hello! + an apple bread recipe you must make

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Can we just pretend for a little bit, that I didn't take a massive break from this space for the last chunk of summer? Because fall feels like it's here and I just want to talk about apple cake. I still have plans to rewind and catch up on the last weeks of summer with all of you. So many changes around here that I just needed some time to get my bearings. I'll be honest, this summer was a tough one--packed so full and leaving me feeling like I couldn't catch my breath as we plummeted from one thing to the next until I found myself staring at the last days before the ring of the school bell. 

But as my husband (and Wendell Berry) says, we'll soon find our rhythm. And I'm starting to see that happen.

In the meantime, this weekend was good to me and my family. Yes, there were double soccer games on Saturday. But there was also rain, and long afternoons in the kitchen. And used books sales. And lazing about on the couch. And luxurious sleeping in.

And apple bread. 

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that if I'm making this, then fall is most definitely in full swing. So I like to think of this apple bread as a precursor to fall. It means fall is in the air. It means cool nights--that just might require the down comforter, if you're lucky. 

This recipe couldn't be simpler. At the top of my recipe card it naively says that this is a recipe for "Apple Bread". But really, this is definitely a cake. A very, very good cake with a crispy, flaky top with moist (I hate that word), soft, apple-cinnamon-y insides. If you have apples, I'm confident you'll have everything else you need to make this recipe in your pantry.  And bonus--it makes two loaves--one to eat, one to share. My favorite kind of recipe. 

So hello. How are you? I miss this place. Make some apple bread, will you?


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Apple Bread (eats more like cake)

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 3 cups chopped, peeled apples

Combine oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and mix well. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts. Pour into two greased + floured (or parchment-lined) 9x5 loaf pans. Take for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn off oven and leave for an additional 5 minutes or until loaves test done. 

Buying clothes for girls: (OshKosh B'Gosh is my new fave)

You've heard me talk about it plenty of times before--every time I drag all my girls off to the store for clothes the slim picking of things that are classic and age-appropriate leaves me frustrated. I get increasingly discouraged as more and more of my go-to shopping spots give in to the adult-like clothes in little sizes. So I was pretty much dreading the back-to-school shopping session I knew would be coming up soon.

Can't a little girl just get a cute skirt that hits at the knee instead of 8 inches above it? 

Or a nice tshirt that doesn't have some sassy adjective blazoned across the front in glitter? 

Or a dress that doesn't have the back cut out? 

Or comfy sweats without a message written across the backside?

*Big sigh.* 

But when I was asked by The Motherhood to take part in a post with OshKoshB'Gosh about back to school clothing, I'll admit that the name conjured up babies in overalls not a place my girls and I would be shopping for clothes. OshKosh wasn't even on my radar. 

But I quickly jumped on the site and was completely surprised by what I found, so I decided to sign on to the program. 

My disclaimer? They gave us a gift card to get a few things at their store. But keep reading.

People. Seriously. OshKosh B'Gosh is my new favorite. I feel like I've just uncovered the find of the year. And I promise you I'm not just saying that. Three girls? (they don't have sizes for Emma) That gift card was blown in the first ten minutes. But I was happily spending my own money to stock up on clothes for back to school from a company that believes in age-appropriate clothing and kids being kids. 

I didn't need to steer the girls away from certain outfits. Everything was something I'd feel comfortable having them wear, and even better, they were finding things they loved. 

Tunics and leggings. Woven shirts in florals and gingham. Overalls in big-kid sizes that were so cute I couldn't stand it. Stripes. Pants in fun colors. Great-fitting jeans. Fun accessories. Shoes. I loved the shoes.

And sales. Really, really good sales. (I just clicked over to their site...up to 50% off right now. AND, I have a coupon for you at the end.)

So if you're like me, and find clothes shopping for your kids a frustrating experience, make sure OshKoshB'Gosh is on your radar. I'm so happy to have discovered my new go-to source for their clothes for back to school and for the future. I'm smitten. 

(Check out some of the girls' favorite things:)

One of the parts of this program with OshKoshB'Gosh was a phone call with their company, including one of the designers of this year's back to school collection. I was taking notes, and these are the things I wrote down in my notebook.... 

"We're all about kids being kids"
We want them to "be kids as long as they can.” 
There's "plenty of time to grow up.”
Our clothes are "timeless and classic". 

That pretty much sums it up. 

Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsorship with OshKoshB'Gosh. All the opinions expressed in this post are my own, honest opinions. In other words, yes, I really love their clothes this much. 

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OshKoshB'Gosh has also launched their B'Gosh Jeanious campaign to support KIDS and DonorsChoose.org to help local kids, teachers and schools. Donate a pair of new jeans or make a cash donation for a great cause. OshKosh will match all denim donations with another item of clothing. And cash donations will be matched up to $50K. he campaign runs until September 17.

Short list after a long break

I'm sitting in my non-air-conditioned "office" and sweating-- even though I have a fan strategically placed on the desk beside me, blowing directly onto the side of my head. But I'm not complaining. Because outside in the barn are 20 tweens filming the 'death scene' from Romeo and Juliet in full costumes of varying degrees of polyester, velvet, nylon tights, cloaks and capes. I'm sitting here contemplating what would be the best refreshment for those poor kiddos, aside from dunking their heads in a bucket of ice water. I'm leaning towards lemonade if I can scrounge up enough plastic cups to go around. 

I've disappeared. Yes, this summer is bound and determined to not allow me to catch my breath. Apparently we've decided to squeeze every ounce of life out of it. And out of me.

