Happy Halloween!

Hope you and yours have a fabulous Halloween today! Here in Des Moines, kids trick or treat on the day before Halloween. And it's not called Halloween. It's called Beggar's Night. And you don't say trick or treat. You tell a joke! So strange to me! But I didn't hear any jokes last night. Not a single trick or treater came to the door! I suppose that's what happens when you live across the street from a cemetery. I wouldn't trick or treat at my house either.

So Sweet P and I had a nice night in. I made her pizza and we played with some toys we got from various Halloween gatherings this week. I didn't take her out trick or treating, but she was able to dig into some bowls of candy at the last Farmer's Market of the season, yesterday. Did she eat the candy? Ha, of course not. I did. We missed the Farmer (the market wasn't the same without him). I had a breakfast burrito since I hadn't had one all season and bought a small bag of caramel apple popcorn (that I'm hiding from the Farmer because he'll eat it all if I don't).
Trying to hand me her spider ring at the Farmer's Market

What we're MOST looking forward to today is that Daddy comes home!!! He won't be home until after Sweet P goes to bed, but this farmer's wife can't wait!

Hope you enjoy your Halloween and don't eat too much candy!

Toddler Time

Kids say and do the darnedest things don't they? So let's chat about it. Here are my two favs this week:

#1) Yesterday after her nap, I set Sweet P down after we came downstairs and she started waving frantically to something behind me. Realizing I had the blinds pulled up, I turned to see if our neighbors were outside. Nope. But they do have some pretty crazy Halloween decorations. So who was she waving to? Oh ya know, just the grim reaper in the window next door who has his hand up (hence, the wave). I said, "Oh, yep. Hi Mr. Skeleton." Aaaand close blinds.

#2) Sweet P recently learned that "ow" means you've hurt yourself. She's fallen a few times and has scratches on her hands so we talk about the owies and of course, any time anything touches a scratch, it's "OW, OW!" I've pointed out an owie on my arm and in a book where a girl got stung by a bee so she knows other people get them, too. Then last night before we went to the Great Pumpkin Party at Valley Church, I was complaining to the Farmer about my adult acne. Don't you love that stuff? As I was sitting feeding Sweet P before we went to the party, she begins pointing at 2 zits on my face saying, "Ow? Ow?" Yep. Ow. Thanks, kiddo.

Embarrassing? Yes, but ya gotta love those toddler moments.

Wordless Wednesday: Night Eyes

So...not so wordless. The dalmatian costume Sweet P has on was actually Auntie Kannon's...20years ago. Gotta love that Gammie keeps everything. We were at Night Eyes at our zoo.

Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

I am really proud of these muffins. Here's why: I looked and looked and looked for a recipe for Pumpkin Muffins that had what I wanted to use. I only wanted to use 1 egg, didn't want to use buttermilk, didn't want to use shortening, the list goes on. So, (keep in mind I'd been up since 4:15am), I decided I'd try them on my own and if they tasted bad, well, I'd try again another time. I'm happy to say...they tasted great! And the Farmer thought so, too.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

What you need:
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water
1 c vanilla soymilk
1/4 c yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg, water, soymilk, yogurt and olive oil. Mix until moistened. Add pumpkin puree and raisins. Stir with a wire whisk, careful not to overmix. Dollop into well-oiled muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve with butter or cream cheese (or eat plain, they are divine!). Makes 18 muffins or 12 regular size muffins and 12 mini muffins.

You can, of course, eliminate the raisins for people like a certain sister of mine who despise them. I'd also like to add nuts next time because I think they'd make them even better. I'm thinking walnuts or pecans. They were great as breakfast and yummy as a snack later in the day. And pumpkin is full of dietary fiber (which most of us don't get enough of on a daily basis).

If you try them, please let me know how they turn out!

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Today's theme is Halloween and we followed it! Woohoo! Sweet P is diggin' cheese sandwiches. Made her first one today and she may or may not have eaten all the cheese off the top before eating the bread.

Clockwise from top left: Mini carrot muffin, baby pumpkins (carrots), eyeballs (grapes), hay and pumpkin seeds (grated cheese and pumpkin seeds), toasty ghost (cheese bread-raisin eyes), Frankenstein snacks (kiwi).

I made the ghost's mouth with my finger after the cheese had melted. Was it hot? Um, yeah. I don't recommend it.

Carrot Raisin Mini Muffins

I made these on Tuesday for my sick little munchkin. I'm pretty sure she ate 7 in one sitting. She hasn't eaten much of anything since then so I'm glad she stocked up while she could. We woke up (and by we, I mean she) that morning at 4:15am, so naturally, I got in the kitchen and started baking. I made Pumpkin Raisin Muffins for the Farmer and me and Carrot Raisin mini muffins for Sweet P. I'll post the pumpkin muffins later. Here are the minis:

The Recipe: Carrot Raisin Mini Muffins

What you need:
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic old fashioned oats (or whatever kind you have)
1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water (egg replacement)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/4 c yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
2 large carrots (grated)
1/4 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, oats, spices, baking powder, flaxseed, yogurt, olive oil and water. Add in carrots and mix in raisins. Mix until moistened. Dollop in oiled mini muffin tins. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Makes approximately 30 mini muffins.

