Sunday, October 30, 2011


Last night was our church's trunk-or-treat. This has probably been my favorite part of Halloween ever since I joined the church. I get so much enjoyment out of being in a safe place where my kids know everyone and seeing all the fun costumes. I especially love the family theme costumes. This may be the only pictures I get of the kids this year because I don't want to be following them around with a camera tomorrow night... I'll probably be pushing a stroller.

Rachel is a ladybug and has the cuuuutest costume. She doesn't mind wearing it either, which is a bonus and a rarity.
Ashlee's costume this year was a female vampire, but she decided to dress as a "nerd" last minute to match a friend.
As far as Anthony, we're not dressing him up this year. I just don't see the sense in dressing my babies- it's hot, uncomfortable, and they usually spend all their time in the stroller anyways. Next year buddy.
Happy Halloween!!!

As Easy As...

... apple pie. I am 30 years old, have lived in America all my life, and have never made an apple pie... until yesterday. What else do you do on a Saturday with 6 kids and 35 pounds of apples?

I was finally able to pull the apple peeler/corer/slicer down that has gone untouched up on the shelf for the past two years, and what fun it was! We were all amazed by its ingenuity.

An apple slinky!
Whether it was peeling the apples, mixing, pouring, or rolling out the dough, all the kids had a part.
Dotted with (extra) butter... mmm.
Rachel later climbed up ON the table and became a floury mess.
We had extras, so we threw them in the crockpot for applesauce, which filled the house with a delicious aroma while it simmered.
I brushed the top crust with heavy whipping cream before putting it in the oven for a nice golden-brown finish. Next time I'll sprinkle it with sugar, too.
Ta-Da! There are two whole sticks of butter in this baby. I went to World Market and invested $8 in a stoneware pie pan, which made for a crispy crust and even texture.

This was so good, we even had some for breakfast. However, we didn't even make a dent in our apples so it looks like we'll be making more this week.
Guess I better run extra miles to work off all the pie I'll be eating!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Hill Part II

Today I took another impromptu trip up to Apple Hill with all the kids. We spent all the day yesterday inside doing school work and chores, so I decided today would be a day out. I love homeschooling and being able to make spontaneous decisions like that. =)

Our first stop was Rainbow Orchards to get a baker's dozen of their delicious infamous apple cider donuts and a gallon of chilled, fresh-pressed, unpasteurized apple cider. They were quite a bit busier this time than last and the donuts not quite as fresh, but we enjoyed them nonetheless and contended for the last one, washing them down with the refreshing cider.

Of course the kids had to see the farm animals, so next we visited the farm (I always forget the new name of it, but it used to be Plubell's.) The kids enjoyed taking their time feeding the animals, one alfalfa pellet at a time, and poking at the bunnies in their cage. Rachel could stay and talk to the animals all day.

Lastly, we drove down Carson Road farther than we had ever been and came across this quaint gem called Pine-o-Mine. The place was nearly empty, but what really drew us to it was the u-pick apple orchard and row of vacant tire swings. Perfect! Each of the kids grabbed an empty "peck" (bag) to fill with apples from the orchard. We were instructed to twist, not pull, and had luck finding the greenest, roundest, most beautiful Granny Smiths to be baked into a pie tomorrow. I think we ended up with nearly 35 pounds in all. Priceless was the look on Jacob's face when he smiled up at me from under a tree and thanked me for "stoppin' by" such a fun place. The simple pleasures of childhood.

I love Apple Hill and feel fortunate to be a twenty minutes away from its beauty. The orchards in the fall, tree farms in the winter, and berries in the summer give us bounty to enjoy year-round. Thank you Apple Hill; you were good to us once again.

Morning Cuteness

The kids love them some Anthony in the morning! Check out Kaitlyn's new DIY "haircut." Like the bangs?

Rachel's new thing is to climb into the co-sleeper, grab a pacifier, and pretend to go to sleep. I've never had a child regress, but I think her baby stage is so fresh for her that she can't help it.
Post-bath time snuggles are the best. Who doesn't love the feel and smell of a clean baby!
My big boy is 5 months old as of yesterday! Almost half-way to a year, I can hardly believe it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


It's sooooo hard to stay awake when you haven't had a good nap all day and Mommy leaves you alone for a few minutes. Who can blame the little guy?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In That Holy Place

This was the song that Ashlee played in the Primary program on Sunday. She worked hard at it for nearly three months and pulled it off beautifully. While she was practicing, she kept telling me, "Mom, I wish I wouldn't have agreed to playing this," but as soon as she had it down, she was glad she did. It was good to see her stretch herself and grow and overcome her performance anxiety. We are hoping that she will have the privilege of becoming the Young Women's pianist some day. =) Great job Ashlee, we love you.

