The Adventure Starts Here

Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy Pumpkin Day Mouse | Our Favorite Halloween Books

A blogging, turned real life friend, recently introduced me to the Monthly Crafting Book Club that Raising Fairies and Knights hosts each month.  We love to read and we definitely love to craft, so I loved the idea of combining two of our interests!  

I was really excited to find out that this month's book was It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!.  It has been a favorite of ours to read each fall since Noah was really little.  I love the simplicity of the book, but that the photos give you the opportunity to discuss different emotions and facial expressions.  I was really excited to bring this book back out for the next several weeks.  

Chris has mentioned in the past that we seem to do all the fun stuff during the week when he's at work.  So I decided to hold off on reading the book and doing a corresponding craft until Chris was home.  The boys had so much reading the book and even imitated many of the silly jack-o-lantern faces.  These two always have so much fun together.  

After they read the book, it was time for the craft.  One day when Noah was in school, I cut out some orange pumpkins and some black eyes and mouths.  I tried to give Noah enough options so that he could make whatever face he wanted.  I found the pumpkin template by searching Google images and cut the eyes and mouths free hand.

I cut out some white circles to act as a background to the round black eyes, but Noah decided he'd rather use them as noses.  He also decided he wanted to color the stem brown :)

Here are the finished products.  While Noah technically made them all, he assigned each of us a jack-o-lantern of our own...

While this is a simple craft, Noah really had a blast doing it!  We hung them on our kitchen pantry doors (like we do with all of our crafts), and he's so excited to point them out whenever we walk by.  

Find more "It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!"activities, crafts and more over at Raising Fairies and Knights.

In addition to It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!, here are some of our favorite books for Fall and Halloween!
This is Chris' favorite book to read to Noah, hands down!  On each page, they look for a pumpkin, and when they can't find one, Chris and Noah yell out "Nooooo"!  They get very into it!

Chris got this book for Noah since he was really into construction vehicles.  It's a very simple book, but Noah loves it, for obvious reasons.

I think this is a really cute book.  And I like that there's more of a story and not just a quick board book.

I love this book.  Noah was a little scared of it last year, but he's scared of a lot of things.  I hope he grows to love this book as he gets older.

While we aren't from Boston, we were gifted this book from friends who live in Massachusetts.  Despite not knowing all the landmarks, I still found it very entertaining.  We just picked the New Jersey one up too!

We have a few books from this series.  While I wasn't very impressed with the Easter one, I really liked this Halloween one!

I'm a little torn about this book.  The story is the typical Five Little Pumpkins song.  I usually don't like books that are just song lyrics I already know, but the illustrations really are great.  And Noah really loves this book, so it's a winner in our house.

Cute book, especially if your child likes George... and really, who doesn't love that monkey!

I personally think we are starting to outgrow this book, but it's still a really cute book that Noah enjoys to read.  

This one is new to us this year, I actually just picked it up this week at Target.  Noah was so excited for it that we even read it in the book aisle.  It was really cute and Noah always loves a good lift the flap.  Little Blue Truck does it again!

What are your favorite Halloween themed books?

*affiliate links used

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apple Tree Letter Recognition

There are so many levels in learning and mastering the alphabet.  Noah is now very good at singing the ABC song, knows all of his uppercase letters, and can write almost every single letter (uppercase) without any help.  Since he's doing really well with those concepts, I thought it would be a good time to work on his lowercase letters.  He's really good at recognizing the ones that look like the uppercase letters, but b & d and n & h often confuse him.  So I was really happy when I found this post and free printable on Pinterest.   Seriously, go check out her website... it's full of amazing ideas and resources!  It's just an added bonus that it was apple themed.  It worked out really well considering we went to the apple orchard this past weekend and enjoyed some apple recipes this week!  

One afternoon, I gave Noah the apple tree printable and the stickers, and he got to work (giraffe had to help too, of course!).   Noah loves stickers, so this activity was right up his alley.  I didn't give him much guidance other than telling him to match the uppercase letters (on the stickers) to the lowercase letters (on the tree).  All on his own, he decided to do the letters that he knew well first and then work on the ones that he wasn't so sure with.  I did help him a little when he got really stuck or needed confirmation before putting the sticker on.  

