Friday, October 18, 2019

Five Simple and Easy Ways to Make Your Child’s Halloween Extra Special

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I’ve always been a little extra when it comes to the holidays, so naturally, I ended up being one of those moms who enjoys making magic for the kids during the holidays while they’re young.  I figure, they’re only going to be kids for a short time, so I want to make the most of the short window that I have to do all of the special things before they outgrow them. 

That said, there are plenty of moms who aren’t “Pinterest-y” at all and there are plenty moms who love to be over-the-top with homemade recipes and crafts and this-and-that.  I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle, but no matter which mom you are, that’s okay… you do you, Boo!   

Today I’m going to offer some simple and easy things that you can do to make your own magic for your kids no matter where you fall on the Pinterest Mom spectrum.  These things won’t require a lot of time or crafting or elaborate planning.  I promise your kids will appreciate anything, and it’s the little things that are usually the best things anyway!

O N E – Add a Decoration or Two

-          Add these bats to your walls.  They’re only $7.21, they include wall-safe stickers for quick and easy hanging, and they make a huge impression.  I can’t even tell you how much our kids love these.  And they took 10 minutes to put up.
-          Sprinkle a few real pumpkins around the house, or if you don’t want to buy real ones every year, just buy a pack of these and you’ll be set forever.
-          Let your child keep a pumpkin of their own on their nightstand… instant festive-ness in their room!
-          Add a string of Halloween lights or regular string lights to your mantle or countertop.  Lights are always an easy way to set a magical tone with very little effort and money.

T W O – Add Festive Touches at Meal Time

-          Keep a couple of reusable Halloween plates on hand and let your kids use them at mealtime.  I grabbed a couple from the Target Dollar Spot many years ago and they’re still going strong.  These are a really cute option or you could always use paper plates, too.
-          Festive drinking cups make a big impression, too.  This black cat sippy cup is perfect for toddlers and this set is great for all kids... so stinking cute!
-          Pop a black and orange paper straw into your child’s cup for instant magic.  This set is perfection because there are so many options!
-          Include a Halloween napkin in their lunchbox instead of a regular one.  Side note, festive napkins are one of my favorite things to use to decorate our bar cart... these are perfect!
-          Add edible eyes to their sandwiches, yogurt, snacks, etc.
-          Throw a couple of plastic spiders on top of their food.  (Obviously only do this if you are sure your child won’t eat them and choke.)
-          Incorporate special Halloween foods into their meals like Cheetos Bag o Bones or pumpkin-shaped tortilla chips.
-          Include a few pieces of candy corn or these pumpkin spice marshmallows in their lunchboxes for a surprise treat.
-          If you’re really feeling fancy you could send them to school with an orange and black lunch – black olives, blackberries, orange cheeses, white crackers, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, etc.

T H R E E – Watch Festive Movies Together

-          Hocus Pocus (the DVD is less than $5 and the Blu-Ray is less than $10 right now!)
-          Toy Story of Terror
-          Room on the Broom
-          Spookley the Square Pumpkin
-          Double, Double,Toil and Trouble
-          The Nightmare Before Christmas
-          Casper (the 1995 version so you can see Devon Sawa, my teenage crush, hehe)
-          Spooky Buddies
-          Hotel Transylvania

F O U R – Read Festive Books Together

-          Little Blue Truck’s Halloween
-          Room on the Broom
-          Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin
-          Princess PumpkinPatch
-          Spooky Pookie
-          Halloween I Spy
-          Bonaparte Falls Apart
-          Goodnight Goon
-          Five Little Pumpkins
-          EEK!  Halloween!
-          Vampirina Ballerina
-          The Roll-Away Pumpkin
-          Where’s MyMummy?
-          Pinkalicious:Pink or Treat!
-          Skeletons ARE NOT Spooky!
-          Gilbert the Ghost
-          Creepy Pair of Underwear
-          Pete the Cat Trick or Pete
-          The Spooky Wheels on the Bus

And if you accumulate a collection over the years as we have, be sure to grab a basket or crate to have a seasonal book bin for the main living area of your home.  You can see more about our seasonal book crate here.

