A Beautiful Reminder

I love autumn.

The brisk temperatures.

The cozy sweaters and fuzzy socks.

The comfort food. I may not be real good about eating soups and chili and such during the summer but I do love that stuff when it starts to get cool. I guess I definitely have seasons for my food even if, having lived my whole life in the south, my fall and winter are short and barely there.

What I really love the most though are the colors. The amazing display that the foliage puts on each year just takes my breath away.

Years ago, as I was contemplating a particularly gorgeous autumnal exhibition by a Bradford pear tree, I connected the dots in a profound way that has stayed with me ever since.

The beautiful leaves with their colors that so delighted me were quite simply, dying.

Obviously, I knew the change of seasons, however limited my exposure, and I understood the science and mechanics of what was happening. But in that moment under that tree I realized it in a different way.

Every year since as I see the stunning colors of fall I am reminded of this truth..they are at their most beautiful in death.

The way of Christ is upside down from the way of the world but when we are faithful to His ways, when we are willing to be that living sacrifice, we are just like the leaves and gloriously beautiful in the way that only His people can be.

I think it is truly fitting that the rich bold colors are at their peak as we prepare for Advent, don’t you? A gracious reminder that while there is pain and suffering and even death, the Christ child who came bore it all for our sake.

Autumnal Goodness

I am so ready for cooler weather!

For about a week it seemed that we were headed in the right direction but then this past week has just been icky and warm.

I hear that this weekend is supposed to bring lower temps though and I am so excited about it!

Normally I am all about the colors of autumn. The rich hues and deep tones are just beautiful to me.

But a few weeks ago my friend and styling wizard, Jessica, asked me to come over and do a photo shoot of her beautiful fall home decor for her blog and her neutral color palette was just so gorgeous!

You can check out her post here but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite photos and things she did to welcome the season into her home.

Little side note…I am a sucker for HGTV and Claire was home sick this week and for the first time I watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper. What a neat show although some people’s budgets are eyebrow raising! (I am also a sucker for baking shows. Even, if not more so, the kids baking shows. We watched some kids bake off show that is hosted by Valerie Bertinelli and I have made pie crust from scratch, homemade bread, and an onion tart.)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Like most of us Jessica and her family live in a nice neighborhood in a track home. Meaning the houses all look very similar. When she had me come over one of the things I noticed right away was a change they had made to a wall in their dining nook area. The simple shiplap board added so much texture and character to that space! This is how she has it normally decorated.

For autumn she added just a few touches that add a little zing without being too much.

 She also kept it simple when it came to her table settings but I love the elegant look she created.

The whole thing came together in a picture perfect fashion that thrilled me and my camera. I mean, seriously. Look at this.

The thing that I really loved about Jess’s style was how she incorporated little touches throughout the open floor plan of her house. On one side of the living room she has the piano she painted and graced with some lovely fall tidbits and on the other side of the room on her fire place she added a smattering of autumnal fun.

In her formal dining room she kind of upped the classy with her beverage cart. A mix of textures and sparkle add just the right amount of pop.

My favorite (just slightly beating out that wonderful glittery pumpkin on the bottom) is the white pumpkin with white hydrangeas. The little bit of green from the leaves and that fabulous wooden pedestal bowl just pair so well together!

Autumn_decor_decorating_with_pumpkins

The really great thing about all of Jessica’s fall decorating is that she remembered that she has two little boys and made a special place for them.

This little tepee creates the funniest spot for the boys to play and read.

She also added a cute little colorful thankful banner for their space too.

All in all the house is welcoming and full of beautiful little touches of autumn. I can’t wait to see what she does for Christmas!

Is It Really Autumn?

The calendar may say that we’ve switched season but it sure doesn’t feel any differently around these parts. But that’s living in Florida, I guess, and since we can still enjoy the beach I figure it’s ok.

One sure fire way we can tell the seasons have changed despite the drop in temperature is the seasonal illnesses that strike this time every year. We’ve had strep and a couple of the worst head colds lately! I think we may all finally be on the mend and maybe, just maybe the weather is going to cooperate and I can open the windows this week and air out the house.

One of the reasons blogging has been so sporadic is that finding our school year groove has taken some time. But the dance is fun and we are settling in and everyone is doing fine. But I’ve got some fun things to post soon so hopefully I can get the ball rolling again.

Sam is enjoying ninth grade but he does love his weekends. Last night he made this meme and then called me over and said, “Do you know how I feel on Sunday nights? Like this!”

Sponge_bob_meme

Can he get an amen?

Tis The Season!

No, no, no I am not talking about jingle bells and Christmas lights.

I’m talking about this season…Autumn.

Oh, how I love fall and even though it won’t really ramp up for another month or so I can feel it in my bones. The urge to bake and make stuff gets strong this time of year for some reason. I seriously get all crafty and want to spend time in the kitchen.

You’ve probably never heard of autumn cleaning, having you? Nope, just the good ol’ spring cleaning yet every year at this time I get the itch to organize and declutter.

It could be just the relief from our crazy hot summers but I think it’s that I feel like all of my sense are engaged.

A hot cup of coffee or tea just tastes better in the cool crisp morning.

I just love the flavorful aroma of soups and stews or a big pot of chili. And the smell of a cozy fire or a big old bonfire makes me happy.

Ever since I was a kid I have loved the sound of acorns crunching under my feet.

Or the crackle of leaves that pull double duty and also delight my eyes with their glorious colors.

