Apple Cider Muffins

You guys. I got my behind kicked this week by a little bug called strep throat. I volunteered at school for the first time and two days later it feels like I’m swallowing glass. Coincidence?!?!

Anyway, I walked (yes, walked) myself to the doctor to get some antibiotics and on the way there I stepped in dog poop. If I hadn’t been looking at the sign that says “bin your poo,” I probably would have avoided that landmine. It really wasn’t my day, but I’m sure it could have been worse. By the way, never assume your doctor’s office is sterile.

The doctor prescribed penicillin to treat the strep and I can’t ever recall taking penicillin. I didn’t realize one of the side effects is nausea. In my case, bad nausea. Handy Husband was kind of enough to Google the side effects for me while we were laying in bed last night. Then he casually mentions it is common to develop a black, hairy tongue while taking penicillin too. Talk about burying the lead! I rolled over and asked him if he wanted to check that out for me. Funny thing is, he declined!

I’m calling in sick today so I can obsessively check my tongue in the mirror. The only thing that sounds good to my nauseated stomach and still not 100% throat is this apple cider muffin recipe I made last year. I’m eating one as I type and sharing the recipe again with you now.

I’m not sure there is an eloquent way to say that I stuffed my face with these apple cider muffins.

On the off chance there is, that clearly wasn’t the way to say it.

You’ll forgive me after you’ve tasted these muffins.

There is no way my pictures can convey how happy your mouth will be when you taste these apple cider muffins.

I also cannot adequately convey how crushed your willpower will be when you try to only eat one.

Am I making myself clear about how good these are? Okay. Let me brush the cinnamon sugar off my keyboard so we can move on…

I first made this recipe last October after finding it on the awesome site, Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The muffins were extraordinarily delicious when I made them a year ago. However, this fall,  I wanted to see if I could punch the recipe up with more flavor and wholesome goodness.

This is the kind of challenge I can get behind.


And really, it didn’t take much.

I made sure to spice up my cider reduction with cloves.

I also grated an entire apple into the batter.

Adding actual fruit to the recipe is my way of justifying the assault on my willpower that these muffins created.

I’d feel much happier and less guilty about today’s muffin consumption and tomorrow’s muffin-top if you’d make these muffins too. If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the treadmill.

Apple Cider Muffins
(recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction: Spiced Apple Cider Donut Holes)

Muffin Ingredients
1 1/4 cups apple cider
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can mix 2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk and let it sit for 5 minutes to make your own buttermilk. I mixed mine right in the measuring cup.)
1 – 2 teaspoons vanilla (I accidentally splashed more in and liked the results. HA!)
1 large apple grated (Core the apple, but leave the peelings on when you grate it.)

Topping Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Simmer apple cider and 5 -10 cloves (or a sprinkling of ground cloves) on medium-low heat for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cider reduces to 1/2 cup. Let the cider cool slightly.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini-muffin pan and set aside.

3. Combine flour, baking power, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt together in a large bowl.

4. In a different bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, and both types of sugar together until smooth. Then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.

5. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients until combined. Don’t over mix.

6. Grate the apple into your batter and gently mix in.

7. Fill the muffin tins to about 3/4 of the way full.

8. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The added apple in this recipe gives the muffins more moisture, so mine took the full amount to bake – just watch yours closely as it approaches 10 minutes. Okay? Thanks.

9. For the topping, combine the sugar in cinnamon in one bowl. Melt the butter in a separate bowl. Dip your muffins in the butter first and then into the sugar mixture. I actually was a little heavy-handed with my dipping, so I did need more butter AND cinnamon sugar. The shame! 🙂

10. ENJOY!!

Books My Kids Are Reading Now

My 9-year-old is a bookworm and I’m hopeful my 6-year-old will become one too. His reading abilities have exploded in the last few months. We go to the library weekly – sometimes daily for homework – and here are some books we’ve been reading together this month.

Knitbone Pepper – Ghost Dog

My kids loved this book – especially my daughter. If you have a pet you love, then you can probably relate to the story. It might even explain some of those strange sounds in your house?!

Danny the Champion of the World
With the recent celebrations at our local library and the release of the movie BFG, my kids have discovered the world of Roald Dahl. Finally!

This story was definitely entertaining and my kids enjoyed it immensely. It’s interesting to read a book with your children where the main characters are doing something wrong, but everything else about them is likeable and even upstanding.

