I’m still talking about Autumn, it’s Thanksgiving First!

I know the halls are all decked in every store with snowflakes and Christmas music, but I stand firm in celebrating the holidays in order! That plus I’m still getting through my stack of fall themed, pumpkin covered magazines.

I was reading Better Homes and Gardens October issue (yes I’m that far behind in my magazine reading.)

Better Homes and Gardens Oct 2014

I sent a quick text to my sister including this pic because she collects blue glass.  I thought it was a great way to incorporate fall colors with a blue glass collection.

BHG Autumn_blue glass


She tried it out and sent me this picture back.

Autumn_blue glass centerpiece

Good job Michele!

BHG Autumn blue glass display



The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving always seems to fly by.   Actually, the time between Halloween and New Year’s always flies by, but unlike Starbucks who introduces their red cups on November 1st, I like to celebrate each holiday in order. When I was first married, I hosted Thanksgiving at my house.  The week used to be a very busy one for my husband and many of our friends.  Now, one thing I am thankful for is that he does not take on a lot of work that week!  For the past two years, we have traveled to my sister’s in Atlanta for Thanksgiving. We are returning this year, too. It is one of two holidays (the other is 4th of July) we travel on, but I don’t mind because I still get to help and cook my favorite dishes and my sister’s kitchen is much bigger than mine!!

While I was planning for our Halloween Party, I found what I thought to be perfect orange paper to use for the invitations and the menu cards.  Well, when I got home and unwrapped the paper, I found it was actually an oversized post-it pad. Grrrr – who needs huge post-its?  In bright orange? So much for quickly throwing things in your cart because your toddler is actually calm without properly reading the label!

Olivia started asking this week when are we going to Atlanta? It gave me an idea for the orange post-it pad.  We could make a countdown to Atlanta calendar, and each night Olivia can rip off one post-it.

We started by looking at a bunch of turkey pictures online.  Olivia liked the one that she could tell was made from tracing a hand.  I printed pictures out and we took out our scissors and glue.

Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Here’s what we ended up with!  Now each night before bed, Olivia tears off a post-it as we count down the days until our trip.  I knew I wanted to put it on the side of our refrigerator, where our Summer Calendar used to be, because it is perfect eye level for Olivia.

Thanksgiving Countdown calendar

Full disclosure – when I stuck the post-its on the fridge, it was too heavy and it fell down.  I had to use magnets on each side to hold it up.

What are your plans for turkey day?  Do you host?  Travel?  Leave a comment and let me know.  In the next two weeks, I will re-post my preparing for Thanksgiving checklists, more fall favorite recipes from our Family Cookbook Scrapbook, and ideas for great hostess gifts if you are having your big meal somewhere other than your home.

As always, thanks for reading!  Have a great weekend.

A Happy Spooky Halloween Party

We had a great time at our annual Halloween Party this past weekend.  In addition to good friends, fun times, and delicious snacks it’s always great for the kids to do a test run of their costumes!

A spooky clip-art owl was my inspiration for the party.  Here are the materials I used to make the invitations and menu cards.

halloween party invitations


halloween menus cards

We had a lot of fun (and healthy!) snacks.

mummy apples


pumpkin fruit cupsI tried to draw the pumpkin faces on the fruit cups, but I did not have the right type of black marker (or these fruit cups had a plastic that you can’t draw on.)  I printed out jack-o-lanterns instead.  I also put random googly eyes around the table on the black table cloth.

spooky cheese sticks



boo bananas

The Boo Bananas were such a hit last year, I made them again!

jack o lantern veggies and dip


Halloween Party table spread

and some not-so-healthy snacks, too!

Witches broom


halloween dessert table

and something brewing in the crock pot cauldron for adults….

hot buttered apple cider rum

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Cider

someone's in the rum!

at some point a googly eye from the cups dropped in the cider!  Someone was watching you!

halloween gift bagsNo party is complete without gift bags!

lupita the fairy dog Lupita our doggie fairy.

group shot party 2014

The whole gang! Olivia didn’t last too long in her costume!

Click here to check out our Halloween Party 2013

We also had a great time trick-or-treating last night.  Months ago, Olivia decided she wanted to be Lucinda the good witch from Sophia the First.  Here was our attempt at recreating her costume.  Special thanks to my sister and niece who sewed the skirt!

