Go BC!

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This weekend W and I hit the road with my parents to cheer on my alma mater, Boston College, as the football team kicked off the season.  I’ve gotta be honest, though.  There was something totally strange about pushing a stroller around the same places we used to drunkenly stumble at 5am exclaiming, “People are sugaring their Corn Flakes right now!”

True story.  That was actually said.

But seriously.  This past weekend I was that old person who brought their kid to campus.  That old person in the dining hall.  That old person in the Mods.  And then, of course, there were those moments when I felt totally out of place amidst a sea of cut-off jean shorts and crop tops (BC’s new student uniform, apparently).  Had me feeling like my distressed denim was all sorts of mom jean.  Lame.

That lady. Pushing the stroller.

But once I got over all that.  I’ve gotta say.  There was something absolutely priceless about having my little guy running through the quad, cheering Go BC!, dancing to the band while proudly wearing his new Eagles shirt as those same questionably clad co-eds smiled and cooed, “Awwwww” as he zoomed by them.

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I think they call it pride.  Yeah, that’s it.

I was proud.

Proud to be there with him and talk about where Mommy went to school.  Proud to be back on a campus that helped shape me in so many ways.  A campus where I met life-long friends.  I was proud to be an alum of BC.  And proud thinking that, one day, this precious little guy would be wearing his own Super Fan shirt.  (Thankfully I have 15 years to prepare for that milestone.  I’m still anxious about dropping him off…alone…at art class next week.)

And with that pride welling in my chest, I wanted to get a picture with the little guy in front of the Boston College sign at the entrance to campus.  Well.  Want to make a toddler laugh scream?  Tell them your plans.  And then take the photo below.

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I was still proud.  A little sweaty from the 80 degree day and the anxiety that is holding a tantruming toddler.  But proud.  Here’s to more tailgating in our future…

Proudly yours,

MomME

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Tasty Tuesday: Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli

Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli Photo credit: http://lilluna.com/cream-cheese-and-parmesan-asparagus/
Parmesan Asparagus Rolls with Lemon-Garlic Aioli
Photo credit: http://lilluna.com/cream-cheese-and-parmesan-asparagus/

I love sauce.  And I’m a saucy gal, so it works out perfectly.  And, when I was charged with making an Easter appetizer of the green variety, you can be sure I was looking for something that was worthy of some serious sauce slathering.  Tender, green asparagus bundled up and wrapped in puff pastry…oozing with melted parmesan cheese…drizzled with a lemon-garlic aioli?

Yup.  Recipe(s) found.  Results devoured.

I usually end up combining a few elements of different recipes to suit my culinary needs and then revise them a bit further.  And this time was no different.  I took the puff-pastry from one recipe, removed the butter and the cream cheese, added more parmesan cheese and topped it off with an aioli from another recipe.

Springtime perfection.

Here’s how I achieved these tasty treats…but you can check out the original recipes here and here.  Grab a box of puff pastry sheets (in the freezer section, usually by the Cool Whip) and let them thaw for at least 40 minutes.  About halfway through the thawing time I gently unfolded the sheets and then left them in the fridge until I was ready to assemble…that way they didn’t get too sticky.

For the sauce…you can prep it ahead of time, and know that the recipe makes a TON and could easily have been halved for the ten bundles I made (each with three stalks of asparagus).  But then there wouldn’t be leftovers, so don’t even bother halving it!  So…add your 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream (could easily substitute greek yogurt), grated clove of garlic, three squeezes of lemon juice and zest, a dash of dijon, a shake of red pepper and a splash of hot sauce if you like.

Mix and try to not eat the whole bowl with a spoon.  Or, use it on everything else before it’s time to serve up your asparagus rolls…

Ok, back to the recipe.  Now that your dough is thawed and your sauce is in the fridge, wash and trim your asparagus and lay to dry on some paper towels.  On a lightly flowered surface cut the puff pastry dough into vertical strips, going in the same direction as the crease that’s already there.  I got 10 strips out of each sheet for a total of 20 strips.

