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the best recipe


This is the best recipe I think I’ve ever seen, and for so many reasons!! I love that it is my hubby’s great grandmother’s recipe for her famous drool-worthy cinnamon rolls. I never met her but I know that she was an amazing woman through the stories she left behind.

My father-in-law wrote out the recipe on notebook paper as Great Grandma Ross taught my mother-in-law how to make the rolls from scratch. I love his little doodle of her up in the corner! :) frazzled? My husband was only a baby then! I adore the little comments throughout the recipe of life happening behind the scenes and the butter and coffee stained paper. I imagine them all in her old farmhouse kitchen with flour and sugar strewn everywhere. The house filled with the scents of fresh brewed coffee and baking bread with a babe at their feet.

There are so many wonderful memories that have been shared with me, attached to her and that farmhouse kitchen where everyone gathered year after year. So you see… This is not just a recipe scratched out on a piece of paper, but a story of a woman with a teaching spirit and hands that made “the world’s best cinnamon roll.” I never met her but I get a glance into what she would be like through this messy scribble. I have a feeling she and I would have hit it off. :)


  • Luke saylor - October 19, 2014 - 6:19 pm

    I am the father in law who wrote out the recipe all those years ago. Alissa is right on the mark in her description of the kitchen ,the coffee brewing and fresh baked smells everywhere. And she would have got along famously with my Grandmother who left a void in our lives that can never be filled when her time came to meet her God.I think these two ladies will meet one day and exchange recipes. Thank you,Alissa ,for putting this on your blog. you bring back memories for me as well and honor Lydia Ross in a special way!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - October 30, 2014 - 4:46 pm

    i adore this. my mother gave me a cookbook filled with old recipes from my grandmother, and with them, she gave me to copies of the recipes in her native German. one day, i hope to leave a legacy that makes people say such beautiful things about me. :)ReplyCancel

A summer day


Dan and I are big time family people. Which is why our move from Michigan to Tennessee six years ago was a huge surprise for everyone! The urge to move and the actual move came on so fast that we had no idea what had happened once the dust settled and we found ourselves alone, newlywed, in a whole different world.  No family, no friends. The first year was really rough and then the following couple of years were spent figuring out who we were as individuals and as a couple.  We found a great church and started making friends.

Fast forward to now… (that was the quickest I’ve ever told that story BTW)

We have friends who have become our family when we desperately need that type of community. A community that is safe. We’ve felt deeper relationships than we ever thought possible without being blood.  God has blessed us beyond comprehension throughout these last six years.  We both have our dream jobs and are surrounded by amazing people.  This is not to say that we don’t miss our families back home with all our beings. We do. But these family-like friends, this framily ;), help ease the sting.

That was all just a really long lead up into me telling you about our wicked fun memorial day shenanigans over at the Johnson’s last month. It was a good good day. One where the fun didn’t end till the sun was long gone… full of good food, kids squealing and screaming in the water, babies in the buff, awesome conversations, bonfire, and s’mores. It was an epic summer day. One that I will hold on to forever!



  • Rebecca - June 29, 2014 - 12:20 pm

    I can relate to this so much… We don’t live close to our families either and our church family really has become family! These pictures are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - June 30, 2014 - 10:01 am

    oh oh! this post makes me so weepy! (not only because we MISSED it, but because i love all of you so much! we can’t wait for you to get home. :)ReplyCancel

good morning, my darlin, to you!

I’m a morning girl for sure! Like wake-up-singing-and-dancing kind of morning girl. Every morning I head straight outside to water my [mini] garden and stare in wonder at how much bigger my veggie plants are from yesterday morning! Maybe it’s because my garden is still new and exciting, but I really love these mornings. They are special. The sunrise peeking up behind my coop lights my tiny yard to a golden haze and there is a dove… I haven’t seen her yet, but I hear her every morning. She makes my heart swell with her melody. She reminds me of my grandparents house when I was little. Of a time when I hadn’t a single care or worry in the world.

