Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

And just like that, the creepiest day of the year ends October. I don’t know where the year has gone, but here’s how we celebrated all things spooky and fantastical before all the lovely winter holidays take over. ūüôā

Costumes!

I was a roller derby girl. After having so much fun at the double header derby event,¬† my¬†friend and I knew it’d be our Halloween characters this year (Hi Amanda!).

Teammates!

Doesn’t she look awesome?! She added all those fake tattoos, hahahaha, I loved it. She said she had black and red, so I was excited to find sparkly black nail polish and a kid’s helmet (with skull art!) on clearance for $4 at Target. I used those as my jump-off point to build around.

Five hours of last-minute store jumping and $45 later, I had a sparkly red lips t-shirt, red fishnet tights, knee and elbow pads, running shorts, black hair coloring and a grease-paint star to complete the look. Since most store put-together costumes are easily $40 or more, I felt pretty good. I thought it was more authentic and I can actually use the nail polish, t-shirt and running shorts for regular life. The other stuff will be handy for future Halloweens or if I ever take up  skateboarding.

I like the black nail polish and star a little too much. I’m considering throwing it on just to go grocery shopping¬†and stuff. ¬†ūüôā

Jeremy was Mr. Incredible. One suit (muscles included), a wig and a mask to protect his true identity and he was ready in 15 minutes.

Jeremy's best friend (Amanda's husband) went as Shaggy. Both the boys' wigs were hilarious.

Pumpkins!

We went to a local church’s pumpkin patch that we’ve gone to for the past couple years. They have a million to choose from:

Nighttime pumpkin patch.

We picked a perfectly imperfect large and round pumpkin that called to us. I think it was the creepy and twisty stem. Gotta have a good stem!

Pleased with the pick.

Our process is that I draw and then roast the pumpkin seeds while Jeremy carves.

OK, we also goof off out of excitement as shown by this outtake (it seriously took me 5 or more times to get him to just stand and smile with the pumpkin).

I told you there was something about the stem...

We decided to do a headless horseman. Here’s my beginning:

My primary mock-up on a spare 2x4 in the garage.

Can you even tell what it should look like? Haha, neither could Jeremy or my Mom.

I was clearly quite focused while drawing it on the real thing.

So, does this give you a better idea?

Drawn.

Then it was Jeremy’s turn. And luckily, he’s as intense as I am about this pumpkin business, lol.

Carving station master.

He spent a good long time in some of the tiny spaces and using the Dremel to shave where the knife wouldn’t fit.

With the help of my amazing Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove the remaining Sharpie lines, we officially finished the pumpkin's transformation.

And when night came…

Boo!

Food!

For the pumpkin seeds, I separated them into two batches. In two bowls, I melted just enough butter to coat about a cup of seeds each. In one bowl, I mixed in sweet and the other I mixed in savory.

Garlic & Season All and cinnamon & sugar seeds.

Last year, I made “trapped soul punch” and this year, I decided to make cupcakes. I was inspired by two sources (Dexter cupcakes from The Avid Appetite and Wilton sugar knives that I couldn’t resist in Micheal’s craft store) to take these…

Sweet red velvet with vanilla icing.

¬†Plus…

Innocent vanilla cupcakes with classic white icing.

The vanilla did have a surprise filling though.

Vanilla cupcakes waiting to be filled with sour cherry and strawberry jam.

And, just so happened to be going to two parties so it worked out to do them both.

Red velvet was a knife fight victim.

 and

Vanilla turned into a crime scene.

I also couldn’t help buying skull ice cube trays at the Dollar Store.

Eeeeee! They come out amazing. I think the cracks make it even better when they stare up at you from your drink.

So, whoever you are today, I hope you have a happy and scary safe night!

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Free things makes trying new stuff even easier

Obviously, I love trying new things (since this whole blog creation probably gave that away ūüôā ) but sometimes, it’s just too costly to branch out if you hate it. There’s definitely a price on learning curves. So, if you can programs offered by manufacturers, companies or campaigns, they are a great way to take advantage of some primo trial opportunities.
 
Getting stuff free means I’ll try lots of things I might hesitate on otherwise. Here are some of the mail freebies I’ve gotten lately (through programs that anyone can sign up for, no matter how much I’d love to say people just send me free things because of my awesomeness).
 

Keurig coffee!

