Jillian definitely got jipped her first Halloween. She was a really tricky baby that required a lot of planning when going out, so when she fell asleep 15 minutes before we were supposed to head out to our church Halloween party- we just decided to call it a night. So she had no "first Halloween" and no "first costume" (which is probably why I took a ridiculous number of pictures this year). 

This Halloween was a lot more costume-y and festive than last Halloween. It's amazing to me that during our first three years of marriage, I couldn't convince James to dress up at all, as anything (he HATES Halloween). And then magically when you have a kid you can dress up, he not only agrees to participate in Halloween festivities, but wears fur pants! A miracle I tell you. A miracle. 
(Apparently the more kids you have, the more you get into the "spirit" of it all- as evidenced by my brother who has two daughters and went as Peter Pan, tights and all) :-D

Tuesday night we went to our friend Jen's trunk-or-treat party. Jillian had no idea what was going on and was terrified of James' wolf hat. But as soon as we gave her a Dum-dum sucker, she was a happy camper. By the way, whoever said it's as easy as "taking candy from a baby" has clearly never done it- because I'm pretty sure it was the end of the world when we took that sucker away. 

Isn't my moo-moo so ...slimming? 

On Halloween, my favorite cupcake place (Sweet Tooth Fairy) was giving away a free cupcake to anyone who came in dressed up! HELLO! Michaela joined in on the fun as the big bad wolf.

Annnddd lastly, we took a stab at trick-or-treating. We knew there was an 80/20 chance Jillian would hate it and cry a lot. Statistics did not disappoint. We made it to two doors, but through lots of piles of leaves!

My favorite part of the night was that it was Michaela's first time passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. That's what happens when you grow up in the country y'all. The first time the door bell rang she panicked, "What do I do? What do I SAY?!" 
Ohhh Michaela. Haha. Needless to say she got the hang of it pretty quick. 

Until next year! (Stay tuned...maybe James will progress to tights!)


sooo ya wanna cupcake?

I don't always share recipes...but when I do...they're always amazing...

I have absolutely no will power when it comes to turning away a cupcake. Like, it can not even look that appetizing and I will still snarf it right down. Basically gimme some cake and frosting in a handheld tin and it's game on. 

But especially...especially when they are 1) pumpkin cupcakes 2) stuffed with something 3) decorated with monster eyes. I mean those eyes basically looked at me and said, "EAT ME NOW BEYOTCH." 
I do not tell a lie.
So I HAVE to share this recipe because it's just plain RUDE not to share something so amazing and surprisingly simple. A lot of people thing cupcakes and gourmet cupcakes are super tricky and complicated...they're really not. 

And without further adieu...

(recipe adapted from thecakeblog.com)

For the Cake:
(makes 30 cupcakes)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  3. In bowl or stand mixer cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add dry ingredients and milk, alternating until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  6. Mix in pumpkin puree.
  7. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.
For the icing:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Gradually add in confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Add vanilla and cinnamon and mix until combined.
  4. Place icing in piping bag fitted with a large round tip and frost cupcakes. (*I didn't have any tips, so I just put it in a bag and cut off the end- worked just as well). Also if you're planning on filling them, do that before you frost them...naturally.
For the filling:
1 jar of Archer Farms (sold at Target) Chocolate and Sea Salted Caramel (or equivalent)

Filling cupcakes is NOT hard..and it for reals makes them taste soo much better. I think every cupcake everywhere should be filled always. All you have to do is think of a complimentary flavor and wah-lah! You can use fruit preserves, other frosting flavors, chocolate ganache...I really think it's hard to go wrong. 

I don't have a melon baller (what a lot of people use to scoop them) or any fancy baker tools...but a good 'ole knife does the trick just fine- we keep it simple in this kitchen. 

Hold the knife at an angle and cut a circle. Pick up the piece you just cut out and eat it. Spoon the filling into the center. Done and done.

If you don't want to fill them you can also drizzle some of the deliciousness on top of the frosting instead. Or fill AND drizzle...go big or go home, right? 

These were for a Halloween party- hence the decorations. 

But for reals, if/WHEN I open my own bakery these will be on the menu...all year round...because pumpkin definitely gets the shaft by only being served three months out of the year.


jillian's shenanigans

Lately Jillian is hilarious. She's starting to talk WAY more and says words that actually make sense. And sometimes she'll just look at you and babble then pause expecting a response. These are her latest shenanigans: 

1) James made her a blanket cape. She thought it was awesome. 2) Who needs a baby doll to push around when you can push all your foam letters? 3) Makeshift hat. She did it herself. 4) Books, book, and more books. 5) Sorting cards in my wallet- keeps her entertained forever. 6) Boxcar child. 7) Alfie's turn to ride in the box. 8) Action shot. 9) Cuddling with new friends mid bookstore. 

