Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's all about the Apple Cinnamon Bread!

Chances are if you saw me during the week of October 17th, I gave you a loaf of Apple Cinnamon Bread.  We had lots of apples and I was eager to use them.  Ian and Sam always want me to make something yummy when we get home from strawberry picking, apple picking, any kind of fruit picking. 

I made an apple cinnamon bread and the family devoured it.  The loaf didn't last more than that first day.  The kids really wanted me to make another loaf so I did.  And then I made another, and another, another, and another and another.  11 loaves in total!  I made all 11 in 48 hours.  I was a baking machine!  I made a loaf for the preschool staff I work with, I made a loaf for my in-laws, a loaf for each of the 4 friends I went out to dinner with that week, a loaf for an upcoming girl's weekend, a loaf for each of two neighbors, and another two loaves for the family to eat.  I started to going to sleep at night thinking about baking and who else could I make a loaf for.  It was crazy and totally demonstrated how easily I can become obsessed with something and let it get out of control.  

What's left of the last loaf that I was able to take a picture of.

It feels good to be able to do something like this for the people I love.  I felt a little like Oprah when she was giving away the cars;  'You get a cinnamon apple bread, and you get a cinnamon apple bread and you get a....'  Stick a fork in me, I am done making Apple Cinnamon Bread for a while.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Apple Picking!

Marker-Miller Orchard in Winchester found us on a recent Sunday doing one of my most favorite Fall activities - Apple Picking!  

By the time we were able to coordinate schedules, planning this outing with one of our dearest family friends happened later in the season than we wanted.  But we managed to find an orchard that still had apples to pick and a date to go.  Bonus that it was on a Sunday and the dads could join us too.  Not only the dads, but Lucy came!  Yay for Lucy being welcomed at this Orchard.  It was very dog friendly and there were dogs everywhere!  Lucy was a rockstar and it makes me want to take her everywhere.  

I've been to quite a few orchards in the greater-DC area over the years and this had to be the biggest one yet.  There were 10 different apple varieties we could pick. It was huge! And even though we arrived at the tail end of apple picking season we still came home with 3 good size bags of apples.   What a great way to spend a few hours.  

Next year our plan is to go much earlier and during the week when the orchard isn't as crowded as it is during the weekend.   Apple picking is such a good old fashioned activity that gets us outdoors, breathing fresh air and doing something good for us.  This is one activity you can't outgrow.  Apple picking for the win!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fun with the family

The night before we were leaving Gatlinburg, Ian broke down and started crying.  He didn't want to leave Tennessee or the family.  He kept telling me that "it just felt right" being there.  He tried hard to convince his father and me to let him stay an extra day or two and fly back by himself later.  Dad and Rita had extended their time away and there was actually a bed and grandparents who would be sticking around if Ian was granted a chance to do what he wanted.  Given that just a day later Ian was missing school anyway for the Yom Kippur holiday it was very tempting.  But, we came as a family of 4 and we were leaving as a family of 4.  

Family is important to Ian and he couldn't get enough of being around all the relatives.  It was Ian's suggestion that we do one of those "Old Time" photos.  For anyone who hasn't been to Gatlinburg, the downtown area is filled with dozens of Old Time photo places.  There has got to be at least 20 of these type of places within a 6 block radius.  It's quite crazy, but I guess there is a high enough demand to warrant that many which can stay profitable.

After dinner one evening we decided to do the photo and the 11 of us walked in to a nearby shop.  I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard or this long.  It's definitely been way too long; I know that.  I hope I can paint a picture of what was happening, do it justice and give you a giggle or two.

The gentleman running the shop had the women follow him to the far wall of his store.  He took the men to another area nearby.  He was about to dress us and needed to hand the women in our group our dresses.  He is handing them out very, two, three, we are all holding dresses to put on.  We look at what we've been given and we are all shocked at how ugly these dresses are.  We ask the guy (pretty much all at the same time), "Can we please have a different dress?"  He responds instantly, "No, don't worry about these dresses.  You won't see the colors in the photo.  It's all black and white.  Just put them on."  So we put them on.  We are not happy.  These dresses are UGLY!  Rita's looked like she was wearing a red Victorian dress with tacky gold trim/tinsel and black lace all over it.  She looked like a walking Christmas tree.  Meanwhile, I refuse to keep going with the dress I was given and start flipping through the other dresses on the rack.  I find a dress I can live with and put it on.  Rita, Lori, Meghan and Samantha all follow-suit.  There are dresses everywhere!  We weren't stopping until we were happy with our selection.  Even Sam went through 3 dresses before finding one she liked.  The only one who was happy with their original dress was my niece Rachel who is almost 3 years old.  She couldn't believe "how pretty I look!".   

