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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Sandy...

So the 'Superstorm Sandy' has been tearing up the East coast this week. Our state is pretty okay, except for the beaches getting ravaged, which we're used to around here. Hurricanes don't actually phase us that much, as long as you aren't stupid about it.

A lot of our friends who've moved here from the West coast hate the hurricanes and freak out about them, I guess since they aren't used to them. Hurricanes and tornadoes are pretty common on our side of the country.

Because of the storm though, we've had a LOT of wind, some rain and we hit winter quickly! Skipped right on past Autumn and into winter-coat-wearing-season! I think Fall's making a comeback starting tomorrow, but because it's been so dreary and cold, we've been hibernating a little bit this week.

Friday I had no plans (shocking, I know) and the day off, so I was able to actually be home and I spring cleaned the entire apartment. It was glorious- that one brief moment when everything is clean and shiny! We spent the weekend enjoying that moment, making Mexican Chicken Soup, which is my most favorite soup on the planet.

SO good!


I did find out the hard way I can no longer touch raw jalapenos, which in and of itself made me want to cry. But I got through it and the yumminess was totally worth the short-term pain (fire in my eye pain).

We spent lots of the weekend celebrating our friend Larry's birthday. That was a bunch of fun and craziness!

This week, we have candy to buy, more apples to use up (yes, they're still taking over the fridge), and exercising to do to make up for those first two. In upcoming fun news though, our Color Run 5k is coming up and we're getting excited (nervous-throw-up-kind-of-excited, but excited none the less)!

What's your week like?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

State Fair Recap!

The State Fair here is big. I mean, really big. Which is a freak-out opportunity if you don't like big crowds, crazy parking, or eating fried foods while you smell livestock and all that that entails (no pun intended, but awesome!).

We finally figured out how to make it work for us-- we take a day off work every year and head out there on the Monday of the fair! Easy parking, no crowds, the livestock are all bathed and clean for the upcoming shows, and the fried carts aren't completely disgusting at that point.

We're fortunate enough that CC's job gives us four free tickets each year, so we usually get to take two extra folks along. Going with other people is always a fun time!

Norah was not amused by the paparazzi


This year, our friend Melissa made a return appearance (she came last year) and our friend Krista and her new baby Norah came with us too! Having baby Norah along was a different experience (navigating the stroller and learning there's a diaper-changing trailer was pretty interesting), but she is so easy and fun and cute, that we enjoyed having her. She only cried as we were leaving because it was pouring rain. Krista is from Montana and had never been to our fair so it was fun to see the fair through new eyes!

The cutest little girl!


We had SO much fun! So much that I actually sort of wanted to go back later (we didn't because Hubby knew I'd lost my mind.)!

Of course we ate lots of good food... grilled corn, pig butt on a stick...

I'm glad I knew pig butt is actually pork shoulder!


...deep-fried cinnamon rolls with bacon...

Fried mini cinnamon rolls with icing and bacon
...tempura zucchini and pickles, corn dogs...

So GOOD!
...and on and on and on. The only thing I didn't eat that I typically do was a caramel apple (I made those at home later that night.).

We tried to look at the livestock, but all we saw were giant pretty cows freshly scrubbed for their show the next day. We looked at the quilts and the cakes and I tried to get my free annual peanut, but the peanut man wasn't there (so sad). We checked out all the booths and kiosks-- my very favorite new thing at the fair this year were the hand-washing stations! They were so cool; it felt like you were washing your hands in a giant bubble!

This OCD-lovin' girl was digging this!
Germ City was pretty rad too! (They put a lotion on your hands and pass you under black light to see all the 'germs' then have you wash your hands. You pass through black light again to see how well you wash-- I'm pretty OCD about handwashing, so I got an A+ of course!)

We had so much fun I am already looking forward to next year's fair! I leave you with another picture of our favorite cutie pie...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Appley Goodness (& Resulting Weight Gain)


I promised more appley-ness and here it is, though I'm sorry to say it's been so long in between posts. I hope you weren't waiting with baited breath or anything. :-)

I've tried several recipes and have been in a hard-core PinterTesting mood the last couple of weeks. I won't say we're sick of apples, but I will say that I gained a little poundage between all the baking I did (The State Fair *may* have played into that also.). The great news is that I have been working my butt off (even literally!) and am now under what I was before all this baking hit!

Here we go!

First I made Ina's famous applesauce, which I swear is amazing! I prefer it warm, surprisingly, but it's great cold too. I already told you about this one though. Pretty sure I'll be making another batch to freeze soon.

Then I made this Oat Apple Crisp, PinterTested for my no-blog friend, Jamie.

Oat Apple Crisp

Here's the link to the actual recipe if you prefer. I loved this a lot, but was disappointed how runny the 'goo' was- Hubby thought it was because I used 'light' butter. Could be, I don't know for sure, but it sounded right.

