Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween treat!

Happy Halloween, my dearies!

I hope to have too-cute-for-words pictures of my kiddos in their Halloween garb up soon, but in the meantime, I have a super-sweet treat for you.

By now, you all know of my love for Darling Clandestine perfume and earringsFor the new folks, Darling Clandestine is my friend Evonne's Etsy store, and everything in it is AMAZEBALLS.  Evonne often posts discounts for her items on the Darling Clandestine facebook page, and today she shared a whopper: 

"Full-sized bottles and solids, buy one, get one. TODAY ONLY. Type "Everybody scream!" in your message to seller, plus your choice of free perfume."

Isn't that awesome?  After I take the kids trick-or-treating, I'm heading over to Darling Clandestine for some treats of my own.  And because this deal is so good--essentially, it's a 50% off coupon--I'm going to get started on my Christmas shopping as well. 

It's difficult to buy perfume, and darn near impossible when you can't smell it before you purchase it. But trust me when I say that Evonne's creations are amazing.  My top five favorites are Step Right Up, Cloudswing, Circassian, Carny Wedding and Tilt-a-Whirl.  I love these, and I can guarantee you that I am wearing one of them every single day. You'll love them, too.

And if you're still having trouble buying perfume before smelling it, Evonne sells sample size vials at Darling Clandestine.  Buy some samples, find your favorites, and then become a fan on facebook to receive discount codes for future purchases.  If you are willing to take a leap of faith, then buy today using the "Everybody scream!" code, as this is the best discount I've ever seen her offer. 

Have a happy Halloween, and be sure to treat yourselves!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Candy concerns

For most people (mostly the under 12 set), Halloween is all about the candy and costumes come in at a distant second place. For me, Halloween is equal parts spooky decorations, family traditions, fun costumes and delicious candy.  Unfortunately, candy is usually my dilemma...I'm trying to find the perfect amount of candy to have on hand.  It's crucial to have just the right amount:  too little and we run out thereby disappointing adorable trick-or-treaters, too much and I end up eating it all and my butt gets bigger.  And no matter how much I buy each year, I always hope to have a few pieces left over for me. Just a few.

Buying candy might be the scariest part of Halloween for me.

This year, we have 335 pieces of candy for trick-or-treaters:

I sorted the candy by what the Big Guy and I like and what we don't like. The stuff we don't like gets distributed immediately (Whoppers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Baby Ruth, etc.).  

I reserved a good supply of what we do like (Snickers, Twix, Butterfinger, etc.) to distribute last. That way, if there's any leftover candy it will be the stuff we like. And by "a good supply," I mean I reserved a full 1/3 of our Halloween candy supply for us.  Like I said, I don't want to be stuck with too much candy leftover.

Of course, if enough trick-or-treaters are coming to our door, I'll give out our reserved candy.  But not before I pilfer my own kids' candy bags to give out the stuff I won't eat or don't want them to have. And not before making a quick check in the basement to see if there are any old birthday favors to give out. Or before I check the pantry to see if I have small packages of crackers or gum I can hand out to kids.  And not before I give out any candy left from last year's Halloween, and any loose change I may have around the house.  Just keeping it real! 

But, per my iron-clad rule about Halloween, trick-or-treaters not wearing costumes won't get anything at all:

Because if you come to my door on Halloween looking for candy but not wearing a costume, I don't consider that trick-or-treating. I consider that to be lazy youth looking for a sugar handout. 

Get a costume, slacker! 

And don't even get me started on the repercussions of ringing my doorbell before or after the official trick-or-treat times set by the city (4:00-7:30pm for Aurora).  That's when things really get scary!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin picking

Last weekend we took the kids pumpkin picking. It was a very mild fall day and everyone enjoyed the outing.

The good folks at the pumpkin farm warned us that the harvest had been poor this year.  By the time we got there, the biggest pumpkins had been picked and most of the rest were claimed by bugs.  All I could think of when I looked at the rotting pumpkins was "Gosh, these would be perfect for my compost bin!"  But the Big Guy wouldn't let me put them in the wagon. Boo!

Little Guy and I happily traipsed through the fields looking for unblemished pumpkins.  It took a while, but we eventually found five small-to-medium size pumpkins that would work for our family.  I was really pleased that the Little Guy, without any reminder or assistance from me, remembered to pick out a pumpkin for Barley.

Little Miss was interested in the activity, but I think she was a bit intimidated by the tall weeds and grasses.  She didn't stray far from the wagon and was happy to jump back in when the pumpkins started arriving.

On the way back to the farm, we saw a black and orange caterpillar crawling on the ground.

Pumpkin picking was fun, but seeing this tiny creature might have been the highlight of the trip.

The kids were thrilled to "ooh!" and "aah!" over this bug for several minutes.  Good times!

Last year, the Little Guy and I went on our own to pick out pumpkins for the whole family.  Now that Little Miss is bigger, we've turned this into a tradition that the whole family can enjoy.  This weekend, we'll carve the pumpkins. While the kids can't help out too much because of their ages (giving a butcher knife to a 4 year old is never a good idea), that will change in a few years and pumpkin carving will become a tradition as well.

For basic pumpkin carving info, click here.  For great tips on carving pumpkins, click here.  Interested in making monogrammed pumpkins?  Click here.

Happy picking and carving!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kids' crafts for Halloween

Lately, I've been finding a lot of inspiration for fun kid crafts on Pinterest. And just in time for Halloween, I found these great projects using hand and foot prints.  With MOM2 and neighbor Yogita's help, our kids got to turn their hand and foot prints into some fun Halloween art.

