Day 31- Part 1

Happy Halloween!  This greeted me as I was getting ready this morning:

Thought it was the sweetest thing- definitely made my morning!

Since we're doing our FFA #31 tonight, I probably won't be able to blog about it until tomorrow or so.  Just wanted to let you know so you don't wait up for my FINAL post of Fun Fall Activities.  I know how many of you can't stand the anticipation.  You may be disappointed.  ;)

As a follow-up to FFA day #21, here is the final project.  

This is our Thankfulness Jar.  Chuck and I have both been writing different things we're thankful for, and putting them in the jar.  On Thanksgiving Day, we'll go through the jar and read them together.  I hope to be greatly encouraged by how God has blessed us both during the month.  I'm sure we won't be disappointed. 

And now a little taste of what's to come.  This is the BEST fall treat.  Like ever.  (Taylor Swift.) My Mom has been "making" it for years and it carries not only the best mix of sweet and salty, but also nostalgia.  Chuck loves it, too.  He requested it for tonight. 

Stay tuned, y'all!

Day 30

Where did October go? Today is FFA #30!  Somewhere around day 13 I felt like I had so much time left, and now it's only 1 more day of FFA's.  Whew.  What a month.  

FFA's wouldn't be complete without some Halloween candy.  Today we ventured out to Target and Chuck picked out the candy we'll hand out tomorrow night to all the little Trick or Treaters.  It'll be the first time in three years (our whole married life) that kids will actually come to our door.  We're pretty excited.  

Day 29

Dunkin Monday! Today everything and their Grandmother is cancelled because of Sandy and the Frankenstorm.  For our house that means Chuck is working from home and Jovie doesn't get any exercise.  We've been playing ball with her- goodness knows she needs a way to get all that energy out.  I love when Chuck works from home.  It makes everything I'm doing around the house so much more fun and enjoyable.  

Today instead of Dunkin Monday, Chuck asked if I wanted to join him and our friend Austin in surprising our other friend Katie, Austin's wife, at Starbucks where she was working.  Umm...yes.  Actually, I was thinking that a Starbucks trip wasn't going to make the cut for this round of FFA's.  Rest assured, we were able to partake in not only a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and a  Caramel Mocha, but also a pumpkin scone.  Sigh. 

Katie and Austin came back to our house real quick, which made Jovie's day.  She has a major crush on Austin.  ;)

Grande, Tall, and Short- I'm the fatty with the GrandeAt least we all shared the pumpkin scone.
My sweet baby girl

Day 28

My sweet friend and faux "cousin", Rachel (Mikes girlfriend)
Today was the DC Marine Corps Marathon!  Chuck and I went to support our friend and neighbor who was running, and we also had friends in town who were running as well.  The city was jam packed with people, and I mean jam packed.  Thankfully we got to see each of our friends a couple times, and even got to see them near the finish line.  If you have never been to a marathon, it's a really special thing to witness.  I choke up several times every time I see a race.  There are always amazing people doing amazing things.

I've seen a teenaged daughter jump from the sidelines to run next to her Mom for a few miles to encourage her Mom to keep going.  I've seen a Dad push his daughter in a wheel chair the whole race.  I've seen two Marines running while carrying a guy who got injured just so he could finish the race.  I've seen people bleeding, and continue running.  I've seen men without legs pedal a bike with their arms and hands.  It is truly an amazing experience.

The fans on the sidelines cheering and yelling for the runners is super inspirational.  I love cheering for our friends!  Chuck has run the MC Marathon in the past, and today he was motivated to want to run it again.  I loved how he described the race.

"It's like you're running and you feel miserable and awful and you think 'I hate running.  Why am I doing this?' And then when you finally cross that finish line, you forget about how awful it was.  You feel so pumped full  of adrenaline and there's nothing like it."

It encouraged me a lot about my life.  A lot of times life is miserable and awful, and I think "I hate life.  Why am I doing this?"  But today God used Chuck to remind me that when I FINALLY cross that finish line- be it Heaven, or whatever trial it is I'm enduring at the time- I will forget all about the pain.  Hallelujah. 

