Halloween, Past and Present

~ From Alicia’s Cob-Webbed Cauldron files…..

Happy Halloween!  This has to be one of my favorite times of the year!  Leaves are falling, the air is crisp and all of the Holiday’s are lining up before us.  I get all excited and sentimental just thinking about it!

10-31-03 Harrison, 1 year old, was a Spotted Dragon for his 2nd Halloween!

The last ten years I’ve spent the month of October helping my kids plan out their costumes.  I won’t lie.  I am totally reliving my childhood through my kids with each holiday, especially Halloween, and I love it!  And yes, I’m one of the silly parents that does a bit of a costume as well with the kids.  I don’t go all out though, just enough to have fun and embarrass the kiddos.  Ha ha.  Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed all of their costumes over the years.  Harrison’s 1st Halloween he was a “baby,” as he was only 6 days old.  The next year he was a Spotted Dragon and then he was Tiger (from Winny the Pooh) and he was OH so cute!  Since then, he has been Spider man several times, a few Batman and recently Anaken Skywalker.

10-31-07 Madalynne (19 mos) was a Princess for her 2nd Halloween

Madalynne’s first Halloween consisted of reusing the Spotted Dinosaur costume and I remember her being obsessed with the tail.  Ha ha!  For the next four years, she was Cinderella.  What can I say, she likes to stick with what she knows!  She did make a beautiful Cinderella and I loved curling her hair and putting the crown in!  Last year she broke tradition and was the Queen of Hearts, inspired by the Storybook Parade she was in at school, in which she chose to be the Queen of Hearts!  That was very sweet as well!

I did have a bit of a panic last year, however, as Harrison was exhibiting signs of being “too cool” for Halloween.  He wouldn’t pick a costume to save his life.  I even broke tradition and took him to the costume store to get him excited.  Nothing.  Oh my word, how can this be?!  What child doesn’t want to go out and get free candy?  That’s where I was wrong.  He still wanted the candy, but without the dressing up part.  No, no, no.  Over my Zombified Body I say!  I told him that if he was Trick-or-Treating, he had to dress up.  Somehow, we landed on Tony Hawk (the famous skateboarder) thanks to Scott.  Harrison was down with that because he just had to dress like a skateboarder.  The problem I had was he didn’t look much different than he did every day: jeans, Tony Hawk shirt, and a cap!  So he thought he’d carry a skateboard around.

10-31-11 Our 1st Halloween in our new home state! Harrison was “Tony Hawk”, Madalynne was the “Queen of Hearts” and Scott and I were just being silly! 🙂

I put the kibosh down on that one as we all really knew who would end up carrying that sucker around!  LOL My alternative to the skateboard was a CARDBOARD skateboard that he could carry:  lightweight, easy to maneuver.  He looked at me like I had snakes growing out of my head!  Apparently we hadn’t done enough creative costuming in our household for him to appreciate that idea at all!  So he went sans skateboard and still had the night of his life!  I ditched my traditional witches hat last year and bought a few wigs.  Somehow, Scott and I both ended up wearing wigs and we all had a fun night!

10-31-08 Batman & Cinderella

That experience made me realize the one thing I do NOT like about what Halloween (and many other holidays) has become over the years.  So many holidays have become commercialized and are filled with marketing for the toy and candy companies.  Somewhere along the road, we switched from homemade costumes being to norm to store bought ones.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it myself almost every year with my kids!  I buy the store bought costumes too, so please don’t think I’m knocking on anyone.  But I just remember that when I was a kid (uh oh…sounding like my awesome parents there!!) we had to be creative and make our own costumes!  We would spend WEEKS working on our outfits.  When we got older, we’d spend two hours right before it was time to go out!  Ha ha!  I also came from a large family and we didn’t have extra money laying around to spend on store-bought costumes either.

