Baby Advice from a Recovering Perfectionist…

My little guy is a little over a month old now and my God, it has been such an incredible learning experience. As all mothers know, raising a child is hard. The worries, the sleepless nights, the constant crying that pulls at your heart strings… motherhood is most definitely not for the feint of heart! But that innocent and content face and those inquisitive eyes make it all so worthwhile. It still boggles my mind that I actually cooked this guy up for nine months and now he’s this living, breathing, beautiful little person. Just…WOW.

Sleepy Head copy

What surprises me most of all, however, are the many things I have discovered about myself in the process. The boundless patience and newfound ability to calm myself down, the incredible instinct to nurture and protect, the desire to be the best that I can be while allowing myself room to make mistakes, and the amazing capacity to thrive on little to no sleep! Don’t get me wrong, deep down inside of me is still this person that strives for perfection, but luckily the more logical, sane, and imperfect part of me has taken the drivers seat.

So, from one new mom to another, here are a few words of advice from a recovering perfectionist:

1. LET IT GO. That mess will still be there for you to clean tomorrow. Your post-partum belly will not disappear in a day, a week, or even a month. And your precious little package (aka…baby) will not die if slightly off his feeding schedule. Instead, get some rest! TRUST ME. Letting it go is the best that you can do for yourself and for everyone around you. (And sometimes I need to learn to take my own advice…!)

Co-Sleeping copy

2. Speaking of a feeding schedule, and for those that are breastfeeding: DON’T PANIC if your babe doesn’t feed by the books. I still struggle with this one, but it’s imperative to your sanity and peace of mind. Putting it nicely, most babies become pretty darn vocal when hungry. If they seem perfectly content after a feed, and if they are gaining the appropriate weight, there is no need to freak out. This said by the Queen of Freaking Out.

3. DON’T BE AFRAID. I’ve heard stories of mothers that are too afraid of making one little mistake to handle their own baby. Fortunately, babies are malleable, squishy little creatures. They are meant to be handled, cradled, snuggled, and often contorted into awkward positions. They will be ok, and so will you. Just give them that hands on comfort they will inevitably crave…and scream for.

Me & My Guy_edited-1

Snuggles

4. Watch out for what I have dubbed as the “MONSTER PHASE.” It is something I am currently experiencing and I cannot understand for the life of me why this phenomenon isn’t more often vocalized by mothers around the world. For all you newbies and moms-to-be out there, if you think you have a quiet, sweet baby…just wait until the 6 week mark. I will tell you now, shit will hit the fan. That innocent baby of yours will become the devil reincarnated. This may last for a few days and even up to a few weeks for some of you poor souls out there. If you hear nothing else, hear this: it will get better! Those horrific screams will slowly subside into laughter and smiles. At least, that’s what I have been told…

5. Lastly, if you do choose to breast feed, don’t ever let anyone undermine your feelings of frustration and despair. Breastfeeding can be hard. It puts all the pressure of sustenance onto one human being. Add to that the fact that you are feeding every 2 hours or so and you quickly begin to feel like nothing more than a milk machine! And yes, there may be production problems, allergy problems, and/or extreme gassiness problems. I’ve already had numerous meltdowns over breast feeding and have on occasion substituted formula just to give myself a break. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, feel like a failure if you choose to give your baby formula sometimes or all of the time. I was a formula fed baby and I turned out ok (if I do say so myself!) so turn a deaf ear to any naysayers out there! No one knows what’s best for you and your baby but you.

Perfectionist or not, the most important thing you can do is enjoy this time with your little one. Despite the screams, despite the messy house and dirty diapers and the sleepless nights, take pride in this little human you created and remember, there is a very bright, sparkling light at the end of this tunnel. It will all be worth it in the end!

Cutie Pie copyHead Shot 2Smiles copyI'm Awesome copy

ps….for all you non-mommas out there, I will get back to the basics soon! Please bare with me while I revel in babydom for just a little longer Smile

My Everything…

I knew motherhood would be one of the most exciting, satisfying roles I could ever undertake, but to truly put into words how I feel is impossible.

Fingers

Truth be told, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of love and attachment the moment he was in my arms. I felt a sense of relief and awe, but a large part of me felt numb and incredibly humbled – it was all a bit surreal and I couldn’t quite fathom that this tiny being was mine.

Was I really allowed to take this perfect little person home?

