Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Fall!!

Today is a much awaited day... the FIRST DAY OF FALL!
Is it just me, or does September feel like it just began?  Yet here were are on the 22nd day and only 8 days away from October!  Oh how time flies.


I look at this photo with the wish that I could be walking along this road on a cool, Fall morning.
The colors of Fall are amazing... where we live they don't get quite like this with the vivid reds, but trees during this season are beautiful in their own right no matter where they are.  I'm just thankful to look at them and ones like these anyway even if it isn't in person.
Fall is such an absolutely beautiful, ethereal, and lovely season!! It's like God painting the landscape to be more miraculous. It sounds strange to say since growth and life are usually associated with Spring, but the Fall season gives me a sense of feeling alive and like the landscape comes to life.  Maybe that's just because everything feels so new with all the bright hues in nature, and the cooler air feels so good!

Out of curiosity about Fall, with it being on my mind, I found a few sort of 'fun facts' related with this season I thought were interesting...

~Pumpkins were named by the Greeks, who called them "pepon",
which meant "large melon"

~"Fall" comes for the expression "fall of the year" used
around half a century ago

~The glucose trapped in leaves this time of year are
what make them red and orange in shade

~There is a tale among Native Americans that tells
of hunters who have killed a bear up in the sky during Autumn, and
when his blood falls to the earth it lands on forests, changing
the leaves to their red color.

~There are just a few places in the world that have the climate
and tree species that together make for bright Fall foliage.
One of those places is the Eastern U.S.


There are so many things about Fall to be thankful for in general, as well as personally in the things that I am looking foward to... cooler days, going outside and feeling the slight nip in the air that wasn't  there before, wearing sweaters and Fall clothes, using all my fall-scented candles, decorating the house and getting excited about ways to 'cozy' up our home for the season, make it feel like Fall inside too... also, the return of pumpkin pies, baking new Southern classics and Fall inspired recipes, and just spending quality time with family!

I am also looking forward to maybe finding a Fall event, not a Halloween carnival, but a Fall festival or something like it to go to during the season where they sell baked goods (pumpkin pies of course!) and scarves and Fall related goods, and have family activities.  I think that would be fun.

This reminds me, as simple of a subject matter as it is, of the days I most look forward to in Fall... the days you wake up to the sound of rain pattering on the roof, and it is just an overcast, brisk, snuggly day.  Those are the 'prelude to winter' days I love so much!

I don't know where this is, but I had to include it... the landscape is more breath-taking (if that's possible) in person I'm sure!  Imagine waking up every day to this view...  the palette of Fall colors against the backdrop of a glorious mountain leaves me speechless.

.                     .                      .                      .

Here's to welcoming the Fall season!
What are you most looking forward to about Fall?

I hope you have a most blessed season!
...and as we say here, Happy Fall Ya'll!!



All photos courtesy: Google Images & Pinterest

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Reflections


During the past week I could smell Fall in the air, on it's way, more than ever!
Over the weekend, I actually got to wear boots and a jacket.  It was cool outside under overcast skies, to the point of needing a jacket (quite a rarity here in the South so early in September), and delightfully rainy and snuggly for days!  I could not have been more thankful for a break in the heat.  The weather was truly a blessing...
It made everything go from feeling like we were in an oven to being comfortable and was just wonderful, and ultimately made me realize that Fall is just right around the corner.  So, with only 5 days until the first official day of Fall, I have been reflecting back on this Summer, what it was like, and what it meant to me...
Here are some of my reflections.

I have a different feeling coming out of this summer than I ever have.  I feel pleased and more accomplished at the things I decided to learn, the priveleges I had, and the ways I used my time.  There are many aspects of this summer- things I did, skills I learned, knowledge I gained- that I feel will stay with me for the rest of my life, positively reminding me of the important things...

