Author Archives: April

Summer Garden Wrap-up 2017

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This past spring the garden moved to the new property.  We’re still in the process of renovating the house and working on cleaning up the property, and honestly, I had reluctantly come to the conclusion that this summer might be a good year to take a break from the cutting garden.  With so many big projects ahead of us, it felt silly to take the time to put in a garden.  I blurted this all out to Justin one afternoon to which he replied, “Can you use the old raised beds at the back of the new property?  What can we do to make the garden less work for you this summer?  Would an automatic drip system help?”  Have I mentioned I’m married to the best man that ever walked the planet?  No mention of the frivolousness of a cutting garden in the midst of the biggest project we’ve ever tackled; just him asking how he can help me achieve something that makes me happy.

“Yes, the beds, the automatic drip system…that would all be wonderful”

So I kicked things into high gear and got the long neglected beds cleaned out, while my fellas installed my new drip system.  By the end of  April all the seeds were tucked away, and all my dahlias transplanted to their new home.

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

By the first week of July the garden was thriving.  The automatic drip system needed a little tweaking; it took us a month to figure out exactly how long to run the drippers, and unfortunately in that time I lost all but one of my eucalyptus starts, and all of my Bulpeurum plants.  Other than those two casualties the garden did well in it’s new home.

I planted Cupcake cosmos for the first time this year and they started off beautifully!  Unfortunately, the aphids got to them and they struggled after that.  I’ve been growing cosmos for years and I have never… never had any trouble with aphids.  I was totally surprised.  I treated them with Sevin dust, which took care of the aphids, but the cosmos never totally bounced back and thrived.  I continued to get some small blooms here and there, but nothing like the harvest I’m used to getting from my cosmos.

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The one thing I will remember about the summer of 2017 is the heat!  We saw temperatures soar to 111 degrees, and streaks of 100+ degree heat that lasted almost 2 solid weeks.  Even with consistent watering, that kind of heat is hard on flowers.
Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is what the garden looked like at the height of the season with everything in bloom.  Every morning when I’d walk out to harvest flowers, the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies would be swarming the flowerbeds!Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The purple/red foliage that you see in this next bouquet is Red Spike Amaranth.  I always grow Amaranth but this was the first year I’ve grown the Spike variety.  At first the color of the Red Amaranth was stunning; everything I’d hoped it would be, but as the temperatures soared the beautiful red color faded to a muddy green color.  I was so disappointed!  It’s hard to predict how heat will affect the color of a plant, and the only way find out is to try.  Now I know, Red Amaranth doesn’t work with our hot summer temps.  Next summer I’m going to plant Johnny’s Red Rubin Basil and hope it gives me the red/purple foliage I’ve been trying to obtain.  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is the first year I’ve grown Feverfew and I am so in love with it!!  It is the sweetest looking flower and it lasts forever in a vase.  The only drawback to the Feverfew is it’s scent. It does have a slightly odd smell.  Fortunately it’s not overpowering, and truthfully the smell doesn’t really bother me too much.  Besides, I usually stick a little basil in my all my arrangements which pretty much covers up any other scent.Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

 

I also planted Echinacea for the first time this summer and I love, LOVE it!  The light purple flower you see behind the Echinacea, is Lemon Mint Monarda (which is a type of Bee Balm).  I started the seeds in trays and transplanted them once they were big enough. I was surprised by how underwhelmed I was by the Lemon Mint.  It’s probably just my personal preference, but I didn’t love it in any of my arrangements.  I don’t think I’ll bother growing it again.  There are too many flowers that I love, and I don’t want to waste garden space on something that’s just so-so.  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The Black Knight Scabiosa was another summer stunner!  It just popped in every arrangement and the rich, dark color played so well with all the other flowers in the garden. The fantastic news about Scabiosa is that it re-seeds readily, so once you establish it in your garden it will come back year after year.  Next summer I’d like to add the white and salmon colored varieties to the garden

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I finally had a gorgeous crop of Zinnias this year!  I almost always loose my Zinnias to fungus but thanks to my new drip irrigation system they thrived all summer long. Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I planted both Giant Lime Zinnias and Queen Lime Blush Zinnias.  Looking back that was probably overkill.  I had too many greenish colored zinnias.  In the future I’ll just stick with the Queen Lime Blush zinnias because they are dreamy!  During the hot summer they’re mostly a bright green color with just a hint of blush in the center, but as fall approached and the nights got cooler the red tones really came forward!  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is what the Queen looked like this fall.  Aren’t those colors unreal?!  Garden Wrap-up | InAnOrchard