There are only two people in my house and I’m the only coffee drinker. Not only was I making one cup of coffee in a huge machine (that Jeremy always got stuck cleaning) but when I had people over, I found people’s varying tastes and needs more of a challenge (kids want cocoa, Mom needs decaf, friend doesn’t like flavored coffee, etc.) So, last Christmas, I asked for a Keurig as I was enamored with the single-serve concept and all the options I could make one on top of the other. And I got it!
 
I registered mine right away so if anything went wrong, I was in “the system,” lol. But there are other benefits, too. You accumulate points and occasionally get coupons and free samples! Stores like Target¬†(where I just requested more Keurig samples!) also sometimes have free offers that you can sign up for.
 

Among the advertisements and bills? Free coffee!Best smelling mail day.Awesome, right? I savored each one (I had never had it but the French Roast won for me, mmmmmm).Free brew

Twinings tea!

Thanks to a friend’s keen eye, I was able to head to the Twinings¬†website to ¬†request three free samples.

One of the most fun phrases! Thank you, I *will* enjoy.

Sadly, the friend who referred me, never got her tea…she reminds me daily. But I chose and immensely enjoyed their pumpkin spice chai, french vanilla chai and, my favorite standard tea, Irish breakfast.

My sample pack.

Proctor & Gamble

Thanks to the P&G Everyday Solutions program,  you can get many free items delivered throughout the year.

Always liners, Prilosec and Head and Shoulders.

Platex lady products

Thanks to a tip from thekrazycouponlady.com, I got some free samples from Platex.

Samples and a coupon.

I think “shower with your clothes on” is an odd marketing concept since I’m sorry, but I’ve been camping and can attest: nothing except a shower¬†compares to a shower. But, I get it, and¬†it’s convenient to stick in my work desk for the inevitable crazy day when I forget deodorant. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m assuming it is an alcohol wipe that’s soft and¬†smells good.

So, that’s the money I’ve saved and fun mail I’ve received lately. Do you know of others? Let the freebie Friday fun out!

It’s aliiiiiiiive!

After 22 days, my veggie garden has produced a real, live pepper!

Little baby bell pepper.

I just knew the golden bell pepper seedling was an overachiever! That is all. I’m excited. ūüôā

‘Trick or Treat’ breast cancer awareness party

In case you don’t read or watch the newspaper, online news, blogs, NFL football or pretty much TV at all, then let me be the first to tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

nbcam.org

One of my favorite distractions is party planning. And not only do I appreciate a good distraction right now,¬†but I have way more party ideas than I have money or time. So I’m sharing an idea with you!

I’ve established a good enough history with cancer in general, and I think I can safely provide¬†a 100 percent accurate¬†statistic (with no scientific research involved): every single person has been impacted by¬†cancer. If you or anyone you know have never had cancer or known someone with cancer, please tell me. Although, if you are reading this blog, then you do now, so my stat stands!

In honor of breast cancer awareness, I thought of a Halloween-influenced party. It is October after all; and Halloween is about all things dark and scary. What’s scarier than cancer? Maybe being uninformed about ways to identify¬†and¬†eliminate cancer…? Enter, the Trick or Treat Breast Cancer Awareness Party!

Date: An October Saturday (probably within the first two weeks to avoid Halloween interference).

Guest Count: Up to you depending on your budget and location.

Location:¬†I envisioned a party at home, but if weather permits, I’d defintely take it outside. Of course, if budget permits, a larger venue would be fabulous, too.

Budget: One million dollars! [holds pinky to mouth] Or you know, whatever you can afford.

Feel: Inviting but empowering, serious but fun.

Invitations: Something black, silver and pink with gothic-esque scrolly fonts. Verbiage like,

Trick or Treat! Join us to learn and celebrate how to trick or treat cancer in honor of breast cancer awareness month.

Entertainment: A few clever games and definitely music but otherwise, it’s about learning and enjoying each other’s company, so no pressure. You might want to encourage wigs as an ode to Halloween costumes and cancer. Prizes for the best, silliest,etc. Maybe you also allow/encourage fundraising for the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen for the Cure¬†(or a friend curently in treatment?).

Giveaways: If you have prizes for wigs or other games, or just as thank yous to certain people, I think a pink recipe box, pink candles, Victoria Secret gift cards and spa gift cards would be great.

Food: Candy! But also a healthy but easy spread like veggie trays and clever appetizers. Obviously lots of pink drinks. And possibly, breast-honoring baked goods.

Seriously, yes.

Decorations: I see black, obviously, but paired with shades of pink (rather than¬†orange) and lots of glam from silver accents. Incorporate¬†ribbons. Skull and crossbones but in pink and with ribbon shape instead of bones or the girl skull with boobs. I don’t know, be as crazy or serious as you feel appropriate with your crowd.

