McIntosh Apples and Pumpkin Flavored Everything

It’s that time again…yep!  It’s officially Fall.  People are losing their ever-lovin’ minds over the possibilities of sweaters and boots and crunching leaves and pumpkin flavored everything! Rah!  Fall!

Rah. Fall.

Blech.  Fall to me means things dying.  Morbid, I know.  The leaves DO turn all pretty colors…and then they fall off the trees and die and the trees look all nekkid and cold.  Sweaters are nice…unless you have hot flashes and need to GET IT THE HELL OFF OF ME BEFORE I EXPLODE ahhh that’s better.  Oops.  Forgot to wear a tank top under it today.  Crunching leaves turn into slippery little suckers when it rains.  Which it does.  A lot.

I’m not going to bitch about pumpkin flavored everything.  Even I am not that cynical!

Hurry up! We don’t have much time!

Although, honest to God, people!  Draw the line somewhere, okay?  Somewhere BEFORE we get to this:

No. Just…NO!

But today, I ate an apple.  Not the Granny Smith apples I usually eat, but a McIntosh apple.  I have truly, honestly, not had a McIntosh since I was a little kid!  I don’t know why…I used to only buy Red Delicious until my brother turned me on to the tart, crispness of a Granny Smith.  But the other day at the store, they had McIntosh, and they were $2 cheaper a bag.  So, guess what went home with me!  The taste of that apple…that McIntosh apple, specifically, transported me back to a place in Upstate New York from when I was a kid.  I am pretty sure it was Schutt’s Cider Mill.  We would go there and pick apples, or buy apples, and they had a cider press and you could buy gallons of fresh apple cider.  They also had these wonderful hot fried cakes (I would call it a cake doughnut, but what do I know) – crispy on the outside, melty on the inside.  I have vague memories of going there with my parents and brothers…but more memories of going there with my next door neighbors (I was best friends with their daughter).  You could actually watch the process of making the cider, and watch the workers making the donuts.  Everyone was smiling and happy, because there was the smell of apples and sugar and cinnamon in the air, and all the kids knew without even asking that they were going to get some kind of treat by the time they left for home!

My mom would make homemade applesauce back then – I don’t think it was from those apples, though.  I think we knew someone who had an apple orchard and would let her pick bushels of apples for the applesauce.  I remember the person who owned the land passed away, and his kid or kids were not as magnanimous and wouldn’t let folks pick apples anymore.  But still, we had the yearly treat of going to the cider mill.

Well, in honor of today’s memories, I’m going to give you TWO, yes TWO recipes!!  Ready?  Here we go!

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 8 “sweet” apples, like McIntosh, Jona Gold, etc (mix  them up, don’t use all one kind
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • White or Brown Sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook water and apples together on medium high heat until apples are beyond soft and right into the mushy stage.  If you like your applesauce chunky, stop a little sooner than this.
  2. Add Cinnamon and mash apples with a fork or potato masher.
  3. Taste the applesauce and decide for yourself if it needs further sweetening with sugar.  With using naturally sweet apples, it may be sweet enough already.  However, if you decide you need to add sugar, start with small amounts of either white or brown sugar and mix thoroughly while the sauce is still warm, so the sugar will dissolve.  
  4. Eat!  Nom nom nom!

Next up (and you knew it was coming, right?)

Pumpkin Flavored Coffee Creamer (a little shout out to Shugary Sweets, from whom I stole this recipe)

Ingredients

mmmmmmm……coffeeeeee……
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup heavy cream, cinnamon, allspice and pumpkin puree. Simmer over low for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, whisk in the remaining heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. Pour into mason jars. Keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
  3. **SHAKE WELL before using

Hey – did I say TWO recipes??  Guess what?  Here’s a little bonus coffee creamer for you if you don’t want to cook:

Vanilla Caramel Coffee Creamer

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups milk (whole, skim, 2%, whatever your little heart desires)
  • 2 tsp REAL Vanilla extract (you CAN use artificial, but it can taste mediciny)
  • 1 Tbsp Caramel extract

Instructions

  1. Place all items in a container that has a tight-fitting lid.  I like to use a 1-quart mason jar.
  2. SHAKE THE EVER LOVIN CRAP OUT OF IT.
  3. Pour desired amount into your coffee.  Stir.  Enjoy.  Refrigerate remaining creamer.  Will keep for as long as your milk was originally good for.  However, mine usually doesn’t make it for more than a couple of days around here – I drink lots of coffee.
  4. **SHAKE WELL before using each time

Another memory that was forgotten, and brought back to life by something so simple as an apple.   Sometimes, food really is Food for Thought!

