Thursday, September 19, 2013

Summer to Fall. Transitions.

Last weekend Ava came in from helping Matt in the garden and asked- 

"Mom, if we pick a pumpkin will you please, please, pretty please make a pumpkin pie for dessert for tonight?"  

Now, it was around 6pm and I was trying to make dinner and the idea of making a pumpkin pie for dessert was pretty much impossible.  However, this is not the reason I said no.  I looked at her and responded-

"No, ma'am.  I refuse to cook with pumpkin until it is officially fall.  Ask me next Sunday."  

We had one week of summer left and I was not ready to transition to fall type cooking.  I am still busy trying to incorporate all the zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes into every meal.  The time will come for pumpkin pie and bread, just not yet.  I hold on to summer until the bitter end.  Unfortunately Montana can make this difficult.  I held on tight on Monday wearing summer sandals and a very bright, beachy skirt.  It looked out of place as the dark clouds began to roll in that afternoon and by Wednesday I reluctantly wore long sleeves, shoes that weren't sandals and a coat.  Boo.  Once the clouds lifted there was snow on the tops of the mountains.  Time to throw in the towel.  Fall is upon us.  Time to get used to it.  I did so by not only changing my wardrobe but changing my cooking.  This week there was baking and comfort food time.  I started with zucchini bread because it seems summery-fallish.  I found a new recipe here and it turned out awesome.  The only thing I changed was instead of nuts or raisins I used chocolate chips.  That is always a good change.  I've been trying some new recipes lately and another great one I found was for these fudge chocolate peanut butter cookies...

There have been some complaints recently that there hasn't been any homemade desserts.  (I won't name any names, but it is the only male that lives in our house.)  Life has been busy getting back into school routines and I've been working more so homemade desserts have slipped off the to-do list.  Apparently I've set the standards a little high around here.  After holding out a couple days I gave in and did some baking.  I just needed a cool, dreary day for some cookie inspiration.  Who wants to bake when it's 80-degrees and sunny out?  I did enlist some helpers for this...

I love cooking with my girls.  Baking is the one thing they are always eager to help with.  Must be because I let them lick the spoons and "test" the chocolate chips before we put them in.  I even made soup one night this week.  It was cozy and warm, perfect for a day when the rain would not stop.  More easing into fall.  It was a lentil and pasta soup...full of fresh veggies from the garden.  Topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.  The return of warm soup dinners was welcomed with open arms.  

I didn't write last weekend like I usually do.  I always love recapping at the end of a weekend...but I wasn't feeling it.  I make a point to not write when I'm not feeling it because it comes across forced.  It was a lovely weekend.  A perfect blend of doing stuff and doing nothing.  An at home date night.  Sitting outside for dinner under moon and candle light...

We will continue these outside as long as we can.  Until it is too cold for only a sweatshirt.  Then we'll move them inside in front of the fire.  

A family weekend with few plans and the ones we had were awesome. A rainy morning that I was determined would clear up so I insisted on a family hike...

The weather did clear and it was a perfect day for a hike.  The forest was so green and smelt so fresh after a night of rainfall.  

Layla took my broken glasses and insisted on wearing them all weekend.  If anyone took them off of her she closed her eyes and said, I can't see!  She is such a funny girl.  I love her spunk.  

I will squeeze any hikes in I can before the snow falls.  I need a few more before we go into winter hibernation.  It is my opportunity to breath deep and center.  

We had a long overdue dinner with friends.  We've found a great way to make the cooking easy for this.  No big meal...appetizers and drinks.  We each make a couple things and we always end up with a yummy variety of food.  I went with all our veggies and made some Montana garden bread...

Basically it was pizza but since I didn't have tomato paste for sauce I drizzled garlic, olive oil and sea salt on the crust.  It was topped with fresh mozzarella and then only veggies from our garden or share.  Japanese eggplant, arugula, tomatoes, basil and peppers.  Yum.  We ended the evening with s'mores over the fire.  The weather didn't exactly cooperate.  The wind really came up and the kids fled with their s'mores and we all tried to sit it out, dodging blowing ash until we finally called it quits.  It was nice while it lasted.  

Sunday was a very exciting day for Miss. Ava.  After years of begging to take horse back riding lessons, we backed up all our "Always keep dreaming for what you want" talks and signed her up for lessons...
I don't think I've seen this girl so happy.  Or so in her element.  Normally a quiet and nervous-about-trying-new-things girl, she eagerly jumped into this.  With the ease of a seasoned rider and a confidence I haven't seen come out yet.  Every book she checks out is about horses.  Every time they play anything a horse is involved.  We waited to see if it was a passing obsession but it has stuck around.  In the past she has been in dance and soccer and seemed to get moderate amount of enjoyment out of it.  After this lesson she was a broken record for the next 24-hours about it.  If you were talking about something else, it always came back to Big Mac, the horse she rode.  The smile never left her face.  She is in love.  Now, I will be honest, there was a part of me that did not want her to love it so much.  Not just because of the expense that goes along with private horse lessons but I have a fear of her being hurt.  Hanging out with a 900-pound animal carries a bit more risk than say, ballet class.  I need to push my fears to the side and see where these dreams take her.  

Speaking of dance class, after a brief hiatus Layla has returned to this.  After a school year not being involved in any extra activities we decided to have them choose something for this year.  Last year with Layla starting Kinder it seemed like too much.  I continue to go back and forth on how much kids should be involved in extra curricular activities.  I feel like there is a balance between way too much (something every single night) and still trying a few new things.  Each girl being involved in one thing feels like a comfortable balance for us.  It leaves us time to squeeze in quality family stuff and them to spread their wings.  It's working well so far.  Our little dancer...

She was so proud of herself because she's "this close" to getting the splits.  It is such a privilege to watch these girls grow.

Today the sun came back out.  It is nice for the sun to make an appearance for the final four days of summer.  The crispness in the air reminds us that it is changing.  I will fight it for these last four days.  Rock the flip flops and open windows, even if I have to wear a sweatshirt in the house because of it.  And then I will kiss summer good bye.  And make a pumpkin pie.  

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