Tag Archives: autumn

Brrrrrrread

In another edition of my ongoing series “ways to force breakfast down my husband’s gullet”, I have for you today a perfectly hearty, perfectly fall-y breakfast bread recipe.

(My what an appealing picture.  Who wouldn’t want to devote time and energy to baking a delicious rectangular turd?)

Apple bread isn’t anything new, I know.  Everybody and their grandmother has a recipe.  This is just mine.  And it is deeeelicious!

 

This version is marginally less unhealthy than some of them out there.  It uses a whole wheat flour blend, some flax meal for fiber, and of course lots of apple-y spicy goodness.  We all love it!

 

Spiced Apple Bread

1/4 c vegetable oil

2/3 c brown sugar (can reduce this if you’re using really sweet apples)

2 eggs

1 t vanilla

1/2 c buttermilk

1 c whole wheat flour

1 c AP flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2-3 T flax meal

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground cloves

1/4 t allspice

2 medium-large apples, peeled, cored and grated (do not drain!)

2/3 c raisins, unless you live under the thumb of an anti-raisin dictator as I do.

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat your eggs and add oil, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk and beat well to combine.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, salt and spices, then stir in the flax meal.  Stir dry ingredients into wet, being careful not to over-mix.  Gently fold in grated apples and raisins*.

Pour into your prepared loaf pan, and top it however you choose.  Bake for about 60 minutes.  Cool slightly in pan (~10-15 minutes) then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing, if you can wait 😉

We’ve been a little over-indulgent lately so I just topped it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of raw sugar.  But it’s way better with streusel topping (especially oatmeal).

 

Enjoy!

 

(PS> Two words:  honey. butter.  I don’t have any made up right now, which is a crying shame.  Don’t you make the same mistake!)

*Seriously. I should’e clarified this before I married the guy.

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Officially a tradition

This weekend was awesome, dudes.  Awesome.

 

Friday night we had a dinner with some of the people from Jeff’s work, at an Italian restaurant here in Akron.  When I was getting ready for the dinner, I hit some sort of breaking point re: my clothes.

 

Remember how Jen and I had that style blog a few years ago?  How much fun it was, and how even though I’m not, like, the most stylish person ever (HA), I enjoyed combining pieces to make fun outfits, and finding good deals, and looking put together?  Well, I’m sure I’m the first person in the history of the world to say that that all changed when I became a SAHM.  😛  Really, though, since before I got pregnant I just haven’t really bought any nice new clothes.  I got a few pieces here and there, but they’ve all been utilitarian button-downs or plain tee shirts.  And so for the past 2+ years, my wardrobe has become progressively more boring and threadbare.  Couple that with the postpartum weight loss and Magic Boobs, and everything I own is suddenly either too big, holey, stained, or out-of-date.  Or all four.  And I’m kind of tired of it.

 

So after whining to Simon and trying on sixty different things for a casual yet sort of professional dinner (I ended up in an old work shirt – an olive green button-down from Express, my faithful corduroy GAP skirt, and an Old Navy cardigan that should be relegated to the rag bag), I snapped.  I was done!

 

Jeff apparently loves me, so I got to spend a while browsing on LLBean.  They’re having a “spend $50, get a $10 gift card” sale, and I already had one gift card from ordering a new casual winter coat a couple weeks ago.  So I used that, shopped the sale section, and now have a couple new pieces coming my way.  I got *another* $10 gift card from that order, so in a week or two I’ll order some more (just to hit that $50 minimum to get yet another $10 card :-D).  Winning!

 

Then yesterday in the course of our running around (more on that in a bit), I found an outlet mall in Aurora that has a Banana Republic outlet.  Banana was always one of my favorites back when I was working, so I was psyched to hit their outlet.  But it wasn’t quite like I remember.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I always had good luck finding natural fibers at Banana.  Silk and cotton and wool, not rayon and polyester.  Browsing yesterday, though, it seemed like just about everything was synethetic fibers.  Disappointing.  I did find a couple cute things, though, that fit within my self-imposed rules of “not slobby, not neutral, not boring”:

That short-sleeved shirt looks sort of sickly colored in the pic, but I promise it’s quite lovely 🙂  It also has a really great waist detail shaping.  I think it’ll look good with some of my handknit sweaters this fall :).

