Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dutch Apple Cake with Dessert Sauce and Farmer's Market

This past Sunday after church we stopped by the farmer's market while we were in town. The Farmer's Market we go to in Milwaukie, Oregon always smells so delicious, between the cooking sausages and kettle popcorn, and all of the other delicious food stands, the air is filled with yumminess! We were there to pick up a bag of fresh kettle corn and try out some new varieties of apples.

I love all of the colorful sights at the farmer's market, even though I don't eat nuts, I thought this old fashioned fresh roasted peanut stand looked fun and nostalgic, and the produce colors were so vibrant!

So many beautiful fresh veggies!

The flowers were also amazing, I just love rich fall colors!

I was excited to see how many different varieties of apples there were when I got to this apple stand. Lots that I hadn't tried before, so I made sure to get a few of each, and of course a nice big bag of my favorite Honeycrisp that I look forward to every fall! I'm excited to try the red fleshed variety called Pink Pearl.

There were also some beautiful extra large varieties of apples, I love it when apples have their little leaf attached. :)

After picking up a nice selection of apples for all of my fall apple recipes, we spent some time having some family fun. I was very eager to see the new movie The Boxtrolls, I love stop-motion filming, and I also thought it was pretty neat that this film was made right here in Oregon! The movie was wonderful, and definitely lived up to my expectations. The theater was packed and everyone, young and old, seemed to really enjoy the movie. Very visually interesting, funny, and creative. I loved it and look forward to watching again when it comes out on DVD. Definitely an enjoyable family Sunday!

This week the house is smelling delicious with the aroma of cooking apples, I made a big batch of Apple Butter and last night for dessert I made a recipe that was passed down to me from my Grandma- Dutch Apple Cake with Dessert Sauce. This is a simple and delicious cake and perfect for a fall dessert.

Dutch Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Sift or whisk together-
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar

Melt- 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter

Beat- 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk, then mix in the melted butter.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mixed thoroughly, I just did this by hand.

Put mixture into a greased baking pan, the recipe called for an oblong pan with no dimensions given, I opted to use my smaller rectangle 11 by 7 inch baking pan, my 9x13 pan seemed too large, I also think a deep 9 inch pie pan would also work nicely.

Peel, core, and slice 2-3 apples about 1/4 inch slices. Overlap the apple slices in rows on the top of the batter, sprinkle the top with a cinnamon and sugar mixture (I forgot to add the cinnamon sugar to the top until it was part way through cooking so not all of my cinnamon sugar was melted on as you can see in the picture, and I think I actually liked it like that, so you can either add the cinnamon sugar at the beginning of baking or about 20 minutes in.).

Bake at 400 F. for 30-45 minutes until cake tests done and is nicely browned. Cool slightly and serve with warm dessert sauce.

Dessert sauce-

In a sauce pan bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil while stirring.

Make a slurry of 2 rounded tablespoons of cornstarch and a little water, add to boiling sugar water and stir until thickened (the consistency of a brown gravy), if the sauce becomes too thick add a little more water (a small amount at a time), if it is not thick enough add a little more of a cornstarch slurry perhaps another half a teaspoon or so.

When sauce is to desired thickness, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch or two of cinnamon, stir and serve over warm apple cake.

This dessert sauce was a favorite of mine growing up, my grandma would serve it over this apple cake, her Cherry Carnival dessert, and peach cobbler, it really makes a nice dessert topping.

Everyone enjoyed this fall dessert. I am looking forward to cooking up the rest of my farmer's market apples throughout the week!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rose City Comic Con 2014 Family Adventure

Last weekend we were super excited to attend the 2014 Rose City Comic Con in Portland. This will be our third year attending and each year it gets bigger. This year instead of going for only one day, we decided we would go both Saturday and Sunday, so we would have as much time as possible to check out everything we wanted to. 

We arrived nice and early on Saturday morning and the one of the first things we saw was this really cool R2D2 robot made out of Lego, it was able to move around via remote control and everyone was in awe!

Once we got our badges we headed to a queuing room, I was amazed how many people were already there and very happy we had arrived when we did. We had to wait for the official start time for the convention floor to open. Luckily there are so many interesting people, some dressed in very elaborate costumes, so it makes standing in line quite a bit more tolerable! :) 

Once the floor was open we popped in to say hi to my sister who is a vendor at Conic Con every year. She runs Amlowi's Hat Shop and sells her awesome sci-fi/pop culture themed crocheted hats. Then it was time to head right over to the various panels of the day.

I just love this pendulum in the convention center, it really is beautiful and sort of feels a little bit space age which adds to the comic con ambiance!

