Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Corny dogs, and turkey legs, and funnel cakes! Oh, my!

Fall was in full swing at the Double Oak Ranch in Flower Mound, TX. My husband and I were delighted with the selection of pumpkins and outdoor festivities. Admission was free, food and goodies were priced with families in mind, and there were children’s activities and photo opportunities galore.

Kids and pets were dressed in their autumn best. The promise of hayrides and endless hours of bouncing around in socked feet were a great incentive for wiggling five-year-olds. Shutters were snapped before grass stains and powdered sugar adorned tiny knees and faces.

Gourds came in all shapes and sizes. My husband and I chose a small pie pumpkin to take home. The food was reminiscent of a country fair, and the plate-sized funnel cake was the perfect end to a fun-filled Saturday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Fun

We’ve had temps in the 40’s and 50’s this week, which has been wonderful. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing leaves and the break from summer’s triple digits. So, to kick off the seasonal shift my husband and I decided we’d do something new and different this week. Our goal was to have fun and celebrate the new season.

It all started last Sunday when we made our first pot of chili for the year. Of course it was not homemade due to the fact that I don’t really have the gift of making things without recipes. Truthfully, I like the predictability of step-by-step instructions. I like knowing the result will be tasty, or edible at the least since I cook from cookbooks and high rated, online recipes.

I tried a new chili packet I found at the grocery store because the one I normally purchased was not stocked on the shelves. It was an all-natural brand and was very good and made for great leftovers. We counted it a success and went in search of something fun to do for the week.

My husband noticed that Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving, and though we are about 1,500 miles from Canada being at the bottom of the United States, we thought it would be fun and quirky to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.

After some research, I learned they spend their holiday much like we do, with family and food. Not having a turkey to roast or apples for relish, I substituted roast chicken and vegetables and frozen biscuits and made a chicken potpie. I also printed up little table tents with a turkey and Canadian flag that read, “Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.”

What can I say? It was fun, and I’d never made a potpie before. Thanks to a great recipe we enjoyed something new and had a good time. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to try another new item for breakfast on Wednesday. I went online and found a recipe for blueberry muffins and tested it out using fresh berries I got from a friend’s crop.

Two words, muffin fail. They smelled good, looked good, but tasted awful. I went over the recipe and compared it to others I found, and it had way too much baking powder in comparison, which must have been what made the muffins taste so bitter. So, I tossed them and looked for another recipe. The next day, I tried again and had success.

It's the end of the week, and I feel refreshed and energized. Trying new things and doing something a little goofy really got my creative juices flowing. I wrote several sections for my YA novel after having writer’s block a few weeks before. Then, I got an idea for a new novel, wrote the first chapter and outlined nine more.

Now I’m getting ready for a SCBWI writer’s conference I’m going to next weekend. I’m a big believer in continued education and am always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. I also love being around other creatives. Building relationships with people who share your passion is invaluable.

If you’re in a slump, looking for a creative boost, do something off the wall. Try something new and different. You may get a spark that sets you in motion again, or you may discover a passion you never knew you had. Connect with people who share your dreams, that way you’ll have someone to celebrate the victories with when they come.