Fall Fun - Apple Pie Caramel Apples!

I absolutely love caramel apples, and today I'm sharing a treat I've been wanting to make, but finally got the chance to with my student yesterday.  I like to call these creations, "Apple Pie Caramel Apples," because if you make them right, they taste like Apple pie!  Today was not about perfection in appearance, but more about the process and having fun, as we did it together during homeschool. :)  Here's the list of ingredients and what you do:

5 Apples (granny smith for a real apple pie experience; I used my favorites - gala and fuji.)

Popsicle or lollipop sticks

1 bag of caramel apples

1 bag of white chocolate chips

cinnamon/sugar mixture

*Wash the apples and place the sticks in them.

*Unwrap the caramels and melt them in a pot with 2 Tbsp. of water on med. low heat, stirring constantly.

*Dip the apples in caramel, lifting the pot and rolling the apple around to coat.  Set on a wax-paper covered plate or tray, and place in fridge to harden.

*Melt bag of white chocolate on 50% power in the microwave, over low heat on the stove, or over a double boiler, stirring constantly.

*Dip OR Drizzle the apples with the white chocolate.  (I think the apple pie effect occurs more if you coat the apple in white chocolate, then roll it in the sugar mixture.)

*Sprinkle the apples OR roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

*Leave on counter or put in fridge to harden.  Enjoy!

I first experienced this amazing treat several years ago on Laguna Beach - love it!  Happy Fall!


Birthday Love for My Little Bro

Today is my brother Stephen's 27th birthday, and I love him dearly, so I'm writing this post for him.  He is three years younger than me, and our family would certainly not be the same without him.  My earliest memory of Stephen, (thanks in part to some great 8 mm movies), is the day he came home from the hospital and I, as a 3 year old that just loved her baby dolls, was eager to hold him.  So we were sitting at the kitchen table, and my parents gave him to me.  My older brother, Darin, got to hold the video camera "microphone," another sign of the times.  Well, it took only a few moments before Darin wanted to hold Stephen so my mom said, "Page, give him to Darin."  And I said, "Okay," then promptly "dropped" him on the table for my brother right next to me!  It wasn't as bad as it sounds, but you've never seen a mother move so fast!  We love to reminisce about that memory and laugh at that video.  Stephen likes to blame any of his not-so-favorite moments of his life on that particular incident!

My little brother was also the most adorable little boy you have ever seen, with his super sweet face and shiny blond curls.  I remember how sad my mom was when he finally got the big boy haircut to cut them off.  Stephen always had more energy than anyway, and loved to be a part of everything.  He was so sweet to play school with me and be the "principal," or play house with me and be the "dog."  We also loved to play "barber shop," where I would wrap a towel around his neck, set him up with some magazines, then soak his hair with my spray bottle filled with water, and comb it to death.  Luckily real scissors were never involved. :)  I was the only girl, which meant I was never shy about the annoyances on the other side of my wall that kept me awake at night!  My brothers always chose the weirdest times to drive me crazy!

Stephen, Darin, and I also loved playing in our basement, making a tent out of the ping pong table, or putting blankets all over the floor and playing flag football.  I remember clearly the night when I beat them both.  Stephen also was the best nurturer of whatever pet we had at the time.  He loved kittens then, and his children do today.  Stephen was also the master of getting every possible thing ready for school the night before, then sleeping until the last possible second, (when the bus was almost pulling up to the driveway,) and running out the door.  He also was a lego fanatic as a kid, and still to this day can take a part and put together almost anything you put in front of him that has a lot of parts.  If you don't know how to work the t.v. or the computer...you just ask Stephen.  He is so much fun as a person, and definitely has taught my older brother and I a thing or two about not overanalyzing too much or being too serious in life.  The three of us fought like any other siblings, but shared a sweet love for one another.  We have so many amazing memories of fun times we have shared, including a great deal of laughter between us.  I believe the three of us share a bond that is rare to many families, much in thanks to our parents who cultivated those relationships and made time for the memories we made.

