march madness

Well, since my Disney Coma I’ve been skitzing out on posting anything. First of all, winter is very uninspiring to me personally, and I don’t really ever want to spread my negativity or bad mood on this blog. You’re welcome. We finally got away to celebrate both 40th b-days (a year later because of last year’s broken arm mishap), and our upcoming 15 year wedding anniversary! Paradise was nice while it lasted…

But, eventually, you have to come home and get through the rest of the winter…so I found a new hobby..image

That’s where we are at. Things are looking up in the Northeast, thanks to that groundhog who didn’t see his shadow. Thanks Phil! So with warmer weather ahead, I always get inspired to tear things apart, make some good messes and create again.

Ya know when you go to Target and buy a can of gold metallic paint just because, and then 4 months later decide it’s time to use it somewhere? Oh, that’s just me? huh.

So that can of paint chose the inside of the front door to live. The white door was starting to get really dirty and I knew that it needed tending to, so instead of touching it up like  normal person would do, I went ahead and painted it gold. Now, I’m not completely random as I do have “some” experience with color stories etc…

I wanted to bring together all the warmth surrounding the white door. With the dark hardwood floor,  mustard walls in the dining room and the gold touches in the surrounding artwork, curtains and rug, gold seemed to be a good option. And, hey, I already had the paint! Here’s the progression..imageimageimageimageimage

Three coats and some touch up later…image

Feeling accomplished and happy to have used the paint finally.

Moving on…Of course I went to the flower show again this year and was so happy to be with my family girl squad and to be among all the beautiful exhibits.

And of course I had to purchase some succulents for my mantle. They are so cute and easy to take care of. I’m still loving the green groupings for a Spring mantle look. Thanks to Terrain for the inspiration. image

Also, I’ve been needing a new spring wreath for some time but haven’t had any new ideas. Thanks to the dried floral booth at the Flower Show I got just what I needed. And instead of the usual Pinterest or FB time suckers during lunch on Monday, I made a big old mess with dried flowers on my family room floor. Here’s what I came up with..(15 minutes total labor).

Sometimes all you need is a little warm weather, a few good spin classes and a night out with the girls to give you a push in the creative direction.

Happy Spring!  xo friends!!image

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Disney Coma

That’s me this week. There is no way to go to Disney World for 7 days and REALLY do Disney with 10 people (6 adults and 4 kids), without returning and morphing into a coma-like, alternate reality state. Like, wait, that’s not real life down there in Orlando? Dammit. Nope it’s not. But if you go into it with vigor, and keep up the stamina for the entire week (therefore resulting in a “happiest place on earth” high), you will not only have a good time but will need to sleep for 14 days after. AND, in real life, with kids, that’s just not possible.

So I go from this:image

To this:image

Trying to keep my inspiration, up while dealing with a slow business week, and getting into routines again, post “holi-daze”. Looking back, it’s been almost a full year since my fall, and recovery which eventually lead to changing my entire life around by choosing to work from home with the family business.  I’ve been through the initiation phase, the working while kids are home for the summer phase, the busy phase and the super duper busy phase. I’ve also enjoyed my first holiday season away from retail. Next phase, a slowwwwwww winter month or 2. Hopefully not too slow. Time to read, learn more about what I’m doing and make a list of goals for the coming year. Please God, for both my husband and my sake, let this pass quickly. Ha! We both aren’t very good with down time.

Anyway, I felt the need to make something pretty after coming back to a non-decorated and sterile house. You see, when I put all the Christmas decor away, I didn’t do ANYTHING to replace it. I like a clean slate in January.

With fresh eyes and some new Moroccan glass purchased while in “Morocco” (Epcot), I thought I’d start with the mantle. There were a few pics I pinned that inspired me to put all the small plants I had currently in the kitchen, on the mantle. To “green” up the Family  Room, like it doubles as a winter greenhouse. I do need to purchase more, probably of the succulent/cactus variety, because as I’ve said before, I kill plants.

