Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Popcorn Day

My parents are both from an adorable tiny town in southern Illinois called Ridgway.  Mike and I are lucky enough to be only a 3.5 hour drive from my Grandparents who still live there and we try to make the trip as often as our schedule allows.  Every year on the second Saturday in September, they hold their annual Popcorn Day Festival.  I was very excited when I realized we'd be able to attend this years festivities as M had never been and I hadn't attended the event in at least 13 years. 

Popcorn Day!

We drove up Friday night after work and awoke early Saturday for a eight mile training run through corn fields.  It was quite different from our usual route and we enjoyed the change of scenery and gorgeous weather.

Once the run was out of the way and our tummies were stuffed with homemade apple bread, we were ready to get in on the fun. The first event of the morning is the kiddie costume parade.  The theme this year was Popcorn and a Movie so most of the costumes were along these lines.

start of the kiddie parade

kiddie float

Next up is a bubble gum blowing contest and a popcorn eating contest (also for kids).  These are entertaining to watch, especially while enjoying unlimited free popcorn.

me and gramps

mike and uncle kent
unlimited free popcorn- yes please
The final competition is by far the most amusing and takes place in the "frog pond."  One by one, kids bring their frogs to the center of the circle and try to get them to jump.  The jumps are measured and the longest three win.  My favorite is when the frogs jump like crazy into a frantic crowd and everyone quickly scatters. 

frog mid-air

big frog

After the morning fun, we scoped out the fair portion of the festival and headed back to the house for an amazing granny-cooked meal.  Next, we claimed our spot in the yard to view the "Giant Parade."  We watched all the floats go by and fought some little kids for a few pieces of candy before it was our turn to jump in the parade. 

my aunt and uncles float
My Uncle drives the "corn car" in the parade which is a very long, very bright, old yellow Cadillac. We had lots of laughs as we rode in the back and waved to the crowd.

corn car in the driveway

riding in the parade

The afternoon was spent visiting with family around town and watching the live music. 

When Mike saw a Demolition Derby on the schedule, he made sure we were all planning to attend the event out at the town park.  I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into...

the demolition derby arena

In case you aren't familiar either, the event consists of a giant mud-filled arena and lots of busted cars.  They spread out around the ring and at the horn, begin crashing into each other.  The last car standing after all the others have died, wins. 


people were creative with their car designs

action shot- yes that is lots of mud flying, yes you get dirty


there were lots of fires

Our day was finished off with another yummy meal, a little more family time and a fabulous live band back downtown.  As always, our weekend away went by way too fast but we had such a great time experiencing Popcorn Day! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Labor Day in Gatlinburg

M's parents enjoyed an escape to the Gatlinburg cabin in August.  When we realized they'd be there for Labor Day weekend, we scheduled our visit.  We were extra excited when Sandi sent us confirmation that Jason and Ryan would also be flying in for the weekend.

The weekend held a golf game for the boys, some gator game watching, a long trail run, a walk through town, lots of good food and good company, relaxing in the mountains and plenty of playing and cuddling time with our nephew.  Of course, most of the photos centered around the adorable little man. It's crazy how fast he's growing up!  We are already looking forward to our next visit with him!
golf course views


crazy golf holes

helping grandmom make food

giving ellie a hug

yummy chocolate chip cookie uncle mike!

hanging out on the deck

handsome boy

relaxing with grandpop

best spot in the mountains

ice cream cone + homemade ice cream

too cute

"smoky" mountains

pretty views of the smoke

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


This past weekend, we made the quick trip to Morning Glory Orchards in Nolensville, TN.  The orchard/produce market is super convenient to our house and only a short drive from Nashville.

We went in the building, paid our $6/person in exchange for a bag and apple picker, and were directed to the apple trees.  

It was surprisingly easy to pull the apples off the trees.  We had fun searching for the biggest and prettiest.
going after a good one

mega apple

apples on tree

with our full bag
 The market at the orchard had tons of farm-made salsas, jams, juices, and honeys.

They also had plenty of pre-picked and washed apples of various varieties for purchase.

Once we got our apples home, we followed directions and scrubbed them clean in a sink of soapy water.

What's the obvious next step with a bunch of fresh apples?  Apple pie!  We'd never made apple pie before but we combined a highly rated recipe found online with my Grandma's homemade pie crust and hoped for the best.  The result was one of the best things I've ever eaten (and this is coming from a girl who "doesn't like fruit pies").

M started by peeling and slicing about 6 apples.  The thinner the better in my opinion.

about 6 apples, peeled and sliced thin
I was in charge of the pie crust.  Cut 2.5 cups flour and 1 tsp salt into 1 cup butter flavored Crisco.  Slowly add in ~1/2 cup cold water.  Form into dough.  (Makes enough for 3 normal size pie crusts)
grandma's pie crust
Our pie pan is larger than normal so I used about half the dough to make the bottom crust and baked it for 5 minutes before assembling the pie.  Next, I rolled out the second half of the dough and used my adorable pie crust cutters to make a bunch of leaves for the topping.

Mike made the sugary filling by melting 1 stick of butter in a large pan.  Next, add 3-4 T of flour until a bubbly paste forms.  Add 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar.  Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Next, mix half of the sugar sauce with the apples and fill the pie crust.  

Top apples with upper crust- Traditionally this would be some type of lattice, but I was having fun with the pie cutters instead.

layering the leaves

pretty pie
Finally, pour the remaining "sauce" over the top of the pie, covering all of the crust.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes (done when apples are fully cooked). 

ready to eat!