Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apples a plenty! (Apple pancakes)

  So if you are following along.  You know we picked up a couple apples last week.  So we are a baking them up.  I am very familiar with the desserts but we are currently trying a few new recipes for breakfast.

  We has apple pancakes the other day and they were good.  I didn't quite follow the recipe and you don't even need to for this one! Yeah!  This recipe is very easy and you can play with it a little an make your own version.

  Simply use your pancake recipe.  Whether you have your own recipe or use the box version mix it up per the directions.  Slice and core your apples very thin.

Dip your apples in the pancake mix and fry them up like you would a plain pancake.

  That's all.  Now isn't that easy.  Nothing tricky here, folks.  I do like them better fresh versus from the fridge even warmed up but maybe that's just me.  I am happy to report that the family also liked them.

The apple does get warm and soft inside the batter and slightly melts (not to the point of applesauce) by the time you have cooked both sides. The apple is amazingly just right.

The pancake recipe I used was from pocketchangegourmet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Virginia Gorge

Do you know several times a year the national parks waive their entrance fee?  They have the dates and parks listed on there website.  Most of the states have a park some states have several to choose from.  You are able to select on parks you are interested in to gain more information about that particular park.  This information will give you their normal entrance fees, daily programs offered,  hours, directions and even if they have camp sites at that location.  I figured out in August that the next free national park day in September was going to be to visit Great Falls National Park.

  The picture at the top of this page was what peaked my interest.  It was a picture of a gorge.  I am from the land of gorges.  Originally from upstate NY I have made the trip to Niagara Falls multiple times as well as visit a very close Letchworth State Park (Grand Canyon of the East).  I guess I was having a case of homesickness.  It was such a magnificent looking park I had to check this out.

  As with any park there are plenty of walking trails.  Your map/guide will help you decide the distance you want to trek as well as the ease of the trail.  (We were not there to hike as I have the "boot".)  However when I do go hiking I weigh my options.  How many more places am I going that day or what did I do before I got there?  How will the children hold up?

Sadly you don't necessarily know the terrain of a trail until you get going on it so I never assume I can take my stroller.  Even if I took the stroller it's just a cheap one and not a rugged jogger.  (That has had a flat for years).  I also have never acquired one of those fancy backpacks so my youngest walks, whines, cries and chugs along slowly. My little man is getting better we are sitting at 1 mile almost comfortably.

  This park is a no trash park.  Which I thought was neat and wondered how that really works out.  This means don't bring anything in or just take it all back out with you.  There are no garbage cans in the whole park.  I did see posts with plastic bags for your personal use but for you to put your trash in and take the bag with you.

  In the park there is a visitor center and two areas of parking fairly close to the gorge area.  We were not able to park closest so that gave us a small walk.  The trail was nice.  It was smooth somewhat even.  I could have maneuvered the stroller through it.  We even crossed over a little bridge!  My kids enjoyed walking and looking at the stream alongside us.

I tried to share some pictures with you an not give you the whole view.  This is one of the best parks I have been too.  We all enjoyed ourselves and I would like to go back.  These pictures give no justice to the beauty of this park.  You really must go experience this for yourself.  Make sure you have your camera and batteries because you will need them.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Carter Mountain Orchard

  So the smart thing to do when you drive anywhere for 2-3 hours is to use your time wisely.  With that being said after our visit to Monticello I was so excited to find out an apple orchard was literally around the corner.

The part of Virginia I reside in has apples in abundance only in stores so it is an extra special treat to give my kids the opportunity to pick some and learn where they come from and see that in all their glory.  The kids didn't even know the "goodies" that were coming after we worked hard to retrieve the apples.

  Man can I say they worked hard on getting apples but a little harder at climbing down the hill and then back up.  Carter-mountain-orchard is on the top of a mountain.
We climbed this winding road without any clue what awaited us on top but we were all excited to see.  As I got closer to the top I saw beautiful rows of grapes and knew this was going to be a good place we were going.  When you reach the top and even before you get out of the car you can see the apples and the view.  I don't even know what I was more excited about.  The views that stretched for miles or the delicious fruit hanging from the tree.  After all I didn't really come for the apples.

  Let's step back for a moment.  I need to be honest with you.  I am from upstate NY.  I know about country and apples.  That is why it was important for me to give them an apple picking experience.    I went as a child and some experiences are just down right fun and you want to share that with your children even if you live in a large busy suburb almost 3 hours away.  I also know and appreciate a donut washed down with some cider!
  That may have been my real goal.  My kids however loved the apple picking, donut eating and cider drinking all in one.  The were too young to understand the magnitude of the beauty around them but, I did hear this was the best day ever more than once!  Follow us as we make a variety of apple dishes!

Konjac Facial Sponge Review

  As a product reviewer when you have received a certain amount of products you eventually start to appreciate some items more than others.  All the items I get for review (and I do pay for some and ultimately with the purchase of Amazon Prime, I really have paid for items even if I didn't pay for that physical item) I do choose wisely.  I do not partake in everything that is available but only things of interest or that I can use in the future in some way or another.  I like bath products, lotions, sprays, nail polish and other grooming items to list one of the groups I select to review from.

