Wednesday, October 31, 2012

halloween hustle

Well, it happened again this year.  The Halloween hustle.  When I hurry hurry to get my kid's costumes finished before trick or treat time.  This year I have the added pressure of getting them done before preschool starts.  Yikes! 

I know.  I could easily go buy costumes from the store.  And mostly this year, Rowan's costume will be store bought with just a few embellishments made at home.  But there is something just so fun about homemade costumes.  My mom made my costume every year.  Until I was old enough to make my own!  I love it.  So here's a sneak peek at Fletcher's costume this year (the homemade portion).  I can't wait to tell him all about how I stayed up til midnight the night before Halloween, with literally bleeding fingers, to make him this costume.  I'm sure he'll appreciate the story when he's a teenager, ha!
   Can you guess what he is?  We'll be adding a mask and a light saber later.  Is that a good enough hint?  And here are the costumes from last year.  Rowan would not keep on the homemade yarn wig for her Dorothy costume, but it wasn't worth the struggle.  I'm sure it will be the same story this year for the handmade component. 

Happy Halloween!  Hope yours is spooky fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


A big birthday for my Dad today!  Born the day before Halloween, he's a trickster all right.  At a young age my heart would beat faster just walking up the stairs because I never knew if he might jump out and scare me.  One night when Brian and I were first dating (I was in college and home for the holidays) Dad scared both of us by jumping out from behind the door when I was coming home late at night.  There is an argument as to whether Brian pushed me to get out of the way, but I'm sure that's not what happened, hehe. 

He got up and made breakfast for me and my brother every morning and packed our lunches.  Dad was the official chauffeur of the family, driving me and my friends here and there.  He taught, so in the summer we took long road trips across the country.  He loves road trips, and is currently on a road trip to Florida, where my parents live in the winter.  So he's spending his 70th birthday doing one of his favorite things: driving.

He's Bop to the littles, the best Dad to me, and Brian loves having a father in law that can direct him on woodworking and other manly endeavors like fishing and the best cars on the market. 

Happy birthday, Dad!  I hope you have the best birthday ever.  70 years young! 
(dad + me, circa 1978)

We love you! xoxo

Friday, October 26, 2012

the remnants of Fall

The leaves are on the ground now, but last weekend they were still clinging to the trees in gorgeous vibrant colors.  The temperature has plummeted, and I can feel winter's icy fingers grasping for a hold.  So now you get a fall-themed photo dump from our trip with Brian's parents to the fish hatchery from last weekend.  It is so beautiful there year round, but so far, this is my favorite season to visit the hatchery.  We feed the fish, marvel at the spring, and play on the playground.  It's a perfect Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

apple crisp + salted caramel sauce

Apple Crisp is a fall tradition in my family.  I usually make it a few times, and I'm never disappointed by how delicious such a basic recipe can be.  This is, however, the first time I added salted caramel, and it definitely went from delicious to decadent!  The caramel sauce gave me a bit of trouble, but in the long run, it is sooooo worth it.  We've been drizzling that sauce over everything since I've made it, and it's becoming apparent that I will have to make another batch soon!  Coffee, apple slices, ice cream... this sauce is my new best friend.

Apple Crisp
8 to 10 cups apples, roughly chopped (not peeled)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

tree tunnel

Disclaimer: the colors of the leaves peaked here last week, so there are lots of pictures of fall foliage I'll be sharing this week.  You're welcome.
Rowan and I spent a sunny morning at the park recently.  Rowan called this part of the park the "tree tunnel."  The colors were perfect.  Now the wind and rain has taken down many of the leaves, and the trees are starting to look like bare bones.  Just in time for Halloween. 

I feel like Fall is slipping through my fingers.  Halloween is in a week, and I'm still getting costumes together.  I blinked and October is coming to a close.  I thought I had the whole month to fit in pumpkin patch visits, hay rides, and Halloween parties.  And now it's going to have to be crammed into this one week.  Let's do this thing. 