The Magical Detective Agency: The Magical Detectives

We are halfway through this book, so I can’t vouch for how it ends. So far, my kids think it is hilarious that a cat can talk while on the magical quest. As for me, I’ll wait until we finish it to issue my final opinion.

Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary

I have no idea how my daughter missed one of the Dork Diary books. I chalk it up to it being a popular series at the library. She’s devouring this book on the train. And don’t ask me what it’s about. I can only endure so much.

Poppy the Pirate Dog

My son brought this book home from school as his “read aloud” book of the week. I’ve been in first grade classrooms that had an abundance of cutesy books that the boys were definitely not interested in. This one, thankfully, wasn’t too cutesy and boys and girls would like it. If your child’s reading is progressing, but they aren’t quite ready for a full blown chapter book with no pictures, then check this book series out. It offers a good balance of challenging words and some pictures thrown in too.

Why Spacemen Can’t Burp

I admit it – I probably enjoyed this book more than my kids! The book is filled with short 1 and 2 page answers to all sorts of weird questions that kids ask. Why do doughnuts have holes in the middle? Or can kids be raised by animals? I also admit I have pondered this question a time or two since becoming a parent.

If you have some books you think we’d enjoy reading, let me know! I’ll be happy to add them to our reading list!

P.S. If you want to know which two books made my eyes leak recently, read this post.

Problem Room Update: Petite Fireplace

If you recall, I have been pondering how to decorate around a petite fireplace in our dining room.

Clearly, I’m focused on the important things in life.

I was contemplating decorating the space with some sort of gallery wall or collection. I’ve been trying to get rid of things, not collect things lately, so this would be a gallery wall or collection that I do not currently possess.

In the meantime, I decided to go big or go home big. Literally. We have a photo of our daughter when she was 3 years old that my husband just happened to snap at the most perfect moment. I think he was actually setting up to take a photo of the mountains and she ran into the frame, but no biggie – it turned out fantastic.

The picture frame is just a smidge wider than the fireplace.

I’m sure I’m breaking all sorts of decorating rules.

Rules. Schmules. 

We had dinner guests over the other night. One of the guests was sitting facing the photo and multiple times he brought up that photo over the course of the meal.

Isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

Evoke some sort of response?

When I look at the photo, it makes me smile every single time. I hope my daughter never loses that carefree, live-in-the-moment spirit.

For now, I’m happy this big ol’ picture frame isn’t leaning against a wall like it has been for the past year. I’m content to live with it for a good long while because my husband had to drill into a concrete wall to hang it until something else strikes my fancy for this space.

The Happy List #3

Here are a few of the random things that brightened my week. Enjoy!


If you need a smile today, this collection of funny animal photos will boost your spirit and feed your soul. I’m mean, come on, look at this little guy!!


(Photo by Julian Radd/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards 2015)


We cannot underestimate the power of a sincere compliment. The world needs a lot more of this type of positivity and acknowledgement.


I just printed off this free Happy Fall artwork from Jones Design Company. Emily is a pretty talented lady and hails from the Pacific Northwest, my old stomping grounds.
I did have to give her site my email address to get the print – FYI. It was worth it though!



MY CHURCH By Maren Morris

I have not driven a car since June, but I remember it fondly! There’s nothing like that feeling of driving down an open road on a sunny day with the radio blasting. While the analogy in this song might be a leap, it definitely brightens my day to rock out and sing along for 3 1/2 minutes to my favorite song. That part I can relate to. Plus, every once in awhile I like a good country song.


It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. It’s tempting to measure success based on money, promotions, recognition or whether or not you sent your kids to school with a dirty face.

The author of this article has a different take on success. He points out characteristics such as having close friends, choosing the people around you, having purpose in your life. His perspective on the subject will definitely make you think!



Yes, please! I love to see non-orange fall decorations and this creation by Alice and Lois is so fun.


That’s the list of things that have made me smile this week. Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend and give your loved ones a big hug. I’m off to volunteer at my children’s school. Wish me luck!

Halloween Bat Mantel

A couple of weeks ago a strange man at the train station offered my kids packages of Starburst candy.

I’m sure the man was just trying to be nice and the candy was unopened, but still. In context, it was an uncomfortable situation.

It was one of those lessons in “we don’t take candy from strangers.”

Except on Halloween, right mom?


My kids are wild about Halloween. They’ve been planning their costumes for months. And they really, really, really like it when we decorate the house for Halloween.

Just because one year I went a little crazy with Halloween book covers and such and now they think we should decorate every year. Ha! That’ll teach me.