So, to ease back in to this little blog of mine, I'm coming here today with a list. Because I love lists and that's the easiest way to catch up on a whole lotta stuff that needs catching up.

1. Shakespeare. What are those tweens doing in our barn in shakespearean dress? This is Emma's Shakespeare class that has been studying Romeo + Juliet during the school year and is now finishing up the filming of final scenes. Much of it has been filmed here at Woodlawn--which I'm told has required many takes thanks to noisy sheep and barn cats that like to jump into scenes at random moments.

2. It's almost time for the county fair! This time next week we'll be unpacking sheep, cakes, cookies, photographs, artwork, and crafts at the fairgrounds. On my to-do list today is to make a to-do list. For the fair. I'm not feeling stressed yet, so I figured making a list would help me get my rear in gear aka start to feel stressed. 

3. Emma rode her horse in an event--dressage, cross country and stadium jumping. Her second "official" event and just like last time, she got booted off her horse on the 4th jump, an automatic disqualification. Thankfully this time, there were less tears and more laughter. Maybe we'll try again in the fall.

4. Emma's going to school next year! This requires its own post, but this is HUGE news around here. A process we've been agonizing over for the past few months. But we're all so excited. My first homeschooler to leave the nest. 

5. We're down to 2 chickens. We have a fox. A fox who must stalk our chickens from the bushes. Not minutes after we let them out, he was racing through the front yard in broad daylight trying to snatch one up. We all screamed at him. The dog chased him. And the chickens are on house arrest. 

6. Willie sleeps through the night. Praise the Lord. He has also discovered the muddy hole in the woods behind the house and shows up at the porch door like this, all the time, wondering why I won't let him in.

7. The girls went to camp. Sadly, one camp home early with a migraine. We'll try again next year.

8. I've lost 20 pounds. And 18 inches. Woohoo. Still going strong on the healthy-front. A few bumps in the road from summer chaos, but feeling good!

I've missed you all. Hope summer is treating you sweetly. More soon. xo.



Meet Willie

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We've been talking about adding to our family for awhile now. Don't get me wrong, we're in love with Ruby. In fact that's been part of our motivation to add four more paws to the family tree. We want all of her good habits to be passed on to the next little pup. 

But we've been waiting for the right time. Waiting to settle in here at Woodlawn a little bit more. Waiting for the weather to improve so that we're spending our days outside instead of in. 

And when, on somewhat of a whim a few weeks ago, I called the man who sold us Ruby and he happened to have a litter of pups just two weeks old, it seemed like the right time was finally here. 

Meet Willie. The newest member of our family as of yesterday afternoon. A boy this time. The gender scales need a little tipping in my husband's favor, I do believe. 

He's Ruby's half-brother. But for now, she's not giving much love in response to his eager curiosity. Ruby stays at my feet while I make dinner, or beside my chair while I work at my desk, cautiously eyeing this strange little thing on four paws. 

I know it's only a matter of time before they become best pals. 

Last night was Willie's first night. And just like Ruby's first few nights, I let him sleep in our bedroom. He sprawled out in a cool corner and slept all. night. long. 

I however, did not. Between booming thunderstorms, a sick kiddo, and constant checking on the snoring pup, I'm feeling the ache behind my eyes of my newborn baby days. 

But Willie was up at 5. Ready to eat and dying for attention. (I was dying for my bed.) 

But after making the rounds for morning chores, and then following me into the kitchen while I made extra-strong coffee--he's fallen asleep on the cool kitchen floor, head wedged inside someone's sneaker. 

So here we go. A baby in the house again. No more sleeping through the night for awhile...although I'm not sure I've slept through the night since I became a mother 13 years ago. 

You might remember Ruby's traumatic beginning. She turned out so well, I'm wondering if it's the secret to a perfect dog. Kidding. There will be no under-car-napping for Willie. 

15 songs on my workout playlist

I promise this blog will not become all about workouts and food diaries. But you know, if there's one thing I love, it's music. And when I can marry music and my new-found motivation to get healthy, well...bonus stars all around. 

I am always on the hunt for new music, but now I've added a new category to my search--songs to workout to. (Sorry for the preposition at the end of that sentence.) The funny thing is, my normal taste in music is pretty different from my taste in workout music. I hardly ever listen to these songs outside of the treadmill--well, except when I'm in the car with the girls being the cool mom. My kids approve of my workout playlist. I am honored.

So read the fine print above, please, don't judge a girl by the music she puts on her workout playlist. I prefer my playlists on shuffle so there's a fun little surprise each time a new song comes on. And yes, I have Justin Timberlake and Dolly Parton on the same playlist. I like to shake things up.

Also it will only be a matter of weeks before this list will start to drive me nuts and I'll need a new round of songs. Got something good for me? Leave your favorites in the comments, please! 

  • Chinese Translation // M.Ward
  • Stubborn Love // The Lumineers
  • Empire // Shakira
  • The Man // Aloe Blacc
  • Hey Brother // Avicii
  • Cecilia // Simone & Garfunkel
  • Politik // Coldplay
  • Get On Up // The Esquires
  • Jolene // Dolly Parton
  • Superstition // Stevie Wonder
  • Problem // Ariana Grande
  • You Go Down Smooth // Lake Street Dive
  • We Are Young // Fun.
  • Build Me Up Buttercup // The Foundations
  • New Shoes // Paolo Nutini
  • Mirrors // Justin Timberlake
  • Sail // Awolnation

The nifty widget below lets you listen to the songs on my playlist and click over to find them on amazon.