Favorite Fall Recipes


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

With cool weather upon us, I’ve been digging through the archives of Crumbbums and looking for our favorite fall recipes. It made me remember how much I love fall cooking (especially stews)! Here is a list of our favorites. Hope you try a few, and if you do, let me know if you like them!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies — a light and fluffy version of the chocolate whoopie pie, but with all the fall spices of pumpkin pie. We made these (from request) for our neighbors last week to celebrate the first day of October, and passed them out in little goodie bags.


Crockpot Lamb Stew — savory and rich, this is perfect for that crisp, cool evening. And the smells wafting through the house as you cook it… perfection!


Crockpot Beef Stew — this is one of our favorites around here. It’s rich and comforting, just so good!


Baked Eggs over Marinara — I love this for lunch, after I’ve taken a long walk outside when the mornings are chilly. There’s something about warming your tummy and sopping up all the goodness with some crusty bread!


Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Tahini Vinaigrette — Just trust me.


Grilled Chicken with Cheesy Linguine & Broccoli — We have this very often, thanks to the boys all declaring broccoli as their favorite vegetable! Emil stands next to me while I’m making the cheese sauce and begs for pieces of very lightly steamed  broccoli dipped in the sauce… it’s that good!


Apple Hand Pies — Perfect for dessert or breakfast!


Lentil Stew with Chorizo — Another that makes the weekly rotation on most weeks, this one is great served atop a bowl of basmati rice.


Maggie’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup — a sweet, decadent soup perfect for chilly evenings. Perfect with a big kale salad, like…


Baby Kale Salad with Apples & Maple Vinaigrette — a simple but satisfying side with just enough sweetness, and the crunch of almonds.


The Best Macaroni & Cheese — no explanation needed! It’s my most-asked-for recipe!

And last, but certainly not least…


Caramel Sea Salt Brownies — another indulgent dessert, these stay chewy and moist for days.

Happy fall, and happy cooking!



Untitled, from the “At Twelve” Series by Sally Mann (Jackson Fine Art)

It’s no secret my admiration of (and borderline obsession with) Sally Mann’s photography. I recently read and reviewed her memoir, re-opening a chapter of my life and childhood that I had since forgotten. Books and photographs will do that to you, which is why I wanted to share the site Artsy with all of you photography and art enthusiasts! Sally Mann’s page is here, and includes 52 of her works, as well as gallery information, articles, shows, and related artists. The whole site is organized beautifully, with 40,000 artists to browse and discover; beware that you will likely spend hours here without intending to, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I also thoroughly enjoyed reading Nine Artists Leading the Discussion on Climate Change, and plan to browse the many many wonderful artists again soon.

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend.

Making Things

DSC_0107DSC_0085DSC_0099Last week, I asked my creative and inspiring jewelry-making friend Elisha to show me how to dye some head scarves and dish cloths. She welcomed me into her warm and inviting home and helped me document the process. We had a blast!

DSC_0050DSC_0054DSC_0064DSC_0049DSC_0068DSC_0078Elisha is one of those people who just gets design and aesthetics. She has a knack for putting together amazing spaces and beautiful jewelry designs. Her work space is infused with color and whimsy, and her necklaces are flying off the shelves at a local St. Louis store.

DSC_0057DSC_0060DSC_0061DSC_0108We decided on dyes in raspberry and burgundy, and were really pleased with the way they turned out. Can’t wait to do this again soon! Thanks, Elisha! Keep on making things, lady!


DSC_0004Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff.

I am halfway through this one, and it’s hard to put down. I love Groff’s style of writing, the colorful way she lays the groundwork for a marriage: first focusing on the husband, Lotto, and his story through 20 years of their marriage (though so far I really don’t like his character or even feel any empathy toward him), then the focus shifts, during the second half of the novel, toward Mathilde, the wife (I haven’t reached that part yet, but I have some ideas of who she is, and it’s not so pretty). This book has been all over the place, and when I read the reviews, I knew I wanted to read it. So far, so good!