We had some great creative ideas come out of those years of making our own costumes.  The costumes of mine that I remember well are those of when I was a bit older.  I remember one year, my friend Sarah and I were a Two Headed/Three Legged Conjoined Twins:  we put on my Dad’s green Army coat together (thus joining our upper bodies together) and tied our right/left legs together, giving us three legs.  What in the world we were thinking, I do not know.  This was one of those “two hour planning” type of costumes I’m sure, and it was quite the experience walking around all night with a leg tied together with your friends!  Ha ha ha!  Another year, we decided to be “Punk Rockers”.  This one cracks me up because somehow, I decided that gluing shiny foil circles to my forehead (in the shape of an eagle’s profile mind you) would somehow constitute a Punk Rocker outfit and that EVERYONE would know what I was.  Sarah wore a puple wig for her punk rocker outfit.  Here is a picture from that year and you can see us in the back row.  Sarah looks more like a clown and I look like….I don’t even KNOW what I look like!  But you know what, it didn’t matter because we were creative and we had FUN!!!  One of my brothers in as ARMY dude, one is Superman I think, and my little sister looks like Strawberry Shortcake maybe.  The rest of the kids are some of our neighborhood friends that we walked with every year.

I think this was taken around 1994. Chrissy was Nancy Sinatra and our friend Ann and I were Woodstock Hippies. How cute were we? 🙂

I don’t recall Trick-or-Treating with Chrissy too many of our early years, as I think we ended up with different groups of kids in our neighborhood.  I do know I’d pass her in the streets and we’d compare bags of loot and be so excited!!  We did, however, have a grown-up Halloween party experience during our college years.  We both dressed up in some very retro outfits.  Chrissy was Nancy Sinatra (those boots are made for walkin’!) and I was a Woodstock Hippie.  I think we dad a smashing job on our costumes, and they were homemade to boot! Those are some good memories right there!

10-31-12 Harry Potter & Hermoine Granger, from the “Harry Potter” series! They look fabulous!

It is because of memories like that, I was tempted to be all Suzy Homemaker this year and sew the kids’ costumes myself.  They are both going to be characters from the Harry Potter series:  Harrison will be “Harry Potter” and Madalynne will be “Hermione Granger” (Harry’s good friend and fellow witch).  I figured, I can sew a cape and we can snap a few branches off of the tree for their wands!  Well, between my busy schedule and those weird looks I got again, I opted for some bargain hunting on the internet.  I managed to get some smashingly great deals on all of the accessories I would need for their costumes.  I told Harrison “NO” to the face paint for his scar…my eye liner will work wonders for that! (Again, what is with the silly faces?!)  Madalynne is very happy to wear braids in her hair for school that day so we can have wavy and ratted out hair on Halloween night.  I drew the line at dying her hair brown….

There is something special about a day when you don’t have to be YOU and can be whatever you want to be, even if it is just for a few hours.  I think that it shouldn’t matter what age you are, if you want to have fun with a costume, let go of your worries and have fun with it!  I am so happy that we are making such fun memories with our kids and I hope they are at least HALF as awesome as the memories my parents gave us as kids.  Remember, your kids are only young once and you only live once, so seize the moment and have some fun!!  Happy Halloween! Boo!

~ Alicia

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My latest Obsession: The PopSugar “Must Have” Subscription Box

~Bought and Paid for by Chrissy~

I have a confession to make, I am obsessed with the PopSugar Subscription Boxes.   Every month, I get as excited as a kid in a candy store on Christmas whenever  that white box with the pink PopSugar logo on it shows up on my doorstep!  Before I go on, I should probably explain a little about what subscription boxes are.  The premise is simple, you agree to pay a set price every month for a box full of different items.  You’ll find companies that gear their boxes towards the beauty buff, or pet lovers, or parents, or the eco-conscience, etc….   I’ve tried a few different companies over the last year and without a doubt, PopSugar is, hands down, the BEST one out there for the woman wishing to spoil herself with fun and exciting things.

