Oh, Fall, glorious fall! I love this season with its cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and the promise of holidays off of work. This is the time of year when our schedules get even busier, but we do our best to spend quality time with our family. We have been working hard on our bakery, deciding what to offer for the Fall and brainstorming ideas for Christmas. Can you believe Christmas is in 8 WEEKS! Eek!
Last year, we went to Sky Top Orchard for the first time. It’s a beautiful drive up into the mountains of NC, so we get to see lovely scenery along the way. We made this trip again this year, but with The Blended Bakery in mind. (And thankfully, no one seemed to get car sick this time, PHEW!) My parents went with us too, which was a great help. My mom’s garden wagon came in very handy! We checked the “now picking” list, made our selections and went out with our assignments. (Yeah, I had assignments for each of the kids so that I could keep track of which apples we still needed.)
This year, we picked Pink Lady, Cameo, Granny Smith, and Fuji apples. We picked up a bag of Rome apples at the pre-bagged section of their store. Sadly, it was the end of their season, and we didn’t get as much out of them as we would have liked. We will have to go a little earlier in the season next year. All in all, we brought home about 200 lbs. of apples.
We went out for lunch at Hubba Hubba Smokehouse and had some delicious BBQ! It was well worth the wait in line. We stopped at my parents’ place on the way home and picked about 15 lbs. of pears and picked up two big baskets of pecans. The kids enjoy these visits because of all the space to play outside. The boys helped me pick the pears off the tree, and several of the girls helped with the pecans. Mostly, they had fun running around.
We’ve spent a LOT of time preserving the apples. We peeled, cored and sliced them. Most were put into the freezer to preserve flavor and texture, but we also dehydrated some to use with our bread mixes that we are planning to offer as gifts this Christmas season. The kids even helped us with this, and they LOVE the dehydrated apple chips. I also shelled many pecans to use in some of our fall favorites, including German chocolate cake and chocolate bourbon pecan pie! We are running a little contest on our Facebook page through October 28; you should check it out if you haven’t already seen it.
As October is ending, we are starting to prepare for the holidays. Our year end is always crazy… On top of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have all six kids’ birthdays over the next four months! One in November, two in December, one in January and two in February, not to mention other immediate family members with birthdays in December and January as well! But we are so excited to offer some of our favorite desserts with the bakery this season!
DJ tried a new recipe for Apple Pie Cupcakes this week. I tried to resist when I took them into work for my coworkers to sample, but I had to try one. Oh my goodness!! I was not disappointed! The spiced cupcake is delicious by itself, but then you find the surprise apple pie filling in the center. The sea salt caramel buttercream icing and caramel drizzle make it even more amazing! Then, he topped it off with a flair of dehydrated apple (yep, the ones that we made!) and pecan pieces. It was SO good! If you’re looking for something a little different than a traditional apple pie this season, I highly recommend these cupcakes!
He also made an apple pie and pumpkin pie for a gathering we had at our house recently. Oh, how I love fall desserts!! I really need to get back into my running routine now that these desserts are becoming more routine…
We just picked up some pumpkins from Lane Specialty Gardens for our pumpkin recipes….pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice doughnuts… We hope to grow some of our own pumpkins next year too. The kids really like having our own garden, and have been requesting pumpkins the last two years, so it’s time for us to plant some of our own. I think they just want to decorate them though!
Now that we’ve talked about all of these delicious fall treats, here’s your reminder that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Seriously, how does time go by so quickly?? I have a large extended family, and am blessed to get to spend Thanksgiving with my Grandma at her house. She’s been an amazing hostess for as long as I can remember. This year, we have the honor and privilege of bringing desserts, croissants, and deviled eggs. (Our family loves deviled eggs, so we aren’t the only ones bringing them, haha.) I know DJ will think of some creative desserts, to go along with the more traditional pumpkin pie and apple pie. I know that pumpkin cheesecake will be on the list (and honestly, I prefer this over the pumpkin pie).
As a blended family, holidays can be a challenging time, both for us and for our children. Kids feel pulled in multiple directions and may miss out on family traditions. Parents feel like their holiday is incomplete because their children aren’t with them. We feel it’s best to encourage the children to have a good time when they’re with the other parent and that it’s okay to do so. We try not to dwell on the fact that we will miss them when they can’t be a part of something we are doing. Holidays are hard enough; do your best to make it easier for your children. We’ve made some of our own new traditions as a blended family.
What are some of your family traditions for the holidays? What does your blended family struggle with during the holiday seasons? I’m sure there will be more posts to come that will talk about holiday struggles for blended families; I’d love to have some input from my readers!
Until then, enjoy the beautiful weather, and eat some PIE!!!