Monday, September 30, 2013

A Salute to Fall

Can you believe its the last day of September?  When I looked at my calendar last night it kind of blew my mind to be honest.  And I decided that we needed to usher out September tonight with a full salute to Fall.

On that note...

Happy National Hot Mulled Cider Day!

Friday night when I was planning my menu for this week I had tagged a recipe for hot mulled cider that called for store bought cider and also a recipe for cider glazed chicken.  But last night around 11pm I got to thinking that it might be fun to try my hand at making my own cider.  I mean, I am now the proud owner of an abundance of apples (most of which I will be turning into pie filling this week!) so why couldn't I make my own?  A little research last night showed that with very little effort on my part could possibly yield some very tasty cider.  I even decided to modify the recipe that I found from the stove top to my crock pot.

So bright and early at 6:30 I turned on my crock pot.  By the time we took Noah to the bus this morning my house smelled incredible.  It wouldn't have mattered to me at that point if it the whole thing would have been a flop, it really felt like Fall had taken over at the Gatchel's.

The cider wasn't difficult to make at all and I let Noah and Kayla taste test the un-mulled version that had been chilling in the fridge for a few hours when he got home from school.  The response of "Oh man, this stuff is awesome!" reassured me it had been worth the effort.

To round off my salute to fall with our hot mulled cider tonight, we had cider glazed chicken, brown butter cashew rice, roasted garlicky butternut squash and a mini apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.  Can it just stay this time of year for quite awhile?  The smells, the feel, the tastes, I love Fall!

In other news, Noah says he smiled wonderfully for pictures, Mikayla was again making pictures this morning and writing letters (she's still feeling a bit under the weather tonight and proved to be a bit of a 'problem kiddo' for most of the day.  I was rolling with it, but I think she was testing Grant's patience on purpose.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better) and I managed to get completely caught up on everything MOPS and PTA related I think, including a quick stop by school today to make sure we're on track with the directory.  Phew, what a relief!

Homemade cookies (in a form I promise you've never had before) with Mikayla and me in Kid Kitchen tomorrow after school, I get to hang out with Jen in the morning (yay!!) and it's Vegetarian Day, too.  Until then...

Making the cider in my crock pot

 The finished product ready to chill for awhile

Hot Mulled Cider (Not sure what its sideways...)

Fall Feast

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What happens when Kosakowski's (and former Kosakowski's) make plans

Shortly before everyone was heading out the door the last time we were in Fremont (Labor Day weekend) Michelle tossed out the idea of a family canoe trip.  I'd been thinking about it myself a couple of times over the summer, especially the times when we were in Ann Arbor and I saw them on the river.  We set a tentative date for anyone who could make it and Michelle promised to do some research.

We found a weekend where we were already planning on coming down on Saturday for apple picking, Sarah was planning in being in town for a wedding and to do Holloweekends with the Singers (and maybe Scott) on Friday, Mom didn't have to work, Michigan had a bye, Shell and Dudley both had a free calendar and Scott thought he'd be able to make it, too.  Holy cow - do you have any idea how hard it is to work to get all of us in one place at the same time on only four weeks notice?  It seemed like fate.

Shell did some research and we kind of quickly nixed the idea of heading to where we had canoed in the past (the Mohican area in mid/southern Ohio) because of how long it'd take for us to get back from there on a Sunday when we knew Noah had school the following morning.  Since we're still getting adjusted I thought it was better to avoid a late arrival home.  So Shell found a place along the Maumee River, about 50 minutes from Fremont.  Dad wasn't crazy about the idea of canoeing the Maumee (it's not exactly the cleanest river...) but we all reassured him no one was planning on getting in the actual water.  Again, fate, right?

And then we started checking the weather forecast earlier in the week.  40% chance of rain in the mid-60's.  No, it wouldn't dare rain on us!  We were going to brave it.

Yesterday the chance had increased and the temperature dropped.  Nope, we're still all in.

This morning we had sunny skies (okay, maybe a few clouds were beginning to creep in) as we left Fremont after a stop at Tim Horton's to celebrate National Coffee Day.  We made it to Grand Rapids were the livery and unpiled out of the cars.  More clouds.  And, Mom shares with us, Sarah and Sean are literally trapped in Toledo.  The wedding they went to last night was at the Art Museum and they had chosen to stay at a hotel downtown nearby and then meet us this morning.  Turns out the fine hotel they were staying at failed to mention to them that there was a Breast Cancer 5k running through downtown this morning and the very earliest they could get to their vehicle was 9:45.  Knowing what I know now, I will again say, fate, right?

