Colby Park

This past week was absolutely gorgeous out. We spent pretty much everyday outside! We also checked out a new park … Colby Park in Windsor Heights.

Colby Park-2

Colby Park is an awesome park and has a lot to offer. It is nestled behind the Wal-Mart and in a residential neighborhood. It’s exact address is 69th and School Streets.

There are LOTS of slides and two separate playgrounds to play on. There are also lots of swings, items to sit and bounce on, and a climbing wall!

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I love the amount of open fields there are and picnic tables available. It is a perfect park to spend the entire day! Pack a lunch or snack! There is also a tennis court and baseball diamond available to play on, if you get tired of playing on the playground.

Another awesome feature is the Walnut Creek Trail that leads into the park. After you are done playing, you can get on the trail and go exploring! You could even ride your bike! If you follow the trail underneath the interstate, you will go by a special dog park. So make sure you bring your furry friend with you!

Colby Park is the main park for Windsor Heights and hosts lots of events through out the year. You will also find the Windsor Heights Community Center, which is HUGE and beautiful. You can rent this facility for a fee. It is a great place to host wedding receptions, birthday parties and more! On the back side of the center, are the bathrooms which our clean and very nice to use when you are at the park! I felt very comfortable taking all the kids in there for potty breaks 🙂

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There is soo much to do at Colby Park. Lots of playing and exploring can be done. Even babies have fun too! 🙂

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Make sure to put Colby Park on your bucket list to check out this Spring and Summer!

Decorating and Santa Visit

We have been crossing things off our 2013 Holiday Bucket List left and right! I love this time of year and having a little one makes it even better.

There are so many places where Santa is making an appearance. Make sure not to miss out! I created an awesome list just for you.

We have seen Santa twice now! We first saw him at the East Village Holiday Promenade, which went okay. Monte would not sit on his lap, but gave him a high-five! Travis and I took Monte to Valley West Mall’s Winter Wonderland. I think that Valley West Mall offers the best Santa set-up. They have a train and the area is decorated beautifully!

 

Monte did great with Santa! He sat on his lap and did not get upset!

Excuse his wild hair! 🙂 Afterwards, Santa handed him a coloring book and crayons and he looked right at him and said “thanks”. It made my heart melt, I might have teared up a bit also.

Not only did Travis and I accomplished almost all of our Christmas shopping, but we also decorated the house and tree!

Monte was a BIG helper with putting the tree together!

We gave him a Disney Christmas Book which plays Christmas music and he can “play” the piano with! He loves it!

We were also fortunate enough to be given another artificial Christmas Tree. We set it up downstairs and Monte got to decorate it however he wanted. I am so happy we thought of this idea, because every night he will take some “kid-friendly” ornaments off the tree and then place them elsewhere on the tree. It keeps him busy and he is so proud of himself when he does it!

Have you taken the kiddos to visit Santa yet? Where was your favorite place to go?

East Village Holiday Promenade & First Snow!

Yesterday it snowed our first “big” snow! Meaning snow stuck on the ground and is still on the ground!

I am so happy it did snow, because now I feel a little bit more comfortable listening to Christmas music and doing holiday festivities 🙂

Monte was ready for the big snow!

Even though we may not be completely finished with our 2013 Fall Bucket List, we did cross the first thing off our 2013 Holiday Bucket List last night … the East Village Promenade. It was a bit chilly, but it was a fun evening to get us in the spirit!

The East Village was decked out in lights all the way down the street. Monte thought those were awesome!

Our first stop was the State Historical Building where Santa, a DJ, and a chili supper was being held for Toys for Tots. I was not sure how well Monte would respond to Santa this year. Last year, he was a little young and I don’t think he really understood what was going on. This year, he smiled at him, but as soon as we got him on Santa’s lap, he was not a fan.

He did give Santa a high-five and “pounded it” with him. I’m glad it was not such a horrific experience!

After visiting with Santa, we headed to dinner at Quinton’s! Oh my goodness, if you have not been there, it is defiantly one place to check out! It’s a sports bar, but the various burgers and sandwiches they offer … are amazing!

