ellie’s first thanksgiving singalong

ellie had her first thanksgiving performance!

i came early to her class to snap some pics and a group pic, so i nabbed front row seating! i’m alllllll about the front row. ever since the girls started performing, i get crazy about getting a great seat. so much so that i tend to stress out about it too much. like so unnecessary. LOL

as i’ve gotten older…i feel i should be more chill. uh, nope. like who give a fcuk but it’s gotten worse! i’ll blame having kids…man, the responsibility, the pressure, the worrying…it’s on high all the time!

anyhoo, watching them practice their songs was so stinkin’ cute! watching little kids do their own thing or bumble around is so fun to see! their teacher encouraged them to sing   l o u d !! she did a great job letting them lead the songs while she did the choreograph and led them along that way.

soon the doors opened up and all the parents, grandparents, and family members filed in. for a nano second, i felt bad i didn’t encourage anyone on our side to come watch ellie perform! some people had 5 or 6 family members come by to watch their little ones perform! ellie just had me…but dang it, i’m more than enough! hahaha!

the kiddos performed quite a few songs…maybe 6 or 7 songs?? they all did such a great job and entertained everyone! my favorite ones are the kids that belt it out and are so animated! those are the ones that crack me up, they totally lead the show!

i was so proud of her! ellie did such a great job singing along and she nailed all the choreograph that went along with each song! way to go girl!

i’m so proud of you! you’ve come a long way since you started school and i love watching you shine!

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[practicing for their show]

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[my little cutie…she refused to wear anything on her head. LOL]

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[love this babe so much]

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[look at that sweet smile!]

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[she did so well!]

xoxo

you had me at starbucks

we try our best to see our friends matt and johann every other month…90% of the time, we are successful! we love these two and it always brings us joy seeing them!

they are always so gracious and always offer to come out by us but we love chicago and will take any chance we can get to hang out there.

we decided to meet downtown, have lunch at blue door and attempt, i repeat, attempt to get in the new starbucks reserve roastery.

lunch was fabulous. i love the blue door and the space is so quaint, vintage, and modern. the food is always on point and delicious and so is the service. when we arrived, ellie was not warming up to anything. she insisted on sitting by me and was not friendly with matt and johann…it had nothing to do with them, just her always being fickle.

she slowly warmed up to them and we all were enjoying ourselves with libations flowing and good food before us. as we were catching up with life, matt and johann asked us a very serious question. they asked us to be the godparents to the their future adoptive child. cue the tears. like tears jumped out of my eyeballs. i was so touched, so honored, so full of love that they felt that, out of all the people in their lives…they chose us to step into that role. i immediately replied yes. YES…i felt compelled and it felt right to say yes to such a request. of course hc said yes as well! okuuuuuurrrr, that made the day fantastic!

after lunch, we walked over to the new starbucks, secretly hoping that it would not be busy. LOL the weather and temps were amazing. a beautiful sunny day with temps in the 40’s…hello! as we turned down erie street, we were like no. oh helllllll no. the line stretched almost a city block. with the place being open only a couple days paired with warmer sunny temps, on a weekend, that was a combo for disaster.

we immediately said no and walked our way to the peninsula hotel and settled our tushies into a cozy booth at the z bar. yes…we went from drinking and eating to drinking and eating. hahahaha!

our day was fabulous. just perfect. we loved seeing matt and johann and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. when you fill your time with amazing friends and family…you win at life.

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[the boys]

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[my favorite brunch drink…mmmmmm]

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[love this babe so much]

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[i love christmas time and all the decor]

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[my loves]

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[biscuits and gravy]

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*****

P E N I N S U L A  H O T E L

Z BAR

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[she loves nina]

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[johann…so darn good with the girls]

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[she loves her guncle johann]

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[oh you know…it’s only 38 degrees outside]

xoxo

olive’s birthday

olive’s birthday fell on the day before thanksgiving this year. every year, it rotates around the holiday. when she was born, it was actually the day before thanksgiving. she was born way, way early on wednesday morning and we spent thanksgiving at prentice hospital. the one thing i can say about that was, the food was actually pretty darn good!

we were still reeling from her fabulous birthday party the saturday prior and i wanted to make sure her actual birthday was special!

i decorated the kitchen and made her a mer-fabulous breakfast! i was super bummed because i knew we had a can of whipped cream in our fridge but little did i know that it was e m p t y. suuuuuper bummed! it was was my ‘glue’ for the sprinkles i was going to put on her waffles! no matter, i got creative as usual.

olive looooooved her breakfast! she kept saying it was the best breakfast she ever had. well, thanks baby girl…you’re the sweetest!

after breakfast, we went to target so she could pick out her birthday present! she was so excited and we had so much fun running around our favorite store. after an hour or so, we headed back home so she could open up her treasures. all afternoon, we just hung out and she played with her sister while i did stuff around the house.

once hc arrived home, we had dinner, and celebrated her birthday with cake and candles! her day was low key but oh so fun. we loved lounging around and i was having the best time with my S I X year old. whhhhhhaaaa? or wahhhhhhhh!

happy birthday my sweet olive. we love you to infinity and beyond!

