Wednesday, September 26, 2012

apple cider walnut bread

Hey, remember how I told you we love bread around here?  It's still true.  You know, still true after the 2 days since I told you last.  This is our second loaf of this apple bread this week.  It is that good.  Delicious!  And no, it doesn't call for my mom's applesauce (Jenn, heh)!  It is, however, my mom's recipe.  And just to clear up something from the get-go, it is not a desserty-sweet bread like banana bread.  It does taste of apples, and a hint of spices, and is nutty.  And although there is cider and brown sugar in it, it is not super sweet.  So it makes a perfect grilled cheese sandwich if you use a sharp cheddar.  Yum!  If you would like to try it out, this recipe is geared for a bread machine.  But!  If you do not have a bread machine, just knead and let the bread rise twice over like any bread recipe.  Ok!  Gather these ingredients:
1 cup cider
2 T butter, cut into pieces
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 T vital gluten flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
2 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup chopped unpeeled apples
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts OR pecans
(mix the last 2 ingredients with 3 T of flour)
makes 1 1/2 lb loaf
Measure ingredients.  If you have a 2 year old handy, let her pack the brown sugar.
Place all ingredients into the bread machine, in order according to your bread machine's instructions.  Add in the apples and nuts at the fruit/mix-ins signal.
Use the whole wheat setting with light crust.  Do not use the delay setting.  And the beauty of the bread machine is that it does all your kneading and rising for you!  Sit back, enjoy the smells, and then stand ready with your knife!  It is terrific with butter, or like pictured here, cream cheese.  Hope you love it as much as we do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

little firsts

Before I had children, I knew that there are a lot of important firsts in a child's life.  What I didn't know until I became a mama was that while there are a lot of important firsts, there are a million little firsts that happen every day.  First steps, first words, and first days of school are all big and important.  But when you're with your children all the time, you start to see all the little firsts that can really make you realize how fast time really does go.  The first time they dump a measuring cup full of flour into a mixing bowl.  The first time they realize they can turn on the light switch standing on their tippy-tippy toes.  The first time they take off their own shirt.  The first time they eat an ice cream cone down to the very bottom.  It happens every day.  And this morning was the first time Rowan let me spend a little more time on her hair than just a ponytail.  She sat still and let me play around, and I realized she had enough hair for a french braid.  A messy french braid, but still.  I got a little choked up.  I'm not sure why.  But as I slid my fingers through her cornsilk fine hair, I realized I had a little girl, and she was far from being a baby anymore. 
The days are long around here.  But what they say is right.  The years are short.

Monday, September 24, 2012

the ten.5

1. My feet are cold currently, but I'm pretty happy about it.  Fall weather is the best!

2. I can't find my fall decoration box.  Yes, the fall box.  I have a Halloween box, and Thanksgiving box, AND a Fall box.  Is that so wrong?  And by the way: IT IS DRIVING ME INSANE THAT I CANNOT FIND IT.  My parents are visiting and my mom and I took about an hour to go through all my boxes to find it, but no.  It has fallen into the "moved twice in one year abyss."  It's a thing.

3.  Have you tried those refrigerator oatmeals that were all over Pinterest a while back?  Well, I did this week, and it is LOVE.  I made mine with my mom's homemade applesauce, and it was deeelicious.  Anything with my mom's homemade applesauce is deeelicious.

4.  Fletcher recently told me, "Mama, you have the biggest belly.  You win!" So yeah.  That's awesome.

5.  Remember the Fall box I can't find?  Well, it had my leaf garland that I had made last year in it, so I can't hang that up.  But maybe it's for the best, because I saw Rachel's dipped pine cones, and now I'm all for making a new garland! 

6.  I have a confession.  I watched the entire first season of "Revenge" in about a week's time.  Oh man.  I'm so uncool.  Such guilty pleasure tv right there.

7.  My husband's work ethic and drive are amazing.  I know, here I go making him look all awesome again.  He is, though.  He is the hardest worker I know, hands down.

8.  We love bread 'round here.  What, you don't look in the bread machine with a flash light to see if it's finished yet?  Maybe that's just us.

9.  My parents are visiting.  It makes our littles very happy. 

10. I am an apple snob.  Honeycrisp only, please.  It's apple season, and we're putting it in everything lately!  Soon to appear here: my mom's recipe for apple spice bread.  You will want it, trust me!  What is your favorite apple?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

all downhill from here

Figuratively.  I'm talking about how well our family walks start, and how much they just fizzle out, no matter how long or short they may be.  Fletcher and Rowan start out so gung-ho, so LET'S DO THIS THING.  Fletcher starts running out in front, and then circles back to us, over and over.  Rowan does the same, just in smaller circles.  We have a nice stroll, I take the time to stop and take pictures of flowers, and we all get a little fresh air.  And then.  AND THEN.  The workout for Brian and me begins!  Carrying them the rest of the way after they poop out.  And they are no little babies any longer! 
And yes.  That's how it ends.  Rowan being all lady-like and Fletcher wearing my scarf.  But we'll do it all over again.  Again and again.  We love walks!  No, really, we do.

first fire

The real reason I love the cooler weather that is finally coming in: fires in the fireplace.  It was finally cold enough to have one over the past weekend!  Hooray!  One reason we got this house was because it has a fireplace AND a woodburning stove.  After we signed the lease, we found out the fireplace has a tricky damper on it, and we may smoke out the house if we use it.  So that's not great.  But we still have the woodburning stove, so Brian stacked it up with kindling, and started a nice roaring fire.  It really warmed up our chilly damp house, and we all gathered around with popcorn to watch the crackling licks of flames. 
Brian said he appreciated how the woodburning stove showed the fire in letterbox, ha! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

too cool

Sometimes, getting a good picture of both the littles seems like an impossible task.  So I make the best of things.  Or I just have fun trying to make the best of things.