Every month, for $35, you get a new box, filled to the brim with top of the line, super amazing products.  The variety of items sent each month is what really sets this company apart.   You’ll find food, beauty items, home goods, fitness products, books, and fashion items all stuffed inside each and every box.  The fun part is opening your box and seeing what your $35 has gotten you this month (They state each box is actually worth $100 or more, and I have found this to be true).   I haven’t been disappointed in anything I’ve gotten yet.   If the cost is deterring you remember you can cancel anytime and with Christmas coming they also would make a really fabulous gift for someone special on your list!

This is what I got inside my October Must Have Box (I’ve estimated the actual cost of each item here too):

Dylan’s Candy Bar Gummy Bears (5 oz) – $3.00                                                                                                                            
*These look absolutely amazing.  It’s been ages since I’ve torn into a gummy bear.  They are going with me to work today!
 
Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar snack bag (1 oz) –  $1.00
*Always a treat to eat.  I am a big fan of Pirate’s Booty already.
 
Unilever Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy shampoo and conditioner (13 fl.oz. each) – $5 each
*Some people feel shampoo’s have to cost a bunch in order for them to be any good.  I don’t believe that, and will gladly give this shampoo and conditioner the old college try!   
 
Red Flower Japanese Peony Candle with Rose Petals (6 oz with 50 hours of burn time) – $38.00
*I was shocked when I found out how much this candle costs.  Yowzers!  It isn’t something I would buy for myself in a million years but it is a definite treat as it smells amazing. 
 
J.K. Rowling‘s “The Casual Vacancy” Hardbound book- $35.00
*This was on my must read list, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it in my box.  I buy most of my books with my Kindle.  It feels good to have an actual book in my hands again though!
 
Crescent Moon ExerSocks for Yoga & Pilates – $8.00
*I’d like to say these will be great for all the yoga I do, however I have a feeling these will be worn while I am lounging around my home.  They nice traction on the bottoms so I won’t have to worry about slip sliding around on my wood floors!
 
O.P.I. Pink of Hearts Nail Polish Duo – $13.00
*I have always been a fan of OPI nail polish.  The colors included are: “You Glitter Be Good to Me” and “I Think in Pink”.  ~Pink is my signature color~ (Name that movie!)  I’ll have pink, sparkling toes in the next few days! 

Added all together I estimate this box to be worth $108.00!  If you’re interested in learning more about the “Must Have’ box, or subscribing, click here: http://popsu.gr/fsc.  I can always use the referrals as in no way, shape or form did I get paid or get my box for free to write this post (If you get referrals you get discounted boxes, yippee!).  I am just a proud consumer of an amazing product which I wanted to share with you!

~Chrissy

Mixed Tape Playlist for Your BFF

~a mixed tape creation by Chrissy~

I know it dates me but I really loved mixed tapes.  They were so thoughtful and took a heck of a lot of effort to make.  The song quality wasn’t the greatest, and yet they were pretty darn amazing because they meant something meaningful.  This was especially true if someone else made you your very own, one of a kind, mix.  Those tapes truly made you feel gloriously special whenever you listened to it.  Nowadays, with itunes and mp3’s, those mixed tape-like playlists have become a heck of a lot easier to make.   We’ve all got our playlists now for working out, cleaning the house, or just plain rocking out!

On my way to my homeship Target this past weekend, I happened upon a song on the radio about best friends.  The song was Oath by Cher Lloyd.  It’s a cute, upbeat kind of song.   I immediately thought of Alicia as I was bopping my head along with the beat.  In between head bops, I got to thinking about making my own BFF playlist, filled with songs that make me think about all my best girlfriends!  I’ll undoubtedly fill it up with an ungodly amount of songs over the days to come, as there are tons of songs out there that call to mind my amazing group of friends. For the sake of my post, I’ll just touch on a handful of my favorite songs to make my BFF list. You’ll probably notice I am heavily influenced by movies/tv.  Ever since I was a girl, I’ve been introduced to many great songs from the movies and tv shows I watch.   I’m a big fan of movie soundtracks!