 

So, backtracking a bit:  we had the dinner on Friday night, which was fine, whatever.  Friday is *also* when we discovered that the washer (which came with the house but isn’t maintained by the property manager) is broken – and apparently has been since we got here.  The agitator doesn’t agitate (though the spin cycle still spins, and it fills and empties OK).  So I called a repairman who came out, looked at it, and said it’s un-fixable: the motor is completely seized; the repairs would cost more than the washer is worth.  Ugh.  So no we have to go buy one of those.  But that also solves the mystery of why none of our clothes really felt like they were coming clean, and Simon’s diapers were building up ammonia despite 3-4 rinses on each load.  And yes, our landlord is a damned dirty liar in yet another regard “Oh yeah, the washer in the house works!”.  Bullshit.

 

The Akron Marathon was Saturday morning, and Jeff had signed up to volunteer for it (two of his co-clerks were running the half marathon).  But since somebody waited until the last possible minute to fill out his volunteer form, the only position left was “recycling steward”, on a 5:30-8:00 am shift.  Oh, that did give me such joy!  That my beloved would spend the wee hours of Saturday morning sorting recycling.  Because I am not a nice person.

 

Simon and I rolled out of bed at our usual time and strolled over to the marathon route (the portion running down Market went through Highland Square proper, just a few blocks from our house) to cheer on the runners and our stalwart (recycling) steward.  This is the only picture of any runners that I got before my phone started being an asshole:

 

Simon didn’t think much of the whole thing at first…

but he quickly picked up on the fact that there were people clapping all around him, so by the time Jeff’s shift ended and he joined us, Simon was busy clapping every time he saw someone (runner or bystander) pass our spot.  So helpful!

 

The rest of Saturday was pretty much just spent around the house.  I got a fair amount done on my cross-stitching project and the stripey knee sock I’m knitting, and we went on a nice long family walk that evening, through the ritzy neighborhood adjacent to ours.

 

But then Sunday.  SUNDAY!  So much fun!  I got up early and did a bunch of random cleaning (the kind that’s impossible to accomplish with a toddler underfoot), then when my boys woke up we headed out on a super autumn adventure 🙂

 

First stop was the aforementioned outlet mall and lunch at some local grill up there – nothing too exciting.  After that, though!  APPLE PICCKKKINNNNGGGGG!!!!

 

We went to Monroe’s Orchard, just northeast of Akron.  It was SO AWESOME.  Much more authentic than the orchard-that-must-not-be-named 😉  (Yes I AM still on about that.).  More fun than the orchard in the desert of 2012.  Pretty much in line with my previously-established high expectations, circa 2011.

 

Look! I was positively giddy with excitement!

 

Jeff was his usual cool self, and Simon was underwhelmed:

 

I then enthusiastically dubbed myself the Apple Wench, and set about scampering among the branches and gathering a full bushel of Cortland apples:

 

Everything was just right!  YAYYYYY apple picking!

 

All miiiiiiiiiine!

 

I MAY decide to share with Jeff and Simon.  Maybe. 😛

There were perfect rows of apple trees!  And a wagon with hay bales to ride out to the orchard!  And hand-painted family signs!  Even the cute-but-surly teenage son that Eckert’s was lacking.  SHEER AND UTTER PERFECTION.

 

Then after we deposited our overflowing apple bags in the car, we headed over to the orchard’s pumpkin patch.  Because DUH.

 

We found a Simon-sized pumpkin, and a Jeff-and-Kate-sized pumpkin:

 

Then we rounded out the trip with a peck of Macintosh from the store (they didn’t have any for you-pick), and a candle and some local honey.  It was marvelous.  Monroe’s Orchard gets an A+ from us!

