Fall Time

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Fall is in full swing, here in the Ohio Valley. Being the week of Halloween, there have been many fun activities that are fall themed. It’s part of the reason I was M.I.A last week, as far as updating the blog went… We went trick-or-treating at the mall, attended a fall festival at the university for the families of staff members, and we baked pumpkin spice cookies.

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Sophie has been increasingly affectionate toward me lately, which is nice since she is either being her introverted self, or she awaits daddy’s arrival from work to unleash her softer side. Perhaps it is the cool, fall cuddle weather? Either way, I’m not complaining.

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Growing up in California, I never got to experience fall. The seasons hardly change, few trees even lost their leaves, and palm trees of course, are perpetually the same. Fall still seems new and exciting to me despite having lived here for almost a decade now. Fall reminds me of the season in which I met J, and our romance blossomed.

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I love being able to share this gorgeous season with our children. There is so much excitement as we head into the holiday season!

Pumpkin Patch

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So just before we left for California, we squeezed in a spontaneous trip to the pumpkin patch. We kept saying we would go, but Ohio weather can be a bit unpredictable at this time of year, and it was either too cold, raining, or we were out of town. Since we were at a wedding on Halloween, I wanted to make sure we still got to do some thing Halloween inspired so Sugar Plum could show off her adorable costume.

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Last Friday it was sunny with a cool breeze so J asked if he could leave work early to take us. We went back and forth on whether to wait until Saturday or not, since the farm closed at 6 pm and we’d arrive there just around 5. However, on Saturday there was a 55% chance of rain… so we took the risk, J left work,  and we headed up to the farm an hour before closing… I’m so glad we did! It wasn’t crowded, the weather was nice, and it turns out that an hour is the perfect amount of time a 1 year old and 5 month pregnant woman want to spend there.

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Some things were closed like the kettle corn and fresh fry booth, but we still got to look at pumpkins and poke around the rustic little gift shop.

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J and I never really do anything just with Sophie. We always like to invite grandparents, which we definitely don’t regret, but as we were looking back on the past year with Soph we realized, we haven’t done a single thing, just the three of us. While grandparent time is certainly important, so is just regular family bonding. I thought it was particularly important to take a moment, just the three of us, to do some thing carefree and fun since soon it will be the FOUR of us! I want to treasure the final days J and I have to 100% focus on Sophie. Come February, I’ll never know how it feels to just be one-on-one with my kid ever again. I know that sounds dramatic… but it’s true. Even if I set aside time for each of my children, the others will always be in the back of my mind, and there will be a limit to how much time I can put the rest of them off while spending time with another. These are not necessarily negative things, but I do want to soak up these last moments of having an only child while I still can.

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And I don’t think Sophie minds the extra attention 😉

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My Favorite Seasonal Flavor

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It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people are in on the pumpkin spice craze, but that was some thing that just never caught on for me [and having morning sickness with Sophie for the first time during the fall, didn’t help my aversion to pumpkin spice]. Some people are advocating for apple cider, but my favorite, seasonal combo would have to be orange and cranberry.

I know, you maybe don’t think of that as a classic combination, but the obsession started with orange cranberry scones that Trader Joe’s used to sell, and them moved on from there. Currently, Panera has these DIVINE orange cranberry muffins, with just the perfect amount of crystallized sugar on top.

So, keep your eye out for my favorite fall/winter flavor combo, because even though it can be tough to find, the little treats you do, are so worth it!

Peace Valley Apple Orchard

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Some of you may have seen our adorable family photos from the apple orchard up on facebook, but I saved some of them specifically for this blog post. That’s right, EXCLUSIVE adorable photos, right here. Now, up until last year, I had only really dabbled in photography and blogging. It wasn’t until our last trip to the apple orchard that I decided I had enough skill, time, and dedication to commit to this as a hobby, Our latest trip out to Peace Valley only reaffirmed that I love food, photography, and my babies, and have an indefinite amount to say about all three.

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The weather in Ohio is actually pretty nice this time of year. We occasionally get some rain and blustery days, but for the most part the sun is out and its warm without being humid [a huge relief for people in this area]. It was supposed to be cloudy yesterday and a bit “chilly” but it turned out to be sunny for most of the afternoon and warm, with just the faintest breeze.

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These orchard are a good 45 minute drive away from us. I thought our little town was “rural” when I first arrived some 5 years ago, but was I so wrong. We have things like a kroger and Walmart! Out in the boonies, where the farms and orchards are, you’re lucky if they have a Dollar General and you can expect to see a decent amount of Amish.

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OK, by “decent amount” I really mean you might see a horse and buggy, but hey – I’m guessing that’s more than you’d typically see in your hometown. Rural though it is, the drive is actually quite nice. Twists and turns through the Ohio valley, with the leave just beginning to change, was the perfect way for us to kick off fall.

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Since the orchards are among farms, there is a cute country store on the property that sells seasonal produce as well as jams, salsas, and preserves made locally. We ended our little adventure with warm apple dumplings served a la mode. YUM. Even though it’s a bit of a drive “just for apples,” I still like that our trip to the orchards has become a little tradition.

Cinnamon Pecans

Have you ever walked through the mall or farmers market, and smelled that sweet, cinnamon scent coming from the booth making candied pecans? Now, imagine that’s what your house smells like.

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Put these delicious, homemade pecans in your candy dish at home. Its such an easy recipe and dare I say, its a necessary one for you to have in you repertoire… These are delicious in salads, or even for just a good snack! Also, they make your house smell amazing while they’re baking.

Here’s what you need:
-3 cups pecan halves
-1 egg white.
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup organic sugar
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-a pinch of salt

Ok, so I never said they were the healthiest. Side note: I’ve actually been eating them for breakfast… but if you think about it, these pecans probably have close to the same amount of sugar that fruit loops have, right?

Preheat oven to 300. In a small bowl, beat your egg white with a whisk. Add in the pecans and stir with a spoon until all are coated. In another bowl, mix sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Pour sugar mix into the pecans and stir until all are coated. On a pan lined with parchment paper [or silpat mat] dump pecans and spread them out with a spatula. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Take pan out of the oven and stir the pecans around, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the over after the 20 minutes are up and allow to cool. Break pecans apart and store in an air tight container. Enjoy!

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