~This Summer, one of the things that I feel blessed to have learned more about is the Home Arts!
  I feel it was placed upon my heart to become more interested in this, and I am
so glad I acquired that interest.  Growing up, I have always enjoyed these things to a
point, such as baking and home decorating and crafts.  This year, however, I saw
these things as more than hobbies... I began to see them as skills that I could serve my
family with, and serve my future family with... baking them desserts, cooking meals,
just knowing even the simple skills for running a home...  I baked my first pie,
tried new desserts and meals from my cookbook, and became passionate about
making the home comfortable and welcoming... taking another step
towards being that true 'Southern lady' that I hope to be.
On that thought, I also love the fact that I have broadened my knowledge of
home-cooking and baking as to always have something to make for anyone
needing it, showing hospitality and kindness through more than just words.
Another area of the home arts I enjoyed learning this summer, perhaps most of all,
 was sewing.  My adventures in sewing really began earlier in Spring, but I learned so
 much over the course of this summer and I'm so excited to learn more and more
and sew something amazing someday :)  It has been exciting to progress and learn
new things, taking up something useful and completely new to me.
I also believe that learning more about homemaking and the like has allowed me
learn about how that relates to life, family and living, and has brought me
closer to my roots which is priceless.

~The trip I had the opportunity to take with my family this summer was another great
blessing.   Going to Colorado was absolutely wonderful and so beautiful and scenic.
Reflecting on getting to travel there I am still thankful to have experienced it, just getting
a break from everyday life,and seeing all of that beauty and serenity in the scenery,
reminding me more than ever of God's graces through the landscape and nature.

~One of the most enriching parts of my summer has been deepening
my love for the Lord.  It was important to me to make my summer count in this
sense, to gain a better understanding of God and the gift of life, and to always recognize
the blessings in my life!  It has given me great joy to do this and to focus on my
faith and resolve to stay focused on it, because I know that's where my heart
and thoughts need to be... the same with prayer and the role it plays in life,
as well as thanking the Lord for the things I feel I often take foregranted, and
seeing how He works within all our lives.

~As a combination of all those things, this summer I ultimately have gained a
 greater appreciation for life and for the simple things altogether!
I find myself journaling about and thinking about how thankful I am for the various
blessings in life, the smallest joys, the big ones, having the opportunity
to learn and grow.  My appreciation for life overall has become greater.
I feel I have always been thankful in this way, but I am now so in a deeper
sense... just waking up and being thankful to be alive, to be living another
day, to have family and loved ones, seeing beauty in new things.


...And I am very thankful for the entire summer.  It has been such a lovely one, a summer with more meaning to me than just soaking up the sun (I'd just burn anyway!) or some of the things you might think of relating to summer as a season... it has been a summer of learning, of blooming, growing towards who I am meant to be, and a summer- I feel- of purpose.   I don't feel like I changed really, I just gained a better appreciation for everything and the desire to learn and grow.
And even though this season felt like it went by so quickly as I'm looking back on it, I am so excited for Fall to be here so soon!

How was your Summer? 
What was memorable about it?

Thankyou for reading.
Have a beautiful & blessed day :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September Daybook

Hope ya'll are having a beautiful Wednesday today!... or should I say 'this evening' now.
I am in the mood for reflective thinking and sort of a 'journaling' type of mood, so I really feel like doing a Simple Woman's Daybook.  I realize I am doing this one a little close to my last, but hope you enjoy anyway :)
Outside my window...
The night is dark... it feels like the sun went down in an instant after such a bright, blue day.  I can hear the birds and bugs in the trees making their evening noises.

I am thinking...
about how glad I am to be home right now with my family together.

I am thankful...
for seeing things in everyday life that inspire me to lead life in a certain way, that encourage me in that way.

In the kitchen...
There is a dessert that is calling my name, that I probably don't need, and the fixings for a salad are out waiting to be mixed together and rinsed.

I am wearing...
a t-shirt I got at the coast last year, comfy jeans, silver stud earrings.

I am going...
to attempt to plant a few tomatoes and other things soon in new pots, as nearly all the pots with our seeds and growing plants on our table out back were knocked-off and broken accidentally.

I am wondering...
what I would like to experiment in baking this weekend??  I have a few ideas.

I am reading...
Proverbs, as well as reading up on two very different topics:  Art History and Fall decorating.

I am hoping...
we get to go out to a restaurant sometime over the upcoming weekend.  It has been awhile.

I am looking forward to...
receiving the travel information I am requesting!  I recently found a booklet in our Sunday paper showcasing different parts of the South and am sending in the card inside for free brochures on various places.

I am pondering...
the beauty of colors.  Realizing how amazingly beautiful peacocky-teal is, and the brilliant palette of colors in nature.

I am praying...
for the families effected by 9/11 who's hearts ached a little bit more than usual yesterday I'm sure... and for comfort to be brought to anyone with a heavy heart.

