Friday, February 17, 2017

FUN Family Activity /Picking Apples at Orchards

One of my favorite late summer through October activities is going to the local apple orchards to pick fresh apples from the tree. Where I reside there are u-pick-it orchards and this family activity is one we do annually.


When it comes to picking apples from trees we always plan to do this activity on a breezy or after a hard rain day because it is easier to gather newly fallen apples off the ground.

How to pick apples from the tree:

    Climb to the top of the ladder and harvest apples from the lower limbs. Or while standing on the ground reach up and pull the branches down and pick the apples from the tree. Climb the tree and harvest by putting apples in sack or bucket before lowering the container when it is full. 

    We will pick ripe and almost ripe apples from the tree, because you can put hem in cardboard boxes and large brown bags, then store in a cool area that is 60 to 70 degrees.  The fruit will ripen this way.

Other Tips for Picking Apples

Call the farm that offers “you pick it apples” make sure that the apples are ready for harvest. Know that we have taken day trips to get to a farm in Missouri only to arrive and find out that they were picked clean of apples.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie by sgolis featuring a watercolor painting

Wear a comfortable long shirt and baggy pants, hiking boots and socks are important and also a sun hat. Treat your clothing for insect repellent, including biting flies fleas and ticks.

Bring along bottled water and snacks. I like breakfast or protein bars, but if you are going to be out in the country you may want to bring along a picnic lunch.

Don’t forget your camera. Make happy memories with your family by spending the day in the country picking apples. These photos are great for scrapbooks and sharing on Facebook.

Search for other places to see in the u-pick it area. There may be an old mill, park or scenic overlook that your family will enjoy.

Related Autumn Activities for Home and Family articles that I recommend

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Favorite Pumpkin Cookie Recipe

Fall is here and out comes the pumpkin and other comfort foods recipes. Pumpkin is one of my favorite food ingredients and pumpkin cookies that are dipped in white chocolate are by far my favorite autumn comfort food. Know that my mom’s recipe never called for the chocolate, I came up with that extra ingredient all on my own. You bet I am a chocolate lover and pumpkin and white or semi-sweet chocolate is delicious.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (12-ounce bag) white or semi-sweet chocolate chips
**You will also need parchment paper to line cookie sheets or Pam non-stick baking spray
1. Combine flour, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl.
2. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until creamy.
3. Beat in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
4. Gradually stir in flour,baking soda and salt into the mixture by hand, then add the chocolate chips.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheets.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the cookie edges are firm.
7. Let cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack
Here is a recipe for cake-like pumpkin cookies.  The look and the recipe sound easy and delicious.


Here are other recipes for Pumpkin cookies
Pumpkin Pie Cookie Recipe this is a classic recipe by Mccormick

Favorite pumpkin spice with cranberry cookies from food network...delicious

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Autumn Activities at Joplin Nature Center


This year we are blessed with warm weather so I find that I am making plans to be outdoors on the weekend with family. In my hometown, there are many activities, including hayrides at the park, bonfire, and church bizarre. Those activities are always fun but this weekend we took to the nature trails at the Audubon Center just south of Joplin Missouri.

The nature center was built on land that is adjacent to Wildcat Park and Shoal creek. This is the perfect location for watching birds and wildlife in their natural habitat.

Today we visited the center first to see what they had on display and to pick up their brochure for upcoming winter events. My husband and I enjoy the night owl watch and also like to participate in other wildlife events that that held at the park.

We decided to have lunch before taking our walk since there were tables available under the pavilion. So we ate a picnic lunch of sandwiches from Panera and we both had coffee. Lunch was good but instead of rushing off to the trails we sat for an hour and enjoyed the beautiful day. You could not ask for a more beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the temperature was 72 degrees.

After lunch we took to the nature trails, we saw a few black-eyed Susan’s in the wildlife gardens, some butterflies, and gray squirrels. There were hawks circling above us but other than that no deer or other wildlife was in sight.

The trails were windy and at one point the trees overhang was so thick that no light was coming through. The path turned dark and rather spooky. We quickened our pace and soon we were back in sunlight.