1.  Joe Cocker “With A Little Help of My Friends” –  Originally a song by the Beatles, the Joe Cocker version was also the theme song for the “Wonder Years” tv show.

2. White Stripes “We’re Going to Be Friends” – What can I say about this song?  It is pretty freaking awesome.  If it sounds familiar but you can’t quite place why, it was part of the soundtrack for the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  That’s just a wee bit of pop trivia for you!

3. Ben E King “Stand by Me” – A classic song, that withstands the test of time.  It is also the theme to a movie by the same name.  If you haven’t seen the movie, please rent it right now.  It is such a great coming of age story about friendship.  Love it!

4. Weezer “My Best Friend” – I was first introduced to Weezer when I heard “The Sweater Song” in college.  What’s not to like about a song about sweaters?  Absolutely nothing!!!  I might have to put that one on a Winter Weather playlist.  I’m veering off course a bit here.  Anyhoo, “My Best Friend” very simply and sweetly, says it all.

4.  Green Day “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” –  The title doesn’t sound at all friendly, I know, but this song is one of my favorite songs of all time.  Green Day just so happens to be one of my favorite groups of all time, too.  To me, this song brings to mind memories of the good times shared with my friends/family/what have you.   It is especially enduring to me because of a wedding gift I received from Alicia.  She (with a lot of help from her brother Brian) made a photo slideshow of her and I growing up together, all set to music.  “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” was one of the songs she used.  I guess it was kind of like her mixed tape to me but with pictures! Whatever the case, it is one of my most favorite gifts, ever!!!

6. Natalie Merchant “Kind & Generous” – I told Alicia once that if she had a theme song, this would be hers.  She is exactly who this song was written about!  Everyone should have a person in there life who brings to mind this song and I think it should be your best friend!  Love you girl!!!

7.  They Might Be Giants “Birdhouse in Your Soul” – My friend, Becky first introduced me to They Might Be Giants.  All their songs are very silly and whimsical.  You can’t listen to them without smiling and laughing.  “I’m a little glowing friend”  Love that!

8. Bette Midler “Wind Beneath My Wings” –  A song from the movie Beaches, which if you haven’t seen it is a beautifully touching story about two best friends.   I’m might just cry thinking about this movie.  Ahhh…..so sad.   I have to warn you, if you click the link to the song have a box of tissues ready.   You’re going to need them!

9. The Rembrandts “I’ll Be There For You” – This is probably one of the very first songs I thought of when making my playlist.  “Friends” is my all time favorite tv show.  I’ve probably watched every episode a zillion times.  I could watch them a zillion more as they never get old.  The Rembrandts song is now and  forever ingrained in my head to symbolize my friends (Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and my real friends, of course, too).

10.  ABBA “Dancing Queen” – My BFF playlist would not be complete without this song.  Dancing Queen is truly a beloved favorite in my group of girlfriends.  If we are all together and this song comes on, I don’t think it’s possible for us all to not get up and hit the dance floor.  We’re all glorious Dancing Queens!

~Chrissy

*Image from Photobucket

Mango Green Smoothie Recipe

~a recipe straight out of Chrissy’s blender~

For about the last two weeks or so, I have been obsessed with making healthy smoothies.  Normally when I am in the kitchen, I follow recipes I find on-line or in cookbooks pretty much to the letter.  Rarely, do I attempt to go off the cuff, making my own creations.  This is mainly because, I want my food to taste good.  I worry if I start adding things willy nilly, I’ll screw the dish up royally!  No one wants their dishes to taste bad!

