Pumpkins, Road Trips, Weddings, & The North Wind

InAnOrchard

 

I had fully intended to do a “Week that Was” post. But soon one week turned into two and then suddenly 2 weeks became a month and so on… and so on…

So here we are again, faced with a backlog of photos and another rambling post where I attempt to hold onto and freeze the days that are sliding by so swiftly.    InAnOrchard

I know Christmas is upon us but I’m still sorting through pictures of pumpkins and autumn rain clouds.  This Halloween we spent a quiet night in carving pumpkins, eating heaping bowls of pesto pasta, and watching old Disney movies.
InAnOrchard

At first the girls were a little crestfallen when they discovered we wouldn’t be dressing up and going door to door, but a little face painting lifted their spirits, and they were absolutely delighted with the happy, glowing pumpkin faces looking so cheerful on the front porch.
InAnOrchard

In the days following we did “pumpkin seed math” and roasted a big batch of pumpkin seeds.
InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

The sky has been magical these days.  This westward view never gets old.

This picture next makes me smile and needs some explanation.  On a day to day basis the kids are responsible for keeping their rooms picked up.  Most days they do a perfectly adequate job keeping the floor picked up, clothes in the hamper, and shoes in the closet.  But once or twice a month I go in and to a “mom cleaning”.  That means clean bedding, shelves get organized and dusted, books tidied and put in order, all the corners cleaned and vacuumed, and the beds perfectly made and smoothed out.  The kids love when I do a “mom cleaning”.  Their room is suddenly a haven again, everything “just so” and ready for play.  They usually spend the remainder of the day in blissful, quiet play or tucked into their clean beds with a long lost book.

InAnOrchard

School days continue to dominate our daily routine. I’ve decided that homeschooling the kiddos may be physically, and at times emotionally draining, but man is it keeping my brain sharp!  The things I learn right along side them never ceases to amaze me and long after they leave the table I find myself googling things like, “The Black Hole of Calcutta” or, “American Whaling Industry” and “Whaleship Essex”. InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

I also enjoyed a wonderful evening out with my sister-in-law Jessica.  We took a flower arranging class out at Kelley Flower Farms.  We made fall pumpkin arrangements from a sea of stunning flowers picked fresh from their own field, we enjoyed snacks and beverages, and grownup conversations.InAnOrchard

For the week of Thanksgiving we loaded the whole gang into a rented mini van and headed up north to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and Aunt and Uncle. After Thanksgiving we continued to drive all the way to Washington to attend a family wedding.InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

I was born in the Pacific North West and going back always feels extra special.  There is something so stunning about the land up North, I could have stopped a hundred times to take pictures but contented myself with an occasional phone shot from the passenger side window.

InAnOrchard

It was so good to see my parents!  It had been a full year since we had been up to see them.  They live in the most charming little town, in a small 100-year-old house surrounded by huge old trees. They were so happy to see the kids!  This was the only photo I managed to get of us all together.  It’s far from perfect, but it’s the reality of letting other people take photos with your phone camera and dealing with multiple squirmy children.

InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

Miss P spent most of the time, ” nuggling wif Papa” and was reluctant to leave him (to say the least)InAnOrchard

But the day after Thanksgiving we continued our journey to Washington.  We played the part of the tourist in a small town by stopping for pictures next to the local landmark.

InAnOrchard IMG_20161126_112209

My husband’s cousin got married that following Saturday.  It was a sweet wedding and a treat to watch a young couple so clearly in love.  We felt right at home as we met new faces that quickly felt like old friends.  We also had the pleasure of having lunch with old high school friends!

InAnOrchard

The wedding reception was held in a beautiful “barn”.  They called it a barn but it look too lovely and pristine to be a working barn.

InAnOrchard

I didn’t get a lot of photos of the wedding but I managed to snap this picture of the happy couple leaving the reception in the rumble seat of a vintage car!  Such a beautiful evening and I’m so glad we were able to go!

InAnOrchard

The whole time we drove we listened to George MacDonald’s book, At the Back of the North Wind.  His stories are some of the most whimsical and fanciful books I have ever read or listened to in my life, and they stir my imagination in ways I didn’t know was possible.  But what most captures my heart is the simple, yet powerful wisdom MacDonald weaves through every page in his books.  I feel like I want to read them to my children over and over, and pray that a portion of that wisdom seeps into their very core.

