apple cinnamon granola

Have you ever had one of those colds that seems to go away completely, and then it suddenly comes back in a new and equally as aggravating way? I thought I was in the clear yesterday, but just as I was crawling into bed last night, I grumbled because I had a brand new cough. This morning, I was determined to have a nice autumn morning with Mouse despite my scratchy throat. We planted tulip bulbs, met a giant toad who was living in one of the holes we were digging and jumped out when he saw my trowel (the poor thing seemed to be disorientated and confused), and chatted with some of our neighbors.


I was inspired by Amy's post about making granola, and since I was tired of being tired, I decided to make a big batch of my apple cinnamon granola with the hope that it would cheer me up a bit. And, it did! I made a kickin' batch of granola. I told Chick all about the granola on our walk home from school, and as soon as she opened the door she gushed about how amazing the granola smelled. She's a swell kid.


Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup oil (i used canola)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (adjust according to how sweet you want it)
2 t vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coarsely chopped cashews
1 1/2 cup diced dried apples

How to:

Mix oats, oil, sugar, syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a big baking tray. I use my biggest roasting pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and mix in the nuts. Bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and mix in the dried apples. Store in some sort of big jar.

The possibilities are endless. Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would be great mixed in with the nuts, and raisins (gasp!), cranberries, currants, or dried cherries could be added at the end.

xo e

carrot cake


This was such a typical mid-autumn weekend at our house. Saturday was blustery and gray with clouds zooming by with bits of patchy blue skies making an occasional appearance. And, then Sunday was the kind of bright and sunny fall day where it is crisp in the morning, but by the afternoon you can almost get by with a t-shirt and sandals. And, as is almost always the case in mid-October, we were feeling overwhelmed by all of the house chores and autumn yard work that needed to get done. Our apple tree had dropped a huge dead limb, so Tom spent today chopping up all of the branches for kindling. I trimmed back our perennials as well as six or seven of our big bushes and trees, and now my hands and arms are kind of quivery. We also managed to do a zillion loads of laundry, Tom finished putting a gutter on the roof of the wood shed, and I cleaned my studio.

The whole time I was trimming and twisting branches, I was trying to figure out which sweet treat I would reward myself with. I'm so darn food motivated. I decided to make carrot cake since it is my most favorite kind of cake ever (as long as it doesn't have raisins in it). If it has raisins, it is my least favorite cake ever. I'm sorry, lovers of plump, warm raisins - please don't be offended.

This is my favorite carrot cake recipe. My mom's friend from many, many years ago used to make this cake when we'd visit her. I have one distinct memory where I was 4ish and peeking through the grate in the floor into the kitchen staring at a huge, magnificent carrot cake with a little orange carrot frosted onto the center of the cake. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful creation ever. Years later, Dorothy came to our wedding and gave me this recipe as part of her gift to us. I treasure her recipe because it makes the most perfectly moist, spiced, carroty cake.

Ingredients:
2 c flour (I use 1 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat)
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 c shredded carrots
2 c sugar
1 c oil
4 eggs
1 c chopped walnuts

sift dry ingredients (except sugar) together
mix sugar with oil in mixer
slowly adding the dry ingredients
alternate dry ingredients with eggs and the sugar/oil mixture
mix well after each addition
add carrots and nuts
grease cake pan
bake at 350
1 hour if in 9" tube
35-40 minutes if in a square pan
(check it as it bakes because of oven temperature variations)

Frosting:

1 stick of butter
2 t vanilla
3/4 lb of confectioners sugar (roughly)
1 8 oz pk cream cheese

Whip all of these ingredients with your mixer. mmmmmm.


xo e

Washington D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial

This past weekend, in Western Massachusetts, the weather was a bit crisp and the leaves turned brighter shades of red, but we weren't around to experience it. We were down south where the air was 89 degrees and flowers were being planted on the streets (and they weren't mums!). We traveled seven hours by train to celebrate my uncles' marriage. They've been in a committed relationship for over twenty years, but in May of this year they were granted the right to become legally married. So, they did, and they scheduled a reception for this past fall weekend. Family and friends flocked south to wear glow stick crowns, drink champagne, and witness the union of two very loved people. One of the best parts? My 91 year old grandmother made the trek, and after years of advocating for gay rights (marches on Washington, leading PFLAG groups), she watched her son marry the man he loves. Needless to say, there were many drippy eyes last Saturday night.

The Washington Monument

We decided to spend Sunday and Monday touring the city. I hadn't visited since I was fifteen, and this time around, I was particularly interested in the architecture. I didn't bring my fancy camera, but I was still able to capture a bit of what felt majestic and grand. The blue, blue sky was my muse.