In the middle of the big dress shake-up, I realize the guys must be up to something because the shop owner who was helping the women had long given up on us and moved on.  I look over and see the guys getting dressed.   Actually, they are just standing there and having layers upon layers of clothing given to them to wear.  Not one of them is complaining or questioning what they are given.  No one is  speaking of any displeasure over what his clothing looks like.  They are the anti-women.  This is when I start laughing and can't stop.  Ben has a cowboy hat on and has started walking with a swagger.  Ian is putting on a holster.  Jeff is being given a vest and a scarf.  There is not one word coming from any of these guys.  

I only wish I had video to record the situation.  It was a true social commentary on how women and men are very, very different.  And it was hilarious!

Here's how the photo turned out:

Doing this photo made Ian very, very happy.  He loved getting to dress up and play the part.  A great time was had by all.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

10 years later

Gosh this blog is a bit overdue.  I've been meaning to write and have lots to say, but life is getting in the way.   And I am ok with that.  I've come far in the sense that I don't feel this enormous self-imposed pressure to stay up late and write.   By the time the end of the day comes, I am exhausted and falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I've also become a bit obsessed lately making Apple Cinnamon Bread from the apples we picked at the orchard last week.  More on that later...but let's just say 11 loaves of bread don't cook themselves.  :)

About 2 weeks ago, we took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN for 5 days.  Jeff, the kids and I met up with Dad, Rita, Lori, Ben, Rachel, Meghan and Meghan's boyfriend Bradley.  The 11 of us coming together is pretty spectacular.  We don't do fancy, but boy do we have fun!    

We used to go to Gatlinburg each October.  Somehow through the years, the destination started changing and we've done cruises, Myrtle Beach, Cocoa Beach, and other locations instead.  In fact, we had a hard time remembering the last time we did Gatlinburg as a family.  Dad and Rita still go each year, but having us all be together is a different story.  It turns out Samantha wasn't even born yet.  Lori wasn't married yet; she just met Ben 2 months prior!  And Meghan was way too young to have a live-in boyfriend.  It was 10 years ago that Jeff, Ian and I last touched Tennessee soil.  And seeing as Ian was just a little over a year old, I am not sure how much his feet actually touched the ground.

October 2006

October 2016
Ten years later, our group has expanded and the laughter has gotten louder.  We are a crazy bunch, but ones who love each other deeply, with of course a little (or a lot?) of teasing thrown in too.  There is no one else I'd want to call 'family'.  XOXO!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Life with Lucy

Could we love Lucy anymore than we already do?  I am not sure!  She is fabulous.  And so wonderful to be around. 

I am so curious as to her background and called the SPCA in VA where she was before coming to the shelter we discovered her at.  All they could tell me was that she was a stray, picked up by a family and brought to them.  She was at the SPCA for 3 months and no one came looking for her.  It was there they spayed her, gave her all her shots and got her ready for the transfer to FOHA (Friends of Homeless Animals).  They took a guess at how old she is and thinks 2 years of age is as accurate as they are going to get.

Based on her lack of training (no idea how to walk on a leash, doesn't know any commands), I wonder if she was on her own for a long time.  And she has a cut on her ear that has since long healed, but it looks like she got into some kind of fight.  Poor thing.

I feel so good about our journey to rescue.  We saved her life.  And in turn, she is saving ours.  I love seeing the kids interact with Lucy.  They've been desperately wanting a dog (so have I!) and Lucy's presence has been almost magical.

Lucy sleeping with Ian.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Flu Shot Extravaganza 2016

This year's flu shot extravaganza had a twist and not a fun one!  It was advised the flu mist was ineffective this year and the actual needle with the vaccine was the only way to go.

There is not enough dessert in the world to make this ok with Samantha. It wasn't pretty and I wasn't sure that Andrea (the nurse practitioner) was going to keep attempting to stick Sam, but somehow she got the job done.  Sam is now vaccinated against the flu.  As Sam was screaming, she yelled, "I could scream louder."   Ha!  Gee, its so nice she showed some restraint.  Sam is 8 years old!  There is no screaming's over before you know it. 

Since our pediatrician's office did not have a flu clinic available during an evening we were available, my friend and I decided to take the kids to a Minute Clinic located inside a nearby Target.  We picked a location with a Red Robin just across the street and had a yummy dinner with lots of dessert ready to be ordered.  Because as we all know, a lot of chocolate, ice cream, milkshakes, and sugar help make the shot that much more manageable.

One sweet little bonus was the $5 target gift card each person who got the flu shot received.  Wow!  Who saw that coming?  Not only is insurance covering the cost of the flu shot, but we now have $15 (I got a flu shot too!) to spend at Target.  Woo-hoo!!

Ian just moments before getting called back for his shot.

It looks like we killed Sam!

And yet another twist to Flu Shot Extravaganza....we had a dinner guest crasher!  Jeff's office is 5 minutes away and he joined us at Red Robin for dinner.


I love how my friend and I have taken lemons and made lemonade in getting a flu shot. We've made it into an event and one we look forward to each Fall. 

Another Flu Shot Extravaganza is in the books!