A quote for today...
"Life is full of beauty.  Notice it.  Notice the bumble bee, the small child, the smiling faces.  Smell the rain, and feel the wind."

A peek into my day...
I saw these at the craft store the other day and thought they were so fun and lovely.  I can't wait to get creative and put together some kind of Fall decoration with them for the upcoming season!


Thankyou for reading!!
Have a blessed day :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Get to Know Me

It's Saturday morning!  It is a nice day outside, a little bit overcast and cool (a break from the blaring sun), and I feel like writing a little something over breakfast this morning...  I have a topic for a post I have been thinking of writing all week, but haven't had the chance to gather my thoughts for that one yet, so here is a different post I decided I want to do, something light and simple: a sort of "get to know me"!
I have seen this type of post on various homemaking and southern blogs and have greatly enjoyed reading them, so I figured I would do one so anyone reading can get to know me a little bit more than just through what I usually write about... and aside from what I have on my 'About' page :)

So, here are the "get to know me" questions and my answers...

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Ireland!  I have some Irish heritage and I think that the 'Emerald Isle' has some of the most, if not the most, beautiful land in the world.  So green and lush and beautiful!  The people seem absolutely lovely as well.  I don't know how I would make it on a plane ride that long, but I hope I get to go someday.

Have a favorite scent?
There are SO many!  Recently, as I have shared in a few posts, I have been buying candles a lot and have fallen in love with the candle store... I just go in and want to smell every candle before I purchase one.  I love all Fall scents, like Pumpkin, Fall Spice, and those types of smells... and any lemon or citrus scent is also amazing.  I love the smell in the air when it's about to rain or a cold front is coming in.  For everyday scents, I also love walking outside to the smell of barbeque, or the scent of something amazing baking in the oven!  And I actually like the smell of fresh garlic quite a lot.

What is the first thing you notice about someone?
Most of the time I notice a person's eyes first.  I think the expression in someone's eyes can tell you a lot about them... this is what draws me to people, and I am always drawn to a person that has kindness in their eyes.  I also notice their smile, because just as in the eyes, there is a certain sincerity that can be seen through a person's smile.

Your favorite comfort food?
Of course it's something Southern ;)  I would have to say anything warm, buttery, and delicious that I have grown up eating.  Baked Mac and cheese or creamy mashed-potatoes are incredible.

How do you find relief from stress?
I like to listen to a music that means something to me, to just get lost in it for a moment.  I also like to sew or sketch or do something creative, simple, and relaxing.  When I'm in an actual stressful situation or know I will have to do something that stresses me, the most helpful things for me are journaling and prayer.

What are you afraid of?
My biggest fear is losing loved ones.  Others are being sick in public, getting lost in the woods or wilderness somewhere, flying (really crashing), extreme heights, and bees.  Some of those you might face more than others, but my fear of bees is a big one!  I am afraid especially of wasps and hornets.  I got stung by a red hornet when I was five, and even though I honestly don't remember it that well, I have been terrified ever since.  Sometimes if a leaf falls off a tree near me, I will scream, thinking it's a bee.  One time in school, we were taking a test and the window had been left open; a huge yellow-jacket flew in and I left my test, got up, and went and sat in the back corner and ducked near my friend while the teacher tried to shoo it away.  Embarrassing, but true.  ...And I'm not sure, that may seem like a long list, but if you've ever seen the show "Monk", he is afraid of milk.  So I guess it could be worse, hehe.

What is your favorite season?
In a way, this is hard because I love them all for different reasons.  Ultimately, though, the seasons that I get most excited about and actually enjoy the most are Fall and Winter!  I was born in the wintertime, so maybe that's why, but I also just love cold weather and how cozy and lovely it is.  Especially here in the South, Fall and especially Winter, are like a vacation from the heat.

Something you would never do?
Smoke a cigarette.

Favorite film?
I love a variety of films.  I cannot tell you how much I love to laugh, so I really enjoy a good (clean) comedy.  At the end of the day, though, my favorite movies are moving, powerful, or have a sentimental, inspiring message behind them.  I'm not sure what my all time favorite is, but one that is so close to my heart is "Fried Green Tomatoes".  The story is beautiful and heartwarming, but has a flare and twist that I love... and it is set in the South during a more simple time that is refreshing.  ...And "Gone With the Wind".  It's an amazing, timeless classic and I think everyone should see that film sometime before they die.  Of course if you're from below the Mason-Dixon, you'll probably find it to be one of your favorite films ;)

Do you have a strange talent?
I'm not sure this would be useful at any point in life, but I'm one of the only people I know who can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose, haha.