Stephen was also quite the cook.  He became a master of his special "pasta with cheese plate," and the classic cereal in tupperware dinner.  My brother loves his candy and sugar too!!  He was also known as an excellent cross-country and track runner, as well as an amazing pole vaulter, which scared me to death.  He was definitely the brother that always scared me with the risks he was willing to take!  Of course I, as the over-protective, some might say at times, "nagging" older sister, always tried to look out for him and protect him from the world.  When we were both in high school for one year when I was a senior, we shared some real heartaches and joys, and started building a real friendship.  We were able to run cross-country together and cheer for one another.  I remember being proud that he was my brother, and being so glad we could make that memory together.  He stood up for me when I needed it most, and I for him.  I always loved looking out for my little brother, and still to this day will stand up for him in a heartbeat.  Then we had the college years and after.  It's amazing how much deeper and more real relationships get when you can't take them for granted anymore.  My brothers and I definitely grew much closer in those years as we became true friends as adults.

I am so proud of Stephen for the kind and nurturing heart that he has, and I admire the work ethic that demonstrates his desire to lead and care for his family.  He has two beautiful children who adore him, and his love for them is obvious.  I remember how crazy it was when my little brother had a baby before me, and I marveled at his natural ability to be a father and want the best for his children.  I still love to see him love them, and I am so proud of the way he cares for his wife and children.  He has a deep desire to raise them with the depth of love and values we were raised with as children.  Stephen always had the sweetest, most honest love for Jesus as a child, and was never afraid to ask tough questions.  He has high expectations for people to practice what they preach, and be true to who they are, no matter what resistance might be faced.

Stephen is one of the most driven people I know, and he has a great business sense about him.  In recent years he has really refined his skills as a leader, and he manages a team of people who look up to him and respect him.  He has a kind heart, a loving spirit, and his focus has always been on family.  Although our time together is much more infrequent now, I treasure the opportunities I have to spend time with my little brother.  Whether he knows it or not, he was always such an encourager to me when his sensitive spirit sensed I needed it.  If I need an honest answer, Stephen will usually do his best to give it to me lovingly.  I haven't always understood him or loved him well, but I have always been more grateful than words can express for the two brothers I have, who have both made me feel like the luckiest sister ever.  I wouldn't trade my family for the world...and I praise God today for the gift of my amazing younger brother. 

Stephen, you are a special man and we celebrate you today.  We are so blessed to get to love you in this lifetime, and I am so thankful for the many memories we share.  God has is doing a great work in you, and you bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.  You are a great brother.  Happy Birthday!  Enjoy being 27...it was a special year for me, and I pray it is an amazing year for you.  Love ya little brother!

What I'm Loving Wednesday

(Link up with Jamie here!)

Today I'm loving...

This adorable bag by Sew Super Sweet

These Pumpkin Pie cupcakes from The Domestic Sugar Bake Shop

as my inspiration for a new baby gift because I'm loving...

Baby Trace, my newest nephew, who was born today, 9/29/10!!!
Congrats to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Troy and Barbie!

Made even extra special because last but not least today I'm loving...

My little brother, whose 27th birthday is today!!!
I love you, I'm proud of you, and I hope you have a fabulous day. :)
Happy Birthday Stephen!
(More specific birthday blessings for my little bro coming soon!)


Miscellany Monday (Hello Fall!)

Happy Monday to you.  Is it just me, or does it feel like a little "crisp" Fall finally arrived this weekend?!  It was beautiful here!  Now I'm just hoping that it hasn't been too hot in recent days for the leaves to change soon!

 Here's to another edition of Miscellany Monday and Meet Me Monday!
1.  It was quite a fun and eventful weekend around here!  For starters, Kevin and I stayed home Friday night, enjoying a movie, and being quite crafty.  (Well, I did that last part!)  I'll give you a glimpse of my latest creations tomorrow!  I also enjoyed a Saturday morning breakfast with friends that I haven't spent time with in forever.  We had so much fun chatting, laughing and meeting our friend Erin's new baby, Lily!  So sweet!  Erin is so funny, and refreshingly honest about the abrasive yet beautiful reality of having your first little one!  Of course I again forgot to take photos, to prove once and for all that I really do have real-life friends. :)  (More to come later about other fun events of our weekend!)