At the Back of the North Wind is the story of a little boy named Diamond who befriends the North Wind. To Diamond the North Wind is simply his friend who he loves and trusts, but the adult listener perceives that she is in fact death and suffering, sent to do the bidding of God throughout the earth.  I know that might sound terribly morbid and not at all a children’s tale, but trust me when I say it is anything but morbid; it is a beautiful story filled with hope and love.

I think I could fill a book with all the quotes I loved from this story but here is just a small sample:

“Never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here; and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand.”

And now we come to the end of the post, and if you made it this far you get a gold star!  One of these days I’ll get around to writing short and sweet posts in real time… but it’s not real likely ;)

 

Celebrating Baby

I’m still playing catch up on the old blog…hope you don’t mind!  This September Jessica and I had the privilege of throwing a baby shower for our sister-in-law Angela.  Angela and Elliot (my husband’s youngest brother) were expecting their first child this fall; a baby girl.  My mother-in-law Mary, very graciously offered to host the shower in her beautiful backyard.  Which was fitting, because almost 2 years earlier, Elliot and Angela were married in that same backyard.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardThe stunning dahlias came from Kelley Farms, who spoiled me with buckets of amazing peach and cream colored flowers.  I arranged them in simple sage and cream pitchers.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We had feared a hot and still evening (as September evenings are known to do around these parts) but thankfully the night ended up being so pleasant.
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Jess had the idea of filling white balloons with gold polka dot glitter and having them floating around the party.  I love how playful and sweet they looked.

Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

A few years back Jess and I went to a friend’s baby shower and en lieu of shower games they asked people to fill out a “Wishes for Baby” card.  I loved the idea, and so Jessica went about designing this gorgeous card which matched the party invitations.  Each one of the guests took a few moments to fill out the card for Angela to enjoy reading later, and someday hopefully her daughter will read them too and know how well she is loved by so many people!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Because we knew it would be a warm evening we served iced coffee and ice water.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

The girls were so excited to be at the party and to wear their matching party dresses (naturally my daughters aren’t wearing any shoes).  These girls have been eagerly awaking the arrival of a baby girl cousin FOR EVER.  Little miss had celebrity status even before she was born!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Lest you are under the mistaken impression that they are little ladies.  Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

And here they all are with their (and I quote) “favorite Aunt”.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We served strawberry, and Nutella mouse parfaits with a layer of sweetened pretzel crust; along iced oatmeal shortbread cookies, cream puffs, salted almonds, and fresh fruit.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

I think the girls ate a dozen cream puffs each.  Miss E ended the night with a terrible stomach ache (silly girl).Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Friends and family began to arrive as the sun started to set.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

It was also Jessica’s idea to swag lights behind Angela to provide a some extra lighting after dark.Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Aunt Angela had lots of helpers at present opening time, more than she needed that’s for sure ;) Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardHappily I can now report that sweet little baby girl has arrived, she is healthy and beautiful and so well loved!

Autumn in the Kitchen

I like being in the kitchen at this time of the year.  So many recipes that I love are slow cooked dutch-oven meals, or baking and none of those are really suitable for 100 + degree summer days.  Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick post on some of my seasonal favorites and a few new recipes I’ve tried this Fall.

This first recipe is a tried and true, faithful and favorite in my house.  Part of my motivation for doing this post, was so I could have an easy-to-find digital record of the recipe.  You can see from the picture that my recipe card is looking a little worse for the ware.  Every fall when I decide to make the first batch of Pumpkin cookies of the year, I go searching through my disheveled recipe folder and there is always a moment of panic when I can’t find it in the folder.  I usually find it floating around in the dusty back corner of my cookbook cupboard, but I’ve decided it would be best to have a back up…just in case (kindly ignore the terrible spelling on the recipe card!) Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard14 years ago my sister-in-law Andrea brought these pumpkin cookies to Thanksgiving dinner and I fell in love with them.  I jotted the recipe down and I’ve been making them ever since.  They are the most requested cookies I make.