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[waffles, sprinkles, seashells, and mermaid tail!]

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[deconstructing the masterpiece]

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[enjoying her breakfast]

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[my sweet six year old]

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xoxo

mermaid fete

per usual, i asked olive what theme she desired for her birthday fete and she declared she wanted a mermaid party! alrighty girlfran!

well, with olive now being in kindergarten…i knew i was going to throw her first friends party and the question was where?? i had stumbled upon the cuuuuuuutest play space called waterlemon several months back and fell in love. the space, aesthetically, is a dream.

nina, the owner, connected with me and we just hit it off! she is bubbly, sweet, smart, and passionate with everything that she does! i knew waterlemon was the place to host olive’s party!!!! it is a beautiful space, the shop is the cutest, and the play area is perfection!

a few weeks leading up to the event, nina and i exchanged one million emails and she was so freakin’ amazing with allllllllll my questions and concerns. she was prompt, patient, and oh so helpful! i was so thankful for her support…it was the first time i was throwing a party outside of our home and the controlling, type A me, who fretted over all the details, was feeling so confident with nina’s guidance.

i diy’d, i detailed, i went a bit overboard with all the decor {naturally} but as i have said in the past…i love it and hate it at the same time but in the end…i love it just a wee bit more.

the day had arrived and we were ready. we hauled all our supplies the day prior and then brought over all the perishables and any supplies we had forgotten the day of. i walked in and was warmly greeted by nina and went to work. let me tell you…paul and nina hustle! they cleaned, they organized, they set up, and they helped me with anything i needed help with. i was so grateful!

one detail i never overlook are flowers. i love flowers. flowers complete any party i throw and i was beyond excited that nina purchases and arranges flowers herself! we collaborated on what i envisioned and she came through! the flowers turned out gorgeous!!!

everyone buzzed around like busy bees. paul, nina, my hubby, and my sister were so wonderful. i was so thankful for my sister, thuy, who assisted me throughout the event. if i didn’t have her help…i would have been a mess and bless her heart for dealing with my high strung, anxiety ridden nature pre-party!

well, we did it…we set the party up just in time and the guests started to arrive. immediately, the girls all meshed and started playing while some parents dropped off and some parents stayed.

the party was a beautiful success! the girls loved the play area and kept themselves entertained the entire time. for a moment, before the party took place, i thought about having the girls do a craft or something fun outside of the play area but nina reassured me that the time flew by and the kids love playing in the space and that was all that was needed. she was right!

they played, and after 45 minutes, they ate, then they played again, then we sang happy birthday and had cake, and then the party was about to end. whaaaaaaaaa?!

we had a great time with the parents that stayed {thanks mike, elias, valerie, kiersten, elisa, and kristin for sticking around!}. 4 o’clock rolled around so fast and i was a bit sad that the party was ending!

hosting a party at waterlemon is easy because paul and nina make it so!!! you party, you leave, and they clean up! not only are they so sweet and thoughtful…their goal is to make it as seamless as possible for those who want to entertain there!

olive and her friends had a GREAT time together {check out the pics!} and i was so happy we chose waterlemon as our party space.

happy birthday my sweet girl…our love for you is immeasurable. the day you were born, my life changed dramatically and i thank God everyday that my journey is this ~ to be a mom…to be your mom {and ellie’s}. thank you for being such an amazing daughter and i wish you endless years of joy, laughter, and love.

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[her mermaid party invitation suite]

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[olive’s bespoke mermaid dress by annie casale…it just came out of the box, so pardon the wrinkled appearance!]

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[the sea inspired tablescape]

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[i love fine-tuning the details! shell dessert plates with iridescent plates]

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[dessert table]

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[i had so much fun decorating the cake!]

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[my whole heart]

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[mer cookies, scale 6 sign, and gorgeous flowers by nina]

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[lucy, olive, me and ellie]

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[coral]

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[such a gorgeous dress]

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[me and valerie]

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[food table]

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[crabby croissant]

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[sweet luisa]

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[sea water]

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[bubbly and wine for the adults]

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[the crew!]