But that love and attachment grew day by day as I began to accept that this little man truly was mine; that he was a part of me, dependent on me, and ready to be filled with all the love and joy and experience that I could offer. And dear God, I have a lot to offer.

Staring into that little face, my heart fills with an indescribable joy; my love and happiness are overflowing…

Greyson 1

…and I am so thrilled and grateful to not only embark on this journey into parenthood, but to share this journey with such a remarkable man, husband and father.

Daddy & Son 1

Daddy & Son

I am a lucky girl indeed.

Greyson & LambWelcome to the world Greyson Rhys! You are my everything and I can only hope that one day you will realize just how much you are loved.

Hello October.

Hello October

I can’t believe it is October already. With the cooler weather and the turning leaves, it already happened to be my favorite month, but now – now it becomes that much more special because it is the month my son will be born. My little Greyson. My mini man, my heart, my soul.

It seems like yesterday that he was just a part of my imagination. Then, one day, he suddenly became a reality. I didn’t know he was a HE at the time, just a tiny bean growing in my belly. But eventually, that little bean did become a boy, and he just kept on growing. And now, with only ONE week to go (hopefully…), it’s amazing to think that this reality will become even more real. And tangible. And squishy! I will finally have this wonderful baby boy in my arms. It’s mind-blowing, actually.

I can’t wait to revel in the joys of motherhood. And I know that it’s not all joyful – there will be some hard, hard days. And even harder nights. But they will all be meaningful and full of purpose, and to me, that will make them joyful (please remind me of this after a few weeks of no sleep…!).

via Marshalls Abroad

With this small shift in perspective (motherhood, that is), I now find myself drawn to an even wider variety of blogs. Blogs that are not only about home décor, DIY, and fashion, but Life in general, and Love, and Family. It’s so exhilarating to peek into the daily existence (and struggles) of a mother…

via Fairytales Are True

IHOD-Happy Baby Wrap

via In Honor of Design

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via The Weigands

via Steve and Jess Marcum

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via Day Dreaming Mama

…and it’s encouraging to read that despite these picture perfect images, every single one of these mothers had – and continues to have – her share of doubts, insecurities, and imperfections. Despite those bad days, weeks, and even months, they survived, and they remain fabulous mothers.

Almost There

Hello October. I look forward to the many challenges and unconditional love you will bring!

Quick Thought of the Day.

While I am still in my “overhaul” process, I quickly wanted to reach out and welcome my recent new readers – thank you for following and I hope that I don’t disappoint!

Running a blog can be such a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gives you the opportunity to reach out to a community that would otherwise be completely unknown to you and share yourself. You’re able to put your thoughts, your passions and desires, your soapbox opinions, and every ounce of feeling out into the world the moment your are thinking or feeling them. And it provides such an amazing sense of freedom, accomplishment, and joy that there are people out there actually listening.

But on the same hand, it also produces a sense of terror…holy crap, there are people out there actually LISTENING! That thought can stop you in your tracks. It’s truly terrifying to realize that you are sending a part of yourself into this unknown world, a part of yourself that you can never really get back. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. The moment you hit “PUBLISH,” there’s this overwhelming feeling of Oh. My. God. What have I done. And that is a feeling that never really goes away.

But you quickly realize, as much as this blog gives you the opportunity to share yourself – some of which you may regret down the road – it also gives others the chance to share themselves. If my blog can offer the slightest bit of inspiration, or provide even the smallest sounding board, or simply gives others a chance to learn from my mistakes, then that is inspiration enough for me.

So thank you, dear readers, for following, for listening, and for inspiring me in return! You are all a Godsend and a blessing.

Thank you

Indeed!

Oh yes, and please, feel free to comment at any time. Don’t be shy! I get sick of my own thoughts sometimes so I would love to hear your own. If there is something you would like to see more of, or less of, or if you have any specific opinions and/or suggestions – do share! Your comments (even negative ones as long as they are constructive) are the fuel to my fire.

Xoxo.

No Apologies…

Be yourselfWith motherhood looming, I find myself re-examining myself and this thing called Life. Not that I’ve been unhappy, but I have been in a bit of a rut for what seems like years, coasting through life rather than actually living it.

Sometimes, I think I just feel so much that I become overwhelmed, overstimulated, and over-sensitive to the world around me. So I simply shut down, out of fear I suppose. Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of not living up to expectations, fear of judgment.

