Tag: fall

Frugal Living: Tips for a Happy Halloween on a Budget

Life on a budget means making choices about spending, even when it comes to holidays. Without a plan, holidays and special days can become total budget busters. Did you know that in 2014, Americans spent an estimated $7.4 BILLION on Halloween. With only about 67% of the country celebrating the holiday, that number becomes even scarier. I love celebrating Halloween with my little monsters, and with a little planning and a few smart choices we can have a happy Halloween on a budget. Today I’m sharing my favorite tips for saving money on costumes, treats, decorations, and party supplies so you can have a spooky celebration that doesn’t bust your budget.

Tips for a Happy Halloween on a Budget



Simple Fall Leaf Wreath Tutorial with Felt and Burlap

Simple Fall Felt Leaf Wreath Tutorial with felt and burlap

My old faithful burlap interchangeable wreath is back in business for the fall. I created a strand of colorful fall leaves from felt scraps and added a wool letter to make a simple fall leaf wreath for our front door. Who knew a pool noodle covered in burlap could be so useful? Here is the super cute Easter version of my burlap interchangeable wreath, a summer version with pinwheels, and a 4th of July version with fun tulle fireworks. If you love to change out decorations every season, a burlap wreath is the way to go. As you’ll see below, it is super easy to change it up often.


Top 10 Fun Family DIY Halloween Costumes

Ten Fun Family DIY Halloween CostumesWe love to dress up for Halloween with a family theme every year.  Dressing as a family unit makes for fun photos and precious memories. I’ve gathered my top ten favorite family Halloween costume ideas to share with you. They all include a little DIY on your part, but are all super easy to throw together. Several are ideas we’ve done as a family, while others I’ve gathered from awesome creative bloggers. For fun ideas to get help you get more use out of your Halloween costumes you can read more about how we encourage pretend play and throw costume dance parties. Read on and find inspiration for your family this Halloween.


Preschool Pumpkin Fun ~ 20 Easy Ideas for Your Toddlers & Preschool Kids

20 Easy Ideas for Toddler and Preschool Pumpkin Fun

Pumpkins are one of my favorite things about fall. I love to have them around the house, eat them in everything, and create pumpkin fun for my kids. Today I’m sharing 20 easy ideas for pumpkin fun for preschool and toddler age kids. Pour yourself a DIY pumpkin spice latte and pin these ideas to do with your favorite little ones. Did I mention I’m partnering with some other fabulous bloggers to give away $2000 at the end of this post? {It’s true!}


Easy DIY Football Themed Halloween Family Halloween Costumes

easy diy football themed family halloween costumes

Last year was our first Halloween as a family of four, and I was so excited to dress our crew up in family Halloween costumes for the holiday. We go to a neighborhood Halloween parade in a friend’s neighborhood, and trick or treat in our own (mostly to meet and greet neighbors). I wanted our costumes to be simple and frugal, but still cute and made to fit a family theme. You can read about the Bear’s first Halloween costume here. When the Bear got a hand me down football jersey from his big cousins I knew I’d found it. Read on to find out how I pieced our costumes together quickly and easily.


Painting Pumpkins with Toddlers

  Painting pumpkins is the perfect way to let your toddlers decorate the gourds of the season with out knives or messy pumpkin guts involved.  It is simple and an be pretty mess free if you do it just right.  The pumpkins turn out really pretty and don’t rot instantly like a carved one.  Want to try it?  Here’s how we do it…
Pumpkin Painting Instructions:
1) Go outside and set up a little station cleared of anything that might get ruined.
2) Put a blob of each color of washable paint on a piece of construction paper.
3) Show your child what to do, and then let them go for it.  If they don’t like the sensation of paint on their hands, foam brushes work well.
4) You can use painter’s tape to tape off designs on larger pumpkins, or leave well enough alone and drink your coffee.
5) Leave your pumpkin out to dry for several hours.  Throw away your paint paper, or save it for this project.  Wash down your station with a wet rag and wash your child’s hands.  You’re done!  Don’t you feel festive?
The Bear is so proud of his masterpieces.
We actually did this on two different days and it kept him entertained for quite a while.  Fine motor skill building is the best entertainment.
Have you decorated pumpkins with your wee ones? What techniques do you use?

An Easy Fall Pumpkin Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Crafting with toddlers and preschoolers can be a bit of an adventure, but it is great for their fine motor development and can kill major chunks of time with no tv involved.  This one is crazy easy, turns out really cute and festive, and will give you about 20 minutes of peaceful fine motor practice.  Go for it.  Everybody needs a festive pumpkin to hang on the fridge, and your little one will be so proud of their handiwork.
Materials Needed:
construction paper or cards tock
one sheet of orange tissue paper
glue stick or spray adhesive
1) Trace a basic pumpkin shape on to your card stock or construction paper and cut it, or just cut it out freehand with scissors. It doesn’t need to be perfect.  An oval with a stem will do.
2) Let your toddler tear the tissue paper up in to tiny pieces.  Really let them get in to it.  To contain this part of the process I put Bear in his art box and let him go to town.  He LOVED it.
3) Spray your pumpkin shape with a light coat of spray adhesive or cover with your glue stick.  I recommend the spray because it won’t get your little one sticky and holds the tissue very effectively.
4) Show your wee one how to stick the pieces of tissue on to the pumpkin.  Encourage them to cover the whole thing.  Back away slowly and watch them work.
5) Take a photo of your babe with the finished product and then pat yourself on the back.  Craft accomplished.  Mischief managed.
What’s your favorite fall craft for little ones?


