Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple Picking at Stribling Orchard

Our boys have been begging us to go apple picking for a few weeks now so Sunday after church we ventured out west of the DC area to Stribling Orchards.  It is about a 40 minute ride for us from our home and as an added bonus, only 15 minutes from my parents house. Of course, they were also begging to stop by Grammy & Grandpa's following the adventure as well.  Last year, I was able to squeeze in a field trip with our middle son to Stribling so I was aware of how wonderful this orchard is for picking apples. 
They were picking four varieties of apples: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, & Grimes Golden.  What I love about this orchard is the the numbered map with locations of trees, the color coded tree trunks and the ability to drive right up into the orchard area to pick.
They also provide the long handled apple pickers which come in handy for all those ripe apples way up on the top of the trees.

All three boys got into the action and enjoyed sampling the apples along the way: my favorite is definitely the Macintosh but the boys loved the Golden Delicious!

Stribling has a great area for picnics so you can easily bring your own and enjoy the afternoon.  They also have a wonderful bakery full of apple bread, turnovers, pies and donuts!  They also sell local honey, butter, wine and peanuts! During the weekends, they have a snack shack open selling hot dogs/hamburgers and a variety of other food and drink. Caramel apples were $4.00 and apple cider was $1.50.  The views of the Shenandoah Mountains are beautiful and you can see the leaves just beginning to turn a little.

We ended up picking a 1/2 bushel and a peck full of apples (cheaper than weighing by the pound). Now to figure out what to do with all these yummy apples?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Boy's Room Update: Part 1: The Desk

When we moved into our house a year ago, we had a 2 week old and were just trying to get settled, then came the holiday season, the crazy winter filled with sickness and spring sports.  Needless to say, we didn't get much accomplished! This summer we made a list of all the "ideas" and "updates" we wanted to start tackling and #1 was our oldest son's room updates. He had asked for a desk since last spring because he wanted a place to do his homework and art projects without having his younger brothers running around. Have you ever explored the world of pricing for a simple kid desk? How about $400 or more! So, I started looking around and discovered the perfect first building project for my husband and I to tackle together!
If you've never had the opportunity to explore the fabulous site of Ana White then you don't know what you are missing.  In fact, as soon as you finish reading this, hop on over and take a look at all the amazing DIY project plans she has for great knock offs from stores such as Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Land of Nod to name a few. We found the plans for the 1x3 Sawhorse Desk on her site and followed them exactly with the exception of adding the extra piece in the back
Don't you love how simple this desk is yet adds the perfect space for a boy's room!
As for staining we wanted to find something that would blend in with his existing furniture so we chose American Walnut from Rust-oleum and sealed it with a Satin Polyurethane.  Both products can be found at Lowes and offer fast drying times.
Project Details:
Materials: We used pine wood from Lowes: $65
The Kreg Jig: $99 (we didn't own it but now love it!)
Stain: Rust-Oleum American Walnut found at Lowes
Other items displayed
Baseball bat corkboard: Pottery Barn Kids
Stay tuned for some additional updates to his room!
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Our Favorite Board Games (Ages 3-7)

Before the age of video games, the internet and netflix, we relied on board games for family fun! Even with the birth of modern technology, I feel it is important to unplug and enjoy some family fun this way and its a great way to pass the time during power outages! Our kids truly enjoy board games and I love giving them as gifts for various occassions throughout the year.  These are the top one for now in our household:
We love Think Fun's line of games and Zingo was our first one.  It is an excellent way for kids to learn early word recognition and plus it is a lot of fun to play and yell out ZINGO!

Another fun game by Think Fun that helps kids learn word recognition. Like I said, we love Think Fun games.  This game features cards that have either one or two open letters on it and you try to spell words with the available letters. This helped our oldest son learn many new words and I've even used the cards to work on the idea of changing out one vowel sound to form new words.
A great spin off of the game Guess Who and  a lot of fun for Star Wars fans.  Our boys love playing this game over and over again.  I love the creative ways they have developed to ask questions such as "Does your person have a green lightsaber?"
Operation is a classic game that never gets old and I love all the fun variations Hasbro has created.  Of course, this one did not dissapoint and how much fun is it to take apart R2D2! As a former occupational therapist, I love using Operation to develop Fine motor skills in kids.  It is also fun learning all the different names of the parts.
Surprise, surprise: our boys love Legos! This game is great for boys and I love how Lego games have to be built first!  My boys can explain this game to anyone better than I can, that is how easy it was for them to pick up on how to play.  It's an added bonus that our kids love the line of Lego City! 
Memory is an all time favorite game in our house and when my middle son received this game, we continued to love it even more. Not only do you get the excitement of playing memory but you also get to place the matches in the viewing stands and race to the finish line!
Hope you've enjoyed our favorite games and I look forward to hearing some of your family favorites!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple Pie Muffins

