Fall Essentials For a Family On The Go

This post is sponsored by Chevrolet Traverse and I am a Chevrolet owner!

I can’t believe my son is back in school for the year, and we played our first regular season high school football game last Friday night! Last week, we had to get back into our in school weekday routine, after a whole summer off.

Some days I feel like we live out of our truck this time of year. We’re always on the go once school is back in session. Between practices, school itself, work, football games, and other weekend plans, it seems like we don’t even have time to catch our breath some weeks. I definitely want to have reliable transportation, and for most of my adult life that has been a truck. That’s why I’m a fan of the new 2016 Chevrolet Traverse for the ultimate family ride.

Friday night football games

I like to keep the truck packed with a few essentials so we can be ready to go to a Friday night football game, a weekend bonfire or even a cookout at a moment’s notice. To complicate things even more, it can go from warm and sunny to cold and rainy within a few hours this time of year.

On the go mom bag for fall

Here’s my autumn checklist for an on-the-go mom kit to survive this time of year. I keep this on hand as I’m walking out the door, or getting the car packed.

  • Spare sweatshirt or jacket – for cool nights
  • Rain coat or umbrella – for rainy days
  • Extra t-shirts – for my son; he’s a teen boy, enough said…
  • Bug spray – the mosquitos have been terrible here in Ohio this year
  • Hats – for sunny days and cold evenings
  • A blanket – to wrap up in during cold evening football games
  • On-the-go snacks (nuts, granola bars, trail mix) – I’m not always a fan of the options in the concession stand
  • Spare pens/ pencils – my son’s always losing his
  • Spare mouth pieces, pads and gear – for my son
  • Portable charger for our electronic devices – low batteries are a fact of life
  • Spare charging cords – we try to have an extra cord for each of our devices packed or in the truck
  • Available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi®*- the new 2016 Chevrolet Traverse offers built-in Wi-Fi®*!
  • We also keep a couple lawn chairs or stadium chairs in the backseat most of the time, so we’re packed and ready. I hate to get to a bonfire or cookout and realize we left the lawn chairs at home.

Here’s a printable version of my checklist you can use to help organize your family this fall.

Fall to go bag check list printable

When we’re on the go it’s always good to stay in touch with each other, so a dead cell phone isn’t a good thing. I always try to keep a couple portable chargers in my mom on-the-go bag. I also own my own small business, which means I’m sometimes working on the go. The available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi®* in the new 2016 Chevrolet Traverse will help me stay connected and online whenever I have a little downtime, like when I’m waiting for my son after school or practice.

With spacious seating, ample cargo space and available safety and entertainment technologies, there’s no better vehicle to bring the family together than the Chevrolet Traverse.

*Requires a compatible mobile device, active OnStar service and data plan. 4G LTE service available in select markets. Visit onstar.com for coverage map, details and system limitations.

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How to Make a Haunted Castle Cake

This haunted castle cake is fun to make with the kids. There are several steps, and components, but all of them are simple enough for children to help complete. When you’re done you’ll have the perfect cake for the centerpiece of your Halloween dessert table.

Haunted Castle Cake Tutorial

Ingredients and materials:

    • 2 cake mixes, or your favorite cake recipe doubled
    • 2~ 9 inch round cake pans
    • 2~ 6 inch round cake pans
    • 4 cups white decorator icing
    • Black food color
    • 1 bag White melting chocolate
    • 1 bag regular melting chocolate
    • About 24 mini chocolate chips
    • Pastry bag or plastic bag
    • Oreo Cookies or other chocolate sandwich cookies
    • 3 to 5 rectangle fudge covered cookies (like Keebler Deluxe Grahams)
    • Candy rocks (optional)
    • 2 cake cones
    • 3 sugar cones
    • Parchment paper
    • 9×13 inch piece of cardboard
    • Cake foil

1. Bake 2- 9 inch cakes and 2 -6 inch cakes according to the recipe or box directions. Set them aside to cool.
2. While the cakes are cooling melt about ½ cup of the white melting chocolate according to the package directions.
3. Use the melted chocolate to make ghosts. Spoon one teaspoon of melted chocolate onto parchment paper, to make the ghost’s head. Pull down on the spoon as you lift it away to trail melted chocolate to make the ghost’s body and tail. Repeat the process until you have 5 or 6 ghosts to haunt your castle cake.

white chocolate ghosts
4. Add 2 mini chocolate chips for the eyes, and one for the mouth while the ghosts are still melted. Set the ghosts aside to cool and dry.
5. Add a little of the melted white chocolate to a pastry bag, or a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the tip or corner. Use the white chocolate to pipe “RIP” on one end of the graham cookies (see photo). Set them aside to cool and harden.

6. Melt the rest of the bag of white chocolates according to the package directions, and add back in any leftover chocolate from making the ghosts. Add a little black food coloring to make the melted chocolate gray.
7. Dip 2 cake cones in the melted gray chocolate to coat the outside of the cone, set them aside with open end down to cool and harden.
8. Add a little more black food color to the remaining chocolate to make it a darker gray, and dip 3 of the sugar cones in the darker gray icing to coat the outside. You can dip extra cones, just in case one doesn’t turn out. Set the cones aside with the open end down to cool and harden.

chocolate covered cones
9. Cover a rectangle piece of 9×13 inch piece of cardboard with cake foil, and tape it down.
10. Color the decorator icing gray by adding a little black food color to it, until it is a light to medium shade of gray.
11. Once your cakes have cooled level the tops with a serrated knife.
12. Spread a little gray decorator icing in the center of the cake board, and set one of the 9 inch cakes on top, cut side down.
13. Spread icing on top of the bottom layer of cake, and add the second 9 inch cake.
14. Spread icing on top of the second layer, and add one of the 6 inch cakes on top of that, repeat the process to add the final 6 inch cake to the top.
15. Spread a thin layer of gray icing over the outside of the whole cake, and set the cake aside for a few minutes to let the icing dry and harden to seal in the crumbs.