Here’s a peak at my happy little January mantle “installation”imageimageimage

some vintage milk glass mixed in with the new Moroccan glass…imageimageimage

You should know that the plant above has survived 6 years now…I’m quite proud.

Hope this gives you a little inspiration to “green” things up in hopes for a quick and painless 2 months of winter…

xo friends!imageimage

 

as bright as the sun.

WAKE UP KIDS!!!! Mommy’s got a new paint color for your bathroom and it ain’t Celedon Green.

I do not shy away from color, not in my wardrobe or in my home. Some people joke, (well many people joke), that I don’t own anything black. Yes I do. They just happen to be a pleather pair of pants and a tulle skirt. to each his own. I love color, and am most energized in spaces of amazing color combinations. image

In the past few years I have kept to the downstairs interior theme of neutral/ grey on walls and pops of color on accessories, balanced by dark woods. The initial re-do was done all at once and I’ve just kept updating and adding along the way. Upstairs is a different story because I’ve been redo-ing one room at a time and each room really belongs to a different personality. My 5-year old girl, my 10-year old boy, my closet/office situation, and last but not least, the master bedroom —- desperately in need of a RE-DO.

Then there’s the guest/kids bathroom. It’s been this kid themed animal situation for a few years now and I’m sick of it and it’s blue walls. I’m going to pretend that the kids are sick of it too. I need a drastic, drastic change in there, and since I’m not in the position to replace the counter or tub yet, I chose to completely re-do the color palette.

I’ve always been drawn to orange but never for interiors really. Recently, I pinned some pretty fun color palettes including this happy color and I was inspired. So with the permission of my son ,(I had to ask at least), I went on a 3 day journey to transform the Turquoise to Orange, Hot pink and Navy blue.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I'm about to set these walls on fire.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I’m about to set these walls on fire.

COLOR INSPIRATION #1

COLOR INSPIRATION #1

COLOR INSPIRATION #2

COLOR INSPIRATION #2

BOOM.

BOOM.

Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. (I should've known better as a retired VM shhh)

Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. Way too thick and fast drying. (I should’ve known better as a retired VM shhh)

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. (You try and accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week. )

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. Whatever. YOU try to accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week.

Now we add in the pink. But not before freaking out that the whole thing is a mess and looks stupid and like CRAP. I can’t go back now because what do you paint over the crazy orange?!?! So I start adding in accessories before the walls are actually dry because that’s what we used to do in the windows at work.

Earth to Carin, you are not working inside a 9x6x12 box and you do not have to unveil this at 10am open of business. Old habits….

Hot pink trim in progress

Hot pink trim in progress…interrupted by hanging some black and white canvas of the kids as “littles”

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

After the panic passed and I could see how the pink and blue were actually going to pan out in real life and not those stunning Pinterest photos, I could then complete the pink and add yet another coat of orange. AAAAAAND, touch up all the orange spots on the ceiling 😉

4 coats and one leopard robe later....

4 coats and one leopard robe later….

Side note on the curtains… I originally hung a white cafe curtain tied back with orange ribbon. I HATED it; so much so that you guys don’t get to see it. Anyway, it didn’t work because even though there is a lot of color in here already and one would think, “keep it simple, we need more white.”, it was too stark and bright white. It was an eyesore. A focal point that I didn’t want to be the focal point.

So after looking for curtains online and remembering that I can’t stand regular curtains, (no offense), I ran to Joanne Fabrics on day 5 to get a few yards of fabric to do something with. I know. I’m complicated and crazy. BUT, I was never going to find the color/pattern combo in the allotted time in my head, which was the next 24 hours, that made me happy in the way of a real curtain.

The thing is if you really spent some time investigating, you’d find that my home is a series of temporary “window displays”. Nothing is all that permanent and that’s the point. That’s pretty much the reason that I never feel bad about changing things up like once a year or even more often than that. As long as it looks permanent but is super easy to part with, everyone wins; my ever-changing color palette taste, my bank account…everyone.