Monday, September 17, 2012

pumpkin apple muffins + crumb topping

It all started as a problem.  What to do with the leftover pumpkin after I made a batch of pumpkin spice lattes?  I of course thought of the usual pumpkin spice muffins that are so super easy to make by adding a can of pumpkin to a box of spice cake mix.  That's it, so easy!  But I didn't have a whole can.  What I did have was 2/3 a can, and in the fridge just a bit of my mom's really really delicious homemade applesauce.  So I figured that will make up the difference for moisture.  And then.  I am preeetty obsessed over crumb topping.  So I decided to add that right on top for extra deliciousness.  And they were extra delicious, trust me.  So what are you waiting for?  Go make these.

1 box spice cake mix
2/3 can pumpkin
1/2 cup apple sauce (or omit and use the whole can of pumpkin)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon butter
makes 24 muffins
Combine the cake mix, pumpkin, and apple sauce.  Mix well (mixer or by hand).
Pour into muffin cups, filling half way.
Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter.  Cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Sprinkle topping over the muffins, and bake for about 25 minutes at 350, until toothpick comes out clean. 
Yum!  They were eaten up by Brian's soldiers, so I wasn't tempted to eat. them. all.
*Last year I made pumpkin spice nutella muffins, if you are interested. 
*And another pumpkin recipe from last year: toasted pumpkin ravioli + goat cheese sauce.

Friday, September 14, 2012

nightmares and ghost stories

My littles have nightmares once in a while.  It's not what you think.  No masked men chasing them, or anything an adult would find terrifying.  Rowan recently woke up screaming, "Give me back my popsicle!  No, no! It's mine!!"  The biggest problem is introducing them into reality and getting them to shake off what happened in the dream. 

One morning I heard Fletcher jump out of bed and run full force down the hallway to the family room.  Then he came into our room crying.  Apparently, in his dreams, it was Christmas.  So he was expecting the presents and toys left by Santa.  Oh, that was a hard morning, let me tell you. 

Rowan woke up in the middle of the night crying earlier this week.  When I went into her room, her arms were stretched as high as they would go, up the wall.  She was crying, "Jesus is coming down!"  Now some of you might see this as an apocolyptic/rapture dream, but since we are Catholics, I knew she meant the crucifix in her room.  I had to show her that Jesus was still firmly attached to the wall (a different wall all together) and she went happily back to sleep. The apocolyptic implications didn't even occur to me until morning, ha!

And then there are the ghosts.  I don't actually think we live in a haunted house.  No.  If I believed that we probably wouldn't live here anymore because I get the heeby-jeebies very easily.  But.  Ever since Fletcher could talk, he has told us some creeeepy things.  When we moved here, he talked about the little boy crying in his room.  I think he's talking about himself (I hope) but who knows?  I kept asking why the little boy was crying, and he told me that the little boy's mama left (like I do after he gets tucked into bed).  And then there's the one that's not easily explained.  He talks about the man who wears a hat with a feather and who tells him the story of the three ships that sailed out of sight (shudder). 

And then Rowan.  She will wake up in the middle of the night and have one sided conversations.  Like, "Hi, I'm Rowan!"  And, "Well, we live here too!"  And, "Yes!  Mama and Papa are in their bed!"  Gah.  Don't tell them where I am, Rowan!!!!  Seriously, I think she's just practicing talking and conversing, and I think she would be scared if someone was in her bedroom, not chatty. 

It all started back when we lived in our house in Illinois.  It was built in 1865, so of course it crossed my mind that it *might* be just a wee bit haunted.  And then Fletcher started talking, and pointing to the corner in his room telling me, "Scared me!"  Yikes.  Now I just think that their dreams bleed over into their first waking hours, not that ghosts are visiting.  But I'll let you decide for sure.

Do you have any nightmare/ghost stories to share?  Tis' the season! I love hearing other people's stories, I just prefer them not to happen to me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

hermann, mo

We had planned on spending last weekend catching up on things around the house after our Labor Day weekend trip.  So we did that on Saturday.  And by Saturday afternoon, we had ants in our pants to go somewhere.  We don't stay put very well, which is probably why Brian is in the Army.  If you have a minute, I could fill you in on all the places he's lived in the world.  If you have a week, he could fill you in.  Even though I'm the one with the blog, Brian is the storyteller in our family. 

Well, geez, guess it rubs off a little because boy did I DIGRESS.  Anyway.  We found somewhere to go on Sunday!  Hermann is over an hour from us (like everything) and is a beautiful old town that was settled by Germans originally.  So between all the wineries, breweries, bakeries and chocolatiers, we like.  We found a country festival to stroll through, and the littles were DELIGHTED at the trolley bus that drove around town.  Mostly because they got to ride up front on the dash.  A great idea to have public transportation with all the boozeries that abound.  Also delightful to Fletcher?  Old farm tractors and equipment.  He is in love with anything that has gears or is on wheels.

We will be back, Hermann!  Next time maybe sans kiddos so we can do some wine/beer tasting.  Plus the winding roads were not kind to Rowan.  Or the cute fall outfit she was wearing.  Now sit back and enjoy the onslaught of pictures. 
p.s.  Can I get an amen on wine is bottled poetry?
p.p.s. The farm animal above is an Alpaca.  Not a camel.  Also, Rowan moo'ed at the Alpaca, but it was not impressed.  Not a cow, Rowan.