Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple Raisin Bars

Here in Connecticut apple season is just beginning.  Last week the kids and I headed to our local orchard to pick up a basket full of bright red, juicy, tart Polared Apples.  YUM!  Apples are one of my all-time favorite fruits to bake with--I wait alllllllllll year for apple season!  So, to kick off the season right I thought I'd share one of my family's favorite recipes:  Apple Raisin Bars.  These bars are a sweet-tart, chewy-yet-light texture that make for a great breakfast, dessert or anytime snack.  Although I've never tried them this way, I bet they'd  be divine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  They're simple to make, which is a good thing because they go FAST in this house! :)  Here's how to make 'em:


--2 cups all-purpose flour
--2 teapsoons baking powder
--1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
--1/2 teaspoon salt
--2 cups packed light brown sugar
--2 eggs
--1 stick butter, softened
--1 teaspoon vanilla extract
--1 1/2 cups diced apples (I prefer firm tart varieties!)
--3/4 cup raisins (I love to use a mixture of craisins and raisins for extra tartness)


--Heat oven to 350.  Liberally coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray, set aside.

--In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, set aside.

--In large bowl blend together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with electric mixture on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth.

--Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.  Mix for 2 minutes, just until incorporated.  Stir in diced apples and raisins.  Spread into prepared pan.

--Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.  Enjoy!

If you give these a try let me know how you like them!  I hope you love them as much as we do! :)  

 *I originally found this recipe at: www.familycircle.com

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays
Raising Homemakers

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mid-August Daybook

Outside my window...
 ...enjoying a late-summer cooler morning with that teeny hint of change in the air.  That, and our for-sale sign swinging in the breeze reminding me that we haven't had ANY showings this week.  This whole house-selling business is tough!  At his rate we might be here for another year... *sigh*

I am thinking...

...about Autumn!  Those who know me best always tease me for "pushing the seasons"--thinking ahead to the next season while the current season is still in full swing.  It's true, it's just what I do. :)  But I tend to do this especially in the summertime when I'm sick of the heat and dreaming of my all-time favorite season--Fall!  I'm also looking ahead to Fall fun because I'm (thank you, Lord!) feeling much much better as my first trimester ends!

I am thankful...

...again, for feeling better!  Also thankful for fresh peaches, a fairly smooth start diving back into homeschooling, apple cider, all of our favorite clubs and activities starting up again soon.

In the kitchen...

...just this past week I've been getting my "kitchen mojo" back (again, see above with the feeling better!).  I've been looking through all of my recipe books, Pinterest and torn magazine must-try pages for some new ideas.  I want to get better about weekly meal planning now that I'm getting my energy back.  The poor kids have eaten more processed frozen yuck-o food in the past month than I care to admit and that will be coming to a screeching halt, I'm happy to say!

I am wearing...

...um, still in my jammies. :) Most of my maternity shorts aren't the most comfortable (just that whole panel pressing on my belly making me feel a little queasy) so I've been super lazy about getting out of jammies until I absolutely have to!  That is very un-like me--I'm not usually a hang-out-at-home-in-my-jammies-person!  But if it keeps the queasies at bay, then I feel justified!

I am creating...
...lesson plans, lesson plans and more lesson plans.  Between my leadership roles in different groups and our at-home studies resuming I am in full-on planning mode!  It's fun though, I'm such a nerd at heart.  Not much crafting going on these days.  I tend to go in phases with crafting.  I'm definitely in a "crafty dry spell" right now.  Just too many other things going on right now, I think.

I am going...
...to our local county fair this weekend--first fair of the fair season for us!  The kids are super excited to see pig races, ride filthy rides with sketchy safety standards and chow down candied apples.  Aaaaah, fairs.  Gotta love 'em!

I am wondering...
...if we'll sell our house this year.  It's been such a huge process to get the house ready to sell, keeping it clean for showings and re-arranging all of our homeschool organization to "hide" our supplies when we're not doing school work.  I have to say I'm not a huge fan of this "limbo living"-- of not being able to tape up the kids artwork on the walls, and having to be so militant about toy clean-up every night.  But it's a process and exercise in faith and trust, so I'm trying to just take it one day at a time.

I am reading...
...still chugging along in the Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything and a few other stragglers I've mentioned in previous posts that I've yet to finish.  I didn't do as much reading over the summer as I normally would've because I was just so dang tired!  Going to bed at 8:45pm put a definite cramp in my evening reading routine!

I am learning...
...lots and lots about Europe in the 1500-1600s.  That's our area of study in homeschooling history right now and I just love brushing up on Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, Guy Fawkes and all of that good stuff.  The kids just adore history, so it'd definitely a favorite subject around here!  We're planning a huge trip to the library for more supplemental reading on this time period!