 

Here’s our front porch this morning:

Doesn’t that look nice?  I need to paint all the white with Killz before it gets too cold, and do something with those poor sad flowerbeds.

 

And now I must away!  The wee one is whining for boob + lunch, then once the washer repair guy leaves I have to run to the store for quart jars, and start canning! 🙂

 

Happy Monday, friends!

I could be stitching

But I’m taking the time instead to tell y’all all about the past few days in the Hoops household.  YOU’RE WELCOME. 😛

 

The funnest (shaddup) thing was on Friday night:  I’d seen signs stuck on various lawns and curbs advertising a Greek festival, and there is literally nothing in the world I love more than eating baklava and watching children dance in ethnic garb, so that evening we loaded up and swung by the courthouse and retrieved Jeff.  I plied him with gyros and spanikopita, yes I did.

 

We used to go to one in Kansas City every year when I was little, and I always loved it.  Jeff had never been before, so I was excited to share the experience with him too 🙂

 

This one was PACKED.  Definitely not a secret among Akronites.

 

We waited in line to sit out in the tent, and Jeff got his gyro and I got my spanikopita (NOM) and we split an order of calimari (meh).

 

And then there was dancing!  Wee little kiddies dancing in traditional clothing!  My favorite!

See the tiny girl at the end of the chain?  She was so cute I could hardly stand it.

 

But then something miraculous happened:

That unassuming triangular pastry, my friends, is the most delicious baklava to have ever existed.  EVER.  Something about it…the honey?  The nuts that were finely ground but not paste-like?  The tiny hint of clove?  PERFECTION.  And I should know, I’ve eaten my fair share of baklava.

 

It has set me on a mission:  I must replicate this baklava!

 

BTW, here’s how you know that Jeff has become of secondary import in my life:

Sorry, Love. But the baby was being cute! 😛

 

After the dancing and baklava eating and such, we browsed inside at the silent auction and tag sale, and then I found a little cardboard art print of a girl babywearing ($1!) so that came home with me.

 

It was an awesome time.  OPA!

 

On Saturday we just ran some errands.  It was rainy so Simon and I wandered around the mall for a bit while Jeff got his hair cut (I found Simon the cutest little footy pajamas on clearance at The Children’s Place – they have castles and baby dragons!).  Nothing too exciting.  Then on Sunday Jeff and I went on (duh duh DUNNNNNNNNNNN!)…

 

A date!!!

 

All by ourselves! Like two grownups!  For the first time since about MAY 2012.  That, in case you’re curious, is about 16 dateless months.  Think on that.

 

Lucy and her daughter Sarah came over to watch Simes and Roxie (mostly Roxie), and we went to see The World’s End – the new Simon Pegg movie, the final part of the Cornetto trilogy.  The movie was OK (not as good as Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead), but it was SO NICE to have a grownup conversation with Jeff, eat popcorn and Red Vines, and just not be “Mama” for a couple hours.

 

When we got home, Simon told us in great detail about all the fun he had with his babysitters:  they gave him cheese!  And played with blocks and the pushwalker and wagon!  He definitely had a good time, and I think Jeff and I will be able to leave him and go on another date before a further 16 months have passed 😉

 

This week so far has been pretty uneventful:  now that we’re mostly unpacked (everything but the office) we’ve really been ale to settle into a routine.  I need to take pretty pictures of the house to share with you, but I’m sort of procrastinating because I’d like to paint the front porch and buy some furniture for the office first.  And I desperately NEED to get the big ol’ baby gate partition thing installed around the staircase and TV.  Simon has gotten too dang fast at scrambling up and down those stairs.

