Fall Bucket List - Trying New Seasonal Recipes

One of my goals for this fall was to try a new pumpkin or apple recipe or treat each week. Talk about fun for your taste buds! It has been so great to bake, buy and taste so many new flavored goodies.

Before you keep reading, just know that Trader Joe's is not sponsoring this post haha! I just happened to peruse (don't you just love that word? It makes browsing sound so fancy!) their aisle and turn up with several delicious new fall items. Their large display of seasonal goods makes it easy to check this goal off.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese - Delicious. Not too pumpkiny or too sweet but juuuuust right. I picked up a small tub of this from the back of Trader Joe's and have enjoyed it from the first bite. They suggest it would be great on pumpkin bread, which I haven't tried yet, or on the more obvious option, a bagel. So far, so good - smeared on toast and as a dip for apple slices.

Spiced Cider -I've definitely had apple cider before this fall, just not TJ's version. It tasted like fall in a cup when you warm it up and sip it out of a mug. We are already enjoying our second batch of cider from the store and it's just as yummy. Last weekend, we drove to the drive-in for a double feature and brought along a thermos. Adding a little flavored rum in it gives it an extra oomph, too.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies - One of my favorite new pumpkin recipes! These brownies are easy to make, have simple ingredients and are so moist. I've made these twice and by far, the first batch was better because I didn't bake them quite as long. Follow along with what the recipe suggests and don't go too much further timewise or you rise drying them out. Nothing that some chocolate chips can't help distract from, right??

Sweet Crock Pot Apples - For a I-feel-good-about-eating-it treat, these soft baked apples are the best! My mom and my grandmother both make scrumptious versions of this that make anyone happy to have gotten a taste. I used a recipe from Tone It Up and made these in the crock pot, easy peasey! Although I nixed the raisins. Just not for me.

Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps - The most savory fall item I've tried, these were OK. I think they would have been so much better if we had eaten them alongside goat cheese or another creamy spread. Instead they also joined Dean, Madison and I at the drive-in, straight out of the bag. If you're interested in a less sweet, more savory fall bite, try the crisps.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins - These muffins were a result of, "Hey, it's Breakfast Sunday at church tomorrow. I have both pumpkin puree and bananas in the fridge. What should I make?" Like the brownies, these were relatively quick to make. Just measure, pour and stir. We decided to bake them in our mini muffin pan and he one downside was they came out quite lumpy and looked more like pumpkin bites, as Dean called them, rather than muffins. But getting past its rough exterior, these muffins were yummy. OH, and I added a few handfuls of chocolate chips.

I'd love to know - have you tried any new fall foods or recipes? Which have you liked?

The Best Things About Fall

Fall engagement session | Lorin Marie Photography

Oh autumn, where do we even begin?

From the slow, drawn out interruption that announces summer's end to the way tree leaves shake, tremble and finally give in to the crisp breeze, fall comes slowly and then all at once.

It's a season for hand holding, boot wearing, scarf wrapping, s'more making, campfire singing.

It's a time when the days get shorter, conversations around the fireplace carry on longer and pumpkin makes its appearance on the menu.

It's a palette of burnt oranges, marigolds, vibrant reds, bright mustards, with a dash of plaid, tartan or stripes.

It's the scent of a new candle burning in your living room, the taste of your favorite apple recipe, the feel of crunchy leaves under your boot-laden feet, the sound of college football fans cheering from the stands, the sight of couples snuggling together as they walk down the sidewalk.

It's fresh, a new start. A chance to begin again in the midst of the year's calendar. To watch as new life ripens like a tart apple tree. To make lists of to-do's and check them off - pumpkin carving, costume wearing, apple picking, mountain hiking, weekend camping.

It's the opportunity to grab hands of the one you love and order their favorite coffee drink. To linger longer outdoors soaking in the last drops of the sunset and to stay up later indoors when the weather becomes too chilly to venture out.

Fall engagement photos | Lorin Marie Photography
Fall engagement photo | Lorin Marie Photography

It's the day to reunite with family and friends for a day of gratitude, turkey and memories.

To hang a new front door wreath and tell old stories on your front porch.

To forgive of any past hurts and remember the most important things in life.

To dress in layers and eat crockpot dinners.

To add pumpkin or apple to your dishes just because.

To read under a cozy throw on the couch.

To add a cinnamon broom to your home and go for drives to watch the leaves change colors.

To have and to hold each other as the weather gets cold.

Something old and something new begins - the farewell of one season and the beginning of another. Fall, I hope you stay awhile.

My Favorite Things As a New Mama

Lifestyle newborn photos | Lorin Marie Photography
Lifestyle newborn photos 2 | Lorin Marie Photography

Before Madison was born, I would have said that I loved when my hubby said sweet things to me (love language = words of affirmation) and that I enjoyed cooking and eating delicious dinners from various cuisines - Southern, Italian, Mediterranean - yum! While I still enjoy both of those things, there are ways that becoming a mother changes what you appreciate. Words of affirmation are still great but acts of service - yes please! And while I still LOVE a delicious, hot-cooked meal, a granola bar can go a LONG way when you're hungry and trying to eat after/before your baby eats (again lol). That, along with a few new things, have come to be greatly cherished as the mama of a 4-month-old.