Halloween is celebrated in Ireland, but it’s not as big commercially as it is in the United States. There’s not an entire aisle at the grocery store, for instance, devoted to Halloween candy. There’s an end cap with two different variety boxes of candy.

Anyway, I wasn’t quite in the mood to decorate the house this year, but their little faces were so cute when they said, “please mama.” GAH!

So I decided to see what I could come up with that required no money and not a lot of effort. I mom so hard some days.

I printed off a bat outline I found on the internet, traced it onto a bunch of black card stock I had in my stash and then started cutting. Trace, cut, repeat.

The bats are simply taped to the wall.

If you bend the wings on the paper bats slightly it gives a nice 3-D effect. Fancy.

This mantel and stove are located immediately left of the problem wall in our living room that I wrote about recently. It’s the mantel I’ve been ignoring, so it was an empty canvas for some Halloween fun.

We don’t intend on using this little wood stove. We don’t even have firewood, but I guess we’ll see how the winter goes. Be open to the possibilities and all that not freezing business jazz.

One of my horseshoe pumpkins is holding court on the hearth. It’s still one of my most favorite DIY projects.

While I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with this space after October 31, I do like the brick on this wood stove surround.

That’s something, right?

Back to the easiest craft ever. I decided to go for the whimsical look with the BOO lettering.

That’s code for I didn’t want to bother with printing out a template, so I just freehanded the letters. I craft so hard some days.


All sarcasm aside, my kids were so happy to come home from school and find that bats had taken over our house. It almost makes up for the fact that we do not have blowup Halloween characters in our yard. But I have been letting the spiders do their thing on the front porch and by Halloween I’m thinking it’s going to look nice and festive.

How NOT to Make a Book Pumpkin

This is a cautionary tale should you fall down the Pinterest hole of comparison inspiration and decide you too need to join the throngs of DIYers making book pumpkins. As I did.

Please heed these warnings.

STEP 1: Put one foot on the slippery slope to a moral abyss. 

To cut a book apart you’re going to have to throw your moral compass out the window. Let’s just be frank about that. It doesn’t matter how bad the book is, one simply does not cut a book apart. To loosen yourself up for the slide down this slippery moral slope, might I suggest doing something equally egregious, like double-dipping your chip in some salsa? In public. While eating with non-family.

STEP 2: Procure a book to cut apart.

I did not have any books I could slay on the sacrificial table of decorating. Why? Well, moving books to Ireland seemed like a bad idea – unless they were my kids’ books. And while I’m willing to double-dip my chip in the salsa, I’m not willing to cut up a Dr. Seuss book. Although, I’ve thought about it…every single time I’ve read all 72 pages of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Kids don’t pick Dr. Seuss books because they are fantastic stories (although they are). They pick them because a long book is the best bedtime delaying tactic ever.

The Junk Whisperer told me to just buy a book at a thrift shop. And I did wander in and see some suitable books for a buck. But a buck? For a book I’m going to cut up? I needed to think about how committed I was to this dastardly DIY endeavor.

Then, lo and behold, the heavens provided me an answer. I kid you not, I leave the thrift shop and walk to my kids’ school and what do I see on top of the trashcan by the school? A PAPERBACK BOOK! Is this not a sign? Come on. This is a sign.

I did a pass-by to see what the book was all about. The title was The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently. It’s clear why someone didn’t need the book any longer, but… this was not what I was expecting. Why couldn’t it have been a bodice-ripping romance?

I don’t know these moms. I’d like to make a good impression. They already think most Americans have lost their ever-loving minds. I don’t want them to think I’m a smoker too. I’m not.

But I couldn’t ignore this free book! Hello? Signs from the universe and all that.

With that in mind, I decided I had to be cool about swiping the book. The only problem with this is A: I’m not cool and B: I don’t have experience swiping things.

Here’s how it went down. I unzipped my backpack, casually sauntered by the garbage can for the fifth time and then as quick as I could, grabbed the book and shoved it in my backpack. PHEW!

About 10 seconds later I was having a panic attack because I had just taken a free “how to stop smoking” book. That means it probably came from a smoker and it could smell like smoke. Clearly, I did not think this through. I didn’t want to smell like smoke. So now I’m trying to discreetly sniff my backpack to see if it smells.

And people ask me if I’ve made friends here yet.

STEP 3: Leave “stop smoking” book out at home and see how long it takes your husband to notice.

Spoiler alert. After a day, I gave up and asked my husband if he thought it was weird that there was a “how to stop smoking” book in the foyer. His response was something akin to “huh?”

