Halloween 2014

Halloween this year was so much fun! Henry was totally into it, and I was determined to squeeze in lots of fall fun, especially outside while we could. (Let’s just pause for a sec and recognize that the weather this fall was amazing…ahhh). We hit up various pumpkin patches/place areas – three to be exact, one of them twice, painted pumpkins for the mantel, went to the park district’s Halloween party, carved pumpkins and trick or treated twice (once at downtown businesses the day before Halloween).

Painting pumpkins happened twice, as I had five and I thought I’d split up the “time wasting” activity (more like 10 minutes) – yet I think the clean up took as long as the painting process. At least my little artist loved it, and still points up at the pumpkins he painted proudly.  Henry was able to wear his costume three times this year, which is always nice since a. time/money/thought that went into it b. he looked so darn cute. I decided he was going to be Mickey Mouse, since he’s obsessed with the show at the moment and I could pull it off pretty easily, and he was the cutest Mickey Mouse I ever did see. I think he loved it too.

A couple nights before Halloween we carved pumpkins and Henry couldn’t have been more excited or involved. I was a little surprised how much he helped (albeit slooooow help) scoop the pumpkins out and put the seeds in the bowl. He even wanted to help carve, which was interesting carving with a knife while he held onto my hand. He was so excited to carve Mickey into his pumpkin (he has the best excited face with his mouth open, that he’s been doing for several things lately and I love it, see pic below) and was genuinely scared of Ryan’s “scary face” pumpkin – though he still loved it. I had to carry him up the stairs every night since “scary face” was right outside the front door (I didn’t mind the tight snuggles). Such a character, my Henry.

Of course Halloween was really cold and windy, despite the week leading up to it being super nice, but Henry braved the weather and made it to several houses. Henry had a special treat and was able to trick or treat with both of his grandmas who also braved the weather for him. The neighbor across the street was Minnie Mouse – how perfect! – and they trick or treated together for a bit, cutest pair ever. Henry has LOVED the Halloween candy, and I can’t lie, I like it too since I’m not above bribing him with it (“if you take a nap, you can have a piece of candy when you wake up”. hey, it works. usually.)

With all the fun we had, of course I took tons of photos. Today I’m sharing just a smattering of them (though still a lot), from the pumpkin patch/play place where Henry picked out his “big pumpkin” (that we paid too much for, only to have it rot on the porch before we carved it and I had to go buy a replacement + another to carve without him noticing), carving the pumpkins and Halloween itself.

roping slide with dad slide with mom jump jump 2 horse ride corn maze corn maze 2 picking pumpkin picking up pumpkin with pumpkins cleaning pumpkin cleaning pumpkin 2 IMG_9388 IMG_9393 IMG_9390 IMG_9395 IMG_9398 IMG_9403 IMG_9405 IMG_9411 IMG_9426 IMG_9464 IMG_1760 IMG_1761 IMG_1766 sad mickey mad mickey

(he was a little tired of pictures)

IMG_9440 IMG_9447 IMG_9462 IMG_9463 IMG_9453 IMG_1769 IMG_1771 IMG_1774 IMG_9459


The only fall activity we haven’t done is eat caramel apples, though I’m hoping to still make some at home – pretty much just because I could really go for one 🙂 Leading up to Halloween we watched the Curious George Halloween special one million times, and the day after Halloween we had to switch to Christmas movies (since there’s not much out there for Thanksgiving) – and we’ve subsequently watched the Christmas Curious George and the three Mickey Mouse Christmas movies one million times already and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. We’ve created a monster. I have to admit, it puts me into the Christmas spirit early this year – I’m not sure I can hold out until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate and get the tree.

Hope your Halloween was just as fun and magical!



weekend recap {fall family fun}

fall family fun –  i love some alliteration. i also loved this past weekend. we finally had no obligations and planned some good old fashioned family time. after snuggles, naked jumparoo time and whatnot saturday, we hit up a pumpkin farm to take ridiculously cute photos of henry and buy some pumpkins (and we didn’t forget apple cider donuts and a caramel apple, either). then we went to ryan’s favorite place on earth, outback, where we enjoyed too much food while henry enjoyed the coasters. sunday we continued our family fest and enjoyed the gorgeous weather at the zoo. henry basically slept through it, but woke in time to take more ridiculously cute photos. along the way henry enjoyed his first big boy stroller ride and el ride – all while matching his mom in one of her favorite shirts 🙂 (i’m sure he’ll look back and be so embarrassed, but i can’t help myself)





henry and i

Ryan and Henry

ry henry

eating pumpkin

huge pumpkins


eating coaster

happy stroller

stroller feet

weeping willow








what didn’t happen was my to do list. my toilets are disgusting. a casserole didn’t get made. i have a half finished sewing project still sitting there, waiting. but what did happen is what matters. the memories we made.


