We used an organic chocolate mix from Whole Foods. I whipped the frosting together but you can use any frosting as long as it’s darker. Give the kiddos the task to crush the chocolate cookies (oreos work well). Another good job for them is breaking pretzel sticks in half to make the pathway. Adora loved sticking the Ghost Peeps on lollipop sticks too. The tombstones are made from milano cookies that we just decorated. Frost the cake, sprinkle the cookie crumbs on and the green sprinkles where you want grass. We put extra cookie crumbs on the path to make it look more like a dirt road.
Fall is filled with invigorating things! Scarves, crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice, apple cider the list is endless when it comes to things we love about now. We recently went to Cox Farms in Centreville VA to check out it’s new Enchanted Forest and pick some pumpkins. Here’s list of other great places to check out depending where you live.
Great Country Farms Bluemont VA
Butler’s Orchard Germantown MD
Waters Orchard Germantown MD
Marker Miller Orchards Winchester VA
If you go to Cox Farms be sure to try the slides (as an adult too!), the apple cider, take the hayride and check out the new Enchanted Forest. You can walk the trail at night too which will make it extra spooky. We loved the sleeping dragon along the way and the upside house. Oh, don’t forget to stop by the Market Place for your pumpkin too!
Enchanted forest features fairy tale themes
Grab kettle corn for the hayride!
In my job I have seen some pretty unbelievable things. Many of them involve children. Physical, mental and sexual abuse is happening in homes all around us. It’s hard to think about but for the innocent children it cannot be ignored. When I learned about Safe Spot and how it provides a safe haven for young victims in Fairfax County I knew it was a group I had to support. They are so passionate about helping these victims. In my eyes, they are real heroes. I was honored to emcee their annual Passion for Fashion charity fashion show at Bloomingdale’s at Tysons Corner. Safe Spot is always looking for people to join their mission. Get more information here at safespotfairfax.org (Photos by Jan Miller)
Pecos is a service dog that helps children feel at ease at the center.
The Safe Spot crew– AMAZING women!
My awesome girlfriends Amy and Kristen! So great to see them there!
Stunning looks provided by Bloomingdale’s
When I called on my friends on Facebook for an easy chili recipe I could do in the crockpot I got 95 amazing answers! One of them came from my mother-in-law. She sent a SUPER easy recipe where everything is in twos. I tried it and happy to report there wasn’t a bowl left! I also took it upon myself to try to make a Mummified Candy Corn Cake. Below is how it turned out along with the recipe which has a few steps but was easy to follow. Why the cooking and baking? It was part of our Family Fun Day we were planning! It included making our own campfire, smores mix , games and wrapping up with a classic- The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
Easy Chili Everything Is In Twos Recipe:
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 cans tomato soup
2 cans kidney beans (undrained)
2 tablespoons chili powder
Brown meat and onions. Combine all ingredients. Either cook for 30 min on top of stove or put in crock pot for several hours. I did 4 hours on high.
Mummifed Candy Corn Cake (it’s not actually candy corn flavored)
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large egg whites
2 1/2 teaspoons yellow gel food coloring (such as Betty Crocker)
1/4 teaspoon red gel food coloring
2 16-oz. cans vanilla frosting
1/4 10-oz. bag large marshmallows
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment; mist again with cooking spray.
2. Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl.
3. Reduce speed to low and alternate adding flour and milk mixtures to butter (begin and end with flour), until just combined. In a clean medium bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg whites into batter in 3 additions.
4. Create layers: Divide batter in 3 medium bowls (2 cups each). Add 1 1/2 tsp. yellow coloring to 1 bowl; stir. Add red coloring and 1 tsp. yellow coloring to second bowl; stir. Leave third bowl white. Spread batter into pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.
5. Level tops of cake layers with a serrated knife, if necessary. Dab small amount of frosting in center of cake stand and top with orange layer. Spread 1 cup frosting on top; add yellow layer and align sides. Spread 1 cup frosting over yellow layer, then top with white layer and align. Spread remaining frosting around sides, then over top. Smooth with a knife or spatula.
6. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave marshmallows on high for 30 seconds. I found I didn’t need the whole bag.. but it’s up to you! Stir until smooth and just warm to the touch. Pull off a piece about the size of 1 marshmallow and stretch between thumb and forefinger of both hands until thin. Drape strand over and around cake. Repeat until you reach desired “mummy” effect. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
7. Toppers: I used cake pop sticks and pre cut paper bats to make the topper!
Make Your Own Campfire & Smores Mix:
Twist brown paper or paper bags to make the logs (3-4)
Put flashlight in middle and cover with red and orange tissue paper. Then throw Golden Grahams cereal, marshmallows and baby chocolate chips in a baggie and you’ve got your Smores! Don’t forget your Charlie Brown!
If we’ve gotta endure the traffic troubles and security headaches this week we might as well have some fun with this! Plus, the Pope being DC is kind of a big deal! Here are more fun DC Pope food and drink specials!
Get your Papal Shake— word is it taste heavenly! Pot Belly on Monroe Street Market, across the street from The Catholic University of America is selling a special Pope Shake as they get ready for his visit on Sept. 23. Every shake sold means 50 cents will go towards supporting campus mission trips! They’ll sell it until Sept 27th!
LEGO Friar has a checklist for all to properly welcome Pope Francis to DC. Everything is AWESOME about this!
Back to School pictures this year came with a lesson American education! I started researching one room schoolhouses in Virginia when I came across and fell in love with this little red school house in Springfield. It’s called the The Historic Sydenstricker Schoolhouse and it was built in 1928. This gem in our backyard is basically in it’s original condition- a real rarity when it comes to early 20th century school houses. The Upper Pohick Community League has maintained it since 1954. Fun fact.. they bought it for $550! Our visit was a real treat. The moment you walk through the doors you can smell an era long gone. The wood beneath you creaks and bends beautifully. The natural light shines perfectly through the old windows that you know have seen a lot of stories come and go. I had the best history guide to show me around. Lisa Friedrich Becker a history lover met me there. She has had a huge hand in efforts to preserve the school which is on the National Historic Registry. She showed me the hooks where kids use to hang their coats and the spot a local couple held their wedding reception in 1954. I brought my kids and gave them a little lesson on how eschool use to be back in the day. To be honest, it was more like a recollection of Little House on the Prairie— a show I was obsessed with as a child. Watching my children run up the stairs into the school house was a brief transport back in time. A time when things seemed so simple. Adora and Bob caused a bit of ruckus jumping and laughing and running in circles on the hardwood. They especially got a kick out of the chance to pull the rope and ring the original school bell. The bell, which was bought in Alexandria survived a fire that burned down the original building.
The school officially closed in 1939 but has played host to many community and private events since then despite it’s limitations– no running water, no bathroom.. unreliable heating and cooling. I’m surprised more photos have not surfaced over the years. They are always looking for anyone who attended Sydenstricker Schoolhouse or were early members of The Upper Pohick Community League. The search is on for any photos or documents they could help tell this unfolding story. Below is an event that the group is having to celebrate and raise awareness about the school.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Community Coffee House, 6-9 PM
FREE live music, coffee and baked goods all donated by members of our community and local businesses! Featuring the Fairfax Band Association Saxophone Quartet, singer Dave Brunelle… and more! Delicious food donated by The Swiss Bakery, Whole Foods Springfield, the Springfield Hilton and more!! There will be no charge for admission, but donations are greatly appreciated. It will be a great evening to celebrate our community!!
The Historic Sydenstricker Schoolhouse is located at 8511 Hooes Road in Springfield, VA 22153 More information available here.
Here’s to learning things… new and old this School Year!
Bob enters Pre-K this year!
Adora with her pencil that really writes!
One of the first students to attend Sydenstricker Schoolhouse (1928)
Can you imagine how much tag was played outside this school.
Adora is sitting about where the fridge is in this undated picture of a dance.
Here’s the schoolhouse decked out for an event in recent years (oh those floors!)
Bob sitting on a vintage school desk donated by a local resident.
Bring on the books!
(photos taken with my iPhone for more historic and recent photos like the one below check out Sydenstricker Schoolhouse’s facebook page)