Pumpkin Spice Candy Bar Brownies with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing and the Perfect Halloween Party Punch for Your Spooky Celebration

For our Halloween festivities, as part of a sponsored campaign by Collective Bias, I created the most amazing Pumpkin Spice Candy Bar Brownies with decadent Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing and a simple and perfect party punch.  These recipes are so easy, but seriously delicious.  They are not exactly diet friendly, but this is time of year for treats so treat yourself.  Hopefully these will be new favorite additions to your Halloween Celebration menu. Pumpkin + M&Ms + Chocolate Brownies = Awesome.  
I love pretty much anything pumpkin spice flavored, and I tried a pumpkin ice cream cone dipped in chocolate the other day. This gave me the idea to experiment with pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree in my candy bar brownie recipe.  Our friend Mary introduced us to candy bar brownies at the beach years ago, and we’ve been addicted ever since.  I added the icing as a bonus, and the brownies are delicious with and without it.  If the dessert is too rich for you, leave it off or on the side. 
A perfect party punch is simple, colorful, and delicious.  This one fits that bill and will thrill audiences of all ages.  It can also be easily turned in to an adult beverage.  You can find coupons for some of the products used in these recipes here.   
Pumpkin Spice Candy Bar Brownies
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 34.5 oz bag of Mixed Fun Size Mars Candy – M&M Plain and Peanut, Twix, and Snickers or Mixed Miniatures with Milky Way, Twix, 3 Muskateers, and Snickers

1) Preheat the oven to 350.
2) Grease a baking dish.  You can use an 8×8 for super thick brownies, or a 9×13 for less thick and more to share.  I prefer option two.
3)Beat the eggs in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.
4) Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin puree and mix well.
5) Add the flour and cocoa powder slowly, stopping to scrap the bowl often.
6) Pour half of the batter into your greased baking dish.
7) Lay your candy out across the batter.  For the larger pieces, I recommend breaking them up a bit.  Press them in to the batter just slightly.  
8) After you cover the whole pan with candy, pour the remainder of your batter over the top and smooth it down to cover your candy completely.  
9) Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Check it often.  I have an “That 70s” oven, so I’m always worried about my recommended baking times.  When your knife comes out clean you are good to go.  
10) Let cool for a few minutes and then feel free to sample a bit while it is hot and gooey.  Then cool completely before icing.  
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese 
4 oz butter – softened
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup real pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 1/4 cups confectioners sugar – sifted

1) Cream the butter and cream cheese with a stand mixer (or hand mixer) until light and fluffy.
2) Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, and continue to mix well.
3) Add the powdered sugar slowly, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl.  
4) Continue to mix until the icing is light and fluffy.  I’ll go ahead and quote the song: “Whip it. Whip it good.”
5) Once your brownies have cooled, spread the icing on top and enjoy.  If you have some left over, this icing is delightful as a dip for your graham crackers.   
For a kid friendly party, serve this dessert on festive paper or plastic plates with forks.  For adults, crystal or antique plates and an ornate cake plate set a haunting atmosphere.  Likewise, for a kid friendly party a carved out pumpkin or pitcher is perfect for serving party punch.  For the adults an antique crystal punch bowl adds a little extra Halloween flair.    
Perfect Party Punch Recipe:
1 2 liter bottle of 7 Up (or Diet 7 Up)
1 Gallon of Hawaiian Punch
1 1/2  Quarts of Rainbow Sherbet 
large punch bowl or pitcher
Perfect Party Punch Directions:
1) Pour your Hawaiian Punch into the punch bowl. 
2) Add scoops of the sherbet.  
3) Pour the 7 Up over the top to create the foamy green goodness that makes this punch a little spooky and seriously yummy.  

This recipe has a 1/1/1 ratio.  To create a smaller amount of punch, just cut the amount of each product in half or however much you need.  The punch may settle a bit if left alone too long, so give it a stir occasionally.

These brownies were a huge hit at our Halloween play date.  One of our four year old friends told his mom that this was the best dessert he’s ever had.  Out of the mouths of babes comes truth, people.  These sweet treats are seriously rich and delicious.  For other fabulous Halloween baking and party ideas, click here.  
What is your favorite pumpkin treat?

Babies in the Pumpkin Patch

Fall is my favorite.
Pumpkins and pumpkin flavored things abound and the weather eventually cools down.  
It makes me want to be outside all day every day.
My favorite pumpkin patch in DFW is the pumpkin village at the Dallas Arboretum.  We were members for years when we lived close by, but now only visit on occasion.  There are thousands of pumpkins and it is a festival of autumn delights.  We took the Pearl girl for her first time and promptly plopped her in the Bear’s lap for a photo shoot.  She was not sure what to make of the whole situation. 

The one below is my favorite so far.  Her eyes are filled with wonder and he is hugging her so sweetly.  It turned in to more of a headlock shortly after.  We’ve got to work on the brother/sister pose.

What is your favorite thing about fall?