DSC_0002I also finally read Home Grown, by Ben Hewitt, while on vacation in Asheville. It was great, a quick, light read with many insights and challenges to the way we parent and school our children. If nothing else, it opens the mind to new ways of thinking of education, which I thoroughly appreciate!  It’s easy to read the whole thing in one sitting, too.

And on to two books I really didn’t like. I realized that I only ever post books that I like or love here, and that is deceiving, because there are many more books I read that I dislike or even give up on. DSC_0001The first, I was so excited about! The title alone promises such great things: Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad, by Richard Stephens. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me. Stephens basically spun certain things (like sex and moderate drinking) as being bad, which, last time I checked, couldn’t be further from the truth. I think we all know the benefits of sex (it feels good! it releases endorphins! it makes babies! it’s awesome!), and obviously, spoiler alert, drinking in moderation can be good for you. Nothing new here, and that was where the disappointment lies for me. I was really hoping for some insight into real “black sheep” types of things, like being on the fringes of society, or disagreeing with the status quo, or even how children testing the boundaries of naughtiness can be a good thing. And that’s why I had to laugh out loud when one of my boys accidentally tipped over a glass of water on the table next to this book and didn’t bother to clean it up. I found the book, sopping wet, hours later, and thought, how perfect. Oh, well.DSC_0111California, by Edan Lepucki, had so much promise. It was an instant New York Times bestseller, for goodness sake! Though I have no idea why… it is so poorly written it seems like a draft, or an idea, of a novel. I was hoping, from the description of the novel, that there would be some excitement or real post-apocolyptic issues, but absolutely nothing happens. The characters seem shallow and petty, and the worst part is that Lepucki built up certain events so much that the reader comes to expect a huge revelation, that, unfortunately, never comes. All in all, I was completely underwhelmed by this book.

What are you reading these days?

Weekend Shenanigans

DSC_0018DSC_0017DSC_0004DSC_0005DSC_0008DSC_0012DSC_0021It was a slow, good weekend. We opted out of festivals and fairs and instead stayed close to home. The boys (Andrew included) were all tired and in a homebody mood, having come off of late summer/early autumn colds and late nights all week. Sometimes all that catches up to you and the only energy you can muster is a lazy early morning playground trip and a whole lot of lying around. DSC_0022DSC_0024DSC_0034DSC_0038DSC_0048DSC_0057DSC_0061Emil surprised us all yesterday when, despite the chill in the air, he stripped down to his shorts and spent a good amount of time playing in the freezing cold water as happy as can be. DSC_0070DSC_0079The rest of the afternoon was full of yard work and forts and art projects initiated by the boys. We had a restful weekend. Hope you did too!DSC_0080

Music Monday

alt-J — Warm Foothills

Elvis Perkins in Dearland — “Shampoo”

Sia — “Elastic Heart”***

***Just an aside to the video, I wanted to share the meaning, since it has of course caused an uproar of controversy from people interpreting the video as sexual: Sia explains that Maddie Ziegler, the young female dancer in the video, was meant to represent one of the male dancer’s self-states, such as an inner child or perhaps one of his demons. The song itself is about inner demons (addiction, depression, etc.) and the struggle of overcoming. Watching, this is so clear to me, and in turn, extremely moving and beautiful. I hope you enjoyed it and saw the beauty rather than the controversy. 

Dress That Mama: Striped Skirt & Sneakers

DSC_0039Outfit #5: racerback top with a high neckline, a striped skirt, and converse sneakers. Despite it being officially autumn, it’s been pretty hot around here – mid-80’s and sunny. This is what I wear running all around on errands and even to take the boys to the playground.

Find the skirt here.

Thanks for playing along with all the Dress That Mama posts this week! I had a lot of fun doing it!

P.s. — Our episode of the show Unplugged Nation is airing this Saturday night! on FYI at 10/9 central. I’m so nervous! Hope you catch it! 