Here's to our friends who endured all those 26.2 miles today! 

 Congrats and amazing job Mike!
I have no idea who that obnoxious woman is cheering in the background...

Congrats and amazing job Marco! 
My sweet husband finished the race with his friend- LOVE him!

Day 27

Again, no pictures taken for the FFA #27.  We went to a neighborhood Halloween party.  There were mostly couples with little kids in attendance, so we brought Jovie.  ;) It was a really cool time to meet more people in our neighborhood, and it seemed like we were all around the same age.  I was especially excited to learn of a girl who does hair out of her home!  Hallelujah, maybe I can finally find someone to do my hair in VA!  (I only get my hair done in PA when I go home to visit my parents.  My girl at home has been doing my hair for years, but it would be nice to have someone here in my own town so my hair doesn't get so gross in between appointments.)  Anyway, a good time was had by all. 

Day 26

No pictures to show for this day.  But I did surprise Chuck by volunteering to help him with the yard work.  Our yard is quite small so it probably only took us 30 minutes to mow, rake, sweep, and clean up.  It was nice to work together on our "own" yard. 

Day 25

Chuck and I mutually thought of going to a large mall in our area where we enjoyed walking around and window shopping.  We were even able to spot several Christmas decorations.  This was the perfect ending to our already sweet date:

Day 24

Chuck's most beloved drink at Starbucks in the fall is the Salted Caramel Mocha.  There really is no other drink like it out there. It's just hot deliciousness in a cup.  Sweet + Salty = bliss.  Well, I found a salted caramel creamer by accident one day at Walmart and could not resist surprising my man.  The creamer did not disappoint.  It's not Starbucks, but it'll do just fine!

Day 23

Thanks to my dear friend Laura, I learned about this amazing movement going on in DC.  David's Tent has been going on since September 27, and will continue right up until the election- that's 40 days.  40 days of 24 hours a day 7 days a week prayer and worship for our country.  The amazing part is, this tent is set up right in front of The White House. 

Chuck thankfully hadn't heard of the event, and was quite surprised.  We sat there in the tent, listening to the band leading worship, observing the other Christians around us, and experiencing the presence of God.  Chuck and I were both encouraged.  Really encouraged.  Sometimes God just surprises us with HIMSELF in ways we couldn't have expected.  

There's The White House off to the right

Day 22

Hello gorgeous!  (The donut, certainly  not me.)  Oh how I love Dunkin Mondays!  I find myself really looking forward to our time together there on Mondays.  This week we made it there before they sold out of the pumpkin donuts.  It was well worth the week's wait.  Although I have to say, the maple donut was actually better. 

Another cool thing about Dunkin Mondays is that it has introduced us to Rite Aid.  Because of it's proximity to our favorite DD's, we've stopped in a couple times now to grab some things we've needed.  I am now the proud owner of a free Rite Aid bonus card.  And it has come in very handy.  Who knew their sales were so good?  I am going to start checking my Rite Aid flyer each week from now on.  (In the past it has gone straight to the trash.)  This week they have BOGO half off on...well, I probably shouldn't post the items that I needed, (*Think very special time of the month.) but it was definitely a sweet thing. 

Tonight is the debate.  I'm shocked to actually be looking forward to tuning in.  Look what my patriotic husband has done to me.  Good man that one. 

Day 21

We started a FF project today.  Thank you Pinterest!  To be continued...

Day 20

Happy Birthday to my favorite Mama of all times!  I only wish we had been able to celebrate with her in person! I love you Mother!

Day 20 has been a pretty big day.  We lived up the FFA's to the full for sure.  I surprised Chuck with a visit to Frying Pan Park Harvest Festival.  It was on the same farm where we had our Hoedown.  Actually, while we were at the Hoedown, I came across the flyer for the Harvest Festival and was thrilled because it was free admission!  Seems everywhere around here you have to pay no less than $15 a person just to enter a fall festival-type deal.  

So our outing consisted of roaming around the last functioning dairy farm in Fairfax county.  Of course there were plenty of barnyard animals to see, and lots of festival-like food to eat, too.  We each enjoyed grilled burgers and sweet potato fries that were out-of-this-world! 

