Hello my forgotten blog!

I’m dusting off the old laptop (after first taking it back from the teenaged son who has hijacked it all summer), and flexing my fingers, and trying to rid my brain of the cobwebs that have grown from lack of writing all summer.

Fall is slowly rolling in and with it, my thoughts turn to apple dumplings, pumpkins, crisp cool days, falling leaves, and writing on my blog.

Today was our first day back to school. The weather is mild and porch season has begun, and that’s where I am, with a candle lit to keep away the mosquitoes, pencil in hand, a cool drink, and children playing in the yard in front of me. I am writing down my thoughts, which I will later type into the computer and share with you all. It has been a nice break, but I miss my little spot here on the web.

An update is in order, so I’ll be back later to catch you up on what we’ve been doing. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all again!

Blessings,
Nancy

Autumn Beauty

A rainy morning brought in some cooler weather this afternoon. I went out for the mail and was captivated by the beauty of the colors of the trees and the yellow leaves laying all over the ground. I pulled out the camera and took a few pictures.

It seems like the last few days the trees have really started to turn. Most of the trees around our property turn yellow in the autumn, except for the Crepe Myrtles by the house that turn a beautiful fiery red around the end of November each year. The pond area is especially beautiful with all of the trees turning and falling down into the pond. The pond is very low right now due to our drought this summer, but the banks of the pond are covered in yellow leaves – a lovely sight!

I love when the leaves start to fall all over the driveway each year. By a few weeks from now there will be a thick blanket of leaves here ~

It was a very nice walk out to the mailbox. The changing seasons are such a wonderful blessing from the Lord! Are the leaves changing where you are?

Blessings,
Nancy

A delightful change in the weather . . .

Today, for the first time in what seems like months (and maybe is!) we woke up to a nice soaking rain. We broke the record yesterday for the most 100 degree days in one summer, and to go along with all that heat, we’ve been experiencing drought conditions. All I can remember seeing all summer long was a couple of drops of rain, maybe on two different days. This morning the skies were cloudy, some thunder rumbled overhead, and finally the rain came. The sound of the thunder was like an old friend returning from a long time away. The forecast is for possible showers each day for the next week – a welcome change!

The rain cleared up by afternoon, and the kids and I sat out under the trees sketching nature pictures, and it was very pleasant. After dinner we were back outside, me on the porch, and the kids playing on the swings and trampoline. We are inside now, driven in by the dark, but are looking forward to many more days spent outdoors in the coming weeks!

Blessings,
Nancy

Welcome September!

I’m so happy to welcome the month of September every year! The searing heat of August is probably the reason, leading me to crave the coolness of fall. And while September 1st doesn’t necessarily mean instant cool weather – it’s 102 degrees today! – it does give me hope . . . hope that fall really is coming around the corner, bringing with it all of the bounty that I am so looking forward to. So, every year on September 1st, I feel a bit like celebrating. I won’t be bringing out the decorations yet, but I will endure the heat with a little lighter step, knowing that its time is running out.

Blessings,
Nancy

Warm Caramel Apple Cake

This is a recipe that is in the Betty Crocker 2010 calendar for the month of September. It looked so yummy I had to try it. It did turn out to be quite yummy, and a wondeful addition to my Fall dessert recipe file.

I only took a few pictures of this one, after it was already baked and ready to eat, so I’ll just give you the recipe and then tack the pictures on at the end.

Warm Caramel Apple Cake

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 large cooking apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 2 1/3 cups)
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

Topping Ingredients
2/3 cup Betty Crocker Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12 oz. container)
1/2 cup frozen (thawed) whipped topping
Caramel topping, if desired

Baking Instructions
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In 1 qt. heavy saucepan, cook butter, whipping cream and brown sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until butter is melted. Pour into 13 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle with pecans; top with sliced apples.

2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, eggs and apple pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Carefully spoon batter over apple mixture.

3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Loosen sides of cake from pan. Place heatproof serving platter upside down on pan; carefully turn platter and pan over. Let pan remain over cake about 1 minute so caramel can drizzle over cake. Remove pan.

4. In small bowl, mix frosting and whipped topping. Serve warm cake topped with frosting mixture and drizzled with caramel topping.

I did not use the white frosting in my topping, but rather I used the remaining whipping cream in the carton and whipped up some homemade whipped cream to serve on top. We also did not drizzle caramel topping on ours, but it would be extra delicious with it, I’m sure.

Blessings,
Nancy

Fall Decoration

We’re all decked out now in Fall decoration, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. The picture above was taken on the front porch. The white bench is one that I found this summer in an antique store. It is really special to me because it is just like one that my grandmother had on her screened porch. My cousins and siblings and I used to sit on it and play cards and visit. I was so excited when I found it! The pumpkins add a special touch of Fall to this special bench.