Next, grate a TON of parmesan cheese all over your strips.  Grab one, two, three – heck, however many asparagus stalks you want in your bundles – and start rolling them up.  I found it easiest to hold the bottom of the asparagus bundle at a 45 degree angle, flowers pointing down, at the top of the puff pastry strip.  From there, just roll the bundle down the strip and spiral the puff pastry strip from the bottom of the bundle…finishing at the top.

I’m sure you had to read that twice.

This isn’t a food blog, so sorry my culinary descriptions aren’t on point.  But.  Look at the picture above and you’ll figure something out.  Or, you can wrap it some other way.  You’re smart, I know you are.  And, it will all be delicious no matter what you do.

I promise.

Next up, bake at 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes.  That’s generally how vague my cooking times are.  Just check on it and figure out when it’s done!  When they’re cooling, add a little more fresh grated parmesan on top so it melts over the buttery puff pastry.

Then, obviously, add sauce and enjoy.

This would be amazing even without the puff pastry, if you’re looking for more of a legit vegetable side dish.  Just bake your asparagus, grate parmesan cheese on top to melt and then drizzle with the lemon-garlic aioli.  And, you could even substitute the mayo or the sour cream for greek yogurt for a more healthy drizzle.

The options are endless, but this was an awesome flavor combination that is perfect for spring and summer.  Definitely making this again 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

Easter hands and feet

Some bunny loves you!
Some bunny loves you!
Spring ducks!
Spring ducks!

For some reason, I don’t need much of an excuse to make seasonally themed artwork using my toddler’s hands and feet and various mediums…usually paint and some sort of glitter.

But seriously.  Crafting with a toddler?  I know, call me crazy.

Aside from the utterly adorable outcome that I usually frame and place on our entryway table, doing paint-related arts and crafts is anything but clean and simple with a toddler.  Especially when you’re covering pint-sized hands and feet (that are constantly moving, running, touching, grabbing, climbing, stomping and smearing everything…everywhere) with paint.

So, I always try to be prepared.

I get the kiddo down to his onesie or diaper.  I put him in his old high chair to limit his mobility.  I put an old shower curtain down on the floor as an easy-to-clean drop cloth.  I situate him out of reach of anything.  I make sure I’m not wearing anything that I remotely care about.  I get paper towels or dish towels damp and ready for immediate wipe off.

Oh, and most important, I tell myself to CTFD and relax.  It’s really not a big deal if stuff gets messy.

So, with spring here (err…somewhere under the 2 feet of snow we still have) and Easter just around the corner, we added a few other seasonally themed animal hand and feet prints to our repertoire.  Let’s see.  Reindeer feet?  Check.  Turkey hands?  Check.  Cottonball snowmen?  Check.  But the barn seems to be shy a few characters so…

Why not add a bunny and a few ducks?

Artfully yours,

MomME

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions & Sweet Sausage

Sweet Potato Hash from http://www.thekitchn.com/brunch-recipe-s-162997
Sweet Potato Hash from http://www.thekitchn.com/brunch-recipe-s-162997

I absolutely love brunch.  It’s the perfect time of day.  It’s a socially acceptable time to drink.  And you can totally do sweet or savory.  The options are endless.  And that’s where I can get stuck sometimes…the options are endless and it’s always a tug-of-war with my taste buds.

Until I found this recipe for  Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions, Sausuage & Eggs.  And the tug-of-war ceased.  I can have it all after all.  Sweet and savory all rolled into one amazing dish.

This sweet potato hash pairs ooey-gooey caramelized onions…with crumbly fennel-filled sweet sausage…and aromatic roast garlic and rosemary.  And then you add a fried egg on top.  Whaaaaaaaaaat!?

I know.  I know.  My mind was blown when I read that for the first time, too, and I thought there was just no way this couldn’t get any better.

And then I ate it.  Hot out of the oven.  Sweet.  Savory.  Melt in your mouth and soaked in a fried egg.

