October 2012

Happy Halloween: Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkin carving is one of my favorite Halloween traditions. This year was especially fun for four reasons.

First of all, I found this awesome trick to carving a pumpkin on Pinterest.


Now, no one will burn their hands lighting the jack o lantern this year.

Secondly, the kids were actually more help than they had been in years past. They had so much fun scooping.




Next, it was my favorite part. After all that scooping, it was time for break… a Kit Kat break to be exact.
Lastly, this year I roasted pumpkin seeds. The recipe is pretty simple.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin seeds rinsed and patted dry. Then coat with a few tablespoons of melted butter and few pinches of salt. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. They are a perfect snack.
There were quite a few opinions on carving style. George said, “I want the jack o lantern to say, ‘grrrrrrrr!'” I think Brian did a pretty good job.


I’m not sure it says “Grrrrr!” But I think it is pretty spooky! Happy Halloween!!


Passing the Torch: Halloween Props

Back in July, the boys were adamant that they be Olympians for Halloween. To be honest, I thought it might be something they would forget about, but when the discussion came up again about a month ago, they remembered that they wanted to be just like the Olympians they saw on TV. I’m also glad they didn’t necessarily mean Michael Phelps, as the weather here is too cold for speedos.

I was thrilled that they still wanted to be Olympians because I knew that it wouldn’t be a hard costume to put together. Also, I was happy that the costume would include sweats to keep them warm.

My brother and sister in law, sent some official team USA shirts and got them gold medals for their costume. They only thing they needed were some olympic torches. I looked on Pinterest for some inspiration here, here and here. Then, I came up with my own version for my little Olympians.

I found the perfect pack of tissue paper at Target that had some red and metallic gold tissue. My original plan was to use paper towel tubes, but realized those my not be sturdy enough for a night of gripping. So I found these pretend microphones that were only $1. I brought everything home and got to work.


I first very carefully wrapped the microphones with the gold tissue by rolling the microphone and then taping with scotch tape. I left the top open to make room for the flame.

Then, I used two shades of red tissue to make the flame. I carefully taped the tissue to the top of the microphone using some stronger masking tape (sorry for the blurry picture).


This project took about 5 minutes for each one, and cost me a total of $5. The kids have the perfect prop for their Olympian costumes, and are ready for trick or treating!

Here’s one more shot the boys. I don’t know what’s cuter the boys or the torches… ok the boys.


Linking up with the Pinterest Challenge on Young House Love and Serenity Now.

Wine Included: Clever Shower Gift

This past weekend was a bridal shower for my soon to be cousin, Lindsey. I have always been a big believer in adhering strictly to bridal registries, but this time I couldn’t resist adding a little something extra.

They couple has asked for a small wine fridge, but when I saw this on the side of the box…


I realized I needed to remedy that situation as soon as possible.

So, of course I started brainstorming ideas for how to fill the wine fridge creatively. After some searching, I found these FREE printable tags on Libby James’ Blog. The tags mark certain milestones in the first year or two of marriage, including first fight, wedding night, Christmas Eve, first baby, first dinner party, and the couple’s first anniversary. On the blog, there are also instructions on what kinds of wine to buy. After printing the tags, I cut them out and tied them to the bottles using a little twine I had on hand.


I then put them in a box with a little tissue paper and wrapped the wine fridge in coordinating paper.


Thank goodness I solved the empty wine fridge dilemma! I hope the Bride and Groom commemorate all the important moments of their first year of marriage.


A Day in the Life

As a new blogger, I sometimes am amazed at the work and dedication of other writers. I also struggle with a sense of perfection. In the back of my mind, I do realize that no one is perfect all of the time. However, in the world of blogging, we only get to see the “pretty” things. The beautiful table settings, the painted walls, the fluffed pillows, the beautiful desserts do happen… just not all the time.

No one likes to talk about the sticky floors, the mis matched socks, the chaotic bath time routine, or the piles and piles of laundry.. PILES… everywhere. I digress.

I’m joining a link up today on Adventuroo called “A Week in My Life.” What an eye opener that not everything is perfect for everyone, and I feel like it really helps us all be more understanding and have a sense that we are all in this together. As much as I would love everyone to see the craziness that is my life for an entire week, I wasn’t quite ready for that. So, I decided to just share one day. So here is a day in the life:

7:00 a.m. Snoozed too many times… no workout today oops. Everyone gets ready, and eats a quick breakfast. Brian takes the boys to school.

