Pretty Leaves and Fuzzy Caterpillars

I’m visiting my family in the Bay Area this weekend, but here are some pictures of the arboretum and the cute caterpillars I met there a few weeks ago.

Red maple leaves and a nice clear sky
Pink flower of some sort
Cool sunshine over a structure at the arboretum
Variegated leaves on a pretty plant at the arboretum
Adorable fuzzy caterpillar!
I had to move a few of these guys off the path. Don’t touch these fuzzy guys with bare fingers unless you know they’re friendly. Some have stinging hairs.
Light purple aster (I think) flowers

My Favorite Fall Writing Drink

Recipe for Hot Maple Apple Cider

My pretty pink skull mug also makes me happy on cold days.

Makes about two and a half average coffee mugs worth of hot cider. Which, in my opinion, is about right for two people or one cozy afternoon writing by yourself. I have big mugs.

  • 4 cups of whatever kind of apple juice you like 
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup or a few drops of maple flavoring
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp clove
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Put a pot on the stove and fill it up with the apple juice. Set it to medium and add marmalade and maple syrup. Throw in all your spices. Stir and let simmer for fifteen minutes or so. Don’t let it boil over. You can add a little water if it comes out too sweet for your taste. 

I filter a lot of the spice bits out with a tea strainer when I serve because I don’t like that last mouthful of clove dregs at the bottom of my drink, but there’s no need for it. I’m just the kind of person who never grew out of avoiding the crusts on her sandwiches. 

Cinnamons: I like to use Ceylon cinnamon instead of cassia. Cassia is what we usually call cinnamon in the states. It doesn’t really matter, but if you haven’t tried Ceylon I’d highly recommend it. The flavor is different; a bit softer and sweeter. Ceylon is also called the “true” cinnamon, for whatever that’s worth.