  I do not wear a lot of makeup which also means I certainly do not wear it often but I do however wash my face on a regular basis.  I wash my face like I brush my teeth.  Twice a day in the am and in the pm.  I like to start the day with a fresh face and close the evening out with a fresh face.  I was lucky to be able to receive a Konjac Sponge.
 Look at all those pores.  This is the sponge dry.
This is the sponge wet.  You can see that the texture has changet slightly.  This is the softest sponge I have ever felt when it is wet.

  Konjac in case you are not familiar with is a plant from China.  The fibers hold water on the surface and doesn't even come into direct contact with  skin.  It is the smoothest feeling gliding over your skin.  This sponge  also included a bamboo charcoal combination.  The combination of all these ingredients assist in the removal of access oils, exfoliates skin and aids in the prevention of acne.  Those are just some of the benefits of the Konjac Sponge Bamboo Charcoal Facial Sponge!

The facts of 100% natural, 100% color free and biodegradable are just an extra bonus!   I received this product for review purposes and all views are my own.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An Apple A Day

  So after we gathered some apples yesterday from our first ever apple picking we will be making some apple creations.  Of course there is no time like the present.  You eagerly scout out new recipes and maybe some classics after you put in such hard work.  In actuality picking apples is an all around hard job compared to picking out a few from a container at the store.  We had to journey down the mountain side,  down the trails, seek out trees with apples still on them, apples within grasp.  It is a lot of work to go into nature and pick your own fruit.  It's not because I have a love for apples but I do enjoy them as an all around good snack and 11 lbs just keeps ringing in my ears so  I refuse to let them spoil amongst all the yummy desserts and items I can cook them into.

  So with an explosive meal to start the apple appreciation event off I present you with oatmeal.  Now tell me did you see that one coming.  The day after an apple picking what better way than to start it off with breakfast.  Although it could have been more elaborate and apples could have been prepared in some kind of coffee cake, pancake or muffin; believe me I will stretch them out to that point to if I can help it.

  Oatmeal is a staple in my house.  It is easy to make.  It is fast.  All the kids eat it.  It is filling.  It is delicious and you can make it into anything you want.  So what better than to start with oatmeal and apple and build up from there.  Hmm, what does that mean the last apple item will be?  I hope its a grand finale from the oatmeal I started with.  Regardless I hope all these upcoming meals are appreciated with all, shared and documented by my kids to pass on if they are so inclined and enjoyed while we create memories making them.
  This recipe is pretty basic.  With all oatmeal recipes you at least need oatmeal and water or milk depending on your taste or budget preference.  For your complimentary tastes with apples think: vanilla, cinnamon, maybe maple syrup and cranberries would be a nice touch.

Two little assistants always makes the process faster.

How convenient when you have even measurements for the your assistants to help too.

Not a problem to patiently wait as the cooking apples and cinnamon smell great as the oatmeal simmers.

Breakfast in less than 10 minutes and seconds were requested by my youngest daughter so thats a good sign too.

This recipe came from food.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Monticello Review

  Virginia is the hot spot for past presidents. Several of them were born here, lived here and died here.  Virginia is one of the best states pertaining to the history of our country and the presidents.  These historic homes are open to the public providing a glimpse into the past.  They hold some of the original artifacts, plants and along with a great guide your trip through history is both intriguing and entertaining.

  Monticello the home of Thomas Jefferson resides near Charlottesville, VA.  The ride alone provides a beautiful scenic view of mountains.  Thomas Jefferson had the right idea when he choose the location of his home.  The sights are amazing from this level.

  We decided to explore today as it was a special Home Educators Day.  There were a lot of learning and entertainment along with different experiences for the kids.  When we arrived my kids were excited at the entrance to the Thomas Jefferson grounds.
  We parked and picked up our tickets at will call.  Our first stop was the house as we had a 12:30 tour time.  We took a shuttle to the top of the hill and waited our turn for the tour.  This gave me more time to prep my children on proper behavior, not to touch anything and be quiet while someone else was talking.

  The tour through the house was about 45 minutes.  Our guide was fantastic.  I don't think she left out any details.  She mentioned the pictures on the wall and it seemed to create a realistic story around it.  Each room we went in brought us closer to the lives of the past family.  You even wanted to dine in the yellow room.  It was so bright and inviting.  A game of chess sat waiting for someone to play with or a game of hide and seek would have been unimaginable with 11,000 square feet.

  The house had so many current features. Ideas and concepts he created to make his life easier and more functional.  Skylights, dumbwaiters in his fireplace and a system of pens writing at the same time to make a duplicate copy to list a few fascinating facts.

  The kids were able to write with an ink quill,
play hoop games in the back lawn,

and gather seeds for future gardens.

  Different areas set up for kids to explore including checkers, a chocolate tasting and even an archeological dig.