I will give you fair warning though, as delicious at these cookies are, the recipe is an odd one.  It breaks so many of the rules I know about baking cookies, and yet they turn out tender and amazing every time so I’ve never messed with method.Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

The recipe includes the sugar in the dry ingredient list which is so very odd.  It also asks you to cream together butter and pumpkin puree which doesn’t really cream well at all…but like I said, somehow it works.  The dough is very sticky so I recommend using a cookie scoop to form the dough balls.  This will make the process go so much more quickly, and it will give you uniform cookies which is important for even baking.Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchardThe cookies have a soft, tender, and cake-like texture with that oh-so-perfect pumpkin spice flavor.  Once the cookies have cooled I make a caramel icing to ice the tops of the cookies.  The icing sets up but not hard like a Royal icing.  It’s a big recipe that makes about 4 dozen cookies and I love that because I can pass them out to friends and neighbors.

Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

 

So here is the recipe in full:

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Cream together-

1 cup butter, 1 16 oz. can of pumpkin puree, 2 tsp. vanilla, 2 eggs (like I said, this doesn’t really cream well so just mix until the eggs are incorporated and the butter is in tiny pieces)

In a separate bowl mix together-

4 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. of baking powder, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp. salt, 2 cups of sugar

Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until it’s completely mixed (batter will be thick and sticky).  Scoop onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Caramel Icing

1/2 cup butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar and heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat and let boil for 2 minutes while continuing to stir.  After the 2 minutes is up stir in the milk and bring mixture up to a boil again.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.  Sift in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Ice the cookies immediately while the icing is still nice and spreadable.  As you spread the caramel the icing might start to set up on you; just beat in a little milk to get it workable again.

 

This next recipe is a new one I tried just a few weeks ago.  A delicious fall salad called Autumn Butternut Squash and Pearl Couscous Salad, and you can find that recipe here.  I served it for lunch with homemade honey wheat bread.
Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

I love the flavor of the roasted butternut squash and the texture of the Couscous!  The only addition I made was to add feta cheese because I love feta on ALL SALADS.  If I was to make the recipe again the only thing I would tweak is the dressing.  I felt like the dressing was a little too sweet and not complex enough.  I would adjust the ratios to include more apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt…just to balance the favor out a little.

Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

These rolls are my children’s favorite and I often make them at the beginning of the week to make sandwiches for the kids school lunches.  I’ve made them for years and this is the recipe I use: “Best Rolls Ever”

Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

SO much caramel corn this Fall!  Do you ever get on a recipe kick and obsessively make the same thing over and over?  I do, and lately it’s been Caramel Corn which gets devoured in one afternoon.  It’s also great for packing in school lunches (if there’s any left to pack). I like the Better Homes and Gardens Caramel Popcorn recipe Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

 

I also spent a delightful afternoon helping test a vintage, sourdough leavened bundt cake with my friend Bonnie (of Alchemy Bread Co).  I was the official nutmeg grater and taste tester.  You can’t imaging how good those little spiced bundt cakes tasted fresh out of the oven and coated with homemade whipped cream.  Heaven…absolute heaven.  Autumn in the Kitchen | InAnOrchard

And that’s a little glimpse of my kitchen these last few months, along with other seasonal favorites like Potato Chowder, Pot Roast, Apple Crisp, and Slow Cooked Meat and Gravy with mashed potatoes. I’d love to hear your favorite and faithful Fall recipes!

Hopefully I’ll be back soon, with a post about the baby shower my sister-in-law Jessica and I threw for our sister-in-law Angela.

See you soon my friends, April

Summer Pinecrest Trip {2016}

It’s nearly November but I couldn’t let another week pass without sitting down to write about our trip to Pinecrest.  It’s become a summertime tradition that the kids look forward to so much, and I want them to be able to read about our trips to the cabin, so for the sake of keeping memories…

This past July, over the week of Justin’s birthday, we loaded the minivan up and headed to the Pinecrest cabin.  We’ve been so fortunate to be able to rent the same cozy cabin for 4 summers now, in fact it hardly seems like summer if we don’t make it to the lake!

