Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween & I'm Hittin' The Trail

Happy Halloween!!

In my neighborhood the kids trick or treat on the walking trails. It is such a fun place for them because many of the homeowners decorate their yards along the trail.

Tonight my neighbor has invited us to their house to sit with them and pass out candy. We both have kids that are in college so it will be fun to share the holiday with them. Plus she tells me there will be soup in the crockpot.

If you are celebrating Halloween today, I wish you a fun day.

~Happy Haunting ~

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fluffing the Guest Room & an Award

Part of my day today was spent fluffing up the guest room. My sister is coming for a visit from Michigan on Saturday. She hasn't been here in a long time so I am excited!!

I wish the reason for her visit was for a happier occasion, however. Sadly my Mom was taken to the ER last Tuesday with an "intercranial bleed". She was in the hospital almost a week. She is not well enough to return to her assisted living apartment and is now in a skilled nursing facility. The hope is that she will rehabilitate enough to return to assisted living. I don't know how realistic it is to hope for that. In a 6 week period she has had to adjust to the asst. living and then the hospital and now this new place. That is a tall order for an elderly lady with Alzheimer's disease. She has become very quiet and doesn't smile much anymore. She also doesn't seem interested in eating. So, my sister is coming to see Mom and me. I know she will be sad to see Mom like this. She changed dramatically overnight.

I hope she will be comfortable in the guest room while she is here. I also hope between the 2 of us we can make my Mom feel a little better.

It is hard to see our loved ones suffer . . .
I have been with my Mom through all of this. My sister has called often throughout this ordeal, but it's a different thing to be seeing it firsthand. I have tried to prepare her, but I know she will be very sad when sees it for herself. I plan to have lots of soothing teas on hand.

A few small books to glance through.

And a desk tucked in a little nook under the window ~ just the place to enjoy some quiet moments drinking a morning cup of coffee, writing in a journal or jotting a note to a friend.

We can't shield those we love from every sad situation that arises in life . . . even if we wish we could. Sometimes all we can do is be there with open arms and open ears.

And now, on a happier note, I was so touched to be given this Fabulous Fall Decor award from Two Crazy Crafters. I am supposed to pass it along to 6 others.

Kelli at There is No Place Like Home

Barbara at Oodles and Oodles

Sharon at Rose of Sharon

Donna at Donna's Art

Susan at A Place Called Home

Ceekay at Thinkin' of Home

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Fun in North Carolina

The first thing this morning I met my sister-in-law in a "central location" and we headed east for a girl's day out. We had a destination in mind, but along the way her job was to scour the road for yard sale signs and mine was to drive and keep my eyes on the 2 lane country road. We did find a few fun sales and even found some exciting new treasures. Eventually we reached our original destination . . .

Carolina Lily in Salisbury, NC

This cute place is owned by a very talented lady named Julie. Her home sits on this property.

She also has 2 darling shops on the property. Don't you love that tin roof?

Julie enjoys gardening and her talents are evident everywhere you look. I always get new ideas when I visit her. This is the entrance to the garden path she created leading to the shop above.

There are interesting things to look at all along the path.

Pretty gardens in all directions.

Here is the porch leading into the first shop. It is always decorated for the season.

This is the 2nd shop. In front of this is a sweet square shaped flower garden. It is enclosed by a white picket fence. So cute. . .

Take a look at some of the things for sale inside.

A fall themed dress form.

You may recognize this guy from one of my previous posts. I bought him and his girlfriend last year. Love them!!

Inspiration abounds here.
I love how she painted this bird feeder and filled it full of pumpkins & gourds for the season.

This rusty old wheelbarrow is brimming with plants, a bright orange pumpkin and 2 small Adirondack chairs surrounded by a white picket fence. I think I need to start looking for an old wheelbarrow at the yard sales.

Head stones in amongst the flowers.

Yikes . . . at least he looks friendly!

As does he.

Even the garden benches are ready for fall. Just give me a mug of spiced cider and I could sit here for hours taking in the fresh air and beautiful, peaceful surroundings.

Today, in addition to the cute shops, there were many vendors selling everything from jewelry to pottery to wreaths to aprons to primitives to . . . well, you get the picture. These ladies above had homemade chicken n' dumplings and were handing out samples of whoopie pies. Yummy!!

Shoot, even her mailboxes are cute.

A girl works up an appetite after all that shopping. Good thing Julie was also offering a picnic in a pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October Celebrations

In America we recently celebrated Columbus Day. Well, I'm not sure if we really have celebrations, but the banks and post offices are closed. I was reminded of this holiday when I pulled into the bank on Monday morning and the parking lot was empty. Oops. I guess you can tell it's not a holiday I personally celebrate. However, we did have a celebration of another kind that day. It was also my mother-in-law's birthday.

She turned 79 that day. Her sister was also born on that day.

I would say that is cause for a family celebration. A little time spent in the kitchen baking.

And voila ~ Caramel Apple Cake

Perfect for a fall birthday.

Caramel Apple Cake
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 cups diced peeled apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Caramel Icing:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine
dash salt
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Chopped walnuts, optional
In a mixing bowl, combine oil & sugars. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients; add to batter & stir well. Fold in apples, walnuts & vanilla. Pour into a greased & floured 10 in. tube pan. Bake at 325 for 1-1/2 hours or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, heat brown sugar, cream, butter & salt until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Beat in confectioner's sugar until smooth; drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Yield: 12-16 servings.

So moist & delicious ~ enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Soup's On

Time to light the pumpkin candle and set the stage for a cozy fall day spent at home.
What better thing to do on a cozy fall day than make soup. . . Roasted Squash & Apple Soup to be exact.
1 (2-1/2 lb.) butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 2 inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled & quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & quartered
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Chile powder for seasoning (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss squash, onions, garlic & apples with oil to coat. Season well with salt and chile powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes until vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
Transfer half the vegetables& 2 cups stock to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Repeat with remaining vegetables and broth. Return pureed mixture to pot, thinning soup with stock, if necessary. Season with salt and chile powder. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Serve immediately.

I think the hardest part of this recipe is cutting & peeling the butternut squash. To make it a bit easier I cut a small slice off the side of the squash so that it sits flat on the cutting board ( no more rolling around).

Then I carefully cut it into slices. Butternut squash has a very thick skin and I have visions of losing a fingertip whenever I cut them up. Maybe that's because last Thanksgiving I did get a pretty good slice in my finger while doing this. I am trying to be more careful now, but if anybody out there has a great tip for cutting up squash, I'm all ears.

Hmmm . . . now for the really exciting part of my cooking. If you've seen Rachael Ray cook then you are familiar with her "garbage bowl" idea. I think that is a great tip, but I use a grocery bag instead. It's a great way to get rid of those many bags that threaten to take over the house and when I'm done I tie up the mess and toss it out. No bowls to wash.

The apples and vegetables are cut up. Let the roasting begin.

Mmmm. . .
Looking Good
Tasting Even Better

Now to finish off my cozy day I'm going to light my little pumpkin light

find a good book to curl up with.
So, until we meet again . . .
Happy Fall Y'all