Apple Things

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I don’t know about other parts of the country, but fall is filled with fall foliage, back to school, sweater weather, and of course, applepicking.

A few scenes from the apple orchard. (c)2017


Clockwise: Sampling different varieties of apples, from under my umbrella (it was raining off and on the whole time, but our time in Ireland made it tolerable), flowers in the bench planter, bright flowers on a dreary day, Bear with apple statue that greeted us when we arrived at the orchard’s store, hanging planter. (c)2017


L-R: 1. Apple Blossom, 2. Apple Crisp Cookie, 3. Cider Donut, R: 1. Snapdragon apple*, 2. Apple Cider.(c)2017

*I first discovered snapdragons when one of my writing group members brought one to try. It was perfect. Bright red, creamy white inside, crisp. It snapped when you bit into it. I’m not sure if that’s where its name came from, but it fit.

I always try to get a few snapdragons. They are good for pies or just to grab one for a snack.

By the time we went picking this year, combined with the summer weather not cooperating, there were very few of them in the field. We walked about halfway down the aisle, and I was about to give up when a young boy, about twelve on the other side of the fencing heard me, and offered that there were snapdragons further down, and pointed out where we should go.We thanked him.

And then, he turned back and offered me the apple that was in his hand.

Really? I asked.

He nodded, and I took the apple.

I thanked him profusely, and added that snapdragons were my favorite. All the rest of the day, I thought about his generosity, and I enjoyed that apple more than any other that I’ve had in the past few years.

That is the apple in the bottom picture.

It’s perfect.

32/52 – Oatmeal Cookie Surprise

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We had a few minutes before our tour began at the Titanic Experience in Belfast, Northern Ireland and made the decision to preview the gift shop. It was one of those perfect tourist attraction shops that had ranges of items from keeping the peace with the children to native Irish crafts; with prices ranging from  £1 to over £100 for woollens. We took a quick look, made our mental notes of what we definitely wanted to check out, and began our tour.
On coming back down to the shop, the first think that I noticed were the two racks of postcards. After pins, postcards are where my attention goes. Behind those racks were three long shelves that helped to form the checkout line on the opposite side. This side held all manner of small foods – cookies, candy, chocolate, Guinness infused, Bailey’s infused, mints, tins, and the like.

I passed it by about ten times in looking around, and trying to see where my kids had gone, and what they were now begging for, but I kept coming back to the cookies.

I mean, Grace’s Irish Oatmeal Biscuits, made with Irish butter, in the shape of shamrocks – you can’t get much more touristy than that. They were £3. I know I could get biscuits in any grocery, but they wouldn’t be Irish made, shamrock shaped, tourist biscuits.

And £3 wasn’t a bad price for what they were. And the tourist in me really needed to get them.

Instagram, you know.

I bought them, I packed them, I took them home with the rest of my candy.

I finally sat down on a quiet afternoon, and opened the box. Carefully pulling apart the ends, separating the plastic wrapping, I didn’t expect much.

I took a bite.

I sat there, in stunned silence, and took another, smaller bite that I could savor a bit longer than the first.

These were the BEST oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted.

No lie.

The. Best.

I still have two left because I don’t want to finish them.

They’re just the perfect amount of butter, oats, and crunch.

They are truly heavenly.

My recommendation for anyone visiting anywhere in Ireland that sells these is to buy as many as you can squeeze into your suitcase.

Seriously.

Holiday Traditions – Christmas Eve

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​Before we moved and had children, my husband and I would spend Thanksgiving with my parents and Christmas Eve and Day with his parents. My sister always alternated Thanksgiving with her in-laws and I thought our way made things much simpler and fair for everyone since my family didn’t celebrate Christmas. After we moved and decided to stay home with our kids for Christmas so they could wake up in their own house, things changed for us, but we still kept several, if not all of my husband’s family’s traditions that my husband  brought to our family.  Continue reading