A Sick Day

October 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm (Cooking, Family, Personal)

Ok, to be honest, I completely overdid it yesterday.  Somehow I crammed work from home, homeschooling, a trip to the pumpkin patch, tea with a friend, making dinner, carving pumpkins and completing a grad school assignment that was due into one day.  So I woke up this morning and had to stay home sick from work.  I feel like I’ve been extra sick this year…which is really not fun.  What’s a girl to do on a sick day?  I’m not used to just sitting around doing nothing, so I only do that if I’m absolutely ridiculously sick.  So I decided to take advantage of the unexpected time home and put the apples and peppers we picked to good use.  But first I’ll start with our pumpkin carving last night…

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We didn’t get started carving until about 8 at night, so we were already kind of rushing to get done.  I have to say, I was a little cranky since I was thinking I would have to get up at 4:30 the next morning to go to work.  The kids drew on their pumpkins, but then decided they wanted me to design the faces.  Dear daughter picked Rainbow Bright on her horse, and dear son picked Curious George again.  So we got started drawing, scooping and carving…

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My daughter tried scooping for all of a second…I had to have her pose for this shot.  Apparently scooping pumpkin goo is a little too “yucky” for her :).

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Daughter’s and hubby’s pumpkins…

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Son’s pumpkin…

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I was helping the kids, so of course I haven’t had a chance to carve my own pumpkin…I have big plans for that tomorrow.  But now back to my sick day.  I did some work from home this morning because I really hate falling behind.  Then I helped out with homeschool for a bit.  But the best part was making homemade applesauce with the pink ladies we picked Monday!  I love my cheap little apple corer…

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This is one of those inexpensive gadgets that just makes life so much easier!  The other is my garlic press…best $5 I’ve ever spent, I’m sure :)!  My son is even able to help out with the apple corer though.  He gets a kick out of watching the little tendrils of peel drop into the bowl!

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The finished product…

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I usually use Jona Gold or Fuji apples for homemade applesauce, but the Pink Ladies actually taste really good with a little brown sugar added.  If you want to make your own applesauce at home, all you do is put your corer, peeled and sliced/chopped apples in a saucepan with about 3/4 cup water per 4 apples.  Add some cinnamon to taste and cook until the apples are super tender and you can mash them with a fork or potato masher.  For tart apples, I add a little brown sugar, but for the sweeter apples, you don’t even need sugar added.  It’s easy and delicious…way better than store bought!

We also got a ton of peppers at the orchard.  They were almost at the end of their life, so they were insanely cheap.  Hubby got two boxes full for $3.  What on earth are we going to do with two boxes of hot peppers?!?!?  I don’t eat them.  I decided to cook the red ones down into hot sauce for hubby to put on everything :).  Sadly, I couldn’t find my disposable cake decorator gloves, so I bare handed it…this may or may not have led to me smearing yogurt all over my nose to counteract the burning…  But in the end, hubby like the results, and that’s all that matters…

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Now to cleaning and folding laundry…some sick day, huh?  I miss the sick days when I was a kid and I could lay around, read, and get waited on :).

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Pumpkin Pickin’

October 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm (Family, Personal)

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I am feeling woefully late at everything Halloween this year.  Usually, hubby and I really enjoy preparing for Halloween, even throwing fun Christian Halloween parties once in a while.  I usually put a lot of thought and effort into planning and sometimes even making the kids’ costumes.  But with the move, the renovations on the new house, and the general busyness of work, grad school and homeschooling, Halloween fell by the wayside :(.  But I couldn’t let this week go without a trip to the Amish pumpkin market!  So we met some friends there and picked out some fun pumpkins and gourds.  This place sells pumpkins cheaper than anywhere I’ve ever seen.  Hubby’s huge pumpkin was only $9!  So here are some pictures from the outing…

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The kids took a while to find a good carving pumpkin…really they’re mostly looking forward to painting their smaller ones tomorrow…

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Dear son finally found the one he wanted…and tried to pick it up :).

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Eying the distance to daddy and the pumpkin cart…

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Dear daughter picking out her little pumpkin…right in the middle of the pile…

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Adding to the cart!  We get so many more pumpkins and gourds for cheaper than we usually pay at other places, it’s awesome!