Using regular craft paint (which washed off those little hands and feet quite well), the kids made hand print spiders, foot print ghosts and hand print stems on pumpkins.  Now all they have to do is draw in the faces.

Check out my "Kids Crafts and Activities" board on Pinterest. There are lots of fun hand/foot print art ideas for animals, holidays, and special occasions.  This project went really well and the kids had a lot of fun...can you guess what we'll be doing when Thanksgiving comes around?

Happy kid crafting!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Martha Monday--Curtains and cookies

Halloween is one week away...I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. This is such a fun time of year, and it will be even more so for us because Little Miss is really getting into the holiday.  She is enjoying all the bat and spider decorations, and the Little Guy is teaching her to say "Trick or Treat." I doubt she'll learn by next Monday, but it is a real joy to watch them practice "trick-or-treating" around the house.

This weekend, I put up a Witch's Curtain.  Here is what Martha's Witch's Curtain looks like: 

Martha's Witch's Curtain is made from a heavy-duty garbage bag--you can find the instructions here. The only black garbage bags I had on hand are the super-duper-heavy-duty contractor's bags, so I used a  plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Tree.  Here's my Witch's Curtain:

It's not quite the same, but I like the effect.  I used plastic hooks to hang it, but tape was also necessary to secure it to the porch area.

And with that, I am officially done decorating for Halloween!

I also managed to bake a batch of Martha's Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing this weekend:

The Little Guy and Little Miss helped.

I've blogged about these cookies before. The recipe makes a tremendous amount--it says six dozen, and I get about seven dozen cookies each time I make it.  Also, the recipe calls for piping the batter onto the cookie sheet. I don't think this is necessary. I've tried both piping the batter and plopping it onto the sheet with a spoon, and both methods work equally well. Save yourself the clean-up and just use a spoon.

Only one more week until one of the funnest days of the year!  Happy haunting!

Friday, October 21, 2011


My house is almost entirely decorated for Halloween. My "Girls Night Out" painting is over the mantel along with all sorts of witchiness.

I suspended my straw witch just under the mantel with some sewing thread and sticky hooks. 

New to the spooky setting this year are mice and raven silhouettes from Martha Stewart Crafts. 

The mice are running up and down the hallway and partially up the stairs. The ravens are gathered in the dining room.

My fun witch silhouette is in an upstairs bedroom. She's also from the Martha Stewart Crafts line. I scored all three silhouette packages at this year's Wilton tent sale.

 From the outside you can see the witch, the bats and all the lights.  I am loving how the decorations turned out this year!  Take a look on facebook to see the full show.

I have just one more project for the outside, and if all goes well this weekend I'll share it with you on Monday.  Happy decorating, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Halloween printables

Hosting a Halloween party or providing spooky treats to your favorite kiddos?  Here's a great round-up of the best free Halloween party printables available.  Enjoy!

Catch My Party has several collections of free Halloween printables. This "Trick or Treat" collection is especially cute and includes cupcake toppers/party labels, water bottle labels, cupcake wrappers, and a large cobweb “welcome” sign. I really like the spiderweb cupcake topper, and I'd love to recreate the design on a cookie.  Which I would then label with the spiderweb topper. Awesome!

Kim from the Celebration Shoppe was recently featured in the Better Homes and Gardens Tricks and Treats issue.  She is offering her Candy Corn collection free to her facebook fans. "Like" and share the Celebration Shoppe to download too-cute cupcake toppers and more. 

Hostess With the Mostess has several free printables for parties and craft projects.  The "Spellbound Sweets" collection is gorgeous, and includes decorative signs, candy display banners, treat banners, pattern sheets, and foldover treat labels.  Best of all, these printables come in two versions--one with pre-filled labels and one blank so you can make your own labels.

Enjoy these free printables, and thanks so much to the blogs/websites and artists for sharing!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October BUNCO

I'm in a fun BUNCO club that meets once a month. We each take turns hosting, and I leapt at the chance to host our October event.  Everyone came over last Friday, and we had a great time.  Here are some pictures from my Halloween BUNCO:

I'm not a big wine drinker, so I'm always happy when my wine glasses are used.

I borrowed this awesome beverage dispenser and candy dish from a neighbor.  The set is from Pottery Barn.

Since desserts are my thing, that's what I focused on with broken glass cupcakes, caramel surprise cookies and candy-covered pretzels. 

The pretzels were made using Wilton's skeleton fingers and witch fingers candy molds.  I just love these things!

The utensil/napkin caddy is from my friend Shannon (Hi, Shannon!) and all the party ware is stuff I picked up last year on clearance after Halloween.  I know lots of people use coordinated plates/napkins/cupcake toppers/everything for a party, and I really like that look, but that's just not in my budget.  My bottom line is that if the plates/utensils/etc. are clean enough to eat off of, then we're good to go!

Neighbor and BUNCO player Jenn brought these adorable hot dog mummies.  This is adorable!  I've seen these in magazines before, but I've never attempted to make them myself.  They were cute and tasty!  The mummy wrapping is cut-up crescent roll dough--these would be a real treat for the kids in your life for Halloween.  I know they were a treat for me!

I was so happy to host October BUNCO. I haven't hosted a Halloween party in years, so it was great to finally have one and be able to show off my haunted house for friends.  Now I'm definitely in the holiday spirit.