Monday, November 17, 2008

Do You Know...About Honeycrisp Apples?

This is the first entry in a series of blog posts I've decided to do called "Do You Know...?" just for fun because I'm such a random trivia geek.

Honeycrisp Apples

I've found a new love.
Paul happened upon these apples at Kroger the weekend we had Atticus. He cut one up for the kids one day at lunch and popped a piece in his mouth. Obviously, he thought it was something I simply MUST try, because the next thing I knew he was stuffing one into my mouth. Usually I have to avoid the things he wants me to try (he once asked me to sniff some homemade ground pepper and I ended up burning and crying for a good 15 minutes), but this time he caught me off guard. It was a good thing because it turned out to be the best tasting apple I had ever had! And that's saying a lot really because I like apples.

Up to this point Fuji had been my very favorite variety, since it has a thinner peel and a nice sweet flavor. Fujis sort of changed my world after growing up with the sweet (albeit soft-fleshed and thick-peeled) Red Delicious in the school cafeteria and then, as I got older, the very tart Granny Smith
. I much preferred the Granny Smith simply because of its crispy texture, but it too had a thick peel, leaving me with mixed feelings and often sore gums. Thus began many years of peeling my apples. This way I could enjoy them. When Fuji came along, however, it was just such a relief to stop peeling and actually bite into an apple the way it was meant to be done. I can't tell you how "depressed" I was a summer ago when, for some reason, there was a severe Fuji shortage. No one could find them anywhere. And then when they finally became available again they were terrible--like they came from a bad crop.

Anyway, back to the Honeycrisp. This apple is nothing short of extraordinary. I'm telling you it is certain to become your favorite. It is thin-skinned, sweet and tart at the same time, juicier than all get-out, and ten times crisper than any "old" Granny Smith. You will NOT be disappointed. I even did a little research and found out way more about the world of apple production than I ever cared to know. I'll try to summarize: The very first seedlings of this variety were a result of "crosses" done in 1960. They were grown as seedling trees until 1974 (good year) when they were mature enough to bear fruit that could be harvested. At this point they selected 10-12 trees from the variety and assigned it a number (they don't give out names until they are ready to release an apple into the marketplace). From these trees, buds were taken and grafted in 1975, making four new trees. They grew in a nursery all the next year and were planted in 1977. Over the next several years various reports were made regarding its hardiness in winter, the fruit's texture, etc. Not until approximately 1987 did the Honeycrisp reach a point in maturity to show promise enough to be given a name. I'm still not clear on why it took twenty-one years from that point to actually reach my mouth. As much as my family buys apples, I feel certain I would have run across them if they had been there in the store.

From what I've read, the Honeycrisp is quickly becoming everybody's favorite. I will say, though, it's not cheap. The most recent price around here was $2.99 per pound, which comes out to be close to a dollar an apple. Yikes! It's been said that it is a difficult apple to grow and doesn't do well in all areas. Primarily grown in and around the state of Minnesota, where it originated by the way, it is understandably harder to come by, hence the pricey price. But do yourself a favor, buy at least one when next you go to the store. You will be SO glad you did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Tagged" For Christmas

2002
I've been tagged! The girl in this woman wants to know if I'm ready for the holidays--if I'm ready to "get my jingle on." Hmm...Am I ready for Christmas? Boy, that's a tricky one. Depends on what you mean by "ready."

2003
I suppose the answer is yes: I'm ready like a little kid is ready to go to Disney World toMORrow. (I speak from experience here.) I have those "I can't wait" butterflies--that mentality that creeps in oh, about the first moment there's a cool nip in the air and then becomes full-blown the second the clocks are turned back and Daddy starts arriving home from work at bedtime, it seems. Something is definitely in the air besides the ragweed! I start thinking about what special somethings the little ones might like to open this year, start considering what fun activities we might like to do, and start craving all the delicious foods we traditionally make, especially the sweets. (For those of you who know me well, that shouldn't surprise you.) I'm ready, ready, ready for hot cocoa, thick snuggly blankets, crackling fires, warm pjs, twinkly lights and decorations, holiday pictures of my children, Paul's obsession with Burl Ives, candles burning, getting together with friends, wrapping packages (okay...wrapped packages...big difference), the Carpenter version of fruitcake, picking out our tree at the tree farm. In that way I am oh, so ready!!