So as we hemmed and hawed, trying to decide if we should go and have them catch up, rain drops started to fall.  We continued to debate, more rain.  OK, time to regroup.  We headed a bit down the road to a park where the dam was, hoping they'd have a shelter we could hang out under while we decided what to do.  No such luck - and the only covered area at the park was being painted.  But we did head down by the dam since it was only sprinkling and saw some people fishing.

Dad remembered that on the other side of the river was another larger park that should have shelters.  Back in the cars to head over there.  Success on the shelters, but it was about that time that the sprinkles went to much harder rain.  And the temperature dropped significantly.  But there is never a dull moment with us and with a little help from Grandma and Aunt Shell, the kids played a few games of "Mother May I" that amused us all and we got a call from Sarah saying they were just arriving in Grand Rapids.  So we trooped down to meet up with them and the skies opened.

Instead of throwing the towel in on the day we hauled out our picnic lunch (and a few blankets from Shell's trunk) and headed back to the shelter.

This is the point where I break in and say things like this ALWAYS happen to us.  The night we pick to go to see the lights at the zoo is guaranteed to be the coldest night of the year.  The Labor Day golf outing usually gets rained on for at least part of the time.  Scott makes the State Swim Meet and we stand out in sleet at 4am for tickets.  Sarah runs her first half marathon and most of the race it sprinkles and is chilly.  Wasn't there a Mother's Day (I don't think we were up here for this one) that all Mom wanted to do was go on a picnic and it was like 50 degrees?  Mother Nature must really like the Kosakowski's.  (Though Shell and I can both claim we did have beautiful weather for our weddings...)

But we made the best of it!  We all enjoyed our picnic and everyone finally agreed that we should probably just throw in the towel on the attempt to canoe.  So we headed back to Fremont and watched the Lions game.  I'd venture to say that most of the males in our party were much happier with this outcome.  We hung out in Fremont long enough for Aunt Shell and Uncle Dudley to take the kids to get their Halloween costumes.

And now we're safely back in Farmington, canoe trip less, but still happy to have spent time with everyone.  This week is looking a little calmer than last week (thank goodness!).  Hot Mulled Apple Cider tomorrow!  And picture day for Noah!  Until then...
Happy National Coffee Day!

 Checking out the dam

 Papa shows Kayla where to stand for their first game of "Mother May I"

 Aunt Shell taking a Super Man Jump

 Mikayla taking a bunny hop

 It was a tight race

 A Papa and his favorite girl

 Sarah's fabulous creation!  She made this for Shell for her birthday.  All minions at Shell's (like every other inanimate object at Shell's...) need a name.   This is Gary

Belle and a Pirate joined us for dinner tonight when we got home

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A is for Apple, P is for Picking

 We're in Fremont for the night. We came in this afternoon to head to Eshelman's Orchard to do some apple picking.   We got our fill of golden delicious, jonathans and honey crisps and I can't wait to get them home and make some apple pie filling :)

In other news, Happy National Strawberry Cream Pie Day!

Off canoeing tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll get a post up then.  Oh, and in case I don't - Happy National Coffee Day tomorrow!  If you're a huge coffee drinker like we Gatchel's are, make sure you head to Tim Horton's and tell them Happy National Coffee day to get a free cup of coffee when you buy one :)

Until then..

Happy National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

 Mikayla works on her twist and pull technique again

 Grandma and the Bean

 A helping lift from Uncle Scott

 A girl and her Godfather being followed by a brother in some cool shades

Uncle Scott spoiled them by bringing them both a treat from campus.  Noah got lego candy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hashed Together

 This week has been nuts!  I am so glad it's Friday and we've got a big weekend in Fremont to look forward to.  We'll be doing some more apple picking tomorrow and then we're planning a canoe trip on Sunday.  (Hey Mother Nature, cooperate, OK?  We've got everyone together in one place, don't let me down!)