While we were waiting for our food, chatting and some were playing foosball … a group of carolers came in!

After we stuffed ourselves with good beer, sandwiches, and burgers … we headed out to enjoy more lights and do a little window shopping. I have never really shopped in the East Village before and was surprised by all of the unique, local stores! Jett and Monkey’s Dog Shoppe was a fun dog  bakery and supply store. They had a few small dogs, that Monte enjoyed seeing. Raygun where they offer t-shirts, local labels, and vintage merchandise. Sticks! I love all of the unique items available. My dad purchased a basset coffee cup for himself 🙂

Overall, the East Village Promenade was a hit! It was the perfect way to kick off this 2013 holiday season. I am excited!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Friday evening and has an awesome weekend! Enjoy this snow and some hot cocoa!

Mini Apple Pies

We are nearing the end of the 2013 Fall Bucket List! This weekend I crossed another thing off  the list and made Mini Apple Pies inspired by Little Bit Funky’s recipe!  I decided that mini apple pies would be a lot easier for Monte’s hands to eat and carry around. Of course I made some changes and also halved the recipe.

Makes 18 individual apple pies

Ingredients 

4 cups chopped apples – Approximately 4 apples depending on the size. You can also peel the apples, I chose not to.

7 Tablespoons flour

3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into smaller pieces

2 boxes of Pillsbury pie crusts – not frozen, refrigerated

Directions 

1. Peel (if you choose to) and chop up your apples into bite size pieces. Approximately 1/2 inch in size.

2. Place apple pieces, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl and combine well.

3. Unroll first pie crust. Use the ring of a mason jar. Make sure you use a QUART ring, NOT pint. Her recipe did not specify this and I started using a pint ring and my circles were way too small for the muffin tins. I was little mad after spending all that time making perfect circles :/ Using a quart size is perfect!

4. Place the circles into each muffin slot. Pinch the edges on top creating a hammock in the muffin slot.

5. Place your apple mixture into the center of each crust. Fill until slightly mounded.

6. Take your butter pieces and add a piece on top of each pie.

7. Take whatever leftover dough, you may have and place strips on top of each pie.

8. Brush with melted butter.

9. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. You may give or take a few minutes depending on your oven!

I love how well these hold together! I was concerned they would not stay together well and crumble. You could make all varieties of pies using this basic recipe!  Enjoy!

What variety of pie would you make?

Paleo Crock Pot Chili

It’s that time of year for … Chili! I am not sure what the weather is like where you are, but it is getting really “chili” around here. 🙂

I decided to make a HUGE crock pot full of paleo chili for the week. It’s perfect for this cold weather and it also crosses another thing off of our 2013 Fall Bucket List!

I came across this awesome “recipe”. I LOVE how it uses pictures and it’s so colorful!

Image Source

You can follow this picture recipe exactly or you can do what I did … use it as a guide.

Paleo Crock Pot Chili

Ingredients

  1. Sweet onion, peeled & diced
  2. (2) Green bell peppers, diced
  3. Red bell pepper, diced
  4. Yellow bell pepper, diced
  5. (2) cups sliced mushrooms
  6. (2) Tablespoons coconut oil
  7. (1.5) lb sausage
  8. (1.5) lb ground turkey
  9. (1.5) lb ground beef
  10. Can crushed tomatoes
  11. Can diced tomatoes with garlic
  12. Can tomato paste
  13. 1/2 Tablespoon dried basil
  14. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  15. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  16. 1 teaspoon hot chili powder
  17. 1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika

Directions

  • Wash and dice/slice all of your veggies. In a large pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add vegetables, cover. Let cook until veggies are softened.

  • Dump veggies into the crock pot. 
  • Break up and cook sausage, ground turkey, and ground beef until cooked. Leaving a little pink is okay. You may need to do half, place into crock pot, then the other half and place into crock pot. It depends on how large your pan is.
  • Open and dump in your can of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  • Stir well!

