Labor Day weekend – life in the fast lane!

Ok, maybe “fast lane” is a bit of an exaggeration, but we kept busy. On Friday (a day off) we went to the hair salon, appointments for everyone! Then we had friends over to play in the afternoon.

Saturday we braved the potential elements and headed for the apple orchard. We started with the corn maze, an annual favorite, then on to the apple orchard, then we were pleased to discover blueberries still ripe for the picking!


First things first, weighing ourselves on the giant scale.

lost maze

Lost in the corn maze?

running maze

Not for long! They’re off and running again!

lex reading

Lex stopped and read the story along the way, but the other two just plowed ahead.

lex apples

Lex is very efficient with his apple picking.


The moms doing the heavy lifting while the kids run ahead. Lex was nice enough to capture the moment for me. :)


I was so happy to find blueberries on the bushes!


We met another friend on the wagon ride back down the hill. She was in pre-k with Eve. Lex looks funny in this picture, but I like the angle otherwise. :)

Then we bought cider and donuts and had a picnic lunch. I had brought lunch food as well, not just donuts. :) Back home we made an apple pie and apple donut muffins. Yummy!

eve peeling

Eve peeled apples for pie.

eve eating

Eve likes apple pie! And apple cider. :)

Sunday the forecast called for rain, but instead we got lots of sunshine so we spent the afternoon at a friend’s pool, soaking up the last rays of summer.

lex swimming

It was a warm and sunny day, perfect for the pool.


They had a lot of fun with these pool noodles. I may have to get some next summer.

Sunday night Eve and Alan had a “daddy date” (dinner and Home Depot) so Lex and I went out as well. I was thinking of taking them both to see Planes if it was a rainy day, but Eve didn’t want to see the movie and it wasn’t a rainy day, so that plan fell through. Lex really did want to see the movie though, so we while Eve and Alan were out, Lex and I went to see Planes, then we had dinner and did some grocery shopping. It was a really fun night, despite the fact that we stuffed ourselves with movie theater popcorn and Recees Pieces and both came home with bellyaches.

grocery shopping

Lex helped with the grocery shopping. :)

Today we had friends over to play in the morning, and Aunt Mandy came to visit in the afternoon. Her and Alan went out shopping and to dinner so the kids and I went to the neighbor’s house to have s’mores! Nothing says Labor Day like s’mores! Parrish said, “We’re eating marshmallows. This feels like a holiday or something.” I said, “It is a holiday!” :) Lex had two s’mores (and a few stray marshmallows, I think) then ran around the house eight times! Eve had half a s’more and decided she liked toasting the marshmallows better than actually eating them.

kids peeling

We made another apple pie today. This one was a birthday present for Mandy. Notice that my helpers are so big these days they don’t even need to stand on chairs!


We have a lot of apples!


Toasting marshmallows.


S’mores. Yum!


Eve. What more can I say?!

eve eating

Eve, contemplating how best to begin with her s’more. She got about 3/4 of the way through before she was done and handed it over to me.

eve toasting

She liked this part much better.

lex crashed

Lex ran around the house eight times then crashed at my feet. :)


Eve learned how to get up on the trapeze bar, with a little help from brother. I love when they work together.


They did some fancy tricks while burning off marshmallow energy!


The best trick! They can swing like this. I told them that now if I need to sell them to the circus (a running joke in this house) they will at least be useful there. :)

Now we are hopefully crashing early. Tomorrow begins week two of school. Hope we survive another one. :)

Happy September!

Happy Fall

I took the kids to the apple orchard today. I’m a sucker for apple picking. I just wish those bags didn’t fill up so fast! This place has apple, blueberries, raspberries, a corn maze, and today they had fresh donuts, cider, and hay rides! It was busy, yet somehow peaceful as well. We had a really nice time. I packed a picnic lunch and we hung out for over two hours.

lunch p1

Lunch by the river. It was a very sunny day!

lunch p2

That bagel is as big as his head! He only ate about half of it though.

raspberries p1

After lunch we headed for the raspberry patch. Eve remembered from her field trip that the Kiwi Gold raspberries were very tasty and were a peachy color when ripe. She did a great job explaining things to Lex.

raspberries p2

Eve pointing out hidden raspberries.