F I V E – Surprise Them with a Small Gift on Halloween

-          Halloween Legos like this vampirethis witch, this ghost, or this bat
-          Halloween coloring books
-          Halloween activity books
-          Halloween stickers
-          Halloween pencils
-          Glow Sticks for trick-or-treating

And that’s it, y’all!  Creating magic for your kiddos shouldn’t stress you out or require hours and of your time or hundreds of your dollars.  The little things are just as special, too!  

Now for some Friday funnies…

Every single year!

But seriously, though.

Happy Halloween, kids!

Well, I'm never late for anything, but the second part is true!  Early bird gets the worm!  Lol.

Every.  Single.  Year.

And ICYMI, this week’s blog posts…

Happy Friday, y’all! 

*Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favoriteand Della Devoted for High Five for Friday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Fall 2019 Mountain Trip - Days 1 & 2 (Plus the Beginning of Our Week)

We had another great trip to the mountains this past week for the kids’ fall break, and I think the thing that we were all most excited about was the cooler weather.  Okay, maybe that was just me… I’m sure the kids were more excited about the game room in our mountain house.  ;o)  Before I get into the recap of the trip itself, I have a couple of things from earlier in the week that were worth noting, mostly just for my memories.  :o)    

Monday, October 7

Monday was a typical day – workout, blogging, etc. – but my workout just so happened to be my best one yet so I wanted to document it here.  Y’all probably know by now (since I’ve talked about it so many times) that I do a 35 minute treadmill workout at least twice a week for my cardio.  During that 35 minutes, I crank up the speed and the incline as much as I can to burn as many calories as I can in that 35 minutes.  I typically do 3.7 mph on an incline of 12 or so, but on Monday I was feeling a little extra so I started out on a speed of 3.8 mph, later bumping it up to 3.9 mph and I started out on an incline of 13, later bumping it up to 14.  

I ended up beating my typical 440-460 calories burned by a lot, coming in at 488 calories burned.  I love utilizing the incline on the treadmill because instead of just getting in your cardio, you’re also building your glutes and leg muscles like a boss.  Just some food for thought in case you want to amp up your treadmill workout!  :o)

Tuesday, October 8

Tuesday evening, Jacob had another late baseball game, but we’ve actually been welcoming the later games since we’ve been doing anything we can to avoid the horrid temps we’ve been having lately.  Jacob ended up batting three times during the game.  He had two strike-outs and then got a single which was also an RBI.  His hit went right near first base, but it was probably his biggest hit in a game yet, a line-drive landing just in the outfield.  He ended up being batted in to score a run and the team ended up winning 10-1.  We’ve had a fantastic first season with lots of huge wins and only one loss so far.  Only two more games to go!

Wednesday, October 9

Wednesday, the kids had a half day of school, but B had taken the entire day off from work, so he and I used the opportunity to have a quick breakfast date.  We went to our favorite local coffee shop downtown – my choice because their scones are pretty much the best thing in life.  Oh, and their coffee is the best I’ve ever had… beats any other coffee, hands down.  I opted for the pumpkin scone (duh) and my favorite caramel, cinnamon, and hazelnut latte.

We spent the rest of the morning packing the car and we were in the car line by noon to grab the kids the second they got out of school for fall break.  We swung by Chick-Fil-A near the school for lunch, and then headed straight for the mountains.  The drive was easy and we arrived at our Airbnb by late afternoon. 

We have always stayed at my aunt and uncle’s mountain house for fall break, but they sold it earlier this year.  We were sad to see it go since we have so many fond memories of that house and area, but we were determined to continue our tradition of going to the mountains during fall break.  This year, we opted to stay in Blue Ridge, GA as it’s slightly closer than our old house on the GA/NC border.  The house ended up being great, although way too big for our family of four, but pretty much every house we came across was huge so we didn’t have much of a choice.

