'Muff'in Dome

Apple Hill is for Apple-Lovers

An autumn is never complete in Northern California without a trip to Apple Hill.


We kept busy last weekend, filling Sunday with a trip up to this delightful town dotted with a copious number of apple orchards and other wonderful farms.




Much to the delight of the men of the family, we made our first stop at Jack Russell Brewery {where, ironically, we spotted a lot of dogs, but not a Jack Russell in sight}. We feasted on chicken apple sausages with unique mustards, apple coleslaw and fresh apple cider, milled on the spot. Expecting mediocre hot dogs, sides and condiments, we were pleasantly surprised by the delicious food grilled and served there. The biggest hit, though, was the pumpkin spice beer which was brewed to autumnal perfection. Most of us agreed that the majority of pumpkin ales leave something to be desired, but this one hit the spot. It was a wonderful blend of spice, pumpkin and hops. {With a decent alcohol content. ;)}



Just down the road, we stopped at Rainbow Orchards for the NUMBER ONE apple treat(!) apple donuts. We waited in line for about half an hour, admiring all the pumpkins and squash on display. Evey picked out one. more. pumpkin to display on the shelf in her room. {We’re thinking of painting them tomorrow.}



The donuts were good, but we’re in agreement that the best are still at High Hill Ranch. {We opted out of driving there as the traffic on the road there was barely crawling for several miles.} High Hill adds the wonderful touch of chopped up apples instead of merely including apple cider in the recipe. It makes all. the. difference.



I couldn’t pass up the caramel apples. Probably my favorite tasty morsel each year.


Rainbow Orchards did win a few points with their live bluegrass music that we boogied to on the way back and forth to the apple barn. We grabbed a family photo on the John Deere tractor parked in the orchard before heading back to the car.


Saying goodbye to Gram, Pumpkin, Steve and Cheryl, we met up with my mom and two of my brothers who had just arrived in the area at Larsen Apple Barn. Growing up, this was the spot where we picnicked and played Scramball and soccer before engorging ourselves on apple treats. I think they still have some of the cheapest apples on the Hill. I picked up a box in the barn — 40 lbs. for $15! They were seconds but most of them will be made into applesauce or apple butter so they will do just fine.


I’ll take the best apple of the bunch home with me! ;)


Pumpkin Train


I’m sure I’ve already mentioned Evelyn’s obsession with trains and pumpkins. And it has not died down one bit. Recently, we discovered a privately owned train in West Sac that during the month of October gives rides to a pumpkin farm. We could not pass up that opportunity!

out the train

This past Saturday, we joined Steve’s parents, his sister and her husband and kids, and Steve’s Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl for a little ride alongside the river to Uncle Ray’s Pumpkin Farm.

Evey on train

We dressed Evey appropriately for the occasion in her pink conductor hat which she loves to wear gangsta-style. She was beaming ear-to-ear the second we pulled up to load onto the train and didn’t stop the whole day.

Lucie wore her pumpkin beanie to ward off the chilly breeze as we rode along on the open-air train.

mama and L

L eyes

Along the way, we were serenaded by a gentleman from Nebraska who sang us train-related songs, like “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. There may have been a little Jonny Cash thrown in there at times too.

music on the train


A crew of friendly scarecrows sang along and, at one point, took all the kids to one of the train cars for a fun story time. Evelyn gave it her all learning each of the hand motions they taught the kids to go along with the stories.

E and L

Eventually, we disembarked at the pumpkin patch, each in search of the perfect pumpkin.


got one!

The hay ride there also was a hit, as well as a little straw maze for the kids to make their way through. We opted out of the corn maze for fear of getting lost inside and missing our train ride back.

D in the maze

yay for large pumpkins

Our sack lunches hit the spot, especially Aunt Nancy’s tasty pumpkin bars, a perfect treat for the occasion. Afterwards, we jumped back on the train for the ride back, kicking back as we listened to more tunes by our guitar-strummer and felt the cool breeze off the river nearby.

E and the train

Loading back into our cars, we were surprised only half the day had passed as the activities felt as if they filled a entire day. Time for naps!

Time for a Hearty Stew!

We’re finally feeling some fall weather around here. This afternoon, the clouds rolled in and we are enjoying listening to the rain outside the window.

In honor of the glorious rain, I have a delicious crockpot beef stew for you over on the food blog. Check it out!

Kid approved!! {She ate every last drop…and then some!}

beef stew kid

Around the Web ~ 10.19.14

pumpkinsWe spent this weekend soaking up the season with trips to pick pumpkins and gather apples. I’ll fill you in more later this week, but for now enjoy a few links from this past week around the web.


We are always on the lookout for good quick breakfast recipes. I think these Carrot and Bran Muffins just might fit the bill.