Next summer my goal is to focus on my dahlias.  This year my dahlias were okay but not as beautiful and bountiful as I know they can be.  Because I got the garden in late this time around, I didn’t take the time to amend the soil like I usually do, and for the most part the flowers didn’t seem to mind too much.  But that wasn’t the case with the dahlias.  They need a little extra love, better fertilizer, and a better support system to keep them from flopping over and breaking at the base of the plant.    Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I still got some beautiful buckets of dahlias!  The Cafe Au Lait were stunning as usual.  My Cafe was one of the few dahlias that I successfully dug up, divided and re-planted.  For years I’ve only had one plant but now I have two healthy and thriving plants.
Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I just love the look of Sage leaves tucked into my bouquets!  They remind me of Lamb’s Ear, such soft, velvety textures.  Next year I plan to expand my greenery selection once again.  Foliage with interesting colors and textures are the key to a really interesting flower arrangements.Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

And that’s the summer wrap up for 2017!  Currently I’m working hard in the garden getting my beds prepped for spring.  If all goes as planned this will be the first year that I will have a crop of spring flowers!  I’m getting ready to plant Larkspur, Nigella, Ornamental Kale, Buplerum, Canterbury Bells, Sweet Peas, and Iceland Poppies seeds.  I’ll try to keep you all updated on this new experiment :)  So long from the garden my friends! Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

 

 

Clark’s Fork

Tent camping | InAnOrchard

I’m a creature of habit.  I like the traditions we’ve formed over the years, and one of my favorites was taking our annual summer trip, and staying in the funky cabin near Pinecrest lake. I liked lounging by the lake, eating soft serve ice cream cones from the Snack Shack, hikes around the lake, movie watching under the stars,… I love it all and I never wanted things to change, ever.  So when Justin suggested we try something new this summer I was hesitant (read: being stubbornly childish).  Why mess with something that’s already so perfect?

“Babe, don’t you think the kids would love a chance to go tent camping?  Do something different this time? Give them a real camping experience?”

We decided to get the kids input.  So I asked them, “Hey kiddos! Would you rather go to the cabin this summer and play in the lake, watch movies, and sleep in real beds?!  OR, go tent camping?”

All four of them in unison “GO TENT CAMPING!!”

So that’s what we did.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

We found a nice spot at Clark’s Fork with a little creek that trickled by the campsite.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The kids spent hours playing in that tiny creek.  Finding things to float, wading around, getting muddy, building little dams. Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The boys had their own camping haven that they stocked with new comic books and flashlights.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

We had campfires each night with different treats to enjoy.  The first few nights we did S’mores, but as a surprise, I also brought a bag of potatoes and let the kids roast them in the coals. We fished them out of the fire, smeared them with butter, and hit them with a good sprinkling of salt.  I am here to testify that hot, slightly smokey flavored, coal roasted potatoes, are the best potatoes a person can eat.  Period.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Jude used our leftover baked potatoes to make fried potatoes for breakfast the next morning.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

By the second day, I must confess, tent camping in the Sierras had won me over completely.  Sure, at night I missed the hot shower and sleeping on a real bed but…the fun and the memories were totally worth a little discomfort.  Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Justin hung a hammock so he could stretch out and enjoy a little reading in the afternoon but Miss P claimed the it as her own personal swing.
Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The meadows were stunning.  Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

In the afternoons Miss E preferred mom and dad’s big bed for some light reading (do you see the grime on those jean?!  Oh my word, there is nothing like mountain dirt. It gets EVERYWHERE, all.the.time.)Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Grandpa and Grandma W. came up one of the days to celebrate Justin’s birthday and to do a little hiking and fishing.
Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

After such a wet winter the river was running very fast and it was hard to find a bank to fish from.  Finally, after dinner we wandered across the meadow and found the perfect fishing spot!Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Grandpa W. was the only one who manage to snag a fish and sadly, it was a wee little fish so it got sent back down the river.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchardSo, a few things I learned: keep the kids warm at night!  It’s way better to bring too many blankets than to not have enough.  Even though the afternoons got hot, the temperatures really dip at night and cold kids don’t sleep soundly.  Also, next time I’m bringing one of those solar shower units.  Clark’s Fork is a beautiful campground but there are no showers.  I found that I could handle sleeping on an air mattress each night, but man, I need a shower now and again.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

 

At the end of the trip as we headed back down the mountain I asked the kids, “Well, are you guys ready to go back to the little cabin next year or will it be tent camping again?  What did you like better?”

One again, all in unison “TENT CAMPING!”

You know what?  That’s just fine by me…

 

Time Flies

 

 

 

Time Flies | Inanorchard

It turns out that renovating a new property while maintaining one’s current property, homeschooling, and keeping up with four human beings, can keep one busy and make a body feel pretty tired in the evening.  Hence the big gap between posts.  So, we will do the usual “pack it all in” approach and hope that I will find my writing rhythm soon!  Here is the Cliff notes version of the last 4 (4?? yikes!) months.  We’ve had birthdays, sitting around the communion table with dear friends, lots of hard gritty work, restful family trips to the ocean, spring flowers blooming, summer seeds sown, and a whole lot of everyday life.