2 (and a 1/2) ingredient pumpkin muffcakes + brown sugar cream cheese frosting

fall is the time for pumpkin flavored everything, but i have to admit, i’ve never been a huge pumpkin fan. on thanksgiving i always opt for the apple pie over the pumpkin pie. though as with many food items i haven’t been besties with in the past, i’m coming around and changing my tune.

this recipe, originally from the big red kitchen, has been getting around on pinterest (what a sloot), but the first review i read about it was on erika’s urban grace blog, and i was convinced that i had to give it – and pumpkin – a shot.

is so easy peasy squeezy it’s ridiculous. it’s also healthy (minus the frosting i add). and extremely genius.


the recipe is originally a pumpkin bread, but i baked it in cupcake form. the texture is a bit more dense than airy, so it’s more muffin-like. but i frosted them with a delicious brown sugar cream cheese icing, which makes them cupcake-like. let’s split the difference and call them muffcakes (which sounds kind of dirty).

pumpkin muffcakes

1 box cake mix (i used yellow; spice, chocolate – whatever you wish)
1 15-oz can 100% pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
heaping 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (may be omitted, but increases the flavor of pumpkin)

(note: do not use the oil, eggs or water as indicated on the cake mix. only the pumpkin. this is the genius and healthyness of it).

preheat oven to 350 degrees. mix all ingredients together well. pour into prepared cupcake tins (either greased or with liner). bake for 17-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

recipe notes:
-this made me 16 cupcakes. i used a full-sized ice cream scoop to measure into my tins. they rose a lot, so you can fill them only about 1/2 way, and you will get more cupcakes (and you may need to decrease the cooking time a little).
-the batter will be thick and sticky. this is normal.
-i made these again 2 days later for work, and added in about a 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. yum!

brown sugar cream cheese frosting

1 1/4 sticks butter (10 tablespoons), softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (optional: an additional 2 tablespoons or so)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

cream the cream cheese in an electric mixer for 1 minute. add the butter, beating for 1-2 minutes, or until incorporated. add the brown sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated. turn off mixer and add 1 cup of powdered sugar. mix on low speed until incorporated so it doesn’t fly out of the bowl. taste and slowly add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired sweetness. if you want a more pronounced brown sugar taste (like me; brown sugar is my favorite ingredient), add another tablespoon or two of brown sugar (but not too much, it will become grainy) and mix well.

recipe notes:
-this generously frosted 16 cupcakes, and i had some left over.
-i don’t like my frosting too sweet, which is why i love cream cheese frosting. but it can’t be too cream-cheesy either. i like to know its cream cheese, but not feel like i’m eating cream cheese. huh? it makes sense to me. so you may need to add even more powdered sugar, if that’s how you roll.

mmm{look at that gorgeous color!}

when i brought these over to a friend’s house, her mom told me she uses this same ‘trick’ for pancakes — adds pumpkin puree to the dry pancake batter instead of eggs/milk, etc. it would make a delicious fall breakfast! i’m thinking it would go great with a glaze instead of syrup.


these cupcakes are super moist, and have such a great flavor. you can taste the pumpkin, but it’s not too strong. and cream cheese icing makes everything better – especially when it has brown sugar, the most magical ingredient on earth.

my second time making them, i used these totally cute cupcake liners that i snagged at home goods. love them! (but it was hard to not get the batter or the frosting on them, so they’re not the cleanest).

take 2

have you tried this 2 1/2 ingredient recipe yet? are you a fan of pumpkin? let me know if you have other must-make pumpkin recipes to further convert me to a pumpkin lover.


linked to remodelaholic, mommy by day crafter by night, southern lovely and between naps on the porch