The Halloween Edition

Happy Monday, friends! I’m excited to bring you EVERYTHING Halloween today. Halloween is less than 2 weeks away now, but we’ve still got plenty of time for costume making, spooky decorating, and festive crafting! Today, I’m sharing some of the best Halloween projects, recipes, and ideas I’ve come across. You can think of this as your one-stop shop for a super fun Halloween holiday! Hope you enjoy…

1 If you are looking for Halloween costume ideas, check out this list of coordinating costumes (for siblings, couples, groups, etc.) and this round-up of handmade tutorials. (Some are even no-sew!)

If you’ve got little ones, try celebrating with a fun, Halloween craft project! I’m loving these shadow puppets and this monster slime. Here’s a great round-up with some more fun Halloween craft ideas.  

2 A little festive treat-making is surely a must! This autumn pumpkin popcorn looks delicious! Of course, you MUST make my pumpkin donuts at some point.

If you are in need of Halloween decorating ideas, here are some great links. These no-carve pumpkins are so neat. I’m loving the doily one. This bat tree looks awesome and so easy!

3 If you’re having a party to celebrate this spooky season, these Monster Treat Cups are so fun. If you need a fun craft project or centerpiece, join Smallful to get your free haunted house download! (We’re making ours tomorrow!) Lastly, a FREE Halloween party invitation!

Need more Halloween inspiration? Check out my SPOOKY board on Pinterest!

xoxo, L

5 Things Malala Can Teach Us About Raising Girls

135-81229-lacy-stroessner-malala-yousafzai-1413305238 As a young mother and woman, I am deeply inspired by Malala and how she has changed the world. I have watched several interviews with her and I have read parts of her book—I am continually amazed at the courage and passion she possesses. As an American mother, it can be easy to sit back and ignore Malala and her story. My girls live a safe, happy life. They get to go to school. It’s something I certainly take for granted.

Millions of children around the world are denied education and other basic rights for all kinds of reasons. I can’t pretend that I understand what that must be like. But I also can’t ignore it. I believe Malala’s story has something to teach us all. I think Malala wants us to be a part of the conversation…

Click to read 5 Things Malala Can Teach Us About Raising Girls

Let’s Chat – Good Taste

Welcome to Let’s Chat, our newest series here on Living on Love. The goal? Discussion. In each Let’s Chat post, I’ll invite you to share, question, disagree, and learn with the community here. It’ll only work if you participate, which I hope you will. Let’s get started!

I love watching food/travel shows. Shows like Parts Unknown and The Mind of a Chef are my go-to late night Netflix binges. (If you haven’t seen either, you’re missing out!) I love learning about other cultures and I love how Anthony Bourdain and the other writers and chefs use food to bring people and places together. When traveling is not really an option, these shows seem to tide me over a bit.

Phil and I have big dreams of traveling. We’ve only been to a handful of places together, but have plans to see the world together over the course of the rest of our lives. (And maybe when we don’t have three tiny children.) One thing I always worry about is food. I don’t consider myself a picky eater. Not at all. I LOVE food and will try most things. The only food I just can’t handle is seafood. I know, I know, people LOVE seafood, and much of the world gobbles it up regularly. But I just can’t do it. I try and try again and just can’t. So of course, I worry about our dream Italian vacation because I don’t like seafood. And I worry that our girls will grow up to dislike it, too, just because they hear me say it and because I never prepare it for them. Le sigh…

I think about food a lot. Not just eating it. But how food changes and shapes our lives. Food is a central part of life and we have made a habit of cooking food nearly everyday and eating things that will nourish and sustain us. Gardening and cooking both have allowed us to expose our girls to more foods than we ever experienced growing up. Our girls have tried many things that I never cooked (much less ate) until just a few years ago.

magazine-fine-dining-videoSixteenByNine1050 I stumbled across this video a few days ago and got a kick out of it. Six second graders are given a seven-course meal at one of NYC’s fanciest restaurants and the entire thing is filmed. If you haven’t seen the video, go watch it now, then come right back so we can chat!

I’m curious… Are you adventurous with your eating habits? Will you try new things? How do you expose your children to different tastes and textures? Is mealtime something you struggle with? How do you go about cooking foods for your family that you aren’t particularly fond of? Let’s chat! xoxo, -L

photo credit: New York Times

Let’s Chat – A Brand New Series

Hi, friends! How are you today? I really want to know. I want to know what you think and how you are doing and your best parenting tips and where you got that pot roast recipe and why you love being a mom and what you do to rest and funny things about you as a kid and your opinion on the latest world news and… you get my point.