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[the crabby croissant hanging out in the sand and seaweed]

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[madison and isabel being silly!]

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[ready for cake!]

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[happy birthday to you!]

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[make a wish!]

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[the sweetest sisters]

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[party favors included two bath bombs, rock candy stick, mermaid cookies, mermaid tail bookmark, tattoos, and a mermaid tail soap]

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xoxo

pumpkin carving night

ever since olive could paint a pumpkin, we’ve always invited our family over to our house to carve pumpkins. maybe do dinner and the kids would have fun outside {based on the weather} or in the garage and carve pumpkins!

this year, we decided to do it the weekend before halloween…as halloween fell on thursday.

everyone came over late afternoon and i had made a couple appetizers to tide everyone over while we waited for kim and famille to arrive with the chili. i was so geeked out to make my spooky charcuterie board! i pulled a sheet of white paper off the girl’s drawing roll…i kind of wished it was bigger but that was what i had, i used that as the ‘board’. i had purchased so much cheese and accroutrements that it turned out way bigger than expected, so there was no room for me to write out the components onto the piece of paper. bummer but no matter…i’m always extra anyways. LOL

i filled and filled and filled the sheet with cheese, crackers, and all sorts of jam. then made a spidery onion dip with chips. it all turned out so cute, if i say so myself! the apps were a hit and were quickly gobbled up!

slowly everyone arrived and we just hung out and relaxed. kim and terry finally arrived with the chili that was so delicious! hc started to prepare the toppings and soon we were all feasting on all sorts of yummy food!

the girls were the only ones who ended up painting pumpkins as no one brought over any pumpkins to carve. i was bummed as i love seeing everyone’s finished products! no matter, the girls had so much fun painting their pumpkins and everyone had full bellies and full hearts.

it was another successful family get together and so much holiday fun!

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[bat girl]

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[my charcuterie ‘board’…it did it on paper. if i had more time or space…i would have written out the make up of it onto the paper!]

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[daaaaaaaaaang i look old and tired AF in this pic]

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[boo bar]

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[hc]

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[buggy swizzle sticks]

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[silly uncle dan and ellie]

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[he had his work cut out for him…she’s persistent]

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[boo cake]

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[thuy super ‘angry’ she’s baking…just kidding. it’s all for play]

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[nope…i don’t have enough pics of my charcuterie. not a chance. not enough at all]

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[ba and dan]

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[thuy and mom]

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[bennett]

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[brotherly love]

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[reagan and kim]

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[olive’s favorite person. LOL]

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[olive’s is to the left and ellie’s is to the right]

H A L L O W E E N

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[monarch butterfly…minus the wings]

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xoxo

halloween bash at waterlemon

i follow waterlemon on instagram…and you should too!

when they posted they were having a halloween bash earlier in october…i was game! it sounded like so much fun! they have the most beautiful play area and it was going to be filled with crafty fun, cupcake decorating, and more! what a great event for the kiddos!

this was the night ellie told me NO to her monarch butterfly costume. i was so bummed! i had purchased two matching costumes for the girls and they both agreed that they wanted to be monarch butterflies specifically but ellie threw a wrench in that idea! no matter…they both ended up looking so cute in their gear.

the weather was terrible…the sky opened up and it would not stop raining. no. actually it would not stop pouring buckets of water from the sky. hc pulled up to the shop and i quickly dragged both girls out of the car, one by one, to the safety of the awning by the door. we walked inside and we were immediately greeted by nina!

she is just a ball of energy! i love her enthusiasm, kindness, and love for what she does. we hugged as it was the first time we were meeting in person after all the emails and text exchanges we have had!

olive and ellie got right into it. we first took photos and then the girls were super excited to get crafty. they both looooooove to paint, so painting the {what olive calls it} ‘haunted’ house was so much fun for them! once they finished up the house, they were super excited to hit up the play area. olive was a bit bummed that the slides and upper play house area was closed off but nevertheless, my positive girl said it didn’t matter and that she had so much fun anyways!

