Pumpkin Cream Cheese

pumpkin cream cheeseLast month I started seeing pumpkin-flavored food items in all the grocery stores: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, pumpkin granola bars — you name it. Then, I found pumpkin cream cheese. AND pumpkin bagels. I bought both!

I blew threw the tiny tub of cream cheese within a couple of days. It was good, and very, very — orange. An unnatural orange. So, I set out to make a version that uses ingredients I could pronounce. It’s super easy and makes twice as much as that little tub I bought at the store.

pumpkin cream cheeseThis version is fluffy and delicious. I used 3 tablespoons of brown sugar for the sweetener. It gives the slightest sweet taste without turning this into a sugary dip. The brown sugar can be reduced or even eliminated. Or, you could substitute maple syrup so that it’s “real” food. This recipe is also a great opportunity to use organic ingredients to make it more healthful. Either way, it’s a great fall morning treat.

My version isn’t orange, but is packed with pumpkin flavor. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie spice)
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, blend cream cheese and pumpkin puree
  2. Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla
  3. Blend until combined
  4. Spoon into air tight container and store in refrigerator
  5. Cream cheese will firm as it's chilled.
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About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Halloween Children’s Book Roundup

Halloween children's books

Every year I pull out seasonal books and put them in our reading nook for the kids. Last month we rounded up all our Halloween and fall books and started to get into the mood of the season. I’m not a big fan of horror themes, especially for the little ones, so all our books concentrate on sweet themes and celebrations.

Here’s a list of our favorites:

I Am a Witch’s Cat by Harriet Muncaster
I was unsure about this title, but it is a very sweet tale about a little girl who dresses like a cat and thinks her mother is a witch. Not a bad witch, but a witch none the less. Her mom is a witch because she keeps lots of strange potion bottles in the bathroom. Her mom is a witch because once a week she gets out her broomstick and cleans her room. What makes this book unique is the use of mixed media as illustrations.

Click, Clack, Boo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
The cows from  one of my all time favorite books, Click, Clack, Moo, are at it again. Farmer Brown doesn’t like Haloween, but the cows and the other farm animals want to have a Halloween Party. Find out what mischief they are up to this time in this sweet Halloween tale.


Halloween Bugs by David A Carter
This pop-up book has been a favorite in my family for years now. Although my kids have kind of outgrown it, it still has a place on our Halloween bookshelf. Every page has a door to open. One yellow with green polka dots, another is a rusty iron door, and another is a dusty old door. Six doors in all, each with a different “scary” bug behind it. The little bugs are actually cute. There’s a lollipop bug, an orange hairy bug made of yarn, and even an itsy, bitsy pumpkin bug.


Fancy Nancy’s Fabulous Fall Storybook Collection by Jane O’Connor
This book includes 6 Fancy Nancy stories all about fall. There’s one called Halloween … or Bust!, Apples Galore!, the 100th Day of School, and Our Thanksgiving Banquet, and two more. In the Halloween story, Nancy has to decide her costume. Should she be a caterpillar, or a butterfly, or a glittering silvery snowflake? She ends up with a choice that “pops” during the party and she has to act quickly to decide what to do.


Splat the Cat and the Pumpkin-Picking Plan by Rob Scotton
Splat’s back at it in this paperback book with a page of stickers. Who doesn’t love stickers? Splat is on the search for a very round and very orange — perfect pumpkin. This Splat version helps small children with differences (colors and sizes) and offers problem solving opportunities as Splat tries to figure out how to get the biggest pumpkin home.

Be sure to read my Halloween children’s book post from last year where where I mentioned a Marley the dog Halloween book, and the funniest book of them all!

Disclosure: I received some of these titles as review copies from the publishers. Affiliate links are used in this post which means, if you make a purchase a small percentage goes to the development of this site — at no additional cost to you. Opinions are my own.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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‘Leading the Life You Want’

This is not a book review, although it may seem like one. Last week I saw a description of this book, Leading the Life You Want, in my Facebook feed. Of course I had to stop the scroll to read since it’s about work-life balance and all. Although the title is very Oprah’s live-your-best-life-ish, this book seems to have serious substance.

So, since this is not a book review — I haven’t read the book — I wanted to instead talk through some of the points in the HBR (you know, Harvard Business Review) summary:

The author, Stewart D. Friedman, says, “If you’re seeking “balance” you’ll never achieve it.” I stumble across statements like this quite frequently, and in fact, just wrote about it in this post where Robert Herjavec says, “work-life balance is one of the biggest misconceptions people have.”