I needed to find a smaller pattern in the same blue that had some white in it, which I did in the way of a small polka-dot pattern. Then I thought it would be nice to incorporate a bit more pink since that was really only in the trim, so I found a pretty, not too feminine pink pattern. I wanted to cover the tension rod ugliness so I just wrapped the blue around it and then tied up, yes, tied up the panel of pink. I hung one more tension rod to the lower half of the window and just hung the rest of the blue dot fabric over; folded in half. No sewing, no drilling, no nailing, no pins or staples. staples? Yes, I have been known to do this on occasion. We are done. 2 yards fabric for $11 and a pair of scissors.

faking it

faking it

I did purchase some pom-pom ribbon from Joanne’s too…becasue it was asking me to buy it, all fuzzy and vintagey looking…so I hung it from the mirror I’m not ready to replace yet. That wasn’t enough so I added some blue garland from the ceiling. Full party mode at 7am now for the kiddos. You’re welcome.

every morning is a party

every morning is a party

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wash your little faces

wash your little faces

brush your teeth!!

brush your teeth!!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

XO friends!image

“could ya go a meatball?” -Nana Greco

My cousin sent a group text to all the cousins last week that I didn’t see right away. When I finally did there were 28 of them. After trying to get back to the beginning while laughing the whole time at the back and forth between 7 cousins across 2 continents and 3 coasts, I saw the first post. It simply read, “Could ya go a Meatball?” Please know that when you read this you should be reading it in an upstate Pennsylvanian accent and sound slightly off the boat from Italy. But an american Italia, if that makes any sense. Did you try it? Ha! That’s my Nana. Her name was Theresa.

And she fed us. Not only did she make sure we were well fed on regular visits but the family gatherings and parties were ALL about the food. Good Fresh Homemade Food. I swear that woman lived till almost 100 because she never had a preservative. But that in itself is a whole other convo that I probably will not be attempting to discuss here. Ever.

The texts sent me down memory lane for a while; particularly through family gatherings and holiday parties of my childhood on up. Food was always the star and Nana, my mom and my fabulous God-mom Mimi, always were very effortless about it. There was a ton of prep, sometimes days worth. They didn’t have Pinterest. There was no search for the perfectly “crafted” cupcake in the shape of a vintage ornament or whatever, or the most fancy pureed squash soup sprinkled with pancetta. Just passed down recipes and good food. There was also this organized chaos in the kitchen, which in my later years I learned to appreciate. Not everything was “done” exactly when the guests arrived. There was always something left to do, or help with; and always a glass of vino offered while you were helping. It was ok that not everything was perfect and it was way more fun that way. In the past 10 years or so my cousins and I have taken to hosting quite a few of these gatherings and things run pretty much the same way as they did growing up. We learned from the best. (oh, and the “best” still helps by bringing a sh#t ton of food too)

This holiday season, I am hosting a few family gatherings and will be having friends and their families over as well. I started down that Pinterest road unknowingly a couple of nights ago, just to “get some loose ideas”. Then the gorgeous pictures started to give me anxiety. Pinxiety if you will. Too pretty. Too much to choose from. GIIIIRL. PUT. THE. IPAD. DOWN.

I decided to pretend it was let’s say… 2005 again. Get out the cookbooks and recipe cards. What have I made before? What do I love to cook? What have people liked in the past? I also have a notebook that I’ve saved from pretty much every gathering I’ve had since 2001 (when I got married). It helps. Because a lot of those things I’ve made time and time again, whether it be for a party I threw or even to bring as a guest to someone else’s party.

I’ll share with you my go to books for entertaining here. They are not your typical ones though. I like a bit of inspiration and story with my cookbooks so I go for the memoir type. I also like to choose from books that have more of a family-style vibe. These days there’s rarely an occasion that the kids aren’t invited. There needs to be something for everyone and the food should look good and be inviting (and on nice plates) without being too fancy. Here are my recommendations for some good recipes and a good read:

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The Family Dinner by Laurie David. What I like about this book is that although it’s not really geared toward entertaining per say, it covers a lot of different topics.

– The family dinner and how to get everyone to eat together on a daily basis; The extended family dinners; Fun topics to bring up with kids at the table; Games; Cooking together.