But first, today.  After the Bean and I got Noah off to school, we came back home to give the house a good cleaning and then we were off to storytime where we heard all about leaves today.  Which was a perfect segue into the Nature walk we'd been planning for after.  All week Kayla and I have been talking about going 'acorn hunting' to use some outdoor goodies to decorate the house.  Jen had told me a few months back about the Carpenter Lake Nature Conservatory that is actually only about 2 miles down the road from us so we thought we'd check it out.  She said she and her kiddos always have fun hanging out and feeding the fish on the pond.  So I had promised Kayla that we'd gather some acorns and feed the fish after storyime today.

The conservatory is beautiful.  Nice paths and well-maintained.  We decided that in a few more weeks we're going to head back and check out some more leaves.  We managed to collect quite a few acorns but kind of struck out on feeding the fish.  Mikayla told me it was because they were napping.  There were quite a few geese that we hoped to entice, but this obnoxious dog kept jumping in the lake close to us every time the geese got close.  It was fun regardless.

After picking up Noah the siblings played together very well, coloring some pictures.  This week has been 'blue' week at school and Noah's been reading books about Blue Bug.  He thought he was bringing home a picture of Blue Bug wit his things today and was most distressed when he unloaded his folder and it was not there.  So I asked him to create me a new Blue Bug.  In the picture below, he colored Blue Bug, then cut him out, wrote the word blue which he then cut out, and glued the word to his bug.  Quite a few steps and I've got to admit I was an impressed Mama with the end product.

In unrelated but important news, Happy National Chocolate Milk Day and Happy National Corned Beef Hash Day.  I made my own chocolate sauce and we had Salted Chocolate Milk with dinner.  I also made some corned beef has for the first time ever.  I've had it before but always from a can, I think.  And while I did use canned corned beef as that was what the recipe called for it tasted oh so much better with fresh potatoes and onions :)

Plenty to get done tonight, mostly planning my meals and grocery list for next week since we'll be gone all weekend and are not sure when we'll be back on Sunday.  Also have to make a Strawberry Cream Pie to celebrate tomorrow.  And of course even though my Tigers clinched (YAY!!!) I've still got the game on.  I have to say that my heart is relieved that they clinched and that the Wolverines have a bye this week.  After the football drama of the last two weeks I totally need a break.

I'll try to post from the 'Mont tomorrow.  Until then...

I start 'em young around here ;-)

 She made a fall necklace at story time

 Collecting for our decorating


 Mikayla winding up to throw her bread to said geese

 Art time!
 Noah and Blue Bug

 Salted Chocolate Milk

Corned Beef Hash

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Noah's Invasion

Noah 'wrote' this all on his own, with just a few prompts ;-)  Enjoy!

Hi, this is me, Noah.  I am in kindergarten.  It is very fun to be in kindergarten.  You have to be five in order to go to kindergarten.  My teacher's name is Mrs. Burkmyre.  We all have great days.  My favorite part of school is having free choice time.  I like to play outside, too.  You can do lots when you're in kindergarten even though you have a full day.   I know that some people would want to ride the bus in the neighborhood that they're in if the school is in it, but the bus is for people who are far away and then go to that school.  I love riding the bus.  Mr. Grumpy is my favorite bus driver in the whole wide world.  He calls me "Hollywood"

I just saw some deer out the window in Mikayla's room and in the dining room.  There were four deer.  Bella was barking at the deer.  It was still OK that she was barking at the deer 'cause they couldn't hear her.

Mommy always does the National Food Days because she wants to be celebrating.  Today is National Pancake Lover's Day.  Everybody loves pancakes, we know.  My favorite kind of pancake is 'smores.

It is very fun to celebrate these national food days and they are good, too.  My favorite was the three P salad.  There are peanuts, peas and pickles in it.  It tasted like hard pickles, as hard as peanuts.

That's all for the day.  Bye!

Love, Noah

My twosome this morning as Kayla and I got ready to head to the orchard

 She was ready (with Tinkerbell boots!) to go

 We tried to get some pictures together

 Eli's little sister, Eveyln, tried to steal Kayla's shades

 Finally a good one!

 Today, as Mikayla shared with all of us at dinner 
"I learned today you twist and then pull an apple off the tree"

 The Bean hauls our pickings!

 She couldn't resist sampling the goods

 Lining up for a class pick

 Cider and Donuts!  (she kindly only ate 1/2 her donut and brought the other half home for her brother)


 Climbing the haystacks

 Stuffed Potato Pancakes

 I used some of our apples to make homemade applesauce for with dinner tonight

 Everyone loved the stuffed potato panckes

And Oreo Pancakes for dessert!