I packed all the really important things for myself, library books, embroidery, and of course flowers from the garden.
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We woke up the first morning on Justin’s birthday.  He got up early to make us all a special breakfast.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

His famous chorizo breakfast burritos that we all happily gobbled upPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss P is the Queen of bedheads
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We tagged along with Justin as he did a round of disc golf Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss E spent the entire trip diligently recording all our comings and goings in her new journalPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Of course it wouldn’t be Justin’s birthday without homemade berry pie.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We enjoyed pie and coffee from the back deck of the cabin that evening.  After dark we hunkered down and watched Five Mile Creek episodes and relived my childhood :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The next morning Grandpa and Grandma Wolfe, Uncle Jared and Aunt Jess and the cousins came up to spend a day on the lake with us.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

You can never have too many floatation devices Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

She loved the water, but every once in awhile the coldness of the lake would catch up with her, and she’d need to spend some time bundled up in beach towels. Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

These girls thought it was the best fun to get soaking wet in the lake and then roll in the gritty, dusty sand.  Their mothers cringed at the thought of all the sand they’d need to rinse from their hair later that eveningPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We rented a few canoes and everyone took turns paddling around the lakePinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

This photo makes me laugh!  I can’t remember what kind of comments were being shouted from the shore but it obviously got Grandma pretty animated and Grandpa laughing

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Even Miss P got a turnPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Uncle Jared stayed bone dry until he reached the shore :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The $2.99 floats I bought from Target earned their keepPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We brought everyone back to the cabin, threw kids into tubs and showers, and got everyone changed into clean, dry clothes.  The men went to pick up pizza and we enjoyed a fine night filling our bellies with good pizza and watching the sun set behind the trees.  The cousins headed back down the mountain but Grandpa and Grandma W stayed the night and spent most of Monday at the lake with us again.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We spent our whole vacation lounging at the cabin or the lake.  Normally we try to take some hikes but on the very first day of our trip, Miss E got a bad blister on the back of her heel, and G ended up leaving home with only flip flops…so hiking was no longer an option.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Is there anything better than soft-serve Snack Shack ice cream cones?Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The last night of vacation we packed a picnic dinner.  We swam at the lake until late, and had a small BBQ while we waited to watch a movie at the Pinecrest, Movie Under the Stars amphitheater.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We took a moment to snap a few pictures of kiddos.  I love those happy sun-kissed faces!Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

I really, really love these pictures of the boys

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Sometimes I think they’re more like puppies than boysPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We huddled together eating popcorn and watching The Secret Life of Pets (which was a big hit with all the kids).  When the movie ended we loaded sleepy kids up in the van, headed back to cabin to throw our luggage in the car, and took the long drive back down out of the mountains.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchardAnother beautiful summer by the lake.  Another year of fun in the funky cabin.

The Big News…

I cruelly left my last post with a big teaser and then promptly disappeared for nearly two months!  It wasn’t intentional but sometimes these things do happen.

Anyway, the big news is we’re moving!  But not to worry we aren’t going far.  Just next door in fact.  This past July we signed the papers to purchase the three acre plot next door to our property.  It features a one-hundred-year-old, charming house that is perfectly situated on top of a hill surrounded by trees, it also has a very large shop, a gorgeous view off the back of the property and… lots of junk.  So much junk; inside and out and all over the property.  Did I mention that it happens to be the neighborhood eyesore?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

But nothing that a lot of hard work won’t fix.  Really if you can look past all the abandoned cars and piles of rubble, it’s a gem of a home and the sweetest little setup anyone could ever wish for.  It’s on a hill for crying out loud!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with our area, we live in a giant valley.  It’s flat everywhere.  When I drive over the freeway overpass my kids get excited, that’s how flat it is around these parts.

Needless to say we have a lot of work ahead of us and we alternate between feeling so excited and feeling so overwhelmed.  But I thought I’d give you a brief tour of the house (soon I hope to post pictures of the property and shop).  These picture s were all taken over a month ago so things have already changed but for now they will have to do!

So, lets begin with the font door.  You walk in through this charming front door which I’m hoping to keep and paint a fun color (maybe yellow?).  I like all the carvings and the oval glass; I think it really fits the house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the view you are greeted with; the living room area and a view of the staircase.  The doorway at the bottom of the stairs leads to a small bedroom, and the doorway to the right of picture is the downstairs bathroom. There was a lot of stuff left in the house when the previous owners relocated.  If you can believe it these pictures don’t show half of the stuff that was left behind.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Still standing at the front door, if you look to your right, you will see what will eventually be our dining area, the kitchen, and the walk-in pantry.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kitchen was gutted before we took over the house; it was an edition that for some reason includes an indoor fire-pit??  As much as the boys are lobbying to keep the indoor fire-pit I think it will be one of the first things to go.  Obviously we’re starting from scratch here in the kitchen (actually every room in the house is from scratch) so there are a lot of big decisions to make here.  Because the home is older and has a farmhouse feel to it, we’d like to keep that look as we update the whole house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

