Happy Halloween

Gearing up for all things Halloween today. 
Needless to say, it's a bit hectic this year, so we went with what was on hand.

We made this scarecrow a couple of weeks back - to make him more Halloween-ish we replaced his head with a pumpkin.

My take on the headless horseman. 
Remember that story?

And of course, we carved our pumpkins.

A simple T and E for our little ladies as well as some traditionally carved pumpkins.

And of course, we had to try on our costume...

This year's cutest pumpkin on our block! 

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

Until next time,
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Guest Post: Halloween Inspired Cookies

We're back today with another guest post featuring Halloween inspired goodies!
This post is brought to you by my friend, Mira - hands down the best cookie maker I know.
She's so creative and quite the baker. Check out these adorable cookies she just whipped up.

Halloween is right around the corner!  
In honor of this spooktacular holiday, I decided to dress up plain 'ole chocolate chip cookies for my daughters' Halloween party at school.  

I chose chocolate chip cookies because:

(1) they are quick and easy to make; 
(2) everyone likes them; and 
(3) they are easy to transport 
(which was especially important to me in light of a recent unfortunate upside-down cupcake debacle for my kids' classroom birthday celebration...oops!)  

But I digress...I was faced with the dilemma of how to make the cookies festive, so I went to my local Walgreens for inspiration.  Remembering how my daughter and her little friends always get excited about those cheap-y plastic rings that come tucked in super-market cupcakes, I decided to buy a $1 package of multi-colored plastic spider rings. 

This has to be the best bang-for-your-buck and eeeasssy festive dessert out there!   To make these, just start with your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or just purchase the ready made dough at your local supermarket.   I used a small ice cream scoop to make small, equal sized cookies.   As the cookies are cooling, wiggle one spider ring into each cookie and let it cool completely.  Once cool, it is time to make the chocolate spider webs!  

The moms in my class couldn't believe it when I revealed how easy it was to make them!  

All you need is a plastic bag and about 4 ounces of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet).  Place the chocolate chips in the plastic bag, then place in the microwave and heat for 30 second increments until chocolate is melted.  Squish the bag around at each interval, and make sure to not over heat!  Take the bag out and seal the top of the ziploc.  Cut a teeny-tiny hole in the corner of the bag and voila!  You have your very own disposable pastry bag!  Now you are ready to pipe the chocolate onto the cookies.  

Start with wide scallops at the outer edge of the cookie, and add progressively smaller scallops until the cookie is complete.  

Note: depending on the size of your cookie, it may be wise to temporarily remove each spider ring and replace once piping is complete.  And there you have it - easy, affordable and festive cookies that will make you a hero in the eyes of the little ghosts and goblins in your life!  

Thanks so much Mira! 
They look delicious and I can tell you from personal experience, they are!

Until next time, 
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Guest Post: Halloween Inspiration Inside

We're back again with another update from Anne - this time featuring her Halloween themed interior.

Take it away Anne...

Halloween is my very favorite holiday.  I do up the house for other celebrations, sure, but nothing in comparison to All Hallows Eve.  

Unlike our chic Designing Domesticity hostess, whose classy and understated accents are inspiring, I tend to go a bit over-the-top during this season of ghouls and goblins.  The pure volume of décor items of which I have amassed for the season is somewhat overwhelming, and finding a proper place for everything is a bit of trick-or-treat in and of itself.

Having just moved into a new home in April, it was time to reevaluate my spooky decorations.  I decided this year to group like items together, creating mini-vignettes throughout the house.  My favorite is on the mantel in the living room: my collection of hallowed-out gourds.  

I have used the garland of leaves to mask the plethora of electrical cords needed to light up these festive wonders.  Otherwise, these make a splendid display all on their own.  Similar pieces can be found from Meadowbrooke Gourds www.mbgourds.com.

Also in the living room atop my piano is my collection of vintage, or vintage-replica, trick-or-treat pails.  

The dining room this year is the stomping ground for my pumpkins in all of their splendor.  I used to scatter these throughout the house in various locations but decided this year to display them together; the mixture of ceramic, glass, paper mache, and twig pit nicely against one another, I think.  Note the pumpkin candle holders on the runner on the table, as well. 

 I’ve also added a few crows (two on the table, one leering from the chandelier), as accents.      
This is just a smattering of the embellishments I have throughout the house, but I have found these examples were a nice way to showcase some of the pieces.  Thanks, Liz, for letting me share!

Thank you Anne! 

Until next time, 
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Guest Post: Halloween Frightful Facade

I've asked a couple friends to guest post while I am off enjoying a bit of R&R with our newest addition. 

Today is the first of said posts I have planned and the theme is: Halloween Decor Outside. 

No one embraces this holiday as much as my good friend Anne - and thankfully she volunteered to share some of her decorations with us this year.

Take it away Anne!

When it comes to matters of designing domesticity, some people pride themselves on a perfectly baked pie, a bountiful garden, or a beautifully knit afghan that can stand as a family heirloom.

I, however, pride myself on whether or not my outdoor Halloween decorations make at least one child spooked enough that they refuse to come knocking during trick-or-treat.  