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Pinterest and the Pintester Movement

So, since I have a blog, I can now take part in

The Pintester Movement

Pintester?  What’s that, you ask?  Well, there is this totally rad chick named Sonja, who has this totally hilarious blog called http://pintester.com/.  You have GOT to go check her out.  She is wonderfully… colorful… in her language, just warning ya, lol!

This brave woman picks various things off of Pinterest that look easy or tasty or like they could be fun, and tries them herself.  Her tagline USED to be “F-ing up Pintester pins so you don’t have to”…but since she went full-time blogger and has advertisers, she changed her tagline just a bit to “FAILING at Pinterest pins so you don’t have to.”  However…she still has full use of her language skills in the blog posts, which makes me smile.

Now – the Pintester Movement.  What is it? Basically, I had to pick a Pinterest pin, try it, and blog about it…oh, and link it to her blog!  You can read more about it, and other folks Pinterest tries here:  The Pintester Movement Category.

So, after cruising around Pinterest and pinning all the things, I found something I could thought I could do easily, quickly, and…most importantly…cheaply!  Here is the original pin:  Bright Green Door Blog: Chalkboard Paint Your Crockpot!  This kind of excited me beyond what it should have.  But you need to understand…the crockpot excuse me…slowcooker my husband brought into our marriage is FUGLY.  Not ugly.  FUG-LY.  Don’t get me wrong!  It works great!  But dudes.  It ain’t pretty.  It’s fugly.

However, when I went to buy chalkboard paint, I realized I could just go buy a new, pretty slowcooker for not much more than the stupid can of paint!  So, back to the (sorry) chalkboard for another idea!

Next, I found this pin:  Thrifty Inspirations: Spray Paint Furniture Tutorial

Last year, I bought some chairs from a local second-hand store.  I LOVED the style of the chairs, but I’ve never been overly thrilled with the paint and distressing job that the store-owner had done.  Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job; I’m just not a “distressed” furniture kind of person.  I’ve been wanting to do something with the chairs, and this pin and the Pintester Movement inspired me to get moving on changing things!

Here is the before picture of one of the chairs:

Icky I didn't choose it distressed chair

Now, according to the pin, you should first sand or use deglosser.  This chair is not glossy to start with.  So, in true Pintester tradition…I decided to skip that step.  I also don’t care if there are scratches/gouges because I have kids and cats.  If the chairs don’t have scratches and gouges now – trust me, they will in a day or so.  So, all that led to me skipping the sanding, puttying, wiping down and letting dry.

See all the time I saved?

Next, I chose a fun color.  Hell, if you’re going to paint, make it worth your time.

Pretty "Mystic Sea" Paint AND PRIMER

Note it says “Paint AND PRIMER?  Guess what step I skipped next?  You bet your butt I did! I’m all for saving time and money, people!!!  If a can of paint is going to say it has primer in it, it for diddly-damn sure better do what it says.  Granted, spray paint is not expensive (surely not as expensive as new chairs) but still, a dollar is a dollar, am I right?  I know I am!  Plus…good LORD holding a paint nozzle down for that long HURTS!!!

So!  I moved my car out of the garage, laid out a huge plastic tarp, removed the seat from the chair (easy – four screws unscrewed) and went to town with the spray paint!   I started out following the directions from both the pin and the can, which direct the user to utilize long, even strokes to get good coverage.  Using this technique, the ONLY thing that got good coverage was the TARP.  Seriously, it is a fantastic Mystic Sea Blue color now!  Because there is so much empty space in a chair, you really need short, close bursts to get good coverage.   Unfortunately, it took me until the second or third coat to figure that out, so I wasted a crap-ton of paint.  In other words, it took me a whole can of paint to do this one chair.  I realize the original pin states you need TWO cans of primer and TWO cans of paint. but I think if you need that much, you are wasting WAAAY too much damn paint!  You know why she needed four cans of paint?  Because she was using the long, even strokes technique that is so great for painting your tarp, that’s why!!!