There are some good recipes that work for both regular nights and entertaining. She kind of leaves room for editing the recipes to your taste.

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The chapters on cooking with kids and cooking with grandparents are really fun and attainable and not at all “too perfect”.

The next one is an old favorite: The Barefoot Contessa Family Style

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I got this for a wedding shower gift. It is used often. I used to be kind of obsessed with this lady. I loved watching her food network show back in the day (before Nickelodeon and International Soccer took over my TV). She always seemed to whip up a table full of food for a party in Nantucket just as her guests were arriving and sipping their first cocktail in the garden. And she ALWAYS sat down unflustered to eat with them right away. Must have been that Pinot Grigio she was sippin while roasting that cauliflower….Anyway, my faves in the book can be made for a party of 2 or 20 easily.

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Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash. So goooood and you can easily do this with mushrooms and onions instead of the squash; give or take a little more garlic. It’s just a really good base recipe for risotto.

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And, her roasted asparagus with Parmesan (see the YES tab on the page? means I make it. A lot).

Lastly, I am not ashamed to admit that I’m completely obsessed with this book. And her blog. You should read it. Today. Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. This woman and her husband are awesome. http://www.dinneralovestory.com I’ve been following her for a few years now. I found her in my search to make dinner a pleasant experience for my family and I.

2010: 1 super picky kid, 1 baby who seemed to love everything if only it was pureed, and 2 working parents who had no time to cook, or shop…my story hasn’t changed much at all. Everyone is just a bit older and my daughter now can eat solid foods. Ha!

I digress, please check out the blog and book. For the purpose of this post, I love using this book for parties. There are many, easy and delicious recipes and drink recipes not to mention tips and tricks on how to pull it all together with kids in the house.

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A favorite recipe for gatherings is the pork ragout that you can put over egg noodles or do as sammies with crusty rolls and cheese.

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I also really appreciate her honesty about having a crazy schedule and pipe dreams about entertaining. It’s real, and funny and captivating. The carefree attitude and family and friends first attitude are slightly reminiscent of Ms. Julia Child.

Speaking of, I HIGHLY recommend Julia’s memoir: My Life in France. What an inspiring woman. I hope this post inspires you to maybe put down the tech and grab a book. a cookbook, a memoir, a cooking magazine, or an old family recipe for your holiday gatherings this year 😉

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unwritten rules

So, I am a total rule follower (that damn catholic school education again). But when it comes to my wardrobe, I have never been. In fact, most of my life I’ve been skirting around all the rules. For example in high-school when all the girls were wearing their preppy Sebegos, I choose a platform lace up. And in the late 90’s it was all black and minimalism, I was in full color mixing bright pattern on pattern….therefore landing my first job out of college with Lilly Pulitzer. Go figure.

But as the season changes this year to more fall like temps, I’ve been noticing that I do very well have some clear-cut “rules” when it comes to dressing. They are all my own and though I’ve never sat down to write them out or even spoken most out loud, they are there, in the air, as I shop and dress.

I rarely break these “rules” as they help me stick to the best styled version of myself, save me money on trends I will never look good in or need, and help define my personal style. I don’t often think about them, it’s all pretty unconscious, but it works.

Here goes. Let’s take a walk down Instagram land Pinterest lane shall we…

1. When the temps turn cold enough for tights, black tights only. Opaque. No hose. Black tights or bare legs. Occasionally, the black ankle sock with booties…. See it gets a little hazy in my rules. But that’s why they’re mine. No judging. You all have your own quirks.image

Like mother like daughter

Like mother like daughter

2. My bag of choice is a tote. I have no time for all the hardware and zipper stuff. Time is precious. I toss it all in a tote. It helps that I’m soooo not a label girl, ’cause that cuts out my need for a designer bag. Not that there’s anything wrong with that my gorgeous label carrying bag friends. You know who you are…I also love vintage clutches for times when there is no need for room for extra toddler underpants or fruit-rollups . So there. Tote or vintage clutch.

3. Black ponytail holders only. My hair is up like 90% of the time and I’m almost 40 so black pony tail holders only. But yes to colorful hair wraps, headbands etc.

