a very basic autumn (minus the pumpkin spice)

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This story started out with a family trip to Skytop Orchard. We trekked the mountain, scouring trees for any remaining perfect apples, which is quite a feat since apparently September is late in the season for NC & there was a *slight* hail issue.  We searched and sweated and finally picked 1/2 a basket-full before deciding to take advantage of the bins of pre-picked apples in the store… where we also discovered THE MOST AMAZING apple cider slushies. So naturally, I started researching and decided to try my hand at homemade cider. [The following is adapted from Gimme some Oven.]

CrockPot Apple Cider

Ingredients

  • 9 medium apples, assorted types (I used a mixture of golden & red delicious, fuji and cameo apples)
  • 1 orange
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg because that’s what I had… won’t be doing that again!)
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice (optional-I didn’t use)
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (or your desired sweetener – I used brown sugar in the crockpot process and maple syrup later in the slushies)

Directions:

  1. Wash apples and the orange, and then roughly cut into quarters. (Initially, I didn’t remove peels, seeds, or stems but later wished I had because I pureed them to make applesauce & picking out all that stuff was a hot mess. literally.)
  2. Place in the bowl of your slow cooker.  Add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.  Cover with water, filling the slow cooker until it is nearly full. (I left about 1/2 inch of space at the top of my pot.)
  3. Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours, or on low heat for 6-8 hours.
  4. About an hour before the cider is done cooking, mash the apple and orange slices once they are soft.  (I used my mix n’ chop from Pampered Chef – it’s one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools.  If you don’t have one… you need to get one, like now.)
  5. Finish cooking for one more hour.
  6. Strain out the apple cider juice into a clean pitcher or pot.  To get the maximum juice out of the apples, you can press them through a fine-mesh strainer or strain through a cheese cloth.
  7. Stir in your desired amount of sweetener until it is dissolved.

This is where the fun starts!

  • I took some of the cider and froze it in a few ice trays. The rest I stored in the fridge.
  • After carefully picking out all of the cloves, seeds, cinnamon sticks, stems, etc. [again, I’ll do it differently next time] I pureed the apples, with a little bit of the cider to smooth it out. And, voila! Applesauce!
  • The next day it was slushy time! I tossed a handful of frozen cider cubes into my vitamix, added a few teaspoons of applesauce, a splash of cider & a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Blend it up, taste and add more sweetener if needed. If not, ENJOY! Seriously, it’s delicious!

Little man approved… IMG_4888

 

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i am she

I love the devos from She Reads Truth… recently, I read this:

There is grace because our God is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He doesn’t merely forgo the punishment due our sin—that would not be true justice.
He takes our punishment on Himself. He doesn’t simply pity our situation—that would not be true mercy. He receives us as we are and heals us with His love.

My pastor, Troy Maxwell, was recently talking about that ‘one thing’ that distracts us from Gods purpose. That one thing that trips us up over and over again AND how letting go of that one thing, surrendering it to Him, brings freedom to operate in the true purpose He has for our lives. For most people, surrendering that one thing is a daily choice, myself included. I’m working on it…


Growing up it always hurt me worse when something I did wrong, disappointed or hurt someone else. I would rather deal with my own problems, my own mistakes, than share it with someone else and allow it to hurt them. I would rather the issues stay secret and I be the only one to suffer. I think what’s blowing my mind right now is that justice – for Christ – is not just forgiving my sin, but taking the punishment for it on himself. Something that I know, have heard and read all my life… But today it’s taking on new meaning.

We were watching National Treasure the other night and something stuck with me… The head investigator said to Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage), “Someone has to go to prison.” It didn’t matter that Ben had just discovered priceless treasures and then decided selflessly to share them with the world, someone still had to pay the price for the crimes that had been committed in the process.

In life it’s the same way. Becoming a Christian and accepting Christ’s salvation doesn’t just free you from your past and your sin without recompense.

Someone still has to pay.

The love of Christ, his grace, his mercy… Is that HE pays that price. He bled when I should have been the one to bleed…his heart stopped when it should have been mine.

I am unbelievably grateful and unbelievably unworthy… But my choice today is to walk in that grace because denying it would be denying the power of the One who gave it. So today I live free. Today I choose Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

To the adulterous woman… Christ said, “go and sin no more…”

Today I am she.

sunshine

At the beginning of this year I felt God challenging me to get back to some of my 1st loves – things that make me light up inside. All year I’ve been doing that a little at a time | adding in more ‘creative’ things (outside my job description) | singing, dancing/working out | spending intentional time outdoors | communicating. That last one seems a little strange because, I know, we communicate every day… but I mean, purposeful, out of the box communicating. Like, a blog for instance…

I’m still working out all of the kinks of what this blog will look, feel and sound like.
A few things I promise:

  • I promise to be raw, exposed & vulnerable | things I’m learning to embrace rather than fear.
  • I promise to be inconsistent | there will be posts full of emotion, insights/thoughts, some about food (which I LOVE), some will be daily or weekly or monthly.
  • I promise to write and be real about it.
  • I promise to try to be encouraging – there won’t always be a “lesson” but I’m working on finding the sunshine in everything again.

That used to be a nickname of mine, “Sunshine,” I loved it because that is how I lived! As I’ve grown a little older, a little more darkness has seeped in.  While darkness is needed to expose the light & vice versa, you can choose which is your focus. I choose light.

I choose sunshine.