So, here is the fully painted chair:

chair after

Note the LOVELY blue tarp!  That’s half a can of paint there, folks!  Yeesh.

After letting the chair not only dry, but cure for a couple of days, I reassembled the seat, and returned the chair to my kitchen!  As you can see, I still need to recover the seat.  When I bought the chairs, the lady I bought from recovered the chairs from me, asking me first what colors I wanted.  i said I had kind of Tuscan-y colors in my kitchen…red, gold, sage green, burnt orange and the like.  She did my chairs in the black pattern you see here.  WTH was that about??  Does that in ANY way say “Tuscan” to you?  And before you comment, yes, I realize that the blue is not Tuscan either. I’m going in a different direction now.  Anyway, the material looks “okay” with the blue, but not great.   But, that is another craft for another day!

Finished chair

So, in summary – short bursts of paint at close range, fun color, paint and primer in one…oh, and, for heaven’s sake, do a shoe check before walking back into the house onto your hardwood floors:

feet

Just…trust me on this.  And I’m not even going to discuss how my gray garage floor is now Mystic Sea blue with a big gray rectangle in the middle of it…

Anyway;  I say, go forth and spray paint!  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s fun!  And that’s some Food for Thought!

Birthdays and Realizations and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

There have been a LOT of birthdays in our family lately – and by family I mean our round of friends, too.  I mean a LOT.  Seems like every time I turn around, someone else is having a birthday!  I know all families have different traditions, but one tradition we’ve always had was, that the birthday child was allowed to choose dinner on his or her birthday.  The girls usually pick pizza, or maybe going to a Chinese restaurant…last month, Lillie decided HER choice for birthday dinner was … wait for it… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

pbj

It was Lillie’s choice of birthday dinner that jogged a memory for me.  Like another member of my family, my childhood memories are shadowed.  I don’t have a lot of them.  I remember some not so great stuff, but most of my life before my 20’s is …it’s almost like it’s behind a veil.  But once in a while, something will trigger a memory.  And her peanut butter and jelly reminded me of when I was her age – that’s five years old, for those who don’t know.  When I was five, do you know what I asked for, for my birthday dinner?  A full Thanksgiving dinner!

DinDin

That’s pre-microwave, people!  And my mother would get up at 5 in the morning to get that dinner going before heading off to work, come home from work, and finish the dinner up for me.

God bless her.  I asked for that dinner EVERY YEAR until I was 12 and finally realized the amount of time and effort it took for her to do it, and changed my meal of choice to homemade fried chicken!  She never said no.  She never said it was too much trouble.  She never rolled her eyes, sighed with exasperation, or looked pained at the amount of money it would cost…even when money was severely tight.

That request for a peanut butter sandwich discharged a flood of stuff I had forgotten:  I had forgotten the effort that my mom used to make.  I had forgotten that, once upon a time, she was a mom that all the other kids in the neighborhood used to be jealous of, a mom that was a cub scout den mother, a mom that planned cool sleepovers, and haunted houses for the neighborhood.  A mom that made clothes for my barbies.  And took me roller skating every Tuesday.  A mom who stopped what she was doing one day to make cookies with me because I said I wanted to, and she had never done it before.  A mom who studied up on sea shells so we could have a super cool presentation at school (my gosh, people were impressed as HELL at our stuff!) when I was in elementary school.

For so many years, I’ve always said I learned to be a good mom by doing the opposite of what my mom would do.  With the memories that have been flooding back, I’m ashamed of myself for saying that.  Once upon a time, my mom was a good mom.  A great mom, as a matter of fact.  I let years of living with her disease hide who she used to be from me.

mom n me

Alcoholism is a horrible disease.  People make jokes all over Facebook and such about drinking and passing out, and there are all these memes out there and ha ha ha, isn’t it funny?  Well…no.  No, not really.  It takes a wonderful person and turns them into someone that nobody wants to be around.  It makes the wonderful things that a person did in her life fade to black, when all that those around can remember is the yelling and the disparaging remarks that aim to hurt.

All this from a PB&J sandwich?  Yep.  Now that, my friends is truly Food for Thought.