That is the side door that leads out to a rundown garage.  The very large, convenience store fridge has since been moved and the entire kitchen is empty. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bathroom, which the previous owner had begun to redo but hadn’t made very much progress by the time he decided to move.  It’s decent sized but long and narrow which is proving to be a little challenging as far as layout is concerned.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bedroom that is right off the base of the staircase.  Initially this room seemed like it was in the best shape and would require the least amount of work but as we were taking out the flooring we noticed some water damage behind the bead-board so all of that had to come down. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kids love this hand-carved heart light switch so I think it will stay. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Here we go up the narrow staircase.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly to the left of the stairs is the very large,and very scary upstairs bathroom.  This is a space that has loads of potential but it’s going to take a lot of work to unlock that potential.  While the bathroom is large, the huge window and low ceilings are tricky to plan around.  Where to put the shower, and the vanity, and the mirrors?  How do we create and maximize much needed storage?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The large picture window will have to go.  Who puts a giant window in their upstairs bathroom anyway??  We’re kicking around the idea of dividing this room in two, but we’ll see.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

From the bathroom you can see the length of the upstairs hallway.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sections of the hallway walls were removed to install builtin storage.  Those will need to be designed and installed.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the largest bedroom in the house and was meant to be a master bedroom.  Justin and I considered using it for our room, but it’s not connected to a bathroom and it’s upstairs in “kid central”.  In the end we decided to have the girls share this room.  There are a lot of skylights in this room, which are sort of nice because they let more light in the room, but they create a LOT of heat for a westward facing room.  Still trying to decide what we want to do with the skylights.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly across the hall is a second bedroom that will become J’s room.  It has a small closet and a window that faces east.  I love the charm of the upstairs bedroom.  All the cozy nooks and corners.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

At the end of the hall is the third and last bedroom which will be G’s room.  This window faces the front of the property.  The upstairs bedrooms are all in pretty good shape.  Painting, framing the windows, and adding trim are the extent of the work that needs to be done to those rooms.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Heading back downstairs there are three doorways at the very center of the house.  The middle door leads the back the house.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love this little builtin cupboard and I think it will look really nice painted.  The shelves are shallow so it’s not practical from a storage stand point but they add character (which is important!).
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I think this back room was at one point the kitchen, but we’re going to use it as a laundry room/sewing room.  At first I wanted to keep some of the cupboards but as we started really looking at them, we realized they aren’t quality cabinets and rodents had been living in them for the last year….so out they came.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the same room looking out to the hallway that leads to the living room.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The ceiling is paneled with old wooden drying racks and I actually really love the look.  I’d like to take them down and give them a little TLC, maybe some whitewashing before we rehang them?  Maybe I’m crazy but I also like this lamp shade.  I think I could work with it; do a little paint and fabric makeover.   The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Most of the doors and hardware seem to be original to the house and I’d like to keep as many of them as I can salvage.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sorry this next picture is so blurry, it was getting steadily darker and my camera was having trouble focusing.  This is another hallway that connects the “sun room” to the rest of the house.  The sun room is and addition to the house and is in rough shape.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

It’s got potential but it need so much work inside and out.  We’d like to eventually convert this into a master bedroom/bathroom suite but for now Justin and I will use the small downstairs bedroom.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love the beams and the vaulted ceiling!  I think this could be a really lovely master bedroom with nice windows and a little sitting area.  Some place tucked in the back house to provide a little peace and quiet.The Hill House | InAnOrchardAnd that’s the house tour for now!  I can already tell that it’s going to be a challenge to keep up with the house progress but I will try to be better about doing house posts (posts in general!).

I can’t wait to see this house take shape and have it feel more like a home and less like a construction zone ;)

Thanks for coming by, for your patience during quiet times here on the ol’ blog.

See you soon, April

Turning Three

My sweet girl, you were so excited about your third birthday.  It’s hard, when you’re just a little thing, to figure out how Birthdays work.  Everyone else was having birthdays, opening presents, blowing out candles, eating cake…and every time you would ask, “Will it be my birthday now?  Tomorrow?  When will it be my birthday?”