We were all surprised to see, and hear, horse drawn wagon rides. I didn’t know this farm offered such a service. We missed the ride up to the apple trees (it’s a short walk anyway!) but caught a ride back down.

raspberries p3

Eve was counting her raspberries, in a random chaotic sort of way, and insisted on counting each berry in my hand before letting me put them in her container.

raspberries p4

Both containers were full and those berries were all gone by afternoon snack!

green lex

Where’s Lex? He blends right in on a sunny day.


I had to tell him, many times, to pick the apples one at a time, not gather a huge armful that resulted in dropped apples everywhere. He has his father’s efficiency gene.

apples in a box

I tell ya, the pickin’ was good!! :)


And an Eve in an apple tree.

apple tree

Apple trees make me smile.


A nice lady took a picture for me in the wagon heading back down the hill.


I caved and let them buy pumpkins. I’ll have to buy more for carving, I think, but I’m a sucker for fall activities and happy kids!

eve and her pumpkin

The rule, as always, was they had to be able to carry their own pumpkins. When we got back to the car Lex said, “Whew! I can walk pretty fast with eight pounds of pumpkin in my arms!”

corn maze entrance

Lastly we did the corn maze. This year’s “theme” is a mystery. Vincent Van Goat has lost his ear and as you progress through the corn maze you can read clues and try to solve the mystery. My two had no interest in reading clues and we just ran through it, quite literally!

eve in the maze

“That way!” she yells.

apple brownies

Of the huge grocery bag full of apples we brought home today, four of them went into making apple brownies. They look and smell delicious. I’m going to taste one this evening, and if they are good we’ll be sending them to school as little treats for their classmates.

I just went looking for a blog post about last year’s trip through the corn maze (we got lost!) and found this one instead, from 2008! I had completely forgotten about that first trip through the corn maze. They are so little! I love my blog.

Apples galore!

I realize today is the last day of August and not quite yet fall, but the kids had the day off (after a tiring three days of school!) and we took a field trip to the apple orchard. It was the best part of our otherwise rocky, cranky day.

I was all excited to go but when I called to make sure they were open I found out they weren’t doing wagon rides yet or making the donuts everyone loves so much. That all starts tomorrow. So we decided not to go. The kids were playing nicely so I sat down on the couch to do a few minutes of work. You can guess where that went. FIGHTING! Yelling, pushing, shoving… all over that ONE Hot Wheels they both absolutely NEEDED. I yelled, they yelled, life was NOT good. I tried to get them to the playground but they fought that too. I went outside for a breath of fresh air. Cleaned up all their outdoor toys that I had asked them a hundred times to clean up. I am in such a PURGING mood lately, but that is for another post.

I came back in, we had snack, and then I decided we were going to the apple orchard. I explained how nice and calm it would be today and how tomorrow would be crowded and loud and packed. All true. They decided to cooperate (snack ALWAYS helps!) and we had a lovely mid-day at the orchard.

eve and a goat

First things first, petting the animals.

lex bunnies

Hello bunnies, are you in there?!

feeding goats

The goats like to be fed. They are eager eaters!

bunny houses

Lex loved all the bunny houses. They have a whole bunny village there.


The peacocks are so beautiful and a little scary. The kids wanted to pet one, but none of the birds were interested in being petted.

bully sheep

This was a bully sheep. She kept trying to push the kids over whenever they got near the food machine. Then she followed Eve for awhile. Here Eve is trying to pet that bunny (finally a bunny that stayed still long enough to be touched!) and the sheep kept getting in her face. I took a quick picture and then rescued her. :)


I like this pig. How long to they live? I wonder if it’s the same pig we see every year. Last year the piglets were feeding and that was cute. This year they were all snuggled into the hay and sound asleep.

apple lex

The requisite face-through-sign-board photos.

apple eve

Silly little apple.