She definitely keeps us laughing. Her latest favorite things is playing on the iPad. She will literally come up to during the day and start saying, "iPah..iPah...pwease!" How can you turn THAT down? I'm amazed at how well she can get around that thing. She can turn it on, unlock the screen, go to her apps folder, and can go in and out of different apps- baby GENIUS I tell you. 

I captured this the other day when she was playing on a new app. She also learned the word "whoa":


That time of year again! Time to celebrate the fact James and I have made it through another year, a functioning couple. Haha. That makes it sound awful. Marriage is the exact opposite (of awful). It's not easy though. Even if you love the person more than you can stand, it's not easy. It's crazy to me how much I've learned in the last four years about what that word means, and about myself. So what's made it a little easier? Mostly getting over yourself and realizing the world doesn't revolve around you. That right there will solve 90% of any disagreement you have. The other 10% probably requires some sort of chocolate and graveling.

To celebrate, James sent me flowers on Thursday (our actual anniversary) and I sent him this nifty little video while he was at work and then took him the best donuts in Utah Valley for breakfast (Daylight Donuts anyone?). Did you know traditionally four years is the anniversary to give a gift of silk or from the modern list- appliances. Well, I don't think James would appreciate anything silk, and appliances? That's...romantic?


Today my beautiful, amazing sister (who has decided she's going on a church mission...wha?!?) came over to watch Jillian and we went a got a massage, which is apparently our new anniversary "thing". It's a good thing to have. Michaela thought it was totally weird..."Couples massage? Are you like in the same room?....Weird..." Haha. Not weird. Awesome. Except for the fact that James had a Helga and I had a tiny little Hispanic thing. He left with bruises and I left..disappointed. Oh well. Then we pigged out at Olive Garden (I was totally craving it). Their pumpkin cheesecake by the way? Fantastic.

Here's to another year! I think it's funny how opposite James and I really are. I guess the whole "opposites attract" notion is a legit thing. It works for us! 

James had so much more hair then ;-)


red stamp

Am I totally late coming to the party on this one? Red Stamp is my new favorite app. I want to text virtual cards to everyone I know. Be prepared.

bring out 'yer punkins!

I have no idea why I titled this post with what I did. But it reminds me of my Dad when we (the Shannon kids) were teenagers and he would try to get us out of bed in the morning. (...by the way...what happens from age 14 months to 14 years that makes you go from waking up at the butt crack of dawn to avoiding the morning sunlight like the plague? I wish Jillian would catch that drift a little sooner than later...). ANYWAY. He would literally walk down the hallway banging a pot with a wooden spoon saying "Bring out 'yer dead! Bring out 'yer dead!" Monty Python anyone?

I heard about this barn down in Santaquin (aka a speck of a town about 35 miles south of Provo) that had really good fudge and apple cider. So we went, naturally. It was really quaint. They had the most delicious looking treats and chocolate covered everythings, in addition to tons of fresh fruit grown on the farms there. We decided on homemade ice cream: banana nut, pomegranate, and mint chocolate chip, a bajillion fresh apples (that I'm not quite sure what to do with), local raspberry syrup, and homemade apple cider. Yum-o in my holiday growing little tum-o. 

We went on the hayride, where Jillian tried (and was successful) in eating hay by the hand fulls and my pants ripped open by the crotch (maybe I should've declined ice cream?). 

Jillian said probably a thousand times, "Puummm!" (translation: pumpkin). They also had a random giant slide to go down on burlap sacks- way fun. Jillian shrieked all the way down (in a good way- she loved it...I think...).

So if you're willin' to drive 30 minutes (I know, I'm totally spoiled by city living now) for some scrumptious treats in the middle of nowhere accompanied by a big friggin' slide- do it.  


a day at the farmer's market

Fall is my absolute most favorite time of year. Especially now that I know what fall IS...growing up in Florida, "fall" just meant it was slightly less humid and maybe even a little less hot. But here it is delicious.
Thursday afternoon Jillian, Mich, and I decided to check out the Provo Farmer's Market. They just started it this year as far as I know. 

So $20 bucks later, we left with 2 pumpkins, 2 giant cucumbers, 2 acorn squash, 4 carrots, 7 peaches, 8 pears, raspberry honey butter, and fresh mango salsa.

I also tasted the most delicious grilled hummus & pita bread that I will most definitely be making this week.

Farmer's market = success!

Bring on the boots, scarves, pumpkin bread, and soup!