Baked spaghetti squash with tomatoes and Parmesan

If you’re looking for in season produce, squash is great during fall.
In the past, I’ve always had spaghetti squash as a side dish. For this recipe, the spaghetti squash is the main. The first step is to cut the squash in half and clean it out. It is baked in the oven for 45 mins.

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While the squash cooked, I prepared the rest of the ingredients.

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Once the squash was done, I scraped the flesh into a bowl and set it aside.

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The next part is to cook up the onion and garlic in a pan. Once they are soft, the tomatoes are added in.

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When the tomatoes are soft, the spaghetti squash is mixed in.

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After the squash is warmed through, the dish is taken off heat and the Parmesan and basil is added. And voila! The meal is ready to be served.

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I loved this dish! And Matt did too. I was hoping Chloe would too, since she likes noodles. But apparently she wasn’t fooled. Darn!

I was worried this wouldn’t be sufficient as a meal. But I was wrong. I was full but wanted to eat more because it was delicious. I will be making this again very soon!

Virtual book club for kids

I love reading and I want my daughter to share the same feeling. So when I read about virtual book club for kids, I knew I would follow along.

I discovered it at the end of September, so I didn’t have much time to do the September book suggestions. The author was Mo Willems and because I live in a small (ish) town, my local library didn’t have a huge selection. And of course half of the Mo Willems books they did have were already out.

I was able to find 3 books, but not ones that were suggested.
I set up the reading experience as an indoor reading picnic ( idea from The Pinterested Parent).
I set out a blanket, fun snacks and our three books.

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We ate our snacks and read the books. Chloe was interested, but not overly.

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The books were ok, but I was disappointed I wasn’t able to find the suggested books.
Now that it’s October, there is a new author and new books. I will have more time to find books and do activities. Which I’m looking forward to.

What are your favorite kid books?

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Fall trees with handprints

Although it’s only mid September, my Pinterest and Facebook are full of fall and Halloween activities. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately and seeing all these fall activities gave me ideas to try. I saw this activity for using handprints to make trees and thought it was perfect for Chloe.

The first step was getting everything set up. I drew the tree trunk with a brown marker, set out the paint and had a bowl of water for washing her hand. I also had some pieces of paper for her to paint while her hand prints were drying and for after she was done.

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I got Chloe in an apron, painted her hand and we placed it down a few times.

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I rinsed her hand off and painted it yellow and we made more prints. Then I decided that the prints should dry for a few minutes before doing the last colour. I gave Chloe a sheet of paper and let her play with the three colours (orange, red and yellow).

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While she was doing that, I talked to her about how leaves change colour and had her look out the door and see our tree that has green leaves with a few that are changing colour.

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After a few minutes, I brought back the tree and painted Chloe’s hand orange. We did the prints and then I moved it out of the way.

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I gave her more paper to paint on and then encouraged her to get messy and use her hands.

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Chloe loved this activity and wanted to keep doing it. I really should do more stuff with her like this…

Counting with coins

In Chloe’s room, we keep a piggy bank. And when we have leftover coins, we put them in together. She gets so excited for it.
Chloe is a pretty good counter considering she just turned 2 in July. She can count to about 12, although she often forgets 8. I decided a good way to practice counting while learning new words would be by counting up her coins.

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I dumped out her coins onto the floor and let her touch them all.

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Then, we started sorting the coins. I told her the names : nickels, dimes and quarters.
We laid the dimes in rows of 10, so we had to practice counting to 10 several times.

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We rolled up the coins so that we can go take them into the bank. Chloe needed to help at that part too.

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In the end, we rolled $17 worth of coins.

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I’ll have to keep putting coins in her piggy bank because she loved this activity and will be excited to do it again!

Crock pot beef and pasta

I was planning on making this dish when I found out our friends with 3 kids were going to be in town and having dinner with us. This seemed like a perfect dish to make!
The day before I made it, I browned the beef with onions and garlic, and put it into the fridge overnight.

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The next morning, I added the beef, stewed tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato sauce and a few fresh cherry tomatoes into my crock pot. Also thrown in was oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

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After being in the crockpot on low for about 7 hours, I cooked two bags of bow tie pasta, and got some fresh spinach from my garden. Unfortunately, my garden didn’t have too much in the way of spinach this time.
Once the pasta was cooked, I added it along with the spinach, Parmesan and the mozzarella (along with some cheddar since I ran out of mozzarella!) to the crockpot.

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After mixing and letting it sit for about 20 minutes on high, I dished out the pasta for us and our guests.

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The verdict? Well, most if not all the kids had seconds. I think one even had thirds… So I guess it went over well!
Personally, it was not my favorite dish. BUT, if I can sneak tomatoes and even more spinach in, then I will be serving this again!

Chicken enchilada quinoa bake

This recipe sounded really good and not too difficult. So I figured I would try it out.

The first two things I did was cook the quinoa and the chicken. I had some shredded rotisserie chicken in the freezer that I also used, mixed in with chicken breast.

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While the chicken and quinoa cooked, I diced up the onion, rinsed out the black beans and opened all necessary cans.

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Once everything was prepped, I started cooking the onions.

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The next step is to add the chicken, beans, chiles, enchilada sauce, quinoa, chile powder, and cheddar cheese. Once it is all mixed together, it is transferred to a baking dish.

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The next step said to add Monterey Jack cheese, but I chose to use mozzarella because it is what I had on hand. I think this might have been a misstep.

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The dish baked for 15 minutes and spent 5 more minutes on broil. It looked delicious when it came out.

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Once served, there was sour cream, cilantro, and avocado to garnish. The recipe also suggested a Mexican cheese but once I again, I opted not to.

This quinoa bake was really good, but I think it needed a bit more flavor. Monterey Jack cheese would have probably added the flavor it was lacking.

Painting with ice and water

Sorry I disappeared there for a bit! We got home from our trip and have been trying to settle back into regular life. Wait, what’s that?!
Anyway, a while back when I was looking at doing the northern unit, I saw a pin for painting with water and I thought you could also pair it with painting with ice cubes. But of course, I couldn’t find that pin again when I went to look for it. It didn’t matter though because it’s easy enough.

I set out materials on our deck for Chloe to use: paintbrushes of different sizes and one a sponge, a water dish and ice cubes in a cup.

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When Chloe saw paintbrushes, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on them. She started right away. I joined her, too.

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She enjoyed painting for quite a while. If I painted something, like a heart, she would come by and paint over it. She thought it was hilarious.

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After a bit, I tried bringing out the ice to paint with. Chloe ignored it and kept painting with the brushes. So instead, I painted with the ice while Chloe used the brushes. I drew different shapes with the ice, had Chloe identify them, and then she would draw the shape as well. Well… She would try anyway.

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Chloe loved doing this activity. It kept her busy for at least 45 minutes, and she didn’t even get to the ice. I loved the fact that there was no mess and it was basically the easiest activity for set up.