Favorite band or type of music?
I really don't like the majority of the music out right now that my generation listens to.  I actually enjoy older music that was written in a more carefree, innocent time, when music was about more meaningful things and felt real.  I'm not sure about a 'favorite band', but in my opinion, the most amazing voices I have ever heard are those of older singers of the past.  I love powerful voices, the kinds of voices that are so amazing they give you chills.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have had my little puppy, Lucie, who we got as a pound puppy, for almost 4 years now.  She is so much fun.  We have had other sweet beloved dogs and pets like guinea pigs and sweet little bunnies in the past also, but right now we just have Lucie and lots of fish.

How many siblings do you have?
I have no siblings.  And I have had a good childhood as an only child, but I think large families are wonderful... my extended family is pretty big, so I guess that makes up for it.  I have about 20 cousins and counting.

Do you have a favorite saying?
"When God closes a door, he opens a window".  I have faith in that.  Some people might have heard that before and think it to be overused, but maybe it is overused because it's true and it's a comfort.
A less meaningful, but true, one I like is "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl".
And one I grew up hearing is "Bless your heart".  I love it, and my Grama used to say that all the time... there are two ways it can be taken, but when she said it- and when I say it- it is always in the most sincere way.

What things are most important to you?
The most important things to me in my life are the Lord, my family and friends, memories, traditions, and being a good, hospitable, kind person.  I think if you don't have those things, I feel like you really don't have anything.

~

That was fun to write!  I'm excited to get to share a little bit about myself with anyone who reads my blog!  I hope you maybe got more of a sense of my likes, values, and personality this way.
Something that was engrained in me was to always take interest in others, and that has helped me find common loves and bonds with others throughout my life, so I love learning about people...  if you have anything to share, or something we have in common, I'd love to hear about it in a comment :)


Thankyou so much for reading!!
Have a beautiful day!


(Ireland & Fall photos courtesy Google Images)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weekend and Apple Pie

Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Mine was quite long and lovely and I'm thankful for getting to spend time with my family and relax. 
There is one exciting thing particularly I thought I would share that I did during this weekend!... 
I baked my very first Apple pie (photos at the end)!  And actually my very first pie ever.  It was so much fun and so neat to go through the process and feel like I was baking up something so beautiful and delicious, a dish filled with love and true Southern comfort for my family :)
I love baking so much, and baking this pie was the best feeling and the best baking experience I've had.  I felt like this...


And as funny as it may sound, aside from baking pie and feeling like a lovely little, vintage homemaker, my favorite thing about pie is how it sounds to say.  Pie.  I don't know why, but I love that word, especially if you say "Cherry Pie" or "Apple Pie", which I think it's fun to say in a Southern accent or even a sort of New Yawk accent, haha.

So, here is the recipe I used, as well as the process that I took photos of to share...

 CRISP CRUST APPLE PIE

Filling:
5-6 medium apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
1/2 cup water
Slice apples thin.  In small bowl, add dry ingredients
together to make mixture.  Just before it's time to add the apples into
the pie, spread apples out onto a plate or dish and pour mixture over.
Pour the water over them.

Crust:
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
About 1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter

Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening and use a blender to mix them
all together.  Add enough ice water to hold
dough mixture together.  Gather the dough into a ball.  Roll out on
wax paper or an area where it won't stick to your surface (I didn't have
wax paper so I used foil).  Place on top of filling.  Sprinkle top with
cinnamon and sugar and dot with butter.
Bake at 400 degrees until crust is browned and apples are tender.
~Because I didn't have a bottom to my pie, as I used a plain pie pan,
I divided my dough and actually spread it over the bottom as a bottom crust
and baked that first.  Then, I used the other half rolled out to follow the
directions, place on top of filling, and so on.
(I modified this recipe a little for sweetness, as well as the directions because some
parts of how they were written were just slightly unclear for me originally).


 My cookbook with the recipe, the "Best of the Best: Hall of Fame of Southern Recipes".  I love this cookbook so much and can't wait now to make more pies, as there are pages of pie recipes within it!