If you are on Instagram, this is one to follow: 5ftinf  Composition, color,…everything about each of the posts is beautiful. {via Modern Mrs. Darcy}

Some thoughts on keeping organized. I like things to be organized. I can’t function well in my home when things are in complete disarray. I think I am more efficient in my work when things have a proper place. So sometimes getting things cleaned up requires a proper organization system first.

We’ve only had one child so far who is eating solids so our experience with this is limited, but we certainly agree that exposing your children to a myriad of food choices from a young age {not treating certain foods as ‘adult’ and others as ‘kid food’} help to eliminate unnecessary dislikes. Evelyn tries everything once and, usually, each time it is made. It is amazing how many times she didn’t like it the first…or fiftieth…but that fifty-first time it became her favorite food. {Lord, help me if I ever have a picky eater, though!}

Olivia hits the nail on the head — A Call to End the Mommy Wars. We have got to stop judging one another and start building each other up. We’re in the trenches together.

Staging Your Home for Living — Why we shouldn’t be staging our home only when we are preparing to leave it and how to do so.

Love these tips for capturing who your kids are. I’m definitely going to attempt implementing more of these in my day-to-day photography.

This is definitely on my mind a lot. I’m nervous about raising children in this technologically-filled age. I don’t want them to lose their sense of wonder at God’s creation or miss out on truly having meaningful relationships with others, things I fear might happen with too much media “noise.”

Why getting our children into the best college should not really be the goal.

Loving these thoughts on Why Beauty Matters.


Have a great week, my friends!

Remembering the Little Ones Lost

pregnancy-infant-loss-remembrance-dayThis is strongly on my heart today.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

I have not lost one of my own children, but I do have two siblings in heaven whom I have never met — one who would be two years older than me and my brother, Seth’s, twin. Just writing that down brings tears to my eyes. I miss them although I have never seen them. My heart aches for their loss.

My heart is also aching for all my mommy friends who have lost a little one through a miscarriage, still birth or infancy death. I know too many. I am thinking of each one of you and praying for you today. Know that your little one is loved and remembered. He or she is your little saint in Heaven watching down on your family. I’m lighting a candle this evening in their memory.

wave of light

If you would like to leave your child’s in the comments, I will pray for him or her by name.

Applesauce Pork Chops

applesauce pork chops

Are you pumpkin-ed out yet? I can’t say that we are, but we also don’t want to miss out on apple season which feels like it is drawing to a close before it has even begun. {This may be true, in part, because of the horrible drought this year.}

Hop on over to the food blog for a delicious dinner of applesauce pork chops that comes together in 20 minutes!

Around the Web ~ 10.12.14


A few interesting articles for your coffee table perusal this morning:


An interesting look at wedding financials and how it might affect the longevity of marriages — ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales

A fun idea to do with your toddler on a rainy day.

These lost photos from the 50s and 60s — a glimpse into every day motherhood. Timeless.

If you haven’t had enough of pumpkin things yet, Joy the Baker has a delicious looking Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk recipe. I’ve always wanted to make my own almond milk. Now, I have a really good reason too.

A San Francisco-based restaurant is playing hard ball with Yelp after it started deleting good reviews for the restaurant when they refused to pay extra to the company for advertising. They are asking for your worst reviews to make it to the top WORST restaurant on Yelp. Some of these are just hilarious.

Let’s Stop Judging Kate Middleton and Women With Multiple Kids via Verily.

The devil works his nasty tricks once again. How we are being duped into thinking the ‘real’ danger lies elsewhere than where it truly does.

This is such a beautiful post written by Hayley over at Carrots for Michelmas regarding self body image in little girls. It is just so heart-breaking that the thought is even crossing their minds at such a young age. I do hope that I can instill in my girls a sense of self-worth that transcends outward appearances. I feel it is going to be so difficult in this materialistic world we live in.

And don’t miss the giveaway over at Cedars and Tiny Flowers for your babes — your choice of one of Freshly Picked‘s adorable moccasins! I’m pretty sure I want one in every color for my little love. <3


Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Focusing In

photo 1(6)

Loving these prompts from In the Heart of My Home, Elizabeth Foss’ blog. I need a little help organizing my thoughts here this morning. It’s been a doozy of a week.


Outside My Window ~ Sunshine. In the 90s again today. Where is autumn? Cleaner air than yesterday but still smoke-ridden. It hurts my baby’s eyes. :( Another fire was started very near here a few days ago. One of Steve’s commuting companions lost his house in the fire. Very sad.

Listening To ~ Good ol’ bluegrass. Enjoying a compilation of hits. Turned it on to distract Evelyn from something she shouldn’t be doing, but we all don’t mind the distraction.