Although even I marvel at the ghouls, ghosts, and goblins one can find at such big box Halloween ventures as Halloween Express and Halloween Extreme (you know the places – they only pop up for September and October in abandoned store fronts), I think that a truly successful outdoor Halloween display has at least some element that is homemade or self-created.

A few easy steps here and there, and voila!

The first element to a horrifying outdoor haven is, of course, tombstones.  You can always purchase versions for relatively cheap at places like Target and Walgreens, but buyer beware: Styrofoam versions are quick to decompose in the autumn elements.  

I had a little assistance with making mine.  The shop teacher at the school where my mom teaches cut these two for me out of a simple shape and plywood.  I then painted them grey and free-handed the writing in black.  

For inspiration, I recommend checking out your local cemetery and finding markers from the 19th century; yes, spooky I know, but it makes for interesting text that goes beyond your standard RIP.  The text I used came from the cemetery in Peninsula State Park, Door County, Wisconsin that houses the graves of the founding fathers of the area.  We like to think of it as an honor to them in our house….and they haven’t come to haunt us yet, I promise!

No spooky graveyard is complete without a horrifying night watchman.  The devil keeping watch over mine was easily constructed with a few simple pieces.  First, nail together in the shape of a cross two pieces of stick-like wood (mine were pieces from a broken patio umbrella); I also used duct tape to secure them further.

Place over the cross a cloak of some kind; I purchased mine at Target.  Before stuffing a creepy mask with newspaper, draw a pupil and some bloodshot lines for eyes on a piece of paper, using duct tape to secure it inside the mask behind the eyes.   Again using duct tape (one of my favorite tools!), secure the mask to the top of the cross.  Use the hood of the cloak to cover the back and top of the masks head, securing the top of the cloak to the mask with a safety pin.  I also used thumb tacks to secure the arms of the cloak to the edges of the cross; I found when the wind came up, the arms would go flying and reveal the wood beneath.  Insert the bottom of the cross into the ground, and your watchman is completely.

A devil needs a ghostly companion.  

Hanging a ghost from a tree is one of the easiest and quickest ways to spook up your outdoors.  First take a softball or some other similarly sized ball and tie sturdy string around it, leaving enough length to secure to a hook which will hang from a tree.

Using an old pillowcase and sheet, pull the long ends of the string through a hole in the top of the pillowcase and pull it over the softball (this acts as a shield, so you are unable to see the ball through just the sheet).  Then take the same string and pull it through a hole in the middle of a sheet.  

Use a sharpie to create eyes and a mouth.

Either tie the string to a tree branch, or tie the string to a hook and then attach the hook to the tree.  Using beading filament or fishing lure, tie one end of about a 12-inch strand to each “arm” of the sheet, and then secure to the tree to help your ghost to “fly.”

A carefully crafted entryway is always essential to a frightful façade.  Two main elements make up mine.  The first is a cloaked skeleton (Pier One) that flanks my doorway.  The second is a self-made spooky dude, again very easy to create.  First, start with a blow-up doll; if you search Ebay for blow-up mannequin and Halloween you should get some good, cheap ones.  I used black string to create “joints” at the knees, hips, and elbows so I could manipulate my spooky dude into a chair.

I dressed him in old black pants and an old black shirt and then secured him by the hips to a folding chair with strong twine.

Now comes the fun part: accentuate your spooky dude with boots, gloves, a mask, and a hood.  I even found a bloody arm to place in his lap.

Finishing Touches

To finish off the graveyard portion of the outdoors, I added the ubiquitous spider webs (again, Target), some large spiders (Cost World Market), a light-up tree (Pier One), and some flickering candle lights (Target).  These purchased items help to flesh out the scene, while saving time and effort.  

I topped off my entryway with some Spooky Cloth (Target) along the stoop and hanging from the lanterns, and of course some blacklight bulbs in the front lights.  

Welcome home and happy haunting!

Thanks so much Anne!

Until next time,

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Nursery Reveal

Well, it's finally time. I have been taunting you for weeks with all the nursery projects and hoping/promising a reveal before our little one arrived...And I've done it!

Our last delivery arrived yesterday and we officially finished the nursery last night. The sun came out this morning so I was able to get some decent pictures - it's like it was meant to be! 

Nothing like taking it to the wire though, in fact, as most of you read this, I will be at the hospital - hopefully having a smooth induction. Fingers crossed!

So without further ado, I welcome you to Baby E's room...

Now, as most of you know, our first little girl was born in London and her nursery doubled as a guest room - needless to say, it wasn't terribly over the top! 

We moved into this house when she was a little over one years old - and to be honest, we had bigger fish to fry than creating a cute nursery - so we painted the walls the color of her most beloved and cherished favorite stuffy and called it a day. 

If you'd like to see where we started, click here

With the announcement of this little girl, I knew I wanted to update our nursery and make it special for her.

First I added the painted tree mural and then the homemade mobile. 
You can read about both projects here and here

But, of course I couldn't stop there! 
My mind was spinning with all the possibilities. 