2.  Speaking of breakfast,  I have eaten at First Watch in Cincinnati with different friends two weekends in a row.  I LOVE that place!!  I certainly miss being in the same city as one.  (Or 3!)  I ordered the same thing both times: the Chickichanga with egg whites...YUM!!  Places that specialize in breakfast are the best.  Here in Louisville, the best is "Wild Eggs," and on our honeymoon - due to the record low temps - we enjoyed "Another Broken Egg" multiple times!!

3.  I broke a major rule in my book this weekend:  DO NOT GO TO THE MALL ON SATURDAY.  I know better.  I worked in retail for two and a half years and know exactly what happens on Saturdays - mayhem!  Also, I'm not a good shopper...fashion and I are not close friends.  For a girl who had curves even when they weren't in style, I've always struggled a bit in this area.  I always tell people I don't have outfits...I just wear clothes.   And it doesn't help that I hate to spend money, though I have some pretty amazing bargain shopper friends!  That said, the mall makes me feel quite under dressed, while completely overwhelmed.  Way too many decisions.  Nonetheless, I found myself there on Saturday, and a DJ was set up as part of one of the center "booths"!  Craziness.  I was exhausted...yet successful.  I bought a belt and jewelry (a great find at Claire's!!) for a Western themed party we went to Saturday night.  Turned out to be very worth it.  Perhaps I should look into buying a book I saw in Barnes and Noble several years ago called, The Lucky Shopping Manual.  That might just be life changing for a girl like me!

4.  To reward myself for persevering through my exhausting and dehydrating shopping experience, I enjoyed a strawberry smoothie, or " world famous shake," from Yagoot...which was amazing!!!  I love that place.  I chose to mix in blueberries, strawberries, and mangoes.  Their frozen yogurt is creamy and a bit tart, as well as low fat, and everything is so fresh.  I loved it.

5.  I have a nephew who should be making his debut into the world any time!!  He was due on Friday, yet is taking it quite easy in his mommy's belly.  We just keep waiting on that phone call!  I did make a purchase for him this weekend, as a welcome gift for whenever he does choose to arrive.  I picked up the Golden Book, "The Happy Man and his Dump Truck," which I'm pretty sure was hands-down my mom's favorite book to read to us and with us when we were growing up.  It's such a sweet story, and I hope new baby Trace Allen loves it one of these days!

6.  While I was visiting another friend this weekend, her almost 3 yr. old daughter received the coolest little book in the mail.  It was "National Geographic for Little Kids."  It's a cute little type of booklet that includes different letters of the alphabet each month, which coincide with different animals.  My friend Lori's super cute daughter Lucy loved it.  You can subscribe to 6 issues for $15, which I thought would be a sweet gift for a little one!  Besides, who doesn't like getting something in the mail!?  The National Geographic 'Little Kid' home page  itself is a great site for children ages 3-6!

7.  For accountability sake, let me just say that Kevin and I have set a goal to work out 3 times this week.  I'll let you know how that goes...

Thanks for visiting, and happy Monday!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters


Fabulous Friday Finds - My Mom's Taco Salad

Today I'm linking up with Frou Frou Decor's "Fabulous Friday Finds,"  as well as Trendy Treehouse's "New Friend Fridays," (Updated: also linking to Joy's Hope), and I'm sharing one of my most favorite recipes that I think is pretty fabulous - my mom's taco salad.  She always made it when we had company over, and friends would ask if they could be company just so she would make it!  This past week I made it for some of the lovely gals who are part of my bible study/small group, to celebrate the end of our "Captivating" study.  Everyone brought an element of the salad and it was delicious.  My lovely friend Jan allowed us to meet in her home, and was the "hostess with the mostess" as she set a beautiful table for us.  We had such a nice evening, and ended it by deciding on our next study, which I'll share at the end of the post!  But first...

The Taco Salad

(Note:  you make make this with ground beef, chicken, or black beans, or a mixture - depending on your preference!  This time I used only black beans to make it vegetarian friendly, then brought the chicken for whoever wanted to add it in!)


