Our Fall in Wisconsin

Fall in Wisconsin is absolutely stunning!  It’s what you see in books, magazines and on TV. The rolling hills with orange, red, yellow and brown leaves all making a perfect autumn scene.  I am so beyond blessed to live here this time of year (maybe not so much in a few weeks when the bright colors go away and the cold sets in) but for now, it’s pretty!  We have been taking full advantage of the weather and been able to get outside and do some activities!

A few weeks ago I had to go to Illinois for work, so the afternoon I left, Adam took George golfing with some friends.  They had a great day for it and the boys had an absolute blast!

golf

The first weekend in October up in Stone Lake, Wisconsin is Cranberry Fest.  Adam’s parents have a cabin up in Stone Lake so it’s become a tradition for us to go up for the festival.  Stone Lake is an unincorporated town, but during Cranberry Fest over 10,000 people fill the streets.  Vendors come from all over to sell their goods.  There are food and drink vendors (the good stuff), live music, a parade and a soap box derby for the kids.  This year we had incredible weather and were able to meet up with a lot of great friends!  If you’ve ever met my George, then you know who the love of his life is… and we were so lucky to see her and her family at Cranberry Fest.  We also stopped to watch the Badger game at a local tavern.  Thankfully it was the afternoon and entirely acceptable to have your 2 y/o belly up to the bar.
cranberry-fest

What Fall isn’t complete with a visit to the Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch?  We live in the country and were fortunate enough to have a great little Apple Orchard within a few miles of our house.  Grandma, Brit, George and I went to the orchard on Sunday and picked out the perfect pumpkin and apples for Apple Crisp.  (Which we promptly ate with supper after Gram made it!).

George adored the goats and sheep… but I think his favorite was the train.  He could have played on it all.day.long.  He was a bit disappointed that the train didn’t move 🙂  It’s hard to explain to a 2 year old that the train doesn’t have an engine and can’t move…  Since he was little he’s always been able to pickup on the faintest train whistle.  I think he’d make a cute little train conductor for Halloween!  (If I can get him off the idea of being a “bad guy..”)

orchard

Since we live in the woods, we had to take advantage of all the leaves on the ground!  We raked them up (over and over) and jumped in them and then had a big leaf fight!  It was a perfect way to spend a few hours.  George definitely loves playing in the leaves!

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We have really been having a great time with the nice weather this time of year!  What do you and your families like to do in the fall?  Are you as lucky as we are with the amazing weather and gorgeous trees?  I would love to hear more!!

 

 

 

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Baby Gifts with Parents in Mind

Baby

It is baby season my friends.  I tell ya.  I have 5 friends that have had babies within the last few months! Yes. 5 sweet babies that I get to snuggle and love on.  And with new babies comes gifts.  So what do you get for a new mama? A seasoned mama?

When Adam and I registered for George, I swore a domestic was going to happen in the baby aisle of Target.   It was supposed to be this happy bonding moment for us where we picked out all the wonderful things for our new baby that was set to arrive in just a few months.  And yet we were entirely clueless.   Which diapers do we buy?  Diaper Genie?  What kind of lotion?  Shampoo?  Shampoo and Body Wash in one?  Bottles?  I mean, we were going to breastfeed, but should we get bottles just in case?  Which bottles? Oh.My.Gosh.  I needed a cocktail.  And of course I was 6 months pregnant and hormonal so that was not going to happen.  By the end Adam was scanning golf balls and TVs and I was the one trying to navigate the baby aisle on my own.

After 2.5 years of being mom, I feel like I have a little experience under my belt and can offer some suggestions to new moms or seasoned vets.

George was born in the dead of winter. It was 22 below zero when we brought him home.  The idea of taking him outside was off the table. I ordered EVERYTHING off Amazon after he was born.  Prime is totally worth it.  I had everything I needed within 2 days. Running low on breast milk bags? Yep, Amazon.  Baby hangers? Yep, Amazon.  So while I realize all of these posts go to Amazon, it was truly my go to (and still is) for ordering essentials (that we either didn’t get during our showers or entirely forgot to stock up on)!  You can even make a baby registry on Amazon!