2004
However, if by "ready" you mean READY, then the answer is absolutely not. Let's face it, I'm still working on making a home out of this house into which we moved a year ago!! You know, hanging pictures, making bedding, etc.--basic stuff. Here are the other reasons I'm not ready:

2005
  • I have at least an 18" stack of catalogs beckoning to me to get started on my shopping. Yet I have succeeded in ignoring it for an entire month now. I am so NOT ready to dive into them. Just a bit too overwhelming right now, though it would be nice to have it done. (Yes, Mom, I can admit that I'm procrastinating AND it's illogical.)
  • I am certainly not ready to show up to the million holiday functions knowing I have a total of three, unfortunately very slouchy, outfits I can get into right now. Ugh.
  • As much as I am craving the traditional foods, as mentioned above, I am not ready to be faced with them at a time when I really should lay off. (Unless, of course, I don't mind wearing those same three slouchy outfits for the next year or so.)
  • I'm not ready for another year of Christmas memories to pass when I am a good six years behind in documenting Christmases past.
  • I am definitely not relishing the thought of dragging out all those red plastic bins from the attic and sorting through all the stuff. Just makes me tired thinking of it right now. Everything tends to make one tired when living on an average of 4 hours of sleep per night, I guess.
2006
Well, I've succeeded in answering the question without actually taking a stand. That's me. Always the indecisive one. Let's just hope I can choose between Toy A and Toy B when the moment of truth is upon me! Okay--I'm tagging the following friends: academy at thousand oaks, from jambalaya to wienerschnitzel, a day in the life of a price, and kittino's karousel. Instructions: Answer the question "Are you ready to get your jingle on?" and then tag a few of your blogging friends. Have fun!

2007

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Snips, Snails & Pretty Pigtails

Noah decided on his own to copy down all the verses he's learned so far in Awana. Good thing he's homeschooling himself!

Saylor "read" board books to both baby brothers--her way of spending quality time with them.

Gabriel knocked the hamster ball (with the hamster inside) clear across the floor because it touched his leg and freaked him out. Gabe and the hamster have a love/hate relationship.

Atticus rolled over today (on his 4-week birthday) a whole bunch of times and even showed his daddy, which proved I wasn't hallucinating.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Project: Nursery Bookshelves

I spent $25 plus a little more for paint supplies and made some unique bookshelves for the nursery (shared by Gabriel and Atticus). Made from vinyl guttering, the shelves are open so the books face out. My father-in-law cut a piece of guttering into four equal pieces. I then stripped some of the sheen off with paint thinner, sprayed on a plastic primer, and then applied three coats of chocolate brown paint. Once I put on the end caps, the gutters were ready to hang. This part was a little cumbersome, but I pre-drilled holes in both the gutters and the wall and then used a manual screwdriver to install each "shelf." They are perfect for little toddlers because they can SEE the book covers when choosing a book for story time, and clean-up is made simpler, too. I only wish I'd thought of it sooner.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Selfishness

Something I constantly struggle with is selfishness. You know, that overwhelming feeling that tells you to keep the bigger slice of cake for yourself rather than sacrificially giving it up for someone else. It comes up all the time, in many areas of my life, but lately it has taken the form of selfishness with my time. I find myself reminiscing about the years before children, before marriage, when I had my own apartment. I spent my time how I pleased: I had all kinds of time (and money, for that matter) for creative projects, for going to movies and concerts, for road trips. Mind you, at the time I wanted nothing more than to get married and begin having children! Oh, the irony!

God continually finds creative ways in which to show me my sin and help me turn from it. A couple of days ago my friend sent me an email with a link to a video about a precious baby born with Trisomy 18. Now I know there are lots and lots of stories out there about difficult births, challenging family situations, miraculous healings, amazing tales of how God's grace kept people "alive" through the most depressing and awful situations. And I am thankful for any story of the like I may hear, as God always uses them to point me back to Him, giving me an opportunity to grow and learn spiritually.

But this particular story really touched my heart in a way that I have desperately needed lately. As much as I love my children and am thankful for them, there are days that simply wear me out and make me start focusing on myself again--MY needs, MY wants, MY feelings, blah, blah, blah. This video very poignantly displayed the amazingly UNselfish love two parents had for their baby, despite the heartbreaking circumstances. Not only did this video help me to see how incredibly blessed I am to have experienced so many moments with each of my children, but it solidified my feelings about how each and every life (which begins at conception, by the way) matters to the Lord and can be used to bring Him glory, to show others (in this case, millions) what they are missing without Him.

If only to save more babies from being TAKEN from us, I could NEVER reconcile voting for ANYONE who condones abortion (and by that I mean, favors the mother's "rights" over the baby who is helpless in the matter) even if it means voting for someone else whose policies on the economy, foreign affairs, and health care reform are less than impressive. I'm just saying...
One day I'm going to answer for everything I did on this earth, so I'm going on record as someone who will stand up for the unborn babies.



99 days of cuddling the softest skin, of marveling at the intricacies and beauty of God's creation, of feeling the warmth of a tiny body curled up against you, of staring into dark, innocent eyes, of listening to all the little "newbie" noises... I'm certain the Mooneys wouldn't trade those 99 days for the world.


Eliot's blog: http://mattandginny.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html
Mooney family blog: http://thespectacularvernacular.blogspot.com/
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