This year we decided to pick some plums too. They were abundant. However, they are at their peak and many were squashed on the ground. It was tough for any of us to reach the high ones without slipping on the squishy plumy ground.

eve plum

Eve liked the plums.

apple bites

The Cortlands were HUGE and tart.

close up

The apples were abundant!

lex picking

Lex was a rockin’ apple picker! I think he picked 90% of what we brought home!

eve in wagon

Eve got tuckered out. We were there at lunch time. She ended up relaxing in the wagon for awhile.


Lex took a picture for me! He was super proud that he got it before Eve stuck out her tongue. :)

The weather was warm and breezy, not too hot, not too sunny, not too anything. Just right. Then we bought some cider and maple sugar candies and headed to the paint store.

When we got home we managed to only have one or two more arguments before bedtime. I’m hoping tomorrow goes a little smoother. Maybe we’ll bake an apple pie to celebrate September! (or an apple spice cake like at the end of this post!)

Pumpkin pie

We had a few decorative sugar pumpkins that were starting to look old so I decided to cut them up and see if I could use the pumpkin flesh. They are edible, after all. So while Eve ate her breakfast yesterday I grabbed a knife and cutting board and went at it. She was very concerned. “Ohh… the cute pumpkins. You’re hurting them!” She fussed for a few minutes while I continued to cut. Then she asked if we could make pumpkin pie. Sure, I said. Fussing over. She happily watched as I cut the three little pumpkins into chunks and stuck them in the oven.

pumpkin chunks

pumpkin chunks

While the pumpkin cooked Eve and I made my all-time favorite cream cheese pie crust from the Joy of Cooking.


Eve helped

My oven isn’t great (as you’ve heard) so these cooked and cooked and cooked, but eventually I had to take them out so Eve and I could get on with our day. They were probably 80% done. I left them on the counter all day until we got home from school. When the kids were settled with their movie (sick afternoon, remember?) I went back to the pumpkins. I was able to get the flesh out, but it was still too hard to easily puree. So I stuck it in the microwave.

semi-cooked pumpkins

Semi-cooked pumpkins. Not a very pretty sight.

This is when I discovered that the microwave had finally bit the dust. It turns on, lights up, makes all the right noises, but doesn’t actually get hot. After 15 minutes of cooking this pumpkin puree and only having it get cooler and cooler I decided to give up on that effort. I dug out the blender. No good. I don’t know if blenders are not meant for pureeing pumpkin or if mine is just old and lame or what, but the blender did nothing. So I went back to the immersion blender (my original tool) and put some muscle into it.

Eventually I got the puree smooth enough for my standards and I was finally able to start making the pie! By this time the movie was almost over! I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour called Smooth and Spicy Pumpkin Pie. You really can’t go wrong with a recipe from KAF. The rest of the process went smoothly and I got a beautiful (by my standards!) pie.

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie, fresh from the oven.

By the time it came out of the oven it was nearly 9:00pm, so we decided to let it cool and have pumpkin pie for breakfast.


Pumpkin pie for breakfast.

The verdict? Pretty good pie. The whole time I was dealing with the pumpkin puree I kept saying that I would never again make pumpkin pie from scratch. It’s just not worth the effort. I had half a blog post written in my head about it. But…. the three pumpkins yielded me enough puree to make three pies… or something else. The pie came out pretty good except the crust bottom was a bit undercooked (should have prebaked the shell a bit) and the filling was a bit overcooked (I was mistakenly doing the “knife test” in the middle instead of the recommended 1″ from the edge) so now I’m thinking about making another one. I have the puree all ready in the freezer. I’ll have to do something with it! :) Anyone want some fresh pumpkin pie?


I was trying to take an artsy picture of the pie, but Eve wanted a picture of her vitamin instead.