There was a bench close to Shoal creek and we sat to take in the view. This section of the creek is where you could see the bluffs on the other side. We had heard stories of Indian markings on the bluffs and that there were caves in this area, but in order to get to the other side, one would need a boat so we will plan to do that on another day.

The nature trail at the Audubon center is very scenic and I believe it is 20 miles long. Needless to say, we did not walk the entire trial. Instead, we looked at the trees leaves that were starting to turn. Many were orange, yellow and a few dark red and we enjoyed the beautiful autumn day.

Here are some postcards that I made from my photographs of autumn in Missouri and Arkansas.



View more gifts at Zazzle.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kids Halloween Costume Ideas




This week we are getting serious about Halloween Costumes for parties and trick or treat. Last year I did shop the Walmart.com sales after Halloween and bought trick or treat bags, makeup and Halloween pattern leggings. This year I will use those things to create a cute Halloween outfit for kids.

instead of buying a ready-made costume I plan on making my own from things that I have and will buy a cute shirt from zazzle.com I have bought a few of the kid's shirts from zazzle and like that the designs are unique. Normally when I buy a t-shirt at the mall the fabric is stiff and rough on babies skin. The print on demand kids shirts are soft right out of the bag, no need to wash them a few times to make them soft.

Kids like the shirts. My friend’s toddler refused to take her Halloween shirt off, she wanted to wear it to bed. That will tell you that these tees are kid-pleasing.

Buy a tee with the design that you like then coordinate it with Halloween pattern leggings, or stripe tights. You can also wear these shirts for everyday activities during the October season with jeans.

Shop for Zazzle.com Halloween t-shirts here.


Browse other gifts from Zazzle.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fall Season Activities - FUN Things to Do

Husband and I look forward to the change of the season because we both like being active in the fall.  When the leaves change from green to golden, orange and red and the weather gets cooler we like to spend more time outdoors because there are many fun things to do.
Fall Road Trips

Hiking on Nature Trails

Favorite Fall Season Activities
  • Night hikes to look at the wildlife at Audubon Nature center in SW Missouri
  • Sit by a campfire, and drink hot apple cider or pumpkin spice flavored coffee
  • Attending city festivals and the church bizarre
  • Day trip to  Crystal Bridges Modern Art Museum in Arkansas
  • Take road trips to Arkansas to visit the Roaring River State park and Eureka Springs.
  • Race through the corn maze to see if we can beat last years time. (ha ha ha)
  • Pick the perfect pumpkin for carving for Halloween
  • Check out the areas spook houses and other fun Halloween activities.
Relaxing by Campfire
Buying the perfect pumpkin

Know that fall is the season before winter and is our last chance to enjoy the great outdoors, before the snow and ice so we are busy every year enjoying the fall activities.

Tips
Also, it is a good idea to dress accordingly.   The fall season weather is unpredictable so everyone will layer their clothesI find it is best to wear a t-shirt and take along a sweatshirt because morning could be sunny and warm then change to cool to cold. Always a good idea to dress accordingly during the fall season.

What are your favorite fall activities?

Friday, August 26, 2016

FUN with Family Harvesting Fresh Pears

I am not an expert in harvesting pears, however, can share only what I have learned over the years. To tell you the truth I have only been participating in this fall family activity for the past four years.

Most of what I have learned comes from my brother, he has a D'Anjou pear tree orchard and has taught me the basics. Unlike other types of pears the D'Anjou does not change color when it ripening, instead, it stays green but does get dull color, not as shiny. He said to check the pears to see if they are ripe by pressing down by the neck of the pear, if there is a slight give, then it is ready to be harvested.

Another thing my brother taught me is when to harvest the pears. He suggested that I choose a day after a hard rain or harvest on a breezy day. His reason is that it is easier to pick the pears off the ground than it is to take them from the tree branches.

Harvesting pears is a fun activity for families. The kids love to gather the fallen pears, the parents and other adults will climb the trees or go up ladders to harvest the fruit off the tree branches. 

Products Needed

Harvesting pears isn't difficult to do as long as you wear garden gloves to protect your hands. A long sleeve shirt to protect your arms from getting scratched from the tree branches. 

