Tuesday, October 27, 2015

mermaid costume

I think I found my calling....costumes. I love love love making them. I find it relaxing and fulfilling creating something using household items, fabric and a few clothing pieces. This year our daughter wanted to be a mermaid and we built our theme around it. She likes to call herself Ariel, but we went with a Peter Pan theme and I’m having so much fun creating our ensemble. 
This mermaid costume is by far the most complicated costume I have made, but it was still simple. I took to Pinterest for inspiration for what I did and didn’t want to do. I really wanted to make her costume feel like a real mermaid even though she is a little girl. She was adamant about having a bra like real mermaids so I had to be creative with how I made it, knowing she needed to still be covered up.

I started by hitting the fabric store a couple months back to get an idea for fabric. I chose this turquoise blue sequin fabric that has a teeny bit of stretch to make a basic skirt. I hemmed all my edges using a serger and added some fun elastic tulle trim to the top of the skirt. Once my skirt was made, I started on the tulle for the tail fin. I cut all my tulle into squares and just like tissue paper, I picked up each square from the middle and then twisted and ironed it. This created a wrinkle effect on the tulle so it wasn’t so princess fluffy. 
To attach my tulle, all I used was my hot glue gun. A little dot and gently press each piece into place. I arranged my pieces so it was higher on the sides and dipped into a low V in the front and back to create a fin look. 
The bodice is a nude colored leotard. I used the same fabric from the skirt {just a different color} to make the base for the bra. I sewed it onto the leotard using a loose straight stitch and bought different types of pearl like trim to decorate. The seashell finishes the top. I sprayed it with spray adhesive glue and dusted it with fine glitter. 
Kensi loves her finished costume and I’m so excited how it turned out. I can’t wait to see all of our costumes together this weekend for our fun Peter Pan theme!

Monday, October 26, 2015

pumpkin painting playdate

This year we planned several activities for October with pumpkin painting being one of them. We always spend an evening painting and carving pumpkins, but this year was special since Kensi was able to have a friend. Last weekend we spent our Saturday visiting the pumpkin patch and I was able to hit a few places in Raleigh to pick up a few fun pieces for our parties. 

While at the pumpkin patch we found the perfect sized pumpkins for littles to paint. I love these pumpkins because they have a long stem that’s easy for the girls to hold and it’s enough surface space to paint without adding gobs and gobs of paint that will eventually flake off. 
Finn focused on eating his apple and that was about it. 

After painting we served up individual dishes of homemade mac and cheese and hot roast beef sandwiches. For dessert our sweet friends spoiled is with pumpkin and cream cheese filled croissants. They were so delicious and only a few were left over for breakfast, but then they magically disappeared!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

beach swings + apple fritters

We are so excited to have cooler weather not only because it means wearing sweaters and boots, but we plan our weekly lunch date with Mike down by the water. 
We went today and although it was in the high 70's the ocean breeze made it cool enough. The best thing about dining near the beach is sitting in one of the many porch swings. They line the street and sidewalk down in Southport and boardwalk at Carolina Beach. It's so cozy. 
Before packing up our lunch, Kensi, Finn and I made Spiced Apple Fritters. Yes I said Finn. He was having meltdown after meltdown not being held, so I ended up doing most of the fritters one handed. I really was cutting time close trying to get these done before we had to leave and I probably should have held off, but they sounded so good and I knew they would be so much fun to eat down by the swings. 
Growing up, my mom would make apple fritters for breakfast, but instead of chopping the apples she would cut them into rings. We ate them with powdered sugar and maple syrup. This recipes I used today was adapted from one I found on All Recipes. I adjusted the sugar to make it sweeter and added some fun spices to really bring out the apple flavor.
Once we met Mike and picked the perfect swing for lunch, Kensi could not wait any longer. She was so excited to show Mike what we made. We each dove our hands into the paper bag to grab a warm cinnamon-sugar coated apple fritter dusted with powdered sugar and sipped on cider. They were the perfect way to start and finish our lunch, although I was covered in powdered sugar by the end of our date. Luckily it was well worth it. 
Unfortanelty, we were in such a rush getting out of the house and too excited to eat them that I forgot to snap a photo of these yummy treats, but chances are we'll make them again this weekend and I'll share a photo. Until then, I hope you try these festive bites! 