I remember laying poolside with my plastic inflatable floaties wrapped around each arm. Maybe they had butterflies on them? I think they were pink. I would sit, palms flat on the ground so that I could feel the heat of the sun baked bricks that surrounded the pool. I would close my eyes and think about nothing but how good that sun felt, and how the sounds of the breeze in the trees and the distant cicada made me happy. And there she was… that dove. Singing her song over and over. I would have sat there still, listening to her forever.

I miss being that young. There were zero responsibilities. Ever since Hope Spoken a couple months ago, Mathew 6:26 has been constant in my mind.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

I have to work harder to find those places of quiet and peace now, but they are still here. Little reminders in my everyday pull me back to that childlike wonder. It’s not easy to comprehend, but it is true. We are more important to our heavenly Father than these things that are filled with His magnificence. MORE important. The way the birds and the rising sun make me overcome with joy… I bring a greater joy to my Father.

I wonder if he watches me the way I watch my growing garden in awe. :)


Here are a few pics from my backyard. And one of the ironing board in my kitchen. I have a thing for light. :)

morning light Alissa Saylor - Darling Louiebackyard Alissa Saylor - Darling Louiebackyard garden Alissa Saylor / Darling Louie
tomato plant Alissa Saylor - Darling Louiesunflower seedlings Alissa Saylor - Darling Louiegreen bean vine Alissa Saylor - Darling Louie



  • amanda - May 6, 2014 - 10:59 am

    oh how i needed to read this today. phew…..thank you for this. it’s like food for my soul.ReplyCancel

Hope Spoken 2014

Last weekend. Wow. I had every intention of writing this post the second I got home. I wanted to unleash everything, my thoughts and excitement about what I learned at the Hope Spoken conference. But. Then I didn’t. I am so overwhelmed by what I took away. I don’t even know where to start! I keep reading through my notes, trying to sum up my weekend with a theme that God laid on my heart, but instead I feel like God whispered (and sometimes roared) ideas to apply in every nook and cranny of my life. Too much to organize into this post… or even two or three.

I like these words from a sweet new friend I met at the conference:  “…still feeling a bit overwhelmed, but my justification is that anyone who was there and has a heartbeat likely feels the same way…” I know that doesn’t help you understand what happened in that hotel in Dallas, TX last weekend, but it’s validation that I am not the only one who was so moved beyond words.

I want to share. I want to tell every inch of my heart and all that was and has been flooding my mind. So I will just start… one idea at a time. One post at a time. I hope my thoughts are not too scattered for you to follow along.

I want to say, first off, that I was blown away by the rawness and vulnerability from every woman I encountered. None of us are perfect and I never once felt like anyone wanted to portray that they had it all together. The second we were all under one roof we were turned inside out and exposed to all that God had in store for us. One of my favorite tangible experiences was during worship. While the worship was amazing and completely saturated with God’s presence, it nearly made we weep to hear 200-something women raise their voices in song without abandon. 200-something women crying out for the same thing….more of Him.  200-something hearts uniting with Jesus, one by one.  My eyes are hot with tears again just remembering such a precious sound.

I went into last weekend not knowing what I was hoping for. “Open minded,” someone said. “That’s a good thing.” So I went with it. You know how sometimes you feel like your walk is really good? You’re in a good place and there is no immediate turmoil that needs sorting out, you’re just… satisfied. Even though Dan and I are in the midst of dealing with infertility, I still felt satisfied. Looking back it feels a bit ignorant or smug. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to learn something. I wanted God to show Himself in a big way… and He did. Absolutely. But I almost had a feeling of “I don’t have anything that needs healing right now.”

That couldn’t be farther from the truth!

