Monday, October 14, 2013

Squirreling things away for winter

It's that time of year!  Time to get that pantry stocked up and in order.

Is it a fun task?  Well, it depends on how you look at it. 

While I don't particularly like organizing and cleaning, I do like thinking about all the yummy treats and fun things I'll be baking in the next few months. 

I like to keep a basic stock of things on hand for the chilly and cold autumn and winter months.  I don't keep as much of this around during the summer, because it's too warm to want to use the oven very much. 

Take a look in your cupboards and clean out the foods that are either expired (toss those) or things that you probably won't eat but still have a good date (give to family or a food bank). 

Each family should keep things on hand that they find useful and based on meals that they like to eat.

Here is a partial list of canned/dry items that I like to keep around this time of the year:

"Cream of" soups (I try to keep 2 each of mushroom, chicken, celery, and 1 broccoli in the house)
Evaporated Milk
Condensed Milk
Tomato Soup
Dry Onion Soup Mix
Green beans
Black Olives
Spaghetti Sauce
Crushed tomatoes
Diced Tomatoes
Tomato Paste
Dried Spaghetti
Rice/Noodle mixes
Mashed potato mix

And then:
Vegetable Oil
Olive Oil
Baking Soda
Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Chocolate Chips

Again, that is just a partial list.  I think it's nice to keep it in the house during the colder months.  If the roads are bad, I don't like going to the grocery store if  I don't have to.

Another thing that I like to do this time of the year is get rid of the regular sheets and dig out the comfy-cozy flannel sheets!

I learned on a website a few years ago that you can easily fold all your sheets and put them into a pillow case for storage.  It is so much easier to pull a pillowcase off the shelf than it was to try and pull out everything individually.  We have a queen sized mattress and the sheets and pillow cases really do fold up small enough to tuck them right inside.  Give it a try!

I really wanted a nice soft cotton blanket to add a layer of warmth to the bed this year.  Our blankets are an older felt-style and although they are okay, I love how much warmth those cotton blankets hold in.  I went to Walmart and wasn't able to find anything but fleece there.  At Kmart, however, I found exactly what I was looking for.  It's not time for the heavy quilt my mom made us yet, but it does get chilly some nights and I love the cozy warmth that comes from a combination of flannel sheets and soft cotton blankets.  :)  

I think that's about all for now, friends. 

  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:11

Monday, October 7, 2013

Autumn tidings of cheer

Hello and a happy day to you, reader!

I hope you are enjoying the autumn season so far.

Fall leaves along Route 6, McKean County, PA

Up until today, we've recently been having some very summer-like weather.  For the past week and a half it has been in the low 80's and rather humid.  

I love fall and I've been kind disappointed with the reluctance of summer to give up its hold on our area.  A cold front blew through today with some much needed rain, and we're going to be in the mid 60's for the rest of the week.  Woohoo! 

I've been enjoying Orange and Spice tea (Bigelow brand) lately, just because it's the right time of the year to start enjoying it.  I haven't always been a tea drinker, but I do enjoy many of the herbal varieties.  I love iced tea, as well, but I consider that more of a spring/summer beverage, so come fall/winter, I start breaking out the tea. 

We went on a vacation last week and enjoyed our time in Western Pennsylvania.  I didn't take a ton of photos, but here are a few that we did take.  

Chapman State Park was our first stop.  While there, we came across (and hiked) a rail trail.

I wish we could have watched the old puffing, chuffing locomotives roll through the area!

The mist of the early morning greeted us on our hike! 

Sadly, when these were railroads, it meant that the timber from the land was taken- typically stripped till there were no trees left at all.  Thankfully, responsible forestry has been integrated so that logging no longer entails stripping the land down to nothing.  

We stayed in a cute little camping cottage.  
Camping Cottage 3
 Chapman State Park had some really nice hikes.  We went on a few, but I wished we could have gone on more.  The scenery was beautiful.  
Nature Trail

A few days later, we took the boat out to Lake Erie and went fishing on Presque Isle bay.  

On our way out, we saw these turtles hanging out on a log!   

 Map turtles

We putted out into Misery Bay where we saw the Perry Monument

 There's a boat tour company that is right in Misery Bay, too.  You can pay to take a ride on the Lady Kate and see scenic Lake Erie and learn about the history of the area.  Since we were here in mid-September, the tours were done for the year.  

The Lady Kate

Scott heard that the steel head were running up from the lake.  I believe they are a cross between a trout and a salmon.  They stay in Lake Erie until fall, and then migrate up into the tributary steams and spawn in the springtime.  These fish are a huge draw to the area.  In the late fall and winter, you'll see men lined up elbow to elbow trying to take one of these trophies home.  

Steel Head Trout in Walnut Creek
 Sometimes I feel like all we ever do on our vacations is fish, but then I remember how much my hubby loves it.  It really relaxes him and puts him in a great mood- whether he catches fish or not.  (And he usually does catch fish.) 

We were at Pymatuning later on that night and I captured this photo that I really liked. 

 It was dark enough that my camera couldn't quite capture anything but the outline of these plants.  I thought it was kind of pretty. 

We took a tour of Ohio Amish country and stopped at Heini's Cheese Chalet.  That place was huge.  They had around 50 different kinds of cheese that you could sample and purchase.  It was an interesting place, to say the least.  
 Heini's Cheese Chalet

We drove past this display, which I thought was really amazing!  
Someone had taken the time to fill the entire bed of this pick up truck with pumpkins and gourds!  I was on the wrong side of the bus to get a good picture- this is the best out of the 3 that I took, and it's still a little blurry, but you can kind of get the idea.  

After a long day of shopping and sampling, we stopped at Der Dutchman for supper.  No joke, I ate the best chicken I've ever had in my life there.  It was superb.  

It was a very fun (and long) day.  We both had a wonderful time.  

We drove home after staying at my parent's house for a few days, and then a couple days at the camp.  
 After a quick stop at the Kinzua Dam to use the facilities and check out the visitor center, we were on our way home.  
Kinzua Dam

We were treated to beautiful (early) leaf foliage while driving across Route 6.  

That was our vacation.  It wasn't a thrill a minute, but it was relaxing and fun!  :)  

Upon coming home, I've finally cleaned and decorated the place for autumn.  We bought a couple beautiful mums and some festive pumpkins and gourds to set on the front porch.  I'll have to post a picture of those some other day, since it is pitch dark outside right now.  

I bought a kit earlier this year to make 2 gallons of root beer.  I finally made it tonight.  It needs to ferment for a few days and then we can drink it!  I'm excited to see how it turned out.  Here's a picture of the finished bottles!
I'll be sure and let you know how it turned out.  :) 

I think that's about all for tonight, folks.  I pray that you have a great week and are enjoying the weather wherever you are.  Keep the home fires burning!  

Blessing to you my friend,