I know that seems like a long time to bake, but when you use water they take longer to bake. Otherwise, you end up with mushy insides (blech). Like I said, Sweet P loves them. It might be because there are raisins and the girl is a raisin fanatic, but she likes them all the same. These also freeze well if you made a double batch. I used all organic ingredients (except for spices and olive oil), but of course you don't have to use organic, they'll still taste great! These muffins are milk and egg free.

Oyster Cracker Snackers

This is the easiest snack you'll ever make. And it's so good. Healthy? Not so much, but I was trying it out since the Christmas season is coming soon and those are a fun treat to have around. Auntie Kannon brought them home last Christmas and they were so yummy. I think I've thought about them ever since. So here it goes:

The Recipe: Oyster Cracker Snackers

What you need:
1 pkg oyster crackers
1/2 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 c olive oil

Place oyster crackers, seasoning and spices in a large baggy. Drizzle oil on top of the crackers, then shake until evenly covered with seasoning/spice mixture. The crackers absorb the oil and won't be oily when you pick them up. No baking required!

You may find that you need less garlic powder. I used TOO much today and the Farmer and I smell like we're trying to ward off vampires. So go easy on the garlic powder at first. Test a bite and add more if needed. Always better to go little and add more than overdo it (like I did). These make a great little treat gift if you put them in little cellophane bags with a cute ribbon tied around them. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Seed/Date Cakes

Auntie Rosita sent me a link to this recipe a few weeks ago from Green Kitchen Stories and I finally got around to trying it. The Farmer was using the computer so I did it from memory since I knew the measurements, but I didn't separate the pumpkin seeds into 3 piles like it said so I ended up having to use twice as many dates. It then made twice as many cakes so that's good. I can't quite describe their taste, but they are super yummy. I also made my own topping since I didn't have any of those items they used for their toppings in the house. I'm posting the recipe as I made it since that is how they turned out.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Seed/Date Cakes

What you need:
1 cup pumpkin seeds
15 dates

Place a 1/2 cup of seeds and 1/2 the dates in a blender or mini food processor.

Blend until the mixture sticks together when you gather it. Mold into balls and place on wax paper. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Flatten balls into round cakes (I used the bottom of a glass). Place in fridge or freezer while you make the topping.

Sweet P was yelling at me for more as I made these since I gave her a taste so I had to be quick with the topping. Here's what I did.

The Recipe: Blueberry Yogurt Topping

What you need:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup yogurt
dash of cinnamon

Blend in a mini food processor or blender for a few seconds. Add a dollop to each cake.

Wala! Sweet P loved these (and so did I). They remind me of Larabars (which we love around here) and the topping was really good, too. I wasn't thinking it was going to be anything special, but it added a nice flavor to the dates and pumpkin seeds. A great snack for her on the go, too, minus the topping of course!

The Perfect Fall Day

Today was the perfect day for pumpkin carving. And apple cider. And pancakes. And, and and. The Farmer was home this morning so I cooked up some oatmeal pancakes for us. Sweet P had some muffins, she's not eating much these days since she has bronchitis (yep, my poor sweet bun).

We gobbled those oatmeal pancakes down with mugs of apple cider from Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge, IA. Love that place and their cider and their honeycrisp apples AND their apple cider donuts! After breakfast we headed out for some pumpkin carving! (with pumpkins from the farm). As you can see Sweet P was in on the action.

I had hoped this would be a great sensory activity for her, but she wasn't the least bit interested in touching the pumpkin with her hands. The only time she did was when the Farmer was picking out the seeds (for roasting) and I asked her if she could help and she picked up a piece of pumpkin and plopped it in the bowl. Oh well, maybe next time.

Yours truly carved that pumpkin and I have to say that with that little tool of the Farmer's it was the easiest pumpkin I've ever carved! And it doesn't look half bad. I'm a traditional jack'o'lantern kinda gal, nothing fancy. And yes, that is an ice cream scoop we're using!

After Sweet P's nap, I made oyster crackers snackers and pumpkin seed/date cakes. But you'll have to wait another day or two for those. And we finished the day with Potato Leek soup (more on that soon, too). Now Sweet P is in bed and the Farmer is at the Drake soccer game (go Bulldogs!).

What fall crafts or activities did you do today?

