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10.31.2014

October Crush List

Happy Halloween everybody!

Another month come and gone.  Here's what I'm crushing on lately.
1 - 3-Piece Mango Wood Guardian Set from CB2
2 - American Buffalo print from The Animal Print Shop
3 - Nook Side Table from West Elm
4 - Lots of Dots Laptop Case from Kate Spade Saturday
5 - Bright Tea Towels from Quel Objet

Update: I ordered the Nook Side Table. Can't wait!

10.29.2014

Halloween Cookies

Madeleine and I made some Halloween cookies last weekend!
I used the sugar cookie recipe from this cookbook, and was not impressed with the recipe. The dough was really hard to work with - super crumbly. After they were baked the cookies were really heavy and dense. They tasted okay, but I've had better.
As a kid, when we decorated Christmas cookies my mom would present us with the raw shaped cookies on a tray. We would paint each cookie with egg whites and then sprinkle sugar crystals on top. You bake them after they are decorated. I've done the whole royal icing thing before, but the sugar crystals are my favorite. I love the mix of the soft sugar cookie with the crunch of the crystals - plus it's more fun for kids to decorate them this way in my opinion.
Seamus didn't help decorate them, but he definitely helped eat them.
Extreme close up!
Please let me know your favorite sugar cookie recipes. I need to find a better one than this.

10.27.2014

Let's Go To The Movies - St. Vincent and Fury

I went to the movies twice this weekend! Seriously, twice. What's up with that?

Friday night, my girlfriend and I went to see St. Vincent starring Bill Murray.

The premise - grumpy, bitter, jaded old man meets cute kid who changes him for the better. It's not a new idea for a film by any means, but it didn't feel stale. I enjoyed it - very sweet and funny. Bill Murray was great (although his Brooklyn accent took me a while to get used to). It was the supporting cast that was really stellar though - Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, and Chris O'Dowd, plus newcomer Jaeden Lieberher - each added a little something special that all together made for a delightful charmer of a film.

Saturday night, it was date night for Bill and me. We went to see Fury starring Brad Pitt.

This movie was excellent; just so, so good. Set in Germany during the final days of World War II, the "Fury" tank crew has been together years and seen it all. Brad Pitt commands not only a group of war weary soldiers, but the film as well. This may be his best performance to date! Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, and Jon Pernthal round out the seasoned crew. They may not always get along, but when it's time to fight they work together like a well-oiled machine. Logan Lerman plays the rookie gunman who acts as the eyes of the audiences. Through him we experience the devastation and chaos of war and come to understand how the horrific becomes the norm for those asked to put their lives on the line day after day; year after year. It's a compelling, must-see film.

If you can only see one of these films in the theater, Fury is the way to go. St. Vincent was good, but it will be just as good watching at home on Netflix.

What did you think of either (or both) of these films? Have you seen anything else good lately? Let me know!  

10.24.2014

Oh Boy, Oh Joy!

Oh Joy! is one of my favorite blogs - a daily read for me. She's collaborated for a few seasons now with Target to create really fun party supplies (see full collection here). Although all really cute stuff, I haven't really had a use for any of it until now. I was in desperate need of new oven mitts, so I snatched up the below mismatched pair along with a cute white and gold table runner as soon as her latest collection hit the shelves.
This is technically her Christmas collection, but so many of the pieces can be used for every day too. I can't wait to try out the runner after Halloween is over.

Just for the record, this was not a paid for or sponsored post (I wish).  I just wanted to share.

10.22.2014

Toddler Friendly Halloween Movies

I wanted to round up a few Halloween themed movies for Madeleine and Seamus to watch this year as we've already exhausted all the Halloween episodes of their favorite Disney Junior shows. After quite a few Google searches though, I realize there's a difference between "family friendly" and "toddler friendly" as far as Halloween movies go. Believe me, I can't wait for the day we can sit down and watch the classics like Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, or my favorite Hocus Pocus; but they're still too young for those yet. Not to mention, they have little interest in anything not animated. In fact, I'm not even sure they're ready for the likes of such animated classics as the Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline yet. So, I've put together a little list of Halloween films that I think are suitable for the 4 and under crowd.

1. Monsters, Inc. / Monsters University

Okay, so not specifically Halloween, but it's about monsters so it counts. We've seen Monsters, Inc. a few times, but not Monsters University yet. I picked it up for the kids to watch next week. I'm a fan of anything that is entertaining for parents too, and Pixar always delivers on that point. Monsters Inc will be on Disney October 26 and 27th and Monsters University will be on Starz October 30th.

2. Hotel Transylvania

We saw this one last year, and Madeleine seemed to enjoy it. All your favorite monsters are vacationing at the super secret Hotel Transylvania when - oh no! An unsuspecting human accidentally stumbles across them. This one is also pretty entertaining for parents too. This is going to air on FXX October 24, 25, and 28th.