Love these bright pink flowers but need a spook-ified backdrop.

and

Black and pink glitter pumpkins.

and

Glitter skulls!

and

Beverage napkins!

and

Glitter headstone from Oriental Trading Co. I would use puff paint or something to write "cancer" on them.

and best of all:

While I was looking for images to fit what I see in my head, I found this:

Perfect!

What’s that?

Yes! Someone else with a similar idea. And, they did a fabulous job.

See their fantastic¬†“Ghoul’s Night” party¬†on Hostess With the Mostess.

Update: I found another party!

Bump Smitten featured a Pink-o-ween party!

It’s full of black, pink, silver and Komen fundraising. How great! I’m virtually high-fiving the Pizzazzerie team.

I did incorporate girly items and focused on pink accents but I don’t see mine as a “girl’s” party. Not only can men get breast cancer but I think they should know as much or more than women to help support the women in their lives and not feel like it’s a taboo topic or helpless (men are dangerous when they feel helpless, lol!). Plus, they’d appreciate a boob-shaped cookie. ūüôā

Bottom line: Don’t be tricked out of treating! Knowledge is the key to smart choices, early detection, action steps, community involvement and priceless support.

So that’s just my¬†something fun to ramble about. What do you have running in your brain today?

Red ‘n’ black, slimey green…this is Halloween

Can you believe Halloween is this weekend?! I can’t. I am totally unprepared actually, so I thought a look back at one of my favorite parties and some ideas would help get us in the spirit. ūüôā Pun intended.

First, I’ll share that my affinity for Halloween is¬†fairly recent. Growing up, my Mom really didn’t support the holiday.¬†My brother and I¬†got to dress up and trick-or-treat, but I think every year she hoped we would change our minds.

From the past, five main Halloweens stick out:

  • Being a 6-year-old G.I. Joe was probably my favorite.
  • My elementary school best friend and I decided to make our own costumes from boxes. We went together as a pair of dice! This was awesomely creative and fun for 6th grade. Unfortunately, I ended up knocked over and stuck on my back like a turtle at the church’s party thanks ¬†to 6th-grade boys. Not that I’m bitter about those little bastards¬†17 years later or anything…
  • In 7th grade, I was at a new school and was invited to a classmates party and the invite said you wouldn’t be let in unless you dressed up. I went as a lady pirate! Once we were all there, everyone else ditched their costumes and snuck alcohol.¬†::Sigh::
  • In college, I dressed up as Miss Understood (P!nk’s song had recently come out). I wore too much eyeliner, a white t-shirt¬†but a black bra and¬†sort-of-dreadlocked hair–scandalous.
  • Last year, one of our friends had a Halloween party! It was the first time I had dressed up since 2002. Jeremy and I went as the couple from one of his favorite movies–Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas!¬†In case you didn’t catch the reference, my post title is from the intro song. Watch it on YouTube.
  • Jack and Sally 2010

It was so much fun! That’s the inspiration for me dyeing my hair for the first time. I also made an ice face and hands (idea adapted¬†from Martha Stewart). I called it “Trapped Soul Punch.”

Creepy punch bowl.

Jeremy and I also have a pumpkin carving tradition! We’ve done one every year together.These are two we did in 2009.

Spider pumpkin!

Skeleton pumpkin (from two, actually, the year we discovered the Dremel).

Of course, it was before the blog so the pictures weren’t taken for optimum viewing, but you get the idea!

And we decorate a bit as well…

Front yard graveyard.

This year, I don’t even have a costume yet. But, we do plan to go to a few friends’ Halloween parties.¬†¬†I am definitely partial to spooky/creepy or clever/fun Halloweens rather than scary/gory Halloween. Here are a few party inspirations that I’m loving:

But not for parties with too much drinking, clutzy friends or small kids!

 

Easily could put LED light under each one at night or dry ice around for spooky effect.

How hilarious is that skeleton in the dining chair?

Wow! I would have a hard time walking in my own home, eeeeek.

Pictures from here, here, here and here.

We also picked up our pumpkin for this year’s carving and I have already chosen the cupcakes¬†I’ll make. Priorities!

Are you throwing a Halloween party? Going to any or taking your kids around? And most importantly, what is your family dressing up as?

Fall landscaping

I shared a couple weeks ago that I decided to quit delaying and start a vegetable garden. Well, the green thumb bug got me, and we thanks to an enthusiastic start by Jeremy and an all-star finish by my Mom, it no longer looks like my front yard is abandoned. Hoorah!