***Update: See the full episode here.***

Montessori-Inspired: On Homework


I had an interesting discussion with a nanny at the playground after school one day earlier this week. The weather was beautiful and as a result, my boys had pretty much thrown their lunch boxes on the floor inside the door, turned on their heels, and ran directly back outside, making a beeline for the playground down the street. A long time after we had arrived, the nanny brought the three kids she has looked after for the past few years (we have had many, many discussions as a result) and as she sat down on the wall next to me, she lamented over how they would have made it outside much earlier had the kids not had so much homework. She went on to say that the youngest (a spunky four-year-old who gets along so nicely with Emil) had pages and pages of it! I think my eyebrows raised in shock, but I smiled knowingly, even though it was all an act. Emil has no homework. And neither do Milo or Oliver. And I’m so, so relieved.

When Milo attended public school for kindergarten, he used to come home at the beginning of each week with a big packet of worksheets, all stapled together, to be completed for the following Monday. He had all week to work on it, and at first didn’t seem to mind. He would do all the worksheets at once, usually the day after he received them. But as time wore on, he started to fret and complain about it. And he brought to our attention, on more than one occasion, that the packets were sometimes repeats of previous weeks… as in, the exact same packet of worksheets. At the time, we just encouraged him to complete them anyway, to get through the busywork so he could move on to what he wanted to do. But as we moved forward throughout the school year, we found ourselves really struggling to support the homework policy. Doing the packet of work seemed like checking a bunch of boxes, or coloring within the lines of a drawing sheet over and over again. It seemed to me that we were training our kindergartener for a lifetime of drudgery, of unquestioning, boring, uncreative, uninspiring busywork. I began to realize that this is why kids sometimes dread going to school. And to top it all off, what Milo really wanted to be doing at the time was read, a skill he had recently grasped and wanted to spend every extra moment perfecting. To be taking him away from learning, real actual learning, to complete a bunch of worksheets, just killed something inside of me. It seemed so backwards. It was one of the reasons we really started to question the status quo of public school learning.

There is within every human being a deep and unrelenting desire and need to learn. We are born with it; we cannot escape it even if we try. We learn to crawl, to walk, to speak the language that is spoken around us. We learn to read the facial expressions of people around us. We learn how to dress and feed ourselves. We learn to leave bees alone once they sting us once. We learn how to carry a glass of water without spilling it. We learn, without trying, because we are curious, because we are human.


There is typically no homework for the Montessori child. The reasons are many, but mainly this: Dr. Montessori believed that if we do not dictate the work of a child in class, then it does not make sense to dictate the work they choose at home. Montessorians understand that children spend all day in the classroom learning, and they need their afternoons and evenings to “pursue their personal interests, interact with their families, and relax” (read more here). It is during this after-school time when children can breathe a sigh of relief and just be home. Imagine how you feel, if you work outside the home, when you open your front door and step inside. If you have more work to come home to, there might be that feeling of dread, or that the work day is still not over. But if you step inside knowing there is no more work looming over your head, you feel that sense of relief that you are home, you can relax, you can just be. Children need that feeling, too!

And something happens when we give our children the freedom to choose how they spend their time after school. There will be days when my boys all come home tired and choose to go to their own separate spaces: one with a book on the couch, another building with legos or magnatiles on the floor, and the other doing origami at the kitchen table. Other days, they tear around the back yard together, leaping and running, or playing frisbee or soccer together. Then they move on to something else, like playing store together and creating their own paper money which resembles real money, counting and exchanging and buying things from each other. All of these things they choose to do they are actively engaged in and learning from, because they have chosen it themselves. And it is a miraculous thing to watch unfold.


Also? They do homework. They get out pieces of paper and write out math problems for themselves to solve. They challenge each other to solve the other one’s math problem! Milo helps Oliver when he gets stuck on a problem. I kid you not, they love to learn. All children do. I have also heard of older Montessori students asking for homework if a particular subject or lesson has caught their interest — and in this case, of course I love the idea of them focusing their attention on the subject just because they are enthusiastic about it. I am so completely and totally in love with this Montessori method, and to have opened my mind to a different way of learning. I have learned so much about trusting my children and their natural capacity to develop as, well, humans. It is just a marvelous thing.