 

Yesterday afternoon I decided that we needed some sort of cute seasonal decoration for the front door, so Simon and I headed out to Michaels and JoAnn.  I got a couple autumn leaf garlands and some cinnamon pinecones for the mantle.  Nothing called to me for the front door, though:  it was all either insipid, tacky, expensive, or some combination thereof.  Then while I was browsing the pre-made wreaths in JoAnn (and giving Simon a detailed explanation of why each one was lacking in some vital way) I saw this picture on a display:

 

Cute, right?  Simple and classy and not all froofy.  No droopy-eyed scarecrows or inexplicably glittery apples.

 

I wasn’t madly in love with the color scheme though, or the way the raffia was obviously wrapped around an angled foam wreath form – it reads a little “beach wedding in 2006” to me.  So I got a round straw form and some raffia in more autumnal colors, and a a super helpful associate told me how to replicate it.

 

Suffice it to say that my little project didn’t go as smoothly as I’d planned (do they ever?).  Dinner plans went out the window as I wrestled the glue gun, and Simon spent a good chunk of the late afternoon in his high chair munching on cinnamon apple sticks and watching me curse under my breath.

 

THREE FUCKING HOURS LATER, covered in innumerable hot glue burns and ankle deep in raffia scraps, I had this:

And there it is, on our front door.  I sort of love it.  I’m glad it turned out well, but I need to remember that this kind of “product” crafting is no fun for anybody, and I should have just bought a damn wreath.  But hey, it was only $20 (including glue sticks), so not a bad way to kill an evening.  If anybody’s madly in love with it I can share some tricks for making your own, but I’ll spare the tutorial if no one cares 😉

 

Do me a favor?  Next time you even SUSPECT that I might be contemplating a fun fall craft, just shoot me OK?  My family will thank you.

 

I love ending posts with Simon pics, so here you go.  Playing with his kitty:

(box-filled office in the background, of course).

 

Macbeth is SO happy in this new house! He has resumed all former scampering activities, including “crazy cat hour” (something he hasn’t done since Othello died).  He’s even started playing with his toys and hopping around like a madcat on the furniture.  His appetite has picked up, too.  I didn’t realize how unhappy he was in that tiny LA apartment, until we noticed the marked difference here :(.

 

Last one!

It’s kind of ridiculous how much I love him.  That dimple!

Three short months

It may be a bit premature for a ‘yay autumn’ post, but these 70*-ish temperatures have really got me feeling like it’s just around the corner.

I don’t know if the weather gods are rewarding us for suffering those 100*+ temperatures all through July, or if this is OMG TEH GLOBAL WARMINGZ , or if maybe the gophers have all banded together and jumped at the same instant and rotated the earth a fraction or WHAT, but there’s no denying it:  this tail-end-of-August weather is *gorgeous*.  There’s the faintest hint of gold in the trees, the mornings are cool and sunny, and my inbox is flooded with Zappos emails about boots.

IT’S COMING.

Just like every year, the onset of autumn feels like an awakening.  Summer makes me draggy and un-motivated and slow, and I count down the days (sometimes literally) ’till its end.  When fall hits, I stretch my legs and spend every moment outside and knit a bunch and take long walks and bake zucchini muffins and I love it.

I’m a creature of habit, so I think that a large part of my enjoyment comes from autumn’s wealth of annual events.

The family reunion in late August reminds me what’s coming up.

Then, just a couple weeks later, my birthday.

And Kansas City’s RenFest.

And Strange Folk. (2010!)

And Maple Leaf. (2010!)

And usually a trip to Kirksville for homecoming, if we can swing it. (not this year)

Next thing you know, it’s Halloween and winter is just around the corner, and then *that’s* my favorite season.

So what does all this tell me?  I’d better get knitting.

What do you look forward to in autumn?

Our first craft show

I promised a more comprehensive rundown of the craft show from Saturday 11/7, and here it is.  But first, I need to disclaimer – that morning I suffered one of those Blogger’s Brain Farts.  I took a few pictures at the beginning of our setup, then nothing else for the entire duration.