Sunday afternoon football


Lex has taken an interest in football so he and Alan have been tossing the ball around lately. Or, as the kids say, “toss around the old pig skin!” Lex remembered that from one of the Calvin & Hobbes books I put away ages ago. Grampy Don came to visit this weekend and the kids have been super excited to go out and play ball with him. This afternoon was perfect ball playing weather and we all had a blast!


Isn't he cute?!


Tossing around the old pig skin.


Each time Lex catches the ball they do a hand-off.


After awhile Lex got tired and decided to try playing while sitting down.

football eve

Tossing around the old Eve ball.

silly eve

Then we got a little silly.

sweet eve

Sweet Eve


White bunny was playing football with us.


'da boys!

laying down lex

The color on this is funny but I think it looks neat. I wish his bright blue eyes were open.

on the couch

After running around for awhile we moved the party inside for some football on TV.

Leaves: They are upon us again


Raking, raking, raking

diva raking leaves

She looks like a little diva raking leaves.

in the air

This is an odd photo, but kind of beautiful too.

leaf hat - p1

Can you guess what's causing this silly face?

leaf hat - p2

A hat full of leaves, of course! :)


Paparazzi in a tree!

These were taken one day last week when the sun was shining and the leaves were dry. It has been raining ever since. We now have a lawn full of wet, mushy leaves. I’m going to break down and pay the guy to clear them away again.

My current favorite apple treat

I came across a recipe for Baked Apple “Donut” Muffins the other day and despite my hesitation to bake these days… well, I had to make these!  They are sooo delicious!!


Pure yumminess!

This recipe is based on the one I found at Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy.  I made some modifications below.

Baked Apple “Donut” Muffins
(makes about 24)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs – beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups cored and finely diced apples

1/2 cup (1 stick of butter) – I used about 3/4 of the stick
1 cup sugar – I used about 3/4 c
2 tsp ground cinnamon – I just threw a bunch in! Tired of measuring by this point :)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin. (I made mini muffins and ended up with 48 of them, plus 6 regular sized muffins)
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg using a fork. Add the oil and work into the mixture using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
3. Combine eggs, milk, and apples. Add to the flour mixture, stir just until blended.
4. Spoon batter into the muffin cups (The KAF cookie scoop is super handy here!)
5. While the donuts are baking, melt the butter in a small bowl. Mix the cinnamon/sugar combo into another bowl.
6. Let the muffins cool slightly then dunk them first in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

So yummy! Lex requested some without topping (he doesn’t generally like toppings, even if it’s just cinnamon and sugar!) so we have some topped and some plain. Both are yummy, but of course the cinnamon sugar adds a nice sweetness :)

A beautiful day!

Today was a beautiful day. Perfect fall weather, busy but not stressed, an outdoor afternoon. Just perfect.

I spent the morning running around, dropping kids at school, awesome workout at the gym, back to pick up Eve, shower and back to the gym (for a session on goal setting!), a little shopping and home in time to meet Lex at the bus stop. That was hectic, but Eve was in great spirits so it went well. After a quick snack we headed outside. The sun was beautiful, the leaves were abundant and I couldn’t put the camera down! (you can click on these images to see them bigger)

My love/hate relationship with leaves

I have a love/hate relationship with leaves. Yes, funny I know, but true. The leaves fall, the kids are thrilled, we have fun… but then someone has to actually remove them! Lex was worried yesterday that if we didn’t rake all the leaves in one afternoon then there wouldn’t be any more. I promised him that we have many, many more weeks of leaves! Many! Our 12yr old neighbor came over yesterday and said, “You are so lucky! You have the biggest leaf pile EVER!” Yay me! Sadly that “biggest leaf pile every” came from raking about a third of the leaves that have fallen from just one (of three) trees in the yard.

eve in the leaves

lex in the leaves

kids in the leaves

I’m forever trying to figure out a good solution for them. One that involves not too much work or money. Last year, mid November, I gave up and hired a crew to remove them. This year I’m trying to do the mulching thing again, but wondering if maybe we would all be happier (me and the kids anyway!) if I just played in the leaves with them and hired the crew again. Tempting!