It is such a happy greeting as the temperatures start to cool. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In two years, we never did anything with the front yard we inherited from the previous owners. You know you love a great, awful “before” picture!

Um, yeah, desolate and sad.

Even with the sun shining, it's not much better.

 Actually, we started this past spring with six Plum Delight Lorapetalum and five Ligustrum. But here they are:

Ready to be planted!

 So we did plant them. And it was a great fist step.

 

Mulched! Sweet little Alaska was chasing all the lizards that ran as we were watering.

 

But then we quit. And it took six months for us to revisit the front yard. Which means until last weekend, it still looked like this:

Wop-wop of the sad trombone is deafening on this sea of brown with a few hopefuls.

We started by transplanting several Lillies (we think they are lillies?) from our backyard to the front along with some Snap Dragons and Violas (aka mini Pansies):

Round one flowers! Unfortunately, the 80-degree Florida fall weather eliminated the Snap Dragon blooms pretty quickly. But they're already on their way back.

Then, finally with Mom’s help this past weekend, we¬†added white Pansies, white Impatients, yellow Mums and some awesome ¬†oyster plants!

A much livelier front bed.

Horseshoe decoration.

Welcoming mums.

What a happy turnaround, just in time for fall. Now, I’m excited to add some more Pansies and potentially some border grass around a couple other beds. And, finish mulching to anchor and protect everything.

The veggies are still growing, too. Here’s a look at their container homes:

Veggies!

The golden bell pepper is an overacheiver.

Look! My first flower!

Hope you are having a more relaxed week than I am. If you are, congrats! If you’re not, I’m with ya. Would sharing your planting adventures with me help? Let’s hear it.

I got my husband to eat tofu! And other recent accomplishments…

Yep, you heard it here first! My ultimate carnivore (but good sport) of a husband let me make a completely vegan dish (with no back-up)–Broccoli “Cheese” Pasta Bake. And? He liked it!

My brother liked it and my Mom liked it, too (and she is not a whole grain pasta fan). I also loved it. It was delicious comfort food and fairly easy to make (OK, more difficult than opening a box with the powdered cheese product but still not by much).

All that remained. ūüôā

If you want the recipe and instructions, visit Emily at Daily Garnish. It’s her recipe and she detailed it with beautiful pictures to boot. The only amendments I made to her recipe was adding a quarter cup more almond milk and just a few french fried onions crumbled on top.

Here are some other recent accomplishments I’m celebrating in the greenhorn house and marking off my goals list!

  • Finally, updated my resume. How embarrassing that it still contained college clubs I belonged to…Now it’s refreshed and appropriately reflective of the present.
  • I saved more than I spent at the grocery store…again! At Publix I spent $19.23 but saved $21.94–hooray! Last time was at Winn-Dixie where I spent¬†$52.38 and saved $59.75. Can I just tell you how much I am looking forward to counting this year’s couponing experiment up at the end of this year? A lot.
  • I am missing my California girls’ getaway with my Mom (which¬†come hell or high water I will post about this week)¬†but luckily I have her here for a bit to enjoy a girls’ stayhere instead.
  • I’ll refer to myself as an¬†extroverted nester. I love to be with people but I tend to huddle in my house and enjoy my couch time more. This past week in particular, I really focused on getting out and enjoying time with people I love: My Mom and brother (Hi Derek!) visited; I went to my beautiful friend’s (Hi Cheryl!) bridal shower with a ton of great gals; I brought lunch to my sister-in-law and her sister to meet her newest baby (Hi Angel and Vanessa!); had my brother-in-law for a short visit (Hi Jeff!); and I got to visit and have dinner with my cousin-in-law’s family (Hi Jason and Amanda!). Such fun, and I’m so grateful for everyone.
  • Someone made me day by visiting here after Googling “catahoula husky mix.” The description of Alaska on my Characters page led them here and it not only made me happy to see a random visitor but made my heart melt that she can still exist via this great interweb thing we have. Whoever you are, I hope you give your dog (catahoula leopard or not a huge hug from me.
  • I headed back out to the yard this weekend. Jeremy and I made a good start with some snapdragons and veggie container garden, but we hit a stopping point with cost and arrangement. My Mom was able to wrangle me away from the frustrated edge and we made some beautiful decisions to liven the front yard.

I hope you are feeling accomplished. It’s a great feeling, even over little things! C’mon and tell me, I’ll celebrate with you.