On the last night of the conference the enemy found a way to slip a thought into my head and I allowed it to fester there until it destroyed my joy. It wasn’t till after a conversation with one of my best friends and my small group the next morning that I realized I have a serious insecurity problem. I knew I was insecure about the normal things women feel insecure about…sure. But I am terrified of anger. I am terrified of being someone that others fear. I am terrified of the person I used to be. I’ve come to a place over the last couple of years where God has healed my angry heart,  but the devil uses my scars to tell me that I am still the same person. In response I beat myself up until I believe the lies and I’m convinced that I am worthless. I can see now where I have allowed this time and time again. This is a problem. My friend was in tears trying to convince me of the person she knows me to be… and she knows me VERY well. She doesn’t know the old me. She can’t be clouded by who I used to be, which is my biggest fear with people from my past. She only knows me now.

My small group leader encouraged me to dig into the word and find truth. To meditate on scripture that can replace the lies. A huge theme throughout the weekend for many women was to be still… let God tell you who you are. How He sees you. That is the truth. That is what matters.

Pslam 139:13-14 immediately started flowing through my thoughts. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And then I read this…

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 139: 1-6

It is ok that His love doesn’t always make sense to me. He understands my confusion and loves me anyway. He created me to be beautiful in His eyes. I need to trust in that when I start to doubt my worth. I am everything to Him!

I’m not sure how to wrap up this post since there is still so much that I want to share. I will hopefully continue to process my thoughts and be able to put them down in this blog as the year goes on. One great point that someone made is that these stories and experiences… they are not ours, but God’s. They are His stories through us, and they need to be told.

xo liss


  • Rebecca Wagler - April 5, 2014 - 10:30 am

    Alissa.. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. Wish Texas wasn’t so far aay. I can’t wait to meet you in June!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - April 5, 2014 - 11:19 am

    lady…you are making me cry! it was a beautiful weekend, and your heart reflects that. those scriptures are power! love you, and will stand beside God’s truth of your new self anytime you need to hear it.ReplyCancel

unedited life

Lent starts today. Every year I see so many people deciding to fast some sort of social media or all of social media as a way of cleansing and refreshing their lives and relationships. If you talk to any of my close friends you know that I agree with this decision, but that is not exactly what I want to talk about here, nor is Lent.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about social media and how it affects my relationships. It is both a hindrance and a blessing! I know there are people who are against all forms of social media, so let me talk about the great aspects first

If you do not already know this about me, I am a full time photographer and I travel a lot for my job. This would not be possible for me if it wasn’t for Facebook and Instagram and God (of course!). Let’s face it… I am not a very business savvy gal. I am introverted and awkward in person if I don’t know you, but I am able to feel like myself when I write! Some of my best connections have been made over social media and I have met truly amazing people! I’ve been able to make and maintain long distance relationships and feel like I am a part of those lives who are so far away.

A very specific blessing for me has been the power of prayer and camaraderie… a familiar story… a common belief. This past fall I shared about our struggle with infertility. The response from all of you was overwhelming! We can and are enriching each other’s lives when we share our stories openly and encourage each other. I do believe that social media has strengthened the ability to connect in this way.

On the other side, I’ve found what I call my “tangible” relationships becoming shallow. These are relationships in my real life. My here and now. Family and dear friends. The ones I can cry to and rejoice with and be the deepest, rawest form of myself with!

A couple months ago, I had a friend fast FB and IG for 20 days. During this time we had a phone conversation that opened my eyes to just how much social media has been a nuisance when it comes to my actual conversations with people. Because I knew that she had no idea what I had been up to, when she asked me what was going on… I told her. Everything. And it felt. so. good. I sent her pictures of a quilt I was making. I told her about new adventures Dan and I were dreaming up. We just chatted about life… about all the things any friends would chat about, but I had a revelation through that conversation. It felt so right because I knew she had no clue as to what I had been up to!

I feel like we have this weird expectation that if it’s online you should already know… taking the realness out of our relationships.

The fact that so many feel they need to give up social media for Lent shows me that there is a very real problem here. Even those, like myself, who see the good in it, want a break. But what happens when 40 days are over and we are sucked back in?