3. The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
A classic. ABC already aired it, but it looks like they're going to air it again on October 30th.

4. Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest
We watched this one last night (Netflix instant) and it went over well. George and his friends investigate the legend of "No Noggin" the headless scarecrow. If you don't have Netflix, it looks like PBS kids is going to air it on October 28th.

I also found a few others that I don't see airing on TV anywhere, but maybe you can rent this season.

5. Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
We've not seen this one, but obviously Winnie the Pooh will be suitable for the little ones.

6. Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

We haven't seen this one either, but always a fan of Wallace & Gromit. Also, love anything claymation!

7. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

I'm such a fan of the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman may be a little scary for the kiddos yet, but I think with the help of some snuggles from mom and dad my kids could handle it and enjoy.

There you have it. Are there any others out there you'd recommend? Madeleine just started watching Scooby-Doo episodes on Netflix too. She gets scared by them, but knows now that the monsters are never real. Before every episode she declares that she is going to be brave. I won't let her watch it when Seamus is around though.

10.20.2014

Pumpkin Patch

We headed to the pumpkin patch last weekend - which was weird because it was 85° out...in mid-October. I'm used to bundling up kids for this annual trip, but this year we were pumping them with water and worried about sunburns. (You'd think I would know to carry it with me everywhere by now).

We went to MacDonald's Ranch in Scottsdale. I thought they had a pretty decent set-up. There were lots of different things for the kids to do like...

Practice their lasso skills.
Or, pan for gold.
And of course, there were lots of animals to pet.
We took a hayride to the pumpkin patch. They also had a train you could ride to the patch, so we took that on the way back. The kids had fun picking pumpkins and climbing all over everything.
We managed one awkward family photo while on the hayride.
Another fun October activity checked off the list. I'm not sure when we'll be carving our pumpkins though. It's still so hot here!! Everyone keeps telling me the temperature will drop after Halloween. Here's hoping!

10.17.2014

Mark Your Calendars

Kate Spade is coming to GapKids on October 30th!!!

I'm so excited for this collection. My preppy side is freaking out right now...and the bows - there will be so many bows!!!


Check out the Lookbook here! That navy bow dress is going to sell out super fast. So, cute! I wish they made it my size.

10.15.2014

A Hint of Mint - Take Two

I mentioned here that I'm looking for a very soft mint green for Madeleine's room. The first three colors we tried were too blue. Well, I went back and tried some colors more on the green side of the mint spectrum, but I still don't think we have a winner. Please note that I am not color blind. The paper samples of these all looked very minty. Even the paint in the can looked minty, but when it went up on the wall it was a whole different story.
These are the colors I sampled - all Benjamin Moore.

P - Parkside Dunes

N - Neon Celery

C - Celery Ice

L - Lime Froth

I - Iced Mint

I pulled all the above images from the Benjamin Moore website and they even look different here then they do on their website. So weird.

Anyway, the closest and one we all liked best was Neon Celery, but it's still not quite what I was envisioning. I've never had this much trouble finding the right color. At $5 a pop for samples this is starting to get expensive. Do I give it one more shot or just pick Neon Celery and be done with it. Anything is better than how it is now.

10.13.2014

Children's Book Report - The Numberlys

We added another great picture book to our home library recently, The Numberlys, written by William Joyce and illustrated by him and Christina Ellis. It's such a beautiful book and a cute story too.
The two things that caught my eye and convinced me to purchase were 1) the awesome art-deco black and white illustrations that obviously pay homage to the Fritz Lang film, Metropolis; and 2) the way it is laid out vertically instead of horizontal. Both make for a really unique picture book.
The story is great too. The Numberlys live a very organized, but dull life. Their world is nothing but numbers day-in and day-out. A small group of Numberlys start to wonder what if there was more than just numbers. They start manipulating the numbers, and after lots of hard work come up with letters! Suddenly, there is color in their black and white world. Soon, they learn to make words and the entire Numberly world is introduced to the colorful and fun world of letters.
This book was perfect for Madeleine as she's been learning her ABCs these past few months. She's been reciting them for a while, but didn't necessarily know them by site yet. This book was one of the tools we used to help her along. I highly recommend this book.

What are you reading your kids lately? We're going to the library soon to pick up some Halloween books to get us through the rest of the month.

10.10.2014

One More Thing for Halloween

I forgot I had one more Halloween decoration ordered! I ordered this glittery sugar skull from Zulily a few weeks ago. The tag on it says it is from a store called Gallerie II.
I put it on the bar to add a little bit of height and color.

I can't believe Halloween is only 3 weeks away! We still have to get to a pumpkin patch and buy candy for the Trick-or-Treaters.  The kids costumes are all set though.  Seamus is recycling Madeleine's old monkey costume this year from here. Madeleine is very excited for her wolf costume from here.