One of my favorite aromas of fall is a fresh apple pie baking in the oven.  You have to admit, nothing makes a house smell more fantastic on a crip, cool autumn afternoon.  Since I needed to whip up some muffins for a school gathering in the morning, I thought some variation of apple was in order.   I recalled pinning a number of recipes and found this perfect one from Sally's Baking Addiction.

These are absolutely delicious and healthy too! Our official taste tester (aka the growing 14 month old) gobbled one up like it was a chocolate cupcake! So if you are looking for something to satisfy that apple pie craving, grab the recipe today! You won't be disappointed.


Shopping Finds at Homegoods

I abslutely adore Homegoods and find myself visiting one of the two nearby on a weekly basis.  It probably doesn't help they are both located near a few other favorites: Target & DSW.  I'm always on the lookout for some new treasures while I'm there.  Here are a few of my finds from this past week's journey.
How cute are these baking cups? Simple stripes and a scalloped edge and at $2.99: sure I will take a few for my fall baking!
I saw this sign and immediately said I needed that for my kitchen!  Love the color combo, the vintage feel and the price: $14.99
This pumpkin pillow was a splurge: $19.99 but with a one year old who enjoys picking up and throwing everything (he thinks we should always play ball) it was the perfect fit for my fireplace this fall.  After all, the stripes make it worth it!

Owls are the trendy item this season and this tealight holder makes a great addition to my mantel. It's an adorable extra and for only $5.99, it was a great buy!
Can't wait to stop by Homegoods again for some more unexpected treasures!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Fall Y'all M&M Pretzel Cookies

People always ask me, "what do you do with all those goodies you bake?". Well, unless our family is really in the mood for something sweet, many of the special treats end up as "thinking of you" gifts to friends, neighbors, teachers, etc...I do freeze quite a bit to stockpile for the holiday season or special occasions. I love the combo of sweet & salty and anytime I can combine the two, it makes for a delicious treat. That's exactly what these M&M Pretzel Cookies are: a yummy combo of chocolate and salty pretzels!

M&M Pretzel Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup m&ms
1/2 cup chopped up pretzels

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside
-Mix butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy
-Add in eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until fully combined.
-Slowly add flour mixture but do not overbeat (you can use your hand to mix in once combined)
-Stir in m&ms and pretzels pieces
-Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 12-15 min or until starting to brown.

As an added bonus, I found these cute pails in the Target dollar aisle and made up some Happy Fall Y'All gift tags for these yummy treats.

Want your own Gift Tags? You can download the Happy Fall Y'all Gift Tags here and make your own delicious treats for giving!


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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's Up Wednesday? Favorite websites & apps that reward you back!

As Halloween slowly creeps upon, we all know what that means....Christmas will be knocking down our doors before October 31st even arrives.  We all know our favorite craft stores are fully decked out in holiday cheer and just this week I noticed Costco putting up some lights and trees...yikes! Every year we all seem to make a New Year's resolution around money (I'll pay off that student loan, I'll save more for the future, and I'll spend less on the kids, etc...) Realistically, many of those resolutions quickly fade away and we go about our daily lives, shopping online or hitting up our favorite stores yet leaving money on the table.  You ask how? There are numerous simple, easy websites and apps out there that make saving and earning extra cash and rewards a simple click or touch away.
If you shop online, you should always hit up the rewards website EVReward before ever making a purchase. Type in the store you are planning to shop at and you will quickly see what rewards programs you can earn points or money from and at what percentage. From Ebates to Marriott Rewards and Upromise, you can see where you can maximize your purchases.

