apple time!

Last winter was such a bitterly cold one that many of the fruit trees in central Illinois failed to produce flowers — and thus, fruit. We have been left scrabbling for apples close to home this fall, not really wanting the store-bought ones that tend to have been in cold storage for months and coated with chemicals and shiny waxes.

I loved the apples we picked a year ago at the rented farmstead where my parents keep some of their equipment. They are rosy, crisp, and just mildly sweet, in between a Granny Smith and a Gala in flavor. We stopped by last weekend to see what could be had, and it was apparent at once that these hardy trees had borne fruit, but someone else had cleared all they could reach before we got our chance. We were able to fill about a bucket and a half, thanks to my mom, who had thought to bring along a ladder, and everyone’s willingness to accept a lofty perch for plucking.



Now on to the fun of finding ways to consume them!

With hopes that apples won’t be so scarce for picking in your neck of the woods, here are links to some of the apple recipes we have especially enjoyed in past years:

and links to a few more apple goodies I hope to try soon:


Color Run Champaign 2014

The Color Run came to town this weekend and brought with it family and friends who joined in as “Team Flappin’ Wengs.” Uncle Nathan, Aunt Emily, and two of Em’s closest friends met us in the mall parking lot, all geared up to endure a few miles of laps around the lot and repeated dustings of rainbow shades.






Molly was super-pleased to participate in a themed run with buddies. She’s definitely realized how many opportunities exist for runners to come together in the name of fitness and fun, and that helps her appreciate the consistency of training and excellent coaching she has received from her cross country and track experiences. I’m really happy about that and love to cheer her on from the sidelines, although I do wish I could share that running fever. Finn kept me company curbside yesterday, snapping his own photos with his iPod, but he’s already talking about beginning his own “extracurricular” running adventures next year, starting with the CarX Crazy K!

Camp Tecumseh 2014

A couple of brief showers last weekend served only to knock the cobwebs loose from the trees at Camp Tecumseh, near Brookston, Ind., where we spent our 6th or 7th consecutive Labor Day weekend. Our spirits were not dampened, and we each pursued what we most like to do at Family Camp among (contrary to what you see in these photos!) many other clans from Illinois and Indiana. Euchre, ga-ga, cornball, hiking, reading, swimming, boating, zip-lining, making paracord bracelets, all-out battling with water guns, or fighting with pillows … What wasn’t there to do?

Silly me, I brought along an early birthday gift for Shane — a camp hammock for two that I thought we might be able to try out for an hour one afternoon. But he was too busy trying to keep up with Finn!

IMG_6573IMG_6589IMG_6572IMG_6575IMG_6577IMG_6581IMG_6587My trusty old Keens … I love these shoes! I think I’ve had them for almost a decade now, and they are perfect for about every outdoor adventure, six months out of the year!IMG_6583

We found lots of trail improvements in progress, including this beautifully woven fence at a hillside lookout point.IMG_6585Flower-shaped mushrooms … You can imagine how these captivated Molly!
IMG_6579 IMG_6567 IMG_6593 My camp favorite: early morning serenity on the lodge’s back deck with a steaming cup of coffee and something to read. Usually, there are a few deer at water’s edge, but not this time.The Tippecanoe River was running much higher than we’ve seen in the past. 

IMG_6590 IMG_6591Home now and in the thick of all our fall busy-ness, we’ll savor our memories (except of the COLD showers we had at Camp T this year!) from a healthy dose of nature and togetherness. For the next couple months, we’ll be striving for little bits of both kinds of that goodness every chance we get in between the line-up of practices, meets, matches, meetings, and schoolwork.