  This was a great field trip for everyone in my house.  My daughter is able to relate what she saw and is a little more knowledgeable about Jefferson and of course we can always build on that but I appreciate the stepping stones in making it a reality.

  We had great weather and it was an overall great day for our tour of Monticello.
They have more special events planned.  Different programs available, plenty of add on to make your experience even better.  Plan a trip to monticello.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A productive Saturday

  I don't do something every weekend as much as it saddens me to disclose this information to you.  I wish I did.  The truth is sometimes I don feel like it, I can't find anything free and fun or its just one of those days.  I am however happy to announce it wasn't this weekend.  I do put a lot of work into making a good day happen.  I look at a variety of local places to see what is going on or I have gotten good at finding our own things to do.  The thing is finding our own things to do usually results in repeating something we have already done which is not always fun.

  This weekend my family was able to experience the Touch A Truck event.  I had never been and seen them advertised before but missed it for one reasons or another.  Not this time! Yeah for us.

  As I approached the event I looked at all the trucks and knew my youngest would be happy but there were a couple trucks I would have loved to see that we're not there.  We will seek a private tour of those or atleast a discussion.  I plan on making a special set of worksheets for my son as he has a big appreciation of big trucks and cars.  So we can cover a lot of educational aspects with cars alone and he will be very receptive because he likes them.  Look at all the possibilities: math (counting), colors, sizes, engineering (legos) science (round wheels).

  There were many good things about this event.  No one vehicle was the same.  They covered  a wide variety of transportation areas.  Motorhomes, tractor trailers, a police speed boat, heavy construction equipment, a tow truck and even a jet ski!

  The opportunity to sit the bucket of a electric company was awesome.  They may not understand now but the next time they see it in action they will.  Houses are being constructed down the street; so they see those in action but obviously have never got to sit in the driver seat.

  This was such a great event.  It helped kids imagination just grow bigger!  The possibilities are endless of what they can do, be or drive when they grow up.  It's one thing to see them in action but it just makes it "the best" thing ever to see up close and touch.
  Truly a great experience and I'm glad I finally got to one.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Emeril dish for dinner

  Ok, so here it is Emeril told Martha and Martha told me.  So I now present to you a pasta dish for dinner.  Used from leftovers from the other day (sausage from the Zuppa Tuscana)  I made a dish from the stars.  It's kind of neat to have your name in the title of your recipe.  I think I will start that tradition when I make my own recipes! Rose's rice, Rose's oatmeal #1, Rose's oatmeal #2 (inside joke you regular readers know I like oatmeal here)

  Emeril's Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage was our dinner for the night.  With a few tweaks it came out well and everyone once again liked it.  I didn't have the rigatoni and used a different pasta but I will use the rigatoni next time for the full effect.

  My least favorite part of this dish was removing the casings of the sausage.  I hate holding the sausage and then just squeezing out the guts is just gross to me.  But I do like the flavor more, and beats fitting to cut it into pieces!

  I whipped up the sauce while the meat cooked and the noodles boiled.  This meal really was quite simple.  I didn't have the anchovies either and I did see mentioned somewhere that says you shouldn't skip them but I once again will make this dish again and make it right the first time.  I also skipped the lemon zest as my lemon was looking a little less than desirable.  So I guess I deviated from the recipe alot.

  Overall I would say this recipe was a success. Everyone went up for seconds and we know that could mean anything.  I suppose I could have added something else to it.  I would hate to add bread to it since it already had the pasta.  Maybe some kind of side salad would help as a space filler.

The finished result looked like the picture that's always a good sign you did something right.  Although fresh Parmesan would have been way better than the substitute.
Recipe credit goes to: emerils-rigatoni-broccoli-and-sausage

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Semi-hot breakfast

  I love breakfast.  It's not that I love mornings it may actually be that I love food.  But I also love to cook/bake.  Therefore in my house breakfast is more than just a bowl of cereal everyday.   In fact we have a bowl of cereal maybe twice a week.  Once on a lazy weekend day and another during the week sometime.

  This morning we had banana muffins.  I buy alot of bananas and we seem to speed eat them randomly.  So one week I run out of them the next week they are left to spoil.  Well everyone knows that almost spoiled bananas are the best to bake with so that's where some went that I threw in the refrigerator last week.

  This recipe was an easy yet delicious recipe.  I have made this recipe before which is not a bad thing and they are good but, I will look for another now.  This recipe is great to whip up if your minus a few staple items.  This recipe doesn't use milk!  However it does take eggs and yogurt.

  I even used my awesome butter sample from bzzagent.  Which oh the smell of melted butter is a good thing too!  Thank you Land O' Lakes european-style-super-premium butter.

  The prep of these muffins were quicker than the 20 minutes of cook time.  So whip these up for a nice warm breakfast, sit back read a chapter then indulge!  Your family will thank you.  I did cut back on the sugar and didn't even use all the required bananas and everything turned out fine.

Recipe credit goes to:  banana-bread-muffins