Pumpkin Patch 2013

This year we didn’t make it to the pumpkin festival, but we did still make it to Pumpkin Patch Pizazz!

Like every other year we kicked off in the corn bin.  Kids seem to love playing in it.  I even let Averie bury me in the corn before I buried her.  She loved climbing off the slide and then jumping into the corn from the top!  The only downside of playing in the bin — the number of times I have to say “Don’t worry about the corn in your underwear until we’re done!!”

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Corn Bin


I swear there were more activities this year than last year, but it’s possible that we were just overwhelmed with the new location last year and didn’t notice a few of them.

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Activities

Averie’ loved the hamster wheel, this is the first year she’s been able to get it going with other kids close to her age.  She wasn’t quite tall enough to make it through the tires, but she sure tried!

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Activities


The chalk house I’m pretty sure was new this year.  She went in and drew a pumpkin on the wall.  She’s not quite coordinated enough for most of the other activities yet, but she will definitely grow into them – and she did give it her all!

She was coordinated enough for the spoon race though.  And Grandad somehow decided to dare Nana to try to race Averie…  Nana is still on crutches, as you can see.  And Averie was ruthless in the race and didn’t even give her a headstart!

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Spoon Race On Crutches


She also talked me into doing a sack race.  She was just as ruthless when racing me!

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Sack Race


The corn maze was actually challenging – Nana did not go into the maze, but Grandad and I were just as ‘lost’ as Averie was in there!

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Corn Maze


There wasn’t feed out for the animals in the petting zoo area this year.  Averie actually remembered that the donkey bit her last year anyway, so she wasn’t bothered by that.  However the baby goats on the other side of the farm were friendly, and she loved feeding them!


Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz Baby Goats


And of course, we couldn’t leave before picking out our pumpkins and taking our customary annual picture on the cart.  She’s definitely grown again.  Looking at these every year reminds me of how quickly time flies!

Pumpkin Patch Pizzazz 5 Years


And as if I needed another reminder — I snapped this picture after the pumpkin patch at Nana’s house.

Nana's Ghostie Guys

Jones County Fair 2013

We did manage to hit the fair again this year.  It is nearby to Nana’s house, but unfortunately Nana wasn’t able to crutch her way over.  Grandad dill go over with us though!

Averie was given $20 to spend as she saw fit.  Some of that money was to be for rides, but Grandad ended up buying a ride bracelet for her.  Spoiled little girl 🙂  She did well in her spending though – she spent $5 on a duck game and won a giant dora wand, and the rest of her money went to food (both lunch and dinner).



Brave girl did the slides a bunch of times!

Brave girl did the slides a bunch of times!

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

Driving the Car

Driving the Car

I still can’t believe she talked me into holding an alligator with her.  She’s definitely a brave girl – and she keeps telling us that she’s going to be an Animal Doctor AND a clown.  I can completely see that working out for her right now!

She made me hold an alligator!

She made me hold an alligator!

She had her caricature drawn too, but apparently I failed to take a picture of it.  Oops!

Blank Park Zoo

We went to Des Moines to Celebrate Grandma Elsie’s birthday – after the family all departed the hotel, we decided we should do something in town.  After a few minutes of debating what to do, we decided to head over to the zoo, luckily for us we were already only a few blocks away!

I always knew they were a couple of egg heads! :)

I always knew they were a couple of egg heads! 🙂

We managed to make the trek around the park in such a way that Averie was able to arrive at the Giraffes and the Ostriches just in time to be able to feed them both!

Giraffes have LONG black tongues

Giraffes have LONG black tongues


Ostriches are FAST eaters

Ostriches are FAST eaters

Averie was also able to feed some birds as well as go on a camel ride!

I had the 'sally the camel' song stuck in my head for ages after seeing the camels.

I had the ‘sally the camel’ song stuck in my head for ages after seeing the camels.

Blank Park Zoo Feeding Birds

It was a great experience, especially for the little girl who is currently aspiring to be an ‘animal doctor’.  She’s well on her way — she really wasn’t scared of any of the animals, and was excited to learn different facts about each of them!

Blank Park Zoo Kangaroo

When all was said and done, we came home to this:

TP'd HouseBut thankfully we knew exactly who was to blame (clues were left behind for us).  Someday we may have to repay the favor!

Splash a Smile of Color ‘Run’

We did it!  Averie and I finished up our first 5k together!