It’s pretty much fifty shades of ahhhhhhhh-mazing.

This is the absolutely amazing re-heated in the cast iron for breakfast the next day.  And it’s also amazing for lunch.  Heck, why not make a day of it and have it for brinner (breakfast for dinner!), too!?  We have been eating hash pretty much for every meal since yesterday.  And I promise you’ll want to triple the recipe and savor it for days, too.  And days.  But I can’t promise there will actually be any left by then.  Between the three of us, 8 servings was gone in about 36 hours.

There’s no shame in my game.  It’s just that good.

My only modifications?  I shred my sweet potatoes in the Cuisinart.  I (at least) double the olive oil I add to the sweet potatoes.  I spray the cookie sheets so the hash doesn’t stick.  And, I use fresh sweet sausage from Rosemont Market (our local food market) and I truly think that makes all the difference.

So.  Next time the weatherman is calling for snow?  Or you’re having company over?  Or it’s a holiday?  Or just because you love amazing food…head to the grocery store and stock up.

It won’t disappoint.  I promise.

Brunch-tastically yours,

MomME

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Drunken Pumpkin Chili for Superbowl Sunday!

Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin
Drunken Pumpkin Chili                                                   Gorgeous photo from The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Little W was born on the morning of Superbowl Sunday almost two years ago.  And while I wasn’t watching much of the game that evening, in true Superbowl form, I was eating some delicious hospital food.  (While my writing is usually rife with sarcasm, that my friends, was no lie…our hospital had the absolute best chicken club, the crispiest bacon and amazingly seasoned steak fries.  I’m pretty sure I ordered that combo at every meal while I was there…maybe even breakfast…)

But I guess that is neither here nor there, except to say that the Superbowl means a good game (hopefully) and even better food.  Oh, and the end of football season.  Amen.  

So what’s on the menu for the big game, you ask?  Three words…

Drunken. Pumpkin. Chili. 

I pinned the recipe earlier this fall and absolutely loved it.  Chili on a cold day is always good, but this chili has a really exceptional flavor profile with layers upon layers of unexpected flavors.  Yes.  I was watching Master Chef Junior last night.  So what am I trying to say?

It’s a flavor-explosion in your mouth.  It’s a warm hug on a cold day.  

Cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, chipotle peppers…garlic, onion and bay leaves…velvety pureed pumpkin and mouth-watering pumpkin beer.  Carrots, yellow peppers and black beans.  Keep the beef, or omit for a vegan spin.  Go off-recipe and maybe even add some sweet potato.  Top it off with cheddar cheese, or sour cream, or greek yogurt or make a little chipotle mayo/sour cream/greek yogurt.  Everyone loves a good dollop of something on their chili.

It’s savory, smokey and has a hint of sweet.  It’s a vibrant masterpiece in a bowl, frankly.  Oh, and it’s amazing as leftovers.  You can’t go wrong.

I bet Gisele is going to whip up a batch of this for her hunny before the big game.  Yup.  So that means you probably should, too.

Go Pats!

MomME

 

Drunken Pumpkin Chili from The Scrumptious Pumpkin (her blog post is filled with absolutely gorgeous step-by-step pictures, so check it out!)
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
 
Yield: 6 servings 
 
Ingredients
1 pound 93% lean ground beef (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
15-ounce container cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Frigid weather fun – a cotton ball snowman!

Our cotton ball snowman!
Our cotton ball snowman!

If you haven’t been living under a rock then you’ve most certainly heard of this polar vortex that continues to spew frigid air our way.  [Side note: did you know Huff Post listed polar vortex the #2 banished word of 2015?  Well now you do].

So.  What to do you do with an antsy mother energetic-almost-two-year-old when you’re stuck inside because of a polar vortex it’s like -10 degrees outside?

Glue cotton balls to a piece of paper, of course.  And call it a cotton ball snowman.  Obviously.