One of my favorite things...
...fresh produce from the local farmer's markets.  Oh, the corn, peaches, tomatoes, apples and squash!  So yummy!

A peek into my day... 
back to homeschool!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Update!

It's been ages since I've last posted, I know.  Every summer I plan to keep up on blogging and it just never ends up happening!  The combination of green luscious hazy lazy days and well...morning sickness just got the best of me yet again.  Yep, you read that right, I did say morning sickness--I'm expecting #4 this February!  It's been a bumpy summer (hehe, pardon the pun!) but also one of great memories.

So, in an attempt to catch you all up on what we've been doing for the past 2 months, I'll just list a few random highlights, both good and challenging:

1) We had a *wonderful* time in the Outer Banks!  We went in early June, so the weather wasn't excruciatingly hot, which was AWESOME.  It was 2 weeks of mini golf, swimming, day trips, beach breezes and delicious food!  Oh, and that's when I found out I was pregnant, too, which made the trip that much more memorable! 

the kids having fun at the beach

On a ride to the top of the mini golf course!
The boys got to take a great little science class at Jeanette Pier.  What a blast they had!
The kids got to be pirates for a day--a boat ride where they found buried treasure, drank "grog" (Mountain Dew!), had their faces painted and said "aaaarrrr" 'til their hearts were content!

2) We got home on a beach high, filled with dreams of what magic the summer would hold, bucket list written out and everything.  And then shortly thereafter morning sickness reared it's not-so-pretty head.  It was fierce.  I was tired.  And I forcibly traded my bucket list for a well...ahem, bucket. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)  I wish I could say I'm one of those stoic, suck-it-up-don't-let-it get-you-down kinds of people, but in all honesty, I kinda stink at suffering.  I feel sorry for myself.  I mope. When I'm feeling awful it ends up taking a ginormous toll on pretty much every aspect of my life.  The housework falls behind, the thought of throwing together some semblance of well-balanced meal 3 times a day feels gargantuan, and the only thing that brings comfort and relief at the end of the day is crawling into bed. So, all to say, July wasn't the most idyllic of months, but there were some bright spots amidst the mopes and heaves.  

3)  One of the aforementioned bright spots of July was our week at Cub Scout day camp!  I volunteered as a leader, which meant all 3 of the kids and I got to spend every day from 9-4:30 singing goofy songs, making s'mores, doing crafts and all of that other iconic campy goodness.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.  Having never been a boy scout (or girl scout for that matter) growing up, this was a whole new world to me.  I just loved every minute of it--even though it was 100+ degrees on some of the days, there was a huge scary thunder storm knocking down a tree & making the kids scream with terror, and by the end of the week we all had more mosquito bites than fingers and toes!  Loved it.
My little Megan (on the far left, Adam next to her) at the archery range!


Luke (on the light grey shirt) had the lead in the skit performed at Family Night--proud mama moment! :)

A very hot, sweaty and tired Megan is still smiling--she loves her crafts!

Adam getting the opportunity to light a match--he loved it!

The kids wearing goofy hats made for "Crazy Hat Day!"

4)  My sweet, bright, Lego-loving, gentle-natured first born turned 7!  I know this sounds trite, but I honestly cannot believe how fast it goes. I'm awed and blessed to have the honor of raising such a wonderful little guy.  I love reflecting on how much he's grown and changed over the years, and on the man he is gradually becoming.  Each year it just gets better and better.  Ok, I'm literally tearing up right now as I type this (dang pregnancy hormones!) so I'll just leave it at that. :)

5)  On a much less sentimental and note, we went blueberry picking!  I know this seems perfectly ordinary, and barely even worth mentioning, but I *heart* blueberry picking.  There's a local farm a few towns over that feels like it never left the 1950s.  It's this sprawling peaceful utopia, complete with peepers, butterflies, song-birds and woods.  The employees just let you do your thing.  Have you ever been to a farm where the employees hover over you like you're some type of criminal plotting the first opportunity to--heaven forbid--leave your assigned row?  Well, this place is nothing like that.  You just grab a bucket and go.  It's like heaven on earth.  And the reason I'm so excited we went this year is that we missed it last year.  So...yay. :)

6)  I got to see my sweet little baby's heart beat.  There's just something so magical about seeing your little one on that screen for the first time.  All of the sickness, all of the worry and all of the fatigue just melts away as you stare in awe of that little miracle squirming around inside of you.  And it makes it all worth it.

So, as my first trimester draws to a close and I (hope to!) have more energy, we're planning on soaking up every last ray of sunshine that August brings!  Because before we know it, we'll be diving back into school books, co-ops, and apple-baked Fall goodness!

How has your summer been going?  Any highlights you'd like to share?  What are you hoping to squeeze in this August?


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