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Hubby enjoying the spoils of our pumpkin adventure!

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A taste of the selection…

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One thing I really love about this place is the crazy variety of strange gourds they offer!

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The views…

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The Amish family’s cute dog…

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He had a good time following our kids…and I think they enjoyed having him along, too :)…

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Playing with one of the pumpkins…

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Dear daughter running in the field with an awesome backdrop!

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My sweet cutie!

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Having fun with friends…

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Red pumpkins…

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Big and little

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So thankful for this wonderful pumpkin pickin’ trip!  Next post…pumpkin carving :)

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Full Manual!

October 28, 2014 at 11:13 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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So after work today, I took the camera outside and went full on manual!  There are a lot more features to keep track of in a digital camera than in a film camera, but I just stuck to aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out.  Thrilled to have control when taking pictures again!  So here are some shots, mostly without editing, but some I played around with in Photoshop.

The kids…

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The horses…

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The foliage…

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I am so going to miss these gorgeous fall colors!  The trees are looking barer every day :(

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The Photoshop version of our dog…

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And the pumpkins…

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Apple Picking

October 28, 2014 at 11:58 am (Family, Personal)

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Last night, there was a fundraiser for my friend who lost her husband to help her out with supporting her four (soon to be five) littles.  So my hubby and kids picked me up early from work and we headed up to the western part of the state.  I’ve been wanting to get the kids out apple-picking this year since we’ve read a few books about apple orchards, but there aren’t any pick-your-own apple orchards in our area (surprising since we’re in Amish and farm country).  So about halfway through our journey across the amazing fall countryside, we stopped at a pick-your-own orchard.  The kids loved it!  And they are definitely going to love the homemade apple sauce and cinnamon apples!  I took the new camera, of course.  But I did learn an important thing about DSLRs that I hadn’t thought about in my Navy days…you have to reset some of the settings.  I’m used to setting the f-stop, ISO, and shutter speed, but digital SLRs have so many other features in camera.  For my “golden hour” shoot, I set the exposure to +1, which worked well in that setting.  But on the sunny day at the apple orchard, I forgot to bring the exposure back down.  All the other settings were great, but it overexposed it a notch and made the photos way to glaring for my taste.  I may see what Photoshop can do with that when I have time.  But for now, I will just share the family memories!

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We caught the very end of apple season, so the orchards were picked pretty bare, but there were some lovely Pink Ladies…which just happen to be hubby’s favorite.

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Our daughter really loved all of the apples…

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Picking…

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Another face thing on the way out…this one had room for hubby, too :).

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The fruits of our labor…

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And a little bit of beautiful fall nature…

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It was a really nice family trip and, most importantly, I got to see my friend.  Praying for her and her family constantly!

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Fall Yard at the Golden Hour

October 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm (Family, Personal)

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I really can’t get enough of the beautiful fall evenings and the colors God has blessed us with this season!  I finished up my grad school homework, and it was about the various pathways to God.  Mine is definitely nature.  There’s nothing that proclaims God’s glory like the nature around us.  So, of course, I was inspired to take my son outside and shoot some pictures at this awesome fall “golden hour”!

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My favorite portraits by a tree in the front yard…

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And a fun visit with a horse next door…

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Apparently we have sweeter (or maybe just longer) grass…

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…he sure was reaching for it!

I can’t believe our roses are still getting buds…

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Glorious colors…

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Pumpkins from the park up by my parents’ making the porch look a little more festive for fall!

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And I don’t know why I’m obsessed with the horse weather vane on the roof, but I love it.  Bonus that it was framed by a gorgeous orange tree from the backyard!

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And now to make dinner…  Happy Sunday!

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Sunday Musings

October 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Family, Personal)

True story….