We like to bake with a candle burning sometimes.  It just makes it more fun and makes the kitchen smell even better!  This is one of my favorites. It smells wonderful, and I figured I'd get some use out of it before I put it away and start using Fall candles all the time :)

Some of the ingredients for the pie filling, and the apples (I ended up not using the larger Red Delicious apple).

Creating the mixture for the filling. Cinnamon! Yum.

The finished filling (except for the water) and the sliced apples, which my Mama so graciously cut while I was getting other things ready.

Cutting in the shortening.  Or as it is more fun to say down here, shoatnin', hehe.   I sliced in half-inch pieces and then mixed them all in to start to form the dough, then blended with a hand-mixer.

The finished dough... it was a neat feeling to have made it from scratch :)

Here, I cut the dough in two, to have one piece to roll out to lay on the bottom of the pan as the bottom crust (which I baked by itself first), then the second piece to roll out and lay atop of the filling to finish.

The bottom crust in the oven.  It wasn't perfect, but it turned out okay... someone with more experience would probably know you have to stretch the edges out more over the lip of the pan so that it's more even looking.

After taking my bottom crust out of the oven in the pie pan, I poured in the apple filling & got to do the most fun part before putting it in the oven for the final bake... Putting on the top crust!  I layed it over, made sure it covered the edges well, crimped the edges a little, and poked out a design in the center for steam release, and a pretty touch :)

Fresh from the oven, the finished PIE!!


I was (and still am) so excited and amazed at how it turned out, even if it wasn't perfect.  All that mattered was it smelled amazing and it looked so pretty.  You could even see the soft, hot apples and cinnamon under the crust.

The first piece!  And what is pie without a little ice-cream?!

If you have never made a pie, I definitely recommend this recipe for beginners like me, or for anyone!  It was so fun and relatively simple to make... I was afraid it wasn't going to turn out right since it was my first time, but I'm so thankful it did... and I feel good about how it turned out also judging by how little of it is left after the weekend :)

If you are experienced at pie-making or just love them, what is your favorite pie to make or eat?

~        ~        ~

... For the rest of the weekend (and I count yesterday as part of the weekend since it was Labor Day), another highlight was having a family day out.  One of my favorite things we did was stopping by Yankee Candle Co. ... Once I walked in, my nose wouldn't let me leave without buying something, haha.
Everything smelled so heavenly.  These are the candles I purchased and cannot wait to burn.



That was my weekend, and my first pie!
How was your weekend?

~Have a blessed day & a wonderful start to the week~


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook: Sunday

FOR TODAY. . .

Outside my window...
the leaves on one of our smaller trees are moving from the light breeze (that I hope gets stronger to bring some cool air!), and the sky is the brightest blue.

I am thinking...
about what a lovely Sunday this is and how thankful I am for the long weekend.

I am thankful...
for things I have been thinking of that are so easily taken foregranted:  my eyesight, my arms and legs and energy, and just having breath in me.

In the kitchen...
lunch has just been prepared: grilled cheese sandwiches :)

I am wearing...
My favorite calico print Sunday dress, as I still haven't changed since getting home from church, and my hair up.

I am creating...
ideas for Fall and seasonal decorations for our home, which I'm very excited about!

I am going...
out for a day with my Mom tomorrow that I'm looking forward to.

I am pondering...
how much time each task for my day will take so I can plan what things I should get out of the way first.

I am reading...
the Sunday paper.

I am praying...
personal prayers, as well as for the families on the Southern coast effected by the hurricane.

I am looking forward to...
getting further into September (yay for a new month!).  Just knowing it's September, I can already feel Fall coming on.

I am learning...
and realizing new things about life and faith that surprise and delight me.

Around the house...
it is a wonderful weekend afternoon... the ballgame is on in the background, and all of us are visiting and relaxing right now.

One of my favorite things...
being welcomed home by my dog, like I was earlier... I may have said this before, but it really does makes me smile.  I love how I can be gone for a whole day or just go down the road to get the mail, and either way her uncontainable excitement to see us is always the same.

A quote on my mind...
"Never confuse a goody-two-shoes with someone who is genuinely moral". 

A peek into my day...
The picture for the new month on our nature scenes calendar in the kitchen. 
Wishing I was looking at that waterfall in real life :)


That is my Daybook for today.
Thankyou for reading!

Hope you have a relaxing & blessed Sunday!

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