Lucinda the Good Little Witch
 We hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween.  Now starts the first day of 365 days of me saying: “Halloween is over.”


15 Reasons I Know It’s Fall

15 Reasons I know it’s Fall:

15. No more iced caramel coffees, bring on the hot pumpkin spice lattes.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

14. Blankets come out of the linen closet and are placed on the end of the beds.

13. School supply aisles become school supply sections. Notebooks for brand new to-do lists and schedules. Highlighters! Post-its! Sharpies!

12. Cardigan sweaters are worn in the hours of 7am-9am and 6pm until bedtime.

11. Goodbye beach and coconut scented candles and lotions… Hello sweet cinnamon pumpkin scents.

Bath and Body Works Fall Scents

10. Time to pack up the American flag and beach home decor and take out the apples, autumn leaves, and pumpkin decorations.

9. Beautiful blank calendars to color-code with our new school year schedules. Events like Pool and Water Park are replaced with Fall Festival and Apple Picking.

8. Kiss away clear lip gloss for autumn brown and maroon lipsticks.

7. I sip my last gin and tonic and clean out the crockpot for hot butter rum apple cider.

Hot Butter Rum Cider

6. Jeans that are never worn in summer are pulled out as the pool bag, towels, and bathing suits are sadly packed away.

5. My daughter starts the daily question: “What are you going to be for Halloween?”

4. My sister sends around the Annual Thanksgiving Recipe Google doc.

3. We return to magical places like Shondaland, Chicago, and Berkley (for just 13 more episodes *sniff*.) Time to fill the DVR again!

Parenthood Final Season

2. Words like Eagles, Giants and Jets are suddenly all over my Facebook newsfeed. On the positive side, my Pinterest homepage is full of snacks, dips, and chili recipes.

And the last reason I know it is fall…

1. People start talking about Christmas and anxiety sets in!

Happy Fall everyone!

Back to School Brunch

Yesterday, I hosted a small Back to School Brunch for Olivia and my girlfriend’s two kids.  Fall is almost here and I hope that I can get back into some of my usual routines – one being blogging!

Besides a fun time for my friend and the kids – the best part about this party was it was completely outfitted from the dollar store!  (Except for some items left over from The Cat in the Hat party!)  I also only served food that was already in my fridge.  Affordable and fun – my favorite things!

Back to School Brunch 2014




Back to School Brunch 3Red and white striped wrapping paper table cloth with black poster board “chalkboard” place mats.

Back to School Brunch 2Craft supplies!

Back to School Brunch 4Every Back to School Party should also celebrate summer – and what better way than with an ice cream bar?

Are your kids back to school tomorrow?  Already started?  How did you celebrate the end of summer?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Up next – my Fall preview for TV!!  I’ll publish this week before all the good shows start again.  Have a great Sunday and thanks for reading.

Helpful Hump-day Hints 07.30.14

HHH gingham

Today I need YOUR hints!  You know where I am NOT organized at all? In my email inbox!  Which is weird because I am super organized about my files on the computer. Folders for everything, clean desktop.  But for some reason, I cannot get my head around a good email system.  I make the folders, but then I never move emails.  I just “search” when I need to, which works, but then I have so many emails that I just never delete!

Email Inbox Image

Ok, mine isn’t THIS bad, but it’s pretty bad!  A few weeks ago I started tackling moving emails I need / want to save to folders.  I decided my next course of action was taking my email OFF lists so I don’t get a ton of emails that I usually never open.  Here are the steps I took:

1.) ANY social media site (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter) I turned OFF my email notifications.  NO NEED to get these emails!  I check these sites regularly and can click on notifications to see who’s tagging me, who’s pinning my stuff, who’s tweeting to me! Then I searched those emails and deleted all the ones that were just sitting in my inbox – 99% that I never even opened!

2.) Stores – going through my emails I asked myself – which ones do I REALLY read and use the coupon / sale deal?  Not many!  Off with the email lists with those too!

Queen of Hearts _Off with their heads

3.  Other notifications that maybe I used in the past – but don’t need anymore I.E. – TRULIA!  I loved this when we were house hunting.  They would send me emails of houses I marked as “favorites” to alert me of any price changes or sale news.  They also sent me new listing in the zip codes and price ranges I had checked off.  Great, right?  When we first bought the house, I kept the notifications because I liked seeing what was going on in our neighborhood.  Now it’s time to stop – I’ve become an email hoarder!  I love when they email me that my house has been bought. I KNOW! I bought it!