While it was a fairly quick activity, considering that there wasn't much prep time involved, I really loved it!  And anything that is learning disguised as fun is good in my books!

What methods have you found helped your kids learn their letters, big and small?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Some Apple Recipes to Try this Fall!

After visiting the apple orchard this weekend, I'm all of a sudden craving all things apple.  So I decided to whip up a few apple filled recipes to enjoy all week long.  First up was some jazzed up chicken salad.   Make sure to keep reading, because my second recipe is a delicious apple cinnamon bread that makes you feel like you are eating dessert for breakfast!  

I have always been a fan of chicken salad, but I usually keep it really simple... just some leftover rotisserie chicken and some Miracle Whip on toasted bread.  But since it's fall, I decided to make it a little extra special with apples, dried cranberries, and some pecans.  I had hoped to pick up some fresh croissants to use as my bread, but my store was all out when I went.  So instead, I settled for some simple rolls.  

1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used a rotisserie from our local grocery store)
1/2 of a Gala apple, cut into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of Miracle Whip or mayonnaise (depending on your preference)

Mix all your ingredients together.
You can then spread it onto a roll (or croissant), fill a pita or wrap, or add to the top of a lettuce salad.

My second recipe I tried is an applesauce and cinnamon bread.  I'm a huge fan of these apple and zucchini muffins, but I figured it was about time to try a new apple recipe.  While this recipe calls for apple sauce instead of real apples, I actually kind of prefer that since I'm not a fan of huge chunks of cooked apple (or any fruit) in my desserts.  This bread made my house smell so good and it really did taste like fall!  I definitely recommend giving this bread a try, it was really easy to make!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oats (I used the quick cook kind)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup applesauce (I used Motts, but homemade would be amazing)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease loaf pan. I used a 10 inch metal nonstick loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients by hand until just combined.

Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45-48 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and whisk together the powdered sugar and applesauce for the glaze.

When the bread has cooled for just a bit, pour the glaze over the top. It will settle into the cracks and keep the bread moist. The glaze will set, but will remain slightly sticky.

Enjoy!!!  What are some of your favorite apple recipes?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Ways to Document Your Life

I am a firm believer in capturing the moment and documenting life.  I know many will argue that we should live life rather than photograph life, but I honestly think that despite capturing the moment on camera, I'm still enjoying the moment as well.  And the older Noah gets, and the more I photograph, I realize that I love the candid shots more than the posed ones.  So while I am often behind the camera, I let Noah do his thing and I'm there to capture it, as uninterrupted as I can.  The reason I do this is because I really do think he will enjoy looking back on all these moments one day. I know that I love looking back at photos from my childhood.  So while it can be time consuming, I believe it's worth it.  In addition to this blog, here are 5 ways that I document our life.  

One - A Yearly Photo Album

I take a lot of photos.  And while I share a lot of them on the blog, I also want to make sure they are printed so they don't just sit on my computer.  In addition to printing photos to hang in frames all around the house, I also make a photo album every year.  I personally love and use Becky Higgins Project Life products.  I love how she has simplified the scrapbooking process and made it very user friendly.  They offer physical products, digital products, and even have an app.  And this is by no means sponsored, I'm just a big fan!

If you are interested in my method, read on, otherwise, feel free to skip to my next method of documenting.

I use Photoshop to make all my pages.  I have purchased the Project Life page templates as well as many other kits along the way.  I watched a few tutorials on how to make the pages, and I was ready to go!  I personally like to document on a weekly basis and dedicate a 2 page spread for each week of the year, but the options are endless depending on how many photos you take and how detailed you want to be.  I then usually add an extra 2 page spread for big vacations, Noah's birthday, and Christmas (when there are even more photos taken).  Obviously, I can't include every photo each week, but after paring them down and using collages, I'm usually able to include all my favorites and show a true representation of our week.  I even turn videos from the week into QR codes.  While the technology will probably change, right now it gives us the opportunity to scan the code while flipping through the book and watch videos in addition to looking at the photos.  And while photos are great, I also make sure to add journaling and a little recap of what we did each day.  I then upload the pages to Shutterfly and order a book every January when they are offering a discount code.  Noah loves flipping through the books and talking about what we did.