We spent some time at the blacksmith's building, watching a guy weld.  I was particularly excited because my Grandfather was a blacksmith, and my uncle still owns and operates a blacksmith shop in Iowa.  Chuck and I talked more about my family history and he got to learn some new stuff about me.  

Blacksmith shop 

Can you spot the apples?!

My most favorite part of the festival was the old, original farm house. I absolutely loved the kitchen.  It fascinated me to see how women baked, did laundry, kept food cold, sifted flour, and even how their babies used to sit at the table (without highchairs, gasp!). I have a crazy admiration for those farm ladies of the past!  This house even had a Hoosier Cabinet, which was really exciting to us.  We recently got Chuck's great-aunt's Hoosier Cabinet, which is now in our dining room.  Too cool for school. 

Check out the kettle corn I'm holding- incredible!  Hoosier Cabinet to the left.

 Oh, and here is our token farm-animal picture.  I gotta admit, the cow was kinda gross.  She was leaking, but hey.  That's what most of you put on your breakfast cereal every morning.  Ick!

After the festival, we went to see one of our teens in a soccer game.  She, of course, did an awesome job!  It was fun to get to see her play.  We also polished off most of the kettle corn at this time!

Upon arriving home, we were greeted with a package stuffed in our door.  Hallelujah!  Thank you Aunt Barb!

She sent me a new fall table cloth that I love!  It fits perfectly in our dining room.  Here Chuck is writing on our chalkboard wall in preparation for our sweet friends, Austin and Katie who were coming for dinner.  We loved having them, and it was a great way to top off our festive day 20!

Day 19

Heidi lent me, "Dan in Real Life" several weeks ago.  Watching it was on my list from the beginning, and I was pumped when I found out Heidi and Joe owned it.  It took a pretty covert operation to sneak the DVD into my purse without Chuck seeing it, and it's been hiding in our house ever since.  I was all excited to present Chuck with his FFA for the day, upon which he replied, "Ohhh, it's BluRay." Fail.  My hopes and dreams for Day 19 were flushed, until....we decided to just rent it from Amazon.  And to make up for my blunder, I picked up some Halloween Joe Joe's that are so delicious, it's  dangerous to have a box in the house. The filling is vanilla bean.  Heavenly.

So, I'm posting before the FFA has actually taken place because once we turn the movie on, settle into the couch, and begin eating our Joe Joe's, I will not feel like blogging.  And let me just say, I've been looking forward to this movie all month!  It's such a real movie, and the characters remind me of my family.  They're goofy, and strange, and do weird family activities like real, non-Hollywood families do.  It's a feel-good movie with plenty of laughs.  Dan, here we come!

Day 18

No pictures to show for today, but it was still a good FF activity.  Chuck and I took the pumpkin squares from yesterday and delivered them to two of our neighbors.  I think they would have felt a little odd if I had snapped a picture of them taking the plate of treats.  Don't worry, Chuck still had his share of the goods.  ;)

Day 16 & 17

Time has gotten away from me, but here's a recap of the past 2 days.

Day 16.  Love.

Day 17. Pumpkin Squares. 

Day 15

America runs on...

It's that time again, Dunkin Monday is here!  Today with coupons in hand, we redeemed our $.99 Pumpkin White Mocha, our Maple Donut (OK, we splurged the no-coupon dollar on that), and our FREE iced tea.  Since they were out of pumpkin donuts, we're crossing our fingers we can get one next Monday.  I have to say though, that maple donut sure was scrumptious!  And it was even better because we ate it before dinner.  Rebels I tell ya.  

In other news, Chuck finished carving our pumpkin tonight.  It's pretty impressive.  If I had done the carving, it would have been two triangles and a mouth.   Not my man, that would never suffice for him.  He's got sweet pumpkin carving skillz.  

See the haunted house?!

Day 14

Ok, so today wasn't a FF surprise per say, but we did do a FF activity! Tonight we had a Hoedown with our high school students.  The weather was in the 70's- gorgeous, and we had some fried chicken 'n fixins outside until it got dark. 

