Each holiday season, I like to add a few new books to our rotation. Here are a few fall and Halloween-themed books joining our collection this year!
Alexandra Young is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This post may include affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you shop using the links below at no additional cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting me and this blog!
Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht
We love Pick a Pine Tree by the same author so I'm excited to add this book to our collection! The story follows the journey of a pumpkin, "from picking out the perfect specimen at the pumpkin patch (be sure to stop for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary face, and finally lighting a candle inside."
Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
New this year, the book description had me adding it to my cart: "Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realizes they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves?" Looks like a great one to talk about courage and making friends with your little ones! There is also a Spanish version available.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
We love just about everything Julia Donaldson writes! This one is a favorite show to watch so I wanted to make sure we had the book too. One of my core values is inclusion and I firmly believe in building a longer table so there is room for everyone. Well, add in a hungry dragon and here you go! Bonus - this one comes in paperback or board book so you can choose what's best for you!
Did you know Amazon Prime has a bunch of Julia Donaldson books as short shows? They are amazing because they are slow and quiet and perfect for calming down little ones! Send me a message and I'll share all the ones we have on repeat in our house!
Spooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton
You can't go wrong with Sandra Boynton's lovable characters! My boys love these books and so do I!
"It’s Halloween! What will little Pookie decide to be this year? Pookie tries on costumes one by one, but somehow can’t find just the right thing. The resolution to Pookie’s dilemma will delight toddlers and their caregivers alike."
Those are the ones I grabbed this year. I thought I'd share what else is still on my list in case you are looking for a few more for your collection! Adding just a couple a year makes each holiday so fun to switch up our bookshelves with seasonal reads.
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
"A unique Halloween story about a stemless pumpkin who dreams of becoming a jack-o-lantern."
The Little Kitten by Nicola Killen
"A charming autumnal story about a little girl who must return a lost kitten to its home."
Check Leif and the Fall by Allison Sweet Grant and Adam Grant
"Persistence and creativity can lead to amazing things, as Leif the leaf discovers in this lovely story."
Tell me in the comments - what's your favorite fall or Halloween-themed book? I'm always up for a good story and you can't go wrong with sharing a love of reading with your kids!
Check out this post for more book recommendations!
Do I have something fun for you today!!
This week, I sat down with my dear friend and Kappa sister Leanne Matullo to talk all things mindset, wellness, and setting intentions. The full conversation is available in Revive but I wanted to share some of our conversation here with you!
Leanne shares about her journey to building a yoga therapy practice and the ease that seeking your purpose can bring in life. Note, there is a BIG distinction between "ease" and "easy." There's some heart work that goes into discovering your true authentic self. It was an inspiring conversation and I hope you check out the preview!
If you want more goodness like this, check out our Brave + Purposeful Women community here on facebook! ✨
Watch us make these here.
Laura's Spinach Balls (GF)
2-10 oz. pkgs. chopped frozen spinach
2 c. Chef Jeff Gluten Free Seasoned Panko flakes (from Whole Foods)
1 onion, finely chopped
6 beaten eggs
3/4 c. butter or margarine
1 c. parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. garlic powder or salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. pepper
Thaw spinach, squeeze dry (with paper towels). Mix all ingredients together. Form balls and freeze on cookie sheet. Place in plastic bag when frozen. Bake frozen about 20 minutes (flip halfway through) at 350 degrees. Makes 80 to 90 one inchballs.
If you aren't concerned about gluten, you can use any kind of bread crumbs. Enjoy and try not to eat them all at once!
These cookies top my list for breakfast during the week. They pack a punch - I can get to lunchtime without a snack. Plus, they can be made in advance. What's not to love?! And if I ever get bored of the current recipe, they are easy to modify.
Here's my go to recipe:
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
2 & 1/3 cups gluten free quick oats
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup chocolate chips (Mix it up and try raisins or dried cranberries).
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until combined. [Note: I throw everything but the chocolate chips into my mixer first. Once it's combined, I add the chips and mix for a little bit longer.] The dough will be very thick. Form the sticky dough into a cookie shape. They don't spread in the oven so make them to the size you want.
Bake for 15 minutes until edges are very slightly brown. Don't bake any longer or the cookies will taste dry. Cool completely before putting 2 cookies into a freezer bag. These breakfast cookies can stay frozen for up to three months, or fresh at room temperature for a week.
Hey friend, does this sound familiar?
And yet, in the back of your mind, you know there has to be more to this one life.
I see you.
Here’s the thing. I’ve had so many conversations with friends, mothers, sisters, daughters - women - who over the last few months have said they feel overwhelmed and lost and feeling like this life that we signed on for, that we are so lucky to get to live, isn’t exactly what we thought it was gonna be.
Every conversation I have with other women tells me that we are at a breaking point. We’re lonely, lost, stressed, and overwhelmed.
Your health and wellness has been on the back burner for far too long.
Revive is for you.