Well played, Handy Husband. Well played.

STEP 4: Read about how to make a book pumpkin.

I read a bunch of online tutorials on how to make a book pumpkin. They were all pretty much the same. Make a template, cut the book with a craft knife, blah, blah, you’ll have the best decorated home EVER.

I decided to wing it. Off came the cover of the book and I used one of these scribbles lines to make a template.


STEP 5: Get to work.

Settle in with some Netflix and start cutting away at your book. I would recommend not using a book as thick as The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently.

I lasted approximately 7 1/2 minutes before I decided this was a waste of time. Cutting the pages with a craft knife was taking FOREVER.

This is where the rails might have come off the project. I decided to get out the scissors. 7 1/2 minutes later, I was done.

My pumpkin shape was a little wonky, I admit. Keeping the template in place while holding the book open to cut the pages was tricky. Nothing I couldn’t trim away though – if I had the patience.

The bigger problem was the book wasn’t fanning evenly all the way around. I actually blame this part on a few pages at the back of the “stop smoking” book absorbing moisture while it waited for me to rescue it off the garbage can. There’s some irony in there…


STEP 6: Do some damage control to salvage this project. 

I paper-clipped the book in place to help train the pages to fan more evenly. Then I ignored this project for a week. It really wasn’t looking like it would turn out well. Maybe I missed something in the directions? Or the execution? Oh, and yes. I was making an assumption that book pages are trainable.

You know what they say about assumptions.

The other unknown in this scenario was the glue gun. I had brought my glue gun from the good ol’ US of A, but I haven’t tried to use it yet. Trying to use the blender didn’t go so well (boom, sparks, little details like that). Using this device was going to be a wing and a prayer and a power adapter type situation.

Thankfully, it worked.

I found an interesting looking stick on one of the bushes in our yard to use as the pumpkin’s stem. More character is exactly what this project needed.

I hot glued the stem in place and then glued the book pages together to hold the pumpkin’s shape in place.

Here’s how it turned out.

It looks okay from this angle.

And here’s how it went wrong.

I compare it to looking at yourself in the mirror. From the front you look so put together – even you hair is cooperating, but then you forget to check the rear view and don’t know your skirt is tucked into your waistband and everyone can see your granny panties.

That’s this book pumpkin. Flashing the granny panties.

I could not get the book to fan evenly all the way around. Maybe it was the moisture? Maybe the scissors? Maybe the page training gone awry? Maybe all the patience I applied to this project?

Whatever it was. Don’t be like me.

Just spend a buck to get a bodice-ripping romance book or some other more cooperative book at the thrift store.

If there is a moral to this story, I’m not sure what it is. I am happy I can cross this project off my crafting bucket list though. And it will never be put on the list again.

The Happy List #2: Podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts?

I didn’t, not regularly, until we moved to Ireland. Now, I have a fair amount of solitary time during my walking commute, riding the train, etc. Earbuds are kind of like the uniform for solitary commuters. Put earbuds in, don’t make eye contact with fellow travelers and mind your own business. Basically, it’s an introvert’s dream.

What’s not an introvert’s dream? Calling attention to one’s self. I’m prone to busting out in song if I listen to music and that would be a BIG violation of the solitary commuter code. That leaves podcasts.

There is an entire world behind that little podcast icon on your phone or tablet. Podcasts are free and there’s pretty much a category for every interest: news, true crime, politics, family, education, bedtime stories, science, fiction, pop culture, comedy, language learning, etc.

If you don’t have a smart phone or tablet, you can always listen to the podcast on the podcast’s website.

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts:


Both of my kids LOVE this podcast. Plus, it’s not so annoying that adults wouldn’t enjoy it too. The best part of this podcast, besides the fact that my kids are silent for 12 glorious minutes, is the conversations and questions that we have because of what they’ve learned.


Description: Exploring stories of science discovery. Tumble is a science podcast for kids ages 8 – 12, created to be enjoyed by the entire family. Hosted & produced by Lindsay Patterson (science journalist) & Marshall Escamilla (teacher).


I have learned so much from this podcast on a whole host of random topics. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. With 80 million downloads, 99% Invisible is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

99% Invisible started as a project of KALW public radio and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. Originally, host and creator Roman Mars produced 99% Invisible from his bedroom. Roman Mars is also a founding member of the podcast collective, Radiotopia.

While Mars has since upgraded from his bedroom digs to a studio behind his house and an office shared with 99pi’s wonderful staff (in beautiful downtown Oakland, California), most of the equipment and production process remains the same.


