a difficult autumn

I was just looking back through all of my blog posts from the summer.  Wow I posted a lot!  Summer was a gentler time.  The sun was out, I took weekends off, the garden was in full bloom.  Speaking of the garden, I grew a couple of cauliflowers this year!  Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that you only imagine purchasing at a grocery store.  You don’t think you can put a cauliflower seed in the garden and some day actually expect to see this:

But while the summer was gentle, the fall has been tough this year.  My grandmother passed away on Halloween, and I’m still missing her every day.  I stayed with my Granny and Pappaw every day after school and every day in the summer until I was a teenager, so they were like second parents to me.  It’s hard to imagine a world without Granny in it.  (My grandmother was such an awesome lady- here she is with me, my niece, and my cousin letting us put Christmas temporary tattoos on her, a tradition that developed over the last few years.)

On top of that, I’m on the academic job market this year.  Let’s just say, it’s a process that robs you of joy.  But, I’ve finally submitted the majority of my applications, and now there is a bit of a calm before the storm while I wait to hear if I have secured an interview with of any of the schools that I have applied to.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

So, what have I been doing to stay sane amidst all of this chaos?  Baking.  Mostly cookies.  But the day I came home from West Virginia after my grandmother’s funeral, I needed to make something comforting…something that would make the whole house feel warm.  Applesauce.  I arrived back to Michigan and found a package from my sweet cousin, Cori, who also loves to bake.  She sent me an apple pealer, corer, and slicer (!!!!) and I put it to work on a couple of bags of delicious Michigan apples.

I even used a recipe that Cori sent to me last year for a delicious brown sugar, vanilla bean applesauce that really makes your house smell wonderful for days.  Here is the before and after.

I froze a few jars just so I could try to make it last throughout the winter, but I have to admit, I’ve already gone through two of them.

Thanks so much, Cori!  On a night when I was feeling melancholy and listless, this was a great way to put my mind to work.  Here’s to hoping the winter will be mild.

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