Spiced Apple Fritters
1-1/2 cups Unbleached Flour
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice (we like Penzy’s)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
2/3 cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Apples, peeled & chopped  (we like Pink Lady)

Vegetable or Canola Oil
Cinnamon Sugar Mixture (1 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup cinnamon)
Powered Sugar (for dusting)

Mix up your Cinnamon Sugar mixture and place in a small paper bag. This makes it easier to toss the fritters in after they’ve been fried.
Fill a heavy pot or cast iron skillet with 1-1/2 inches of oil and heat to about 375 degrees F. I like to place one apple piece or a drip of my batter into the oil and once it starts to fry i know my oil is hot and ready.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, white sugar, baking powder, Apple Pie Spice and salt. Set aside. 
In another bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract. 
Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Fold in chopped apples.
When the oil is ready, drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil and fry. Don’t forget to turn the fritters to cook to an even golden brown. Once done, remove the fritters and let them drain on paper towels and cool briefly. Then toss in cinnamon sugar bag and shake. Place them on a cooling rack lined with paper towels underneath. Finish by dusting with powdered sugar.

Enjoy & Happy Friday Eve!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

naylor family farm

On Friday we decided to find a different pumpkin patch and went to Naylor Family Farm in Raleigh. This farm had several fun activities and Kensi had a ball. Between the play set, train, jumping pillows, goats, corn maze, hayride and homemade pumpkin ice cream we were worn out once we left. Finn didn't get to participate too much and watched Kensi have all the fun, but I'm sure he won't let that happen next year! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

kon mari: pantry

I came across the KonMari book a few weeks ago and once I started reading I was hooked. I couldn't wait to start decluttering our home, and we have had a lot of clutter. We're not dirty or messy people, but with two kiddos and toys everything seems to become cluttered quickly. On top of that you've heard me rant about the lack of organized storage we have in this house, so this book just pushed the issue of creating a home for everything that sparked joy.

When we first started with our clothes, it took us an entire day. We went through Mike's, mine, the kids' and even all the stored baby clothes. At the end of the day we had eight bags of give away and trash! That was just clothes. It was appalling how much we had held onto because mostly were baby gifts or the hope of wearing something again...someday, but lets be honest, that someday never came. I had shoes I had never worn because they were so uncomfortable and tons of baby blankets and burp cloths that were never used.

Our closet still has not been remodeled with a system of shelves yet, but dang it looks so much better! 
Every few days I try and focus on another category, but truthfully it can be a challenge. I can't count how many times I've gone through toys and books just to find them all out and intermingling with the other toys because Kensi and Finnley found the bag to give away. That's the hard part. 

This past week my focus was the panty and kitchen. I first went through all our utensils and appliances, then made my way to our pantry. It's embarrassing to admit how much stuff was stored in there simply because I could hide it with the doors. We keep our big appliances on the floor because they're too heavy for the shelf. Dog food, seasonal stuff, bags of rice and beans, cookbooks, baking stuff, small stuff, big stuff, all sorts of stuff. Ugh, look at this before. I can't believe I'm sharing this! I never thought my pantry would look like this, it actually looked worse before my few baskets.

{yikes!!!!} I always wanted an organized beautiful pantry filled with baskets and containers so it didn't look junky with all the boxes. This was just my motivation to run in that direction. Because it's a pantry and it can be hidden, it gets ignored. But truthfully, why not make it beautiful? It's used every. single. day.

I started by pulling over the trash can and a paper bag to throw in boxes to be recycled and items to give away. I still need to pick up another basket for a few things and bought a few BHG Flip-Tite containers {love these and they’re less expensive than the competitor brand} to store items just so I didn't have a bazillion bags everywhere causing spills later. 
I know this is only the first phase of organizing our pantry, but it makes me excited to continue moving forward and making our way to our full vision for house. Plus, this little bit has already made a huge difference!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

hump day hacks: books on cd

With two kiddos and trying to run around making errands, sometimes our car rides can get a little crazy. We are all about some easy go to activities in the car for the kiddos. I don't like having a ton of little things in the car simply because it's the easiest way for the car to become messy, fast. We're still finding window clings and little dinosaurs from our last road trip in July. 

Kensi loves books and she just discovered all my books on CD from teaching. We started to keep a handful of them in the back of the driver and passenger seats. In my classroom, I always taped the CD to the inside back cover of the book and it worked great, but for the car we pulled out one our old soft zip CD case and keep them all in there. K loves it because she can pick out a book and we just pop in the CD and she gets extra reading in! Not to mention Finn benefits too! Totally beats playing a game or watching a movie on the iPad all the time. 