I realize that Florida doesn’t experience autumn in the same way as other places further north but oh, how I love it! We’re just catching glimpses right now but in a few weeks it’ll come in all it’s amazing color and crispness. We’ll all trade our flip flops in for fuzzy socks and warm sweaters (at least on some days) and we’ll go outside and breathe in the fresh air. We’ll revel in the wild flowers and gentle walk into winter.

This post is part of the monthly Circle of Faith blog hop that I’m part of. Pop on over to visit my friends as they share some beautiful pictures and thoughts on the seasons.

Julie   Sandra   Connie

The Color of Death

Death comes to us in many shapes and forms over our life times. Physical death awaits all of us, but smaller deaths are encountered almost every day.

The death of a dream or a particular life circumstance…death of relationships…death to our own desires and wants.

To be sure death is the last desperate measure of a defeated enemy who doesn’t know he has been defeated. It brings about pain and sadness no matter the when, the where, or the how.

As I sit writing this the full brunt of autumn color is peaking. It’s my favorite time of year with its rich, vibrant hues. I look at the beautiful reds and golds and marvel that these tones only come by way of dying as the trees shed life.

Everything we do as Christians should look vastly different than the way it is done by those who do not call Christ King. Even our deaths and we should look for the opportunity to die.

For the Christian we can face death with the same sanguine and robust tones of autumn. The jeweled colors of grace and dignity should flame bright as we die to our self each day, preferring others more than ourselves, submitting our wants and desires to His good and perfect will, and yes even as we face that final death.

Because for the Christian death, any death, is really just the beginning of a resurrection. And what dies is never better than what comes after.

Not Going To Waste It

The weather this week has been so wonderful! My windows have been open and I have found myself finding reason to be outside frequently.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the beach or near the beach for a variety of reasons like photo shoots or dinner to celebrate buying our home.
But I haven’t been able to stop long enough during those times to enjoy my happy place.
So today one of my best girlfriends will drop her son off at school while I drop mine off at the school and we will head to the beach. With packed lunches and cameras in hand we’re going to wander the fort, feel the breeze blowing, lift our faces to the sun, and put our toes in the sand.
I realize this glorious autumn weather we’re having probably won’t last…we live in Florida after all.
But for this day I am going to savor it…rejoice in it…and not waste a single ray of that autumn sunshine.

Test Kitchen # 69 ~ Pumpkin Bars

It’s almost here. The first official day of Autumn is this month and even though I live in Florida and I know it won’t actually feel like fall for several more weeks I cannot help but be excited about it. I’ll hang the fall wreath my friend made me on the front door and pull out other autumnal decorations and at least pretend that it’s cooler outside.

A friend recently shared a Taste of Home recipe for pumpkin bars on facebook and since I am smack in the midst of an I-wish-it-was-Autumn moment I knew I had no choice but to make them. I used a smaller pan (9×13 instead of a 10×15) so mine came out more cake like than bar like. But oh, man were they good! They were even better after being refrigerated over night and that is saying something because they were pretty darn fabulous the first go round.

pumpkin, cream cheese frosting,

What you’ll need:
4 eggs 
1 2/3 sugar
1 cup oil
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt
What you’ll do:
Mix together the first four ingredients until well blended.
Stir together the final five ingredients and then slowly stir them into the pumpkin mixture.
Pour into an un-greased pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the frosting:
Mix together 6 oz of softened cream cheese, 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, and 1/4 cup softened butter. Add milk in small amounts until you get a good spreading consistency. Slather that goodness all over the top of the pumpkin deliciousness and enjoy!
pumpkin, cream cheese

Day Four ~ DPP

One of the posters in the facebook DPP group is including a haiku with each of her pictures. It makes for a pretty nice combo as well as some inspiration. I’m not going to try and do one every day because I don’t think I’d handle the pressure well but I did come up with one this morning when I saw how foggy it was outside.

I was whining about the icky Florida December weather yesterday and, while it’s still humid and kind of gross, the fogginess and colors of the Bradford pear trees has sort of redeemed itself.

gray and foggy morn
fall colors crackle and pop
winter in the south

Bonus Recipe ~ Apple Sauce

Normally, the test kitchen is only open once a week here on the blog but yesterday I mentioned on facebook that I was making homemade applesauce and had a couple of people ask for the recipe.

So here it is; simple and yummy and with the added benefit of making your house smell so good.

In a large pot combine:

6 chopped up baking apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith were suggested but I had a few jazz and fuji on hand so that’s what I used.)
1 1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

(Because it’s the way I cook sometimes I tend to look at the recipe as a suggestion…meaning I eyeballed the amount of cranberries until it looked like a good apple to cranberry ratio; I added the half cup of brown sugar but added in a wee bit more so that it was probably closer to 3/4 cup and I rarely measure cinnamon.)
Once you have everything together cook on high heat stirring occasionally, for about 35 to 45 minutes or until your apples are very tender. I don’t like super chunky applesauce so I use the potato masher on mine just a little to break down the bigger pieces of apple.

Some interesting facts about apples:

The science of apple cultivation is called pomology.

An average person will eat 65 apples in a year.

The bump at the front of the throat is called an “Adam’s apple” which legend says was caused by the forbidden fruit getting stuck in Adam’s throat when he ate it in the garden of Eden.

There are more than 8,000 varieties of apples.

People who like apples are said to be outspoken, charismatic and enthusiastic.”

And of course because we live in the world that we live in: the fear of apples is called malusdomesticaphobia.

Hope all my outspoken, charismatic and enthusiastic friends enjoy their apple sauce!