8:00 a.m. Coco and I stay back so I can make a grocery list, and look up a wedding registry for a gift I need to buy.

9:00 a.m. Off to Target to buy a wedding gift. Then back home to drop off huge wedding gift, and then to the market for groceries. My girl was a little sick of being in the car.


11:00 a.m. Leave Target, switch cars with Brian (we have a system so we don’t have to buy another Britax carseat), and pick up boys from school. Since we have a little bit of a drive, I make sure to have snacks and juice boxes for the ride home.
12:00 p.m. – Unload kids, back packs, groceries, clean out fridge, and prepare lunch. Lunch is on the table, and we eat together talking about school.
1:30 p.m. – Naps. My youngest two get tucked in and pass out instantaneously. My oldest has some quiet time while I check some email, and attempt to fold some laundry.
2:00 p.m. – Door bell rings with a package. My oldest takes this as an invitation for quiet time to be over so we play for a little while, then I unload dishwasher and wash my new cutting board.
3:00 p.m. The others wake up and it is snacks and juice and my oldest breaks out the puzzles. Hands me the box for the 1,000 piece puzzle of the ocean. I make a half hearted attempt and then recommend the 24 piece train puzzle hoping that will be more their jam.
4:00 p.m. My gal pal, Colleen calls to chat. Kids play quietly.
5:00 p.m. Dinner prep begins. BBQ Chicken, salad, broccoli and home made mac and cheese. Kids help… sort of.
6:00 p.m. Brian walks in the door, changes, and we talk about his day while I finish up dinner and get plates ready.

6:30 Dinner.



7:30 p.m. Brian and I clean kitchen and I ask the kids to please pick up toys one more time. This time they quickly pick up cars, dolls, puzzles, knowing if they do a good job they will be rewarded with a show.

8:00 p.m. Kids watch 1/2 an episode of Phineas and Ferb. Jammies, snuggles, book, prayers, bed.

9:00 p.m. Brian and I turn on our DVR’d Thursday shows and simultaneously open our laptops for work and writing.

9:30 p.m. S’mores break. Yep, that just happened.



11:00 p.m. Good Night.

So there you have it. A day in our life. I swear that laundry will get folded, and I will work on my next blog project.

Good Outweighs the Bad: Play Doh Fun

When I was a kid, I have to say, I was never a fan of clay or play dough. I didn’t like the smell and I hated how it would get caught under my finger nails. I know its weird. I was an old soul. What can I say? Now as an adult, I pretty much don’t like play dough for the same reasons in addition to having a fear of it getting in my area rugs or couches.

My kids, however, did not inherit my anti play dough mentality, and for that I am grateful. Excuse the stacks of laundry baskets of clothes waiting to be folded, just keeping it real. Plus they go perfectly with all the toys on the floor.

I’m so happy the kids like play dough. Not only is it something they can do on their own but also gives me a chance to fold laundry er pick up toys ummm… sit and catch my breath. Also, after doing a lot of research on the educational benefits of play dough from a few websites, I found that play dough has several educational and developmental benefits.

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children play dough helps to strengthen fine motor skills.


Also, it can help with social skills such as peer conversation, interaction, and sharing.
Lastly, it can lead to exploration of different topics such as science.
After learning so much about play dough, I definitely think the good outweighs the bad, however, I still hate when it gets caught under my finger nails.
For more information about the benefits of play dough, check out this link.

“So, what’s for dinner?”: Weekly Menu Planning

This is the last week of Mom of 6’s Organize Your Life Bootcamp. This week’s focus is getting ahead of the game with menu planning.

In the past, I would usually only plan for a week’s worth of dinners, but then as we had children and I started to make my own baby food, I realized that I might have to do more planning than that. So as time went on, I started to plan for every meal for the week. At first, I was writing my list of meals down in a notebook with a my grocery list, but I thought it would be nice to have something I could display on the side of the fridge.

A few months ago, I found this great FREE printable on Jenny Collier’s blog.


As I mentioned last week, Brian and I sit down on talk about what we have going on for the week and sync up our calendars. Once this is done, I turn on another sitcom and plan out our weekly menu. With the help of my cook books, Pinterest, and Brian letting me know what he has a taste for, I plan for every single meal including snacks.

As I make the grocery list, I check the cabinets and fridge and make sure to jot down anything that we don’t already have. I typically try to go shopping when the boys are at school, and it is just me and Coco. Which usually ends up being in the middle of the week. I like this schedule as I don’t have to set foot in store on the weekends, and it is much quicker to only shop with one kid as opposed to three.