I bring along a branch cutting shears / pruner to remove the pear from the tree branch.  This hand tool is helpful when harvesting pears from the tree branches.     
Know that a cross over bag does come in handy. For me, it is easy to pick the pears and put them into the bag. When the bag is full I lower it down to be emptied. This eliminates going up and down ladders.

Here is a practical outfit for harvesting fruit from trees during the fall season.  I like it because the days may be cool and wearing layers' long sleeve shirt over tee is best. 

Apple Pie

Harvesting Outfit by sgolis 

No Pears are Wasted


All of the pears are divided according to how ripe they are and put into cardboard boxes. None of the pears are left behind, if they are too ripe we will take and add them to the compost. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Easy to Make Pumpkins in Wheelbarrow Decorations



One of my favorite outdoor decorations for the autumn season is the wheelbarrow planter. This decoration is fun to put together, you can make it with your kids as an afternoon autumn activity.

There are no rules as to how to put this outdoor decoration together however you do need to be creative and have fun.


Here is a set that I designed at polyvore. I hope that it inspires you to make your own outdoor decorations for the autumn season.  

Directions for Outdoor Autumn Decorations

  1. Shop for nursery-grown potted mums but instead of setting them in the wheelbarrow in the plastic planter, buy a decorative pot, I like the metal ones because they are more interesting, and give the planter a “farm look”. If you have clay pots then use that.
  2. Buy an assortment of mum colors like yellow and burgundy or orange flowers. Buy a variety of real pumpkins choose small , medium and large. You may also want to buy a white pumpkin for contrast and interest.
  3. Set up your wheelbarrow as a feature in your yard. When you determine the location I recommend that you put a rock in front of the wheel so that it does not move forward.

  • tart with your tallest plants in the back and work forward. Separate the plants with pumpkins, add pine cones and autumn leaves to your display. Even cut sunflowers will add to the arrangement. Sunflowers that are dried do not lose their color, or you can add silk flowers and leaves, do this if your wheelbarrow is protected from the rain.
  • Buy a hay bale and set it next to the wheelbarrow. Decorate the hay bale with the remaining pumpkins or buy an outdoor scarecrow to sit on top of the hay.






Wednesday, June 8, 2016

 Flowers in Pumpkin Base Autumn Decor How To

When it comes to decorating my home for the autumn season  I use fresh pumpkins and create floral arrangements for my tables. I prefer to use natural products for my centerpieces including the flower insert but have used silk floral arrangements also.

Fresh pumpkins are not expensive considering your get a fabulous decoration and get to make pumpkin pie with the puree.  Here is an art set that I designed that will inspire you to make your own flowers in a pumpkin autumn decoration for your home.

Autumn Floral Arrangement



How to Make Flowers in Pumpkin Decorations


  1. Shop at the pumpkin patch or at your locally for a medium rounded pumpkin with a stem. 
  2. Look the pumpkin over by checking it for bruises to the flesh or discoloration. You will need a nearly perfect pumpkin for this seasonal decoration.
  3. When you get the pumpkin home wash the outside it to remove any dirt. 
  4. Set the pumpkin  with the  stem facing upward. determine how big the opening should be to hold a potted chrysanthemum plant. 
  5. Cut the pumpkin to allow an opening for autumn season flowers.
  6. Remove the seeds and the pumpkin pulp. Keep the seeds because you can roast them. Keep the pulp to make puree for pie or other baked goods; cookies or muffins.
  7. Wash the inside of the pumpkin. Make sure the strings are removed and that surface is clean. There should be no pulp remaining, you want a clean pumpkin shell.
  8. Let the pumpkin dry thoroughly. When the pumpkin is dry you would then set a potted chrysanthemum into the pumpkin. Or make your own bouquet; buy a variety of silk flower stems from the craft center at Walmart.com or hobby/craft store.


Tips remove the real plant from the pumpkin to water. Let it drain thoroughly before putting back in the pumpkin

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fresh Apple Pie Recipe

My husband picked up a bushel of Gala apples from the organic food market and I thought I would make a homemade apple pie. My mother used to make from scratch apple pie when I was a kid and remember coring and peeling apples with her. Making fresh apple pie does take time, but one bite and you know that it is worth the effort.