Since we are all frequent grocery shoppers, the Saving Star App or website will reward you by using coupons that can be redeemed as cash into your bank account, paypal or Amazon gift cards. Connect your grocery loyalty shopping cards to the site and choose the coupons you want to use, then instead of money off the products, you will get that amount added to your Saving Star account.  Once you save $5, you can choose your payout option. 
My new favorite app is Shopkick  You earn kicks by scanning through lookbooks and then they are added into your account upon walking into stores such as Target, Best Buy, and Old Navy.  Plus, you can earn additional kicks by scanning merchandise at these stores.  You can then choose gift cards from Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Sephora and many more stores.  Simple, easy and as much as I shop at Target, I quickly earned gift cards!
With the invention of Amazon Prime, Netflix, and itunes, I quickly realized how many DVDs were taking up extra space in my house.  Amazon's Trade-In Program to the rescue.  Remember those prenatal and post-preganancy workout DVDs you bought, they are golden for the trade-in.  I turned in 6 DVDs and earned $20 in Amazon gift cards.  Now, I am solely going through all our DVD collections to see what others I can say good-bye too and "hello" to some extra cash.
You know all those diapers and wipes you buy? Well, they can reward you back! Pampers Gifts to Grow program allows you to turn in reward codes and save up and choose what rewards you desire.  I've used them for Shutterfly calendars at Christmas and this year I scored my youngest son this Little Tikes shopping cart.
Huggies also has a similar program as well. 
Hope this helps you save a little and earn a little next time you are out shopping!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall Mantel Inspiration

Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes, it must be that fall is finally here!  So far, my fall mantle mainly consists of my Fall Subway Art printable and although I'm still working on finishing up a few projects to complete my fall mantle, I've been searching my favorite blogs and pinterest boards for some inspiration. Here are a few of my favorite mantles to keep you inspired and get you excited for the changing season.

Jessica @ My Love of Style
 Samantha @ Crafty Texas Girls

 Stay tuned for my updated fall mantel!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta

Appetizers can easily turn into a meal for my husband and I especially when paired with a salad and a glass of wine! I previously posted my Spinach Artichoke Recipe which has become a staple in our household during busy weeks. Today was another Saturday filled with fall baseball and football watching so tonight I whipped up another family favorite, Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta. This is probably our second favorite appetizer and one we often check out a various restaurants to find the "right" combo of taste and texture.
This is a quick, easy and tasty addition to any kitchen and a great way to use up those extra tomatoes. This recipe offers so much flexibility that you can easily adjust any amounts to your preference and still have a fantastic dish.
1 small loaf of french bread or 1/2 loaf if larger size
4 medium plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil ( I used a garlic infused kind)
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese chopped
Parmesan Cheese
Extra olive oil for bread
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Dice tomotoes and combine in small bowl with  garlic, olive oil, basil and fresh mozzarella
3. Slice loaf of bread and place on baking sheet
4. Brush each loaf of bread with olive oil
5. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
6. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes
7. Let cool and enjoy!
5. Top with tomato mixture
Hope you enjoy this yummy addition to your appetizer collection!
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Create your own Disney Halloween Shirts

This week kicks off a magical celebration at one of our family's favorite destinations, Walt Disney World.  Two years ago we had the chance to visit for a long weekend in the fall and made sure to grab tickets to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If you've ever been to the Magic Kingdom in the fall, you already know how wonderful the parks look decked out with pumpkins and fall colors galore.  However, the magic truly comes alive at this family friendly event.  One secret, it is a hard ticket event but they let you in early (4 pm) so take advantage and hit a few more rides before the actual celebration begins.  What I love about these special events are the unique parades, fireworks, character greeting experiences and of course the trick or treating. 
As you can see, the characters dress up and many children will also come decked out in costume.
Now, I will warn you, the only "scary" part was the headless horsemen at the beginning of the Boo to You Halloween Parade.  It was enough to send my then 2 year old running!  Yikes! However, the parade was wonderful and filled with many of the classic characters as well as the villains.  However, my favorite aspect of these events are the unique fireworks that are only showcased then.  Hallowishes was amazing! It definitely did not disappoint. Check out this video below from All Ears.
Like I mentioned above, kids have the opporunity to dress up in costume if they desire.  My boys did not want to take their costumes and it was very hot that night (90s) so I'm thankful they weren't uncomfortable running around Disneyworld.  I actually made the boys shirts to wear, however, we forgot them at home (whoops) and during our last move, I think I donated them away since they didn't fit anymore.  However, I wanted to share the printables with all of you so if you desire, you can make your own also.  It was an easy task.
Supplies needed
Shirt color of choice
Iron on transfers
Printer and Printable file
These are the 6 different style available
You can choose the link below for your favorite design and create your own shirt for your Disney Adventure! Hope you enjoy and have a spooktacular time!
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