Before the Race - Still Clean

Before the Race – Still Clean

I’m so proud of my girl – she walked/ran the whole thing with me as well as to and from the car AND still had a big giant smile on her face when it was time to go.  I’m pretty sure the whole 5k took us an hour at least, but we had fun, and were definitely super colorful by the time we finished!

The giggles she had when throwing color at complete strangers were priceless!

The giggles she had when throwing color at complete strangers were priceless!

And yes, I encouraged her to lie down and play in it!

And yes, I encouraged her to lie down and play in it!

We even ran into a few friends along the way, so Averie had someone to play with at the back of the pack.

Definitely is something I would do again.  Truthfully, the cleanup wasn’t that bad either – although I think it might have been one of the longest showers EVER for both of us!

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

I did take a video at the end – I actually took one that was amazing — and then I realized that the camera was still set to ‘picture’ mode instead of ‘video’.  So this is actually the second attempt, and she doesn’t seem nearly as excited as she was for the first.  Oops! It’s hard to operate a touchscreen with all that color on your hands!


Upgrade Day – Hello 8 Quart Kitchenaid!

Up until today the trusty little Artisan that Aaron’s mom got him for Christmas has been handling all of our cookies.  She’s worked HARD through many holidays, many batches of dough and many batches of icing.  But she was starting to struggle.

Today, our new mixer arrived.  We toyed with changing brands, we toyed with the idea of the 7 quart, but we were able to get a really awesome price on the 8 quart thanks to some friends!

So here they both are!  We’ll be keeping the old girl in the basement as the backup mixer.  Here’s to hoping we won’t need her anyday soon!  I’m looking forward to quadruple batches of dough and double batches of icing!!  Hooray!

Kitchenaid Commercial 8 Quart Mixer and Artisan

Kitchenaid Commercial 8 Quart Mixer and Artisan

Super Simple DIY Art for the Walls

I finally finished up artwork for the walls in the dining area of the new house.  I wanted something that was individual and went along with our family, and after weeks of scouring the aisles of stores and online websites I knew I was going to have to suck it up and make something myself!

In the end I settled on a large canvas painted a deep red with hearts on it and 6 canvases in varying colors with our initials on them.

In retrospect, I really wish I had made a tutorial out of these.  It was REALLY simple, so I’ll try my best to walk through them!



The heart canvas is quite large – I picked it up at michaels with a coupon. Note that you can try this process before taking the plunge by using construction or craft paper and a bottle of paint that you have on hand!

Cookie Cutter Heart Artwork

Materials Needed:

  • Canvas(es)
  • Acrylic Paint(s)
  • Paint Brush
  • Paper Plate
  • Cookie Cutter


  1. Select a canvas that fits your wall space.
  2. Paint canvas in one solid color using acrylic paints, you will likely need multiple coats and need to let it dry between coats.  This took three coats for us to get it solid.
  3. Select a cookie cutter – preferably a plastic one that you already have a duplicate of so you can throw it away when you’re done.
  4. Pour white (or other color) paint onto a paper plate.  You want it just to be enough to cover the bottom of the plate, it does not need to be deep.
  5. Dip the cookie cutter into the paint and pull it straight up.  If a bubble forms within the cookie cutter, poke it with a paintbrush to pop it.  Make sure you let any excess paint drip off before approaching the canvas.
  6. ‘Stamp’ the cookie cutter on the canvas.  I was able to get 3-4 stamps out of each ‘dip’ into the paint.

You could cover the whole canvas – I chose to stop and leave a curvy pattern and then put three hearts in the top corner – one for each of us!

Initial Canvases

The initial artwork took a little more work.  You will need a cricut for this, though you could potentially find other stencils in the craft area.  It’s VERY similar to this project  where I let Averie do the painting!

Materials Needed:

  • Canvas(es)
  • Acrylic Paint(s)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Cricut / Cricut Cartridges
  • Adhesive Shelf Protectors (or Vinyl)


  1. Determine what you want to put on the canvases, how many you want, what size you need and what color(s) you want.
  2. Cut the shelf protector roll so that it will fit onto the cricut mat (alternatively you could use vinyl, but it is more expensive!)
  3. Using the cricut, cut the letters or images out at the size you would like them to appear on the canvases.
  4. Ensure that the canvas is clean and dry and stick the image onto it where you would like it to appear.
  5. Using a paintbrush, paint over the entire canvas, including over top of the shelf protector.  (Note that you don’t have to paint over the whole thing if you don’t want to).  Be careful not to push paint underneath the shelf protector.
  6. Allow to dry and apply additional coats until the desired color is achieved.
  7. After the canvases are dry, remove the shelf protector from the canvas – the shapes that you cut out should remain white.