To hear the words to the original song, go here.

Sunday Haircuts

This past Sunday Daddy gave the boys some much needed haircuts.

Kaitlyn became an unexpected client after she got hold of the scissors and began trimming away while Forrest was in the kitchen. We were astonished to find a pile of her hair on the back patio that had fallen in less than a minute. I'm not quite sure what she was thinking? Well, now you could say she has "bangs," or something like that...

And Just Like That... last baby is starting to sleep through the night. He officially did his first eight hour stretch last night.

It's a bittersweet celebration, but was done out of necessity. I have to admit that with Anthony being my last baby I have procrastinated sleep training. Yet after having an exceptionally tired Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I knew what had to be done. The first step was in getting him to take a pacifier, which came along in one night with the help of Aunt Vera. The next milestone was getting him used to taking his naps in the co-sleeper opposed to in the swing or latched on to me. The third and final step was reversing his wake-feed-sleep cycle to a feed-wake-sleep cycle in order to train him to fall asleep on his own and not while nursing. By the third night, he was doing quite well.

The playpen is all set up in the boys' room, and as soon as he is regularly sleeping through the night I will move him in with his brothers and officially re-claim my bedroom once and for all.

It really is a blessing that he transitioned as easily as he did. Thank you Baby Wise for all your wisdom and knowledge, and for helping me to sleep train all of my babies. You have definitely left a legacy in this family.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Hill

We have been wanting to go to Apple Hill but waiting for it to cool off. I am SO glad we did. Wednesday was the perfect day with clouds and a crispness in the air. Perfect for...

...knit sweaters...

...beautiful bounteous flowers...
...award-winning pies from our favorite Bodhaine (organic) Apple Ranch...
...feeding the farm animals...
...and making conversation with them as well...
...while being careful not to let them bite your fingers...
...a gallon of fresh-pressed apple cider and one happy baby...
...getting as close as possible to the animals without falling in their pen...
... one great group shot...
... beautiful flaming fall colors...
... an oasis of squash, gourds, and pumpkins...
... and the best piping-hot apple cider donuts all around...
... so good we ate them in the car and came back for seconds...
... a trip to High Hill Ranch to watch the fish jump...
... a little sampling of cider from the cider mill...
... and a mama who watches from afar.
Thank you Apple Hill, you were good to us. We will see you again soon, hopefully before Christmas tree season.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Salted Caramel Ice-Cream... or should I just say Heaven?

We discovered a heavenly new recipe for homemade ice-cream: salted caramel. Picture Haagen-Dazs' most heavenly creation, only cheaper and homemade. This actually reminds me a lot of their Fleur de Sel, a seasonal number they had out a while back. Anyhow, on to the recipe. This recipe employed a new technique that I had never tried; caramelizing dry sugar to make caramel. I have made homemade caramels for Christmas by boiling cream, milk, butter, corn syrup, and sugar, but caramelizing the dry sugar then adding the cream was a much faster method and yielded delicious caramelly, buttery results.

You're going to need to start by making your favorite vanilla ice-cream base. I used 3/4c. sugar, 1c. whole mile, 2c. cream, 3 egg yolks, and vanilla. Make this and set it aside in an ice bath to chill.

Next you're going to make the caramel. Place 1 1/4 c. white sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Stir with a fork until the sugar starts to melt.

You'll start to see clumps form...
until it starts to melt.
It may crystallize a bit, just keep stirring and be careful not to burn.
Eventually it will be all liquid and reach this deep amber color. It's done.
Then you're going to add 1c. heavy cream. It will bubble and spatter, so be careful.
Keep stirring until the caramel redissolves into the cream.
You want it nice and velvety.
Remove from heat, and add 1 tsp. sea salt (the recipe called for 2, but I found 1 to be plenty salty) and 1 Tbs. Tahitian or Mexican vanilla. Set aside to cool completely.
When cool, add caramel mixture to your vanilla ice-cream base.
Incorporate until you have a smooth consistency.
Chill several hours and churn in an ice-cream maker 20-30 minutes. This will be very soft-serve at first, but I froze mine overnight and it was even better the next day. Sweet, salty, and decadent.
I guarantee this recipe will be going in your favorites collection; it did mine!