I don’t ever see myself jumping off the FB or IG train. But I do want to change my mentality around it. Lately I have been purposely avoiding going out of my way to catch up with my “tangibles” via social media. I might see something here and there, but I want to regain realness in those relationships. It is my goal to find a balance between social media and life. It will be trial and error, but I want to share with my friends and family what is going on in my life and I want them to share with me. Relationships need to be nurtured. A friend sent me an unedited picture of her boys playing in the sun in their living room one afternoon. There was no reason for her to send it. She just wanted to share with me a quick snapshot of her life. Another friend sent a postcard with some sweet words. Just because. These things are such small gestures in the big picture, but mean the world!

So it will be a long road of undoing and relearning and refocusing and reconnecting, but I am excited for heartfelt and unedited conversations over tea or a long walk or even a hand written letter for those who are not as close as I would like. Will you join me?


  • Lea Ciceraro - March 5, 2014 - 5:58 pm

    Love. Totallllly with you on ALL of this. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words and sharing it with all. I’d also love to get to know you more via text/phone/snail mail/in-person/courier pigeon… Whatever! There’s so much more to a person than the little tidbits that get posted on social media. Calling all my best girlfriends tomorrow… :) xoxoReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:49 am

      courier pigeon! lol. I love it! That will be my preferred method of sending letters. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Wagler - March 5, 2014 - 6:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I am thankful for many aspects of social media, but know, as with everything else in life, it requires balance. I try to be careful what I share and how often and I’m always learning. I can’t wait to meet you in person in June :) But for now, online will have to do :)ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:47 am

      I can’t wait to meet you either!! It will be so much fun! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Monique Porter - March 5, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Oh Alissa, though I don’t know you in person you are tugging on my heart strings with this. I too, have a love/hate with social media; however, I won’t be giving it up but rather being more present and not letting it be the first thing I think to do. I love that you are so honest. You inspire me to also focus on being so much more present than I sometimes am with my relationships. I look forward to meeting you soon!ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:33 am

      Monique! Thank you for commenting! That is my struggle. Finding a way to be more present… Good luck to you! I so hope we get to meet soon! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Jenny - March 5, 2014 - 7:08 pm

    I love this, Liss! I am a believer in letters and cards and I’m always trying to get better and keeping in touch in a more personal way. I definitely need to work on actually calling people… Talking on the phone is not my strong suit! I especially like the idea of unedited conversations. Everything on social media is so carefully crafted. (Perhaps I should have called you to tell you all this!! :) ) Great blog, girl!! xo!ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:45 am

      hahaha! You are so good at sending little heartfelt things in the mail. It gives me the biggest smile when I see a package or envelope with your name on it at my front door!! You have inspired me to start using snail mail again!!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - March 6, 2014 - 8:43 am

    did you decide to fast these things for Lent, as well? i think our trip at the end of this month is going to reach a new dynamic, and i’m super super excited! i am not fasting them this year, but i will fast them during our weekend adventure. excellent post….i like what you said at the end about our “tangibles”. i’m taking this to heart.ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:43 am

      No, I’m not giving them up for lent either. I am so so pumped for our trip!! Spending amazing time with you ladies and soaking up all God has in store for that weekend! I can’t wait! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Grandma VanOstrom - March 12, 2014 - 10:35 am

    I love your blog. You have a gift for expressing your thoughts.
    So inspiring. We’re excitedly anticipating some “tangible” time with you and Dan very soon.ReplyCancel

  • katy - March 12, 2014 - 11:10 pm

    You are so beautiful! I am so excited for your future and all the blessings to come. You are gifted in writing AND photography?! Shine on, girl!ReplyCancel

  • kelsey - March 14, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    alissa-i looooved this! i am a “positive looker” which means that i only want to see the positives about social media-which i totally agreed with you on! but you hit the nail on the head with the fact that i simply don’t take the time to catch up with SO many people because we all feel that if it is out there in a picture or post-the world knows. like right now-thankful for this post-but would love to take 5 minutes to call you and chat about everything going on in your life sweet friend!!! hope all is well!!! you are a breath of fresh air my friend!!!! xoxoxoxoReplyCancel