But finally, at long last your birthday arrived.  Daddy woke you up early and took you to breakfast.  You had a hard time shaking off the sleepiness while you ate your special pancakes.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

When you got home from breakfast I had all your presents wrapped and waiting on the coffee table so you would see them right when you walked in the door.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We let you open a few small presents right away, and saved your bigger gifts for after dinner when Grandma and Grandpa W. would arrive.  You gasped and clutched your Hello Kitty chapstick rings, and positively beamed when you opened your very own bag of Jelly Beans.  Your Daddy glanced over at me and said, “Sheesh, were there no small bags of jelly beans at Target?”  I just grinned sheepishly and shrugged.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We filled up the pool and you spent nearly all day in your swimsuit.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Your were a generous little soul and shared your jelly beans with big sis.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

The next important thing on the to-do list was the cake.  You had been talking about and planning your cake for months!  Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We bought large and small gumdrops from the big bins at the grocery store.  We fished the tiny cookie cutters out of the big box of cutters and you and your sister helped me roll out and make little gumdrop flowers.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We made gumdrop mushrooms and gumdrop grass,and especially gumdrop carrots.  The gummy carrots and frogs were by far your favorite.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

I made semi-homemade pizza (thank you Trader Joe’s for your yummy and inexpensive pizza dough!), because pizza is still your favorite dinner.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

After dinner you finally got to open the rest of your presents.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

You really got into the present openingTurning Three | InAnOrchard

We sang Happy Birthday loudly and you suddenly got a little shy.  The chocolate cake was enjoyed to it’s fullest, and got spread from ear to ear.Turning Three | InAnOrchardWe love you darling girl, you make us laugh everyday with your goofy smiles and funny phrases.

 

 

Scenes from Summer

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

This nearly turned into a post-less summer.  But brace yourself my friend, you’re about to get 8 weeks worth of summer in one shot.  I hope it won’t feel too jumbled but we’re going to go heavy on the pictures and light on the words (just the way I like it). Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Grandpa W dusted off the boat and treated us to a day on the lake.  Which makes some of the best memories my kiddos have.  There’s just something magical about the lake, playing hard all afternoon, pulling the boat into the dock as the last bit of sunlight disappears and loading tired, happy kids into the van.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Summer mornings start in the garden with my girls, dirty feet, and buckets of water full of flowers.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

There have been outdoor parties with the cousins.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We celebrated Father’s day with my Dad a little early this year before my parents headed back to their home in Oregon.  I think this might be one of my favorite pictures of him.  So typical, surrounded by eager children as he gushes over handmade cards and gifts.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I insisted we take some photos since visits are fewer and farther between now.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We don’t do serious real wellScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We spent a hot summer night at our sweet friends’ house eating homemade sourdough pizza…
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

….and hula hooping in the front yardScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We visited the water park several times and the kids made themselves at home in the water, playing so hard, and snacking poolside in their swimsuits with their brown summer skin.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Does it get more summer than this?Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Play hard all day, read all night
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Vases of flowers inspired art by Miss E, who has fallen in love with acrylic paints (which is fun and also tricky because watercolors are so much easier to clean up!)
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

The highlight of the summer could arguably be when Grandma W treated the grandchildren to an overnight stay at a cabin near Mt. Hermon.  For 5 days and 4 nights the grandkids took turns staying with Grandma at the cabin.  The first two nights the girls joined her, and the last two nights we switched the girls for the boys.  My sister-in-law Jessica and I drove up on Saturday to make the switch, and spent a lovely Saturday playing in the redwoods and swimming near a waterfall.  Grandpa W also came up so stay with Grandma and the boys.  Such wonderful memories of hiking, ice cream eating, and playing in the creek. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We also had our share of sickness this summer.  First sweet Miss P ran a high fever for a week solid.  When it became clear that this wasn’t a virus that was going to run it’s course, we made a doctor’s appointment.  Poor baby spent the better part of the day running a high fever, having blood drawn, and x-rays taken; only to find out she had Strep throat. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Exactly one week later big sis came down with Strep too.  I was so bone weary of being confined to home, working hard to keep the girls comfortable and trying desperately to keep the rest of the family from getting sick.  Thankfully only the girls ended up getting sick and summer life could finally resume. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I never get tired of seeing fresh flowers and eggs in the kitchen.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Justin took another week-long trip to France and this little girl missed him tremendously (we all did but Miss P especially needs her morning snuggles with dad)Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Our ray of sunshine turned three, but that deserves a post of it’s own
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

