Happy Halloween!

We decided to take a new *spin* on Halloween this year and went for the theme - Sharknado. If you haven't seen the movie, search it out on a rainy day. It is so bad it's hilarious. Especially when you get to watch it with friends on your beach vacation. But I digress ... this is about Halloween and our costumes.

Once we came up with the theme, we quickly decided Dylan would be a shark. I had planned to make him a costume based on this tutorial from Fiskars, but while looking for a plain gray hoodie at Target, I found a pre-made shark hoodie on sale for under $10. Scratch the DIY at that price. He clearly agreed because he wore it from the moment we found it up to checkout.

Shark spotting in Target!

Trent chose to be the victim. His costume was the easiest with his own clothes plus fake bloody gauze. He tied some around one leg and wrapped his right arm which, we realized after taking a family photo (Dylan didn't want to participate - repeat of last year? - so we snuck up behind him getting an "individual" shot) was the arm he put around me. Thus it isn't visible. But, he also unintentionally held his right hand behind his back so in the photo he almost looks like a real victim.

That left one detail - the sharknado. Taking a spin (pun intended) from a costume my friend, Stacey, did last year as part of her family's spider theme, I quickly made my costume. The shirt I purchased and added a shark graphic using freezer paper and black fabric paint. Then I created a tutu "sharknado" with white & platinum tulle and hot glued in a few mini shark toys.

At the last minute, I decided to make Dylan a shark shirt similar to mine. The weather in NC is never really predictable for Halloween. Last year he was snug & warm in his Sulley costume while I had to add a jacket over my Boo costume. This year? It was a tad warm. Assuming he might get hot in his hoodie, I dug out an old gray long sleeve shirt from his closet and added a shark. He was thrilled with the "new" shirt and that it matched mine (note to self: embrace these moments because he won't find matching mama cool for much longer!).

What are your family's costumes this year? Happy trick or treating!


Annual Pumpkin Fun

Not much says fall and Halloween to me like visiting a local pumpkin patch. This year we lucked out and I won 2 tickets to Ganyard Hill Farm in Durham so we headed there a week ago for a morning of family fun.

We took a hayride, enjoyed the corn maze (really more of a corn path, but it was a perfect stroll) where Dylan picked some corn to feed to the goats, plucked a bit of cotton, and of course each picked a pumpkin.

Posing with our 3 pumpkins on the hay bales.

We also explored the weird & exotic patch - quite a fun mix of colors & textures.

To spread out the fun and make sure our pumpkin didn't rot (the weather can be crazy in NC although I think last week was cool enough, it would have survived), we waited until yesterday to carve. Dylan was excited about the old kits I pulled from the Halloween boxes. He wanted to do a ghost design, but our largest pumpkin was too small for it or any of the others. Instead, we encouraged him to do an "old fashioned" jack 'o lantern.

Dylan drew the face design. Then I cut the top so we could scoop out the insides. He helped me separate the seeds for roasting before we scraped the inside and carved the face. Finally, Trent helped him start squeezing out some glitter glue (leftover from one of the old kits that, of course, he had to use once he saw it - honestly amazed this stuff hadn't dried out). So, yes, we have a one of a kind, sparkly jack o' lantern this year.

Freshly picked on the left and with one carved on the right.

We ended our fun with roasted pumpkin seeds, of course. A first for Dylan.

And a bit of a science lesson for our 4 year old - from picking the pumpkin off the vine at the farm, to carving & scooping, to roasting and eating. Fall is off to a fun & festive start here.

What is your favorite fall activity?


NC State Fair in Photos

Last Friday, we spent the day at the NC State Fair with Trent's aunt, uncle and cousins. We had a blast. Here's a glimpse of our day in photos and proof there is a lot more to the Fair than just food & rides ...


The Painted Yellow Dresser

Our guestroom has been in need of a dresser and I wanted something unique for it. Ideally real wood and not too costly.

Our "new" yellow dresser.
Hence my search on Craigslist. I looked off and on for several months before spotting what appeared to be the perfect find. I emailed and, according to the seller, was the first interested person to show up. At $15 and solid wood, it was a deal.

It was also in rough shape.

Before: a diamond in the rough.
The hardware was part original, part replaced and damaged. There were scratches and scuff marks galore. The bottom drawer was barely together and literally fell apart during my drive home! I laughed and rejoiced over my find. I knew it could go from rough to gorgeous.

After a good cleaning, sanding and priming, I painted it in a golden yellow color.

Then added all new bronze drawer pulls.