Clothing Myself In ~ Pajamas still. Getting dressed doesn’t usually happen here until the afternoon unless we are going somewhere, mostly because I like to spend the morning hours doing chores.

Reading My Children These Books ~ We’re still big on trains here. We’ve been enjoying The Last Train and The Little Train the past few weeks. Also, enjoying books of the season on apples and pumpkins, especially Pumpkin Jack, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night, The Apple Pie Tree, and Apples. And this fantastic interactive book — Press Here. We like to take full advantage of all our library has to offer.

Reading On My Own ~ I just started Boys in the Boat and I’m really enjoying it. Daniel James Brown is a great storyteller who hooks you on these interweaving lives of the crewsmen and their coaches during the World War II era. Definitely a good read for history buffs. And it’s making me recount my days in the sculls.


Pondering ~ What we have going on these next few months. I think fall and winter are always the busiest for us. Starting in November, we have Evey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, three birthdays in January, four birthdays in February, and our anniversary in early February. Lots to plan for!

Quotable ~ When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson It’s been feeling like that often around here lately.

Cultivating Rhythm ~ Trying to regain some semblance of a daily rhythm after having it upended while we were trying to escape the smoke from the fire. Also, we’re living with one car right now which means an early wake up most mornings so we can take Steve to the train station if we want to have a vehicle during the day. So regular naps and early bedtimes are important here right now to ensure enough sleep.

E baking

Creating By Hand ~ I’ve started my Christmas gifts early this year in the hopes I’ll actually have something to show for it come December. I can’t say much about it right now, except that I’m really enjoying getting into learning different knitting techniques and my stitches are getting better by the day. My tension is definitely improving.

Learning Lessons In ~ What I can handle and what I can’t. I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, but I’m learning what I’m capable of each day and to say ‘no’ to the things I really don’t want to be involved in.

Encouraging Lessons In ~ Responsible independence. Evey has been wondering off when we’re at the park without saying a word, giving this mama a heart attack. Trying to figure out how to teach her communication about what she wants and where she is going.

playing houseAbout 5 seconds before I turned around to check on Lucie in the stroller, and about 20 seconds before she was halfway across the plaza without a word.

Begging Prayers For ~ Those suffering from the nearby fire. For students in the midst of mid-terms.

Keeping House ~ Attempting to do a major cleaning after a much-neglected house the past month or so. Got the floors vacuumed yesterday and already it feels much better.

Crafting In the Kitchen ~ Enjoying some autumnal meals despite the fact it still feels like summer. {We’ll just crank the AC and pretend.} Made this chicken pot pie dish in the crock pot last night and enjoyed some baked pumpkin spice donuts last weekend for our Saturday brunch.


Keeping Fit ~ Not keeping fit…yet. Picked up some 3 lbs. dumbbells at Target earlier in the week. I’m joining some friends starting Monday for a daily exercise routine for which we are going to keep all accountable. Hopefully. ;)

Giving Thanks ~ For my amazing husband, who has been working so hard, at both school and work, yet always making us his priority. He is such a great and loving father. I love watching him with our girls. <3

Steve and the girls

Loving the Moments ~ We wait for daddy to arrive on the train most evenings at the station. It elates Evelyn’s heart to no end to see the train pull up, her daddy step off, to brush her fingers against the train, to say ‘good night’ to the choo-choo.

Living the Liturgy ~ I’m following the devotions from Blessed is She daily. I’m really loving being to able to read the daily Mass readings along with a short meditation on them. Check it out if you haven’t yet! It’s especially great for those longing to go to Mass more often. Helps you keep up a little with the Church’s seasons.

Planning for the Week Ahead ~ Next week will be one of more major cleaning, thinking/planning Evelyn’s birthday party next month, and planning for next weekend’s adventures with family — looking forward to visiting with Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl driving out from Texas. :)  Also, getting our yard cleaned up for the winter. I think it might be too late for our fall garden.

Ave Maria

our-lady-of-the-rosaryHail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Rosary is a special devotion in which we pray for the intercession of Mary to her son, Jesus, while meditating on the “mysteries” of Christ’s life, especially those which intertwine with Mary’s. It is normally said using a set of beads which helps us keep track of each decade we pray.