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Miss E turned 8 this March!
Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Time Flies | Inanorchard

Grandpa and Grammy drove down from Oregon and spent the whole week with us!  They camped off our back porch in their darling little travel trailer and we soaked up the time with them.Time Flies | Inanorchard

Renovations on the new property are moving along a bit slowly but will be picking up speed now that summer is approaching.  I will try to keep you all updated as I am able. Everyone has been so excited to see what has transpired at the house on the hill so I will try to be better about showing the progress.
Time Flies | InanorchardMy thought for the week:

Do not mistake the well spoken words of another person for the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I know that the Lord can use other people to convict our hearts or shed light were light is needed; but I sometimes think that all the voices, all the well crafted words, can become static that drowns out the one voice we should really have our hearts tuned to…. the voice of the Holy Spirit.  He is a most steadfast guide, who knows the path our feet should take, ever ready to help, and filled with all wisdom for these confusing times.  Trust Him, hear His gentle voice, and walk with the peace of knowing He is with you every step of the way; bringing you in contact with those who need you, and filling you with the strength and wisdom you will need on your journey home.

Christmastime {2016}

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas crept up on me this year, caught me a little off guard.  Traveling over the week of Thanksgiving and being occupied with wrapping up school projects before the holidays, kept me moving and distracted.  It felt so nice to close the books on school and just be together.  The older the kids get; the more I appreciate having them around me.  There were moments I was sorely tempted to panic (I don’t have enough time!!) or get frustrated with the kids (What on earth were you thinking??), but I worked really hard to put the breaks on those feelings this time around.  I said to myself time and time again, “April, the best Christmas gift you can give them is to be a happy mom, to be excited and exuberant right alongside them.”   This wasn’t executed super smoothly at times, but it was my goal.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house if we didn’t make snowflakes for the windows, and destroy the kitchen making iced Christmas cookies.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

This is one of those cases when the saying “Many hands make light work.” doesn’t really ring true.  Many hands make chaos…and fun.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

We got a beautiful tree this year.  It stayed so green and it was the perfect size (the littlest member of the family was much kinder to the tree this time as well).  This was the first year on record that I wasn’t gunning for the tree the day after Christmas.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

I got a new Christmas puzzle!! I’m slowly pulling the children into my Christmas puzzle obsession; they all took turns bending over the pieces and pawing through the puzzle box.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas Eve is always spent at Grandpa and Grandma W’s house.  I love the way my Father-in-law and Mother-in-law have created tradition in my children’s lives,.  The comfort and excitement of knowing that Christmas Eve means happy cousins buzzing around the house, Christmas puzzle on the card-table, candle lit dinner around the long table, red-hot cinnamon jello, sparkling cider, Luke Chapter 2 being read by Grandpa, then present opening, birthday cake for baby Jesus, and matching pajamas.   My kids have no idea how blessed they are…

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

This was the picture I snapped Christmas Eve night  right after the children had gone to bed.  I love this moment.  They are asleep, breakfast is prepped and ready for the morning, everything is quiet, and I lay my head on my pillow thinking about the looks on their faces as they wake up and wander down the hall at the crack of dawn.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

The boys were up first waiting for their sleepy-headed sisters to wake up.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Eliza’s doll Rebecca, got a fancy new dress from Grandma this Christmas and Eliza made sure Rebecca joined in on the Christmas festivities.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPearl and her crazy bedhead!  She was still so sleepy and fighting so hard to shake it off for present opening.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Several days before Christmas I made a batch of Orange Sweet Rolls and Cinnamon rolls and froze them so I could bake them fresh on Christmas morning.  I set them out to defrost and raise Christmas Eve night, and baked them up after we opened presents.  Unfortunately the Orange rolls didn’t deforst and bake up well but the cinnamon rolls were perfect!I
Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchardChristmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

I also made a breakfast casserole but I didn’t give it enough time to defrost so it wasn’t quiet ready in time for breakfast.  Lesson learned; big breakfast casseroles need more time to defrost!  It tasted really good though!Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

I think of all the gifts they got for Christmas their reading lights ended up being a favorite :)  Lots of nights staying up late reading books they had gotten for Christmas.Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

Christmas 2016 | InAnOrchard

And that’s the big Christmas wrap-up.  My second born son celebrated his 10th birthday the day after Christmas but that deserves a post of it’s own.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a little post about my G and the ten years God has blessed us with our blue-eyed boy.

Hope you all had a beautiful Christmas with the people you love   ~April

Pumpkins, Road Trips, Weddings, & The North Wind

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.