(This post contains affiliate links –  which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I trust!  Up North Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com)

Great Gifts and Must Haves for Baby

  1. Diaper Genie – This is our family’s #1 recommended, must have, go-to gift and registry item. We LOVE ours and absolutely cannot live out out it.  (Not everyone agrees, but we definitely find it very convenient!)
  2. Rock and Play – After we tried co-sleeping, crib sleeping, not sleeping, this was the biggest hero in our house.  The Rock and Play sits at an angle (which helps with reflux) and does just that, it rocks.  It’s small enough to fit bedside. So while you’re on 45 minutes of sleep you can roll over, and attempt to rock the baby back to sleep.  It was definitely a life saver in our house.
  3. Swaddles (Halo Sleep Sack was our favorite) – George was born in the winter and we swore by the swaddles that the hospital sent home with us.  They were made of thick fleece material that velcroed shut (swaddles for dummies).  That sweet boy was a perfect little burrito every single time.  Combined with the Rock and Play (see #2) this is what allowed us a few hours of sleep!  (They also make cotton ones for summer, I’d highly recommend these!).
  4. Bath Flower – Babies are squirmy and slippery little buggers.  When you try and give them their first few baths you are already terrified enough!  (This is after the “sponge bath” phase..)  This flower can get wet and fits right in the sink, or you can lay them on it in the bath tub.  Hang it up to dry and/or toss it in the washer.  Very easy!
  5. Grass.  We loved our grass drying rack for bottles.  (Note: water does collect in the bottom, don’t forget to clean your grass.)
  6. Anything that zips.  Think middle of the night/afternoon for the 10th time. Babies poop…. The LAST thing you want to change is anything that goes over their head (although onesies were made to be pulled down so they don’t have to go overhead!).  I also like these for bedtime: Sleep Sack
  7. Shampoo and body wash – I absolutely love the Just Hatched Brand.  It’s an all-natural product and budget friendly.
  8. Diapers and Wipes – Always a great gift!  I’m thrifty.  Amazon does subscriptions where you can get a discount and have these delivered monthly.  Target does that as well.  You can usually get gift cards in return with the purchase of 2 or 3 boxes add coupons, and cartwheel and you’re saving big!  Also, I LOVE Pampers, but know that every child is different and parents are different. These are simply my preferred brand.
  9. Baby Carrier – This is handy for any mom!  George used to fall asleep when I’d put him in it.  Everyone has their preference on which type they’d like. We used the Bjorn, some like the Ergo and others prefer a wrap type.
  10. Something for the Big Brother or Big Sister – I always try to think about the big brother or sister who basically just got evicted as the center of his/her parents universe.  And really everyone else’s for that matter as everyone is cooing over the new baby.  Depeding on the age of the child, something that just recognizes them will make them feel special!  (I like: Crayola Color Wonder – these only show up on the paper. Total win).

Gifts for a New Mom (Regardless if this is your 1st or 10th)

  1. Sleep.  Cut the woman a break by offering to snuggle baby for a few hours or if there are older children, take them and give mom time to simply relax.  Help her with laundry or by tidying the house. She WILL appreciate it!
  2. Amazon Prime – 3 kids in tow to Target or online shopping at 2 am while you’re feeding?  My package will arrive in 2 days please 🙂
  3. Flowers – Get a mason jar and some fresh cut flowers.  I personally love flowers and anything that is bright and cheery is totally welcomed!
  4. Meals – When we came home from the hospital, we came home to a counter full of snacks and a fridge stocked full of meals. Our neighbors were so kind and clearly knew what we needed.  Fresh fruit, breakfast foods, anything that can be eaten one handed is highly recommended!
  5. Epsom Salts and Essential Oils – I am NOT a bath person. But after having my sweet boy, I took more baths than he did. It was my respite, it was my way to de-stress. I am a huge fan of Young Living for essential oils. Lavender is an excellent oil and it’s wonderful with Epsom Salt in the bath. My sweet friend Steph sells Young Living and if you have any interest in oils – check out her site!  The Gentle Babies book by Debra Rayburn is an excellent reference guide for using oils during pregnancy, childbirth and for baby/young children as well.

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This isn’t an entirely comprehensive list, but it is a good start if you aren’t sure what to buy for mom or baby (or if you are like me, what to register for!)  No one tells you what you might need and these are things we really liked and truly appreciated.  Do you have a favorite gift to give? Or are you a mom with a must-have?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

XOXO

Kristen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring: Afton, MN

One of my favorite small towns to visit is Afton, MN.  Just across the river (and a little ways down the road) from Hudson is another great little river town for exploring.

Most of my day trips are spent doing one of two things, eating or shopping.  My trip to Afton is no different.  What started as an innocent afternoon outing earlier this Spring, has turned into a complete crush on a small town.