  • Add in all of your seasonings!
  • Stir well, again! Place lid on and let cook 4-6 hours. Our crock pot cooks quickly so it took about 5 hours on low.
  • Top it with fresh avocado!

 

Note: I WAS going to add in the sweet potatoes as shown on the picture above BUT I completely forgot 🙁 I think it would add a lot if you add them in an hour or so before you serve. Again, our crock pot cooks quickly, so I did not get a chance.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite chili recipe?

The Great Pumpkin!

First off … I am so excited about Midwest Mom & Wife right now! I have a Twitter account, Instagram account, Pinterest account and now a very own Facebook page. Everyone should follow along to get the latest updates on everything! You can also visit these by clicking on the icons on the right hand side of the screen

I am also excited to annouce that I will be participating in the Great Diaper Hunt with Diaper Decisions! It is such an awesome thing to be a part of and if you have not already done so, go sign up for the hunt. It’s a great way to support small businesses and bloggers, while winning prizes.

On to our laid back, fall weekend! We crossed a bunch more things off our 2013 Fall Bucket List.

1. Crockpot Applesauce 

Nothing smells better then apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple cider brewing in the crockpot!

I did not follow a specific recipe and making apple sauce can be done pretty much however you want.

This is what I did …

1. Cut about 10-15 apples into chunks. I did not peel my apples and the number of apples used depends on the size you are using and how much sauce you are wanting to make. We used Wills Orchard apples, which were pretty small.

2. Squeeze half a lemon on top.

3. Add about 1 – 1 1/2 cups apple cider. We used Iowa Orchards tasty cider!

4. Sprinkle nutmeg on top, approximately 2 Tablespoons

5. Add 4 cinnamon sticks

6. Put on low about 6 hours. My crockpot cooks VERY fast! So this may differ for everyone.

7. Scoop the mixture out into a glass bowl and mash it up with a masher.

2. Carved and Painted Pumpkins

Monte did such a woderful job and he took the task very seriously!

 He is such an artist 🙂

3. Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown 

Papa Tony was nice enough to buy Monte the movie on DVD so we can watch it whenever! Sunday evening was the perfect night to cuddle up and wait for the Great Pumpkin to appear!

 If you do not own It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, ABC is airing the show at 7 pm on Thursday!

Record it if you will be trick or treating, so you can watch it!

 

It’s was a PERFECT Fall weekend 🙂

What fall and/or Halloween things did you do this past weekend? 

 

 

Living History Farms – Family Halloween

Another thing has been crossed off our 2013 Fall Bucket List!

We went to the Living History Farms – Family Halloween!

This is a perfect event to take the little kiddos to. Monte had so much fun!

His costume this year is a FOX! Him and Elvis are going as the Fox and Hound. Of course, Elvis could not make an appearance at the Living History Farms, so he has a body double (stuffed animal) that Monte will carry around 🙂

You enter into the Living History town and trick or treat through the street, stopping at all the old buildings. We stopped at the bank, general store, veterinary clinic, etc.

Everything was decorated with scarecrows and pumpkins!

My favorite thing decorated was a gazebo, they dressed up as a witch. So creative!!

Monte’s favorite thing to do was roast marshmallows ….

…. more like eat them!!!

“Pumpkin” bowling was also a hit and there was a huge line to give it a try. Monte got the hang of it quickly and knew exactly what to do.

 There was also kettle corn available for purchase, story time for those kiddos a little bit older, and a horse drawn wagon ride.

This event is also going on this weekend too! If you do not have plans, I would definitely recommend taking your kiddos.

$6 for non-members

$5 for members

1 year and under are FREE!

Days and Hours

Thursday – Sunday

5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Don’t miss out!

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Another item has been crossed off our 2013 Fall Bucket ListMake Pumpkin Pancakes!

Since my Paleo obsession … I came across these Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes and thought we should give them a try! I cannot take all the credit for making these though … my wonderful father made these for us Sunday morning.

This is a doubled recipe from the original.

 Here are the ingredients and steps we used to make this Paleo fall favorite!