Meredith told me to make this (actual recipe here) immediately so I of course did. (She has great taste and style, so if she tells you to do something immediately, obey!)

Caramel Apple Bread

I liked it, but I think I overbaked it somewhat because I felt like the apples were overdone (ie-mushy) and the bread was dry. The caramel streusel topping I LOVED though- should've definitely added more caramel sauce to the layers! I didn't because I was using homemade caramel sauce (from making this recipe) which I wasn't particularly crazy about.

Caramel Apple Slices
 However, I didn't account for the sauce getting more caramelly in the oven-- sooooo yummy!

The last thing I've made so far has been my favorite by a long shot. Easy Apple Coffee Cake (recipe here) and boy it really was so easy! The hardest part for me personally was hunting all throughout my kitchen (and storage) trying to locate my bundt pan. Fortunately, I found it mixed in with the vases. (Not where you keep yours? Your kitchen must be much bigger than mine! ;-D )

My favorite by far- the Coffee Cake (upside down before the flip)


The apple coffee cake was so incredibly good that we each had one piece and then forced ourselves to take it to the worship and tech teams Sunday at church. I told everyone I could to eat it because it was NOT allowed to come home! Fortunately, folks ate it and liked it. One person I know ate four pieces! I REALLY want to make it again, but CC might not like that too much if we're *forced* to eat it again. What do you think, honey?

As you now know, we brought home A LOT of apples. Our fridge is still busting with the apples we have left, so I'm hoping to bake some more this weekend, but we'll see. Since I'm finally back on track weight-wise, I hate to bake again, but as a self-proclaimed baker, I think I kind of don't have a choice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Apples To Apples To More Apples!

This past Saturday, Hubby and I drove to VA and went apple-picking! I had grand delusions of picking an entire trunk full, and then some. Poor CC had to keep busting my bubble throughout the day, but thank goodness he did, or we'd have run out of room!

The mountain view from our parking spot


We had a wonderful time but were slightly disappointed this go-round. Because Fall came early, then left as Summer returned, and now Fall's here again, something happened with the trees this year. Last year, we went pretty much the same time as this year but this time around on our drive there and back, everything looked dry and crunchy and dead, not pretty Fall-dead, but gross-muted-colors-dead. Sad. I think in a couple more weeks the trees will be beautiful. Oh well!

My bestie and me


Another slight disappointment was that last year we went during our vacation, on a weekday. That was quite wise of us as this time we obviously went on a weekend day and it was INSANE. It took us half an hour to get up the mountain to the parking spot, another half hour to wait in line to buy lunch, and then we had to walk to practically the other side of the mountain just to find apples that hadn't been picked yet!

Heading further up the mountain for the actual picking!

Sky Party on the drive home


In the end though, it was still a beautiful day with chilly Fall weather, Hubby and I were together without interruptions the entire day (which in and of itself was pretty amazing!), and we brought home lots of appley goodness! We brought home apple cider, apple butter, and 30 POUNDS of fujis and granny smiths! It was kind of nuts to carry 30 pounds of apples, knowing that's the exact amount of weight CC's lost (yay, CC!).

I know he loves me because he humors my need for apples!


Once we got home I made Ina's applesauce which is super delicious! I made it last year and wished for a second batch!

You mean you DON'T dry your apples in the dish drainer?!

I only made the one batch so far this year, but I'm fully prepared and expecting to make more, it's that good!


Sooooo good!

More appley goodness to come, I promise! I still have to fill you in on the fair and all the baking I'm doing- yay for Fall!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

My First Ten On Ten!

Every month bloggie friends post ten pictures on the tenth day of the month. I LOVE seeing this snapshot of a typical day, and I always want to do it but I never remember on the actual tenth of the month. Well lucky for you, I finally remembered yesterday! Yay! Unfortunately for you, the tenth of October fell on a Wednesday, which is my longest, most stressful day of the workweek. Regardless, here we go...

Linking up for my first Ten on Ten here!


10am: Prepping to record sermons for the other campus (our multisite location)



11am: Sermon Recording #2- Andy's up!
1pm: Lunch with the boys after recording

2pm: Burning sermon DVDs as back-ups in case the digital sermons fail
3pm: Taking a walky break in the gorgeous Fall weather!
4pm: Getting in some wisdom
6pm: Prepping for Wednesday Night Life
7pm: Third sermon of the day!
8pm: Rehearsals for Sunday services
9-11pm: Rehearsal for the Night Of Prayer & Worship

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Fun!

What a time of fun and busyness it's been!