As I mentioned in my post announcing the show, this one was mainly just for practice – we didn’t go into it with high expectations, and we also went in knowing that there were things to change – we didn’t have much of an idea for displays (though I’ve got big plans and ideas for that, now!  I think we’ll really be improving it soon :-)), no business cards – still no business NAME, for that matter.  So it’s not like we signed up for this thing expecting to walk away as millionaires.

(Especially not me, since I don’t get paid for my assistance :-P)

It’s a good thing we didn’t get too invested in it, because the show was *small* and the clientele was all wrong for Mom’s designs.

I always say that there are two types of crafters and two types of shows.  There’s the “2×4’s painted like snowmen” crowd (country kitschy crappy), and then there are the artisans.  Unique designs, attention to detail, quality materials.  Creativity.  Workmanship.

Saturday’s show was of the “2×4’s painted like snowmen” variety.   To say the turnout and audience were disappointing would be an understatement.  To say we made money would be an overstatement.

To say we had fun?  THAT would be an understatement.

One of the benefits of a disappointing craft show is the opportunity to chat with those at nearby booths.  That’s how Mom and I met Denniely, owner of My Beautiful Bows (website forthcoming) and my new BFF.  Mom and I had seven more-or-less uninterrupted hours to chat with her, and to admire her bow clips.

Though they were created to be little girls’ hair clips, I found that they make PERFECT shawl pins:

So I bought three – one to go with each shawl in my wardrobe.  They can also be clipped onto hats, sweaters, ponytails, and yes – as barrettes.  I only wish I had a Hoopling to wear them as well 😀

(I may drag this out into a second post, as well, later this week)

Our across-the-aisle neighbors were the ladies of My Sweet Potatoes, and I’ve gotta say – as cute as those little stuffed giraffes look in the photos?  They’re that much cuter in real life.  Again with the desire for a Hoopling!

Anyway, I promised a few photos of our booth, as it was last weekend:

Hopefully by next weekend’s show (and if not then, DEFINITELY by the December shows), it’ll have a whole different look.  I’m thinking…black cloth, subtly different levels to set apart the differing jewelry styles, stands/displays which better suit each item, and a little more “oomph” to draw people in.  It looks AWESOME in my head,  I tell you what.  And if I could draw worth a darn, I’d try and sketch it out.  But that wouldn’t really sell the idea 😛

Mom bought these HUGE gems (paperweights, I think?) and had them scattered about.

The necklace on the left is Mom’s, the two on the right were by her “jewelry partner” and friend Peggy.

Mom found these ornament displays somewhere, and repurposed them to hold earrings:

For the next show, we’re only going to put Mom’s more “glam” earrings on these, and put the vintage- and natural-looking styles on a more fitting display.

I love this china hand, though I’m not sure if it’ll fit into our ultimate vision for the display:

Doesn’t it look cool with that necklace draped on it, though?  Oh and those tiny earrings on black cards in front are Mom’s “gnome” earrings – they’re sterling silver and tiiiiiiny lampwork beads, and they’re the most petite and comfortable earrings I’ve ever worn.  I love them! (and it’s worth noting that at $4 a pair, we sold more of these than we did everything else.  Combined.)

Finally, the artiste herself, looking not at all psychotic:

(Recognize her shawl?)

As I said, it wasn’t a great financial success, but it was a good learning experience and a FANTASTIC time.

This weekend:  Oak Park high school craft fair!  I *think* I’m going to KC for this one as well.

Hope to see you there!

Autumn

I love autumn in my neighborhood.  The brick houses provide a perfect backdrop for all the violently yellow, orange and red trees.

 

And at brief intervals in the week, it actually stopped raining long enough for me to really appreciate the season.

 

These were Friday night, right as I got home from work:

 

Mmmm.  I just want to roll around in these colors!

 

As I lost my daylight, I noticed the moon over our neighbors’ house, and I just couldn’t resist…

Is there anything more wonderful than the air and sky after an autumn rain?

I love this time of year.  I come ALIVE this time of year.

 

…now I’m off to go knit and bake and maybe bury some acorns in preparation for winter.