Off To See The Wizard

Our kids love Halloween. I’m not sure why, but it probably has something to do with getting all dressed up, and of course, the candy. As parents we’re not quite as big of fans, mostly because it’s a lot of work for 4 bags of candy we don’t really need. Although it’s worth it because of how much they love it.

DSC_1633.jpg

I guess you could say, if you’re going to do the whole “get all dressed up for Halloween” thing, you gotta do it right. We are definitely all about the “themed” costumes, and this year the theme was The Wizard of Oz!

I happen to think the kids pulled it off quite well, but I might be biased! Either way, we had an absolutely beautiful night for trick-or-treating. We’ve had some pretty rainy and cold Halloweens over the last few years, so it was nice not to have to layer winter coats under their costumes!

DSC_1691.jpg

We usually walk through the neighborhood Jason grew up in, and where his parents still live. There are a lot of family friends who love to see the kids come by, and the kids of course love the candy. It’s a good neighborhood to trick-or-treat in because there are a lot of kids walking through the sidewalks, and a lot of families participate.

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? We’d love to hear about how you celebrated! Leave us a comment below!

 
DSC_1380.jpg

I do believe in spooks.
I do believe in spooks.
I do! I do! I do! I do!
— THE COWARDLY LION

 
Today is National Coffee Day!

We really like coffee around here, (almost as much as we like ice cream!) which is why we’re so excited that today is National Coffee Day!  In fact, we have our very own coffee station in our kitchen. While we are fans of our Keurig, honestly, nothing beats a cup brewed in our french press with fresh coarse ground dark roast beans (currently we really like the Sumatra beans from Starbucks). 

If you have time today, be sure to check out whether your favorite local coffee shop is doing anything special. Around here, Biggby coffee is having a 50% off sale on all brewed coffees! Click here for a complete list of coffee deals!

IMG_9419.jpg

It turns out the most important elements in making the perfect cup has less to do with the water you use, the brew temp, and the size of the grounds (depending on the method you choose).  

TIP: Don’t buy ground beans.  Beans start to lose flavor after a few hours.  The fresher your ground, the better your cup of coffee.  Also, burr grinders are better than blade grinders.  Burr grinders actually grind the beans together, instead of just pulverizing them with a steel blade spinning around.  

There are plenty of fancy ways to make a great cup of coffee - Pour Over, Chemix, and AeroPress, but honestly, it’s really hard to beat the simple French Press for making a perfect cup every time.  

DSC_1021.jpg

If you’re using a French Press, you’ll want to be sure to use a coarse grind (larger ground pieces, instead of the small, powdery grind used in a drip coffee maker). You’ll want your water around 190F.  In our microwave, we heat up 32 ounces for 5 1/2 minutes, which turns out to be perfect.  If the water is boiling, give it about 30 seconds to come down in temp.  Water boils at 212F, so let it cool off just a bit.  

Pour in just enough water to gently soak the beans, and let it set, or bloom, for about 30 seconds, and then add the rest of the water.  Stir, using a plastic or soft spoon (not metal) and place the cover with the plunger up.  Set a timer for 4 minutes, and let it brew!  When the timer goes off, push down the plunger, serve hot, and enjoy!

DSC_1218.jpg

Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.
— Jessi Lane Adams

Fall is Here!

We love fall, and pretty much everything that goes with it. Fall is cool breezes, cooler nights, hot apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters and falling leaves. Michigan in the fall is one of the most beautiful places on earth, especially as we get closer to October and the leaves turn from dark green, to brilliant shades of red and orange and yellow and bronze. If you’ve never driven through northern Michigan (especially the famous tunnel of trees) this time of year, you are missing out on one of most scenic drives in America!

636123971646125841-Tunnel-of-Trees-Outdoor-Image.jpg

Our kids love fall too. It means Saturdays full of soccer games and college football. It means playing in the woods, and raking the leaves (followed of course by jumping in them!). It seems like once school starts back up, everything just falls into a rhythm. Don’t get me wrong, we love summer, but fall means a new kind of adventure!

IMG_8839.jpg
IMG_8842.jpg

And then there’s the food and drink like hot apple cider, and pumpkin pie, and pumpkin scones. Of course there’s our favorite: apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. We might have to do a post on that soon, just so we can make one to enjoy!

DSC_1373.jpg

I think one of the other things we love about fall so much is that it means the holidays are right around the corner, and that means celebrating family and faith. Fall is sort of like a countdown, or an introduction to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it starts to get us in the mood for what’s to come, without being quite as cold and dark out! I guess there’s a lot of reasons we love fall, now that I think about it. Whatever the reason, we’re glad it’s finally here!

What’s your favorite thing about fall?

 
DSC_1172.jpg
 

I loved autumn, the season of the year
that God seemed to have put there
just for the beauty of it.
— LEE MAYNARD

Fall, FamilyJason Aten
An Afternoon Together

I've written about it a few times, so it's probably no surprise to you that our family enjoys a little adventure.  It's not all that uncommon for us to tell our four children to load up in the car, "we're going on an adventure." 

The best thing about an adventure is that sometimes it's a road trip up north, sometimes a weekend at an outdoor music festival, and sometimes it's an afternoon spent not that far from home.  This is one of those.

IMG_9926.jpg

Last week, our kiddos had a half day of school their first day, which means we had time for a half day of adventure!  You can't travel super far in a half day, but fortunately, there's plenty of great places around here to explore and create memories with our little people (which is really what it's all about).  The best part is - as you can see - all we packed were their personalities!

We decided to head over to the campus of Michigan State University, and start with some of the best ice cream you've ever had at the MSU Dairy Store!

IMG_9925.jpg

MSU also happens to have some of the best places to explore, including the Michigan 4-H Children's Garden.  You could spend an entire afternoon here.  Trust me, we did!

IMG_5557.jpg
IMG_5626.jpg
IMG_9939.jpg
IMG_5588.jpg
IMG_5608.jpg

There are a lot of ways to create memories and share an adventure, and most of them don't require a lot of money, planning, or travel.  In fact, the most important ingredient in a family adventure is time.  Together.  

We know very well that there'll be day that will come far too soon, and these four little people will be off on their own adventures.  We'll be thrilled for them, of course, but for now, we're so thankful to get to share as many adventures as we can!

IMG_9948.jpg
 
 
DSC_0678.jpg
 

The memories we make
with our families is everything
— CANDACE CAMERON BURE