iced cake crumb coating
16. Once the cake has had a few minutes to dry add a second thicker layer of gray icing to the whole cake.
17. Let the icing dry for 15 to 20 minutes, then use a piece of parchment paper to smooth out the rough spots in the icing. You can leave the cake a little rough, it will just add to a stucco appearance for the castle.
18. Add the cones to the top of the cake to make towers and a roof.
a. Add the cake cones to the top of the cake side by side, upside down, and slide the chocolate covered sugar cones on top.
b. Just add a sugar cone to make the tower roof on top of the bottom layer (above the door, see photo).
19. Melt ½ cup of the regular brown melting chocolate, according to the package directions, and add it to a pastry bag with a small hole in the end, or to a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner.
20. Use the melted brown chocolate to pipe windows and a door onto the cake. You can also add some smaller windows to the cone towers. The windows don’t have to be perfectly straight, since you’re creating an old haunted castle look. A little lopsided and off center just adds to the look.

castle cake with windows doors and pillars
21. Once the windows and door have cooled and hardened, melt a little left over white chocolate, and use it to attach the ghosts around the cake, wherever you want to place them, coming out of windows, or towers. Attach the ghosts by spreading a little melted icing on the backs, and pressing them gently into the side of the cake.
22. Spread a little leftover gray icing onto the cake board around the cake. Make a couple mounds of icing in one corner, use the mounds to insert the cookie tombstones.
23. Crush up ½ bag of Oreos, or other chocolate sandwich cookies, and sprinkle them around the cake for dirt.
24. You can also add candy rocks for a walkway in front of the castle door, and around your tombstones for graves, but if you don’t have them just add more crushed cookies.

castle graveyard closeup finished
Quick Tip:
Pair the haunted castle cake and the haunted forest cupcakes (tutorial coming soon!) and you’ll have it all to complete your haunting Halloween dessert table.

castle cake with haunted forest cupcakes

For more Halloween ideas, here are a few of my favorite bloggers:

DIY Holiday Planning: Pine Cone Christmas Ornaments

I know it’s a little early to start thinking about the holidays, but if you’re a Christmas planner like I am, and you’d love to get a jump start on your holiday crafts this year check out these fun diy pine cone Christmas ornament ideas. This post is sponsored by Mode. You can check out the full collection by clicking on the widget or at Mode here.

Check out DIY Holiday Planning: Pine Cone Christmas Ornaments

by Linette Gerlach at Mode

One of my favorite childhood memories is making homemade ornaments with my mom and my sisters! If you want to make your own sweet memories with your kids and family. At the same time you’re making fun memories, you’ll also be creating tree decorations, homemade gifts, or holiday decor! I don’t know about you, but this time of year we have several evergreen and pine trees dropping pine cones all over our yard this time of year, and just begging to be gathered up for crafting. This fun DIY list of pine cone Christmas ornaments can help you get started making fun crafts right now with your kids right now, before the hustle and bustle of the holidays set in.

DIY Holiday Planning- Pine Cone Christmas Ornaments

The ornament collection includes pine cone gnomes, snowmen, reindeer, mice, owls, a peacock, and a penguin! All of them look fun to recreate, and most just need items from nature (including the pine cones) and crafting items you probably already have around the house if you have kids who like to craft and create.

Which pine cone ornament are you going to recreate, or does this list inspire you to create your own unique pine cone decoration? If so what will you create? I’d love to hear about it!

$25 Family Dollar Gift Card Giveaway!

I know you’d all like to win a $25 Family Dollar gift card! I’m excited to say we have another fun giveaway for our readers here at Kid’s Fun Review! We’re giving away a $25 Family Dollar gift card to one lucky winner! This $25 gift card giveaway is sponsored by Family Dollar, all opinions are my own. Family-Dollar-gift-card Are you shopping for back to school, Halloween, or getting a jump start on the holidays this year? At Family Dollar you can find all sorts of items to cover your upcoming Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations without breaking the bank, and a $25 gift card will help stretch that budget even more! If you need to stock up on basics, find candy for trick or treaters, or grab a few things before your kids head to your kids head back to school check out the great selection at your local Family Dollar. Please enter on the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US residents only. Good luck! This contest is void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Autumn Tablescapes: Bursts of Color For Fall Celebrations

I love the color combinations, textures and flavors of fall! Autumn celebrations are some of my favorites. Whether you’re celebrating the kids going back to school, the fall harvest, or having a few friends over for a fall tea, it’s always fun to set up the table with some pops of autumn color.

I’ve put together a collection of some of my favorite autumn tablescapes sponsored by Mode Media. You can check them all out here. Just click on your favorite to go to Mode and get back to the original source of the idea. Or flip to more ideas by clicking on the arrows at either end of the widget.

Check out Autumn Tablescapes: Bursts of Color For Fall Celebrations

by Linette Pierce Gerlach at Mode

Some of the autumn tablescape ideas in this collection include:

  • A pear theme table with leaves and fall colors can grab your guests attention.
  • An elegant white fall table with white pumpkins and flowers
  • A rustic green tablescape featuring hedge apples (I’m definitely giving this one a try!)
  • Turquoise, orange and brown color scheme. I would not have thought to pair those colors, but it’s a fabulous color combination!
  • Sticks, green moss and clay pots can make a low cost rustic fall table setting more interesting.
  • Scarecrows can make the whole thing more fun!
  • Plan a high tea by combining some antique tea cups with fall decor.

What are your favorite fall colors and tablescape ideas?