Sep 162014

Okay, you could melt Kraft caramels and dip apples in them or buy caramel apples at your local school fundraiser (both are great options), but how about making really homemade, from scratch caramel apples… Mmmmmm. There’s nothing like it. And your kids can get involved by rolling the apples in toppings before they set up!

the-best-caramel-apples 2

My family has tried so many caramel apple recipes over the years, with many failures. Sometimes the caramel coating would turn rock hard and be impossible to cut, let alone bite… sometimes the caramel would slide right off the apple when dipping… sometimes they just plain tasted bad. But I have great news! We found the best caramel apple recipe ever; it’s super easy and absolutely delicious.

Here’s what you need to make the best homemade caramel apples:

  • Candy thermometer (don’t have one? you can pick one up at your local hardware store for a couple dollars)
  • Wooden sticks (I have found these at the grocery store, you don’t need anything fancy)
  • Tart apples (empire, jonathan, mcintosh, rome, etc)
  • Ingredients: butter, brown sugar, light corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla

I don’t want to steal the thunder from the recipe’s author, so… Click here for the best caramel apple recipe of all time!

Here is what I have learned from experience with the recipe:

  • Use a 2-qt. saucepan. The caramel will come close to the top when it is cooking, but it doesn’t spill over and it’s much easier to dip the apples when the caramel is deeper in the pan.
  • Cook on medium heat and stir constantly.
  • Don’t get discouraged when the temperature stays around 233 degrees for a while. This is called the phase transition and while it looks like nothing is happening and you did something wrong, a lot is going on in the caramel mixture and it will make it to the target temperature after it passes this phase.
  • Take the caramel off the heat when it reaches 246 degrees. It will continue to rise in temperature when you take it off the burner so if you undershoot the temperature a bit the caramel won’t get too hard as it cools.
  • It says to butter the wax paper generously, but I just rub the stick of butter across the paper and it works great.

Still haven’t gone apple picking? Check out the apple orchard list!
We haven’t been able to go yet. :( But I’m soooo looking forward to picking, especially after seeing these caramel apples again!

 Posted by at 7:54 pm
Sep 122014

passing for gold

childhood cancer


Help us spread awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September by creating a ‘Passing for Gold’ video, then challenging your friends and family to do the same!

Childhood cancer research is severely under funded and under researched. Our children are our future. Let’s make sure they have one.

Join us this month, together we can make a difference – Whatever it Takes!



Video yourself “catching” the ball for our kids, by doing this you accept the challenge to help put an end to childhood cancer! Have fun with it…catch a football, baseball, frisbee, basketball, boomerang, golf ball, shoe or whatever else you can dream up!


Continue recording and “pass” along the challenge by throwing a basketball, football, baseball, boomerang, frisbee, or by hitting a golf ball, baseball or whatever else makes you happy, to four or five of your closet friends! Challenge them to accept the pass and Go Gold for our kids!


Post your video to Facebook or twitter and tag Passing for Gold!
@passing4gold #passing4gold


the cure starts now

 Posted by at 8:10 pm
Sep 112014

Are you doing cloth diapers or are you thinking about it? I did cloth diapers with my second and loved it! Having soft cotton around my baby was a major plus, not sending all of those disposables to the dump made me feel good and the diaper service was the best part. I didn’t have to worry about cleaning the cloths and fresh diapers were delivered to my door! I wish I had known about diaper services with my first, so I’m happy to be able to tell you about Green Diaper Babies!

Green Diaper Babies

Green Diaper Babies is Chicagoland’s premier cloth diaper delivery service. They are a weekly delivery service, bringing clean diapers to the doorstep for both city and suburb families of Chicago. They do the dirty work for you! They are a friendly, family oriented business hoping to benefit the environment and each family they work with. Join them in their attempt to reduce waste, reuse, and improve the health of babies in Chicagoland.

Joining their cloth diaper service family is easy. All you have to do is contact them to let them know what package you are interested in and when you would like to start service. They are the only service in Chicagoland offering modern cloth diapers and are so excited about the package offerings they have. Once your baby arrives it is easy to do pick up and drop offs and you don’t have to worry about any of the dirty work. They offer free in-home consultations for each new customer as well as weekly pick up reminders.

Here’s a review from one of their customers:

We’ve been using the service for three weeks now and it’s been smooth sailing! We use the prefolds and cloth wipes and I have to say, I almost find it easier than using disposables simply because you’re not taking the trash out everyday. (Not to mention not creating all that waste!) The cloth diapers are really easy to use and so far, not a rash or irritation in sight! I was worried about the smell initially since the pail isn’t one of those crazy diaper genie type contraptions but I’ve yet to really smell anything, even when we open the pail to deposit soiled diapers. (And trust me, it’s not because my baby’s diapers aren’t smelly!) Shannon is very easy to communicate with and that’s probably the biggest plus in my book. I’ve made several last minute changes and all I’ve had to do is shoot her an email. If only everything about taking care of an infant was this easy!     -Jen K.



Visit Green Diaper Babies online at and call them: (773)-DIAPERS




This post brought to you by Green Diaper Babies.

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Sep 102014




Apple Picking is in full swing! Check out this list of Apple Orchards close by. If not, I think you might find something in this extensive list of events for the weekend… I broke it out by day this time and as always, you can click on the event title to see the full details including maps, longer description, event schedule and registration when applicable.