Little W has been having fun with a glue bottle and or a glue stick lately, so on a frigid day earlier this week (I know, they’re all starting to blur together…) I thought, why not make ourselves a little snowman out of cotton balls!?  I rolled on over to Pinterest to affirm that making snowmen with cotton balls was, in fact, a real craft.  I’ve since saved this site since it looks like it’s full of easy crafts to do with little ones.

Next up: materials.

I grabbed the cotton balls from my cabinet, retrieved the glue and construction paper from W’s art bucket and told him to meet me at his table.  He excitedly scampered over to this little white craft table and climbed up into to his favorite seat, anxiously awaiting his “art project” for the day.  After I traced the outline of the snowman with various circular items in his playroom, I showed W how to squeeze the glue and when to “Stop!” (now one of his favorite expressions, one which he instructed me to do after a few seconds of squeezing my own glue dots, haha).  Then I showed him how to pick a cotton ball and stick it on the glue we’d just put on the paper.

With a little bit of guidance, we slowly filled in our snowman.  Little W helped me determine that our Frosty needed some buttons, eyes, a nose and a hat so I quickly cut them out of construction paper and…voila!

That, my friends, is how Frosty came to life one [very cold, polar vortex] day.  Happy gluing to you and yours 🙂

Frigidly yours,

MomME

 

 

#tbt Christmas morning

My quest to be a more diligent blogger (and capture all of life’s fleeting moments) is feeling more like a study of inertia – a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.  W finally fell asleep for nap #2 of the day (something he’s been fighting for weeks) and I couldn’t get to the couch fast enough to have some much anticipated “mommy time.”

And then you ruined it.

Ok, so not you, per say, but the fact that I’d committed (in writing, just two days ago) to writing a post a week.  To keeping my focus not on literary perfection, but capturing the hilarious imperfections of life with a toddler.  Ugh, sometimes I get really irritated with myself when I move forward on something with such public gusto only to look back and think, Ugh, why did I say I’d do that?  I’m so annoying!  But the little voice in my head that hates to fail was louder than the volume on the TV (which isn’t hard when it’s nap time and I pretty much have to have the subtitles on to understand ANYTHING that’s happening.  But I digress…)

So.  Here we are again.  Post #2 of the week.  That’s the rate at which I’m going to need to crank ’em out and catch up on what’s happened without missing out on posting about what’s happening now.  So, I thought, why not make Thursday’s weekly post a dedicated #tbt post to catch up on missed happenings during my 3 month hiatus.  I’ll pair it with an Instagram picture.  For some reason, that makes this seem easier.  I guess I’m just a sucker for a good filter.

Let’s try and start where I left off – Christmas!

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My husband and I were SO excited for W’s first Christmas…and slightly overwhelmed with the number of parties and dinners and gatherings that we were schleping him around to.  New parents know there is nothing as terrifying as interrupting a baby’s nap.  Welp.  We had to get over that fast because celebrations were in full swing.  There were presents to open.  Faces to be stuffed with food.  But, as with most things, W took the holiday season in stride and (yet again) proved that most of the time we’re silly to worry.  He adjusted perfectly and loved all of the Christmas lights and decorations…and food!

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What we were most excited for, though, was Christmas morning.  We wondered if W was too young to understand the concept of presents or new toys, and if the wonder of Christmas morning would be lost on him.  We’d resolved to only buy W a few new toys and had asked grandparents and relatives to do the same.  But, the presents that we did buy, were laid out underneath the tree and unwrapped in hopes that their flashy colors and new-ness would catch his eye.

As soon as we heard him wake up, my husband got the video camera set up in the living room.  We all snuggled in our bed while I nursed W (our morning tradition) and it was finally time for the big reveal.  I carried W down the stairs in his new pajama’s (with an adorable firetruck on the front).  The house was still dark, but the Christmas tree lights glowed and his new toys sat sparkly, shiny and new below it.  My husband and I exchanged quick and anticipatory glances…did W understand that these were new toys?  That this morning was special?