Next to the front door, I have placed my annual pumpkin in the ladder back chair. I just love the way it looks, and so I place a large pumpkin here every year ~

Around back I have placed two pumpkins by the white picket fence – another annual decoration ~

Coming in the back door ~ there is a new Fall rug just inside the door. I love the gingham and pumpkins on this rug ~

Here are a few pictures of the Autumn decorations scattered around the living room ~

Into the dining room and kitchen ~

And finally, you can even see a touch of Fall in my quilt basket – this fabric makes me happy!

How are you coming with your decorations?

Blessings,
Nancy

Welcome September!!

September blew in Fall yesterday, which I am more than a little excited about! It was a rainy day with cooler temperatures, and today looks to be the same way. Usually gray days make it hard for me to get going, whereas bright, sunny days give me lots of energy. The only exception to this rule is the first days of Fall – when the kind of weather we’re having now has just the opposite effect – I am all excited about digging into the projects around here and can hardly sit still.

Now, I know that it is not “officially” Fall yet, but for all intensive purposes, mine anyway, it is. When the weather starts to change, and the trees are looking old and tired, and school starts back (next week) – to me that’s Fall!

So, I’m in a celebratory mood and I say “Welcome September – Welcome Fall!”

Hope things are changing around your area too!

Blessings,
Nancy

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continures through all generations.”

-Psalm 100

Blessings,
Nancy

Pumpkin Harvest Bread

I baked some of this bread Sunday evening, to rave reviews from all. The children loved it (probably the chocolate chips) and were going back for seconds. We have since then finished it off, eating it for breakfast and snacks the last couple of days. I found this recipe a year or so ago at Kristin’s site Bits and Pieces From My Life, but just got around to baking it this year. I won’t be waiting that long again – it was really delicious – thanks, Kristin! Oh, and I doubled the recipe, so the pictures will show twice the amount of the recipe (making 2 loaves, rather than 1).

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar –

Add eggs and beat well –

Blend in pumpkin –

I thought it looked really pretty at this point 🙂 –

Sift dry ingredients –

Add to pumpkin mixture –

Stir in chocolate chips –

Pour into loaf pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes –

Really good warm from the oven, with a spread of butter –

Blessings,
Nancy

A Few Snapshots From Last Weekend . . .

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Last weekend was a busy one for us, but thanks to a glitch with my computer and uploading pictures, I haven’t been able to post about it until now. But, I have managed to outsmart my computer for once in my life . . . heh, heh, heh (evil scientist laugh) . . . when even the resident tech go-to support people couldn’t solve the problem. It just goes to show you that if you fiddle around and have a little patience you can beat it at it’s (the computer’s) tricks – either that or completely crash it – in which case, the computer has the last laugh. But, not this time. Thank you for indulging me as I digress.

Anyway, like I was saying, it was a busy weekend for us last weekend. Friday night was our annual Reformation Day celebration at church. Costume opportunity #1. Everyone is invited to dress in medieval attire, which means six costumes around here. Thankfully many of these are worn and handed down year to year, and we only ended up having to purchase 2 new ones this year, which wasn’t too bad – especially since we waited until the last week and they were already marked down 30%. Here are a few snapshots we took before leaving home ~

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We spent the evening enjoying a fellowship meal, hearing a short talk on the life of John Calvin, and, after the costume contest, the children ran around the church – attending various booths to play games that each, in some way, taught about Calvin’s life. Jeff and I ran the “Authority of the Bible” booth, where the children had to throw balls and knock down every book (cardboard reproductions) except the Bible. It was lots of fun, but I was so caught up in the events that I forgot to take pictures! So, these will have to suffice – and the older girls looked so lovely in their long medieval dresses, too! Oh, well, maybe I’ll do better next year!

Costume opportunity #2 -the next night we attended the Fall Festival that we have been going to for many years back in our old town. It is full of games, bounce houses, ponies, and candy. It seems to get bigger every year and is sometimes a lesson in patience as we wait in line with the crowds for each event. This night required 5 more costumes (now you know what I spent the previous week doing). I managed to get more pictures this night ~

Our group included three clowns, a cheerleader, and Elizabeth Swann –

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We played Limbo . . .

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Baseball (or should I say “air-ball”?) . . .

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Decorated cupcakes . . .

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And pet the animals in the petting zoo . . .

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When we were sufficiently worn out, we headed to my mom’s house (an annual tradition) and the kids dumped and sorted their candy – always a highlight of the evening – especially since the rest of us can sit down and relax finally!

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Thanks for visiting! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – ours is gearing up to be another busy one, but at least no costumes are involved this time!

Blessings,
Nancy