The internet used to be a place of connection. Of interaction. We used to comment and discuss and argue and share. It used to be a place for busy people to connect, to unwind, to feel inspired. Sadly, it isn’t what it used to be. Instead, we are scrolling as fast as we can, pinning away, not leaving comments, not interacting at all. We fly through stories and text and anecdotes and we want to cut to the chase. Where’s the giveaway? Where’s the recipe? Where’s the pinnable image?

Blogs are changing. Facebook and Pinterest are changing. Everyone is competing and hustling and to be really honest, I feel like everyone is dying a little bit inside because of it. The internet is free. This is great, of course, because we have everything available to us at the click of a mouse, but when it becomes your livelihood, the way you put food on the table for your family, it’s tough. If you’re not a blogger, you could probably care less about this. You might not notice the changes. You might not even notice the lack of discourse. You probably don’t know how the algorithms effect mediumish blogs like mine. And that is okay.

The point is, we are burnt out. A lot of us. Bloggers, writers, users of the interwebs. I have had many conversations with friends in the biz and we’re all feeling it. Everything is looking the same. Everyone is hustling. It’s just not what it used to be. When I started blogging for an audience (read: professionally, for pay) I loved it because there was a sense of community. We were all in it together. It meant something. It became a meaningful way for me to work and be creative and pay the bills. I knew my readers and they knew me and there was a really sweet thing going on. And you want to know what? I miss it so damn much.

So tomorrow, a new series is launching here on the blog. We’re going old school. We’re going backward a few years. Let’s Chat will be a new series, dedicated to discourse. Plain and simple, we’re going to talk. I’m going to ask you some questions. I’m going to ask for your opinion. I’m going to ask you to join the conversation.

The only way it will work is if you participate. I hope that you will. I hope that you will feel comfortable to comment and join in and discuss. I’m excited about it. Check back here tomorrow for our very first round of Let’s Chat. xoxo, -L

Do you have something you’d like to chat about? Email me or leave a comment and we’ll get it in the queue! 

 

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Salted Maple Glaze

baked-pumpkin-donuts I’m going to come right out and say it. We’re donut people. Some people are waffle people or football people or karate people. We are donut people. We love them. We seek them out when we are on vacation. We make them for special occasions. We dream about them while we sleep. I make no apologies for this fact. Actually, I blame my dad for this deep love. When I was a kid, donuts and looking for deer were a regular part of our weekend mornings. Thank goodness!

I’ve made a handful of donuts in my day, both fried yeast donuts (my personal fav) and baked donuts (using my handy donut pan.) To be festive and make myself my children happy, I made these baked pumpkin donuts last weekend. They were amazing, just as I assumed they would be. I adapted the pumpkin donut recipe from one I found online and then came up with a delicious salted maple glaze all on my own. Props. I know all of you Whole 30 people are going to want to murder me after this post, so I guess I apologize if you can’t have any of the ingredients listed. This one is for the rest of you. Make these baked pumpkin donuts ASAP. I promise you’ll be better off because of it.

For the baked pumpkin donuts…

2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 C canola oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 C white granulated sugar
1 1/2 C pureed pumpkin

For the salted maple glaze…

1/4 C melted butter
2 TBSP milk
2 C powdered sugar
2 TBSP pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp crunchy sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter your donut pan and set aside.* In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Very carefully, transfer your batter to a large ziploc bag. Remove all of the air and zip tight. Snip one of the corners off and pipe your batter into the donut rings of your donut pan, filling 3/4 full. Bake your pumpkin donuts for 18 minutes, or until they are cooked through.

While your donuts are baking, mix together your salted maple glaze. Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. If glaze is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk.

When the pumpkin donuts are done, remove the pan from the oven, then transfer the donuts to a rack to cool. Dip each donut in the salted maple glaze, and of course, drizzle any leftover glaze over the top. They are best eaten right away. (Warm donuts = heaven.) And I doubt it’ll happen, but IF you have leftovers, just store them in an airtight container.

Yield: 12 donuts

*If you don’t have a donut pan, you can easily bake these in a muffin tin. Just add 5-7 minutes to your baking time and enjoy your baked pumpkin donut muffins instead!

Looking for my recipe for donuts with love? ‘Tis here.

 

Recipe adapted from Diethood

On Guard All Purpose Cleaning Spray

As you know, I began using doTerra essential oils a few months ago and have been truly amazed with how much they have changed our lives. We use oils every single day in a variety of ways and I couldn’t be happier with them. Today, I’m sharing another DIY using doTerra essential oils, On Guard All Purpose Cleaning Spray!

