Fall provides a variety of memorable activity options for young children. Here are three simple ideas you may remember from when you were a child:
1. Pine cone bird feeder
Head to the woods (or to your local craft store) to collect some pine cones. Lather them up with smooth peanut butter. Then roll the pine cones in bird seed and hang your new bird feeder by a string on a tree or deck. Your kids will be thrilled to see the “breakfast crowd” of birds that show up each morning.
2. Fall leaf artwork
Devote a window in your home as a leaf-art gallery. Collect fall leaves with your kids and then arrange them between two pieces of wax paper. Place an old cloth or rag on top of the wax paper. Using a warm steam iron, seal the leaves inside the wax paper. Then display the leaf creations on the window for all to see.
3. Bobbing for apples
Purchase an old-timey metal basin from your favorite hardware store. Fill with water and dump in a bunch of apples. Have a contest to see which child can capture an apple with their teeth (no hands!) in the shortest amount of time. Be sure to keep a towel handy!
After you have some fun, treat your kids to a bowl of caramel corn (see previous post)!
This must-try recipe for caramel popcorn is from my sister, Helen.
8 cups popped popcorn 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Put popcorn into baking pan. Remove any unpopped kernels. Measure brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt into 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Put pan on burner. Turn burner to medium heat. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon till butter melts and everything is mixed. Continue cooking till mixture starts to boil. When mixture boils, stop stirring. Cook for 5 minutes. Move pan off burner and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Pour mixture over popcorn using a rubber scraper to scrape pan. With spatula, gently stir the popcorn and hot mixture so all the popcorn is coated. Put pan into oven of 300 degrees and bake 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and stir mixture with spatula. Put back into oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer. Pour it out onto a clean counter top and separate it before it cools then put it in a Tupperware container with a good seal and it will last a long time. Makes about 8 cups.
This wonderful hymn about the onset of autumn parallels the future return of our Lord. Enjoy…
Come ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied:
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field
Fruit unto his praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of the harvest! grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
God shall come,
And shall take his harvest home;
From his field shall in that day
All offenses purge away,
Give his angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In his garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come,
Bring thy final harvest home;
Gather thou thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
Come, with all thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.
“Free from sorrow, free from sin!” My favorite line in the hymn. What a glorious future we have been promised. This autumn, may you be freshly amazed at the inheritance we have through the blood of Jesus Christ.
As many of you already know, the annual Mahaney women’s shopping trip is a fixture on the calendar. For the past seventeen years we’ve stolen a weekend in October to do our Christmas shopping together. We travel to a nearby city with a large shopping district, stay in a hotel, and shop, then drop, then shop some more.
It’s great to enter the Christmas season unhurried and free from the pressure to purchase all the gifts and decorate the house and make all the food. Not to mention the extra time it leaves to find just the right gift at just the right price. And while it might take family members and friends a little while to get used to thinking up a Christmas list in October, they’ll catch on.
Consider making this your mother-daughter tradition, or grab a couple of friends and split the cost of a room. For a sneak peek into our annual trip from the introduction to Girl Talk, click here.
Here’s a simple but yummy applesauce recipe from my good friend Clara—
The best apples to use are summer transparents, like Lodi - but they are only available for a brief time mid-summer. I usually use Granny Smith for their tart flavor; McIntosh are another choice.
Cut apples in half, core, and pare. Rinse apples, cut into quarters, and put in large saucepan. Add about an inch of water and bring to boil (make sure they don’t boil dry). Turn heat down far enough to maintain low boil and cook apples until they are soft (test with fork).
Pour the hot apples, with the juice, into a food processor. Puree the apples until they have a smooth sauce texture. Add sugar and sweeten to taste (the more tart the apple, the more sugar—that’s what makes it so good!) We always sprinkle cinnamon on top, but some people like to stir it in. You can enjoy the applesauce hot or cold.
I always used to drag my feet into fall; and I failed to understand those who ran to meet the crisp air and the shedding trees. Fall meant one thing to me: cold. It meant that a chill would enter my bones and I wouldn’t thaw out till mid-July.