The World Bank headquarters (I think)

Miss Mouse on the go. She owned that city.

Feeding a friendly Mr. Squirrel.

Chick was incredibly present and engaged in every tiny bit of our journey. She especially loved hearing stories about our country's history. President Lincoln now has a new fan. We visited the Smithsonian and learned about some hidden messages that some watch repairers etched inside of his pocket watch, so now Mr. Lincoln (with his secret message watch) is the most interesting person ever. She also liked that a little story (the Gettysburg Address) was written on the wall at his monument.

And, right by the Lincoln monument, etched into stone, was the above. I watched my children's feet move across the words. And, I felt so thankful. And, a little sad. But, mostly, thankful.

A winner!

Cyd is the lucky winner of the Mod Podge and Folkart Paint giveaway!

She wrote: These are soooooo cute! I wish I had seen this when my kids were little!

Cyd, can you send me your mailing address, so I can ship the package right to your doorstep?

And, thank you to everyone who left comments. I loved reading each and every one. You guys are all that and a bowl of freshly mashed guacamole.

xo e

a u t u m n


These are some photographs from my annual fall getaway with two dear friends. We realized that we have been friends for 15 years, which was the perfect excuse to clink glasses of ginger ale and gin over our plates of roasted vegetables and lemony, brothy, creamy coated pasta.



That's me on the left, Stephanie in the middle, and Kelly on the other side. Kelly is a magnificent knitter, and she designed two of the most beautiful vintage style skirts that have been published in this nifty new book. Exciting!

The temperature dropped into the 30s during the night and the cabin doesn't have heat, so we were a bit chilly in the morning. It was nothing wrapping ourselves in blankets and turning on the electric oven and burners couldn't solve, though.

xo e

p.s. For breakfast, we had spinach and feta cheese stuffed croissants from a local bakery, scrambled eggs fresh from stephanie's chickens, and creamy strawberry honey yogurt. It doesn't get better than that. For realz.

Plaid Giveaway and Story Trading Discs Tutorial

A few busy months ago, I was contacted by the lovely Amy of Mod Podge Rocks to see if I wanted to participate in a super duper Plaid sponsored giveaway. Yes, yes, yes! I really did want to participate for so many reasons, but especially because it coincided with a new little project I was busy developing.

Please meet my Story Trading Discs. They are kind of like those art cards that people trade, but they are smaller, and are meant to have one, simple collaged image on each disc. Kids can tell stories with them, trade them, or store them up in a shoebox like I was known to do with my kid collections.

I was designing this project right at the time when my children were going back to school, which led me to think about all of the silly little trinkets and bobbles that occupied my kid brain space for hours and hours many moons ago. I collected plastic charms, garbage pail kids, stickers, black rubber bracelets, and pencil tops (not all at once, mind you). I'd trade them, but mostly I'd just sift through them while admiring all of the images and colors and shapes. And, so, I figured that it would be really fun to make a handmade version, for trading and admiring.

Materials:
wooden discs
craft paint
Mod Podge
scrap paper
scrap fabric
hole punch
scissors
tooth pick

How To:

1. Paint the discs with bright, interesting colors. Set them out to dry.



2. In the meantime, draw and cut out simple images from fabric and/or paper. Plan on having one image or small set of images (think bowl & spoon) per disc. When dreaming up designs, think about engaging shapes and people and things that will get kids thinking and imagining.

I like to use buttons as stencils for faces. Isn't Chick's hand still chubby and baby like. You guys, she is 5 1/2! How lucky am I?

3. Once the discs are dry, choose one and coat it with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Use your fingers and a tooth pick to place all of the pieces of an image onto the disc. Coat the image with a layer of Mod Podge and set out to dry. It will look white and gluey, but don't fret because it will dry clear and beautiful.

4. After they are dry, you might want to give your discs an extra coat of Mod Podge for protection and longevity. After all, they are going to be traded on school buses and play yards!

I have this 8 oz container of Mod Podge as well as six containers of Plaid paint in six different beautiful shades of blue to give away. Leave a comment on this post, and I will choose a winner, using a random number generator, at midnight on Saturday. I'll announce the winner on Sunday. If the mood strikes you, feel free to share something that you collected or traded as a kid.

* updated * Contest expired. Thanks to all who participated!


And, be on the lookout for more Story Trading Discs to pop up in this space in the coming weeks.

xo e

p.s. Thanks, Amy!