Wordless Wednesday

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I was so inspired by all the awesome pumpkin muffin tin's last week that I had to do my own. Sweet P loved it! I hope to see more pumpkin ideas this week. There's no theme this week so maybe we'll see pumpkins again and then again next week for the Halloween theme!

Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin stems (green beans), mini pumpkins (yellow watermelon), white pumpkin (tofu), tiny jack'o'lanterns (dehydrated bananas), toasted jack'o'lantern (whole wheat bread), orange pumpkins (orange tomatoes with green bean stems).

Little Miss Sweet P gobbled it right up. Especially that toasted jack'o'lantern. The girl is obsessed with bread these days.

Rosemary Foccacia Bread

So this didn't quite turn out like I wanted it to, but ya know, I blame substituting whole wheat flour for 1/2 the flour. Because if you know anything about baking, you know that white flour makes bakery items taste divine. It's a sad situation, really, that whole wheat flour can't match white flours baking abilities...I digress.

The foccacia bread ended up tasting more like scones than foccacia bread, but it was still yummy so I'm still posting it.

The Recipe: Rosemary Foccacia Bread

What you need:
1 pkg or 2 1/4 tsp yeast
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1-2 tbsp grated parmesan

Combine yeast with 3/4 cup warm water and sugar in a mixing bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. Add flours and mix with wooden spoon. Mix in 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and 1 tbsp rosemary. Here's where you'll need additional water. You may not need all of what is suggested. Turn out onto floured surface and knead about 15 times, forming dough into a ball. Place in well oiled mixing bowl, cover with a towel and leave for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425˚. Punch down dough and put on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Form into a circle. Make small dimples with your fingers in the top of the dough, drizzle leftover oil (or more), sprinkle rosemary and grated parmesan on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

I cut mine like a pizza, maybe that's why it reminded me of a scone. We had these 2 days later and I popped them in the oven for a few minutes and I thought they tasted much better. They were great with both soup and pasta.

Serve with olive oil or butter.

Mom Guilt

Who doesn't have it, right? (and if you don't, I don't want to hear it)

I feel guilty for so many things on a daily basis. And I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "I'm a bad mom." But the more I think about it, the more I realize, I'm not and Jesus wouldn't want me talking to myself like that.

Now, can I strive to be a better mom? Of course. Does that mean I need to throw myself under the bus and use negative self-talk in the process. No! So I'm throwing out negative self-talk in regards to my abilities as a mom.

Things I've got to realize:
There will always be moms who have it "more together" than me
There will always be moms who are more fashionable than me (I can hear Auntie Rosita snickering)
There will always be moms more craftier than me
There will always be moms who clean better than me
There will always be moms who are better teachers than me
There will always be moms more motivated than me
There will always be moms who cook better than me
There will always be moms who sing, play and dance better than me

But I can tell you one thing:

There will never be a mom who loves my child more than me. And my child thinks I have it all together, and that I'm a fashionable, crafty, motivated teacher, cleaning machine and gourmet cook who can sing, play and dance like nobody's business. And THAT should be enough for me.

She did it!

Fluke or not, Sweet P went pee pee in the potty today! She was pretty confused when I got so excited, but I think it sorta sunk in when I showed her. Then we dumped it in the big girl potty and waved bye bye. Potty training...here we come. Sort of.

My husband...the Ringmaster?

I mentioned Saturday that Sweet P calls mermaids, "Merma." She has a small mermaid toy (a friend who babysat her gave it to her) that I'm pretty sure came from a McDonald's Happy Meal with crazy brown hair and a blue mermaid tail. I just call her mermaid so Sweet P eventually picked up on it.

We also have a circus puzzle that has individual pieces with pegs to hold on to when you put them in the correct place. It's an old puzzle and Gammie let us take it home last time we visited. There is a blonde girl with a green tutu dress who is a trapeze artist. For some reason, Sweet P also thinks she is a mermaid and calls her "Merma."

Sometime last week while I was teaching speech class, Sweet P was playing with the puzzle while the Farmer watched. When she picked up the trapeze artist, she said "Merma." Thinking she said ,"Mama" and not wanting to be left out of the puzzle, the farmer somehow convinced Sweet P that the Ringmaster on the puzzle was "Dada." So what do you think she says as she runs over to me holding the Ringmaster in her hand?

Yep. Dada. Love that top hat and mustache, honey.

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Today's muffin tin theme was Pumpkins, but I didn't do a very good job of following that theme. I suppose if you pretend, those carrots look like pumpkins...right? Meh, maybe next time.

From left: green beans, star shaped whole wheat bread and homemade Larabar, kiwi and carrots.


Sweet P has learned several new words lately, but for some of them, you wouldn't know what she was talking about unless she pointed at the item. My absolute favorite is her word for bicycle or motorcycle (the word is the same). Any time we see a bicycle, the Farmer's, some guy on the street, at a store, her face lights up and she yells, " Dadoooo!" Yep. Dadoo. Bicycle.