See you soon my friends, so much so catch up on, happy changes for our family…but more on that later (wasn’t that a rotten way to end a post :-) )

Mars Party

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard My G loves astronomy so we frequently check the Sky Watching calendars to see what interesting things might be seen in our own backyard.  We hosted a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse party back in the fall, and it was such a blast we decided to make it a habit.  Happily, on the first weekend of our summer break, Mars would be at it’s closest rotation to the earth and visible to the naked eye.  We decided to throw a big Mars Viewing Party with lots of food, a telescope, and bubbles and glow sticks for the kids.  We invited friends, neighbors, family and all total about 72 people dined on our back lawn that night.  Justin spent his evenings that week planning and prepping the menu.  We dined on brisket, and pulled pork sandwiches, kettle chips, Sweet Basil Salad, watermelon, my Mother-in-laws amazing baked beans, and every family brought a plate of cookies to share for dessert.  As the night descended and I stood on the porch looking out at all the faces talking and laugh, children chasing each other across the lawn with bubbles and glow sticks; I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful group of people we have surrounding our little family.  Little girls dangling their feet off the back porch, the warm hugs, the women who stood with me in my kitchen and laughed as we ushered food in and out of the kitchen…what a gift, what a precious gift.

The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

The month of May always leaves me spinning.

Every spring I tell myself, “brace yourself girl” but it still manages knocks me down.  I won’t bore you with the endless details, instead I will tell you that I survived (as I have a habit of doing) and now we will move on to the important stuff…the garden.

The Garden {June 2016}The garden now has a proper arch.  Isn’t it beautiful?  It needs a rose of course, but it makes me ridiculously happy every time I walk under it.  The Garden {June 2016}

I find as the years go by, that the garden takes on a life of it’s own.  I make my plans, and it makes it’s own plans…and somehow it all works out beautifully.  The garden decided to grow a cluster of sunflowers near the place I planted them last year, and they are already nice and big.  I’ll be swimming in sunflowers from June to October at this rate.The Garden {June 2016}

June came on hard with a full week of 100 degree plus temperatures.  My darling sweet peas (which were just starting to take off) are not fans of the heat.  I’m gathering small bouquets while I can but these hot temperatures will finish them off before too long.The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

I am determined to grow better sweet peas next year.  This is the one area of the garden that I’ve been disappointed with.  Even when I get a decent crop, the stems are too short and the blooms are small.  I’m brainstorming and planning even now, hoping that next year I will be able to grow proper sweet peas.  Don’t get me wrong…small sweet peas are better than no sweet peas…but I know I can do better.The Garden {June 2016}

The back half of the garden is looking lovely! Not a lot of flowers at this point but everything is looking healthy and on the verge of blooming.The Garden {June 2016}

My zinnias are covered in buds and stretching up nice and tall.The Garden {June 2016}I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see two rows of healthy, happy zinnias.  After last year’s disappointing and frustrating zinnia experience, I was really ready for a year of beautiful zinnias.  Thanks to Johnny’s Seeds it looks like I’ll be getting just that…

The Garden {June 2016}

 

This little Billy Ball might not look like much to you my friend, but to me it is epic.  The result of three summers of trying, and failing to grown Billy Balls.  A whole row of beautiful Billy Ball plants!  The first year I attempted to grown them, I simply sowed them directly into my raised beds, and not a single seed germinated.  The second season, I started them in February, in some egg cartons I had saved.  The egg cartons proved to be too small and shallow.  The seeds germinated but they never took off.  Not enough soil to get their roots established, so the shriveled up and died.  This year I took no chances…growing trays were bought, good seed starting soil was purchased, and for two months I babysat those seedlings.  I carefully transplanted them at the beginning of April and they have continued to grow and thrive.The Garden {June 2016}The funny thing is, I told my Billy Ball tale of woe to my friend Kelley (who is co-owner and operator of a local flower farm, Kelley Farms), and she laughed and said, “April, what on earth did you do to your Billy Balls?!  All we do is press the seeds into the dirt with our index finger and they grow!”  So there you have it… next year I think I’m going to try the Kelley Farm method.

My Bachelor Buttons are on the verge of blooming.

