Apple gadget

It's apple season. I already have stacks of pie filling in the freezer and jars of applesauce in the pantry. And there are still TONS of apples left on the trees. Lucky for me, Gramma and Grampa picked up this nifty little apple peeler for me at a garage sale a couple of years ago. 
Apple gadget
I love it! No matter what size or shape of apple you put into it, it will peel, core and slice it with just a few cranks of the handle. I can't even imagine dealing with the volume of apples we have without it. Pounds and pounds of apples are ready to go in minutes. Bring it on, apple trees. We're ready for you.


Scenes from the Farmer's Market

Another beautiful Saturday morning in downtown Madison. We walked, we shopped, we ate and ate and ate. I love Saturdays.
Farmers market
Farmers market
Farmers market
Farmers market
Farmers market


The trouble with toddler beds...

... is that the toddler can escape! Walter has had his toddler bed for a few weeks now. I can't say that the transition has gone smoothly, but it has been entertaining. Some scenarios from the past few weeks: 
1:00 am: I hear the creak of a door and the patter of little feet coming down the hallway. Our bedroom door swings open and Walter says, "I want bacon, Mama!"
12:00 am: Nate goes in to check on our crying boy. Walter demands a midnight bath.
2:30 am: I go in to check on our crying boy. He had gotten up and turned off his nightlight. He's standing in the middle of his dark bedroom crying, "I can't find my bed!"
10 minutes ago: Walter comes to the top of the stairs and asks if he can ride the carousel.
We didn't give in to his late night cravings, bath or carousel requests, but I did help him find his bed. He makes sure to keep his nightlight on now. "So I not get lost," he tells me. He's awfully adorable when he's interrupting our sleep.


33 years

Today is my 33rd birthday. Walter made me a card. My co-workers decorated my cube. Our families came over for dinner and my Mom-in-law made some really delicious cake! Rich, dense chocolate, topped with raspberries and chocolate ice cream on the side. Yum!

It was pointed out to me today, during a lunch table conversation at work, that the 33rd year is the "Jesus Year," because Jesus accomplished the most in his 33rd year, before his crucifixion. What I learned from my wise, lunch companions, is that this signifies a year of change, accomplishment and productivity. "Time to get moving and get things done." Well, we certainly have a lot of change planned for the year ahead of us. And I certainly hope that I'll be productive and can mark some accomplishments by the time the year is through. 
Those of you that are older than I am, what did you do in your 33rd year?


We're on our way

Today was the day. We closed on the new house! After a couple of months of stress and worry we finally have it. After our offer had been accepted, the banks and realtors started throwing around words like "foreclosure" and "short sale" which left us wondering if we would ever really get the house. But everything worked out and we closed this morning, hassle-free. Yippee! 
And now, we wait. Major remodeling needs to happen before we move in, although Walter seems to love it, as is. He ran, screaming, through the empty rooms, excited as can be. But the remodel can't start until we sell our house. So, for now, we'll stop by to visit. Maybe do a little demolition to prepare for the changes. And we'll enjoy the outdoor spaces – the reason we wanted this property so badly in the first place.
New house - the outdoors
New house - the outdoorsNew house - the outdoors


Random stuff and a recipe

Things have been hectic. The garden is producing all kinds of veggies these days and I've been trying my best to keep up with them. I've been canning and freezing whenever I can find a spare hour or two. We've had lots of house showings (no offers yet!) which means we have to keep the house clean – a real challenge with a two-year-old, a dog and piles of produce. But we're happy to have the traffic and are hoping (wishing? praying?) to get an offer soon. There were no showings tonight, so we relaxed and spent some time outside in the beautiful weather.
Walter found a frog living in our pond. He was really really really really excited to show me.
Pond frog
Our apples are just about ready to pick.
A man to man talk. I really wish this hadn't come out so blurry, but I love it anyway.
Man to man talk
Tonight's dinner.
I know, it's not much to look at, but it was just the comfort food I needed tonight. My mom's (actually, Betty Crocker's) hamburger stroganoff. This was the first meal I ever cooked for Nate. Quite possibly why he fell in love with me. So, to conclude the longest post ever, my (slightly) healthier version of Betty's masterpiece:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup light sour cream
2-3 cups cooked whole wheat egg noodles
Cook onion in butter until soft. Add ground beef and cook until crumbly. Add flour, salt, garlic, pepper and mushrooms. Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add soup and boil for 10 minutes. Add sour cream and heat through. Serve over hot noodles.


Pumpkins, watermelons and cucumbers! Oh my!

What was I thinking? I crammed three vining plants into a tiny garden space. They kept to themselves so nicely in the beginning. But now, well, it's getting a little "Little Shop of Horrors" out there. The pumpkins are knocking the fence down and the cucumbers are taking over the neighbor's lawn. Even my slow-to-start watermelons are breaking out of their confines and are heading towards the apple tree. 
Garden of vines
Little pumpkin
Every time I go out there I expect one of these little guys to look at me and say, "Feed me!" In reality, the only thing they are demanding is space. I'll have to make sure Walter keeps his distance – all those vines just might sweep him away!


Summer Picnic

We spent Saturday evening at the ETC summer picnic. My employers really know how to throw a party. There was food, a magic show, a bouncy castle, and a giant inflatable slide. Fred Foster, ETC's CEO, was pedaling around the grounds with his ice cream cart, offering treats to the crowd. Employees and their families were invited to show off their skills in an art show, classic car show and talent show. We were only able to stay for a few bands, but what we saw was really good. (Walter seemed to think the music was a bit too loud. Silly boy.) We had a great time and we're looking forward to next year's picnic already!
ETC Picnic
ETC Picnic
ETC Picnic
ETC Picnic



I came home from work to a big box of peaches! Gramma and Grampa had given us their extras. And they smelled soooo good! 
After dinner, Walter and I went straight to work on a peach pie. He stirred, I sliced. He sampled, I sampled. They really were chin-dripping good!
Now, I'm not normally a fan of baked fruit, but I have to say that this pie is delicious! These juicy Georgia peaches just might turn me into a pie-lover...


Around town and around the house

We sure know how to fill up a weekend. This one was jam-packed with things to do. We went to the farmer's market and the park, saw the butterflies at Olbrich Gardens, had a picnic and went bug catching. 
Olbrich Gardens
Olbrich Gardens Butterflies
Bug catcher
During naptime, I made things. Two jars of sweet pickles with cucumbers from the garden, three jars of pesto from that big bunch of basil I picked up at the market, and a baby gift. 
I love that I was able to check so many things off my to-do list and we still had time to go exploring. The perfect kind of weekend.