two funny things happened and they happened with the two same boys who were dressed up as doctors to each of my girls. so, olive saw the grocery store area and lit up. she took a few minutes and rearranged allllllll the products on the shelves {hellooooo, just like mama}, and became excited at the prospect of selling food items to anyone in need. olive stood at the counter and in a slightly loud voice, says, “who needs to buy?”. naturally i decided to play along and said, “i’ll take a banana and…” while she handed me a shopping basket and i was picking out my items, olive went to grab the register scanner. before her little fingers could reach the scanner, the two boys ran over and snatched it out of her reach. oh em gee. LOL what i love so much about my girl is that she is so sweet! her eyes bugged out and she looked at me with the biggest smile and said, “uh oh!”. i started laughing and we both laughed that she no longer had a scanner. oh my girl…she spent so many minutes organizing the store and then ended up not being able to play along without the scanner. no matter. she moved onto something else and continued to have fun!

while i was watching olive, ellie caught the corner of my eye. she was surrounded by the two boys who were examining her. ahhhhhahaha! it was so funny to watch. there was ellie, standing there just staring at the two boys dressed as doctors. they decided to check on ellie to make sure she was ok. they check her heart with the stethoscope and used the grocery store scanner to make sure her arms and head were ok. all the while, ellie just stood there a bit amused and confused on what these two boys were doing to her. oh kids! they are so funny! always fun and entertaining.

after they were in the play area for a bit, we decided to call it quits and head out to dinner as their bedtime is the main reason we do everything so early now! hahaha! we gathered them together and in the process, we were lucky enough to snatch yummy cupcakes to go. i gave nina a hug goodbye and thanked her for hosting an amazing halloween party for the kids! it was so much fun – so unique and festive and perfect.

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[these babes…so adorable]

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[the most amazing halloween decor everrrrrr]

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[learning to work together and painting a ‘haunted’ house]

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[accoutrements]

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[pretty pastels]

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[isn’t nina just a doll?! i love her energy!]

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[the spookiest doughnut board ever]

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[these babes have my heart]

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[the grocery store olive loved so much!]

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xoxo

pumpkin farm ’19

oh hello! we thought it was a great idea to go to the pumpkin farm the other weekend….uhhhh, that was a crazy decision. only one million people decided to go too and it was a hot mess.

first, it took us 25 minutes to travel one mile to get to the entrance of this farm. once we parked, it was another half mile walk just to get back to the entrance! oh em geeeeeee. thank goodness the girls were in great spirits and it was super nice and sunny out! the weather was perfect and it was in the mid 60’s!

we trekked our way through the dirt and dust…man, that stuff kicked our shoe’s behinds. our shoes were so filthy! once we arrived, it was a madhouse to enter but hc found the shortest line and we were inside in a jiffy.

we walked in and it was craaaaazzyyyyyy. so. many. people. we hit up the fun house first…which was super creepy but the girls enjoyed it. we settled on the idea of food {we were so hungry!} and oh my goodness…that was an event in itself. hc stood in the longest line ever to order, then once he ordered, he had to stand in another line to pick up the food. wtf. the most ridiculous process ever.

we ate our mediocre food and promised the girls we would do whatever they wanted and boy, we did. it was like great america {although i haven’t been there since i was 9, so i’ve been told what the experience is like}. we waited and waited and waited in line for all sorts of rides. the girls didn’t mind and we didn’t either. hc and i knew what we were getting into the moment it took us forever to initially get into this place.

after being there for several hours and doing all of five things, the temps were dropping and we were ready to go. the girls were satisfied with all the rides they were on and so were we.

would we go again next year? probably…maybe to a different farm but regardless of the crowds, wait, and nuttiness of the place, we had a wonderful time with our girls and their smiles and laughter was so worth every cringe-y moment endured. LOL

happy october my friends!

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[she loved the dancing chickens!]

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[always putting things in her mouth…]

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[they were so serious about this. LOL]

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[oh my goodness]

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[ellie was so excited]

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[they were having so much fun!]

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[i love their smiles!]

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[they’re so silly]

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xoxo

halloween treats

we commenced the halloween classroom treat making on a whim. i wasn’t planning to have olive assemble her treats when we did but it just happened. as an amateur photographer, the lighting was definitely not right. it was too late in the evening and it had become dark outside, so with the artificial lighting…the pics turned out grainy, yellow, and not typical of the product i like to produce.

anyhoo, now that i have prepped my not so ‘great’ pics posted, we had soooooooo much fun making her classroom treats! i always rummage through the plethora of extra crap i have downstairs in my craft bins and will find something we can use to make fun gifts for the kiddos.

i did the calligraphy and olive drew the hearts on each glassine bag. olive also colored each sticker and placed one on the outside of all the bags. olive filled each sack with stickers, tattoos, vampire teeth, a lollipop, and a spider ring. we then sealed each bag with halloween washi tape and voila!

halloween treat bags for her friends at school!

i know i am extra. and i love it. i’ve been this way since i was born. i recall creating bags for our local trick or treaters in our neighborhood. i would collect all my goodies at our nearby jewel grocery store and asemble bags to give away. yes, not much has changed. LOL

do you like to create fun halloween treats or you more of the ‘here’s a handful of candy, bye’?!