1. Naps - Because, yes, when your baby is sleeping, you should be too! It's easy to say and hard to do sometimes but snoozing while Maddie is napping makes sure I'm refreshed and ready to care for her when she wakes up. Naps for the win!

2. One-handed foods - Things I can easily grab while nursing or holding your baby like granola bars, cut-up veggies and hummus to dip, trail mix, crackers, smoothies, chocolate. Yes, chocolate is a key food post-partum. Now if anyone questions for affinity for the dark, milk, creamy treat, you can say you read on the internet that is practically mandatory for new mamas to have some every day :) Budget Bytes has easy step-by-step directions for making freeze-ahead smoothie packs. I made tons of these while I was pregnant so now all I have to do when you I the hankering for one is to dump it into the blender, add milk and blend!

3. Refillable water bottle - Y'all, breastfeeding will make you thirsty. It's like your little one is sucking out your water intake when she eats! I carry my refillable bottle with me from room to room throughout the house so it's always within reach (or Dean will bring it upstairs for the times I forget. Acts of service alert!). I like this one from Target - although the mouth piece does get cloudy and needs to be cleaned regularly.

4. Baby tracker app - Seasoned mamas may laugh at this buut I find it super helpful to have something track and remember the hour-by-hour details of Madison's day. So when the nurse asks, "How many wet diapers has she had over the past week?" I don't have to somehow keep of tally of those in my head, I can quickly pull it up on my phone. Feed Baby is fabulous (for Android users). We upgraded to the paid version - I think it was $2.99 - and it is worth it. From baths, naps and diaper changes to feed times, average hours slept and medicines taken, you can take your little one's growth quickly and easily all in one spot.

5. BF station - I wouldn't have thought to set this up before I started nursing Madison but this post from Val Marie Paper led me to do some more pre-baby nesting. This is lovely for making nursing a relaxing, enjoyable time - having everything you may need all in one spot. In Madison's nursery, my breastfeeding station is situated on a small table next to our glider with a ta breastfeeding pillow (for my top pick, see my post here), a current book or devotional I'm ready, extra nursing pads, a burp cloth and granola bars in a basket below. I also try to keep my cell phone charger nearby so it doesn't go dead during a long feed.

6. Baby monitor - We originally thought we would go without a monitor but after Madison was born, we realized how helpful it would be to have one. Especially living in a two-story home, having a monitor makes it easy to be downstairs but safely keep track of Madison while she's napping. We decided not to move Maddie out of our room and into her big-girl crib until we bought a monitor. There are tons of options out there but we decided to go with the Summer Infant In View Digital Monitor and it's been great to us for the past two months.

7. Nursing pads - Some mamas may prefer to have reusable pads but I've found they do not do justice to the disposable pads. The Target brand is fairly inexpensive and you get quite a bit for your money, especially if you only need to change out your pads once a day.

8. Coffee - I can't believe this is number 8 on the list! But I think I hadn't had any when I started typing out this post and so, those it's not eighth in priority, it's late in making it on my radar ha. Although these days it's usual decaf, or maybe half-caf, coffee makes the world go round. Or at least it really, really, really helps me get up, feel energized and get through the day with a little more pep in my step. SO many options - iced coffee, a warm latte, cold leftover coffee from hours earlier (because, you have children, who will inevitability start crying/need a diaper change/need to eat as soon as you finish brewing it and pour it in your cup!). I'll take it any way!

9. Date night - Getting out and having quality time with just Dean has been such a refreshing thing for me, for our relationship and our role as parents. Being able to leave Madison with trusted family or friends so we can enjoy a few precious hours together is one of the biggest blessings. Becoming a parent changes your whole world, and though the uninterrupted hours together are more, well, interrupted these days, we wouldn't have it any other way. It just makes the time we do have together sweeter and more meaningful. It's been fun to do things for date nights that we can't do as easily when we have Madison - like riding go-karts (although, DON'T WEAR A DRESS like I did haha), playing arcade games and sampling beers at a local brewery. The two best things I've learned are to schedule our date nights and to be flexible if things are shorter/different that planned, it's still a date night!

10. Support - From your spouse, family, friends and other mams, support is so crucial to thriving in this crazy new motherhood role. I am so thankful that God has brought new couples who have kids and new mams with babies near Maddie's age into our lives. We are grateful for their encouragement, advice, tips and getting together with people who just get the joys, frustrations and wonderfulness of parenting.

BONUS: Buy funnyman and father of five Jim Gaffigan's audio book Dad is Fat. It is hilarious. You will laugh, and cry from laughing so hard. Dean and I have listened to it so many times in the car and can't get enough of the hilarious-because-it's-trueness of it!

I'd love to know - new mamas and seasoned mamas, what things do you now love after becoming a mama?

If you liked this, check out my top 10 must-haves for a newborn!

