shocking. I’m actually writing.

“tap tap tap. hello? is this thing on?”

<blows dust off the mic>

<clears throat>

warning: tumble of thoughts with no real connection ahead.

today is a grey, blustery morning. the sort that is made better by a steaming mug of coffee with cream and sugar and a pumpkin muffin. mornings like this inspire me to write…and since there’s really nowhere urgent to go or anything pressing to do besides clean the house, i shall write.

last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I thought of how easy it should be to write down thoughts from the day – just spend five minutes before my evening routine to crank out some words. I miss the way I used to blog/write/process life and I think I would benefit from getting back in the habit of pounding out my thoughts.

Kyle is off at the Desiring God conference today, and we have an extra kiddo around – a sweet little red-headed girl for foster respite. She’s seven, and her flaming curls are how Jack remembers her. “When is that curly, red-haired girl coming again?” he asked me repeatedly. It’s nice to give her mama a break. I know how glad I am for a break from my little people. 🙂

I hoped to take the kids to the apple orchard yesterday or today, but the weather isn’t exactly cooperating. Perhaps we’ll go anyhow, rain be damned. 🙂 We can at least eat caramel apples in the van and pet the goats in the barn, I suppose.

Have I mentioned I LOVE this time of year? September and October are seriously two of my favorite months. May and June might be the others. 🙂 Oh and sliver of December. But truly, what’s not to love about this season, especially here in my home state? The chilly mornings give way to warm, sunny afternoons with fresh breezes. The leaves change from green to shades of riotous red, orange, rust, yellow and auburn. Apples are in season! Pumpkin permeates my baking and cooking and drinking. Kyle and I celebrate our anniversary. Taylor’s birthday rolls around. (Ack! She’ll be two in less than a week – how?!)

Yes, Anne Shirley and I agree on many things, this being one:

Jack started one-morning-a-week preschool earlier this month. He’s loving it. I like his teacher a lot and he seems to be enjoying the class, but the thing that seems to have made the most impression so far is that some kids in his class are Badly Behaved. Each week when I pick him up and ask what he did, he replies with some variation of “I obeyed my teacher.” 🙂 And while I’m very glad that he IS well behaved, I hope he doesn’t gain some superiority complex from the experience.

Like I mentioned, Taylor will be two next week. TWO. I’m having fun planning her little birthday party. Birthday parties are my favorite. 🙂 I hope she’ll enjoy the day. She’s a delight and a joy – spunky and sweet.

and with that, I’m going to scoot and get the kiddos ready for our little apple orchard excursion, damp though it may be. If I’m good, I’ll be back with more soon. 🙂

favorite recipe of the week::creamy pumpkin pie bars

For the love of all that is pumpkin, pecans and autumn in the kitchen, PLEASE make these creamy pumpkin pie bars this week. Tomorrow. Oh heck, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW AND MAKE THESE. They are sooooo good. I will not confirm nor deny a rumor that i may have eaten half of the pan by myself over the past two days. But if you guessed yes, you’re probably right. 😉

picture from Joy the Baker

My tweaks: I (sadly) had no pecans in the house, so I skipped those and added 1/2 cup more oats into the crust. I also used a food processor for both the crust and the filling. Bam! So quick and so easy. Make sure your cream cheese is niiiiice and soft, or it will get chunky and chunky, my friends, is not okay. Except on babies. Then chunky is welcome and delicious. Oh and maybe chunky peanut butter – if you’re not a smooth fan.

Anyway – I digress.

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars from Joy the Baker

makes 9 bars in a square 8×8-inch pan (I used a 9×9 and they were perfect)

For the Crust:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

9 roasted pecan halves for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.

In the work-bowl of a food processor, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and pulse until the  butter is the size of small peas and oat flakes.  Pour into a bowl, add the oats and the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.

Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be the crumble topping. (mmmhm.)

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, place VERY SOFT cream cheese in the wiped out work-bowl of the food processor. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and process until smooth – about a minute or less.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  I like to slice and serve these bars chilled. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. HA. Like they’re going to stay in your fridge for 4 days – that’s a good one.

These are the perfect marriage of crumbly, oat-ey goodness and tangy, sweet, creamy pumpkin nirvana. And if you make them, please share one, a cup of coffee and some adult conversation with me. 🙂 You’re welcome!