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[helping mama put together her class treats]

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[stickers olive colored in]

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[my creative girl drawing a heart on each bag]

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[showing off her bags]

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[how cute are they turning out?!]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[tattoos]

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[placing a colored sticker on each bag for her friends]

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[always so meticulous with what she does]

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[checking out her work]

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[stickers]

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[bags of goodies]

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[loving our final product]

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xoxo

easy as apple pie

well, if you go apple picking, ya gotta make apple pie, right?!

every year, after we pick apples, hc and i collaborate and make apple pies! i usually peel and slice the apples while hc makes the pie crust.

i love that olive is at an age where she can really help. we really do have fun together! she’s so cooperative, neat, and listens well to directions {unlike my little nugget ellie}.

we started with peeling 10-12 medium to small apples. i like to slice them more on the thin side as they cook well and it is easier to eat. i measured and olive threw in flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, brown sugar, and mixed it all up.

hc had whipped together the pie crust and refrigerated it for a bit before rolling it out to fit the pie pans. i filled the pans full of apples and hc then threw another pie crust layer on top of it and trimmed it. i rolled the remaining dough to cut out some stars to decorate the top of the crust with and then i brushed the top with some beaten egg, sprinkled on some sugar, and into the oven the pies went!

almost an hour later, we had our finished pies!!! we couldn’t wait to eat them! they turned out lovely and they were baked to perfection. hc preferred his served a la mode while i liked my pie plain {although i am a huge a la mode gal!}. we both thoroughly enjoyed our hard work! the pies were delicious!

baking apple pies is one of the reasons why i love fall!

happy fall y’all!

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[helping mama make apple pies]

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[peeling and cutting]

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[cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg]

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[hc making the pie dough]

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[buttered pie crust]

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[my baby girl helping out]

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[the finished product]

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xoxo

pumpkin glow

my sister, kim, suggested we go to an event called jack’s pumpkin glow on saturday, late evening. she sent us the link and all over the site, it was screaming ‘chicago, chicago’ and i thought, gosh, i don’t want to take the girls to a chicago event so late at night!? right? it’s too close to bedtime…the girls have been in a great routine since school has started and i kept thinking they would be super exhausted with us being out so late, even if it seemed like a really cool display of pumpkins.

well, hc looked closely at the website and he realized it was in the town right next us! they used chicago as a location for national advertising but it was local, to us! ahhhh hahahaha! well, ok then. let’s do this! we figured, even if we were out late past their bedtime, it was so close to home, we would be at our abode in a jiffy. that made much more sense!

we met up with my sister kim and bennett {reagan and terry were caught up at a game later than expected} and walked our way towards the event. okuuuuurrrrr, so the worst part about all that was, it was soooo stinkin’ muddy. like m u d d y. as in your feet sank into the ground and the mud splashed back up onto your leg. ellie started freaking out and wanted hc to hold her but hc refused as her boots were covered, dripping in mud. if he picked her up, she would wrap her legs around him and there goes his clothes. LOL

once we surpassed the corralling entrance, the path around the displays were mud free! hallelujah! then the show began and wow! it was awesome! everything you saw was made out of pumpkins. there were hundreds of carved pumpkins…individually lit and the artwork in the themed areas were stunning! true artists at work. there were so many pumpkins with intricate designs, pumpkins that formed harley motorcycles, snowmen, giant turtles, ladybugs, you name it…they carved it out of pumpkins! we were so amazed!

they had bugs, disney, haunted ships, motorcycles, dinosaurs, sport themes, portraits carved onto the pumpkins…so many cool designs everywhere you turned!

the girls had a blast! they were so amazed by all the artwork and how everything was made out of pumpkins. it was definitely worth it and so much fun for the kiddos! if you are going…i recommend waterproof boots, no strollers, dress warm, and be ready for big crowds. i had my hand attach to the girls at all times! it was dark, as to see the pumpkin glow better, so it was easy to lose track of your kids if they weren’t attach to you with so many people around you!

happy fall y’all!

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[the coolest set ups everywhere!]

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[disney inspired carved pumpkins]

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[go cubs goooooo! yeah, chicago cubs!]

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[our frightened pic. LOL]

xoxo