I look at all the other amazing and inspirational blogs out there and think, “wow, why can’t I write like that? Or decorate like that? Or cook like that? Or even look like that?” Where  is my sense of style and creativity? Where is my passion? Where is my personality? And how did others get to be so lucky? These are questions I ask myself with a growing sense of dread. I will never be perfect…

But perfection isn’t what we should be striving for. Character is what we should be striving for, with all of its ups and downs, its messiness, its risks, its heartbreaks and failures, its grace, its pride, and above all, its love.

No one is perfect, no matter how hard they make themselves appear so, and I am no exception. But, taking a little inspiration from this post, I am offering no apologies.

I don’t apologize that:

My house isn’t clean 98.8% of the time. I have berated myself for this time and time again because somehow, I got it in my head that my house should be 100% magazine ready 100% of the time. This reach for perfection has led to many a tear, more than one argument, and a crap ton of needless stress. For what? So I can brag that I have a clean house? Ridiculous.

My photography skills are less than amateur. I have no idea how to work my camera most of the time, and Photoshop still requires a huge learning curve. But it is a work in progress and something that I can actually see developing into a passion.

I DO NOT jump out of bed with a smile on my face every morning. In fact, there are some days, even weeks, when just getting out of bed at all is a struggle. More often than I care to admit, I wake up grumpy. Grumpy as hell. Sometimes, I remain grumpy all day. And yeah, this makes me feel pretty damn guilty, which makes me even grumpier. But hey, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my happiness without a little bit (or a lot…) of grumpiness thrown in there, right?

I cook only because I have to, not because I like to. And by no means do I cook gourmet meals. Or even attempt to. I’m a chicken and rice kind of girl. Like, salt and peppered chicken in a skillet and a box of flavored rice. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way and mash some potatoes instead. To give myself a little credit though, I do try to go fresh and organic as much as possible. And I always have a side of veggies.

My closet is NOT full of brand name clothing. Kohls, Old Navy, and Target have become my staples (actually, I recently discovered Steinmart, which will now be added to the circulation). This isn’t to say that I’m not into fashion – I actually do try to keep up with the trends, but in a casual, comfortable, and frugal kind of way. And honestly, I’m in yoga pants more often than not these days, so…don’t judge.

I snack far too often on cookies rather than carrots. I like my carbs. So what? Particularly in this last trimester of pregnancy. I dream of cookies. But every darn time I have that delicious morsel, that little voice in the back of my head screams at me, “don’t you want to fit back into your post-pregnancy clothes?! What the hell is wrong with you? Carrots, carrots, carrots! Cookies are the devil!” And then, because I feel so damn guilty, I grab another cookie.

I work out spontaneously – at best. I love going for a walk on those beautiful, sunny days. Before I was pregnant, I would even break into a run. And on those not so great days, I will very occasionally motivate myself to go to the gym, but that is only because I ate those extra cookies…otherwise, like most people, I count cleaning the house as exercise.

And I am scared to death of becoming a mother. Sometimes, I can hardly take care of myself, and very soon I will have another human being totally and completely dependent on me. This innocent, tender-hearted being for me to shape and mold and build into a man. Hopefully, a good man. No, a great man. And, dear God, that is a great responsibility that I can only hope to live up to. Where do I even begin?

But that last point there, that is really why I am re-examining my life. Because while I know I will not be perfect, I want to be the best version of me that I can possibly be. And I don’t think I am there yet.

You see, I want to live my life with pure intention and joy, rather than basing it around to-do lists and petty insecurities. I want to find enjoyment in the small things, rather than enduring them with machine-like intensity. And I want to stop hiding behind this façade of perfection, let go of my fears, and embrace this messy, chaotic life…because heck, life is only what you make of it! To me, that is the greatest lesson one can ever share with a child: to live life to its fullest.

So, with ALL of that said, my friends, I am going to take a week or two off in order to give myself and this little blog o’ mine an overhaul. Because I believe that a part of living with intention is writing with intention, and I think I have been failing in that respect.

Of course, there will still be plenty of posts about fashion, home décor, and DIY because frankly, that’s where my passion lies. But I will be writing only about what truly and honestly inspires me – not about what I think you want to hear – with the hopes that it will inspire you too. I also hope to insert a little more of my very imperfect self: my beliefs, my frustrations and heartaches, my fears and insecurities, my progressions and successes, and little tidbits of my daily thoughts. ME.

Because truly, what’s the sense in writing if not from the heart? The very best I can offer you is myself and for that I have no apologies.