Isn't he so, soooo handsome?!  I love this picture of my man!

Once we went inside (to a really cool building that looked like a barn), we got straight to the square dancing, line dancing, and all kinds of crazy moves that the real, live Caller taught us.  All in all, pretty fun night.

Day 13

Don't mind the corner of the cake, I have no idea why it's missing! ;)  This is Luscious Banana Cake with Brown Butter Frosting.  I had some pretty brown bananas, and we had a dinner date with our dear friends Ben and Jess, so thought I'd whip this up.  I think it turned out pretty good, but a few of my teeth are super sensitive to sweet today, and it certainly put a damper on my dessert intake.  If this sweets sensitivity keeps up, I will probably lose a lot of weight, ha!  I also made some chili, but the picture made it look disgusting, so thought I'd leave the photo out. 

Anyway, Jess and I had decided to surprise the boys with pumpkin carving.  The reaction didn't quite deliver like I had hoped, but I think the boys ended up having fun.

Our pumpkin looked like a wimp compared to theirs, but whose competing?

Little Kaydee girl was lovin' the pumpkin carving action!

Things turned very serious....

Ben finished his, and it turned out spook-tacularly!  Chuck, on the other hand, is still working on ours.  He's a perfectionist, what can I say?  I'll make sure to post the finished product soon....

Day 12

Day 12, what a day!  Not only did I surprise Chuck with our FFA, but he surprised me with a FF date night!  I guess it just goes to show, when you pour into your spouse, your spouse in turn wants to pour into you.  I'll take the pouring.  Any night where I don't have to fix dinner is my dream pour. 

But back to #12.  Instead of going to the pumpkin patch where we have gone in the past, and had to pay per pound for whatever pumpkin we picked, we took the thrifty option and went to (what else?!) Trader Joe's!  There we got to pick any pumpkin we wanted for just $3.99.  Gotta love it.

After much deliberation, including searching for the pumpkin with the least amount of dirt dent, one with a proper stem (Chuck finds a proper stem very important), and just the right amount of roundness, we found her.

And since we were there, we just had to wander inside to get a sample of the day and buy ourselves a FF treat.  Oh hello...

I have to say, though, that the TJ regular chai mix is better than the pumpkin chai.  I know, I know, I hate to put down the pumpkin, but there is something about the TJ regular chai that really floats my boat.

After we got home from our excursion, we were standing in our dining room and noticed this Uhaul truck full of small pumpkins driving around our neighborhood.  There were kids walking toward our house with pumpkins and I said to Chuck, "Oh no!  Those kids are probably doing a fund raiser and we just bought a pumpkin.  I can't resist little kids selling pumpkins!  Let's get out of the house so they can't ask us!"  As it turns out, they were giving away free pumpkins and advertising their Mom's real estate business.  You already know how I feel about free stuff.  Glorious!  Meet baby pumpkin.

As I mentioned, my man surprised me with a date night.  He took me to the very restaurant where we met for the very first time.  Our friend Katie introduced us there (If you don't know the story, Chuck was not aware he was being set up.  But once he met me, his life would never be the sae  ;).  The three of us had such a blast that night, and the memories there are quite special.  We miss and love you KT!

Our night ended on a light-hearted note as we got to watch the performance of "Legally Bonde" the musical.  The best part of all is our friend, Nic played Warner and did such a fantastic job.  He had Chuck and I cracking up.  I was sad that my dear friend, Jessi- Nic's wife- couldn't make it tonight, but she had to be the wonderful Mama that she is.  We had such a great time.  Bonus, there was a dessert reception since it was opening night.  Yum-yum!  Congrats, Nic- we loved seeing your awesome skills!

Whew, we're tired!  G'night Day 12!

Day 11

I believe this says it all.  YUMM-O!

Day 10

It wouldn't be fall without candy corn!  Welcome to day 10.  In fact, it's even more special because there isn't candy corn in Germany.  Chuck picked out the multipack of the pumpkins, regular candy corn, and chocolate candy corn- he was pretty excited about it.  After we took the picture, we added peanuts because if you didn't know, peanuts plus candy corn is super yummy!  Bon appetit!