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Yes!  He looked under the tree and pointed.  Then he looked at my husband.  And back at me.  As if to ask, “Are these really for me?  Are these new toys I can play with?”  And without further ado he got right to work pushing his alphabet train around and chasing this little bug that vibrates around and rolls balls around.

It was priceless.  As is pretty much everything he does.

We played for about an hour before starting the long day that is Christmas.  First, breakfast with my husband’s family and then a 2hour drive to my grandparents house for dinner with my mom’s family.  W screamed the whole way home that night and we were ALL ready for bed by day’s end.  But, it was still an awesome day.  I’ll never forget coming around the corner and seeing the look on his face when he caught sight of his new toys…those are the moments.

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And speaking of moments.  My solo moments are up.  The little guy is awake.  Funny thing, though, about Christmas morning and all…it pretty much feels like Christmas morning EVERY morning (and afternoon) when I go into his nursery to find him squealing and giggling with excitement and outstretched arms.

Yours truly,

MomME

Mistle toes and festive fingers

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Twenty five years later, my parents still have the cinnamon ornaments my sister and I made at school as kids.  They adorn the mantle every year at Christmas time, bringing the perfect waft of cinnamon-y deliciousness.  So, when I was thinking about some fun things my mommy friends and I could do at our weekly get together, it was the perfect time to make some for our mantle.

Crazy to think they’ll last 25 years…But, considering they contain three ingredients (all which you can buy at the grocery store) and only took a few hours to make, bake and decorate…it seemed incredibly cost-effective.  Oh, and fun!

According to Martha, here’s what you need per batch (I doubled the batch and made 6 1/2 ornaments the size of hamburgers):

  • 1 jar of applesauce (1/4 cup per batch…there will be PLENTY left over)
  • 2 big containers of cinnamon (1 cup per batch, just about used all of it)
  • 2 bottles of Elmer’s glue (1/2 cup per batch, used all of it)

Martha’s blog has more details, but in short, all you do is mix the cinnamon and applesauce together with a spatula, then add the glue.  Let it rest for one hour.  Roll out the dough on a cool surface with a rolling-pin, 1/4 at a time.  Make them anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters or a circular shape to cut out your ornaments, then use a straw to poke a hole at the top for your string.  Cook at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or until dry).

Next, round up all of the fun craft items you have around the house.  I pulled out some paints, glitter, glitter glue, gold sharpies and paint pens.  I put a tiny dab of paint on a plastic plate, let baby W rub his hands around a bit, and then WHAM!  Right onto that cinnamon-y round of awesomeness.

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I highly recommend making these with friends or family.  Not just because the holidays are about spending time with those you love, but because trying to dip a toddler’s hand or foot in paint and successfully make contact with a small target (and ONLY that target) is challenging.  It helped to have a few moms playing with the babes while the others decorated, and then switch.

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We will definitely be making a few more batches and gifting to grandparents!  I know the hubby will be excited to decorate a few with his little guy 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

Lions, duc(t)s and lip-ties…oh my! [Part I]

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Man, it’s been a while!  I’ll start with the cute and cuddly part of what’s been keeping us busy these last few weeks 🙂  Stay tuned for the less glamorous side of nursing and motherhood in parts II and III of this thrilling trilogy…

Obviously it’s Halloween tomorrow and I have to say, it takes on a slightly new meaning now that I’m a mom.  Meaning, it’s no longer an excuse to wear something otherwise inappropriate and drink too much and act otherwise inappropriate…darn.  That used to be so much fun…

This year, as such, I’ve channeled my already limited Halloween spirit into home decor, instead.  Out front I have two mums that I haven’t killed yet (I’ll consider this an early Christmas miracle…) and a pumpkin that hasn’t rotted yet (mostly because I haven’t carved it yet…)  In the kitchen I have a pumpkin with W’s name painted on it (gifted by his Gamma) and a Halloween floral arrangement (I totally bought it at the supermarket).  In the bathroom I have a Halloween Yankee Candle along with hand soap in a pumpkin dispenser and a Halloween themed hand towel (all three also gifted by Gamma. She’s good at decorating for the holidays. I think she knows I’m usually too lazy busy.)  One thing I do have totally figured out is the candy situation.  I’ve already taste tested all of the candy.  Several times.  I feel confident that the one Milky Way bar we’ll have left will be delicious.  If I don’t eat it before then.  No promises.