16th Annual World Music Festival Chicago
Music from all over the world at various locations in the city

Baby Boot Camp Classes
Get some exercise with your babies at the Yorktown Shopping Center

Open Bounce
The calendar has been updated with the weekly bounce times at The Max

Little Tykes Time
The calendar has been updated with the weekly open gym times at Flying High

Science at Wonder Works, Beginner’s Art Studio, Story Time
Many great programs at Wonder Works Children’s Museum in Oak Park going on right now

Steak Fry
Benefits the Berwyn Park District Scholarship Fund and the Kiwanis Eliminate Project that helps efforts in fighting maternal and neonatal tetanus. You must buy tickets ahead of time.




Kid’s Fair: WTTW Great Food Fan Van
Seen the Great Food Fan Van announced on WTTW PBS? this is it! Big event for Whole Foods Market in Hinsdale also including vendors with kid-friendly products who will providing samples and the Whole Kid Foundation tent for some fun activities. Susan of Sahara’s Party Faces will be doing professional face painting.

16th Annual World Music Festival Chicago
Music from all over the world at various locations in the city

Junior Chef Classes
Special cookie-decorating event. the $5 donation benefits Share Our Strength for childhood hunger in America

Children’s Clothing & Toy Resale
An event from DuPage Mothers and More held at the DuPage County Fairgrounds

Joggin’ for Frogmen 5K Race for Navy SEALs
All proceeds from the race benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation

Family Garage Sale & Flea Market
The Park District of Forest Park’s parking lot turns into a community-wide garage sale and flea market

Family Fall Fest
Make your own scarecrow, also face painting, temporary tattoos, games, music and craft show for free at the First United Methodist Church in Lombard

Glen Ellyn Back Yard BBQ
Full menu of BBQ favorites, Piglet Playland for the kids, blues entertainment, cornhole bags tournament. All proceeds from the event benefit the homeless families served by Bridge Communities.

Food and live entertainment at the Forest Park Picnic Grove

Beginner’s Art Studio
Children and adults can explore their creative sides in this fully engaging, open-ended art experience. Materials change daily, trained facilitators assist with the artistic process, while children create masterpieces.

30th Annual Lisle Depot Days
Live music, hayrides, petting zoo, games, tours, pioneer demonstrations with free admission

Inflatable Open Gym
The calendar has been updated with the weekly open gym times at Flying High

Live dog performances, agility training course, demonstrations and pet-related vendors at the Spring Avenue Dog Park in Glen Ellyn

Storytime with Holly
The calendar has been updated with this weekly story time at Barbara’s Bookstore in Burr Ridge

Mariachis in the Park
Music, dancing and fun activities for young and old at Proska Park in Berwyn




16th Annual World Music Festival Chicago
Music from all over the world at various locations in the city

Pedal the Parks
Pedal your way along a 10 mile tour through beautiful parks in Burr Ridge.

30th Annual Lisle Depot Days
Live music, hayrides, petting zoo, games, tours, pioneer demonstrations with free admission

Argentina Day
Special day of polo matches at the Oak Brook Polo Club

Book Launch/Fundraiser
Janet Nolan, a local author, has a delicious new book coming out and Magic Tree will be hosting the book launch as well as a fundraiser for West Suburban PADS in Oak Park.


Have a wonderful weekend!

 Posted by at 5:40 pm
Sep 092014

fall leaves

The leaves haven’t started falling yet, but the fall festivals start this weekend! Here are the festivals I have on the calendar so far (in chronological order)… if you have others let me know!

Family Fall Fest
September 13, 2014
First United Methodist Church, Lombard
Make your own scarecrow, also face painting, temporary tattoos, games, music and craft show for free. Food will be available for purchase.

September 19-20, 2014
Downtown Oak Park
A premier music line up, delicious fall foods from local restaurants, specialty craft beers, and a Kids’ Root Beer Garden.

September 19-20, 2014
Berwyn’s Depot District
live music, an international food court, carnival and amusement rides, family entertainment pavilion, crafters, vendors and beer garden. The family pavilion welcomes a variety of interactive activities including on-site video gaming, face-painting, a bounce house and obstacle course, bozo buckets, trivia and other games.

September 20, 2014
Central Park, Oak Brook
Live music, kids activities, food, Two Brothers beer, adult futbol tournament and adult softball tournament. The kids activities include face painting, pumpkin walk, crafts, pony rides, fire department activities, an appearance by Ronald McDonald and a moon jump.

72nd annual Fall Festival at the Farm
September 27. 2014
The Center, Palos Park
Country fair fun for “kids of all ages. Besides games, kid’s crafts, prizes, farm tours, live music, hayrack rides, and horse rides, there will be craft and flea market booths, a farmers market with freshly picked pumpkins, and refreshments from the grill.

Fall Festival
September 27. 2014
Peace Memorial Manor, Downers Grove
Fun for all ages! Food, entertainment, children’s games, face painting, karaoke, homemade baked goods, crafts, white elephant and raffle.

Indian Summer Festival
September 28. 2014
Castaldo Park, Woodridge
Hayride, family and children activities. Bring clothes to make your own scarecrow at the 16th Annual Build Your Own Scarecrow. Hay will be provided.

Luurs Fall Festival
September 27-28 and October 4-5, 2014
Luurs Garden & Flower Shoppe, Hillside
Pony rides, train rides, jack-o-lantern jumpy and food.

Fall Festival
October 4, 2014
Park District of Forest Park
Fun for all ages and will include kid activities and games, fair foods and goodies, wine and beer tasting, music and more.

Scarecrow Festival
October 10-12, 2014
Downtown St. Charles
Scarecrow contest displays, four areas of live entertainment, make your own scarecrow, Autumn on the Fox Arts & Crafts Show, Windy City Amusements Carnival and festival food.

 Posted by at 9:18 pm