XOXO. I will be back soon.

Healthy(ish) Frozen Meals for a Momma-To-Be.

I’m SO close to being full term that I can almost taste it! 4 more weeks to go and I’ll be a mother in every sense of the word…it’s a bit surreal, actually. In the time that I do have remaining, I’ll be prepping: deep cleaning, organizing, purchasing last minute items (and there are many!), and cooking, cooking, cooking away!

But I do have to admit, I am a mediocre cook on a good day. So now that it’s come time to cook a freezer full of meals, I’m feeling a bit befuddled. You see, I’m determined to lose this 30 lbs of baby weight that I’ve gained, so I’m focused on freezing healthier meals…which is really not as easy as it seems people!

Most freezer meals that I’ve come across are pastas and lasagnas and casseroles all smothered in cheese and lacking much nutrition. They all look delicious, of course, and while I won’t deny myself a few fatty meals (exactly what a girl deserves after hours of labor!), I do still have that end goal in mind.

After a bit of research, however, I did manage to find a few meals that not only look delicious, but healthy as well. And I did mentioned that I was a mediocre cook, yes? So easy is also a must for me!

Here’s what I found:

SLOW COOKER WHITE CHICKEN CHILI: (courtesy of Sweet Anna’s)

https://themodagecottage.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/b1fcd-whitechickenchilibetter.jpg

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Yield: serves 6-8, depending on serving size

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts (raw or cooked), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans white beans, drained
  • 1 regular can pink beans (pinquitos)
  • 1 large can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 jalapeño, minced*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Directions:

(Remember, tastes and jalapeños are all different! If you are not sure you like much spice, feel free to remove the seeds from the jalapeño, use less, or leave it out all together if you must!)

Throw all the ingredients, except for the crushed tortilla chips and cheese into your slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

During the last 30 minutes, stir in the crushed tortilla chips and the shredded cheese and heat until the cheese is melted and the chili has thickened.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, chips, or whatever else you think sounds good!

CHICKEN POT PIE: (courtesy of Freezerdinner.com)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes, 1.5 hours after freezing

Yields: 2 pot pies (6-8 servings each)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cubed cooked chicken (ham, shredded beef or turkey)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • pastry for two double-crust 9-inch pies, or use biscuit/baking mix to make crust (or you can simply buy the ready made crusts!)

Directions:

Boil potatoes and carrots in a large stockpot. In another pot, boil cubed chicken for 8 minutes. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer vegetables for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain vegetables and chicken and set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, thyme, and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the chicken, peas, corn, potatoes, and carrots. Remove from heat.

Crust option 1: Line two 9-inch pie plates with bottom pastry; trim even with edge of plate. Fill pastry shells with chicken mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pies. Cut slits or decorative cutouts in pastry. Place over filling; trim, seal and style the edges. Bake one pot pie at 425ºF for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Crust option 2: Mix together 2 cups biscuit/baking mix, 1¼ cups milk, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, ½ teaspoons celery seed. (Mixture will be thin.) Sprinkle over top of chicken pot pie. Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cover and freeze remaining pot pie for up to 4 months.

To serve frozen pie: Cover edges of frozen piecrust with foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425ºF for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF and bake for 70 to 80 minutes longer, or until crust is golden brown.

SWEET POTATO BLACK BEAN SOUP: (courtesy of The Fitness Dish)

sweetpotatosoup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1-16 ounce can of Eden Food Brand black beans (or 16 ounces dry soaked)
  • 1 cup finely chopped Brussels sprouts (secret ingredient!)
  • 36 ounces of organic low sodium vegetable broth
  • 7 ounces of coconut cream or full fat plain Greek yogurt (Fage)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Dice onions. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Dice Brussels sprouts into fine slices, discarding outer leaves. Rinse black beans and mince the garlic. Place all of the ingredients into a large Dutch oven (or soup pot). Bring the soup to a boil, uncovered. Then place a lid on the top, turn it down to medium-low and cook for 3-4 hours, stirring frequently.

Then take half of the soup mixture, I left a lot of the sweet potato chunks and beans and took most of the onions and sprouts and placed them with most of the broth in my Vitamix. Blend until smooth. Place the pureed soup back in with the potatoes and beans and mix. Season as desired. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top and serve!

You could also make this in a crock pot. Just throw everything in and cook on high for 8 hours or so.