This is as far as I have gotten, but obviously an area I need help in!  How do you keep your emails organized? Any tricks or systems that work for you?  How many emails are “too many” to have in an inbox?  Have you ever just wiped the whole slate clean? Leave a comment and help me out.

Until then – here is my motto:

Keep Calm and Delete Delete!

My Friday Favorites 07.25.14

Friday Favorites gingham

Happy, umm, Sunday! Hope you all had a fabulous week. Here are all my favorites this week (2 days late!)

On TV -

  • Well, as you can imagine since this post is two days late – my DVR is full!  I finished OITNB (much to discuss there) and Suits is still the only show I am currently watching.  The Divide now has 2 episodes on my DVR.

On the Page – 

  • I’m reading Better Homes and Gardens August 2014 issue cover to cover.  Budget friendly decorating finds, an amazing kitchen rehab, post-vacation party tips,  and stylish storage options are just a few things you’ll find on this month’s pages.


BH&G Aug 2014 Issue

On the Computer – 

  • I’m currently upgrading our hallway linen closet.  So the search is on for inspiration from Pinterest and other bloggers.  I have already taken my hideous before shot, all of the contents of the closet are on either our bedroom floor or in Olivia’s crib (good thing she doesn’t sleep in it anymore!)  In my online search I found suburble…just a bird in the ‘burbs: MY LIFE IS EMBARRASSING: THE LINEN CLOSET.   An amazing linen closet transformation!  I hope my after shots will be this neat and organized. 
suburble MY LIFE IS EMBARRASSING: THE LINEN CLOSETpicture originally from suburble.com

In the Kitchen -

  • Budget Bytes – Italian Wonderpot listed originally on Apron Strings I found this recipe when searching for one-pot pasta meals.  Looking to spruce things up in our pasta repertoire.  I have not tried this yet – but it looks delicious and – my favorite – EASY!Italian Wonderpot-from Budget Bytes
    picture originally from BudgetBytes.com



On my Pinterest Boards – 

  • I started a new Pinterest Board – check it out here:  Linen Closet Upgrade.  All the inspirations I am finding as I tackle this next project. (Before and after pictures to come!)  One thing I have discovered is that most pictures of linen closets I am finding are the smaller types of closets where the shelves are all all the way to the door.  My closet is a little bigger – you can walk in – but not a “walk-in”, if that makes any sense!  I’m trying to figure out the best way to construct the shelves for maximum space use.  If anyone has a picture of a closet like this – send it my way via Pinterest! Thanks!Here is a picture I pinned from

    A Sort of Fairy Tale. Love that this is a dollar store makeover! A Sort of Fairy Tale - Linen Closet

    picture originally from A Sort of Fairy Tale 

On the Sales Rack – 

  • Carters -  40% off everything. 50% off all PJs – just today (Sunday 7/27.)  I like to buy bathing suits in the next size this time of year.Carters Sale
    This weekend marks the anniversary of my Mom’s passing. And in a tradition I started last year, I will end this post with some of her favorites!  We miss you Mom!

    Sangria from Cow Town Chow

    picture originally from CowTownChow

    Gingerbreadmen by Post Punk Kitchen

    picture originally from Post Punk Kitchen

    Black Eyed Susans by Bailey's Buddy

    picture originally from Bailey’s Buddy

Hope you had a great week.  What have you been up to? Leave me a comment and let me know some of your favorite things.







Farfalle Basil Salad


Farfalle Basil Salad .jpg

While making a basic pasta dish the other evening, I saw this recipe of the side of the farfalle box.  I had all the ingredients so I decided to cook the whole box and try this out. It was a great cold pasta dish and very easy to make!

Farfalle Basil Salad 

12 oz of farfalle (I used half the box since I was dividing the pasta between two meals)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1/2 Tbsp salt

1/4 Tbsp sugar

1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

1/2 cup olive oil

black pepper to taste

cherry tomatoes to garnish

Cook pasta according to package.  In a blender or food processor, combine vinegar, basil, garlic, salt, sugar, cheese, and olive oil.  Blend until smooth.  Combine with cooked and drained pasta.  Cover and refrigerate.  Sprinkle with pepper and garnish with tomatoes before serving,

Whole book of pasta serves 6, half box of pasta serves 4


My Friday Favorites 07.18.14

Owl Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Here are all the things I’m loving this week!