{For a superb way to pray the Rosary with children, check out Catholic All Year‘s Facebook post on making and praying chocolate Rosaries! :) Also, what praying the family Rosary looks like in Kendra’s house.}


annun_angelico_grtJoyful Mysteries

The Annunciation ~ And [Gabriel] came to her and said, / “Hail, full of grace, / the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28) 

The Visitation ~  In those days Mary arose / and went with haste into the hill country./ to a city of Judah, / and she entered the house of Zechariah / and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, / the child leaped in her womb; / and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:39-41)

The Nativity ~ She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in Swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there Was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged. (Luke 2:7)

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple ~ When the day came to purity them according to the law Of Moses, the couple brought him up to Jerusalem so that He could be presented to the Lord “Every first-born male shall be consecrated to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22-23)

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple ~ On the day they came upon him in the temple Sitting in he midst of the teachers, listening to them and Asking them questions. (Luke 2:46)

weddingatcanaLuminous Mysteries

The Baptism of Jesus ~ And when Jesus was baptized…The heavens were opened And He saw that Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him, And lo, a voice from the heaven, saying, “this is My beloved son, With whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)

Jesus’ First Miracle ~ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Jesus said to them, “fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2:5-7)

Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven ~ …and preach as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give with out pay. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Transfiguration of Jesus ~ And he was praying, the appearance of his raiment become Dazzling white. And a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is My Son, My chosen; listen to him! (Luke 9:29, 35)

The Last Supper ~ He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you” and likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22: 19-20)

pietabougereauSorrowful Mysteries

Agony in the Garden ~ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:43-44)

Jesus is Scourged at the Pillar ~ And so Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

Jesus is Crowned with Thorns ~ And stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand… (Matthew 27:28-29)

Jesus Carries His Cross ~ And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. (John 19:17)

Jesus is Crucified ~ Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. (John 19: 28, 30)

assumptionGlorious Mysteries

The Resurrection ~ You need not be amazed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified. He has been raised up; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6)

The Ascension ~ Then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into Heaven and took his seat at God’s right hand. (Mark 16:19)

The Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon the Apostles and Mary at Pentecost ~ All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them. (Acts 2:4)

Mary’s Assumption ~ A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, With the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)

Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth ~ “You are the glory of Jerusalem…you are the splendid boast of our people… God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever. (Judith 15:9-10)


Veronese, Battle of Lepanto c1572

By Mary’s intercession, through the recitation of the Rosary, the course of history has turned at some very powerful moments in history. In 1571, on this day, the Ottoman Turks (Muslims) were resisted against all odds by the Christians at the Battle of Lepanto. Europe would look very different today if this had not occurred, as the Muslims were set to extend the Ottoman Empire and force the Muslim culture and religion (really, one and the same) on all. The Pope at the time, Pius V, had requested all the faithful to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, asking that the victory be theirs. Under the command of Don Juan of Austria, they destroyed the Ottoman ships, and it was attributed it to Mary’s intercession.

The Rosary is a mighty “weapon.” We would do well to pray it for a very similar situation in the world today.

undoer of knots

I have witnessed Mary’s influence in my own life using this powerful weapon. Over the course of about a year or so, I had been undergoing some horrible, and ever-growing, anxiety due to a bad situation that had occurred in my life.  My roommate at the time introduced me to a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. {A novena is a set of prayers said over a nine-day period, usually for a specific intention.} A Rosary is said at the beginning of each day’s prayer, after which a prayer was said that asked Mary’s help in “undoing the knot” that was in my life. I was praying to be released from the heavy burden I felt on my soul of a past hurt and the anxiety it was causing me. Each successive day, I could literally feel the weight being taken off. The tears that poured out of me after I finished my prayers every evening were like a release of the flood of emotions and anxiety that flooded my soul. I finally was able to talk about the burden I carried. My heart was being cleansed to allow for love to enter in once again. It is amazing how palpable spiritual things can be at times to our very being.

All the Things Pumpkin

pumpkin hat

I just put down my knitting which is currently orange yarn on round needles as I am making Evelyn another pumpkin hat. I made one last year that she happily wore, and it turns out that she would be happy to do that again. Too bad those things don’t grow with her. Lucie will wear the smaller one and I will have two “pumpk’n heads” this year.

pumpkin hat 2

We stopped by Target today for diapers and few unnecessary items that always seem to find their way into my cart whenever I walk through that store. Included in that list is this beauty.

pumpkin head

She spotted it on the shelf and I let her try it on. Mistake number one: walking anywhere near the Halloween aisles with a child who speaks of pumpkins like their going out of style. She’s been trying to take one to bed with her at night. She even placed one in my bed the other day, suggesting maybe I needed another bedfellow. No thanks, dear. And mistake number two: allowing her to try the thing on. Because, of course, once it is on, it ain’t ever coming off. Only if I wanted to pry it from her cold, dead fingers.

Plus, it’s absolutely adorable on her. I’m not sure anyone else could pull off the style.


And I haven’t even introduced her to the Pumpkin Spice Latte yet.

Although, I did feed her pumpkin pie for her 1st birthday cake.

pumpkin birthday pie

And allow her to imbibe pumpkin Jamba.

pumpkin jamba

So this may be entirely my fault.


Oh, and did I mention she calls one of her grandfathers ‘Pumpkin’?