Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Outdoor Fun

We've had some great weather the last few weeks- perfect for enjoying some outside activities.

A few weekends ago we decided to load up the kids' bikes and head to the park for the afternoon.  It was especially nice that Frank, who has worked most weekends since he started his new job, was caught up enough to come with us!

This particular park has amazing paths where the kids can ride their bikes, and they were all about it!

We ended up at the fountain.  Guess which kid didn't want to have his picture taken...

The one who was only interested in his "thanck."

It was a gorgeous afternoon to spend some time outdoors.

Another weekend, we spent at our neighbor's parents annual Apple Butter Festival.  The kids had just finished a hayride in which the hayrack was being pulled by this tractor.  After the ride was over, they wanted to check out the tractor.  Frank took these with this phone- wouldn't you love to know what was being said in the first picture?

And of course, there has been plenty of time spent just playing at home.  This particular afternoon, Carter decided he wanted to drive... Jacob agreed, but then ran to get his bike helmet in case of a crash!

By the end of October, time outdoors is winding down.  Between the time change, and what has historically been a drastic drop in temperatures right around Halloween, we won't get many more "outdoors" days this year, so I'm glad we've been able to enjoy such a nice autumn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Visit to the Farm

Just a few miles from our house is Rader Family Farms, an "agritourism" farm with a pumpkin patch, cafe, a petting zoo, and acres of outdoor children's activities.  It is only open September and October, which makes it even more special.

This year, my dilemma was actually finding a time to go, since weekends are super-crowded, and the thought of going during the week made me feel like I was cheating on Jacob.  (Carter likes Rader Farms; Jacob loves Rader Farms.)  This past Monday was Columbus Day, and I knew it would be perfect since Jacob was off school.

I was also anticipating the crowds, so we arrived about 15 minutes before it actually opened.

One day, I'll get one of those pictures that everyone else posts on Facebook where the kids are dressed in cute fall clothes and cooperating.

 Today wasn't that day.

They really just wanted to PLAY!

Anyone notice there's a kid missing from most of these pictures?  Mr. Carter is not a fan of taking turns and had gotten his nose out of joint when we moved on from the first activity, which by now was several activities ago.  At least he's hard to lose in a crowd... you can always locate him by his screaming.

Finally, he had had enough of himself, and straightened up to enjoy the last half of our trip.

The fact that Jacob is wearing a bright colored shirt? Not an accident!  Look how easily you can find him!

This giant tire tower was a new addition this year, and the kids loved it.  It would have been just a bit better, though, on a day without 20+mph winds!

This always makes me smile.

By this time, it was nearing lunch and as predicted, it was extremely crowded, so we got in line for one last activity---everyone's favorite:  the caterpillar train!

Until next year!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Let's Talk About Squash

Let's talk about squash.  (And my husband just stopped reading this post...)

Anyway, there are several health benefits of squash including anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits and as well as the provision of antioxidents not usually found in your daily diet. Plus, squash is just a warm, comforting food during the fall and winter months.  I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it, so I thought I'd share with you some of the recipes that I've used.

Spaghetti Squash:

I just made spaghetti squash for the first time last week.  Everyone always talks about how spaghetti squash can replace noodles in some types of pasta dishes to make the dish low carb.  My thoughts:  noodles are noodles.  Squash is squash.  Separate but equal in their own respects.

I made Sausage, Kale, and Spaghetti Squash boats by Paleo Grubs.  I liked it, but I didn't love it. Honestly, the parts I liked were the sausage, kale, and pine nuts!  I think I was expecting the spaghetti squash to have more of a nuttier flavor, but spaghetti squash itself doesn't have much of a flavor. I can see why many recipes top it with marinara because it just needs a little kick.

I'll probably make this again, but I'll probably also search for other ways to serve spaghetti squash.