Our first panel of the day was Gigi Edgley. She was an actress on Farscape which I have never seen. I always think it is interesting to listen to all of the various panelists give their talks and answer questions, and it turns out she was in two programs that I used to watch back in the 90's Beastmaster and The Lost World, when I found that out I was more excited, now I'll have to pull out my old DVDs and re-watch them. She also hosts Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge which sounds interesting. She had a great energy and a terrific accent and seemed like such a genuinely friendly person, I look forward to watching her shows in the future.

The next panel was the highlight of my weekend, and one of the main reasons I was so eager to attend this year, Wil Wheaton was speaking! Now, I have been watching Wil Wheaton since I was a teen way back in the late 80's, I loved Stand By Me, and most of all I loved his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation. I was a huge Trekky back in the day and never missed an episode, in fact I would tape the episodes on VHS so I could re-watch them! I also enjoy seeing him on the Big Bang Theory as well as the other multiple projects he has done. He is also a very good writer and earlier this year I read Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton and really enjoyed it, so I was of course excited to hear him speak. The whole family enjoyed his panel, he had such great things to say, that's what I love about panels it really gives you the opportunity to hear from really interesting people who have a different perspective on life. One of Wil Wheaton's quotes was "Never sacrifice the joy of playing in pursuit of winning." I loved that. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, definitely do so! :) 

After Wil Wheaton's Panel we had to hurry to get lined up for a photo opportunity with Wil Wheaton, but before we left the panel room we were able to listen to Dirk Benedict's Panel for a bit, he played in Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team. I loved Battlestar Galactica when I was growing up, so it was neat to be able to see the man who played Starbuck, especially since I met the actor Richard Hatch who played Apollo in Battlestar Galactica at Comic Con two years ago.

We left the panel room and lined up to get a family photo with Wil Wheaton, it was fun meeting him in person, and I love our photo, this will definitely go in our scrapbook! 

After pictures it was a bit of a race to get back in time to see the last big panel of the day- Sean Astin from the Goonies! I love the Goonies, and of course also enjoyed Sean Astin in Lord of the Rings, so I was glad when the line to get in his panel moved along nicely and we made it in. His panel was fun, Garrett Wang from Star Trek Voyager moderated the panel and did a wonderful job. Sean Astin seems like a fun and friendly guy, we were all sworn in as Goonies. :) A couple of years ago we were able to visit the Goonies house in Astoria while we were at the beach, and every year when we are at the beach we watch The Goonies, its our beach movie, so seeing this panel was a real treat!  

At the end of this panel we were all a bit tired and hungry, so we hung out in the hallway and ate a late lunch. We saw a ton of terrific cosplay, people are so amazingly creative with their costumes!

This was one of my favorite costumed groups from the 1980's sci-fi parody Spaceballs, another show I grew up watching. :)

We have never had the energy to stay for the Cosplay contest, and we almost didn't this year either, but we decided to just stay up late and stay for the entire Cosplay contest. I never really knew much about Cosplay until the last few years, I recently watched a couple of episodes of Heroes of Cosplay. I was excited to find out that Oregon's own Jesse Lagers was going to be a judge, he was a contestant on Heroes of Cosplay. All of the contestants put so much effort and time into their outfits, the detail work was amazing! We were all glad we stayed!

After the contest was over we drove home for the night, and got right to sleep so we would be up in time for church and then ready to head back to the Convention center for day two. When we arrived on Sunday I knew I only had one more opportunity to get Wil Wheaton's autograph, so we all hopped in his line and were all able to meet Wil Wheaton and have him sign some pictures. I chose one of him from back in Star Trek and one of him now. Sarah was happy to learn he was a fellow left handed person, and Joe got some advice on what books would be good to read on developing writing skills. 

After getting Wil Wheaton's autograph we were still in the celebrity signing area and spotted the actor from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nicholas Brendon who plays Xander. Sarah, Joe's Girlfriend, and her little sister all watch Buffy and were pretty excited to see him. So we decided to go ahead and get his signature as well so they could meet him up close. They were a bit nervous but Nicholas Brendon was so friendly, and instead of making them share one autograph (which we would have had to do because you have to pay for each signature and they are a little spendy) he gave them each their own, which was super amazing of him, and the girls were all very happy. Next time he comes to town I would love to see his panel as well, he seemed like a genuinely nice person. This definitely made their day!

Here are all the kids, Sunday we brought Joe's girlfriend and her little sister along so they could experience their first comic-con. This is definitely a fun way to spend the day as a family, there is a lot to do and see, and we all enjoy it every year!