Amazingly, I’m actually excited to try out these recipes for myself!

Do you have any healthy and easy recipes to share with a momma-to-be? I’d love to hear from you!

Counting Down the Days…(to post baby bump fashion!)

I actually had a completely different post in mind for today, but frankly, at 35 weeks, I’m feeling fat and bloated and not quite like myself. So, to remind me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to give myself a quick pick-me-up, I decided to concentrate on fashion. Particularly, fashion I would like to have after this baby bump has become le petite bebe!

Now, I know the first few postpartum weeks, if not months, may find me living in pajama yoga pants and oversized sweaters, but I continue to hold onto this crazy idea that one day, I will be that stylish momma prancing about in my nude pumps, skinny jeans, leopard scarves, and pops o’ color…

layers for fall

Ok, I’m not SO unrealistic to think that I will ever look like this…Miranda Kerr

…but a girl needs something to aspire to, yes?

So as I am counting down the weeks until I am holding sweet baby in my arms, I am also counting down the weeks until I can properly fit into chic and simple styles like this:

Simple and classic. Love the hat!

Or this:

This…

stripes + boyfriend jeans + heels

And definitely this!

Other than the impossible aspiration of looking anything like super model Miranda Kerr, one momma that I do aspire to is Casey Leigh of The Weigands. Holy crap that woman is hot! Her fashion style is classic with a rocker chic/bohemian vibe – I love getting glimpses of her life and style (and mad photography skilz!) via Instagram. And her children…oh my gosh. Simply gorgeous. Yep. I officially have a girl crush.

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That bag, by the way, is on my wish list (or better yet, this one!). My birthday just happens to be next weekend so….(ehem, Mr. C…)

Tell me, woman to woman, did you fall back into postpartum fashion fairly quickly or do you still find yourself struggling just to shower?! (Meaning: do I need a realistic slap in the face?!)

Incorporating the Modern…A Wishful Room Update.

There’s something about colder, crisper weather that makes me want to redecorate my entire house. Add to that my nesting instinct and it’s a recipe for trouble!

Of course, with a baby on the way, my decorating budget has dramatically decreased. And I’m pretty certain once my little one is in my arms I won’t give a second thought to what my house looks like for at least the first month, but in the meantime, a girl can dream, right?

Living Room 2013_edited-1 copy

Living Room Mantle 2013_edited-1

Yep. There’s baby stuff around the house now!

When I moved into this home 2 years ago, I had a bit of an infatuation with Pottery Barn. Who doesn’t? But since then, my style has morphed a bit and I would love to incorporate a few modern touches. My new infatuation? Black and white!

However, I wasn’t sure how to incorporate this new infatuation with my much more rustic décor without spending an arm and a leg…until I realized that the answer was right under my feet!

Living Room & Hallway_edited-1

Since my floors are a lovely, distressed black and white, I figured that I could easily (and cheaply!) tie this into the décor with a few fun throw pillows and blankets without things looking too hodge podge. So I turned to Etsy and Zara Home for some inspiration…

Neon Plus Cross Throw Pillow Cover By Pencil Me In // Mint, Lime Green, Hot PinkBlack and White Triangle Throw Pillow By Pencil Me In // Black and White Pillow18x18 Decorative Throw Pillow Black and White Striped Medium Weight CottonTriangles pillow decorative throw pillow geometric pillow cover white cotton toss arrow pillow case rustic bedding set 18x18 inches ohtteam

Decorative Pillow Cover - 18 x 18 Yellow Black White Chevron Zig Zag  Designer Pillow Cover - Throw Pillow

Let me explain…the throw blanket and pillow with yellow detail you see directly above would go on the armchair and incorporate the few pops of yellow that I already have around the room. And the remaining pillows would get arranged on the couch and would incorporate the teal-ish blue on the entertainment unit and game table/bistro chair.

I would also love to find or create a large piece of canvas art next to my fiddle leaf fig, and print out some fun artwork to replace in the two frames hung above the bench.

And voila! With very little effort I would have a completely new, modern vintage (“modage”) look. Now to replace the couch…

What do you think? Love it or hate it? Do you think the black & white clashes too much with the rug?

A Very Modage Nursery.

With the due date looming (only 1.5 months to go!), I am happy to say that the nursery I’ve been pecking away at for the last couple of months is finally complete!