Ok, but onto the lion bit of this whole story.

My sister-in-law let us borrow an adorable lion costume that my nephew wore two years ago.  (He’s an April baby and W is a February baby so for the most part, thankfully, W has been able to fit into his clothes at the right time of year.)  So I was obviously looking for more than one occasion to put my little pumpkin in this cute suite!  It was perfect that one of my mommy friends suggested we run a Wicked 5K in beautiful Kennebunkport, ME to benefit the Center for Grieving Children (where one of my good friends works!)  What a great way to dress the kiddos up, finally meet each others husbands, participate in some Halloween fun at a time of day that the babes are awake for, AND benefit a good cause.

I was sold and the hubby was in, too.  He’s super fit and active, but running is not in his repertoire.  I was worried I’d have to do some arm twisting…but I guess he couldn’t resist a challenge 🙂  I wrote it on my lovely white board in my kitchen and had grand visions of training.  We even borrowed a jogger from a neighbor.  Welp, per usual, I was mistaken.  My post-baby-body just wasn’t having the whole running thing – it was killer on all of my joints.

Sigh.

Nonetheless, I’m a sucker for doing anything with my hubby and it was pretty sweet to see him lace up his running shoes and push the jogger.

Swoon.

So, on race day we got all dressed up and took a lovely little Sunday drive down the coast to meet my friend, her hubby and Baby G.  Did I mention that I was really nervous before the race?  I guess it’s just the competitive spirit in me…

The day and the location along the water at the Nonatum could not have been more perfect.  The air was super crisp, the sun was shining and the 200 participants (many of them families with little ones) were dressed in festive gear.  W was pretty entertained by all of the costumes and colors and attention he was getting.  We were a tad nervous to see how W would do in his majorly furry costume, strapped in a stroller for 30+ minutes, approaching nap time…and, low and behold, minutes before the race was about to begin he was screaming.  Oh boy, we thought.  This is going to be a LONG race!  

But, as usual, W pulled himself together.  We huffed and puffed our way up, down and around the beautiful neighborhoods…peeking at our little lion who was just taking in the scenery and having a blast.  His amazingly thick costume came in handy as we rounded the final mile with the sparkling ocean flanking our left side and a stiff breeze blowing in our face.  We finished in 34 minutes, and though we didn’t get in under 30 minutes as the hubby had hoped, we crossed the finish line as a family and with a smile 🙂  It was perfect!

The after-party, as with most races I’ve run, is pretty much the reason I sign up in the first place…free food and free beer.  So, my friend and I left the babies with the guys and grabbed ourselves a plate of food and a yummy Allagash White before returning to our precious little families, sitting on picnic tables and Adirondack chairs along the ocean.

Ah.  Life is good.  And Wyatt even fell asleep on the car ride home.  Life is really good…minus the major clogged duct that was brewing.  Now, though, it’s time for the Red Sox!

Still sore,

MomME

Fall Bucket List: Update

Another weekend has come and gone already…sigh.  But, we enjoyed it to the fullest and dropped a few more adventures in the fall bucket list 🙂  Sure, it was a bit cloudy and chilly…but that’s nothing a good bottle of wine, a 5th birthday party, pumpkin picking, apple picking, FaceTime with Auntie Wink, football, pulled pork and apple crisp didn’t fix!

Here’s what we’ve dropped in the bucket so far:

Pick out mums

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Pick a pumpkin

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Go apple picking

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Bake an apple pie apple crisp

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Stay tuned!  More fall bucket list adventures to come next weekend 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME