Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Halloween Outfits From Grandma Colleen

Monday, September 24, 2012

A mountain drive with my mom

My mom and I took a drive up Mount Evans yesterday. It's the highest paved road in North America. We met some bighorn sheep along the way!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Third Annual Kids' Day

We held our third Kids' Day yesterday. Kids' Day is a day we dedicate every year to doing fun things with the kids in town. The whole day is theirs!

In the morning, we met my mom for breakfast at Starbucks. Oliver and Jo split a piece of pumpkin bread. It's their favorite! Once we finished eating, we drove to Longmont and went apple picking (post here). The kids loved the farm!

After nap time, we suited up the kids and went to the local rec center for a swim. Jo is a born swimmer. She loves the water. We can't leave the bathroom doors open because she crawls to the shower or tub, pulls herself up into a stand, and starts yelling desperately to get in. When we give her baths, she splashes and laughs and has a ball--and when it's time to take her out, she is just devastated. She cries and tries to get back in!

The pool seemed like a great idea for Jo. The Link Rec Center pool is heated to over 90 degrees and feels like bath water. Jo took to it immediately. She wasn't content to sit in the shallow area and splash. She wanted to get in the pool. She wanted us to hold her by the arm pitties and drag her around while she kicked and kicked like the little swimmer she is. We'd sit her on the pool edge, and she'd jump in! We'd catch her before she went under, of course. She is fearless!

Oliver sure adores his baby sister. We're the luckiest parents ever.

We spent the rest of the afternoon using appliances. We used the apple peeler in the morning for applesauce. In the afternoon, we used the stand mixer to make pumpkin bread, and then we used the ice cream maker (currently Oliver's favorite appliance) to make ice cream. The boy loved it. He's so hilarious, and I love how passionate he is about making things.

Our Saturday was all "kid." I'm glad we get to have these days to appreciate our family and our children's interests!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pick Your Own Apples!

Yes! Fall is here!

Haha, I'm such a goober. I recognize that one day doesn't really make a difference from the day before, but I love having an official start to fall every year. It gives me something to celebrate! I love autumn. From here to the end of the year is nothing but fun. We get to go up to the mountains to see the changing aspens, we get to go to a pumpkin patch, we celebrate the kiddos' birthdays, we celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate my birthday, and then we decorate for the holiday season. The air gets cool and crisp, we bake everything with cinnamon, it's chilly enough to let the slow cooker run all day for dinner. It's just the best.

Today is actually our annual Shattuck Kids' Day. We have more adventures planned for this afternoon, but we spent the morning on a farm!

Last year, I searched for an orchard in the Denver area that would let us pick our own apples. I found just one place--Ya Ya Farm and Orchard in Longmont. I contacted them in August to see when apple picking would start for the season. They told me that they have huge waiting lists to get in because sign-up begins in  early spring! I waited until April and contacted them again. They kindly told me my name was added to the list, and I'd find out this summer if we made the cut. I'm serious.

Well, we made it! Last month, I received a confirmation email that we could come on down today. The drive was a solid hour, and I wasn't sure what to expect. They said they limit each party (no groups!) to one bag of apples. So, I worried it would be a waste of a drive. Let me tell you now--it was an awesome experience. Seriously, it was easily the best thing we've ever done with the kids.

Grandma Judy came with. Jo wasn't up for apple picking, but she loved watching everyone else do it. 

Oliver was all about the apples!

He decided the needed a taste test. They passed.

It doesn't get much better than running around the orchard with Grandma and picking apples from the trees.

 Once the apples were in our bag, Jo decided they were pretty OK.

We went to their little barn store to pay for our bag of apples. My mom bought a box of apple cider donuts (out of this world), and even got us a jar of apple blossom honey.

They were setting up for their annual apple festival today. They do a big barbeque and hay rides, but that wasn't until later. We weren't going to hang around for long enough to join in those festivities, but we did decide to spend some time exploring the farm.


The chickens were fat and happy and seriously roamed around clucking, "Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk." Oliver loved them, and Jo frantically tried to propel herself to the chicken enclosure. Here she is desperately pointing, wanting so badly for Grandma to let her play with the chickens.

Jo got to meet a horse. Well, she didn't get too close obviously. She laughed and laughed at the horse. Then, she asked Daddy for a pony.

We also visited the turkeys.

And we pet the farm cat. Oliver was afraid of the old farm lab, Betty, but he loved the cat.

She's hunting for something!

In addition to a pony, Jo wants a pet kitty.

We went back to the shop and bought a basket of carrots and apples to feed the horses ($1).

Oliver was too afraid to feed the horses himself, but he excitedly told Andrew which horses to feed and what to feed them. Jo gleefully laughed and squealed every time a horse took one of the fruits or vegetables.

We spent a couple hours enjoying the farm. The kids had a blast, and when we finally decided it was time to go, Andrew told me we should come back and do this "a few times a year!" This farm only does apple picking, but I am going to check out a few places closer to our home that let people come to pick their own berries and other produce.

Once we got home, Oliver and I immediately got busy making applesauce. He loves our apple peeler (Thanks, Grandma Colleen!).

Here are our peeled apples. We split our bag with Grandma Judy, and we still ended up with a good amount.

If you've never made your own applesauce before, it's so simple. It's easier than mashed potatoes! Just peel and chop your apples and put them in a pot. Add enough water to just cover the apples, put a lid on your pot, and simmer the apples for about 30 minutes (maybe just 20 minutes at lower altitude). Once the apples are fairly soft, take the lid off and mash them. Cook your applesauce until the water mostly cooks away, and you're done!

Our homemade applesauce:

Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Giveaway: Candy Corn Hats

I've been busy with my knitting needles! Over the last few months, I've knit half a dozen candy corn hats. I love candy corn decor in the fall! I thought it would be a cute, personal first giveaway for my blog.

Keep reading to find out how to enter!

Check out my little kiddos in their candy corn hats! And, yes, I knit a matching candy corn colored dress for Jo, too. It's a little big, but she's still as cute as a button.

The giveaway starts now, and it will end at noon (mountain time!) on Tuesday, September 25. It's open to people in the US. To enter, just leave a comment below with your first and second choice in hat size (I have 3 month, 3-6 month, 12 month, and a couple in the 2T to 3T range). You can get one extra entry by following me on Google Friend Connect (on the right-hand sidebar). Just leave a second comment letting me know you follow me through GFC. Don't forget to leave your email in the comment so I can contact you if you're a winner! On Tuesday, I will choose two winners through a random number generator. You will have until Friday the 28th to get back to me with the address I should mail it to, or else I'll pick a substitute winner. The first person I choose should get their first choice in hat size. The second winner will get their second choice if I'm out of their first choice.

Thanks for following my blog. I'm excited to send these out to show my appreciation to you all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Acorn Squash

Most of us think of pumpkins when we think of autumn. I do, too, but I also look forward to baking acorn squash for dessert. It's so simple and yummy. Andrew's family taught me how to do this years ago.

Pick up an acorn squash from your grocery store. One squash will provide dessert for two people. This time of year, they probably run about $1 to $2. 

 Slice your squash in half, like so:

Scoop out the seeds (discard them) and lightly scour the inside of the squash with a knife.

Take a 9x13 cake pan and fill it with about half an inch to an inch of water. Place your acorn squash, cut side down, in the pan. Bake in a 350-375 degree oven for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, pull your pan out of the oven. Carefully remove the squash, and discard the water (careful, it's very hot). Put the squash halves back in the empty pan, this time cut side up. Take a dab of butter and drop it in the well of your squash. Add in a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon (another yummy variation is to add some apricot jam instead of brown sugar and cinnamon).

Bake your squash for another 30 minutes. This is what it will look like coming out of the oven:

To eat, just take your fork and mash up the insides, blending the squash with the butter and sugar. The skin acts as a bowl.

Autumn is making its official start this weekend, so it will be the perfect time to try out this recipe. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Fallen Leaves

We took a walk to the creek on Friday and played with the first fallen leaves of the almost-fall season.

Oliver enjoyed crunching the leaves in his hands.

Joanna enjoyed examining the leaves and didn't even try to eat them (she's growing up!).

I sure love these kids.

Oliver found some whirlybirds and enjoyed watching them spin to the ground.