4. Ok ready? White after Labor Day but not before Easter. Don’t ask. Rule breaker makes a new rule.

5. Most of my denim is cropped or rolled once if not cropped and always paired with the following: ballet flats, converse, or kitten heels. This doesn’t count the frigid days where boots are necessary but I do have a NO UGGS ever rule. It’s really because I’ve gone this long without them and have been dealing with them in retail for so long that I can not give into the trend. I simply will not. It’s too late now. No offense to the UGG lovers. A lot of you are my dear friends.

2 1/2 years ago

2 1/2 years ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

2 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

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6. Speaking of denim. Denim jackets can go with any outfit. I repeat, any outfit. Try it. It’s a winner ever time. I swear.

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7. Dark eyes or dark lips. Never both. For me. But try it. It’s nice to highlight one feature instead of everything at once. It softens your look.

8. I follow a similar rule with jewelry too. Earrings or necklace, never both. Unless I’m wearing a small stud or it’s a really fancy occasion.

9. No brown pants. EVER. I have a thing against them.

10. As far as I’m concerned, leopard is a neutral. Goes with all colors. Not just cause I’m a jersey girl. Slightly obsessed though.

It's sort of a problem. But not really if you consider it's a neutral...

It’s sort of a problem. But not really if you consider it’s a neutral…

Again. Like mother, like daughter.

Again. Like mother, like daughter.

Bonus #11. Black coffee, water, red wine. Every day. 😉

what are some of your wardrobe rules?

xo friends!

midi me

Maybe it’s because I went to 12 years of catholic school and we had to wear knee-length skirts. Maybe it’s because I love the late 1940’s-1950’s post war Dior “New Look”, when a lady really looked like a lady. Maybe it’s because I’m slightly obsessed with Audrey, Jackie, and SJP, respectively. Regardless, the midi skirt is kind of a uniform for me. It’s to the point where someone at work will see a new one come in they’re all, “Oh that’s a Carin skirt”. Friends typically say, “Oh only you can pull those skirts off”. Well, I’m here to show you why they work for many, many body types and many, many occasions.

First, I’m going to talk about the comfort level. A swingy skirt that hits below the knee that you can safely bend over in, run (well, walk fast) in, and sit cross-legged on the floor in; umm yes please. Second, let’s discuss the universal flattery level. A skirt that accentuates your waist at the smallest part and then totally hides all the things you may want to hide on any given day… butt, thighs, tummy, spider veins. Umm, yes please again. Third, is the versatility factor. A skirt that you can wear with a tee-shirt and chucks but also with a sequin top and heels?  Double-duty? Duh. Yes.

If you still don’t believe me I’m going to show you pictures. So, exhibit 1: If you look for midis that are in season-less fabrics, then you also get the bonus of having it work all year around!

summer/ spring with a tee and flats

summer/ spring with a tee and flats

fall/ winter with a denim jacket, scarf and boots

fall/ winter with a denim jacket, scarf and boots

See how easy that was?

Now for something a little more sparkly:

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night: with a fur-trimmed sweater and heels

Day: with a crispy button down and flats

Day: with a crispy button down and flats

Now, let’s bring it down for the weekend shall we:

denim jacket (with everything, always) and converse (pick a color, any color)

denim jacket (with everything, always) and converse (pick a color, any color)

happy feet

happy feet

See? you can’t stump me. The midi works ALL THE TIME.

Let’s try some black and white:

cropped sweater and booties

cropped sweater and booties

This brings me to another very important point. The shoes. I’m a fan of both the bootie and the flat. I believe they work best with my life. BUT, my friends, practically ALL shoes work with the midi… Tall boots, platform sandals, kitten heels. I could go on.

the booties

the booties

the flats

the flats

the photo bomber...

the photo bomber…

investigating the goods

investigating the goods

I may have a bit of a midi problem. But, these have been collected and curated over many years. I know what I like and I hunt and gather it 🙂

a study in midis...

a study in midis…

A few of my most recent inspiration pins of the midi. you can see more on my Pinterest pages!! Click on the link in my profile and follow along…

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I’m sorry, What does the fox say again??