Do you have your kids costumes set yet? Are you making them or buying them? My parents always made ours and did such a great job. Maybe someday I'll get there.

10.08.2014

Lazy Day Hair

I've been struggling with a consistent morning routine for some time now. Thankfully the kids are FINALLY sleeping to at least 6am every morning. However, that still means I have to be dressed and ready by the time they wake up. Bill starts his workday at 5:30am, so it is essentially just me getting the kids up, dressed, and ready to leave by 7am each weekday. Every day I plan to be up by 5:30am, but unfortunately, my body seems to be really, really, really against waking up before 6am. Which then gives me about 10 minutes to get myself dressed and ready before I have to go into "mom" mode.

Occasionally on those days I wake up late I realize my hair is desperately in need of being washed (I can't go more than two days without washing it before it starts to look greasy) and I don't have time to shower. Enter my new favorite product...

DRY SHAMPOO!!


Remember when Herbal Essences was super popular in the 90's? They were my shampoo/conditioner of choice back in those days. At some point I went another direction, but they're still around. I decided to pick up their "naked" shampoo and conditioner (haven't tried them yet) and on a impulse picked up the dry shampoo as well.
Image from here
I have never tried dry shampoo before, and didn't know what to expect. If you're unfamiliar, it reminds me of blasting my hair with those compressed air canisters used to dust off your keyboards and such. I sprayed it all along my roots, scrunched it into my hair, and voila - no more greasy hair. It worked great!

So, if you're interested in ways to go longer without washing your hair (they say it's better for your hair) or, if you're like me and have just been choosing sleep over hygiene lately; then give dry shampoo a try.

Have you ever tried dry shampoo? What did you think? How long do you go between hair washes? Prior to this if I overslept my hair immediately went into a messy bun for the day. I'm happy to have found a lazy hair alternative.

Just for the record, this was not a paid for or sponsored post (I wish).  I think this is a good product, so I just wanted to share.


10.06.2014

6 Whole Years

Bill and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary over the weekend - what? Where did the time go? About a month ago I suggested we go to Las Vegas for our anniversary. His sister lives there, so we could visit family, but also have access to an overnight babysitter (Thanks, Sally!). We spent Friday and Saturday morning with the family, but on Saturday afternoon Bill and I headed downtown to the Bellagio where we had booked a room for the night.

I have always wanted to stay at the Bellagio. For some reason I see it as the fanciest of the Vegas hotels. It was actually pretty reasonably priced and we had a great view of the fountains. So, happy to cross that off my bucket list.
The Paris hotel was across the street. I told Bill that on some future anniversary I would like to be looking at the real Eiffel Tower.

Fun Fact. Did you know at the Bellagio they have a tv channel that just plays the music for the fountain show? You can't hear the music from inside the hotel, so it was great to tune into that channel to hear the music while watching the show out my window.

Anyway, after we arrived at the hotel we immediately....took a nap. Seriously, we were so tired from the drive and chasing kids everywhere that we passed out for like an hour and half. It was wonderful.

Next we headed to the Delano hotel for dinner at miX. I had the Roasted Main Lobster "Au Curry" served over coconut basmati rice. Bill had the Pepper Crusted Bison Tenderloin with glazed vegetables and black pepper sauce. We also ordered, as sides, the Sauteed Green Asparagus and Fork-Crushed Potatoes. For dessert I had the miX candy bar and Bill had vanilla ice cream with brownie bites. I also had the best moscato to drink. I need to find out what kind that was because it was so good. I had two glasses. We both really enjoyed the meal.

Next up, we headed to Mandalay Bay to see comedian Aziz Ansari. Right when he came out he said we could take pictures of him, so here he is pretending to be doing stand-up with a crazy penguin backdrop. Seriously, he just walked around and posed for a few minutes with all sorts of funny backgrounds just so the fans could take pictures.
He was hilarious. Such a good show.
When we got back to the hotel our view looked like this!!

We slept in to about 8am (yes, that is sleeping in for us), hung out with the family a little more, then headed out. We rolled back into Phoenix around 5pm.

We remembered to take one picture of us in the Bellagio conservatory before we left, which was all decked out for fall. So, pretty...the conservatory I mean, although we're not too bad looking either, I guess.
Here's to another year!