On TV -

  • I haven’t talked about TV in awhile. We did have some great season finales this spring!  Chicago Fire & PD, Scandal, Grey’s, Parenthood!  I can’t wait for all of these to start back up. I binged watched Orange is the New Black Seasons 1 & 2 (I never watched it!  It kind of gave me anxiety.  Anyone else? But I still watched it.) The Divide (new on WE and produced by Fitz from Scandal is taped on my DVR.) I also am watching The Night Shift – even though I would call it Grey’s Lite.  TC (combo of Derrick / McDreamy and Owen / War Issues) has unresolved feelings for his ex Jordan (Meredith) who is dating Bailey from Party of 5 while TC is dating Anna from One Tree Hill…. look, not much is on in the summer.  Growing up summer always meant – no more TV until Fall.  But YAY for USA Network who does summer shows!  I’ve been watching Suits all summer. Mike and Harvey are a divided team.  Jessica is dating and hired Dr. Joe from Parenthood. Rachel is in dangerous territory!!

Suits Season 4

On the Page – 

Here are two magazines I have been flipping through a lot! Good Housekeeping June 2014 Issue – great recipes for BBQing on the grill this summer from main dishes, to sides, to s’mores desserts.  House Beautiful July / August 2014 Issue – tips on small spaces, using color, and creating storage.


On the Computer – 

  • I had two bananas left in a bunch and I knew they weren’t going to last many more days.  I wanted to try something different than my usual banana bread.  Off to Pinterest I went! There I found: A Little Bit of This, That, and Everything – Banana Cookies .  Directions looked easy, cookies looked delicious = perfect recipe for me.  Olivia was a big help making them. They are really yummy!  
banana-chocolate-chip-cookiespicture originally from Little Bit of This, That, and Everything 
Olivia helping bake Olivia helping make the cookies  Yes, even my mixer is apple green!
Banana Cookies Baking Our cookies baking in the oven 

In the Kitchen -

gelato_frozen desserts BHG

In my Beach Bag-

  • Besides towels and sunscreen – Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’m not too far into the book yet but I am intrigued by these identical sisters who seem anything but identical!

Sisterland _ Curtis Sittenfeld

On my Pinterest Boards – 

  •  I’ve been researching outdoor / patio spaces (even though I already made over my patio!)  But I’m helping a friend organize ideas for her patio.  I came across this picture and I just loved it!  So colorful!  I would give credit, but the website Pinterest links the photo to, no longer exists.  (Is that something that drives anyone else crazy on Pinterest?)

Summer Patio

 Hope you had a great week. What are the things you are loving this week?  Something you bought, cooked, or watched?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading!

Helpful Hump-day Hints 07.16.14

Helpful Hump-day Hints. Fall. Owl.

 Now that my daughter is getting older, we have several different bags that she uses.  When she was a baby,  it was one-stop shopping – everything in the diaper bag.  Now she has her school bag, a pool/beach bag, a ballet bag, the list goes on!  I have always saved the plastic cases from pillows, sheets and other household items as carriers to pack things.  You can read about how I used these for baby items in my post on Practical Packing Part 2.  Now that Olivia is officially potty-trained, I combined that idea with the plastic containers that toddler underwear is packaged in.  

plastic package for underwearHere is a typical package of multi-pairs of toddler underwear,  The packaging comes with a button snap at the top.   I take out all the underwear and cardboard branding and it’s a perfect size to make small bags of essentials.  I have three basic types I make up.

dry snack bag A dry snack bag with napkins, a few types of snacks, and a spoon and fork.

cold snack bag A cold snack bag with a juice box, applesauce or some type of fruit, and a small ice pack.

Emergency bathroom kit An emergency bathroom bag with extra underwear, wipes, hand soap, and a pull-up.

Repurpose Plastic Packaging

These are all easy to assemble. I make multiples of each and put in all the various bags we have, plus the car and my purse.  Do you repurpose any packaging on items you buy a lot of?  How do you handle packing different bags for a toddler?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading.  It’s Hump-day – we are almost to the weekend!