New bronze pulls on the lower drawers.
Something I hadn't originally planned was to line the drawers. When I bought the dresser, it had a weird solid blue contact paper liner in every drawer. I managed to pull it out, but some areas remained a bit tacky. Rather than fighting it further or paint the insides, I purchased new liner and added it to the drawers. It's a bit fresher of a print and adds a nice fun surprise when you peek inside.

Top drawer with liner.
One of the top drawers currently holds the TV and satellite remotes while the lower drawers have extra sheets and towels. The one thing our new house was missing is a linen closet. The yellow dresser in our guest room now tackles most of that duty.

Side by side before & after shared on Instagram.

The entire project cost under $50. For a unique, custom solid wood piece - I'd say that's a win.

Looking for more painted furniture inspiration? Check out my master bedroom Nightstand Revamp and the dining room's Refinished Cabinet where we hide our cat food bowl. 


Holiday Gift Idea: Mabel's Labels

A few weeks ago, Dylan's preschool had a trike-a-thon. Parents were encouraged to bring their child's trike or bike and helmet. While they were organized by class, there were obviously still a lot of bikes and helmets. Looking for an easy way to label both, I turned to our handy Sticky Labels from Mabel's Labels.

I've shared in the past that I love these labels. They are cute, durable and have almost limitless uses. With the holidays quickly approaching, Mabel's Labels has a Stocking Stuffer Combo to allow you to easily get your kids' stuff labeled and knock another item off your shopping list.

The Stocking Stuffer Combo features 6 sets with 1 bag tag and 5 labels for $5 each. Don't forget to order your Holiday Return Address Labels too. Both items are only available through December 31, 2013.



Inspired by my friend, Allison, I thought I'd take a go at the "currently" post. Currently, I am ...

reading travel books in preparation for a trip to the UK; Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes; rereading parts of What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett - such a book of comfort to me this year; and whatever picture books Dylan picks for bedtime. Tonight, it was The Axiom from his Wall-E board book boxed set and Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider.

eating pretty much the same breakfast & lunch daily (I'm a creature of habit in that respect) and lots of home cooked dinners. Tomorrow? Something deep fried. I'm leaning toward Oreos but Trent is suggesting Snickers (although as I'm finishing the post, he's reading up on new foods and it looks like Cowtails might be his pick).

thinking about our 3 day weekend ahead - NC State Fair, Halloween festivities, family, a get together with old college friends, and visit to a local pumpkin patch. It's going to be full & fun!

enjoying the cooler weather and being able to enjoy the sun a bit today with lunch outdoors. The clouds & rain were dreary and starting to make the days feel so as well.

watching sitcoms (2 Broke Girls, New Girl and The Mindy Project are my favorites) and, of course, any HGTV show I can catch. Inspiration for continuing projects around the foreclosure house!

loving chalkboard art. So much so that I've been working on creating my own backgrounds and subway art in Photoshop. Maybe a future Friday Freebie?

What are you up to currently?



In the past, I've quietly lit a candle on this night with my thoughts on friends. Tonight will be different. Tonight I will remember my friends, but also will join in the international Wave of Light in remembrance of our own two angels.

At times it seems a bad dream - hard to imagine 2 losses in the last year. I'm extra grateful for what we do have, but not a day goes by where they don't cross my mind. And that is ok. I don't want to forget. They will always hold a place in my heart.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4


Toilet Tube Monsters

Inspired by a photo on Pinterest (and as I type this, I realize it links to a tutorial - oops), Dylan & I collected several toilet paper tubes to create monsters for Halloween. I showed him the photo and then set him loose with markers, paint, pipe cleaners and googly eyes.

The faces amazed me. He drew the noses and mouths, then glued on the eyes:

Ok, so these turned out more "cute" than "monster" but we love them and Dylan is very proud of his monsters. He should be. He's 4 and made these entirely on his own minus punching holes in the sides for the pipe cleaner arms to slide through. I helped with that part but under his direction on where to make them.

Looking for more fun kid friendly Halloween crafts? Check out our past project shares: Candy Corn Art, Ghost Footprint Plaque, and Tissue Paper Pumpkins.

Linked up to Pintastic Tuesdays at This Mommy Cooks Dinner.


Do You Believe?

Yes, I'm talking Christmas in October.

Last December, our elf Christopher Pop-In-Kins surprised Dylan with a gift that included a plush elf. He liked it then, but, like many toys, was eventually sidelined and ended up in a bucket of stuffed animals in Dylan's room. Until this summer.

