happy october!

Rabbit rabbit! Well, one day late.  That is a saying I learned from my husband’s family, said to each other on the first of each month.  I have no idea what it means, or its origination, but it has now become a tradition in our family too.  Jason and I try to beat each other to saying it on the 1st. I won this month.

Yay for October! I am so happy you’re here.  I love fall, but most especially, I love Halloweens.  (A shout out here to my dear friend Sarah, who taught me to say “Halloweens”.  You’ll have to ask her for the story, but I’ve also used that term ever since I met her.  And as a fellow Halloweens-o-phile, we were just discussing the other day how it now seems strange when people refer to it just as “Halloween”.) By the way, Sarah has a fantastic food blog you can find here.

Anyway! The start to October means Halloweens is just around the corner, and our annual (well, second year) party is just weeks away! I will certainly post about that, but in the meantime, I have a little recipe to share with you.

I love baking, but I’ve been very frustrated with it.  Lately, everything I bake seems to come out too dry, overdone, or underdone.  But that hasn’t stopped me! (What is that phrase about insanity? The act of doing the exact same thing over again, expecting a different result?) And yesterday, I experienced a bit of redemption.

Backstory: I was sitting in Goodyear waiting for my car’s oil to be changed, and was checking out the lovely magazine selection while simultaneously passing anything to Emmeline that would distract her….toys, Puffs, paper, styrofoam cups.  I probably looked like a top-notch mother to the other patrons (seriously woman? You can’t TEAR your eyes away from Ladies’ Home Journal for one moment to interact with your child?)  But in reality, I had found a great recipe, people!  And come on, she was just fine.  Seriously,  I think if you drew a face on a styrofoam cup it could sub in as a suitable babysitter, at least for an hour.

So, I found this recipe for apple cake, took pics of it instead of tearing it out (don’t you think that’s unfair?), with the intention of making it in the upcoming weeks.  Then witching hour (approximately 4-7ish pm, or however long before Dad gets home) struck, and I thought to myself, “I think I have all the ingredients, why not put her in her high chair and attempt to make this cake while she experiments with all the fun foods she can eat now?”  So, we had a grand old time, me mixing and baking while Emmeline snacked on string cheese, bread with peanut butter, and corn.  And by the way, isn’t it a great feeling when you happen to have all the ingredients on hand?!

Now, I have to brag a tiny bit– this cake turned out WONDERFULLY! It was delicious! Just the perfect amount of the “m” word (I can’t say it! Too gross!), sweet & cinnamon-y but not too rich, and the apples were a great consistency.  Jason was a fan, and I was so happy with the results I want to make it weekly! Well, that’s a tad excessive, but I definitely felt the recipe is worth sharing with you all.

This is also a tribute to my dear friend Katie (who happens to be an excellent baker), because she gave me both the bundt pan and apple corer I used in this recipe. 🙂

Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of Ladies’ Home Journal)

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar (Note: I ran out of white sugar! So I had to use approx 1 1/2 cups of white, 1/2 cup of light brown…and I will definitely do this from now on! It added great flour and wasn’t too rich.)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 lbs (3 large, or about 4.5 small) apples, peeled and diced into about 1/2 inch pieces.  (Note: they recommended about every apple species OTHER than the kind I had on hand–Mutsus, Winesaps, Empires, and Granny Smiths–but I used Gala and they were just as delish, I imagine! I also didn’t peel them first…certainly easier, and didn’t make a difference in my opinion.)
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (i.e. Sugar in the Raw)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tsp milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan (or 10-inch tube pan), dust lightly with flour and tap out excess. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tsp cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In an electric mixer cream together the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs on at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture.

4. Fold in apples.

5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Combine remaining 1 tsp cinnamon and turbinado sugar, and sprinkle over cake.

6. Bake until top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about an hr and 5 mins).

7. Allow cake to cool approx. 15 minutes before transferring to a plate right-side up; allow to cool completely.  Whisk together confectioners’ sugar & milk to make icing, drizzle over the cake.

We had it for dessert last night, Emmeline had it for breakfast this morning, Jason took a slice for lunch, and there’s still plenty left over!

(we’re still working on the whole table manners/wiping your mouth thing 😉 )

I think it was the perfect fall treat to celebrate the coziness that comes with cooler weather!

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First Anniversary & Fun Correspondence

Photo courtesy of Patricia Lyons Photography

This weekend Jason and I celebrated our first anniversary.  We were married on July 10th of last year, and it’s so hard to believe that a year has already passed, and so much has happened!  Even more difficult to wrap our heads around is that it’s only 1 of upwards of 60 years of marriage!  With a wedding, school year, Jason’s job changes, two moves, and a baby due Jan. 1st, it seems like a whole lot has happened.  All wonderful though. 🙂  And this milestone makes me excited for a few dear friends who will also be celebrating their 1st anniversary soon!

One of the ways we celebrated was by having a slice of our wedding cake topper, which had been kept on ice in my parents’ freezer.  Still looked beautiful! I loved our wedding cake….a basket weave design made of buttercream frosting with a fondant bow on top (which got a tad smushed after being in storage).  The top layer was carrot cake…Jason’s favorite and I thought it would be a cake that would stay on the moister side, since I knew we’d be enjoying it a year later.  I forgot how big the cake was; even the top layer could have served as a large cake by itself!

A year later, it was still delicious!  Now if only we could head back to Bermuda too….

Inexpensive Stationery:

I probably have an unnatural obsession with stationery.  I love cards, invitations, and most of all, sending and receiving both! 🙂  There is a wonderful stationery shop in Richmond called Paper on the Avenue that does beautiful, beautiful work…we had our wedding invitations done through them, and if I had an endless budget they’d help me design every piece of correspondence I sent out!  Alas, being a girl on a budget, I have to get creative at times.  Michaels’ $1 section (usually found near the front of their store) has proven very helpful in this area.  It can be hit or miss of course, but in the recent past I have found cute cards like these:

…and these adorable gift tags (so cute tied on to a bright pink bag):

At $1 for a pack of 8, you can’t beat them!  I have also taken to making some.  I have bought stamps, stamp pads, and blank cards at either Michaels or Ben Franklin Arts and Crafts for a dollar each.  Here is what I have created–each design was super easy.

The last stamp I bought but haven’t done anything with yet…thought it would be so cute on a white invitation with black or navy ink.  The envelopes that the cards come with are on the flimsier side, but when you take into account that they were just $1, it’s a small price to pay for a cute little thank you note.

The next card I made for Christmas thank-yous…I had white card stock on hand and lined each edge with a black Sharpie to create a thin border. I used this adorable stamp I bought at Ben Franklin with red ink, but I think it would be equally cute in another stamp color and used as birthday or shower thank-you notes.

Here is the image closeup:

A ‘pennywise’ way to create chic correspondence!