Last week was the PinterTest Kitchen, where I got the brilliant idea to try Pumpkin Brownies with Pumpkin Pie Frosting. Yep, that's what I decided to make for Friday night when we had friends over. I of course had to pre-test them out to be sure nobody would die upon eating one. They were amazing and the frosting was eatable all by its lonesome.

Yes I licked that spoon... several times over


Which turned out to be a good thing because since I packed the brownies away before they were completely cool, they became a gelatinous mess of a situation. They still tasted good but the texture was described as "Jello like" and "meatloaf like" thereby producing the new term of "Jelloaf." Yep, good times. Fortunately for us all, the icing was still amazing so we just started eating that with whatever else we had around.

We PinterTested this pin, which was a bust because apparently Superman doesn't like tunes, so he makes them inaudible. Or we just needed a different glass, but who on Earth has glasses other than superheroes?!

Well that didn't work

Friday night we were introduced to the joy that is the face bomb iPhone app. A great looking bunch of people, for sure!

Um. Yeah.
 
This weekend is going to be AWESOME. Hubby and I are road-tripping it up to VA for apple-pickin' and I'm super stoked. It was amazing last year and I can't believe we get to do it again. Pure Fall magic with the windy, leaf-strewn back roads, the mountains, the orchard ON TOP of the gigantor mountain where you can see for miles around... happy sigh!

Monday we are taking the day off to go to the state fair! We hate the crowds and the craziness, but we have it down to a SCIENCE now and that includes going on a regular workday. I can't wait for caramel apples, the cake exhibit, pickles as big as my head, and fried milky ways! I'm especially looking forward to trying the fried cinnamon rolls with bacon and I think we might try to catch the pig races this time. I DID mention this is the South, right?

Fun times! Best season of the year EVER!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

PinterTesting...

I haven't linked up with Jessica's PinterTest Kitchen in a little while, which personally makes me sad. I thought I'd finally remedy that today, and what better timing too, because it's the first birthday for the PinterTest Kitchen! Congrats, Jessica, on this super fun, get-to-know-other-blog-world-friends, opportunity!

For anyone who's been around me recently (like in the last few years), I've discovered that my taste buds have adapted to the awesomeness that is spicy food. The hotter the better, usually. I've discovered siracha, hot sauce, wing sauce, you name it. My favorite by far is anything covered and flavored with buffalo sauce. I could eat buffalo chicken all the time. When not eating Mexican food or coffee. Yes, because those are both my primary food groups. And chocolate, but I digress.

So I found this yummy looking pin for low-cal crockpot recipes and thought we could try that since they're MFP-friendly recipes. (Here's the link to the actual recipe since you have to dig for it a little bit.)

Doesn't this look sooo delicious?



Yeah, we thought so too, so we made them. To be honest, Hubby made them. I've told you before that CC is the cook in our home, which I am eternally grateful for. Although I can use a crockpot, it's nice when he does all the prep work and all I have to do is eat it!

I was especially grateful we tried this recipe AFTER having jerk tilapia the night before (now that was yummy! Pineapple-mango salsa from Whole Foods... yum...). It was good but stunk up the whole house like fish. Gross. So to come home to the house smelling not like gross fish, but like buffalo chicken goodness? Oh yes, I was stoked!

Wellllll.... the house kinda smelled good when I got home from work. It kind of looked good when I opened it up and peeked inside. It tasted okay but felt like it was missing something. I figured CC would need to 'doctor' it up a bit and add some more sauce to it when he got home. So I very (im)patiently waited. I was hungry after all.

He got home, doctored up the sauce, stuck it on the amazing Martin's potato rolls that should make ANYthing taste better, added lots more hot sauce, made some veggies to go with, totally decimated my clean kitchen to prepare this lovely meal, we got all settled at the coffee dining table and we each took our first bite.

And attempted to swallow... terrible! Hubby thought it had the taste and texture of canned tuna. I thought it was flavorless with the texture of smushy canned chicken. Poor CC proceeded to eat his anyway because he was having a blood sugar issue and had to eat. I (im)patiently waited for him to finish, whereupon he immediately grabbed the car keys and hit up Bojangle's to bring home dinner. (Bojangle's, by the way, was AMAZING!)

At least by the time he got back home, I'd been able to get the kitchen restored to its previously clean state, but what a sad turn of events. I call this a complete. Pinterest. failure.

Ah well, what're you gonna do? (besides obvs praising the Lord for fast food two seconds from your apartment)

Anyway, we're having people over tomorrow night for cards and dinner, so maybe I can pull together a Pinterest success to put this out of my head! A Fall/pumpkiny dessert seems pretty appropriate, I'm thinking... especially with apple picking and the state fair coming up in a couple weeks!

Linking up for the goodness that is the PinterTest Kitchen! Join us, won't you? This month you can win (or try to win, because it's totally gonna be me!) some fun goodies just for linking up!