Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Picking with Ella


A few weeks ago I had the privilege of driving for the first grade field trip.  Destination?  Ellijay, Georgia.  Ellijay is way up in Northern Georgia, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It sits near the beginning (or end) of the Appalachian Trail.  The only way there is a handful of county roads. Fill your tank before you leave. There's not a gas station in sight.

Besides its picturesque countryside, Ellijay is known for this:  Apple Picking.


Don't you just love walking into one of those roadside apple houses?
The smell of apples...


local honey.....


... Moonshine Jelly?

You've gotta love The South.
I thought about buying a jar, but I wasn't sure how well a Peanut Butter and Moonshine Jelly sandwich would go over in the school cafeteria.  Maybe next year.  I'll have to check with the administration.


But we didn't come to go shopping, we came to pick apples!


Despite the fact that for the first three years of our married life we lived on Apple Orchard Road where there was an actual, thriving apple orchard at the end of the street, I had never before actually picked my own apples.  I guess I wasn't completely domesticated yet.  We just went there to buy apple pie.  


Picking apples was completely fun  - especially once we found the row with low-hanging fruit.


It's all in the wrist.  Pull and twist.


Here's a little tip:  Bring a backpack. 


Especially when you're left holding all the bags!


As if apple picking wasn't enough, there were animals, too!


It's always nice to be able to visit animals, especially when the conversation at home usually goes like this:  


"Mom, can we have a pet pig?"
"No."


"A baby cow?"
"No."


"Bunnies?"
"No."


"A baby goat?"
"Really, sweetie, I would let you, but the homeowner's association doesn't allow them..."


But maybe we'll plant an apple orchard, 
because it's just so beautiful with you in it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Remodeling the Bathroom - Day 14


In case you've been wondering where I've been all week, here it is.  After twelve years of hem-ing and ha-ing (and the fact that the shower was a mere moments away from springing a leak), we made the spur of the moment decision to remodel our bathroom. They started the next day.  That gave me exactly one day to empty out all of the bathroom cabinets, throw away garbage bags full of products and free samples that I will never use and decide how I was going to exist for the next who-knows-how-many days without my sink, without my shower, and without full accessibility to my closet.  I packed up what I needed (and what was previously stored in all the bathroom drawers and cabinets) into boxes and put them in our bedroom.

Ripping out the shower and all the bathroom tile and the countertops and replacing them with something resembling the 21st century was a huge undertaking, but they managed to finished all the tile work by the end of week one.

Week Two:  Painting.  What seemed to be the easy part of the job - the icing on the cake have you, turned out to be the that of which nightmares are made.  After beginning the project, it was discovered that under the existing Master Bathroom paint, existed not one, but multiple layers of wallpaper adhered to the walls by the original builders without proper sizing. What should have been a two day job turned into a week of scraping, scoring, steaming, mudding  and sanding.  I imagined the painters just not showing up one day - abandoning the job sight - cutting their losses - leaving for greener pastures - and leaving me with a big mess.  To their credit, however, they are still working away.

It brought back memories of our very first house on Apple Orchard Road.  Our very first house was built in 1970 with all original decorating intact:  Brady Bunch plaid wallpaper, gold appliances, kitchen carpet, bedroom shag and FOIL wallpaper!  The do-it-yourself-ers in us tackled the foil wallpaper with child-like innocence.  How hard could taking down wallpaper be?  In retrospect, we should have left it up and let the room serve a duo purpose:  Main Bath and Bomb Shelter.  Nothing could penetrate it.  We scraped the foil birds off in 1-inch pieces.  It was an act of love.  This was where we were going to build our lives together.  This was where we were going to live forever.

We moved three years later.


This is a glimpse of my brand new sink and countertop.
Hope that paint comes off!


While the mud was drying in the bathroom, the painters decided to forge ahead and paint the master bedroom.  This was not my original plan.  My original plan was to finish the bathroom, put everything neatly away in the drawers, take a refreshing shower, and THEN paint the bedroom.


This change of plans found my husband and I scrambling at 10PM to move everything that we had previously moved out of the bathroom and into our bedroom, out of our bedroom and into the 14-year old boy's bedroom.  That stuff, plus everything else that was in our bedroom.

Apparently, the new influx of clutter also gave the 14-year old boy license to not make his bed!


I'm pretty sure I vacuumed recently.


 I have no idea where we are going to sleep tonight.
(Did I mention that we're keeping a friend for the weekend?)

Hopefully, AFTER pictures will be posted soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Low Fat Pumpkin Muffins


October and April are the two best months in The South. The temperature is in the 70's, the leaves are ablaze with color and they don't fall off the trees in just a few short days like they seem to in The North.  Fall color in The South will linger until almost Thanksgiving!    

I'm happily working my way though my pantry full of pumpkin and tried this fairly guilt-free, light and flavorful pumpkin muffin recipe from Ellie Kreiger.  She's the cooking world's counterbalance to Paula Deen.


I love recipes with a bit of a surprise.  This recipe's unexpected element is pumpkin seeds!  The pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are sprinkled on top of the batter before baking and tie in another element of the pumpkin, in addition to giving the muffin a bit of wholesome crunch.  Some of the benefits of pumpkin seeds include lowering cholesterol, decreasing arthritis inflammation and improving prostate health.


But you don't need pumpkin apologetics to justify eating these muffins.  
They're just plain good!



Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Ellie Kreiger, Food Network

Ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (or ginger)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey or molasses)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, agave nectar, oil, eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla.  Whisk in the flour mixture 1/2 at a time.  Whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cook on a wire rack for 15 minutes.




THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYSMOUTHWATERING MONDAYSMADE BY YOU MONDAY,MINGLE MONDAY , HOME SAVVY A TO ZTUESDAYSMUSHKI LOVES MY STUFF TUESDAYS AND THE TABLE, TEMPT MY TUMMY TUESDAY,TWO MAIDS A BAKING, TIP JUNKIE ,GET YOUR CRAFT ON, CRAZY SWEET TUESDAYS!  TEA PARTY TUESDAY  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX WEDNESDAYSSHOW AND TELLWORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAYTHIS CHICK COOKSLADY BEHIND THE CURTAINGINGER SNAP CRAFTS,  THURSDAYS IT’S A KEEPER THURSDAYSSTRUT YOUR STUFFFULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTY, THRIFTY THURSDAYS  FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYGROCERY CART CHALLENGEFOOD ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY POT LUCK, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,  SWEET TOOTH FRIDAY,,  FRIDAY FAVORITES,  FUSION FRIDAYS FRIDAY FOOD , BACON TIME SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFF SUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAYAWELL SEASONED LIFE

Sunday, October 23, 2011

iheartfaces | Let Them Be Little


After 14 years of raising pre-schoolers, it was hard for me to fathom that I no longer had any children that qualified for this week's photo challenge!  This beautiful little girl was on loan to me for a few precious moments in the pumpkin patch.  She is our pastor's granddaughter, Emmy.

To view more heart-warming, cheek squeezing photos of babies and toddlers, head over to I Heart Faces!




Saturday, October 22, 2011

We'll Miss You, Fuzzy




I never really understood the book, Stuart Little. I mean, a mouse that becomes part of a family?  It just didn't make sense. I couldn't believe that a 2-ounce rodent could steal it's way into a person's heart - even if he could talk!

Then Anna picked Fuzzy.  Fuzzy was the Dwarf Russian White Hamster that Anna chose for her 10th birthday.  Only the funny thing was, Anna didn't really pick Fuzzy, Fuzzy picked her.  When Anna reached into the box of baby hamsters at the pet store, Fuzzy crawled right out of her litter and into Anna's hands - an unusual act of friendship for an animal so small.

As time went on, I began to push aside my skeptical thoughts and started picking up Fuzzy for a moment - talking to her -  saying good-night to first her and then Anna. As I learned to love Anna's hamster, I was learning to love Anna just a little bit more.

And so, this morning, after we discovered that Fuzzy had passed away quietly in her sleep, I found myself needing to to give the ridiculous explanation to the other moms at the middle school car wash as to why my sunglasses covered tears. A small little mouse-like creature had breathed it's last breath and I couldn't contain my sadness.

Later this morning, we gathered as a family around the piano and sang Michael Jackson's song, "Ben."  We put Fuzzy in a padded box and buried her next to the sitting rock in our back yard.

It made me think. It this what motherhood is all about? Does becoming a mother require us to open our hearts so wide that even a tiny mouse could sneak in?  

Before I met Fuzzy, I could never have imagined one day crying over a mouse.  Before having kids, I could never have imagined loving someone so helpless, so completely.  And if opening my heart to a hamster enables me to love my child just a little bit more, then so be it.  It's certainly a risk worth taking.

We'll miss you, Fuzzy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Icing


We're remodeling our master bathroom, and from our previous experience with the kitchen, let me give you two words of advice that will make any home project run more smoothly: Coffee and Cookies. I mean, a contractor just can't argue with you when he has his mouth full of these soft, cake-like cookies with caramel icing. They're just too good! You'll be amazed at just how prompt the tile craftsmen are when they know that fresh, hot coffee,  is waiting for them.


Wouldn't you be?


These soft, cake-like delicious cookies remind me of the kind my grandma used to make.
A delicious autumn treat!



Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Icing
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup shortening ( I used Earth Balance)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups White Whole Wheat flour
  1. Cream shortening, sugar and pumpkin.  Add eggs and mix well.  Sift together the baking soda, ground cinnamon, salt and flour.  Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Drop from spoon to cookie sheet.  I used an ice cream scoop for even cookies.  These worked well as larger cookies because of their cake-like consistency.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Caramel Icing
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1  teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Cook butter, milk and brown sugar until dissolved.  Cool and add confectioner's sugar and vanilla.  Spread over warm cookies.



THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYSMOUTHWATERING MONDAYSMADE BY YOU MONDAY,MINGLE MONDAY , HOME SAVVY A TO ZTUESDAYSMUSHKI LOVES MY STUFF TUESDAYS AND THE TABLE, TEMPT MY TUMMY TUESDAY,TWO MAIDS A BAKING, TIP JUNKIE ,GET YOUR CRAFT ON, CRAZY SWEET TUESDAYS!  TEA PARTY TUESDAY  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX WEDNESDAYSSHOW AND TELLWORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAYTHIS CHICK COOKSLADY BEHIND THE CURTAINGINGER SNAP CRAFTS,  THURSDAYS IT’S A KEEPER THURSDAYSSTRUT YOUR STUFFFULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTY, THRIFTY THURSDAYS  FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYGROCERY CART CHALLENGEFOOD ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY POT LUCK, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,  SWEET TOOTH FRIDAY,,  FRIDAY FAVORITES,  FUSION FRIDAYS FRIDAY FOOD , BACON TIME SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFF SUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAYAWELL SEASONED LIFE

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smurf Pumpkins


I was driving down Main Street, admiring all the scarecrows at the Scarecrow Festival when I came across this creative entry by Mrs. Hull's second grade class:  Smurfville.  Are these not adorable?


Blue and white pumpkins.


Some happy.


Some scared. 
Some worried.


Some mad.


I know you want to make some!
Can you name them all?


I think I could have in 1980. 
Now the Smurfs are back!  
I guess that makes me officially retro!

And Mrs. Hull's Smurfs said:

Smurf unto others
as you would have them