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At church, our pastor is preaching through 1 Samuel.  It’s such an amazing book when you hear it preached by someone who is highly educated and in tune with God’s Word.  One thing that has been resonating with me these past few weeks is the friendship Jonathan shows to David.  Jonathan comes alongside David in David’s time of trial, even though it means Jonathan has to turn his back on his own father.  It’s an incredible image of friendship.  So I’m counting my blessings because I have wonderful friends and family I know I can count on in rough times.  Two friends in particular are like my Jonathans.  One of those friends made the one and a half hour trek with me up to a three-hour Zumba fundraiser yesterday for a friend of mine who is battling aggressive breast cancer.  I’m so grateful to have someone who is up for anything…including getting our Zumba on for a good cause :)!  I’m also thankful for a good friend to stand by me through trials.  Right now, I have the one friend going through chemo treatments for breast cancer and one who recently lost her husband in a car accident and is pregnant with their fifth child.  Even though those aren’t my particular trials, they do rattle my world.  It’s crazy how quickly life can change.  To know someone who is battling breast cancer and only a couple years older than me is unsettling.  And my heart is absolutely breaking for my best friend from grade school as she learns to raise five kids on her own.  I pray that God will help me be a Jonathan to them as well.  I would love to be able to help them out on a daily basis by making grocery runs, walking the dog, or just being able to sit and watch football with them on a Sunday afternoon.  But I live too far away for those things :(.  So I pray that God will give me opportunities like the Zumba fundraiser to show them I care and they are never alone.  Life is too short.  If there’s someone you haven’t talked with in a while who is weighing on your heart, get in touch with them.  It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy lives and assume everything is going okay for our friends who live far away.  But sometimes it’s not.  Much as I don’t really like the whole Facebook thing, it did let me reconnect with friends at a time when they were going through some of the hardest trials of their lives, and I’m grateful for that.

So on to lighter topics…

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Yes, to all my fellow pumpkin fanatics out there, this is a real thing!  I found this yummy eggnog hiding in the milk aisle at Food Lion, and oh is my waistline in trouble!  It’s fall, and I am enjoying everything pumpkin…bread, chili, chai, lattes, frozen yogurt, DQ blizzards, pancakes…everything!  But I was so thrilled to see eggnog in my fave flavor!!!

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Yesterday was a fresh fruit run day, too.  We’re hopefully going to hit up an apple orchard tomorrow on our way up to a fundraiser in support of my friend who lost her husband,but these beauties will keep us happy until then :).  Looking forward to some homemade Jona Gold applesauce, apple butter, cinnamon apples, apple pie…mmmmm….have I said how much I love fall :)?  And, even though the days are still unseasonably warm for this area (the weather this year has been awesome!), I’m still indulging my tea habit regularly…

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Other than that, I’m procrastinating on my grad school homework and homeschool planning because I can’t seem to put the camera down for more than a few minutes at a time, so here are some of the latest pics.  Yes, I really have only had this camera for four days…and I will stop the incessant picture taking at some point :).

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Love this shot of my son getting ready for bed!  And celebrating the ability to take indoor photos without a flash!!!

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My daughter is never without some sort of horse nearby!

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My cutie boy…I’m going to miss these days having young kids so much when they grow.  I know I’ll enjoy each stage of their lives, but I really can’t imagine anything better than this.

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What a look…!!

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Mason jar on the deck just because…

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And me with my new camera…obsession, I tell you!

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And the neighbor horse because I will never tire of taking horse pictures…

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Have a very blessed Sunday and wonderful week!

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Ok, last camera post today…I promise!!

October 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm (Personal)

I took a quick few moments outside with the 75-300mm lens and had to share :)!

Our beautiful golden lab…

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Fabulous fall colors…

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And the neighbor horses, of course!

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Ok, really really really walking away from the camera and computer now…

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And with a little Photoshop editing…

October 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm (Photography)

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Ok, now I really need to get some work done!  You’d think I have nothing better to do than play with photos :)!

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New Camera, finally!!!

October 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm (Personal)

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After years of anticipation, I finally got my Canon DSLR!!!  I haven’t had much chance to play with it, but I’m already loving the quality and range of the images.  So I’m going to share my first photos.  I shot in Aperture Priority mode because I’m most comfortable with controlling the f-stop and since I’m a little rusty after years of point and shoot, I wasn’t confident enough to go full manual.  The lens I used came with the kit.  It’s an 18-55mm with a very shallow range of f-stops.  I’m going to take the 75-300mm lens for a spin at some point today.  But I am definitely feeling the need for a good prime lens.  Found a 50mm with an awesome aperture range that will work wonders for portraits, so that’s next on my list of purchases.  Along with an external hard drive so I can start shooting RAW images without crashing another computer.  So excited about all of the possibilities!!!  But anyway, here are my favorite photos from the first shoot.  There is still much to reacquaint myself with, but I definitely love this camera!  My favorite image was of my daughter by a tree.  Love how quickly this camera captures an image.  There was always a second delay on my point and shoot, so I often missed the cutest moments.

