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Activity: Simple Autumn Applesauce

One of my all-time favorite parts of autumn is applesauce. My granddaddy taught me how to make his mother’s applesauce from scratch (although they threw RedHots, a candy, into theirs to make it pink – I have a different method), and now I’ve adapted it into my own simple treat. If you’re not much of a cook or nervous to try applesauce homemade, this recipe is perfect for you – it’s easy, relatively quick, and fun. When you share it with family and friends for the holidays, they’ll gaze at you wide-eyed and compliment your culinary prowess. Just shrug and smile smugly, ‘cuz you got this in the bag. (Also, they’ve probably only ever had applesauce from the grocery store, which is terrible by comparison, so it’s win/win.)

First: You must select your apples.

Apples come in two kinds: good for cooking and good for eating. It’s not that there’s a huge flavor difference, it’s more of texture difference – apples that are good for sauce are mushier and mealy, and fall apart when heated. Apples that are good for munching raw are crispier and not mealy. (Sidenote: for something like an apple pie, you may want them to stay firm, in which case do not select mealy, sauce-type apples!) It doesn’t matter which one you want to try, it’s just that the stronger, harder apples for eating raw will take longer to cook down and may not create a smooth sauce. But who cares? Experiment to see what you like best.

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[Activity] Natural Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats

dog treats

Today is Sunka’s fifth birthday! It seems like just yesterday I brought him home and shamed him into eternity by dressing him up as often as possible with camera in hand.

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This little guy has been with me on many, many adventures and I wanted to make his birthday special this year. There was a brisk winter walk, some soccer in the snow, and even a homemade bow tie! I think mint green is stunning on his handsome visage.

One of the other things I love to do for my pups is make my own treats for them. I know where the treats have come from so I know they’re safe, they’re made out of just one or a few ingredients, and they’re cheap – I paid $.89 a pound for these sweet potatoes. If you want to try them, all you need are sweet potatoes, an oven, and most of a day to piddle around the house. (Perfect for bad-weather days!) If you’re not into sweet potatoes, I’ve also included an insanely simple frozen yogurt treat at the end of the post.

It’s a twofer birthday Tuesday!

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The Roaming Naturalist’s Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

Welcome, December! Hello, holiday shopping season!

For years I was a habitual procrastinator when it came to holiday shopping, but this year I’ve finally kicked the habit. Kind of. All of my money-spending is finished for the most part, and I plan to spend December hand-making the rest of the gifts I have in mind. Getting creative and gifting the unexpected is a skill that anyone can master, and I’ve put together a little holiday shopping guide to give you wonderful folks some ideas if you’re tapped out.

Because I don’t know if you know this about me, but, well..

I. Love. To. Shop.

Which is typical for someone of my financial standing. Being low on cash doesn’t stop me though – I’m honing and mastering my thrift-store skills and drinking a lot of coffee instead of seeing a therapist for how much suffering the trial-and-error of crafting causes me. I genuinely dislike┬áblatant consumerism and┬áthe culture of spending we’ve developed, and how “Christmas” is more about going into debt than celebrating with loved ones. I don’t do Christmas necessarily; I like to welcome in the new season, winter, which is about withdrawing to do some inner work and prepare for the renewal of spring. That being said, I also love giving presents, and have an impossible time waiting to give gifts when I already have them. (I recently had to wait FOUR MONTHS to give one of my bestest friends her birthday present and I almost had a breakdown.)

That’s why I love the holiday season. It’s an excuse to give your loved ones – all of them at once! – a little something to tell them how special you think they are because, to be honest, when the heck else do we think about it? We don’t. Or if we do, not nearly enough. The holidays are an opportunity to stop, consciously focus on someone, and present them with something as a token of our love for them. Giving gifts is as old as our species, and it doesn’t have to bankrupt the whole nation (or cause shoot-outs in parking lots or pepper-spraying in crowded lines).

Anyway, I’m done with the hypocritical ranting; I know I’m telling you not to get caught up in the hype of consumerism WHILST presenting you with a holiday shopping guide. But I hope you take this holiday to enjoy finding or making that special something for that special someone, and manage to avoid the unnecessary stress of it all. Focus on how much you love the person you’re trying to gift something to, and don’t worry about what the gift is. Do it from the heart and the rest is cake. Take the leap to see my recommendations for this year!

“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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