10.03.2014

Disney Project - Fun and Fancy Free

Next up was 1947's Fun and Fancy Free. This one was nice and short, but still really fun for kids.
Image from here
Jiminy Cricket is our guide through this film. He is first hanging out in what we think is the outdoors, but find out is just a house plant, and then continues to go exploring throughout the house. He gets chased by a cat into a little girl's room, named Luana, and bumps into a Teddy Bear. He then starts playing a record, and the first segment Bongo starts which is narrated and sung by Dina Shore. (This was another one I remember watching on the Disney Channel when I was a kid). Bongo is a little circus bear who escapes the circus train and goes off on an adventure in the wilderness. He doesn't know anything about living in the wild, but luckily there is a cute little girl bear there to help. They, of course, fall in love, but almost miss their happily ever after due to Bongo's lack of wild bear knowledge. Luckily it all works out in the end. (A real nail biter this one was).

We're then returned to Jiminy who stumbles upon a party invitation in Luana's room. He decides to hop over a few houses to check things out. The "party," as it turns out, is famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (Candace Bergen's dad), Luana, and two dummies. This part would never fly nowadays. Bill and I immediately were looking at each other like, WTF? I'm sure it was very sweet at the time, but it comes off very creepy now. Since there is no one else at this "party" except them, it was like he lured her there with puppets and maybe doesn't have the best intentions.

Luckily, he only wants to tell her the story of Mickey and the Beanstalk, phew. We've been watching this cartoon for quite some time now actually. Madeleine has this story as a Little Golden Book, and she loves it - like really, really loves it. This segment is available on Netflix instant, but instead of a creepy man telling the story they changed it to the cartoon character, Professor Ludwig Von Drake. A good change in my opinion. Anyway, Mickey and the Beanstalk is obviously just a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy instead.

So, that's Fun and Fancy Free. I enjoyed this one a lot. The cartoons are timeless, and we had a good laugh at the weird little "party" scene.

10.01.2014

October is here...

...so I thought it was time to decorate for Halloween!! I was so excited because I actually bought some new decorations this year. I've been wanting to vamp up our holiday decorating throughout the year, but it's tough to do. You only need them once a year, so you don't want to spend a fortune on them. Yet, if you wait until they go on sale then everything good is gone. So, I've decided to make a point to buy a few pieces at the beginning of the season with the hope that in a few years I'll have some really rocking displays.

For Halloween, I really wanted to do a Dia De Los Muertos theme (aka Day of the Dead). It's no secret that I love color and I've always been really drawn to those colorful sugar skulls you see around for this celebration. Needless to say, I added a lot of skeletons/skulls to the collection this year.
I may not love our fireplace (remember here), but mantels are great for holiday decorations.
These are all new decorations I bought in September from Grandin Road, which among other things, has great holiday decorations - especially Halloween.
This BOO marquee sign is so cute. They're metal letters with a battery on the back. They're no longer available though. I told you the good stuff goes fast. If you like the look though they currently have PEACE marquee letters for Christmas here. These are also great if you have a three year old who is learning her letters. Madeleine goes around saying "B - O - O spells Boo!!" all the time now.
The Happy Halloween Banner is still available here, and it's on sale too. Madeleine also enjoys calling out all the letters on this one too.
The Set of Two Ceramic Skulls is available here and also on sale. I bought a black set and a white set. I think they're my favorite new decoration. They are so sleek and cool.
Over by the tv I have two PartyLite lanterns that I have had for a while now. They have magnetic plates on them that snap on and off. They came with spiderwebs, leaves, and snowflakes so I can use them for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Then, I put the kids Trick-or-Treat buckets there too for some added color.

Update: Seamus immediately went for the lanterns as soon as he got home. They have been removed for safekeeping.

The living/dining room got a little bit more color, and is more on theme. The white set of skulls are hanging out in here. I picked up the table cloth at Target. I thought when I bought it that it would be reusable, but it's just a plastic party table cloth. Fun for this year though since I don't have much yet.
Seriously, these skulls are so cool. Maybe some day I'll paint these to look like sugar skulls.
The bookshelf got a some more Target decorations too - just check out their Halloween section. These are just paper, so won't last forever, but if I'm careful with them I'm sure I'll get quite a few years out of them.
The bar in the living/dining room has a small hodgepodge of things. There's an extra Trick-or-Treat bucket that I'll probably put the candy for the Trick-or-Treaters in. A trio of black Jack-O-Lanterns tealight holders. They have fun colored insides and were another PartyLite find from a few years ago. Then, my very cool Mariposa candy dishes - one shaped like a spider and one like a bat. I've had these for ages too. Pretty soon they'll be filled with candy corn and M&M's.

Finally, the front porch looks like this!
The skeleton was also from Grandin Road; new this year. He's no longer available, but easy enough to find a similar one other places still. Bill calls him Bones. I put Madeleine's red cowboy hat on him for fun. The door banner is from Target too.

Update: Madeleine immediately saw this and demanded her hat back.

So, there you have it. The very beginning of what will some day be a very cool Dia De Los Muertos themed Halloween. See, even my holiday decor has to be done piece by piece.