We decided to attend one last panel, this time it was Ernie Hudson's who played one of the original Ghostbusters, Winston. It is always so interesting to hear about the filming of these classic movies I grew up watching, and what it was like working with Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray and what not. Also a bit about the role of African American's in film which was interesting as well. 

After the panel we spent some time walking around the vendors and artists, we took pictures by these reproductions of the Bat Mobile and the Back to the Future DeLorean.

I love visiting the artists area, there are some incredibly talented artists there, I kept walking by this book and this artists booth and his pictures were so cute it would catch my eye every time. I happen to be a big fan of Asian Kawaii style cute art, and his art was just speaking to me, so in the end I decided to buy his book, which the artist, ENFU, signed and embossed for me. I look forward to looking through this more. :)

Joe was able to get two signed Spider-man prints by one of the original Spider-man artists, which was exciting for Joe since he has been a Spidey fan since he was a little boy. He also found some Spiderman Comics for his collection. This past week Joe turned 18, so in keeping with our Comic Book themed weekend I got him a couple more Spider-man themed books which he enjoyed.

I also attempted to make a Spider-man emblem birthday cake, along with some cute nerdy themed cupcakes. All of my children are now officially adults so I figured I had to get in one last youthful cake. Happy Birthday Joe! We had a fun weekend at Rose City Comic Con and a very nice birthday this week for Joe.

If you live near Portland, I would highly recommend Rose City Comic Con, there are fun activities for both older and younger children making it a fun weekend activity for families, although it is crowded everyone is very friendly, and everyone has a fun time. I am already eager to see the line up for next years comic con,what a fun, fun event!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Easy Air Plant Terrariums

This summer I was the lucky winner of a $30 gift certificate to The Air Plant Shop in a contest hosted at Crafty Moms Share Blog. I was so excited to have won, I had been eyeing different air plants in the stores and seeing them online, and I thought they would be really fun to try out. So I placed my order and a very nice selection of air plants arrived.

I knew I wanted to make some simple terrariums for around the house, so on one of my trips to the craft store I picked up some pebbles and pretty moss as well as a selection of glass containers. Air plants are easy to care for, despite their name "air plants", they need more than air, they need a little half hour soak in water once a week. I use bottled water since our city water is too chlorinated for these little plants. The Air Plant Shop  also sells air plant food which I will feed them during their next bath. Here they are getting their water. When they are done with their bath I let them dry on a towel.

First I gathered my terrarium making supplies. :)

Making these terrariums was super easy, since air plants don't need soil I just poured pebbles into the various sized glass containers, "planted" the air plant among the pebbles, then tucked in a little moss for some different color and texture. I made four small terrariums in little glass candle holders that I found for a dollar.

I also thought these mini dinosaurs that the kids got me for my birthday would be perfect hanging out in the terrariums.

Then I made a larger terrarium in this larger glass bowl.

Here they all are, I think they look pretty with the sun coming through them from the dining room window, later today I will find spots throughout the house to set out these cute little terrariums. This whole project took less than an hour and was fun, they would be very easy to change up with different colors of rock and types of moss or other found nature objects and miniatures.

I plan on making a Halloween one with some of my Halloween minis which I will share in October. :) I really love these little air plants, I love having plants around the house, and air plants are nice and low maintenance which I think is especially nice.  There are so many wonderful ideas on Pinterest for using air plants in your decor, I especially love the idea of planting them in toy dinosaurs, I may have to try that next! :) Thanks again Crafty Moms Share and The Air Plant Shop for the fun giveaway!

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Simply Sunday School - Creation Story Sequence Cards and Mini Book Craft

In September I welcomed new students into my Sunday School class who had moved up from the Pre-K/Kindergarten class into my middle grades class of 1st through 3rd graders. Because it is the start of a new school year, I decided to start at the beginning of the Bible and spend September focusing on the book of Genesis.

Our first lesson this month was the story of creation, found in Genesis Chapter 1 and Genesis Chapter 2:1-3. I had a lot of fun preparing for this lesson. Here's what our lesson involved.

Awhile back I found a pack of pre-cut cardstock circle shaped paper and I knew I wanted to use it to craft something for the creation story.

I got out my glitter, and my large collection of stickers and got to work making a set of creation story sequence cards. I used two cardstock circles for each day's card, and using craft glue, glued a craft stick in between the two pieces. I decorated each day's card with a picture representing what God created on each day, and on the back of each card I wrote the corresponding day in silver sharpie. If you can't find pre-cut circles you could just trace out a circle onto cardstock and cut it out, but I will say the pre-cut version was very handy if you can find it.