Normally apples are harvested at the end of summer and you can put up the fruit for pies throughout the fall months. Apple filling can be used for many recipes; cobblers, turnovers, toppings for pancakes. You can also make applesauce or apple muffins. Growing up in Illinois we always had apples to be served throughout the fall season and were delighted if apple cranberry pie was served on Thanksgiving day.


For fresh apple pie, you will need to remove the skin from the apples, then slice away from the core. Cut the slices thin for a pie that will cook fast.
Instead doing this job manually you can buy at Walmart.com a Weston Apple Peeler Corer and Slicer. It is easy to use, saves on time and all you need to do is slice the apples for the pie filling.
Fresh Apple Pie Recipe at Autumn Activities for Home and Family



You will need the following ingredients for one 9 inch apple pie.

5 medium fresh apples, peeled and sliced
½ a cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour

9 inch pie dish

Here is the pie filling recipe

In a large mixing bowl add the sliced apples, then the brown sugar and mix with spoon. Then add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Mix again so that there is a coating of all ingredients on the apples. Let the apple slices set for 15 minutes.


Turn the fresh apple pie filling into your pie crust, spread out the apples so that they fill in the crust evenly. A mound of apples in the center is okay. Top the apples with another pie crust and pinch the lower crust into the upper crust on the sides. Seal the sides well so the juices do not come out the sides when baking.


Use a cold knife to make slits in the upper pie crust. This will allow the steam from the pie to escape. Melt 1-1/2 tablespoons of butter and then drizzle it over the top pie crust. Then drizzle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the butter.

Bake pie at 400’F for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 350’F and bake 30 more minutes. The pie is done when the apples are tender. Let pie cool completely before serving.
Fresh Apple Pie Recipe at Autumn Activities for Home and Family

Slice and serve with a scoop of Bryers homemade natural vanilla ice-cream , know that it is hard to eat one slice of homemade apple pie.

Learn how to make delicious pie crust here 

Learn how to peel and core apples / FAST














Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Favorite Cheesecake Recipe

Some people like chocolate, others like pie, I eat cheesecake and I am happy. I don't eat store bought cheesecake, granted I have eaten grocer and bakery bought cheesecake in my time, BUT the best cheesecake that I ever had was made by my mom. 

Growing up mom made cheesecake all year round. The basic recipe allows you to top it with a variety of fruits, and in the fall and winter months, mom would make caramel and chocolate sauce and drizzle the sauces over the cake then top with roasted slivers of almonds or sugar coated pecans. Then add a dollop of freshly whipped cream and oh my gosh it was like biting into a slice of heaven



When my mom passed away it seemed that her recipes went with her. Then the other day I was going through a storage box and found my mother's recipe book. I was delighted to find her cheesecake recipe. 



The recipe that I share with you is one I found in my mother's recipe cards. The date on the card is 1968 and this is the same delicious dessert that my mother made when I was growing up.  On the bottom of her recipe card there is a special instruction; make the cheesecake the day before for best results and garnish with any fruit before serving.

Know that cheesecake is a wonderfully delicious sweet treat and the perfect ending to the evening meal.



Here is what you will need to make this recipe:

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 package lemon jello
1 cup hot water
1 can carnation evaporated milk



  1. With your mixer cream the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla ingredients together until all are blended
  2. Mix the jello and water together and then let set until it thickens.  Add jello to cream cheese batter and use a beat until all ingredients are blended.
  3. Chill another large mixing bowl along with your beater in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove when chilled and then add 1 can carnation evaporated milk / approximately 1 2/3 cups to the bowl and whip. Continue to beat the milk until it is thick like whipped cream.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese batter.
  5. Pour the cheesecake batter into 2 ready-made graham pie crusts.
  6. Refrigerate a day before serving.



So there you have it an easy and delicious cheesecake dessert for your family.

Here is an easy recipe for caramel sauce.

Learn how to make sugar coated pecans for your autumn or winter cheesecake