Ingredients 

1. 8 eggs, beaten

2. 1 can pumpkin puree

3. 2 ripe bananas, mashed

4. 4 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

5. 2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract

6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

7. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

8. 2 teaspoons cinnamon

9. Pinch salt

Directions

1. Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together, then add the canned pumpkin.

2. Sift the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and pinch of salt into the wet ingredients.

3. Mash 2 bananas, then add to the wet ingredients and mix.

4. Melt 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and then add to pancake mixture.

5. Spray your skillet, then pour batter onto skillet to make the pancakes!

The original recipe called for coconut flour to make the pancakes thicker and firmer, but we did not use because we thought the bananas would do the trick! I would definitely recommend adding in the coconut flour, because it was hard to flip the pancakes and they were kind of flimsy BUT they tasted great!

This recipe makes 10 pancakes.

Serve with pure maple syrup, almond butter, fruit, nuts, etc.

What is your favorite pumpkin pancake recipe?

Wills Family Orchard

Sunday was a gorgeous Fall day! A perfect day to get one of our items crossed off our 2013 Fall Bucket List!

We went to Apple Pumpkin Fest at Wills Family Orchard. The orchard is located outside of Adel, so it was a bit of a drive, but we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

When we arrived, we walked up to the store to check out what was going on. They had some yummy samples of their homemade applesauce, apple butter, some of their jams, and apple cider donuts.

Monte was a HUGE fan of their applesauce. We ended up purchasing a jar to take home with us.

In the store they have picking instruction and tid-bits for picking apples on their orchard. We glanced through the tips and purchased a bag, to place our apples in. The bag was a really good size! You pay $25 for each bag and you can fill it up with as many apples as you want! It’s a pretty good deal for fresh picked, organic apples!

Next, we walked towards the orchard, but made a stop to see the goats and chickens. Monte was not too sure about either of them and would not get very close.

We continued on our walk to the orchard. When we got there a very friendly gentlemen was there to point out which trees were good to pick from and some other tid-bits on how to pull the apples off the tree. When you pull them off, you want to leave a spur so next year an apple will grow from that spur.

Monte got the hang of it very quickly and was picking apples left and right! He did such a good job picking them and placing them in the bag.

Each bag holds a peck of apples, which is 10 lbs! Here is are peck of apples …

When we were done picking apples we headed back up to the store. For the Apple Pumpkin Fest they were grilling brats, hot dogs, and had other yummy goodies to eat. We sat down and ate some brats!

Monte had more applesauce 🙂

Monte also had a chance to paint a small gourd for 50 cents. He is so talented!

The last thing left to do was pick a pumpkin! We headed over to their 3 acre pumpkin patch! Monte had so many pumpkins to choose from, he just could not decide!

Overall, we had a great time and I definitely would recommend everyone to make the drive out to Wills Family Orchard. It is well worth it for some yummy organic apples. They also have cider, apple pies, apple butter BBQ sauce, and more! All of this is organic too!

 

2013 Fall Bucket List

 

2013 Fall Bucket List

 

Today is the first day of Autumn! Monte and I have created our 2013 Fall Bucket List.

In previous posts, you may have noticed I mentioned our 2013 Summer Bucket List. Since I started my blog late in the summer I did not share our whole bucket list with everyone, BUT we are definitely going to share them here on out!

I love creating bucket lists because I always want to do so many different things and our bucket lists help organize all of these activities.

2013 Fall Bucket List 

1. Center Grove Orchard

2. Carve/Decorate Pumpkins

3. Pick Apples

4. Make homemade applesauce

5. Trick or Treat

6. Drink apple cider

7. Play in corn pit

8. Hay rack ride

9. Make homemade apple pie

10. Wills Family Orchard

11. Eat a caramel apple

12. Play in leaves

13. Go on a bike ride

14. Make chili

15. Make pumpkin pancakes

16. Pick pumpkins

17. Watch the Thanksgiving Parade

18. Do a Fall/Halloween craft

19. Watch – It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

20. Watch Nebraska football!!!

Make sure to check out the Bucket List tab on the top of my page. This is where I will keep track of everything we accomplish!

What things do you want to do this Fall?