Halloween- Smith Style

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. It’s always been OK, but now that I have young kiddos, it’s a whole new ballgame. We had such a blast getting ready for and then celebrating Halloween this year. Our boys are at such a fun age and really enjoyed every bit of the festivities. Brady was obsessed with planning, creating, and wearing his costume that he thought up. And Nolan? Well, he was pretty much made for Halloween. Socializing with strangers, eating junk food, and being told how cute you look… that’s basically Nolan’s dream come true.

This year we let the boys pick out small pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market and they each got to paint them. Nolan mighta eaten a little paint. And of course, Brady meticulously painted every inch of his pumpkin as slowly and carefully as possible.

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Nolan’s on the left, Brady’s on the right.

For Halloween food, I turned to Pinterest. So many Pinterest ideas seem silly and over the top, but I can honestly say that our boys got a kick out of all the special food that we made. For once, we nailed a Pinterest inspired idea!


PB&J Spider Sandwiches


Mummy Hot Dogs


Jack-O-Lantern Ranch Bean Dip


Aaanndd… Fizzy Worm Juice (which was not Vodka and Sprite for us adults, if that’s what you were thinking. Ahem.)

As for costumes, this year Brady chose what he and Nolan would be. He’s been super into his Curious George books lately, so he decided that he wanted to be “The Man with the Yellow Hat” and Nolan should be Curious George. This totally worked for me because I had a monkey costume that I bought from Target on clearance at the end of the season last year, so Nolan was taken care of. However, Brady’s costume was a different story. Turns out, “The Man with the Yellow Hat” is not a very common pre-schooler costume, so we had to do some improvising. We found his shirt at the mall, the pants on Amazon, and well, yours truly made the hat. Thank you, glue gun!


Ahhh the cuteness!

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We took the boys trick-or-treating at the park by our house for their “Trick or Treat the Trails” event. They had a blast and I was so relieved to see that people actually knew what the boys were dressed as. Again, thank you, glue gun!


Once Nolan realized that people were just giving him candy, he was stoked! He tried eating it wrapper and all!

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Brady would not let Chris and I go without costumes, so last minute we threw together some cowboy costumes. When a 3 year old tells you to wear a costume, you do it.


We ended the evening by trick-or-treating with our neighbors in our neighborhood. After we put the boys to bed, Chris and I sat outside, gave out more candy, and enjoyed some more “Worm Juice.”


It was an awesome Halloween! We’ll probably need to detox tomorrow from all the sugar and excitement, but it was worth it. I’ll leave you with another favorite Halloween memory…Nolan’s first time listening to “Thriller.” HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes {Kids Cook Monday} *Farmer’s Market*


One of our favorite things to do is to take a trip to the weekly Farmer’s Market in Downtown Raleigh. Besides the abundance of farm fresh produce, there’s always fun free samples, live music, and lots to look at. My boys always get a kick out of checking out what’s in season and sampling different vendor’s goodies. For this week’s Kids Cook Monday recipe, we headed downtown to see what was in season this time of year. We were inspired by all of the apples and sweet potatoes for sale. Not only did we get to sample some yummy granola and peanut butter, but we also got the ingredients for this week’s Kids Cook meal.


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I should note that not only is the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market entertaining, but the produce is SO cheap! This slow cooker apple/sweet potato dish cost about $2 for the whole batch. Even if you doubled the batch, it would still be a super affordable Thanksgiving side dish!


Sweet, tart, and slow cooked goodness!


3-4 apples, peeled and chopped
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
2 Tbs. Butter


I used a combo of sweet and tart apple varieties. You could also mix up the spices you use- nutmeg would be delicious!


Mine and Brady’s favorite part of cooking- chopping!


As you can see, we gave the apples a very rough, not perfect, peel and chop.


Dump the apples and sweet potatoes into the slow cooker. Pour the water over them and toss your butter on top.


Sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Give the pot a big stir and then put the lid on. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. The apples cook faster than the potatoes, so check your potatoes to make sure they are nice and soft.


Patiently wait for your sweet potatoes to finish cooking…


Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, remove from the crock pot. We ate ours just like this, but you could also top with more brown sugar and pecans. Or, even add a little cream and mash them up a bit for a apple sweet potato mash. Yum!


Not only do these sweet potatoes end up tasting like apple pie filling, but your whole house will smell delish!

This would be the easiest Thanksgiving side dish ever. Plus, it won’t take up that precious oven space! Our kiddos enjoyed this farm to table treat, and hopefully yours will too!






Boone/Blowing Rock Adventure

The Smith Family went on a heck of an adventure recently. My Aunt Claudia was coming to visit us and asked if we’d like to join her for a trip to Boone, NC to a cabin in the mountains. Of course we jumped at the chance! Aunt Claudia found the most amazing cabin in the mountains of the Blowing Rock/Boone area which is about 3 hours from Raleigh. We spent 5 days exploring the area, climbing mountains, taking in scenery, eating delicious food, and making some awesome memories. This was an especially great experience for me because I visited this same area when I was little with my Aunt Claudia and her family. It was fun to see it all again through my boys’ eyes. It was also the perfect place to see the Fall leaves in all their splendor. Here’s some highlights from our trip…


We took a drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Grandfather Mountain. We crossed the Mile High Swinging Bridge and it was (stomach flipping) awesome. Brady and Chris climbed the side of the mountain and went as high as they could while I proudly watched and tried not to have a panic attack!