Two - An Album for Noah

I use the same process as I explained above, but I make a book that is specifically for Noah.  Instead of making 2 page spreads for each week, I do them for each month.  And these pages are dedicated to all things Noah.  As a baby, I focused on milestones, and now I like including the funny things Noah says.  Many of these photos were also used in our family book, so putting these pages are pretty easy. The reason I make this book in addition the family album, is that one day, when Noah is all grown up, I plan to give him all these books to take with him.  So far I've made and printed a book of Noah's 1st year.  Currently, I'm making a book that will cover 13 months through his 4th birthday (which will be here before I know it!).

Three - Family videos

Back in July, I shared some tips on how to make family videos.  I love making family videos and while I love our family vacations videos, my favorite one is the birthday video/movie I make for Noah every year.  I make it with a mix of photos and videos to show what each year was all about.  We watch it when we get together for Noah's family birthday celebration.

Four - 1SE

If our family videos weren't enough, I'm also having so much fun making this 1 Second Everyday for the first time this year!   The premise behind it is to make a video by compiling 1 second videos from each and every day.  I made the goal at the beginning of the year to take at least one video each day, even if it's of something mundane.  And while I have missed a few days, I'm very pleased with my progress so far.  Every couple of weeks, I add my videos and save the project as I go.  Even though it isn't finished yet, I love watching our year in 1 second clips.

Five - Collect App

And if everything else seems like too much work, then the Collect app is for you!  Simply add a photo for each day and you get a fun collage at the end of each month.  It is very user friendly with close to immediate gratification.

So yes, I do a lot, but I really enjoy it and love the end product!  

Now tell me, how do you document your life?

*affiliate links may be used

Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

Monday, September 19, 2016

Apple Picking

Pumpkin flavored everything is probably what comes to mind when you think Fall.  But for me, September is about apples, pumpkins can wait for October!  On Saturday, we headed to our local farm to go apple picking.  While I'm not really a fan of apple pies (or any pie for that matter... it's the whole mushy fruit thing that bothers me), I really do like to eat apples and bake with them in other ways.  And while it's fun to go pick tons of apples to bake with, our real reason for going apple picking is more for the experience.   I love taking Noah each year and seeing how much he grows each year.  Besides him looking bigger, I love that he's become more involved and more excited with the process every year.  

Past years, we've picked Honey Crisps since they are our favorite.  But this year, we didn't check before going and were a little surprised when we found out the Honey Crisps weren't ready to be picked yet.  Instead, they only had "Greening", which are meant for tarts and baking, and MacIntosh.  While I grew up eating (and loving) MacIntosh apples, last year we picked a few and none of us really liked them.  So right away, we were a little bummed that this trip might not be the best.  And even though the trees were a little more bare than I had expected, there were enough for us to have a good time picking.  And the best part... they tasted delicious this year!  And while the photos make it seem like we picked baskets full of apples, we actually only picked about 10-15.  A few were duds, we ate three on the spot, and we brought six home.  At least I know we won't let any apples go to waste!  

 ^^^ using the "claw apple grabber", as named by Noah
 ^^^ in the past, Noah was never interested in eating any apples on the spot.  But this year he loved it!
 ^^^ Daddy loves to make smiley faces for Noah!
 ^^^ and Noah loves to destroy them!
 ^^^ I definitely wasn't as graceful with the "claw apple grabber" and I ended up grabbing more than just the apple... oops!
 ^^^ Noah was even tall enough to reach some of them on his own!
 ^^^ giving Daddy "high six" since that's how many we had in our basket

My jeans | shirt (old from Old Navy) | shoes (old from Loft)
Noah's shirt | pants | sneakers

Past year's apple picking adventures: 2015 | 2014
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