Sausage, Kale, and Spaghetti Squash Boats!:
Inage via

Acorn Squash:  

This was the first squash recipe I made.  The only changes I made were omitting the coriander seed and using regular sausage. It's actually one of the quickest and easiest ways that I've found to prepare squash.  This recipe tastes like fall!

After Carter was born, we had a friend bring us acorn squash stuffed with with broccoli cheese rice, cranberries, and walnuts.  There are probably several different variations you could do along those lines, just depending on what your family likes.

Image via

Butternut Squash:

Butternut squash is the richest, sweetest, and nuttiest of the squashes I've tried.  It's also the biggest pain to prepare!  Peeling, scooping out the guts, cubing, roasting and then it's finally recipe-ready--much easier to pay the extra money and buy it already cubed!

My hands-down favorite butternut squash recipe is Butternut Squash Alfredo Baked Shells from Gimme Some Oven.  It is out-of-this-world good.  It's also a bit time-consuming to prepare, but so worth it!  The last time I made this, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning because I couldn't wait for lunch!

Butternut Alfredo Baked Shells | #pasta
Image via 

So there you have it.  Three ways to prepare three different types of squash.  Any other great ways to prepare squash that I should know about?

Friday, September 18, 2015

This and That

  • I'm kind of having some issues with how fast the kids are growing.  Don't get me wrong-- I don't really miss crying and bottles and all of that jazz, but one day I woke up to children who make references to pop culture and sigh at my ignorance.  They are just getting too big.  Case in point:

  • With Carter in preschool, I went grocery shopping yesterday for the second time by myself in five years, and caught sight of a lady with two little boys who were about one year old and four years old.  The older one was running around the cart, and she was totally fed up with them... and here I was in the quiet.  Let's be clear:  I hate nothing more than grocery shopping with children, but suddenly I missed my little sidekicks!  I had to zoom down the aisle before the lady saw me tear up and thought I was completely crazy.  (And yes, there will always be summers.  And yes, I will again complain about the whining/running/fighting through the grocery store   But yesterday, I just had a little moment, so I thought it was worth documenting.)

  • Moving along, we recently tried Audrey Hepburn's recipe for Pasta al Pomodoro. This sauce was fantastic! I think I used two cans of whole roma tomatoes and then ran the mixture through the blender at the end (Maybe not so Audrey-like :) )

  • Speaking of cooking, I opened my Traditional Home yesterday and found myself a new kitchen.  It's a little different than what I normally gravitate towards, but it has so many layers of interesting:

  • A few weeks ago, they baled the hay in the field behind our house, so we've been looking at these cool, round bales.  It's the first time that's happened in the six years we've lived here, and since we don't know how much longer we'll have the open field behind us, I decided to take some pictures. Jacob's pose cracked me up!

  • 'Tis the season for gorgeous sunsets.  The light a few evenings ago couldn't have been more spectacular.  That orange-y yellow glow is starting to look like fall!

Happy Friday!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Carter's Turn

Then there's this one.

I don't think I have ever met a more headstrong kid, and that's saying a lot!  When he makes up his mind about something, no amount of coercion is going to change him.  For example. this summer he decided he wanted to do swimming lessons (I didn't even think he liked the water, so I wasn't going to push it.).  He took two months of lessons and had a grand old time!  If I told him he was going to take lessons, he would have freaked out, but since it was his idea, he was fine with it.

As it got closer to the time for Jacob to go to school, he decided he wanted to go, too.  Fortunately, I had registered him last winter for a one morning per week program, and last week we had Meet-the-Teacher Day.

He immediately started exploring the classroom.

When it finally came time for his first day, he was all smiles!  He w as so proud to carry his little backpack and put it in his cubby like a big boy.

His teacher said he was a "delight" to have in class.  I resisted the urge to ask if she had somehow mixed him up with another kid!  :)  Seriously, though, I think he was tired Jacob getting to do all the fun stuff and was ready to do something of his own.  He had made up his mind that he wanted to go to "school" like the big kids, and that was that.

Now if only he would make up his mind to potty-train... !