I’ve poured my expertise and passion for empowering women into this program and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Revive is a six-week program where I’m spilling my secrets and walking you through it step by step as we move forward to become whole. With Revive, you’ll learn to re-prioritize YOU. Because your health is worth it. Your life is worth it. You are worth it.
We are not talking about a big life-overhaul, where we fly off to Tahiti for a week-long retreat to awaken our souls. (well, not yet anyway ;) )
With Revive, we eliminate the guessing about where to begin and break it down into intentional steps you can take each day that add up to make a big impact on your life. You can completely revive your life from the inside out if you commit to making small changes.
Here’s my biggest secret: it’s completely possible to revive your life in 10-minute increments throughout your day. And with Revive, I’m going to teach you how!
Revive is right for you if:
You are one decision away from reviving your life!
Here’s the best part, right now, Revive is only $39.99 - less than a $1 day.
We start August 16th - lock in your spot today and get ready to rejuvenate your life. You were made to thrive.
We are getting back on the birch + pine book club train this month with a fun summer read, American Royals by Katharine McGee. I love a good beach read and I feel certain this book is going to deliver.
What if America had a royal family? When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince's heart. This is the story of the American royals.
So, I'm pumped to dive into this fun read! Who is reading with us this month? Grab your book here or at your local bookstore!
The last few weeks have been full of play with my kids.
foxtail (remember this?!)
and so much more
Their imagination never fails to amaze me. Sometimes they need coaxing to start but we've found we can make a game out of pretty much everything.
And regardless of what we are doing, we find the fun.
After a spring of no (no school, no parks, no friends, no stores, etc.) I promised myself this summer, I'd be quicker to say yes.
And in saying yes, I've found myself putting down my phone more. And wading into chilly water to swim when I normally would have chosen to stay on shore. And biking just a little bit further into town, and needing to be rescued because someone's little legs just couldn't make it back. And loading up the car to drive an hour to see a new-to-us state park to seek out an adventure. And staying up thirty minutes later because we're playing tennis in the culdesac and the laughs won't stop. And saying yes to one more rice krispie bar, one more minute in the pool, one more bedtime story.
The play and saying yes has been so good for my soul.
Before the pandemic took over, I was burned out at work. Then, like so many of you, my burnout and stress was increased by having my kids home, while trying to stay healthy and safe, and deal with a changing work landscape, and honestly, I lost myself a bit.
I've spent the last month trying to combat my burnout. To become more engaged in my life, and by focusing on play and saying yes, I've slowly realigned my priorities with my who I want to be in life.
I want to be the mom who says yes, who enjoys play, I also want to be the woman who finds time to play - just for me. What brings me joy? What can I do to find the fun and relish in those moments of unbridled joy? That's what I'm seeking out this month: ways to incorporate play into my daily life.
Because after the last few months, I know we could all use a little more play time in our lives.
This month in birch + pine, we'll be sharing tricks and tips to combat stress and burnout, ways to find rest and relaxation, and see how play time can benefit our health and wellness!
If you are feeling stressed and burned out too, you might like my guide to pamper yourself at home. Check it out here!
Last week, I came across the the concept of windows and mirrors and sliding glass doors as it pertains to literature. Rudine Sims Bishop pioneered the concept and wrote:
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be read or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." More
As a white family, many of our books are mirrors. My children see themselves and families like ours more often than not in the books we read. So it's really important to me that we find books that are windows and show families and backgrounds that are different than ours. We get a lot of our books from the library but I do keep a running list of books that I want to share as gifts for my boys, our niece, or friends that create a diverse and inclusive bookshelf.
Here's our reading list for little ones, full of book ideas for you to bring mirrors AND windows into your home.
I also wanted to share two of our favorites that are classics and belong in every home:
A Snowy Day - My boys love this book. We read it once a week or so and it's a good one because we can talk similarities (we love winter, sticks, and sledding too!) and differences (Peter is black, he lives in an apartment, etc.).
Last Stop on Market Street - This book is so beautiful. It showcases an intergenerational relationship with a young boy and his grandmother while they ride the bus together. "The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner." - School Library Journal
If you are wondering what these types of conversations can look like as you read with your children, this is A MUST READ: 100 Race Conscious Things to Say To Your Child to Advance Racial Justice.
Additional Book Lists
Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
A Mighty Girl
Here Wee Read Diverse Books List
1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide
Your Kids Aren't Too Young To Talk about Race
Instagram Accounts for more book recommendations
It’s been hard to find the words this week. My heart is hurting - a man is dead, the investigation is ongoing, the people are trying to peacefully protest, and my city is being looted and burned. It's been heavy.
Here are a few resources I've found impactful this week would like to encourage you to read this weekend:
A Guide to Allyship
5 Racist Anti-Racism Responses "Good" White Women Give to Viral Posts
Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Racism
It's Bigger than Buildings. America is Burning.
From Christian Cooper to George Floyd: A Letter to White Parents
My friend Kristin put together a list of additional resources sourced from friends on Instagram. Lots of extra reading material there if you are interested.
Stay well, friends.