Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

The kids are tucked in bed, their sugar highs wearing off. This year the whole family got in on the dressing up. We were the Super Readers from Super Why, a favorite preschool show on public TV. It was a lot of fun putting together and sewing the costumes. We were able to wear them a few times--once at my moms' group's trunk or treat and, of course, tonight. We had to bundle up a little more tonight--brr!

The Super Readers:
John as Alpha Pig, Me as Wonder Red, Levi as Super Why, and Lillian as Princess Presto

For comparison, here are the REAL Super Readers

Out trick-or-treating

Post trick-or-treating and enjoying some of the candy. They had just about as much fun handing out candy as collecting it for themselves.
Earlier this week, we carved our pumpkins with the help of John's parents.

I hope you had a fun and safe evening. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Family Photos

In September, we had a photo session with Jennifer from Cary Grove Photography. As I expected, it was a little tricky to get Lillian to sit still and look at the camera, let alone to get both her and Levi looking and smiling in the same photo. However, Jennifer was patient and took her time snapping lots of pictures. We ended up with some great shots that capture the kids personality. Here are a few of our favorites:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Zucchini Cream Cheese Bread

One of the favorite fall flavors for many people is pumpkin. It seems like you can get pumpkin-flavored anything this time of year-muffins, coffee, cookies, bagels, and even pasta. If you're looking for a different twist on the traditional pumpkin bread, here's a recipe to try. It's also a good use for any zucchini you many have in your freezer.

A few years ago, I made a Pumpkin Layered Loaf. At the time I thought the the cheesecake-style layer would be great addition to many other sweet breads. Then a couple months ago, my friend raved about this Pumpkin Zucchini Bread. I decided to combine the two recipes and it was delicious! It made an already yummy bread into a dessert. For all you pumpkin-lovers--you've got to try it.

Pumpkin Zucchini Cream Cheese Bread
  3 eggs, lightly beaten
  1 C. sugar
  1 C.brown sugar
  1 C.canned pumpkin
  1 C.butter, melted (or 1 C. oil or 1/2 C. oil and 1/2 C. applesauce)
  1 Tbsp. tablespoon vanilla extract
  3 C. all-purpose flour
  1 tsp. baking soda
  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  1/2 tsp. salt
  1 tsp. cinnamon
  1 tsp. nutmeg
  1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  1 to 2 C. shredded zucchini
  1 C. chopped walnuts (optional)--I left these out

Cream Cheese Filling:
  2 (8 oz. ea.) packages cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, softenened
  1/4 C. sugar
  2 egg whites
    Bread: In a bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin, butter (or oil/applesauce) and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in another bowl; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini and nuts.

    Filling: In a bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, and egg whites. Beat with a whisk until well blended.

    Prepare two greased and floured two 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Pour 1/4 of batter into each pan. Then top each with half of the cream cheese filling. Distribute the rest of the batter equally over the filling. Bake at 350° for about 1 hr. or until a toothpick inserted into the center come out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

    Another option is to make half of the recipe of filling and make one loaf as usual, and one with the cream cheese filling.

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    If you're looking for some fun fall things to do in Northeast Illinois this weekend, here are a few:

    -Na-Da Farm Barn Sale/Flea Market - Friday 5-8 PM, Saturday 9 AM-2 PM

    -Autumn Drive - Friday-Sunday 9 AM-5 PM

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Fall Mantel

    Last week I showed some of my fall decorating. This week I wanted to share how I decorated my mantel for fall.

    Recently I had been looking for a larger something for my mantel. I liked the idea of propping up an antique cupboard door or window. I even thought about creating my own piece of artwork. One day, I stopped in to Tattered Tiques and found the perfect old cupboard door. It is white on one side and has a dark stain on the other side. This means it has lots of possibilities throughout the year. So, the door became the backdrop and focal point of my fall mantel.

    I made a quick pennant banner using fabric and twine. I cut the edges with pinking sheers and stitched the triangles in place on the twine. This way they won't slide when they are hung at an angle.

    A fall mantel wouldn't be complete without a pumpkin.

    I'm so happy to add the antique cupboard door to my mantel. I'm already thinking of all the possibilities for Christmas and winter decorating.

    Once again, I'm linking up to The Inspired Room's Fall Nesting Series. This week's theme is "Decorating Fall Mantels and Porches". Stop by check out what others have done.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Fall Finally Comes

    I'm way behind on my fall decorating this year. Usually by the middle of September, I have brought out the pumpkins and gourds, the bittersweet, and the deeper fall colors. This year...not so much. But this weekend while the boys were away, I finally took the time to get my house dressed for fall. I was happy to put to use a few new things, as well as pulling out some things I haven't used in a while. Here's what I have done so far.

    A close up of some of the shelves...

    I kept things a little simpler than I have in the past. It'll be fun to change some things up as I find new things and new inspiration. Next week I'll show you my mantle. I had a lot of fun decorating it with a new find from Tattered Tiques.
    I'm once again linking up to The Inspired Room's Fall Nesting Party. This week's theme is Fall Around the House. I guarantee that you'll find lots of others linked up there that will inspire you to bring some fall to your house.

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Twenty Little Things I Love About Fall

    It's already October. Where did September go? Fall is in full gear now and it seems that everyone is happier for it. I love all the seasons and the changing of the seasons, but there's just something special about fall. There's so much to love, but here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

    1. The leaves changing--who doesn't love that?

    2. Layering up

    3.Baking pies

    4.Crisp mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons

    5. Hot apple cider

    6. Going to the pumpkin patch

    7. Time for soups again

    8. More inside time for sewing

    9. Pumpkins and gourds around the house...effortless decorating

    10. Walking in the woods

    11. All the yummy scents-cinnamon, pumpkin, apple

    12. A drive through the country

    13. Apple cider donuts

    14. Our annual pumpkin carving night

    15. The crunch of fallen leaves on the sidewalk

    16. All the fall/harvest festivals

    17. Cool nights perfect for sitting around the campfire

    18. Fields ready for harvest

    19. The holidays on the horizon

    20. The Inspired Room's Fall Nesting Series

    Throughout October I'll be linking up to The Inspired Room's Fall Nesting Series. This week's theme is "Get Your Fall Nesting On! {20 Little Things I Love About Fall}". You'll find lots of great fall decorating, DIY projects, recipes, and fun stuff there. Check it out!