Now, I'm ready to convert our flipflop basket to a mitten receptacle and cozy up to my favorite time of year. Here's what I'm hoping to do during this season I love so much.
1. Use the word "autumnal" as much as possible.
2. Turn on the electric window candles.
3. Sit by the season's first fire in the fireplace.
4. Go to all our high-school home football games. FOR THE BAND HALFTIME SHOW! I do so love my marching clarinetist. And you know what they say: what's the football team doing on the band field?
5. Make many batches of this Trail Mix Granola Bark for after school/before dance/after dance/before band/after band/midnight snacks.
Trail Mix Granola Bark
(Want to print this? Great! Click here.)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini M&Ms
3 cups rolled ("old-fashioned") oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 10x15-inch baking sheet with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges. Mix the chocolate chips and M&Ms in a small dish and put them in the freezer. Mix the oats, coconut, almonds, and wheat germ in a large bowl. In a microwave-safe 2-cup measure, mix the salt, syrup, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon water. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds, or until the sugar has dissolved. Don't walk away and get sucked into checking Facebook because sugar syrup boiling over in your microwave is not something you want to see. In another small measuring cup, whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons water, the vanilla, the oil, and the egg white. Drizzle it over the oat mixture and toss to combine. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the oats, et al., and toss to mix well. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle about 2/3 of your frozen chocolate-chip/M&M mixture over the oats and toss gently to distribute. Dump the whole mixture into your pan and spread and press evenly. If one part is a little thicker than another, make sure it's the edges. Sprinkle your remaining chocolate/candy mixture evenly over the surface and press gently. Bake for 30-45 minutes, rotating your pan halfway through. You want your bark to be golden brown in the center or it won't be crunchy. Cool on a wire rack before breaking into irregular pieces and storing airtight. It'll keep about a week. Recipe adapted from Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Morford.
6. Make applesauce. Thank you, Victorio Strainer. Also (and more so), thank you, Mom and Dad.
7. Make apple pie. My favorite adopted tip is to precook the apples slightly. I also love to use Vietnamese cinnamon, which generally makes all of life better. Looking for a tried and true recipe that tastes "just like Grandma's"? Click here to print one from my friend Karen at Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge. In fact, I suggest you make Karen's apple pie, then savor a slice while you spend some time looking around her sweet and encouraging site.
8. Start my annual sojourn through the Little House on the Prairie series on CD book. I love the Christmas stories every book in the line-up features, but I don't like to hear them right after Christmas or in the spring or summer. If you're a LH fan(atic) as I am, here's a list of the Ma-isms I regularly employ in our medium-sized house in the country.
10. Make and eat pot roast. My favorite recipe is comfort food in a cast-iron pot.
11. Sleep under heavy quilts.
12. Smell the first woodburner fire of the season.
13. Eat pumpkin everything. I think I'll start with the recipes in this Ultimate Pumpkin Recipe Roundup and go from there.
14. Wear fleece.
15. Notice the changing colors before they're gone. Every year, I think, "We're not at peak yet...I still have time to pay attention." Then I blink, and the trees are bare. Not this year.
16. ________________________ (This is for you to fill in, mama. I'd love to see what you'd add to the list...tack in on in a comment or on Facebook! And be sure to check out what your fellow moms have already added...one of their suggestions might be the thing that MAKES your entire fall season.)
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Add-ons along the way..
"October" by Eric Whitacre. Dear reader, please. Click on this link and let this play in the background. This song IS autumnal and completely gorgeous. You'll be a better person just for having heard it.
And speaking of better people, one of my dear mom friends offered these autumnal addendums: "I plan to enjoy sweatshirts, scarves, tennis shoes, crisp air, cider (preferably warm), caramel dip and Honey Crisp apples, and the awesomely phenomenal autumnal vivid colors!"
Here are some links from other smart mamas to check out...
Dutch Pea Soup (my husband I had this on our Alaskan cruise, and it was fabulous): http://www.instructables.com/
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Gladly shared at these blog bashes.