I'm glad I'm writing this blog because I wanted to make note of them before she started saying them the right way. A few others:

Muh-muh = Pumpkin
Merma = Mermaid
Ucka = Yuck
Ocka = Sock
Rocka = Rock
Walka = Walk
Bahoooo = Balloon
Wowa = Flower
Wa-wa = Water
Aw-yun = All done
I buh bya = I like bugs (seriously)

She's also started saying Duck (and it actually sounds like duck). And signing please and thank you (with a little prompting). And my other favorite new development is when she hums the ABC song. It's so dang cute to listen to her hum a tune. When did my baby get so big?

Author Recommendation: Francine Rivers

Have you heard of Francine Rivers? If you haven't, I'm so glad you're reading this! She's a pretty amazing author who has written some pretty awesome books. I've only read two of them, but I can't wait to get my hands on 4 others I've heard about. So what do I think you should read?

Redeeming Love: Loosely based on the book Hosea in the Old Testament, this book was hard for me to put down. I read it last Christmas and if I remember correctly I got yelled at a few times for having my nose in a book instead of visiting with family. It's an amazing story about unconditional love, faithfulness and forgiveness. Set in 1850 in California.

Unveiled: 1 novella of 5 about women of the bible. Unveiled tells the story of Tamar, and the obstacles, betrayal and abuse she faced. There are 4 other novellas in this series: Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. Francine follows the bible, adding bits and pieces here and there of what may have transpired in conversation and thought. Like I said, I can't wait to get my hands on the other 4! This is a super easy read, only about 110 pages. And it comes with a bible study and questions about the biblical story of Judah and Tamar.

If you like Christian fiction, check out these books. If you've never read Christian fiction, check out these books. If you want to learn more about the bible, check out these books. In short, check out these books.

Muffin Tin Monday

Better late than never eh?

We stuck with the Rainbow theme again this week...as you can see. She wasn't too fond of the plums today. They were leftover from Sunday so that may have been the problem, she's a fresh cut fruit kinda girl. And of course, the cheese was the first to go.

From top left: Purple grapes x2, carrots x2, green beans x2, plums x2, string cheese x2, strawberries x2.

We Love Fall

In the Corn Pool at Center Grove Orchard

Iowa is an amazing place during the fall. I L-O-V-E this time of year. There are so many fabulous things about fall in Iowa. And I may have talked about these before, but they are so worth discussing again!

What we love about autumn in Iowa:
Pumpkin patches and their pumpkins!!!
Apple orchards and their apples!!!
Cool weather
College soccer (at least the Farmer does!)
Fall festivals
Hot apple cider
Oranges, yellows, browns
Halloween candy (yep, I said it)
Christmas decorations in stores (yep, I said that too)
Cute Halloween shirts
Park playdates
Winter squashes
And an adorable little 17-month old named Sweet P

What do you love about the fall?

Butternut Squash Muffins

Yesterday I taught you how to make butternut squash puree and now we're gonna use it!

Since I have a muffin lover, these were, of course, made for lil Sweet P. They came out a little like cornbread, so if you'd like a sweeter muffin (and butternut squash is pretty sweet on its own) you'll need to add some sort of sweetener (I vote honey or agave nectar). I made Butternut Pancakes today (more on that tomorrow) and added agave nectar and they had a much sweeter taste. Keep in mind these are egg and milk free, you can always substitute those if you'd like.

What you need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dry uncooked oats
1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water (egg replacement)
1/2 c - 1 cup water
1/2 c pureed butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl, add water 1/4 cup at a time until batter is moist, but not runny. Fill mini muffin tins 1/2 full. Bake at 350˚ for 15-18 minutes.

Egg and milk replacement: use the egg in place of the flax (or keep the flax and nix the water) and milk instead of water (not sure if you'll need less or more).

I didn't take pics while I was making them, but there is one here from Muffin Tin Monday. My girl eats these like candy. And they are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack!

Butternut Squash Puree

Last week the Farmer brought home a LARGE amount of butternut squash. I was a liiiiittle overwhelmed by all of it, but luckily it keeps for a good, long while and I have (with the help of a few friends) come up with quite a few things to do with it. To use as a base for most of the recipes, I decided to puree the squash. Here's how:

Pureed Butternut Squash

What you need:
1 butternut squash
1/2 c-1 c water
3 tbsp yogurt

Preheat oven to 375˚. Cut your butternut squash in half. Line a baking sheet with foil and place squash halves on sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until squash is soft when poked with a fork. Allow to cool, then scoop out flesh and place in blender. Add 1/2 c water and yogurt. Blend. Add more water if necessary. Puree into a creamy consistency. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

The puree can then be used in recipes like muffins, pancakes, as a soup or simply eaten with a spoon!