So, here we have … “you’ll never achieve it,” and “it’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have,” all in one blog post.

Friedman says, “The goal is to create harmony among them (the four areas of your life: work, home, community, and the private self) instead of thinking only in terms of trade-offs.” Harmony. This is better.

I think we get hung up on the definitions of work-life balance. That everything is a trade-off like Friedman says, or the fact that everything needs to be perfectly balanced. The truth is that it doesn’t. It just has to be balanced to you.

Friedman uses illustrations from famous people (from Michelle Obama to Bruce Springsteen) to illustrate the points in his book, which make me wonder how translatable they can be. After all, people with money have more means to have assistance in their daily lives. More assistance can easily equate to more balance for the things that are important.

I am intrigued, however, and will be looking forward to finding a copy of this book to read to get his full insights. For now, I’ll stick with the theory that work-life balance is obtainable — you just have to properly define it, and work toward that goal.

 

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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What I Made This Week: Applesauce, Salad, and More Pumpkin Muffins

You guys are going to think I’m crazy with all my talk about pumpkin muffins lately. I mentioned it in the newsletter this week, and highlighted it in the What I Made This Week post from last Friday. We ran out of these muffins over the weekend and I didn’t have any all week long. This is not good. I’ve come to rely on them for quick breakfasts, and school snacks. So, I finally relented on Wednesday night and make a batch. Relief, we’re back in business.

My big recipe win this week was making homemade applesauce. And, it’s delicious! I can’t believe how easy it is to make. I need to take a few photos of the finished product, then I’ll upload the how-to and recipe.

saladAnd, drumroll … I made a salad with lettuce that we grew in our yard! Oh, this was so amazing. I can’t tell you the pride that you have for little lettuce leaves that you’ve watched grow from a seed. Just look at these lettuce leaves!

But, it wasn’t an easy process.

gardenThis is what my little garden looked like this summer. I can hardly stand to look at this picture. We went on kind of an epic summer vacation and were away from home for 6 weeks at the beginning of the summer. This is what 6 weeks of neglect looks like.

gardenThis is what it looks like after a massive weed pulling session. That was a lot of weeds.

gardenAnd, here we have a layer of weed protection! I don’t ever want to see that many weeds again.

After we got this all set, we put soil on top and planted our little lettuce seedlings. They were so cute and so tiny. I wasn’t sure they would work.

saladBut it did.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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‘The Happiness of Pursuit’ Offers Inspiration for the Purpose of Your Life

The Happiness of PursuitI love a good quest. Actually, I think they are quite difficult, but I love the journey a goal provides. I started reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit and was reminded of the quests I’ve undertaken in my own life. Most recently, completing graduate school while working full-time. It wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I pursued it.

The journey is hard. Every time I have a big goal, I dislike the journey. I don’t like being in the middle of it, but when it’s over I miss it. Guillebeau talks about his own journey in the book – he’s traveled to every country in the world.

Every. Single. Country.

What an amazing journey. I’m so envious of this. What great life experiences he’s had. I don’t even know the names of some of the countries he’s been to!

He writes about other people and their journeys too –  like Sasha Martin who embarked on a project to share the world’s food with her family. Each week, she introduced a meal from a different country to her family for dinner. It’s now a blog with the tagline: let’s eat our way around the world: 195 countries, 195 meals, 195 weeks. Love this story. A specific goal with a purpose. She wanted to utilize her skills and teach her family about other cultures.

This book has tons of stories like Sasha’s. Some quests talked about in the book are walking long distances, others include a lot of travel, and some are educational. There are too many take-aways from the book to summarize them all here, but here are a few that I highlighted while reading:

  • Individuals on a quest to reach a goal “were successful not because of innate talent, but because of their choices and dedication.” – this means we can all do it!
  • Persistence is a common theme – those who are successful persist
  • When you sense discontent, pay attention” – don’t neglect that feeling you get. It might be telling you something important.
  • Discontent is not sufficient to start a fire” – you need to be inspired just as much as to feel the path you are currently on isn’t right
  • Be deliberate about things that matter” – isn’t this true. This is about balance. Decide what is important in your life and cut the rest out.

The Happiness of Pursuit is so much more than people following strange quests. It’s a guide that will inspire you to do what you love.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book through the publisher’s blogging for books program. This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase from one of the links in the post, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) to help pay for maintenance costs of this site.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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