My current go to shop in Hastings, Eye Candy (see Hastings Exploring), has a sister shop in Afton. I set out to photograph the crap out of it because I love the place and the owner is completely badass.   I think everyone I know should go support local businesses like Eye Candy.  EXCEPT, I found out after I photographed but before I posted, that Eye Candy is closing its doors in Afton.  So bittersweet!  While I’m super pumped that these awesome ladies are going to continue to do great things with their Hastings store, I’m so bummed they won’t be open in Afton anymore!!

Just across the street tucked behind Baglio’s (clothing/chocolate) is The Foundry.  We stumbled upon the Foundry on one of our many trips to Afton.   The porch outside of the shop is SO inviting!  I just adore this store.  Whenever you walk in, the lovely ladies are always so kind and helpful.  I am still trying to convince them to come to my house and stage it.  You will find industrial/modern/french/farmhouse style home goods in the store. Some things are new, some are home made, some are upcycled.  The store is so well put together!  Oneof my favorite items are their picture frames!  Their unique sizes make for a perfect addition to a gallery wall!.  Stop in and check them out.  You will love it!!

 

Just down the street from the Foundry is a little Red house.   When you first drive by (as you’ll see in the photos) you may simply think this is a residence.  Let me assure you, this is not a normal house!  Open the last weekend of the month and during special Vintage Crawl weekends, this house comes to life and is called Dwell!  Vendors take up on the front lawn, and turn this house into a gorgeous shop.  Inside you will find furniture, photos, lights, pictures, desks, knick-knacks, globes, maps, jewelry, candles and son on!  During the Vintage Crawl weekends there are food trucks. It’s quite the site to see and a great reason to travel to Afton!!

Dwell
Vintage Lights/Rake/Shelving
Handcrafted Table and Rehabbed chairs

If after shopping you are starving or simply need a cocktail, Afton also has several restaurants where you can sit down and relax.  What makes them even better is most of them have great little outdoor patios!  Nothing beats sitting outside on a great summer day here in the MN/WI area!

Restaurants in Afton:

Swirl
Lumberyard Pub
Current

And by FAR the best reason to come to Afton?  Selma’s.  Selma’s Ice Cream has been a staple in Afton for years (they were closed for a while, but reopened in 2012).

George and I took advantage of a little afternoon sunshine and stopped and picked up some ice cream and then headed over to the park.

I love getting to venture out to small towns close to home!  It has been so great exploring towns both new and old, meeting new people and finding some great little shops and restaurants along the way.  Where should we go next??

XOXO

Kristen

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Staples: Back to School Supplies! Under $10!

It’s that time of year again!  Wait… it’s only July. Yes! It’s time to start thinking about Back-To-School already!  School supplies are on crazy discounts right now at many of the major retailers.  Although I don’t have school age kids, I am a teacher at heart and can’t resist a fresh pack of new markers…crayons..notebooks… you get the idea 🙂 (I’m also SUPER thrifty and love finding a good deal… you can read my post about other ways to save here and here).  This is not a sponsored post but may contain affiliate links.

One of my favorite bloggers is Collin over at Hip2Save.  If you aren’t already following her, get on her email list. Yes, you will get daily emails full of amazing deals.  Trust me, it’s the only email I religiously look forward to and read, every-single-day.   I was able to score an amazing deal on several school supplies.  I didn’t grab all the supplies in her bargain, but I did get some.  Staples in Woodbury, MN has an AWESOME supply of all these items, so no worries about fighting to get them.  The sale is on through July 23rd. Don’t miss out!

What did I get?

10 Notebooks (5 College/5 Wide Ruled).   These were .17 each = $1.70 (limit 30)

2 Packs of Markers – .97 each = $1.94 (limit 30)

2 Packs of Crayons – .50 each = $1.00 (limit 30)

1 Pack of Erasers – .25 =  $.25  (Hard to pass up, but I think I have plenty of these on hand!) (limit 5)

4 packs of Pens (1 Black, 1 Blue, 2 Purple) – $.75 each = $3.00  (limit 5)

Colored Pencils – .97 each = .97 (limit 30)

My total BEFORE tax was $8.86.  I simply cannot complain!!  There are other great deals out there as well. I know Target has .50 crayons this week as well as ongoing school supply deals.

Here are a few other deals at Staples:

Purell Hand Sanitizer $2 (reg. $2.49) – (limit 30)  (.75/1 Purell Coupon here – making even less!)

Two-Pocket Paper Folders $0.17 each (reg. $0.55) – (limit 30)

Buy 1 Staples Composition Notebook $0.50 (reg. $2.29) – (limit 30)

Also, if you’re in the market for a new backpack, when you purchase one you get an additional 25% off on your school supplies!

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