Some things worth mentioning:


  • Planning out a week or two in advance helps save money as I only buy what we need.
  • On the weekly menu planner, I plan which nights would be good for leftovers. I try to plan leftover nights for when Brian works late so that he can take extras with him for dinner.
  • When making my grocery list, I make sure I paper clip any coupons I have and need to use for my shopping trip.
  • Planning snacks helps to cut down on binge eating or eating unhealthy food.
  • When planning for the week, I have one alternate plan for something unexpected. For example, I know having pasta and jarred sauce on hand is something that is quick, easy, and everyone likes. This helps me have some sort of plan for when we are running late or have a sudden change of plans.
  • I know this seems a little time consuming, but honestly in the time it takes to watch a sitcom or one drama, Brian and I can go over the plan for the week, and I can plan out a menu.

Oktoberfest: Brats and Orchard Salad

This past weekend, we hosted a bunch of friends for dinner and an autumn bon fire complete with s’mores. The menu consisted of two of my favorite autumn dishes. Grilled Brats and Orchard Salad.


This is a great meal for entertaining, but also for a weeknight dinner.

Grilled Brats
3 bottles of your favorite beer (I used Swithwick’s)
1 package Brats
1 package rolls

In slow cooker add brats and cover with beer. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6 hours. Preheat grill on medium heat. Remove brats from slow cooker and put on grill  turning occasionally for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Serve with rolls and favorite mustard or grilled onions.

Orchard Salad
1 bag of pre washed Romain lettuce or two heads of romaine cleaned and chopped
1 large apple (Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Gala are some of my favorites) cored and sliced thin
1 large pear cored and sliced thin
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (I use Kerry Gold Extra Sharp Cheddar) cut into thin slices
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
2 Tbs Apple Juice or Apple Cider
2 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl add romain, apple, pear, cheese, and dried cranberries. In a separate bowl, add cider, vinegar, salt, pepper. While whisking the vinegar mixture, slowly pour olive oil until thoroughly combined. When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over salad.

It is worth mentioning that this meal tastes especially good with an ice cold beer and a Bears game, but that is of course optional.


Change Up: Fall Tablescape

Because I love autumn so much, I think I started decorating for it a bit too early this year. Also, since Brian and I built and finished our dining table, we eat dinner in our dining room pretty much every night. It was time for a bit of a change with our table decor for autumn.

Here is what is going on now:


The color scheme is not traditionally fall, but I really loved the dark browns. I folded some fabric that I had on hand from when I recovered some chairs awhile back.


I found this pumpkin on sale last week at Michael’s. It was half off, as is is most of their autumn decor (they are already putting out Christmas decorations…commence hyperventilation).
Then, I just added some crystal candlesticks and the glass vases filled with stones and twigs from my last autumn tablescape.
It is much more simple, and is a nice change to get me through until Thanksgiving.

Linking up at Serenity Now.

Marathon Watching!

This weekend is a super busy one for us, and will have plenty to share next week. Today, however I just wanted to share some pictures of us cheering at the Chicago Marathon two weeks ago.

I ran the Chicago Marathon (and finished) a few years ago, and hope to do it again someday. This year, the kids and I cheered some people on, including my oldest’s pre-school teacher, a family friend, my old Cross Country coach, and our Church’s priest and fundraising team.
The weather was perfect, and the kids loved watching the runners.
“Mom, why are you taking my picture… again?”

“Mommy, next time we are bringing chairs.”

“YAY! Gooooooo runners!”

This was also the perfect day to break in the new camera.


Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

Trains, Horses, and Pumpkins… OH MY!

Disclaimer: I’m going to talk about Autumn again. What can I say it is my favorite season.

Just like anyone, we have traditions. The Pumpkin Patch is one tradition that Brian and I started before we even had children. We never miss, even when my youngest was born mid September, we made a quick trip with her when she was only a few weeks old.


This year, my brother and sister in law were in from San Diego, and were able to go with us this year. Here are some pictures from our awesome day!


Our pumpkin patch has a bunch of other fun things to do such as a corn maze, petting zoo, pony rides, train, and miniature town complete with jail.




After all the fun, we made our way to pick out our pumpkins.

My oldest took this very seriously and contemplated for a long time which pumpkin would be perfect.


The other two weren’t so picky.


I wish Autumn would never end!