The Pumpkin Disaster; little events that change your plans

A week ago I still had a pumpkin from my garden.

I was planning on cooking it soon, I really was. The thing is, it was Christmas time and the orange pumpkin just didn’t go with Christmas decorations. So I put it on top of the corner cupboard to be cooked in January.

It’s February 6th. Yes, I’m aware of that.

Just yesterday I looked at that corner cupboard and thought, I really should move it out and sweep behind it, and maybe change it to a wall cupboard, just to see how it looks. I didn’t notice that the pumpkin was missing.

This morning I had plans to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, go to the grocery store, visit my neighbor, and maybe when I was done, I’d have some quiet time to write on my novel.

img_7753When my broom and I got to the corner cupboard, my jaw dropped in dismay. There was stuff, gunk, all over the floor, the wall, and everything I could see. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was sure it was the mice we’ve been having trouble with.  (See former post…) It looked like a lot of mice had been partying hearty behind the corner cupboard.

Of course, you, dear reader, can see where this is going. But I hadn’t a clue. The corner cupboard is filled with all of our dishes, bowls, china, and many heavy items. I had to empty the cupboard before I could move it out from the spot where it has lived for three, maybe four years.

Yes. The overripe pumpkin had fallen six feet onto the floor. On the way down it bounced off the walls and the back of the cupboard. After I moved the cupboard, I didn’t take any pictures of the mess because it was truly disgusting. (And here I realize, for the second post in a row, you may seriously take exception to my housekeeping skills…)

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I didn’t get any writing in that day, but the space behind the cupboard is spotless. And while I was cleaning I thought about these little events that change our plans.

Quite honestly, I’m not very good at having my plans disrupted. Oh yes, I know better. I know what the great philosopher John Lennon said — Life is what happens when you are making other plans. — Turns out he just wrote an already popular sentiment into a song. And the reason it is a popular sentiment is because, Yes, no one likes to have their plans disrupted.

A few posts ago, one of my friends made the comment that how we live our lives generally depends on how well we deal with disruption. I’ve mentioned this quote before, because it is one of my favorites:

c.s. lewis quote on interruptions

I try to practice this — you know, the Keep Calm and Carry On philosophy — but I’m not often successful; imagine if we could just always think of those interruptions, disruptions, intrusions… as our real lives. Forget about our own plans for that perfect day, that perfect week, that perfect life, for those plans (and those lives) don’t exist. Just because our plans are perfect in our imaginations, does that mean it’s real life? Lewis calls them phantoms.

The earlier we learn this in life, the happier we will be. The sooner we learn that every event in our lives is sent to teach us, the more joyful and purposeful we will be. Whether it was actually in our plans or not, God sent it to us to be a part of our lives. No Whining.

And I’m happy to say, that this day I managed to do fairly well. Of course, that’s partially because I didn’t have any big plans. No appointments, No lunch date, No place I really had to be…. And since I had to empty the cupboard, move it, and clean behind it, I took advantage of really moving it and trying it out in a new spot. Where it’s likely to stay until the next disaster… The disaster that, of course, is part of the life God is sending me day by day.

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So since I had pumpkin on the brain and chocolate chips in the cupboard, I made a delicious pumpkin cake. When life hands you smashed pumpkins, make a cake. (Don’t worry, I didn’t use the rotten pumpkin that is now out on the compost pile…)

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×9 square pan. Gather together: 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/2 c. oil (I used 1/4 c. melted butter and 1/4 c. warmed coconut oil) 1/2 c. chocolate chips, 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and pumpkin pie spices of your choice — I used 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. cardamom, 1/2 t. ginger, and 1/2 t. fresh grated nutmeg. You can add 1 t. vanilla too.

Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat two eggs and add the pumpkin and the oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for 25-28 minutes.

Pumpkin chocolate chip snack cake

It’s always good to share…

Variations:

  • You could add chopped nuts with the chocolate chips.
  • You could add more chocolate chips on the top and spread them around when the cake comes out of the oven.
  • You could add raisins instead of chocolate chips.
  • You could add raisins and chocolate chips and nuts.
  • You could add a teaspoon of rum instead of vanilla.
  • You could bake it in a 8×8 pan and have it be more like a real cake, than bars or a snack cake. If you do this, add 8-10 minutes of baking time.
  • You could put cream cheese icing on it and call it a real cake instead of a snack cake.

I’ve made this twice now in trying to make sure it is a good recipe for your enjoyment. The second time I used half pumpkin and half applesauce because this IS Apple Hill and I have more applesauce than I have pumpkin.  It was just as delicious.

Enjoy the interruptions to your day…

Mudroom Again…

I’ve written about the mudroom in our little cottage before. And before. And before.

It’s been two years since we’ve worked on it, because work stopped dead on the ceiling when we discovered a leak in the roof by the chimney. So nothing could be done until we had a new roof.

img_7708This summer we put on the new roof. But still nothing could be done about the ceiling because. Money. Time. Or lack thereof. You know, LIFE.

So the entrance to the cottage had an insulation ceiling and one wall that wasn’t finished. And a door and window that never got trimmed out because of inertia. Or lack thereof.

The wall you see when you walk into the cottage looks like this:img_7705

Not so impressive. Even though the kitchen has been 100% gutted and redone and is now gorgeous. Even though the living room and dining room were 98% gutted and redone. (We kept  the pine flooring that was under carpet, padding, and a layer of battleship linoleum.) But the first impression is bad.

But now — Now we have a white beadboard ceiling that matches the kitchen. We have trim around the door and window. And we have a real ceiling light, not this one:

Which light do you prefer?

Did I mention we now have real trim around the door and window?

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This door has been in place since October 2, 2012 when the outside of the house was still blue… It’s been so long since it’s been in that we have lost misplaced the little plugs that go around the small windows. We’re sure they are around somewhere, but it’s low on the priority list to spend hours looking for them. Maybe when This Old House calls us….

And just in case you’ve forgotten (I had) this is an early shot of the original demolition in the mudroom, ca. 2013.

In the meantime, we’re working on the 4th wall…

Finished and Unfinished...On the left is the finished kitchen....On the right is the only unfinished wall of the mudroom.

Finished vs. Unfinished…On the left is the finished kitchen….On the right is the only unfinished wall left in the mudroom. Those wires will be hidden soon…and there will be one last post on the mudroom.

the roof only leaks when it rains…

i’ve been trying to think of how to show off the new roof on the cottage.

after all, we spent a month on it this summer — at least — and many many dollars.

but the truth is?

a passer-by wouldn’t even notice.

unless they drove by often and noticed us

up on the roof every day in july this summer…

we had a dumpster for three layers of old shingles;

we had ladders on every conceivable side of the roof;

and we had a home built pulley system to bring heavy shingles and buckets up to the roof with the flick of a button.

plus, we had friends.


a friend is someone who helps you do your roof.