Fall Foliage Report {31 days}

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A friend showed me this amazing piece of information this week. The Pennsylvania State Park website has a Fall Foliage Report with a week by week map of the best places to see fall colors. I love it. I know some places farther north have already hit their peak, but if you want to see some pretty leaves this weekend, check out your local state website!

Inside Chores {31 days}

Somedays you have to spend a lot of time inside to make the outside adventures happen. This is one of those days.

I lost my passport– the one I had just renewed under my my married name– and turned the house upside down looking for it. I found it last night in my desk drawer.

I wandered around Walmart today for an hour. Walmart makes me feel like a Zombie.

I am currently on my third load of laundry.

Basically, the only significant time I’ve spent outdoors today was letting the dog out and hauling groceries to and from my car.

All the prepping and planning and “behind the scenes” stuff is not glamorous and is usually exhausting. But it is totally worth it when I have an outdoor movie night and a week-long vacation to look forward to!

But first… a dance/costume party at the youth center. Oh boy.

Happy Friday to you and yours!

Debriefing the Challenge Course: Fear {31 days}

I spent this past Saturday with a middle school youth group outside on the challenge course. We ran the static course, which is the highest part of our ropes course and requires the students to transfer themselves along the course. This means that there are a few points where, if the students don’t follow very specific instructions, they could be in trouble.

And they are 40 feet off the ground. Which always leads us to a conversation about fear.

ropes course 1

We were created with a sense of fear, and that can be a really, really good thing. Afraid of fire? Good, it can burn you. Afraid of swimming out too far in the ocean? Good, you can drown. Afraid of climbing up on little pole 40 feet in the air? Good, you could fall and die. A healthy sense of fear is really important to keeping us safe and alive.

But fear can become a negative influence when it keeps us from taking risks that can help us learn and grow. The ropes course challenges this sense of fear because yes, 40 feet in the air is high and dangerous. But, when done correctly, climbing the ropes course (while clipped into a harness and a belayer) is done in a way that maximizes safety. It is the perfect place to test the ways in which your fears can limit you– and ways in which you can overcome them.

This particular Saturday, I volunteered to traverse the course when we set it up (it’s a state requirement that a staff person do this before any participants do). I was solely responsible for my safety: I harnessed myself, clipped myself in, and navigated my way around the course. I had to trust my head knowledge and my physical ability to do things correctly to ensure that I was safe. I was terrified, but I did it successfully. What if I applied this same self-assurance and bravery to my days off the ropes course? Would I be able to overcome some of my fears that are holding me back in my day-to-day life?

As we were cleaning up late that afternoon, I lost a rope through a pulley and had to climb back up to the top of the course and rethread the rope. And I had to learn this lesson about fear all over again. And each time I relearn it, I hope I get a little bit better at it.

Sharing Out in the Open Air {31 days}

So, how cool is this? I “met” Jennifer on Instagram through a mutual friend. She has a great blog called Our Life’s Happenings and she has jumped on the 31 Days in the Open Air bandwagon and is blogging about it! Isn’t that awesome? I’m super jealous of her pictures of Colorado– and they’ve already had snow! Go check her blog out right now.

We are prepping for an outdoor movie night this weekend, and Shawn and I have a slight difference of opinion about what food to serve. What do you think– whats the best thing to serve as an outdoor treat?

I completely failed at making apple crisp from the apples from our apple picking adventure last week. This seems outdoor-related somehow. Do you have a favorite crisp recipe I should try?

This is my favorite poem right now. I’ve officially discovered Mary Oliver.

That “This Is Who I Am” Feeling {31 days}

fall leaves

I read a blog post recently about getting lost in foreign cities. The writer described the experience of exploring unknown streets as helping her recognize who she was; that she was alive and part of something bigger. When I read this I said “yes, exactly”. I know that feeling. I’ve wandered around my fair share of foreign cities, but I’ve had my most “This Is Who I Am” moments in the great outdoors.

Sometimes it’s all about perspective. This world is so vast and grand and extraordinary and I am so itty-bitty. Sometimes it’s the rush of endorphins I get when I am starting a new adventure. Where will this trail lead me to today? Sometimes it’s another person literally speaking into my life as we walk alongside each other on the trail. And sometimes it is a presiding sense of peace that seems elusive in everyday life, but seems to waiting around each bend in the river and atop every lookout point.

It’s this feeling that drives me outside everyday, that pushes me to seek new adventures on the weekends. Not just to be healthy, or to have something to blog about, or to exercise my dog (although those are all large supporting factors). I get out in the open air to know “This Is Who I Am.”

A Trip to the Apple Orchard {31 days}

apple picking 4

Nothing says fall more than a trip to the apple orchard. We piled the girls from the youth center into our cars last week and headed to one of our local orchards. (One of my favorite parts of living in Pennsylvania– these orchards are plentiful!) It was a dreary weekday afternoon, so we had the place to ourselves. Which was a good thing, since our girls ran around like five year olds, screamed at bugs, and tried–unsuccessfully– to climb the apple trees.

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We chomped on apples as we went row to row, trying to find just the right apples to stuff into our 1/2 bushel plastic bags. Once we could no longer carry our bags, we loaded them into the car and stopped at the market for my very favorite part of apple picking: eating apple cider donuts. (Not pictured, because we ate them too quickly.)

apple picking

I brought two dozen apples home, because I promised the girls that I would make apple crisp. And caramel apples. And cinnamon sugar apples. And applesauce. Basically, we have all of our youth center activities planned for the next few weeks.

apple picking 3

Pumpkins Revisited {31 days}


Remember how we carved pumpkins yesterday? Well when I went into work today, I saw them all sitting on the table where we had left them… And realized that we need to come up with something to do with these pumpkins before they rot. (Last year, we left them on the windowsill so long they liquified. It was gross).

So I turned to trusty old pintrest to find some good ideas. Which led me to find some good things to do with pumpkins in general. Check ’em out!

What To Do With Leftover Pumpkins (I really want to try the hummus…)

What do with the seeds:

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (with paprika)

I really do love carving pumpkins, but in case you don’t want to get quite so messy:

Picture Decoupage Pumpkins

Gold Dipped Pumpkins

Do you have any other ideas? What do you do with your leftover pumpkins?