We have had so much rain lately that even my rain-loving self is starting to get waterlogged. Luckily the weather has also warmed up so it’s no longer a stinging cold rain.
I have the little two enjoying some sensory play that’s a less messy than their usual mud. I only have so many towels, and laundry still has to happen.
In between rounds of cleaning up mud, I finally launched my essential oil roll-ons. I’ve been studying essential oils for a while to make sure I was completely comfortable with their usage before sharing them with you.
I can’t believe it’s already December. I love this time of year, but, honestly I could do without all the holidays making what little we have of fall and winter fly by. Meanwhile stinking, hot summer lasts from mid-April to Halloween with no big holidays to break it up.
Anyway, unlike most years where I’m busy with random chaos and crafting until I realize Christmas is a week away and I still haven’t decorated, I got out our little Charlie Brown tree yesterday and let the boys decorate it. I stayed in the next room folding laundry so I wouldn’t be tempted to micromanage.
Because that pretty much sums it up. They did a good job, though, and since they did it, I’m less likely to keep rearranging ornaments to get everything just right.
The lighting in that room is terrible. You can make out the toddler-height holes starting to develop while the top of the tree is looking a little crowded. I predict that by Christmas, the bottom of the tree up to about 3.5 feet off the ground will be bare except for lights.
If you look closely, you’ll see some painted pinecone decorations. When Finn was little, I got a huge batch of pinecones and spray painted them red, white and silver. Then I tied jute twine loops on them for hooks. That way, I didn’t have to worry about broken glass if he took them off the tree. He really didn’t bother with them much, though. As you can see, I’ve since gotten braver with ornaments, as have my children.
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We have eleven pecan trees, so along with the leaves, pecans cover our yard this time of year. We already had about ten pounds collected just from our front yard, so this weekend we took them to the farmer’s market to have them cracked. Even though we still have to separate the shell from the meat, it’s so much faster than doing it all by hand that it is totally worth it.
While we were there, Thadd discovered a big box full of bruised apples for five dollars, so I bought those, too. Thanks to my apple peeler-slicer-corer contraption, I was able to quickly get them ready to freeze for later. Here’s a similar apple peeler to the one I use:
Some of the apples went straight to the stove with cinnamon and sugar to have as a sweet side and baked oatmeal topping.
I’m looking for more recipes to use the apples and pecans that aren’t overly sugary. So far, I’ve found a recipe for apple cider vinegar that makes use of the saved peels.
In the meantime, I made my favorite pecan dessert that is the opposite of not sugary: pecan pralines. (That’s puh-cahn prah-leans, y’all.) They are dangerously easy, especially when you have a ton of pecans on hand and the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples.
Here’s the recipe I use:
3/4 cup each of brown sugar and granulated sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of pecans
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Combine the sugars and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage. (That’s when you can put a drop in cold water and it holds together in a ball shape but flattens on your finger when you take it out of the water.) I stir it pretty constantly and check it when it starts to look a little thicker.
Once it is at the soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and pecans until it’s well mixed. Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto waxed paper. If it gets too hard to spoon out, warm it back up for a bit on the stove. It’s best to have the waxed paper ready and work quickly, though. That way you don’t risk burning it and the resulting sadness.
Resist the temptation to try the yumminess immediately and let it cool. Seriously, let it cool. Hot melty sugar burns! The pralines will be more frosty opaque than glossy and easy to peel off the waxed paper when they are ready.
I usually get about sixteen pralines from one batch, but it will vary depending on how big you make them.
If you have ever gone grocery shopping with young children, then you know what a treat it is to go shopping alone. On a recent shopping day, the whole family went to Aldi. Even with Chris there as backup, that trip resulted in my giving Instacart* a try. (Actual conversation with Instacart delivery guy: Him: Have a good day! Me: It’s a great day! I didn’t have to take my three kids shopping!!!!)
Aldi is awesome, but there’s always a few things I can’t get there, so on the way home we stopped at Kroger. Chris stayed in the car with the hooligans while I ran in to get the last few things we needed.
In the store, I occasionally ended up on the same aisle as a father with his three lovely daughters. I’m guessing they were all around elementary school age. What caught my attention about this family, was the fact that the father was experiencing his own version of the Aldi trip I had just survived. I never know if a smile or kind word in such situations will be seen as sincere or smug in such situations, so I politely ignored the chaos to finish my shopping.
At the checkout line, who should end up behind me, but the father and the three young ladies. If he was put there to remind me that all parents have those kinds of days, then I appreciate the reminder, but torturing another human being really was not necessary.
I continued with my plan of polite indifference to the humorous to everyone but the father scene that was taking place behind me. I’m pretty sure I failed to not smile when I heard such phrases as, “What have you done to the tortillias? Don’t put your mouth on that!”and the exasperated, “What is wrong with you?!?!???”
Hopefully it has been long enough that, should the father see and recognize this, he will be able to find the humor that is totally lacking when you are in the moment. Regardless, you have my empathy for that and every other similar shopping trip, as that is usually me. Also, Instacart* delivers to your door, if you need some time to recover.
*Neither Instacart or Aldi offered any compensation for this post. After that particular Aldi trip, though, Aldi should consider offering me free Instacart delivery so I no longer have to bring my children into their store.