The Garden {June 2016}

So excited about the basil I planted this year!  It has the prettiest dark purple stems and tips, it’s going to look stunning in bouquets.The Garden {June 2016}

All the sage I planted (to use as filler in my bouquets) is looking lovely as well.  Herbs and flowers are my favorite combo. The Garden {June 2016}

In the back half of the garden I planted two new rows of sunflowers, and a few of them are starting to bloom.  I bought one package of single stem sunflowers to mix in with the other varieties.  Normally, I wouldn’t bother growing single stem flowers, but I liked the pale yellow color and they were on sale.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, but it looks like they aren’t going to grow to the towering heights that sunflowers normally achieve.
The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

 

This is the Yarrow I planted.  It’s the first year I’ve grown it in the garden.  The foliage has a unique and feathery texture.  My goal was to have more flowers in the garden that would be good for drying.  Billy Balls and Yarrow dry nicely.  I had hoped to also grow Chamomile as well, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get around to it this year.

The Garden {June 2016}

She likes to follow me around and point out all the ladybugs she finds.
The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

The garden also decided to plant Cosmos in random places.   The Garden {June 2016}They’re mixed in with the sweet peas, and scattered all around the edges of the garden.  The sweet peas have even begun to use the Cosmos as a trellis to grow on.

The Garden {June 2016}

The dahlia’s are covered with buds but the Earwigs are starting to nibble on the petals.  I need to remedy that very soon.The Garden {June 2016}

The roses are blooming again too.The Garden {June 2016}

Despite the fact that I’m a lousy vegetable gardener, we actually have edible things growing in the garden this year.  The tomato plant (given to us by a friend) is covered in little green tomatoes, and our row of carrots continue to grow.  The little girls love the carrots and tomatoes.  In fact they bicker and squabble over who gets to pick the ripe tomatoes and who will get to pull the first ripe carrot (how do you know when a carrot is ready to pull?).The Garden {June 2016}

When I take pictures of the garden I never feel like I do it justice.  There’s really no way to capture all the nooks and crannies, the smells, the way the flowers and the foliage look throughout the day.  There’s just no substitute for wandering around the garden.The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

And that’s all from the cutting garden.  Next time there will be lots actual flowers to show off :) The Garden {June 2016}

I hope you’ll come back soon.  Now that we’ve settled into a summer groove there should be more posts appearing.  As always, thanks for visiting!

PS- If you’re ever curious about what’s happening with us during long blogging gaps, you can follow along on Instagram (which I’m much better about updating)

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This week all other plans were laid aside.  Every moment I could spare was spent in the garden, planting, weeding, marking rows, and tidying up.  Last weekend’s rain provided the help I needed to get the last of this summer’s planting done.  The giant weeds were pulled out, the rows carefully marked, and hundreds of flower seeds were planted.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The boxes are looking beautiful right now.  My English Roses are in full bloom, and I have jars of them sitting all over the house.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The blooms are much bigger this year and definitely more plentiful.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My one disappointment this spring is the slowly growing sweet peas.  Last spring my roses and sweet peas were blooming at the same time and they made a stunning pair!  This year I think they will be totally out of sink.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I plead with them each morning, “Come on darlings, grow a little faster, show me your colors.”  They pay me no mind.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My gardening companionIn the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

She is always hunting for ladybugs and worms.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This January Miss E and I scattered poppy seeds in the Dahlia and Rose beds.  I wanted some color during the months when the beds look so sparse, plus it helps keep the weeds out of the raised beds.  They are just now starting to bloom.  I love the color and texture of the foliage as much as I love the poppies themselves.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

A few vegetables have made their way into the garden this year.  Miss E was keen on having some edible things growing and I obliged her (but not without a little selfish hesitation).  She planted a row of heirloom “rainbow carrots” on the very edge of the flower patch.  She checks each and everyday to see if they have sprouted.  We also have two happy tomato plants that were gifted from a sweet neighbor.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My little garden imp abandoned me for a ride on the four-wheeler with her daddy.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

 

The dahlias are starting to fill out and a few even had some tiny buds on them!  The sunflowers and cosmos from last year’s garden have re-seeded and I love the random look the garden is beginning to take on; like it has a whimsical personality of it’s own.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I have a few more Yarrow starts that I need to tuck in somewhere once they are big enough, and I have another packet of Bachelor Buttons to plant in a few weeks.  Trying to space the planting out a bit.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The 2016 season is off to a lovely start, with many more delights to come.  I hope you’ll visit again

~April