Summer’s end and a change of pace …

It's our last Sunday of summer break. Sid and George are at college. Libs and Reese return to school on Tuesday. This summer has been a DOOZEY. Emotional and exciting don't even come close to describing it. The summer of 2017 will go down as one of my all time favorites.

I never want summer to end but there is something about the routine that comes with the start of a new school year that grounds me. Summer months tend to feel (and be) more spontaneous and frivolous. But the Fall, winter and Spring months have a coziness to them. Our days are filled with the orderliness of schedules, sports and school, and by the end of August I'm usually ready for it. Fall and winter around this house are filled with magic and traditions that I have come to love. This year we even have some different things planned as well. I'm looking forward to both the familiar back-to-school regimen and the new life we will carve out for ourselves. Our family dynamics are not the same with two of my four children out of the house now. Life will undoubtedly be different, but I know it will be good for all of us.

So am I ready to say "goodbye" to these incredible days of summer? Yes. I believe I am. I will tuck their memories away in my heart. And I will be grateful for each and every moment that I got to spend with the people I love most in this world. God blessed me with another summer … and I truly can't be more thankful.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are ready for a change of pace!!!

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A sour day (YAY!) … 

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a major FOODIE. And I’m happy to say that I’ve raised a bunch of them too! I’ve always strived to teach my crew the importance of balance in their lives but especially in the areas of fitness and nutrition. Despite the hard work and diligence that goes into both, I always wanted them to find the joy them too. When it came to nutrition and the foods they ate I wanted them to understand that it didn’t all just magically pop out of our oven or refrigerator. I wanted them to understand that there was a process and a love that goes into the growing and preparing of food, long before it ever entered our home. So over the years we frequently found ourselves at food festivals and local farms and shops enjoying how REAL food was made. It’s been so much fun!

Today we are heading out to make more food adventure memories. We will be attending a Lemon Festival. With all four of my kids home I couldn’t be more excited to share this pucker-faced day with them!

Well, I hope you all have a sour day!!!

A different kind of adventure awaits …

Although by the feel of our weather you would never know that autumn has arrived. But it has! As much as I love summer this season is often a welcome change. Despite all the back-to-school business and looming craziness of the holidays, life somehow gets a little bit cozier and fun takes on a whole new shape. I am proud to say that we have a lot of family traditions, and during this time of year we have TONS that fill my heart with a special kind of joy. And I simply can’t wait to start them all over again!

Well, I hope you all have a day where a different kind of adventure awaits!!!

A great Black Friday …

I am comfy cozy at home with my family, drinking my tea after a long day (15 hours to be exact) enjoying our traditional Black Friday shopping day. We have the best time every year. It’s one of those days I can pretty much guarantee I will be spending most of it laughing. It is truly one of my favorite family traditions. We are usually pretty sleep deprived Black Friday and as the hours pass we get quite kooky. Perhaps that’s what adds to all the funny that’s found throughout our day. And by the end of the day, I can tell you that absolutely nothing feels better than having a nice warm shower and passing out on the couch. Yep, from beginning to end, this is one of my most favorite days of the year.

Well, I hope you all had a great day!!!

A perfect autumn day …

Today we visited one of my happy places, Oak Glen, California. It’s a lovely little town nestled in the mountains that has “u-pick” opportunities throughout the year. Our favorites are raspberry picking in the summer and apple picking in the Fall. I love going there because it feels like being in a different world to me. Time is somehow lost to us there. The busyness and stress of our real world are gone for just a few hours. It’s wonderful. We talk and laugh and just enjoy one another’s company. WITHOUT interruption. And it couldn’t be more beautiful there. The colors are so vivid. The views are spectacular. The sky, glorious. All of it, nature’s finest. It’s truly magical there.

Well, I hope you all had a perfect autumn day!!!

Creating some beautiful memories …

Hello, my name is Jen and I’m a pumpkin-aholic.

No really. I love all things pumpkin. OK, wait … everything but pumpkin pie. I’m not sure why, but that pumpkin thing I don’t care for much.

OK anyway, come the end of summer I usually mourn until I realize all the pumpkin products I love are coming out. This is a fairly new luxury for me too. In my early 20’s I came across a fairly large amount of pumpkin recipes in a magazine. I cut them all out and made them my own, tweaking them here and there, over the next two plus decades (YIKES, that makes me sound old). Back then, you couldn’t just buy the pumpkin products you can today, and certainly not to my chemical and preservative free standards. But now, places like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts have a huge selection of tasty pumpkin foods. You can find pumpkin cookies, bagels, cereal, yogurt, tortilla chips, tea, coffee, waffles, muffins, and ravioli! HECK, YOU NAME IT, and it’s probably out there!

But early on in my adulthood, I had to “work” to feed my pumpkin addiction. It definitely didn’t come easily packaged. I had to shop for individual ingredients, wait for seasonal items, create and bake my own pumpkin treats … and I enjoyed every bit of it. Many of the recipes I found all those years ago are tradition for us now … and THAT brings me to my point.

It’s amazing how one year of trying something new can turn into 5 … 10 … 15 … 20 years of traditions. Who knew that something so simple, as cutting out fall recipes, could turn into things my own children would grow up on. Things that they have come to expect at holiday celebrations. Things that they too may bring into their own families.

I remember the first time Sidney asked to make our pumpkin coffee cake that I serve every Thanksgiving morning. I cried. I know it sounds silly, but it meant something to me. I remember the first time I baked it with her. She was just a baby … and then years later … she asked to be the one to make it. Goodness, I’m crying now!

But I guess all traditions are like that. The good ones are anyway. They evoke emotions and fill your heart and head with tender thoughts of times past. Traditions allow us to look back but also allow us to look forward into our unknown future with a sense of something constant. No matter how much life changes around us, no matter what directions it may pull us in, we will always have the wonderful traditions that we’ve shared together as a family. And for this, I am truly grateful.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you created some beautiful memories!!!