Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Pie and Weekend Things...

Last week I made pumpkin bread for the first time.  It will not be the last.

My relationship with all things pumpkin was not love at first sight.  In fact if you would have asked me two years ago if I wanted a slice of pumpkin pie or some pumpkin bread I would have said "no thank you" while making a gagging noise.  I had no idea how anyone could think that mushy texture could be considered a decent dessert.  Things began to change last fall when we ended up with a couple dozen pumpkins in our garden.  Matt had not planted them.  Our Jack-o-lanterns from the previous Halloween had ended up in the compost pile and from that we got pumpkins.  Around that same time someone in Ava's kindergarten class brought in pumpkin pie and she came home declaring we just had to make some because it was soooo good.  Trying to be a good parent I refrained from my usual gagging noise that accompanies pumpkin pie talk and said "sure, why not?"  (Parenting is so good at helping you grow up and be a good example for some things)  I did a little recipe research, found out how to cook a pumpkin to get the insides usable and viola, I made my first pumpkin pie that didn't come out of a can.  What I found out is, I actually do quite enjoy pumpkin pie.  The problem had never been was the processed can of pumpkin mush that I had used before.  I made three more pumpkin pies that year and loved them all.  So did the family, especially Ava.  This year we intentionally grew pumpkins and I was so excited to use them again for baking.  I'll save the pie making for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but wanted to do something.  Pumpkin bread it was.  And, if I thought last years pies were the start of my relationship with pumpkins, the bread just bumped us up to serious.  The recipe I used is one of my go-to food blogs, Simply Recipes, and you can find it here.  You just have to be sure to use fresh pumpkin, no cans!!  (for my pumpkin puree I slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, bake face down on a baking sheet for around 45 minute at 350-degrees.  Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor)  I wouldn't choose a slice of pumpkin pie over chocolate cheesecake, but I no longer gag at the thought of it.

We rocked a little Friday fun last week with the cousins.  I grabbed the girls from school and we beat the school bus to my sisters so we got to meet Greg and Kim at the bus stop.  The kids ran to each other for huge hugs as if they hadn't seen each other in months.  As I watched them all racing back to the house, giggling and chattering I couldn't help but feel so content.  Maybe because they have all been such a part of each others life since the day they were all born, I just feel very complete when they are together.

Once at their house we made fruit smoothies for snack, then they were off to play and my sister and I just got to chat and catch up.  Love that and love smoothie mustaches...

Sometimes I think about what it would be like if we had more kids and a big crazy family.  With both girls in school I sometimes think if we had one or two more it wouldn't be as sad adjusting to them both gone all day.  Then, I think how much I adore the dynamic of our family of four.  And we get the big crazy family feeling when we are with all of my big crazy family.  They get to be with cousins like they are siblings so in a way we get the best of both worlds.  Okay...I have to stop the family talk cuz I think I've been freaking Matt out about babies lately.  I really am good with the way things are...I think I just need to snuggle a little baby, get it out of my system.  Sigh.

I started the weekend out by declaring that I was not going to make breakfast on Saturday morning and we were going out.  Everyone threw on clothes and we headed out.  There's this tiny little restaurant on the edge of town that several years ago Matt and I heard about and tried to go to a couple times.  It never worked out because they have weird hours and we couldn't find it the first time and then they closed for awhile.  Last week a co-worker mentioned it so I started thinking about it again.  I looked online and there was no website, but there were a few reviews saying how good the food was and that it was a great place for locals.  Maybe it was because we had never managed to make it there and as a local (native, no less) I really thought I needed to try it.  We managed to snag one of the few tables inside and had a fantastic breakfast.  The girls banana bread french toast was like dessert, the service was no nonsense friendly and we all enjoyed the funky atmosphere as well as the list of rules on the back of the menu.  (such as...lick your forks clean so we don't have to do as much or you don't have to clean your plate cuz we'll feed the scraps to the chickens.  My personal favorite-you don't need a spoon, use your fork to stir your coffee)  Good stuff.

With very full bellies we decided to take a little nature walk and enjoy the changing colors of the season.  There's a trail right in town that is perfect for just that.  It also happens to have two of my favorite trees ever.  They are huge and have these twisted gnarly trunks, perfect for climbing on.  I just love them.

As we crossed the bridge on the trail we noticed someone has been painting some murals on them.  It reminded me of the post the girls and I painted in our yard this summer...a little bit of color to brighten someones day.

We have a bench in our backyard that is just begging for some color.  Next summer, that will be on our project list.  

Today was the last soccer games for the girls.  It has been a fun season.  I asked both girls this morning if they were sad or excited that soccer was going to be over.  Layla said sad, Ava said excited.  That pretty much sums up the season.  Layla was very into it and always eager for practice and games.  Ava was not quite as eager, but I think she still enjoyed it.  She had a good team with a great coach and I think she learned a lot.  Soccer just may not be her thing and that is fine with me.  I think the award she received at the end summed it up best...
"Most Improved and Super Attitude"  That is one of Ava's greatest qualities...her positive attitude.  She is full of smiles and such a happy, kind girl.  Layla's team didn't do awards, but if they did I would give her the rockstar award because even though she wasn't the most aggressive kid on the team, she got after it.  I'd give her that and messiest fudgesicle eater...

To top off what was a pretty awesome weekend we had a pizza night.  I have been trying to add tomatoes to most meals because they are turning red faster than we can eat them.     I remembered a pizza I had made awhile ago that only had roasted tomatoes for a topping.  Perfect way to use up a bunch of them and it is such a nice, light pizza.

I roast the tomatoes first with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  (10 minutes in a 500-degree oven)  The pizza is so simple...drizzle the dough with olive oil, top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Put the tomatoes on top, season with s&p and some fresh basil.  Bake for 10 minutes more and enjoy.  

This week is a short week for the kiddos...they get Thursday and Friday off which will be so nice.  Then we get to go to West Yellowstone with the Frasers for the weekend and I am so, so excited!!  We tried to do this last spring, take the kids to the park and stay in her parents time share, however a big snowstorm had other plans and we had to cancel.  We have finally made it work and I can't wait.  A whole weekend with our best friends, taking the girls to see Old Faithful for the first time and just getting out of town.  Good times will be had.

Have a happy week...I leave you with some sunshine

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