This show fascinates me. It’s not about blood and guts, but it is about crime. Like the guy who solved the problem of people dumping garbage (a crime) on the median outside his home by putting up a buddha statue (also a crime). And now, this little median is where hundreds of people come to pray daily and crime (drugs, prostitution, theft) in his part of town is almost nonexistent. Talk about creative problem solving. Like I said, fascinating.


Description: Criminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the “if it bleedsit leads,” kind of crime, but something a little more complex. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. We’re a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, and the winner of a 2015 Third Coast International Audio Festival “Best Documentary” award for 695-BGK. Criminal was co-created by Lauren Spohrer, Phoebe Judge and Eric Mennel. We launched in January of 2014.


My kids are learning some French in school. I thought I should try and keep up with them, so I’ve been listening to Coffee Break French. It’s a “say the phrase and repeat it” type of learning process. I’m not sure if I’m learning anything – yet, but I just started. If the French language isn’t your thing, Radiolingua offers other languages too.


Description: Coffee Break French is indeed everything you need to learn French, whether you’re an absolute beginner or a more experienced learner wishing to build your confidence in spoken and written French. You’ll be accompanied by experienced teachers throughout your Coffee Break French experience, so you’ll make solid progress and build your range of expression and mastery of French grammar quickly.


This American Life is one of my favorite radio shows (also available as a podcast) and one of their recent spin-offs is Serial. I was skeptical about this one, but I do love a good mystery. The storytelling style of an actual event is what will keep you listening. Every episode you’ll say, “he definitely did it” and then the very next episode you’ll say, “he’s innocent!” By the end, you won’t know what to think. Or you will.


Description: Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.

Serial has won several awards, including the Peabody, Edward R. Murrow, duPont-Columbia, Scripps Howard, and Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts.


I loved the Young House Love blog and then they stopped blogging and I was devastated. I exaggerate, but I’m happy to see John and Sherry back and I enjoy listening to their DIY and home decorating podcast. Plus, they have conversations with some of the big stars of HGTV like Sabrina Soto and Emily Henderson.


Description: Deep (and not-so-deep) conversations about home improvement, design, and life at home. Tune in for weekly episodes filled with casual decorating advice, DIY stories, and a smattering of home related games, along with what’s new around the house and interviews with designers, bloggers, TV personalities, and more. Sherry and John Petersik are the married duo who began chronicling their home improvement adventures in 2007 on the blog Young House Love, which spawned two New York Times best-selling books, as well as product lines sold by Target and Home Depot. And, well, now they have a podcast.

The other thing I like about podcasts? They make the really boring chores like dishes, laundry and weeding a million times more pleasant. Happy listening!

Halloween Countdown Lunch Notes

I first published this post last September. It is pretty hilarious to note that despite so much changing in our lives this year, the day-to-day has stayed pretty consistent. My children still forget to put on socks. Every. single. morning. And they’ve been asking since August if I’m going to do Halloween countdown notes in their lunch boxes. Why, yes. We are definitely counting down the days for that one special evening when it is suddenly okay to take candy from strangers. Free printable below! 

My children’s selective memory is quite excellent.

Case in point. They have been asking me for at least 3 weeks if I am going to do the Halloween countdown in their lunch boxes like I did last year. But, can they remember that I asked them to put their socks on? While they are holding a pair of socks? No.

Priorities, people. My children have clear priorities.

My real-life sock troubles aside, it does give me those mushy mom feelings to know that we are creating lasting, happy memories together.

It makes up for the fact that I yelled about the socks. Mom logic.

The great thing about these lunch box notes is that you can start the countdown at any day you choose! The kids don’t read this blog! They don’t know that I made 20 days worth. HA!

So, start it at 3 days before or 14 days before. Basically, whenever you remember to hit print on your computer. Hopefully this occurs before you get that panicky “OH NO, WE NEED COSTUMES” thought. By then, it’s too late.

Kidding…I’ve got you covered. I made a “Happy Halloween” version with no countdown, as well. It’s all good.

No tricks, all treats for you today! The free printable is linked below as a jpeg – just print them out on regular computer paper and trim to size. Now, not to jump the gun or anything, but Happy Halloween!