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Now, go out and get that midi!! xo friends!!

If you can’t beat ’em, Order it on Amazon.

Halloween has never been my favorite. It was never my mom’s favorite so maybe that’s where I get it from. I mean it’s ok. I just was never really a huge fan.
1. I don’t like being cold and it’s usually the first freezing night. And every costume I ever had growing up was pretty much ruined by thermal underwear and turtlenecks.

dancer stuffed with thermal underwear

dancer stuffed with thermal underwear- 1984

2. I don’t like being scared. At all.
3. Unless you gave me Twix or Reces Pieces I can’t with the candy.

College Halloween was no better for me because there was all this pressure to go to the “most fun” party or bar and the most creative I ever got with a costume was to wear my catholic school uniform and pigtails. The whole night was too hyped up and never ended up as fun as intended.

Fast forward 15-20 years later…
When you have kids it starts to be a little more fun. When they’re babies you dress them up, take a few pics and call it a night.

When the school parties and parades start, then the day takes on a life of its own.

To begin the day, there’s a rush rush to get from parade to parade (in between working all day)… My super-powered mom guilt makes me  manage somehow to make it to both schools in two different towns as well as work a full day in yet another town.

God bless the room moms who work so hard on the creative and fun parties because that’s really beyond my realm. For example, I signed up to bring in a box of GoGurt for my daughter’s pre-k party. I proceeded to write it on my hand so I would remember to write it in my planner. I have since then washed my hand, completely forgetting to write it in the planner. Even now as I write this, days later, I’ll forget it and end up running to the store the morning of the party at 6am after remembering only when I see the sign up sheet on the door at drop off. But I’m getting off track here. God bless the room moms… Later in the day, we are finally home long enough just to shove hot dogs down and decide who’s going to walk the kids around while the other stays at the house to give out all the sugar.

I’ve never tried these but obviously Pinterest thinks it’s a fabulously easy thing to do and I should be doing this to my hot dogs on Halloween. Maybe someday I’ll do it; or maybe they’ll have them at a school party or dance instead. Nevertheless, here’s some inspiration I pinned 5 years ago.

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Now for the main event. Let me break it down for you. Our neighborhood on Halloween night is like the one in the scene from E.T. Seriously. Like, kids from other parts of the county get dropped OFF to trick or treat here. I spend $80 on candy. There are houses that have more decorations than Christmas and parents have gatherings and bonfires in their driveways. (Ummm guilty as charged for the last one). Thank god for the curfew because by 8:30 we’re out of candy and quite possibly have been out to WAWA to get more. Aghh.

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hee hee. Sorry. Come on, you’re totally laughing too.

My decorations pretty much consist of a few pumpkins, a glittery ghost, some stick on bats and a few signs. I love decorating for fall but have learned to mix in a few halloweeny touches for the kids. I know. I’m a Halloween Scrooge. Self admitted and not ashamed. Here’s a peek. Trust me, I save all the real effort for the Elf on the Shelf and Christmas. I mean at least that lasts for a whole month!

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a glittery ghost

stick on bats

stick on bats

stuffed witches hat

stuffed witches hat

boo

I gave up a while ago (like after my first one turned 3), the pursuit of trying to make the perfect Pinterest costume or making healthy little goodie bags for the trick or treaters. As much as I would liked to have continued the tradition of homemade costumes, I succumbed to my son being three different types of plastic and stretchy jersey ninjas between the ages of 5-8. I’ve learned that the point is for the kids to enjoy it and parents not to stress out over trying to make things perfect. So this year when my darling 4-year-old daughter told me that instead of Disney’s Doc Mc Stuffins or Dora the Explorer she’d rather be Queen Padme Amidala from Star Wars the Clone Wars, I just smiled and pressed the “add to cart” button on Amazon and expedited the shipping once again.

Happy Halloween friends! Enjoy the madness while they are young!

Plo Koon and Queen Padame

Plo Koon and Queen Padame