Do you have plans for Fall activities before the end of October? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

easy bulb planting

I love tulips.  They are my hands down favorite flower.  When Brian and I honeymooned in Holland, I packed away a large variety of tulip bulbs to bring back with me.  We said goodbye to them in Illinois, but don't worry.  Both sets of parents have our honeymoon bulbs blooming in their yards every Spring, too.  But our current house had one lonely tulip that bloomed last spring, so I had to remedy that!  I have a quick tutorial on how to cut your planting time in half.  Of course it involves a power tool.
You'll need a hand drill with 1 1/2 inch drill bit.  You'll also need bulbs of your choice, and either bulb food or bone meal.  If you don't have a hand drill, you could use this old standby, but it will take a lot longer.
The standard for planting bulbs is to dig a 4 to 6 inch hole.  So get to drilling!  I taped my drill at 4 inches so that I knew where to stop, but it's not necessary, really.
Drill your holes, spacing them about 4 inches apart.  I worked with 3 to 4 holes at a time.  Sprinkle in a tablespoon of bulb food.
Cover the food with a thin layer of dirt, and stick in that bulb!
Fill the hole back in, tamp down, and you are finished!  I planted 50 bulbs yesterday in less than an hour.  Special thanks to Brian, who always shares his power tools with me.  And while I was planting?  My visiting mother in law raked leaf piles for the littles to jump into.
Those leaf piles occupied them for the rest of the day.  Hooray for Grandmas!
Are you planting bulbs?  What are your favorite spring bulbs?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

it rained

Last weekend, we went on a few adventures.  On Saturday, we went to a festival in a nearby town.  It was a gorgeous day, bright, cool, and breezy.  The colors of the trees were just amazing.  The littles smiled a lot, had fun, and I of course forgot my camera.  Oh, Ruthie.  We had fun anyway.  On Sunday, Brian decided we'd go to a nearby park to capture some of the fall colors.  On the way there, it started raining.  Pretty hard.  So the park was out.  But a drive in the country was in!  So we went exploring, and found more rainy countryside.  That's what you get in this neck of the woods.  A lot of countryside, and very little civilization.  Oh, and a snapping turtle in the middle of the road.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

pumpkin curry soup + herbed goat cheese biscuits

This is my favorite Fall soup.  My mom makes it every Autumn, and so do I now!  It is extra good with the addition of these cheesy herbed biscuits.  The soup wasn't a huge hit with the littles, but they did love the biscuits!  My mom uses real pumpkin sometimes, but it is delicious with the canned pumpkin, too.  If you're ready for the perfect meal for a chilly Fall day, this meal will do the trick!

Curry Pumpkin Soup
1 white onion
1 red pepper
1 stalk celery
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 can pumpkin (14 oz)
3 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 1/2 cup cream, or canned evaporated milk
1 to 2 T curry powder (or more if you like it spicy)
1 T chopped fresh sage, or 2 t dried
pepper to taste
serves 6

Herbed Goat Cheese Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 T fresh chopped herbs (I used rosemary, sage, and thyme)
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup cold buttermilk or milk
makes 10 to 12 biscuits

1. Chop up your vegetables, and saute them in the olive oil until just softened.  Add in the garlic and stir for a couple minutes.
2. Pour in the broth, cream, and pumpkin.  Stir well. 
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and heat on medium until steaming.  Do NOT boil. 
4. Once the soup is steaming, turn heat to low/simmer and cover.  Simmer for a half an hour to an hour.
5. To cream the soup, I used an immersion blender.  But if you do not have one, you can work in batches to cream the soup in a regular blender.  Be careful to cover your blender completely or you may find pumpkin soup in random places (sorry Karen!).
6.  Eat!

The biscuits:
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. Add the butter. Break up the butter into the flour with a fork or your fingers until the butter pieces are the size of peas.
3. Add the goat cheese and herbs, and stir in.
4. Add the milk, and stir just until it is mixed together.
5. Pour out the dough onto a floured area, and knead 10 times. If dough is sticky, add more flour.  I may or may not have yelled at my sticky dough.  It deserved it.
6. Flatten out into a 1 inch thick circle.
7. Using a biscuit cutter or a 2 inch wide glass, cut out your biscuits.
8. Bake for 10 minutes at 450.

Enjoy!  It's an easy, but tasty soup to make up and it tastes just like Fall!  The leftover soup makes a great sauce for a roasted cauliflower and chickpeas curry with rice.  So good.