Leaf Pile Madness

It's October, so you know that that means.
We had a break in the seemingly endless stretch of rainy days, so I steeled myself and busted out the rake and lawnmower yesterday.
Let me just tell you: it is RIDICULOUSLY easier to mow a yard once you are aware that your mower has a self-propel feature. 
Just saying.
Anyway, once the leaves had been gathered and the yard mowed, it was time for one of our very favorite activities. In fact, when we bought our house, both my girls almost immediately inquired about fall leaf piles!
 When Daddy got home, it was time to party.
These two were fearless!
 They raced and jumped and squealed with delight.
 They also got a big kick out of hiding in the leaves...
Nice mommy that I am, I raked a dog-bomb free pile from our side yard.  
 Sweet Thing took breaks here and there to munch on some late-season cherry tomatoes from our garden. She is hilarious with those tomatoes!
 And, before I go, I thought I'd share this fun site I found that gives you the dates for peak foliage color in your area. Click here to visit the site.
Happy Fall to you all!

Cranberry Pecan Granola

Granola is definitely one of my favorite foods! It fills me up and satisfies my craving for something sweet and crunchy. I tinkered around with Alton Brown's basic granola recipe until it met all of my criteria for the perfect granola. Crunchy, sweet and a little bit salty with the toothsome nuttiness of whole and chopped pecans, I almost always keep a batch of this on hand for a quick breakfast or a delicious snack.
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups whole pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup Craisins


Preheat your oven to 250 degrees
Add the oats, coconut and brown sugar to a large bowl.
 Put your pecans in a bag and give them a few good whacks with a rolling pin. 
Great for stress relief and gives you a perfect combination of whole nuts and nut pieces.
 Add the nuts to the bowl and combine with a fork.
 In a measuring cup, add the syrup, oil and salt. Stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and stir.
 In a 9x13 pan coated with nonstick spray, spread the oat mixture evenly.
Bake for roughly an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.
While still warm, add the granola back to your large bowl.
Stir in the chocolate chips and Craisins.
 This granola will keep for up to a month in an airtight container if you don't wolf it all down sooner
It makes a fantastic gift when added to a mason jar or decorative container.
I love to eat this granola mixed with Greek yogurt and frozen raspberries.
Feels like an indulgence, but it's just so simple to make!
Definitely make this recipe your own by changing up the type of nuts you use or adding different mix-ins like raisins or chopped, dried apricots. The possibilities are endless!


A Visit to my Fall Garden

It's a dreary, windy, temperature-dropping-twenty-degrees-rapidly kind of day here, so during my few minutes of quiet, I snapped some pictures of our fall foliage. Slowly but surely my black thumb is greening up a bit...Hopefully I didn't jinx myself by putting that in print!
 I'm a novice, novice, novice behind the lens- I will admit that up front! I do love snapping pictures of EVERYTHING though! In fact, when I was a special education teacher and kept a classroom blog, my poor students would often yell "cheese" anytime I called their names (my kids do this too, for the record!).

Here are some shots I captured while wandering the yard during a break in the rain:

The last of my summer containers...

 A very wet view of my pretty hanging basket...
 Some late bloomers...
 One of my favorite fall purchases...
 The "sunshine" on my doorstep...
 The leaves are falling down in great big piles...
 A shot of the birdbath, sweet neighbor, J., gifted us...
 Freezing cold, wet toes. I got so excited I forgot to put on shoes!
 A close-up of my birdbath blooms...
 A beautiful little garden stake left for me by our home's wonderful former owners...
 My very favorite thing in the garden right now. Absolutely obsessed with ornamental kale...
 The color gets brighter as the temperatures drop...
 Just beautiful, vibrant pink...
 And finally, our back gate covered in foliage...
Thanks for visiting my fall yard!
We're off to Sweet Thing's soccer game tomorrow and are planning some fall adventures this weekend...
So many fun things to do this time of year!
Happy Weekend!