I’ve found smoothies are fairly hard to screw up though.  All you do is toss various fruits, liquids, veggies, etc into a blender and, “Ta Da”, you’ve got a yummy smoothie.   Without a doubt my favorite creation has been my Mango Green Smoothie.  The finished smoothie may look like something a Witch would brew, but trust me, looks are deceiving.  This is super easy to make, and is one amazingly, yummy drink!  You can’t even taste the spinach which gives this smoothie its green color.  I think this would be one great way parents could get their little ones to eat their spinach!

Mango Green Smoothie  (serving size 1-2)

Ingredients:
1/2 fresh Mango
1/2 frozen Banana
5-6 frozen Strawberries
2 heaping handfuls of Spinach Greens (the more the better)
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 cup Orange Juice
Directions:  Blend in a blender until smooth.
 
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
~Chrissy
 
 

The Art of Passing Notes

~Folded up, nice & tightly, & passed on to our readers by Chrissy~

When Alicia and I were in High School, passing notes throughout a school day was one of our favorite pastimes.  We didn’t have many classes together.  Of course, as you can well imagine, this meant there was a multitude of riveting and important information buzzing around our heads, which absolutely could not wait until lunch, or the bus ride home, for us to spill the beans on.   We  just had to put pen to paper, in between paying attention to what our teachers were saying, and compose pretty fantastic musings of all things important to a teenage girl.

Thanks to Alicia, and her amazing ability to hold onto things of sentimental value, a number of our highly engrossing and profound notes to one another have survived, unscathed, over the years.  I have to tell you, I am insanely happy Alicia held on to them.  It is an absolute hoot to look back at thoughts and contemplations of our lives back in High School.  The photo below is a little peek at a note I wrote from back in April of 1992.

One of my highly “profound”, somewhat erratic, musings from High School. I actually make references to Fraggle Rock, a Door’s song and a Doogie Howser episode, in what reads like a span of one breath. 🙂

Looking back, there are a few key details I can remember from our note writing days:

1.  You had to be very careful when passing notes in school.  Not only could a teacher confiscate your note but it could very well get into the wrong hands, the consequence of which could be mortifying.  Case in point, Molly Ringwald‘s character in Sixteen Candles.  She was sharing secrets between friends in class when the very person she admitted to wanting to “do it” with, happens to get his hands on that very note!  AHHHH….the teenage horror!!!!  Maybe it was a lesson learned from seeing this movie, but at some point in time, Alicia and I began using pseudonyms for any of the guys we mentioned in our notes.

2.  Folding a note to pass off was a definite art.  We developed all sorts of ways to fold and seal a note in an oragami type way.  In no way, shape, or form did this mean our notes resembled cranes or any other animal.  We just wanted our notes to be as small as possible and to stay closed until opened willingly.

3.  From time to time, writing the note was a thing of creatvity and imagination.  There were lots of different ways to change-up a note.  We would write all the words backwards or draw pictures instead of words.  I particularly delighted in writing them in a spiral pattern forcing Alicia to turn the paper around as she would read it!

I’m not sure if kids these days still pass notes in school.  I would imagine text messaging and emails have replaced, or at least, greatly decreased the use of notes to communicate with friends during school.  I will always hold onto a fondness for the art of passing notes, but I can’t help but admit if we had the technology kids have at their disposal these days, we would have been all over it!

Besides Birthday or Special Occasion cards, it has been years since I actually sent Alicia a letter in the mail.  The last time was probably in college.  Email is so much more convenient and instantaneous.  My note took almost a week to reach her!  This is largely due to the fact that I, having been inspired by this post,  folded it up nice and tightly, like we did in High School.  The US Postal service doesn’t do well with strange, bulky and odd-shaped letters!  It did finally get there though and let me tell you she was very surprised and tickled pink about it!

Having read this post, I would like to challenge you to send a friend your own handwritten note!  I don’t know about you but I think It is always fun to surprise your friends.  The more unique the surprise, the better, and your friend will never expect something like this to show up in their mailbox.  Be sill, be dorky and make your BFF’s day!!!

~Chrissy