Introducing Madison Elizabeth Fairweather | #MyFairweatherBaby | Newborn Photography

MyFairweatherBaby | Lorin Marie Photography

We're delighted to introduce you to

Madison Elizabeth Fairweather

Our precious baby girl Madison entered the world just shy of 42 weeks on May 5, 2015 at 2:27 AM. She is our little Cinco de Mayo baby! We're now calling the holiday Cinco de Madison, thanks to the suggestion of our sweet friend Amanda. And yes, there will **definitely** be some Mexican themed birthday parties in her future! Who doesn't love piñatas?! And baby sombreros! Which I began searching for the day we left the hospital. They **do** exist :) Party City for the win!

Madison Fairweather | Lorin Marie Photography

I went into labor in the early morning on Monday, May 4 & after about 18 hours of labor at home, Dean packed up the car & we drove the 15 minutes (which, at the time, seemed **much** longer) to the hospital. Madison was born about 3 hours later on Tuesday morning, healthy & pink & with adorable newborn wrinkly fingers & toes. (It didn't occur to me until we realized the date that we had delivered on a holiday. Truly a reason to fiesta!) She weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces & measured 21.5 inches long, & we love her to pieces.

As my mother-in-law later asked, "Can you imagine life without her??" No we can't. At all :)

Must-have baby photos in the hospital | Lorin Marie Photography
Must-have baby photos  | Lorin Marie Photography
Baby yawn | Lorin Marie Photography

We are beyond blessed that the Lord would entrust us with this sweet baby girl & bring this diapered bundle into our lives!!! After she was born, I kept adding "She's so cute!" to everything she did - like "Ohh, she did a tiny sneeze - she's so cute!" & "Look, she's asleep. She's so cute!"

And that is still my consensus. I know, I know, I'm her mama so I'm supposed to say things like that buuut truth is I can't help it.

I am SO thankful for my incredible husband who was supportive & encouraging the whole time! Dean pushed on my back over & over ... & over & over during my hours of back labor, made sure I stayed hydrated, kept me calm, prayed for us & read the Scripture verses we had printed (Val Marie's labor verses). He was such a wonderful coach & I cannot imagine having gone through labor & delivery without him beside me :)

Hospital newborn photos | Lorin Marie Photography
Baby swaddle | Lorin Marie Photography
Must-have hospital baby photo  | Lorin Marie Photography

And we are really grateful for the wonderful Bradley Birth classes we took for 12 weeks beforehand (if you're in the Columbia area, look up Ruth Glowacki. She is a fantastic teacher!). They focused on preparing us for what to expect throughout a natural labor & delivery as well as teaching Dean how to be my labor coach. We joked during my pregnancy that he would have to wear a referee jersey, carry a clipboard & blow his whistle at the hospital to make sure everything went OK. He ended up leaving the ref gear behind but I still think it would have been fun...

Newborn layette outfit | Lorin Marie Photography

One verse I had been mediating & reflecting on during my pregnancy that really brought me comfort was John 16:21, which says:

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born
she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world."

That is the best way I can describe the feelings I experienced after birth. Good-bye, painful contractions. Hello, beautiful little daughter!

Newborn baby girl | Lorin Marie Photography
Daddy kissing baby | Lorin Marie Photography
Newborn pink mittens | Lorin Marie Photography
Newborn hospital photos | Lorin Marie Photography

My Fairweather Baby | Nursery Reveal

Modern girl nursery | Lorin Marie Photography

Drum roll, please ... And now, without further delay, our precious baby girl's nursery reveal!

I shared my inspiration board with y'all a couple months back & praise the LORD, we finished putting it allll together a few weeks ago. I know Hubby is glad that my extreme, constant nesting phase has calmed down a bit :)

My desire was to create a beautiful place where our little girl can sleep peacefully, we can rock & cuddle together, read stories, pray & also be visually stimulated by the bright colors, textures & shapes. I just adore how it all came together! We are so excited for our little one's arrival!

White girl nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Rifle Paper Co You Have My Heart card | Lorin Marie Photography
Pink and gold baby girl nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Nursery stuffed animal toy bin | Lorin Marie Photography
White lace nursery curtains | Lorin Marie Photography
Dark brown wood changing table | Lorin Marie Photography
Grey nursery glider | Lorin Marie Photography
DIY headband and bow holder | Lorin Marie Photography
Pink tissue paper poofs | Lorin Marie Photography
Sparkly crib banner | Lorin Marie Photography
Sparkly girl nursery inspiration | Lorin Marie Photography
Baby girl nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Nursery hair bow display | Lorin Marie Photography
Vintage baby nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Nursery shelf | Lorin Marie Photography
Sparkly crib banner | Lorin Marie Photography
Bright baby girl nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Girl nursery inspiration | Lorin Marie Photography
My Fairweather Baby nursery reveal | Lorin Marie Photography
Emmy Grace Budquette Nightfall crib sheets | Lorin Marie Photography
Our Fairweather Baby Nursery | Lorin Marie Photography
Bright pink nursery chair | Lorin Marie Photography