GoBo Bakesale – Halloween Cookies

Bo was nothing short of amazing – at 12 he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. Instead of living out his last year in the hospital, he opted to get out of the hospital to “live life to the fullest and enjoy every day” going to school, the beach, sporting events, etc – even speaking to his classmates. These cookies are all packed up and headed to a fundraiser in Wisconsin for the organization that works to carry on Bo’s message.

Halloween Themed Cookies for Go Bo Bakesale

Halloween Themed Cookies packed up and ready to go to the GoBo bakesale!


I am so, so humbled to be participating in this event along side of some of the world’s greatest cookie decorators – with representation from ALL 50 states as well as 8 other countries! It’s amazing how much this young man continues to pull the world and community together with his powerful message of living life to the fullest. I encourage everyone to check out the Go Bo! Foundation and for those of you who are in (or near) Wisconsin, you should also attend the bake sale. I’m positive it will be nothing short of AMAZING!

Another Cookie Explosion Post

I’m guessing most of you can guess what happened to my blogging time.  It’s been spent in the kitchen…  I tend to think that my cookie skills have improved – there are a few designs in here that were done more than once – like these turtles:

Ninja Turtle Birthday Cookies Cedar Rapids IANinja Turtle Birthday Cookies Cedar Rapids IA

I love seeing improvement from order to order.   I love learning new things.  I love that I have convinced myself to take part in more events in the cookie community, even if I’m a little shy about my skills and humbled to be surrounded by such great bakers/decorators!

Anyway, here are the majority of the cookies that were done since last time I blasted the blog with cookie pictures…   here’s to hoping I don’t go another 7 months between cookie posts next time!

If you haven’t already, you should probably go like our cookie page on facebook.  🙂

Yes, My 4 Year Old Wears Makeup..

I have a number of friends who are pregnant these days.  Most of them are pregnant for the first time.  I have a really hard time not bursting into laughter when they tell me how sick they are about getting ‘advice’ and feeling the judgmental looks they get when they indulge in a treat etc.

Those of us who have been blessed enough to go through the first child already know – the ‘worst’ is yet to come.  Before I had a kid, I passed under the radar of most people.  I didn’t stand out in anyway, I blended into the crowd.  Nobody really gave me much of a second look.

That all changes once you have a kid.  They attract attention to even the most under-the-radar types of people.  They make noise, they touch things, they ask questions, they introduce themselves to strangers.  They are mini-representations of you and your belief system that do not have filters on what to say and when it is appropriate to just THINK something and not say it out loud.

Sometimes they don’t have to do anything.  Sometimes you can be quietly walking through the store with your kid and attract attention because of the way they look.  Unbrushed hair, holes or stains in their clothes (all things I SWORE up and down my kid would never have – HA!)

This past week, Averie attracted attention because she was wearing makeup.

Yes, my four year old had on eye shadow.

Averie in Makeup

Some people looked at her and seemed to think ‘how cute – she wants to be like mommy’ (which is funny, since mommy never wears much make up).  The majority, however, looked at her and then looked at me with disgust – as if it was absolutely wrong for me to allow my child to wear makeup.

And WHY was my child wearing makeup?

Because she’s been having meltdowns.  Crazy tantrums.  Screaming, spitting, drooling and unable to form a coherent thought tantrums.  I think it’s part of adjusting to the new school schedule…  not quite sure.  But when she has make up on she doesn’t do that.  She has a much more calm attitude about it – because if she cries, she will “cry her makeup off” and she knows that Mommy won’t give her more.  (and the dirty looks multiple ten fold when she mentions this in the checkout line as I’m telling her ‘no’ to buying more candy.)

Perhaps it’s manipulative.  Perhaps my child is a little bit of a diva and likes her makeup a little too much.   Regardless, it works.  She uses her words instead of intangibly screaming and we reach resolutions much faster.    It’s temporary, and it’s not EVERY day.  In fact, she only gets eye makeup in the mornings if she gets out of bed and starts the day with a good attitude.

So yes, my four year old is wearing makeup, and now that I think about it – perhaps I should start wearing it more often too…  but that would require ME to get out of bed with a good attitude.  Not sure I’ll ever earn that reward!!