*2 lbs of ground beef, browned
3-4 chicken breasts, baked or boiled and shredded
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
(Use more or less of these proteins - however you like it!)
*1 onion, chopped and sauteed until translucent and fragrant
*4 cans Hunts' stewed tomatoes
*2 cans whole kernel corn
*3-4 packets of taco seasoning, depending on your preference.  I like McCormick's or Ortega

*Combine all of the above in a large pot and bring it to a boil/simmer.  Then let it simmer on low for anywhere from 30 min. to a couple hours.

Set up a sort of a taco salad bar with:
*Iceberg lettuce
*Cheese - Mexican blend or sharp cheddar
*Sour Cream
*Tortilla chips

My family likes to assemble it with the lettuce on the bottom, then a scoop of the mix, a sprinkle of cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.  Then we crush the chips on top.  I also like to add my favorite salsa sometimes!  This is guaranteed to be a hit, and you should have plenty left over!  Thanks Mom for this awesome recipe!  I am carrying on the tradition. :)

Now for the Bible Study we chose for our next session.  We just finished the book, Captivating, which was incredibly impactful for every girl in the group.  It definitely met a lot of us right where we were at.  I have mentioned it several times, including here and here.  If you have not read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.  Such powerful truths about realizing our irreplaceable role as beautiful women of great worth.

This time however, we chose to do more of an actual "Bible" study, which is the best kind of study to be doing most of the time anyway!  I loved Priscilla Shirer's "Discerning the Voice of God," so we previewed and chose, "He Speaks to Me," which we are really excited about!  She is an excellent Bible teacher, and her studies are always extremely applicable and straightforward for living a life of passionately walking with the Lord.  You can preview it by going here.  I'm exciting to share about what I'm learning through this study in the weeks ahead.

Check out the other "Fabulous Friday Finds" at Frou Frou Decor, and "New Friend Friday" at Trendy Treehouse!

Have a fabulous weekend!


Pressed Leaf Art

Today I'm linking up with "The Blessed Life's" first Fall linky party!  As I have been thinking about what fun Fall decor I could create this year, I have been focusing a lot on what to do with the colorful leaves that make this season what it is!  So after researching, I've found some unique ways to capture the beauty of this time of year is by creating "pressed leaf art."  (Thank you Martha!) How simple and clever!


Martha Stewart - Leaf Alphabet

Martha Stewart - Leaf Wreath

Making Friends - Leaf Votive

Making Friends - Decoupaged Leaf Gift Box


Make and Takes - Mod Podged Framed Leaves

Martha Stewart (if real leaves aren't your thing) - Paper Leaf Wreath

Welcome Fall...we're so glad you're here!


What I'm Loving Wednesday: Baby Elephants

Today I'm linking up with Jamie's "What I'm Loving Wednesday," but I'm giving this week's post a "baby elephant" theme.  While I was reading my friend Jessie's blog a few days ago, the song "Baby Mine" from the movie Dumbo was playing as part of her playlist.  I don't know about you, but I just can't get through that song without crying.  Oh, how I remember that movie well from my childhood, and now as an adult who would one day love to have a baby, it was sentimental and sweet in a different way. 

Also, my favorite lullaby is one my mom used to sing that began with, "Close your eyes baby elephant, good night sweet, pleasant dreams..."  So this has all spurred on quite the elephant love this week, and there are some super sweet elephant goodies on Etsy, so that's what I'm sharing today!

 Have you heard of "Ellie Poo Paper?"  It is recycled paper goods such as greeting cards, note pads, and journals made from elephant dung!!  I have seen it in several different organic type shops, and it is quite cute and fascinating.  A bonus:  it's scent free! :)

Other 'baby elephant loves...

"Come Fly With Us" by Trafalgar's Square:

Wall Vinyl by Designed Designer:

 Elephant Rattle Lovey by Bare Sockcrafts:

Personalized Stationary Notecards by Emily Ann Designs:

Brown and White Elephant Booties by Bugs and Daisies:

Elephant and Umbrella by Emrick 123

Elephant Parade Nursery Mobile by Lollipop Moon:

Art Print by Jolinne:
Newborn Baby Elephant hat by Love by CC

Canvas Print by Animal Crackers:

This is a super sweet version of the song "Baby Mine," sung by Bette Midler.  So sweet.