Thursday, October 16, 2008

Orange Pumpkins, Green Trees...

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. As a born and bred New Englander, I absolutely LOVE the things that make fall...well, Fall.

October has always been the quintessential month for all of it, too - the amazing color explosion of the leaves, the crisp coolness in the air, the harvest of apples and pumpkins, and my favorite of the holidays, Halloween. (Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and the Thanksgiving menu, but Halloween still tops my list)
Every year, I look forward to going apple and pumpkin picking, leaf-peeping all the way.

This is our first fall in Virginia, though, and that made things just a LITTLE bit different. The apples came from our own orchard, about 4 weeks earlier than in NH. The pumpkins (well, the smallest 2 came from our garden) came from the grocery store, not the quaint country Pumpkin Patch or roadside farm stand. And, the strangest part? Look at the photos! Yes, a full lawn and leafed-out trees, still just as green as can be. Add to that the fact that it was 75 degrees the day we carved Jack-O-Lanterns, and it was just about SURREAL!

We did it, though! We got all ready for Halloween with our family of creepy Jacks, our stock-pile of macabre lawn decor (for a future post) and our costume plans for ghoulish creatures...only to find out that, well, they aren't exactly fond of this holiday in these parts, so there's no Trick-Or-Treat and our slightly spooky decorations make folks more than a bit uncomfortable...

Here's my take on it: it's a couple of weeks out of the year, and if they don't share our love of Halloween, they can look straight ahead when they drive by. I'll take it all down when we are finished having fun, and replace it with Christmas lights.

(But since there's no trick-or-treating, anyone may feel free to send candy!! We will gladly accept all donations, especially chocolate! LOTS of chocolate...think of the children... ;-P )

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quite Possibly the Best Bran Muffins Around

I logged in today and realized how terrible I've been lately with updating this blog. Naughty blogger! So, in an attempt to make up for that, I'm straying away from stamping-related things for today to offer up a gift that keeps on giving :)

Recently, I used some apples from our orchard to make Apple Crisp, which I shared with our neighbors. When my neighbor came to return my pan, she had re-filled it with the MOST delicious muffins!

I HAD to ask for the recipe, they were so moist and flavorful, and also because they disappeared so soon after they got here that I had to restock our supply! She was kind enough to share it with me and, although I'm sure the editors of Bon Appetit Magazine will NOT soon be calling me to be their new food photographer, I wanted to share this great and easy recipe. The batter (if you make the full recipe below) makes up about 54 muffins, and the best part is, it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, so you can make a batch today, and another when you need more.

preheat oven to 400*, use paper baking cups to line muffin tin, or lightly grease & flour pan.

1 15 oz. box Raisin Bran Cereal (any brand will do)
3 Cups Sugar
5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
5 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Eggs
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Cup Vegetable Oil

-Use a food processor (or blender, or plastic bag & rolling pin) to crush cereal to a flour-like consistency. (this step helps create an even texture, and the finely ground raisins keep the muffins SO moist. However, you can leave the cereal as-is and the muffins still come out really moist and with great texture.)
-Combine all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl.
-Combine all wet ingredients. Add all at once to dry flour mixture.
-Mix batter just until well combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake at 400* 15 - 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
-Keep extra batter in refrigerator up to 3 weeks, making muffins as needed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Think it's Finally Fall

I think Fall might finally have come to Virginia. I'm not 100% sure, because the trees are still lush and green, critters are still tromping about happily, and the garden is still churning out ripe, red tomatoes, BUT...

It DOES get dark a bit earlier, and the days have gone from 100 degrees, down to the 70's, so I think maybe, just MAYBE, Autumn is settling in.

Since this has always been my favorite time of year, I was hoping for my usual leap of happiness when I felt the change in the air. This year, though, I found it was mixed with a little dose of melancholy, too. Up where I'm from, the leaves are bursting with colors, pumpkins are sold at roadside stands, warm mugs of cider are cradled in my hands of an evening, and the crisp chill in the air makes me happy just to be...

Whoa, before I get too homesick, here is a card that I thought had a fall feel just like home. I love the colors and even the sort of country texture to it. I was going for homespun and warm feeling, and trying to capture a bit of what I love most about this time of year. I hope fall wherever you are is filled with all YOUR favorite things about it:)


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