We updated her armoire using fabric and ribbon. 
You can read all about that project here

And of course, I had to add back the glow-in-the-dark sparkly stars! 
A special gift from Daddy never gets discarded.

The space between the window and armoire was looking a bit bare, so I created this simple artwork, inspired by this Land of Nod alphabet wall art.

I've had the alphabet cards forever. They first resided in the Big Girl Room but I got tired of re-sticking them every couple of days, so they came down and awaited their next purpose. Now they are velcro-ed in place and simply hung in a poster board frame. 

Moving on over to the other side of the room, I created a simple wall gallery above her dresser, which doubles as a changing table.

A feminine mirror, another little E, a frame which awaits a new family photo (but currently holds a scrap piece of the zig zag fabric from the armoire), a chalk/pin board, and a print purchased from Etsy complete the look. 

And before you go asking - No, we won't be sharing her name until she arrives. But I figured you'd enjoy guessing in the meantime. 

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek around our new nursery. I certainly enjoyed creating it and can't wait to meet the little lady that will be calling it home. 

linking in with:

Until next time, 
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Nesting, Nesting, Nesting

So they say there is a phenomena called Nesting that occurs shortly before the birth of a new child...
An urge to prepare, organize and finish projects.

Well, I think it may be upon me!

You know that I've been working flat out on the nursery - and it's almost done! Just awaiting one final delivery, but either way, the reveal will be happening on Sunday.

But that's not all I've been up to, I've been cooking up a storm to stock the freezer as well. 

Remember this one?
So good!

I've also made and frozen:

Marinara with tomatoes from our garden

As well as pesto made from our last basil harvest

Still on the list:

And finally, as if I don't have enough already on my plate, I've purchased tons of furniture lately - all in preparation for projects post baby. 

Our garage is beginning to look like a furniture warehouse, which works for me, but not so much for the hubby!

Just a little fyi, most of these pieces will be available for purchase so if you see something you like please contact me. Custom projects are available!

Check back for the nursery reveal this weekend. And also a variety of guest posts coming your way after that! 

Until next time, 
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Secrets to Cleaning a Farmhouse Sink

Do you love the look of a classic farmhouse sink?

I do. 

It was certainly on the 'must have' list during our recent kitchen renovation. 

But I must say, I was not prepared for the maintenance on a white porcelain sink. After every dish washing session, I noticed black streaks all over the sink.

Honestly, the first time this happened, I kind of freaked, but fortunately they are easy to remove - more annoying than anything.

Check out all those marks!
And this is on a good day.

I used to reach for my trusted cleaner, Bar Keepers Friend, which worked wonderfully. 

But then I discovered the Shaklee product line and their non-toxic product, Scour Off.

Did you know:

Some scouring cleansers, as well as tub, tile, and sink cleaners may contain chlorine-releasing compounds and may contribute to the formation of organochlorines, a dangerous class of compounds that can cause reproductive, endocrine, and immune system disorders. Some also may contain phosphoric acid, which is corrosive in high concentrations and is an eye, skin, and respiratory irritant.

And now I have a spotless and shiny farmhouse sink once again. 
Thanks Shaklee!

If you'd like to learn more about Shaklee or Scour Off in particular, please check out my Shaklee store

Check out the Get Clean Starter Kit to start on your way to a healthier home. 

Until next time, 
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DIY Birdie Mobile

No nursery is complete without a mobile - a little something to keep the little guys entertained during the hours they spend on their back in the crib.

We never had one with our first daughter, so I knew that I wanted to include a mobile in our updated nursery. 

I looked around online, but couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I decided to customize one to meet our (who am I kidding, my) nursery needs.

I picked up an embroidery hoop, a couple bundles of yarn and purchased these adorable birds on Etsy.

Click here to see similar birds for sale.

I started by tying both colors of ribbon to the embroidery hoop and...

wrapping my little heart out!

I love the striped effect that two colors provide. 
Not to mention the texture!

Here's a close up of one of my birdies.
 Love the birds - didn't love the white ribbon.

But that's easy enough to fix.
So I cut off the white ribbon and replaced it with more of the pink yarn.

Then I cut long lengths of yarn and braided two pink and one blue together to make the hanging supports.
Time consuming - yes! Loving the extra little detail - YES!

I choose to use three supports, but in hindsight, four may have made it easier to hang evenly. 
Ah, well, you live and learn...

Laying the hoop on a flat service, I tied the three hanging supports together and then braided the upper portion.

Then we hung the whole thing with a little hook in the ceiling.
It weighs next to nothing, so hopefully the little hook will cut the mustard!

The birds are simply hung and tied with bows.

I like that the whole thing can be altered - the height can be adjusted as can the birds. That way if we find it's too low once the baby arrives, we can just adjust. 

So, what do you think? 

I think it's the perfect accompaniment to the tree.

Hopefully little No. 2 will think so too! 

A couple more projects to go, but only a week until our scheduled induction. 

Hopefully I'll have a reveal for you next Monday.
Stay tuned to find out as I race against the clock.

If you liked this post, may I suggest:

Linking in with:

Until next time, 
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