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Most of my shoot was enjoying bokeh (background blur)!  It’s so nice to be able to do that in the camera again!!!

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I have to customize the white balance….  Indoor shots still aren’t quite right to me with the presets…

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Yep, this is making my year!!!

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Autumn Fun

October 20, 2014 at 11:04 pm (Cakes, Family, Personal)

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It’s been a while again since I’ve had a chance to post.  I have all these things in my head that I’m going to write, but I end up forgetting half of them by the time I get a chance to sit down at the computer.  The good news is I finally bit the bullet and ordered a DSLR camera.  It’s supposed to be here tomorrow!!  So hopefully the pictures will get better.  I’ve been saving for a good DSLR for a while, but I have a really hard time spending that much money on something I want, even if I’ve been saving up for years.  But the fall colors are too beautiful and I really want to have a good camera for this season and the winter.  But for now, I had to capture a beautiful fall day and some other family memories!

The Kiddos!

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I’ll start with the guitar…  This is my nylon string guitar.  The kids have been wanting to learn to play for a while.  Our son absolutely loves music!  They had fun playing around with my guitar, but I ended up ordering a smaller model on Amazon so they can hold it a little better.  Colton has also taken to running around the living room singing all the songs on the Christian radio station at the top of his lungs!  It’s adorable!!

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We also took some fun pictures by one of my favorite trees on our property right now.  It’s the one with the most colors in the leaves.  Sadly, the colors of fall may be short lived this year since we’ve had some really gusty winds.  But this one is some wonderful shades of yellow, red, and orange…love it!

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And this cutie!!

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Fun on the Play Yard!

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So today after I got home from work, the kids and I spent a couple of hours outside before it started getting dark.  The weather was just too amazing to stay inside!  This year has just been full of gorgeous weather, but I can feel the chill creeping into the air, so we’re going to take advantage of the light sweatshirt days :)!

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Mom, over here!  Take a picture!

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Funny faces!

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Goof ball!

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Mom, I’m wearing a hat!!

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Trampoline Time!

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My little drama queen!!

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…and daredevil!

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It’s a Dog’s World

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Barstow really enjoyed playing with the kids!

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He’s such a good dog, even though he’s still a bit hyper.  He was very good natured about Kaitlyn climbing on his back!

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Mostly, he just sat at the end of the slides waiting for the kids to come down, like a good little playground guard dog :).

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Kaitlyn tried to teach him fetch.  Here she is saying, “Barstow, go fetch.  Get the stick.”  Didn’t really work…

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The Best Neighbors Ever!

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Of course, since it was a beautiful day, the neighbors’ horses were out grazing.  I am really loving being right next door to so many horses.  They even greet me at the mailbox when I stop to get the mail on my way home from work…sigh…yes, this is the life!

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The black and white horses are a mother and foal.  The mother always comes to the fence and lets me pet her, but I haven’t gotten my hand on the foal…mama’s a little protective…can’t say I blame her!

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Yep, these are kids after my own heart!  Kaitlyn does get a little perturbed that the horses don’t answer her when she calls them.  She thinks they’re rude!

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Recent Cakes

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These are two cakes I’ve done the past couple of weekends.  The top one was for a barnyard themed baby shower for an amazing lady from our church.  She and her husband can’t have kids, so they have been trying to adopt for as long as we’ve known them.  They finally were able to get a sweet baby girl!  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier for a couple with the exception of hubby and I having our two kids and my sister having my niece.

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The second cake was for a friend’s son, who loves MineCraft…can you tell :)

And the Foliage of course!

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I heart fall!

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The roses out front are giving a lovely last hurrah!

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And then there’s this weird mushroom we found in the backyard…

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Hope everyone is enjoying fall as much as I am!  Have a very blessed week!

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