Day 9

$2 off the You Pick Two

FREE Fall Turkey and Cranberry Panini
Thank you, Day 9!

Day 8

Welcome to Dunkin Monday, and FFA #8.  I have a coupon from Dunkin Donuts for a free iced tea or iced coffee for every Monday in October and November.  Score!  Oh, and of course it's pumpkin flavored.  ;)

Day 7 Extra's

I can't seem to be able to type under the video in my last post so I will have to update you about the grand finale of Day 7 in it's very own post.  The cake turned out as good as I had hoped and it was a huge hit with Chuck!  PLUS, our friends Dan and Jamie from MN arrived in the evening and we got to share it together.  And bonus, the cake also doubled for a breakfast item.  This morning when I was offering to serve it I said, "Hey Babe, would you like a piece of cake?"  He replied, "You mean coffee cake?"  Oh, I'm sorry, it's morning, so if we throw coffee before the cake it turns into an acceptable breakfast item.  We all had a good laugh and Jamie said we call cupcakes without frosting muffins so we can eat them in the morning.  "Bald cupcakes are called muffins."  Anyway, I thought it was a pretty ingenious idea.

Having Dan and Jamie here was so special and refreshing (even though their wives and kiddoes couldn't make it- they were certainly missed!).  It was a great reminder of my days living in MN, and how far God has brought me in the last several years.  When I picture myself living in MN, I picture a wounded little bird who desperately wanted to fly, but whose wings were too damaged to be able to move.  God in His sovereignty brought friends around to help heal my broken wings.  Those friends were the exact medicine God knew I needed.  After 3 1/2 years, my wings were healed and I was able to fly all the way to VA!  Now, some of those friends got to see me here in my new life, with my new husband, in our new home.  I have been redeemed, and I praise God today for his power to heal.  I love these guys and how God continues to use them in my life.  Thank you for Dan and Jamie!

L-Dan, R-Jamie

Final product
Was it any good?  I believe this picture tells the story!
Day 8 Fun Fall Activity awaits!

Day 7

Day 7 has got me bubbling over with excitement!  We are expecting very special out-of-town guests tonight, and will get to share our Day 7 treat with them.  The Day 7 treat has got me giddy.  We are still on the apple theme today, and the treat is baking in the oven as I type.  Have you virtually met Iowa Girl Eats yet?  If you like blogs, and delicious, understandable recipes, you will love her like I do.  Get this, FRESH APPLE CAKE.  Gah!  The smell alone is to die for.   Just wait till it comes out of the oven.  I'll make sure to capture the final product on film. 

Day 6

Today's fun fall activity was stellar, and I have the pictures to prove it....oh wait.  I will have the pictures to prove it.  Sit tight everyone.  I know so many of you are on the edge of your seat in suspense. 

On a sad note, it is absolutely freezing tonight, and it's only going to get colder.  Boo hoo.  I believe tomorrow it will be in the 50's.  I could cry.  When Chuck and I were walking to our car earlier, I started shivering.  My first shiver of the season.  I can't stand being cold.  I can't stand shivering.  I felt like crying, but I had to remind myself of the great fun fall activity we had just participated in.  And we still have 25 more days of fun!  

Breath, stay calm.  Spring will be here before we know it!  

I'm back, and I've got the pictures.  Day 6 was stellar, as I said, and it revolved around none other than...apples!  Chuck and I had an Asian Night with our friends Joe and Heidi, who were the muse for my 31 Days of Fall.  They were more than happy to assist me in surprising Chuck with his Day 6 festivity.  I'd say it was a huge hit- I mean when you think caramel apple, you totally think fall, am I right?  Plus J and H had an amazing homemade caramel recipe, that was delicious, quick, and easy.  Oh the sweet, gooey, yummy, sticky goodness.  You just have to watch out because some people end up with caramel on the bottom of their sock...



More pouring

We were NUTS about this treat- PEANUTS that is.