Not gonna lie…crossing this bridge scared the you know what outa me!

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Chris and Brady climbed so high on Grandfather Mountain. You can see them sitting at the top of the peak. (Mommy had a panic attack!)

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Check out the Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Amazing how it just drops off into nowhere. I can’t imagine how they built this…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway- breathtaking!

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Our cabin was perfect. We had a hot tub, pool table, and wrap around porches with amazing views. The boys loved it!


Loved these views all around our cabin.

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We spent one day exploring Downtown Blowing Rock. It was so quaint with lots of shops and restaurants and a great park that the boys loved.


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The kiddos loved this little park in Blowing Rock.

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LOVE this picture. He was so proud of his leaf!

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Super chilly day in Blowing Rock!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Tweetsie Railroad. There were rides, a petting zoo, and of course, a train that went through the mountains. Again, the scenery was perfect.

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Nolan’s first time going on a ride. So precious!

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Tweetsie Railroad Train…the boys LOVED riding this!


An awesome backdrop for a great park with gorgeous weather!

Brady is a train loving fool and Nolan loved waving “Bye-bye” to people from the train.

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I went to this park with Aunt Claudia when I was little. So sweet to experience it with her and my boys again.

Another Smith Family adventure for the books, and another reason for us to love North Carolina!

Pumpkin Pancakes- Kids Cook Monday

It’s Fall! Which means it’s time for all things pumpkin to show up on the shelves. I love pumpkin scented candles slightly more than pumpkin flavored foods or drinks, but by nature I am a sucker for any kind of marketing, so naturally I buy into the pumpkin madness that October brings. My favorite things to indulge in are the Target brand pumpkin spice K-Cups (much tastier than the infamous PSL, in my opinion.) I also LOVE my grandma’s pumpkin bread recipe. But now, I’m obsessed with these pumpkin pancakes. They are perfect for a cool Fall morning or a fun “Breakfast for Dinner” night. But mostly I love them because pancakes are the easiest meal for kids to get in the kitchen and help with. Plus, my boys ate them up like crazy!


Brady (and Nolan) loved getting in on the measuring, whisking, and pancake flipping! I’m guilty of feeding them frozen/microwavable waffles and pancakes during the week, so I think they especially enjoyed watching the process of how “real pancakes” were made.

Here’s how it went down…

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 Cups Milk
2 Eggs
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice


I don’t have Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand so I made my own mixture with cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.


Mix together all your ingredients and get your griddle pre-heating.

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Add a little butter to the griddle and then pour your batter on. Flip pancakes once they begin to bubble in the middle.

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Chris and I topped our pancakes with butter and syrup, but the boys ate theirs plain (as they usually do.) Both boys asked for seconds. I think if we make these again, we may make a big batch of silver dollar ones and freeze them for busy mornings. Happy Pumpkin Season!




Quinoa Chili – Kids Cook Monday

It seems as though Fall temperatures were out in full force this weekend. I even saw Florida Facebook friends remark about needing their jackets…which means it must have dipped down below 70! Between endless football games on television and cooler weather, we were desperate for some chili around here.


I almost always make my chili meatless. It’s just how I like it. Sometimes I put it on something like spaghetti. Other times we use it to make nachos. But today I just wanted a big bowl of chili. We did however mix things up a bit by bumping up the flavor and texture by adding some quinoa. This made the chili so thick and substantial. I was completely surprised by how much I loved it! Plus, quinoa is like, SO good for you. Score!


I rarely am down for healthy versions of recipes, but this one is an exception.

Here’s how me and my little sous chef made this chili happen!


Quinoa Chili

3 cans of beans- I used black, red & white (drain and rinse)
1 Large can of tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes- I used one Italian and one Rotel version (don’t drain!!)
1/2 an onion
1/2 a green pepper
1/2 Cup Quinoa
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar


Brady is super into helping me chop up veggies so we started by dicing up our half onion and half green pepper. He ate a lot of the green pepper though…


We got our veggies cooking up in a big pot with a little EVOO and S&P.


Once the veggies were tender we added the tomato sauce to the pot. (Another good job for your little helper!)


At this point we measured out and added our seasonings- salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and sugar. Sidenote: is anyone else just obsessing over chalkboard labels?!

Then we drained and rinsed all 3 cans of beans and added them to the pot. We also threw in the 2 cans of tomatoes with all the juices- don’t drain them! That extra liquid helps cook up the quinoa.

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Next, we added our 1/2 cup of quinoa. Check out the label of the black beans and quinoa. Holy protein! (Who needs meat?!) At this point we put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The quinoa starts out very visible, but once it cooks it becomes more transparent and the chili thickens up.

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Here’s a glimpse at what the big ol’ pot of chili looks like once the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is nice and tender.

The great thing about chili is you can just let it keep doing it’s thing for a while before you’re ready to eat and it keeps getting better. We kept ours on the stove, on low, for about an hour or so until we were ready to eat.



We topped our chili with cheese, sour cream (or plain Greek Yogurt) and some green onions. Healthy never tasted so good.

I should mention that while Brady did most of the cooking today, Nolan was WAY into the eating part. The boy just loves chili. Always has! Let’s not think about tomorrow’s diapers…

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And the best part is…there’s leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!



Football + Fall + Food= Freakin’ Fabulous!