Once we had unpacked the car and settled in, we ventured out to downtown Blue Ridge.  Let me tell y’all, downtown Blue Ridge is just darling.  It looks like something out of a Hallmark movie!  There are so many unique restaurants and cute little shops all decorated to the nines for fall!  Oh, and there are twinkle lights everywhere… y’all know how I feel about those.  ;o)  

We found the cutest restaurant – Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill – and got on the waiting list.  We ducked into a couple of the shops, and our table was ready before we knew it.  The restaurant had the best atmosphere and food.  B and I toasted to the start of the trip with a couple of IPAs and then I opted for the four cheese grilled cheese and tomato bisque soup.  It was so delicious and it totally hit the spot since the weather had finally cooled off.  There’s just nothing like tomato soup and grilled cheese when it’s cold outside.

After dinner we walked down the street to Three Sisters Fudge for some ice cream, and shaved ice for Jacob.  After a quick trip to the grocery store for essentials for the week (and by essentials I mean milk and donuts to have for breakfast the next day) we made it back to the house and crashed.  That first night a neighbor’s dog barked nonstop for an hour during the middle of the night which was awful, but fortunately the rest of the nights were nice and quiet… aside from the creaky house noises.

Thursday, October 10

Thursday, we were up bright and early to eat donuts and hit the road for Ellijay, GA for apple picking.  Our first stop was BJ Reese Orchards since they let you pick your own apples on the weekdays… most of the other places only let you pick your own apples on the weekend. 

We couldn’t have asked for a better day for apple-picking!!  It was sunny with some white, puffy cloud cover and gorgeous with temps in the low-sixties… it was chilly enough for boots and sweaters so I couldn’t have been happier!  Last year we picked apples in tank tops and flip flops (and still sweated) so this was definitely a change for the better. 

We spent the better part of an hour in the orchard picking apples and taking pictures and telling Olivia to stop picking so many apples.  Haha.  That girl just goes crazy and wants to pick them all!  I think she probably picked 3/4 of the apples we ended up bringing home.

After apple-picking, we all loaded up in the car for the 1/2 mile drive to our very favorite place for fall fun, Hillcrest Orchards.  The next few hours were spent milking Buttercup (the cow), sliding down the huge slides, petting aaaallll the goats and baby chicks at the petting zoo, playing all of the fun carnival games, jumping on the jumping pillow, and playing on the various playgrounds and equipment.  On the way out, we grabbed some apple cider donuts to have for breakfast the next day as well as a couple of other goodies.

By the time we left Hillcrest, it was deep into lunchtime, so we headed straight for a winery for a light cheeseboard and wine lunch.  We’ve always gone to the same winery near my aunt and uncle’s old mountain house, but since we were a pretty long drive from there this year, we decided to try a new winery.  There were so many to choose from in the area, but we ultimately chose Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard… an excellent choice. 

The grounds were beautiful, the winery itself was gorgeous, there were twinkle lights everywhere, and there was old jazz music playing everywhere.  I don’t think I could have been more in my element if I had tried!  Cheeseboards, wine, jazz music, twinkle lights, cool weather, snuggly sweaters, and a beautiful view are pretty much all of my most favorite things.  And to share it with my three favorite people?  Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.    

Since we didn’t have a “real” lunch for the kids, they ended up eating a hodgepodge of things – cheese, crackers, cheese straws, apple cider donuts from Hillcrest, and giant gummy frogs that we had also purchased at Hillcrest.  You can see them in a couple of the pictures below.  Hahahaha.

Brian brought out the kids’ clipboards with paper and pencils so they could keep themselves busy drawing and he and I were able to enjoy our wine tasting.  We tried five different wines and liked two of them enough to purchase a couple of bottles of wine to bring home.  It was a nice relaxing time and it was probably my favorite part of the entire trip!  So good.

We went back to the house after we left the winery and we played in the game room for a bit before heading outside to play cornhole and giant Jenga.  Later that evening we went out for Mexican (y’all know we always have to find a Mexican place wherever we go!) and then we made one more quick stop at the grocery store for s’mores supplies!

Our house had a fire pit (one thing that my aunt and uncle’s house didn’t have) so B built a fire outside when we got home, and the kids were able to roast marshmallows over the fire for the first time ever.  Between the s’mores and the chill in the air, it was a perfect evening. 

The kids showered and got to bed shortly after that and then B and I watched A Million Little Things in bed to end the day.  Not too shabby for a Thursday.  :o)

I hope to finish recapping the trip next week so stay tuned!

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