Back to School | 2017 Edition @themerrythoughtBack to School | 2017 Edition @themerrythoughtBack to School | 2017 Edition @themerrythoughtThanks for putting up with my mom-blog posts! Promise not to throw too many of these in…😉


  • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 9:25 pm

    Ivory - You have some handsome young men.ReplyCancel

    • Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 11:49 am

      Manda - Thanks Ivory! 🙂ReplyCancel


DIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtThe weather around here has been feeling very fall-ish for the last couple weeks, so even though we haven’t even hit the official first day of autumn yet, we’re feeling ready for it a lot sooner than we normally would. And with the start of a new season comes the excitement of all the upcoming seasonal parties and gatherings! As part of our Michaels Makers challenge this month, we put together these simple leather & wood bead napkin rings – a perfect touch to your fall table. We also picked up a few other fall decor goodies for our table from Michaels while we were there – pretty much everything on the table came from Michaels (including the gorgeous wood and marble cutting board!).
DIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtMaterials:
-leather lace
-wood beads
-cloth napkins
DIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDirections:
-Cut leather lace to length, we made ours 10″ long.
-Thread the ends of the leather through the wood bead from opposite sides.
-Tie knots in the ends of the strings.
-Loosen loop to slide over napkins and pull knots to tighten it around them.
DIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtDIY Leather Napkin Rings @themerrythoughtWhat are you looking forward to this fall? Food? Decor? Cool weather? We’re thinking all of the above sound good (as long as it doesn’t get too cool, too fast – ha!).

xo. Caitlin & Manda

delicious cheese care of Sartori Cheese


Last winter at one of the coffee shops in Rochester I tried a lavender cardamom steamer and from then on I would go out of my way to swing by there anytime I was in the city to grab one for myself. Steamers are always so soothing and I loved the mix of the two flavors. Since it’s not quite cold enough for steamers (although the cold sure seems to be rolling in quickly this year) and I have a huge bush of lavender growing in the backyard – I decided to try out a mocktail using those two flavors! I added a little egg white to give it a bit of the creaminess of the steamer. This drink is SO good.Lavender Cardamom Fizz
2 tbsp lavender cardamom simple syrup
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg white
Dash bitters
Club soda

Add simple syrup, juice, egg white, and bitters to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until frothy. Strain into glass. Add club soda as desired.

Lavender Cardamom Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp dried lavender
1 tbsp crushed up cardamom (pod and seeds)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and let steep for about thirty minutes. Strain and let cool completely. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.xo. Caitlin

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