A couple of months ago while playing in his room, Dylan rediscovered his plush elf and suddenly that toy has elevated in status. The elf is carried all over the house. The elf is propped up to watch TV. The elf sleeps in Dylan's bed (often tucked in with an extra lovey). The elf traveled with us to the beach in early September. The elf was even given a name - Abby - and Dylan explained to me that the elf is a girl.

All was happy until the morning he woke and showed me that "Abby has a hole." Sure enough, the seam in the back was coming apart and there was a hole large enough for a preschooler's finger to fit into. Coincidence? Hmm.

I suggested we sew Abby back up good as new and Dylan's immediate response, "he [everyone is a 'he' still] needs to go back to Santa to be fixed." Um, ok. What was I thinking? Of course, like her buddy Christopher Pop-In-Kins surely Abby can pop right back to the North Pole and see the big man in red for an official fix.

A couple days later, Abby wasn't seen at bedtime. Dylan didn't appear too concerned and I didn't bring it up. The next morning when I went to wake him for school, something on the dresser caught my eye and as he woke, I asked him what it was. There was Abby good as new. And a very happy little boy who believes in the magic of Christmas all year long.


The Front Door

Hello, gorgeous! 

Our freshly painted front door and steps lined with pumpkin mums.
It's taken a year, but finally I can think that every time I see our front door. You see, the door to the foreclosure house when we first saw it was white. Simple, functional and fine. After living with a black door for the previous 9 and a half years (HOA rules in our old neighborhood said door & shutter colors must match), I was happy for any change.

Then it rained. And the paint began to bubble and chip. Repeat multiple times throughout the months to mid summer. It was not pretty. Our best guess - whoever last painted the door used the wrong paint and thus with each rain the front door looked worse and worse.

In July, we had the entire house powerwashed. I left specific instructions to the company doing it to hit the front door and hit it hard. When we arrived home, I literally laughed out loud as I saw the disaster left behind. The bubbled paint job was almost completely gone revealing some white primer (?) and streaks of the original black beneath.

Paint chip (color at top) against the brick & siding of our home.
[Tip: try this at several times during the day to see the variations due to lighting.]
Then we waited. July is just too hot & humid in North Carolina for outdoor painting. As fall approached with cooler days, I began to get the urge to complete this project. I had a few ideas of what color I wanted - something in a blue gray tone. While surfing Pinterest, I found the perfect example from PlyGem here. The third color swatch from the bottom was exactly what I was thinking. The brick and siding colors in the swatch were similar to our home and the accent color - a blue gray. My mind was made up. Off to Lowe's we went and I quickly selected a shade from Valspar and had a quart of semi-gloss exterior paint mixed: Prussian Cadet.

The "lovely" streaky door before on the left and my little assistant helping paint.
It took a few hours, slowly adding a coat, letting it dry and adding another coat. Repeat. Repeat. Enjoy.

Admittedly, we all did a double take our first few days returning home. It's a fun little pop of color and so much more cheery than before. Even one of our neighbors has come over and said how much she likes it. Hopefully they all do. We're certainly happy to now have a beautiful, welcoming front door. Another project complete.

Our freshly painted blue door decked out with our $3 fall wreath.

Cost: $12.98 + tax


Disney Book: The End

The final page in our Disney photo book - heading home.

I chose to use 3 photos on this page that summed it up perfectly: watching the rain fall as we waited on the Magical Express to take us to the airport (only rain during our trip!), Dylan looking out the plane window just before we pulled away from the gate, and pulling our luggage through the pickup area at RDU.

Supplies: Destination: Adventure freebie kit by Shannon McNab.


Blurb 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

It's never too soon to start planning for Christmas and Blurb makes it easy to give a gift anyone on your list will love - a high quality custom book.

See Blurb's 2013 Gift Guide for books available for purchase as well as for tips on making your own. With Blurb's tools, it's easy to make a brag book for the grandparents, a cookbook filled with favorite family recipes for the newlyweds, an ABC book for the little ones, a planner for the professional, etc. Truly, the options are limitless.

Get a head start on your holiday gifts by creating your own Blurb book. And, when you order today through Monday, October 7th, you can save 20% (up to $100 max) on your order with the code EARLYBIRD20.

*Discount fine print: Offer valid through October 7, 2013 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied toward your product total with no minimum spend. Maximum discount is USD $100, GBP £65, EUR €75, CAD $100, or AUD $100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

See my previous reviews of Blurb products here: Custom Planner and Designer Collection Photo Book