1 and 2 Days Until Halloween
3 and 4 Days Until Halloween
5 and 6 Days Until Halloween
7 and 8 Days Until Halloween
9 and 10 Days Until Halloween
11 and 12 Days Until Halloween
13 and 14 Days Until Halloween
15 and 16 Days Until Halloween
17 and 18 Days Until Halloween
19 and 20 Days Until Halloween
Happy Halloween

P.S. If you have any trouble printing these, please let me know in the comments and I can work some magic and maybe fix the problem for you. 🙂

Fall Dining Room

Last week I bared my soul and discussed all my problem areas.

No, not those problems areas. I definitely don’t want to talk about those.

I shared pictures of the rooms in my home that were giving me decorating issues.

All of that sharing was extremely therapuetic.

As was the furniture rearranging session prompted by all of that sharing.

I’d like to tell you my husband was surprised when he got home, but it’s not the first time this has occurred. Furniture rearranging happens. When you least expect it.  

To start, I played a lovely game of musical tables with 3 various accent tables. The table in the dining room went into the kitchen. The table in the living room went into the dining room.

The nightstand that was in the kitchen holding the microwave is now in the dining room too. While it is mainly there to anchor the corner and look pretty, it is serving a useful function. It holds sandwich bags, aluminum foil, etc.

I even moved our dining room table to be on angle in the room so I wouldn’t teach my kids bad words when I stubbed my toe on the fireplace hearth in order to open up the natural walking path through the room.

I brought two cookbooks with me to Ireland. I guess I’m a fan of Betty Crocker? I don’t really know – they are just the two books I actually use.

The first Betty Crocker recipe book was a wedding gift, which means I’ve had it close to 18 years. Yes, I am acutely aware that I’m getting older. Let’s not talk about it.

The orange Betty Crocker recipe book was my grandmother’s. While I can do without the orange, I feel sentimental toward the book knowing it was also in her kitchen. I used to think it was funny that this old recipe book called for lard in most some of its recipes. Then I move to Ireland and I can actually buy lard at the grocery store. In 2016. Go figure.

The pail (above photo) was my grandpa’s. The dollar store pumpkins (below photo) are sitting on upside down heart-shaped planters that my mom made eons ago – maybe 25 years ago or more?

I still haven’t seen a real pumpkin in a store in Ireland. I keep waiting! It’s October – where are they? I did ask the grocer at the local fruit and veggie shop where I could buy a pumpkin and he told me I’d have to wait until the middle of October before anyone stocked pumpkins. THE HORROR.

I’m having pumpkin withdrawal.

I was going to create some fall-inspired chalkboard artwork while the kids were doing their homework, but I got distracted helping my son learn his addition tables.

Homework is my favorite part of the day.

Before I knew it, my daughter had wrote this autumn saying on the board and jazzed it up with some Halloween characters. I decided it was perfect for this space.

I am definitely cheering for autumn! Although, to be fair, compared to living in in the southern United States, it has felt like fall in Ireland since June. And since the weather is still relatively “nice” here, I can see why the Irish don’t want to rush into fall. With that in mind, I’m happy to wait for pumpkins to arrive.

Friday Funnies #2

Here are a few items that put the happy in my dance this week.



My son started taking fencing lessons. If you have a little boy or girl who is obsessed with all things swords and lightsabers, then this is the sport for them.


Here’s a conversation my son and I had when we arrived at fencing practice last week.

Son: Mom! Did you see those lunches last week?

Me: Lunches? They had lunch here? How did I miss that?

Son: No, mom. The lunches I made with my sword.

Me: Oh! You mean lunges?

Son: Yeah. That’s what I said.

At that point I started laughing hysterically, so I still have no idea if he said the word correctly and I misheard or if he really was saying lunches instead of lunges. When you throw in a noisy gym and the coach’s Russian accent, it could go either way. Regardless, it still makes me laugh.

And I really wish they would have had lunch.


If you are interested in learning more about youth fencing and you live in the USA, here’s a link. If you live in Ireland, here’s a link.

I needed to pick up kleenex at the store last week.

This discovery amused me greatly.


Just in case you need gender-biased tissues.

Of course I had to buy them. I don’t know if they are man-sized, but they are about twice the size as regular tissues.

American English is slightly different than European English. My kids are starting to notice these differences. Here’s how it came up in conversation recently.

Daughter: Mom. Did you know everyone in my class says maths instead of math.

Me: Even your teacher?

Daughter: Yep. Everyone.

Me (speaking to my son): Buddy, does your teacher say maths too?

Son: (thinks about it for a moment)  I don’t know. She speaks English.

I’m still not sure what language he thinks my daughter’s class was speaking!


Happy Friday, everyone! May your weekend be filled with fun and humor!