Like I said in my last post, On Guard is one of my favorite doTerra oil blends. It is a mix of wild orange, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils, which of course smells amazing! (Kind of fall-ish, too!) It’s the perfect oil to have on hand during cold and flu season or if you have little ones in the house. We use On Guard in a variety of ways. To wash our hands. To clean. In our toothpaste. On our feet each morning, etc. I love making my own homemade cleaning spray, so decided to whip up some On Guard All Purpose Cleaning Spray. With just two ingredients, you can make this amazing-smelling, budget-friendly, non-toxic, all-natural cleaning spray…

diy-all-purpose-cleaner-onguard

First, fill an empty spray bottle with one part water and one part distilled white vinegar. Then, add 20-30 drops of On Guard essential oil. (More for big bottles, less for small.) Shake it a bit, and you’re done! The EASIEST homemade cleaning spray EVER! Use it on your counters, your kitchen table, your toilet, your tub, door handles, and more!

Make sure to PIN this post so you can save it for later!

Be sure to check out our DIY On Guard Foaming Hand Soap, as well!

*Need to get your hands on some On Guard essential oil? I can hook you up! Email me at philandlacy@gmail.com. 

**Want to learn more about essential oils and how they can benefit you and your family? Join our Facebook group to learn more! 

On Guard Foaming Hand Soap

A few months ago, I began using doTerra essential oils and haven’t looked back. I’m truly amazed at how these oils have helped our family and I’m super pleased to be taking a natural route with our health. As promised, I am going to bring you a few DIYs that incorporate doTerra essential oils. Today, let’s make some On Guard foaming hand soap!

On Guard is one of my favorite doTerra oil blends. With oils such as wild orange, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary, On Guard is THE must-have oil for cold and flu season. I put it on my feet each morning. I use it to clean. I have added a drop to my toothpaste. I have taken some in a capsule. The options with this one really are endless! To help my family battle cold and flu season, I made some On Guard foaming hand soap. With just a few ingredients, you can create a fragrant, budget-friendly, all-natural soap that is safe for everyone in the family to use. Here’s how…

dig-foaming-handsoap-onguard First, fill an old foaming soap dispenser 3/4 full of water. Then, add 15-20 drops of On Guard essential oil. Next, add 2 tablespoons of organic castille soap. I prefer Dr. Bronner’s, which comes in a variety of scents. (I got mine at Target.) Lastly, screw on the lid and shake it up a bit. That’s it! It smells SO good and there are NO toxic chemicals! That’s a WIN in my book!

Make sure to PIN this post so you can save it for later!

 

*Need to get your hands on some On Guard essential oil? I can hook you up! Email me at philandlacy@gmail.com. 

**Want to learn more about essential oils and how they can benefit you and your family? Join our Facebook group to learn more! 

Happy and Helpful Chart

A few months ago, Phil and I came up with a way to reward our girls for their positive behavior. Both of us were feeling frustrated and like we were constantly on them about things they shouldn’t be doing. We were punishing them for bad behavior, but hardly ever recognizing them for good behavior. After several conversations, we decided that we needed to be more vocal when we see them doing good things – sharing their toys, taking care of their sisters, being thoughtful, cleaning up after themselves, etc.

We implemented our Happy and Helpful Chart about three months ago. To introduce it, we talked about the things that always help us have a good day. We all agreed that we had better days when we were all happy and helpful, and that there were a few things that helped us to be that way. Those things were sharing, listening, cleaning up after ourselves, riding safely in the car, and staying in our beds at night. We went over each one, talking about specific examples. (For example, screaming, fighting, and touching each other in the car is really dangerous. When they do that, it’s distracting to the driver, making it unsafe for everyone. Instead, we should be calm and safe when we are riding in the car.) We explained to them that whenever we saw them BOTH doing one of the good things to be happy and helpful, they could put a sticker on their chart. And when the ENTIRE Happy and Helpful Chart was full, we would take them to their favorite place to get ice cream.

We try not to use it for bribery. Meaning, we don’t say things like “if you help me clean up, you can put a sticker on your chart.” Instead, we talk about being happy and helpful. And when they do the happy and helpful things, we recognize them and they get to add a sticker. I like it because they have to work together. If one of them is being super nice and helpful but the other one is being a total turd, they don’t get a sticker. I also like it because it really does take a lot of work for them to fill up the entire chart. I didn’t want it to be super easy. I wanted it to be something that they had to work really hard on. So far, it’s working pretty great. I mean, we still have plenty of moments when they both aren’t happy or helpful, but it has shifted our conversations completely. Instead of nagging them about bad behavior, we talk about good behavior instead.