But then I married one of those autumn-lovers. A guy who loves to climb mountains, rappel down them head-first, and drive his Jeep with the top off in only his shorts and a long-sleeve shirt—in thirty degree weather! (Can you imagine?)
Being married changes people. Steve drinks his coffee black, but he’s also learned to appreciate a fine Earl Grey. And I, I love autumn. Yes, I still get cold. But Steve has taught me to marvel at this extravagant display of God’s glory—the brilliant colors, the migrating birds, the smell of wood-fires, and yes, even the nippy weather. All the sounds and sights and smells of fall, were intended for our enjoyment, but also as an arrow, a marker, a reminder: pointing us to God.
As John Piper writes in his book When I Don’t Desire God: “Joy in God can be awakened by the physical display of God’s glory, and that very joy enters and transforms the physical experience of it” (p. 185).
Scripture reveals to us a secret…something we otherwise would never know: the wonders of nature are incessantly speaking to us, urging us to find our joy in God:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4).
This portion of a poem by Anne Bradstreet entitled Contemplations is one woman’s experience of this truth. It may need a second reading to be fully absorbed, but it’s worth the effort. (Note: Phoebus refers to Apollo, or the sun.)
Sometime now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o’re by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seem’d painted but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
How excellent is he that dwells on high? We cannot comprehend. And yet, we can see a glimmer of His glories here on earth—in autumn.
Attention wives. If you’re like me, you want to bless your husband, but at times you have trouble coming up with ideas. Here’s one that’s sure to be a hit—surprise your husband with a fall picnic. (And do it soon, before the weather gets too cold!)
If possible, check with your husband’s boss to see if he can leave a little early. Or, be ready to go (babysitter already prepped) when he walks in the door. Then whisk him away to a nearby park. Bring a blanket, some candles (in fire-safe containers), and a yummy dinner for two. For dessert, consider the “Caramel Apple Crisp To-Go” from the previous post.
But also make this the beginning of a new tradition. Purchase a book you would both enjoy reading together. Present it to your husband with the suggestion that you read it aloud to each other and try to finish the book by Christmas. Not only will this keep your picnic memory alive, but it may become a new tradition you enjoy for years to come.
This recipe would be a perfect addition to a fall picnic…
Caramel Apple Crisp To Go
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light-colored corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
4 to 6 apples, cored and sliced
1 cup crushed cookies, such as biscotti, pecan shortbread, peanut butter, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, or chocolate chip.
1. For caramel sauce, in a heavy medium saucepan combine whipping cream, butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat (about 5 to 6 minutes), whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Boil gently for 3 minutes more. Stir in vanilla. Transfer sauce to a storage jar with a lid. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
2. To serve, place apple slices in individual bowls. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Top with crushed cookies. Makes 8 servings.
For every birthday when we were little, Dad and Mom would put up a banner over the garage. It would read “Happy Birthday Janelle” or “Hurrah It’s Kristin’s Birthday.” So every car that drove by and every neighbor that came outside knew there was a birthday celebration at the Mahaney home. It was one of the many ways our parents sought to honor and bless us on our special day.
Today we want to post our own banner.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST HUSBAND AND FATHER IN THE WORLD!
We love you, C.J./Dad.
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, Janelle, and Chad
The autumn season is a great excuse to have a party. Whether married or single, consider a progressive dinner as a unique way to experience the personalized hospitality of friends. Select a limited number of participants, and assign each person a course of an autumn menu (Appetizer, Main, Dessert, etc.). Each host/hostess will be responsible for preparing, decorating, and hosting that portion of the evening’s festivities. Oh, and make sure to map out the shortest route—gas prices being what they are these days!
As a way to encourage laughter and fellowship, have an assigned question for each stop. Here are a few kitchen-tested questions that have received some surprising answers:
Describe your high school experience. Public or private school? Popular or nerd? Embarrassing moments?
Share any “hide under a rock” moments. Family vacation disasters? Bad trip to the hair salon? “Clean up on aisle 3?”
How did you meet your husband? How long was your engagement? Funny or embarrassing courtship tidbits?
Honeymoon details. Where did you go? How long did you stay? Funny moments?
Any parenting adventures? Moments when tempted not to identify yourself as child’s parent? Days when going back to sleep seemed like the best course of action?