And it all started with this picture…

Geolo_JDV_129Via Project Nursery

I just loved the peaceful neutrality of it all. I particularly fell in love with the grey striped walls and as the idea quickly became stuck in my head, I went to work creating my own. Amazingly, I was thrilled with the outcome – if you’ve ever owned an old home, you’ll quickly realize how crooked the walls and ceilings are and how impossible it is to achieve a straight line!

So, armed with a neutral-based jute rug, a newly striped wall, a crib, and an upcycled turquoise dresser, a theme began taking shape…

Of course, you can’t deny a girl her pop of color so I had to take that turquoise and run with it! I wanted to resist the urge to create an entirely boyish nursery and turquoise gave me the perfect opportunity to add a bit of flair without going overboard…

Nursery Update 1w watermark

Nursery Update 4 w watermark

Nursery Update 3 w watermark

Nursery Update 5 w watermark

Don’t you just love Dr. Suess? This quote was also read at my wedding. I love how I can bring such a personal touch to Greyson’s room: not only is it a momento to my marriage, but a reminder of all the things baby Greyson will soon be capable of. Oh, the places he will go!

Nursery Update 6 w watermark

The nursery is actually quite tiny, so I had to remove the closet doors to create just enough space for the glider. But I love how it opened up the room and gave me the perfect view of all the itty bitty baby clothes! How can you not smile when faced with dozens of onesies?

With the vintage touches, the discreet boyish charm, and that pop of my favorite color…I think I might be able to find peace in this room. Now all we need to add is a peaceful baby!

Apple Crumble and Weekend Tidbits.

Did you all enjoy your weekend? Oh my goodness, the weather here in the Northeast was amazing – you couldn’t help but spend your time outdoors. It was that perfect sneak peak of Fall weather and oh, I am so looking forward to Fall (as it will bring a new little man into my life… 1.5 months and counting)!

Other than hiking through the ever-changing colors of the Shenandoah foliage, one of my favorite Fall pastimes is apple picking. It never fails to bring out that child at heart – there is something so special about finding that perfectly sized, shiny apple. It just makes you want to clap your hands in delight and deliciousness! And yes, I was clapping often.

Somehow, I am incredibly lucky enough to live 5 minutes from an amazing apple and peach orchard at Carter’s Mountain, one of the many wonders Charlottesville has to offer.

Carter's Mountain

Not only are the views spectacular, the orchards are abundant, the apple cider is mouth-watering, and the peach frozen yogurt out of this world! It’s a must stop if you are in the Charlottesville area.

KK's Apple Barn w watermark

Unfortunately, my husband reigned me in and gave me a limit to the number of apples I could pick…so with a dozen apples (and another dozen peaches, but more on that later!) in my bag and perhaps a couple already in my belly, I headed home pretty darn content and ready to bake.

KK's Apple w Watermark

Now, I know many of you would go straight for the apple pie, but honestly, I’m a cobbler and crumble kind of gal. So after a quick Google search, I came across the perfect apple cinnamon crumple recipe courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod.

Here’s what the recipe calls for:

8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples (about 9 medium apples)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup all-purpose Gold Medal Flour

For the crumble topping:

1 cup all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced

After eating another two of the apples, I was left with 10 fairly large apples to work with (the perfect amount for 3 pie-sized crumbles) so I played around with the measurements a bit…

Picked and Peeled w watermark

…but it’s pretty darn difficult to ruin a crumble so for all you non-bakers out there (like myself…), this is a recipe to try! If you love the caramel taste of brown sugar or vanilla extract, feel free to add a little more, or cut down on the sugar and add extra oats for a healthier version.

The Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Gently toss until apples are well coated. Let the apple mixture sit while you prepare the crumble topping.

3. For the crumble topping: in a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir together with a whisk. Mix in the butter with your fingers until the mixture comes together and you have big crumbles.

4. Place the apple mixture in a 12 inch skillet. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the apples. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the crumbly is browned and bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Crisp w Watermark

A 12-inch skillet was use over at Two Peas and Their Pod – I chose to use pie tins only because I wanted to give a couple as gifts (it’s much more savvy to hand over a pie tin that a large skillet!). If you are making this only for yourself, I highly recommend using the skillet.

What a glorious end to a perfect semi-Fall weekend – vanilla ice cream with warmed apple crumble. But even better? Apple crumble and fruit for breakfast!

Bfast of Champions w watermark

Do you prefer crumble or pie? Have any tips or suggestions for enhancing this recipe? Please share!