Happy Hump Day! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

more outdoor fun

We're always working on something around here, it doesn't matter what time of the day, week or month. Our weather is teetering back and forth between cool and humid-warm. It's not quite sweater weather, at least not during the day, but that doesn't stop me from snuggling up in my favorites. It is beginning to get cooler at night which means it's the perfect time for a fire pit! 

We worked on building ours Saturday morning and we were able to use it the the next night. We actually picked up a little DIY pamplet at Home Depot. They have Fire Pit Kits you can purchase, but we ended up buying everything separately because we wanted a different ring. We also added another row of stone to add height with the kiddos. The project was very simple and Kensi ended up helping Mike put in all the small bricks, while I applied the glue. 
We had celebratory hot dogs and smores because what's better than that?!?! Unfortunately, since all the rain we had over the last week, thousands of mosquitoes have come back so now we're waiting for those little blood suckers to go away. But once they're gone, there will be so many nights full of memory making under these stars around this fire. I can hardly wait! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

costume fun

The last few weeks I've been working for our Halloween costumes. Gathering final ideas to make our theme all come together can be time consuming, but I'm such a procrastinator, I was determined to start it earlier this time around. And with a three year old you can really only start so early because they're constantly changing their minds. For months K went back and forth between Rapunzel and Vanelope Von Sweet {Wreck It Ralph}. We even bought her a Rapunzel costume  believing it would be it until she changed her mind yet again at the beginning on September. Now that we have a theme that isn't allowed to be changed I can happily say our costumes are well underway! 

We’ve had a lot of people ask what theme we’re doing this year. Kensi finally decided she wanted to be a mermaid so we started brainstorming theme ideas around that. The obvious one is Little Mermaid or Under the Sea, but we opted for the Peter Pan theme instead. I’m actually really excited about this one! I wanted to put a little twist on the traditional costumes that tend to go with Peter Pan like Wendy, Peter and Hook; so instead we’re going with...

leotard, fitted skirt drapping with tulle & accented with shells |

Lost Boy
| waffle knit pajamas, vest, animal tail & ears |

Tiger Lily
| brown dress/skirt or brown shaw with accents, feather headband & fringe boots |

Peter Pan
| green pants, long green top with added belt & hat |

 I knew we would need one main character for our theme to be recognizable. I'm going for more of a rustic look and using felt and tulle combined with clothing items to make our costumes because it’s inexpensive and easy to work with. I still have a lot to do, but these costumes are relatively simple which always keeps it fun!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

nutty & crunchy chocolate bark

Mondays are not usually too bad around here, at least not Monday nights. It’s when we hang out with our life group which is made of other couples and singles around our age. Every few weeks we try and plan something to breakup the book we’re reading like movie nights, dinners or a fun outing. One week we spent the evening at Defy Gravity and to see a bunch of adults trying to balance on ropes and bounce around is actually pretty entertaining.
This week we planned a movie night showing The Burbs. After Mike and I spent last Saturday night digging out our grass to redesign our landscape line the guys only thought it was appropriate since Mike felt like he was doing the unthinkable while it was dark, raining and muddy. Our friends hosted and provided delicious popcorn and apple cider drinks. So YUM! We knew you can’t have a movie night without some sort of candy. Kensi and I made candy bar bark with everything you need when you want a candy bar; sweet, salty & crunchy!

Nutty & Crunchy Chocolate Bark
16 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 cup Ruffled Potato Chips, crunched up
1/4 cup Sliced Almonds, toasted
1/4 cup Salted Peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup Coconut Chips, toasted
1/4 cup Mini Marshmallows

So here’s how to put it together....
Start by melting my chocolate chips, vanilla and cinnamon in a metal or glass bowl over simmering water. Once this was all melted and gooey add in the crunched up potato chips. Carefully stir together and pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spread it out into a thin layer. Add your toppings: peanuts, sliced almonds, coconut and marshmallows. Finish by adding a light sprinkle of salt and pop it in the fridge until it hardens, about an hour. When you’re ready to serve it up, slice it with a sharp knife.

I think the best part about this bark is the crunched up potato chips inside the chocolate. I know most recipes call for rice cereal instead, but seriously there’s just something about the salted chip crunching with the chocolate. There’s really no better combo than sweet and salty. I hope you all enjoy this as much as we do!
Happy Tuesday!

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