I used various stickers, lots of fine glitter, and extra cardstock to craft each picture. Here are close ups of each day.

My students really enjoyed these cards, I used them during story time, I read the story right out of an NIV Bible, and held up each card as I read the day. After I read the story I used the cards to help prompt the students to learn each day and the order of the creation story, then I set the sequence cards out on the table for reference during the rest of our lesson.

For craft time I put together a simple mini book craft. I used construction paper to make the books, I made them on the smaller size about 1/4 of the size of a sheet construction paper, by folding four sheets of construction paper in half, then stapling in four spots and cutting that book in half. I printed out the title, as well as a short description of each day's creation for each page, and our memory verse.

For each day I provided a mixture of construction paper, stickers that corresponded, and markers. I made a very simple example of each page and then passed out supplies one page at a time and let the children be as creative as they wanted to.

All of the children did a wonderful job and were so creative with their designs, every little book looked unique. For this particular class I had a smaller group than usual and students that were happy to craft, with a larger group I would suggest setting out each page as a little station and possibly cutting out shapes for the younger students or providing lots of easy to use stickers. My students over the years have always enjoyed using stickers, so I stock up every time I see any that would be good in a lesson. :)

The homework was to learn their memory verse for the next Sunday, Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. As well as to share their little creation story book with their family. I have been using small prizes as incentives for learning verses lately, for this verse I found cute little globe key chains. The was a fun lesson to teach and I really enjoyed making the story sequence cards which I have saved to use again next time I teach this lesson.

Check out more of my Sunday School ideas on my Simply Sunday School Page.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stocking Up On Fall Candles

Even though today the temperature is soaring and it looks quite a bit more like summer than fall, quite possibly because it is still summer for two more weeks, I am so excited for fall I am in full autumn prep mode! I am eager for crisp cool fall weather, hot cider, and reading or watching my favorite show with a cozy blanket and a pretty candle burning in the background.

Every fall I gather my coupons and head to Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works online shops to stock up on my favorite candles for the fall season, so I thought today I would share some of new yummy smelling candles that I am eager to use.

I love Yankee Candle's candles, the scents are wonderful and they are well made. They almost always have a great coupon code which makes stocking up a little nicer on the budget. I was intrigued by one of their newest candles called the Shimmer and Sparkle Collection.

The Yankee Candle Shimmer and Sparkle Collection candles come in a specially designed jar, the lid is lined in a silver color that almost gives it the look of mercury glass, and when you open the candle it has a built in glass reflector of sorts that makes the candle light "shimmer and sparkle" when lit.

The Shimmer and Sparkle Collection candles come in three classic fall scents, Spiced Pumpkin, Macintosh, and Autumn Leaves. I bought Macintosh for September (Macintosh is my favorite Yankee scent), and Spiced Pumpkin for October and November. Both scents are wonderful and really nice to burn.

The next place I went to stock up on candles was Bath and Body Works, a few years back I started buying their mini candles, they always come on sale for a great price and it allows me to try out every scent I want to try without having to commit to a larger candle until I find a must have scent. This year they had a great little fall collection of White Barn Mini Candles each one featuring a different plaid blanket on the label, I am crazy for all things plaid (check out my Plaid Pinterest Board), so I knew they would be fun to have around the house this fall. They all smell delicious!

Bath and Body Works sells holders for their mini candles and up until now I never felt I needed one because I actually think they are pretty cute on their own, but then I saw this faux-mercury glass  holder and it had great reviews so I thought I'd give it a try. I was surprised when it came in the mail with an extra mini candle - Pumpkin Caramel Latte which was a fun little treat and also a very yummy smelling candle. I'm sure I'll use this candle holder throughout the fall and winter.

Bath and Body Works had one more little candle that I couldn't pass up, it is a Bourbon Butterscotch scent in the cutest tiny jar that looks like a mini canning jar, you can see how small it in in comparison to the Hot Wheel size car in the picture. It smells delicious, I love Butterscotch scent, a perfect little candle!

In addition to mini candles, I picked out some fall scented Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers along with a cute apple themed holder for my purse, I put Weekend Apple Picking Scent in the holder, and also picked out Mr. Hedgehog Orchard Apple Scent and Mr. Fox Sugar Maple scent because I am in love with Hedgies and Fox, they were too cute to pass up! Hopefully they will help keep those fall cold germs at bay!

I love burning candles around the house they are pretty to look at. I definitely always burn them in a safe location away from any flammables, usually behind my kitchen sink (makes doing dishes much more pleasant!), and also on top of my fireplace mantel. I think candles are a nice way to add warmth to a home, and I'm looking forward to using all of my new candles this season!