Below is the free printable Happy and Helpful Chart. Feel free to print one off and use it in your homes. Print it to use with stickers or frame it under glass to create a dry-erase chart. I also made one that’s customizable so that you can add the things that help your kiddos have a great day.

Don’t have time to print it right now? Make sure to PIN IT so you can save it for later!

CLICK TO PRINT CHART
happy-helpful-chart CLICK TO PRINT CUSTOM CHART

happy-helpful-chart-customizable

Uncommon Gift Ideas for Kids

unique-gifts-four-year-olds Little Miss Addie is turning four next month. I’m in party-planning mode and searching for a few unique gifts to celebrate her fourth birthday. Recently, I heard about Uncommon Goods, an online marketplace that sells the most unique treasures, most of which are made right here in the USA. It’s a fun site, featuring tons of handmade items as well as items made with recycled materials. (Insert hand-clapping emoji here.) It reminds me of a cool boutique you’d find downtown, only it’s online. My kind of shop! Even more, they partner with some really great non-profits like Women for Women International and RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country.

Uncommon Goods has so many awesome gift ideas for kids! I picked out a few of my favorites (above) to mention. They sell lots of eco-friendly art supplies, like crayons and play dough made with natural dyes. The imaginative toys are so neat, too. Addie would LOVE those DIY clothespin dolls and that cardboard city set. You guys know I love something that’s multipurpose. How cute is the carrot “Jenga” game, as well as the USA blocks and the color-on globe?! Not that Addie wants wall art for her birthday, but I love the elephant print. Uncommon Goods has really unique room decor, too. (Those gummy bears are lamps! SO fun!)

Of course, Uncommon Goods is not just a shop for kids. There are so many neat items for adults, too. Art. Home decor. Jewelry. You can even personalize a lot of things, too.

I’m pretty excited about shopping for Addie’s fourth birthday and YOU should be excited too because Uncommon Goods is giving one lucky reader a $50 gift certificate! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below… (US residents, only. Good luck!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Thank you to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring this post. 

 

The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset You know how people always say that the book is always better than the movie? The same goes with food. Homemade is always better than store-bought. Especially when it comes to cinnamon rolls. I make these homemade cinnamon rolls a few times a year – for Christmas morning, for Easter brunch, and occasionally if we’re having guests stay the night. They take a bit of time to prepare, but they are worth every bit of the effort. I would even dare to say that these are the best homemade cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten. And unfortunately, once you have these cinnamon rolls, you’ll never be able to enjoy the store-bought ones again. It’s just the truth. If you are in the mood to bake this weekend, I urge you to try this recipe. Or, pin it and save it for Christmas morning or your kiddo’s next birthday. They are a special treat and should be treated as so. Enjoy!

For the dough:

1 C milk
1/3 C butter
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 C sugar
4-4 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs

For the filling:

1 1/3 C packed brown sugar
2 1/2 TBSP cinnamon
7 TBSP softened butter
3 TBSP flour

For the icing:

2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C melted butter
2-4 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

In a small sauce pan, warm the milk over medium heat until it bubbles. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in butter until it melts. Allow mixture to cool down a bit. Meanwhile in a big mixing bowl, combine half the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs and the milk mixture and mix well until combined. With the paddle attachment, continue mixing, adding 1/2 C more flour at a time. When the dough is finally together, move it to a well-floured surface and knead it with your hands for 4-5 minutes. It should be soft and not sticky. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest.

While the dough rests, prepare your filling. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and flour until you have a rich brown paste.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. Try to roll it into a rectangle shape, close to 9 X 12 inches. Spread the filling mixture over the dough, until every inch is covered. Very carefully, begin rolling up the dough, sealing the edges as you go until you have one long log. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 12 equal slices and place them in a buttered baking pan. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight.

When it’s time to bake the cinnamon rolls, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Once ready, bake the cinnamon rolls uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

While baking, prepare the icing. Whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and salt. If it’s too thick, add more milk, 1 tsp at a time. When the cinnamon rolls are done, pour the icing over the pan and let it sit just a minute so that the icing soaks in. Serve your cinnamon rolls warm and prepare to need a nap later in the day. They are that good.

*This recipe freezes well. It also doubles nicely. Sometimes, I will double the recipe and prepare two pans – one to eat, and one for the freezer. I usually freeze them uncooked, and then bake them straight from the freezer. They usually only take a couple of minutes longer to cook, that way.

 

Recipe adapted from Pink of Perfection